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by Richard Rosso

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1466360136
Publisher: CreateSpace

A noted investment adviser shares his wisdom in this scattershot personal-finance primer.

Rosso, a Houston-based wealth manager and occasional media commentator, embeds his money-management lessons in off-color anecdotes, pop-culture riffs and nuggets of cracker-barrel philosophy. His tone and worldview are resolutely unrestrained; for example, he introduces the subject of how to talk with aging parents about finances with a recollection of walking in on his dad during a hot-tub frolic with three women. His critical appraisal of walking-dead movies segues into an account of “zombie” banks and mutual funds; he prefaces a section on vetting investment professionals with an appreciation of the TV detective Columbo; and he makes an observation that “women and girls with small feet can demand pretty much whatever they want” as an introduction to time-saving tips. He also includes darkly comic reminiscences on family dysfunctions, such as his violent confrontation with his mother’s boyfriend in a psych ward. Buried in this miscellany, however, are incisive, iconoclastic analyses of common financial conundrums. Rosso’s savvy, plainspoken advice voices a healthy skepticism about overhyped stock-market forecasts and focuses on the basics of good money discipline—saving assiduously, cutting unnecessary expenses, avoiding excessive debt. He also lays out precise recommendations on everything from how to get a handle on your mortgage to funding college and retirement expenses. Unfortunately, Rosso apparently doesn’t trust this material to stand on its own, and buries it in a jumble of confessional memoir and free-associative color commentary; he even surrounds his illuminating statistical graphics with many gratuitous photos of women in various stages of undress—and even in bondage. The result feels like a haphazard picaresque that sometimes conveys way too much information (“After several barium tests and no organic disease present, it was clear even to me [that] my stress settled regularly in my bowels.”). Rosso’s self-indulgent rambles and drollery distract more than they entertain or enlighten.

A potentially valuable guidebook, derailed by the author’s all-too-random musings.