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Top 3 Ways to Ruin Your Financial Life: Ben Stein


You may have seen the TV show on Spike called 1000 Ways to Die which essentially profiles all sorts of deadly, freak accidents. Ghoulish stuff for sure, yet surprisingly thought-provoking. In some ways, author, actor and humorist Ben Stein has written the monetary equivalent of this quirky show, with a book that lists dozens of ways that people kill themselves financially.

For this installment of Investing 101, we narrowed it down to the top three ways and began by asking the author of "How to Really Ruin your Financial Life and Portfolio" why they landed at the top of the list. Remember, these tips are things Stein advises you NOT to do.

1) Trade Frequently

"If you trade frequently you're almost guaranteed to lose money," Stein says in the attached video. "Unless you're a high frequency trader with access to incredibly powerful computers, a limitless base of capital and access to inside information" the only road to success is to "buy and hold big, broad indexes forever."

2) Trade Foreign Currencies

The second financial landmine that Stein brings up is trading foreign currencies, a racket he describes as "so treacherous and so difficult" that the top dogs at the top firms can barely make a go of it with the very best resources and technology. He says ordinary investors should stay away from forex markets, and instead seek out what Warren Buffett urged him to invest in. "Just buy productive assets, in the form of stocks, and then buy the indexes and hold on for dear life," he says.

3) Go With Your Gut and Pick Stocks

And finally, Stein adds to his financial disaster list the doomed notion of believing in your heart that you can pick stocks. "If you're Buffett and you have incredible opportunities and if you are an incredible genius beyond reasoning" then sure, go be a stock picker. "But for anyone else, no!" Stein advises.