May 29, 2011

Money Wise: Driving with Dave Barry...

My new gig involves some serious road trip time. While I usually prefer to bop along to Stevie Nicks or a Glee soundtrack, my friend Gwenn always recommends books on cd for long car rides.

For my business trip last week I decided to heed her advice, and headed to the library to take out something to listen to. I choose humourist Dave Barry's Money Secrets, figuring maybe I would learn something. I have listened for about three hours so far, and while I have learned absolutely nothing, I sure have laughed a lot. Out loud. While driving. By myself. Is that weird?

Barry includes advice on almost every personal finance topic you could imagine. Well, not so much advice as snide comments, but that really is better, isn't it?

Barry starts by sharing one of his own alleged experiences: after getting a suspicious "your long lost cousin" email spam, and in spite of the warnings of his friends, he forwarded a total of $10,000 in advance fees to an unknown businessman in Nigeria and, wouldn't you know it, after multiple delays and misunderstandings, ended up receiving $47 million in 578 large cardboard boxes. Yep, that is the kind of pragmatic money wisdom in this book. Helpful, huh?

I laughed out loud for three hours, wishing I could pull over and write this stuff down. Some highlights:
•A history of money, pointing out that since we eliminated the gold standard money has no value, and hypothesizing that Fort Knox is really filled with Cheez Whiz
•The answer to the question in the book’s subtitle (‘Why is there a giant eyeball on the dollar?’), namely, the designer was drunk at the time.
•Why corporate executives make bad decisions such as ‘New Coke’: office furniture shrinks your brain.
•Ethical guidelines for executives, including knowing nothing about the company.
•How to argue with your spouse about money.
•How to steer your child toward an inexpensive college.
•How to make money in the stock market. (It involves time traveling.)
•An anti-Donald Trump rant, even prior to his birther wackiness
•Tips on planning for your retirement (die early)

Barry's financial warnings: if you get injured you're screwed, if you buy a new house you're screwed, if you buy an old house you're screwed, if you rent a home you're screwed.

And he rants about lobbyists, lawyers, the food industry, lawyers who advertise on television, the high cost of parking, lawyers, the commode lobby, politicians, health care, lawyers, CEOs of big companies, smokers, and lawyers... wait, there's a commode lobby?

Barry also gives valuable career advice. My fave --- the best way to call in sick is with "I have never seen diarrhea spurt that much..."

Check this one out. You will learn zilch about the money world, but you will laugh a ton. And if you listen to it while driving, other drivers may stare. Screw em...


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