Dave Barry Gets Funny About Money

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, February 5, 2006

I've been told I'm too serious. Financially serious, that is.

For example, I'm serious about teaching my children the importance of saving. I rarely take them to the mall. I make sure that when they're buying something, they comparison-shop -- even my 5-year-old.

Once I was lecturing my 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, about how she should spend her allowance. She in turn expressed her frustration with my interference. To which I said: "It's my full-time job, Olivia, to make sure you become a good steward of your money."

Without missing a best, Olivia said: "Well, can you make it your part-time job? That way you can stop nagging me all the time about all this financial stuff."

I had to laugh.

She wasn't being disrespectful. The girl was trying to get her overly frugal mother to chill.

With that in mind, let's have some fun for February. This month, I'm recommending "Dave Barry's Money Secrets -- Like: Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?" (Crown, $24.95) for the Color of Money Book Club.

Barry is a humorist whose columns for the Miami Herald were syndicated worldwide. In other words, he's a funny man. So let me warn you that there is very little practical financial advice in this book. His shtick is to make fun of the proliferation of personal finance books and the people who write them or recommend them. (Hmm, that's me on both counts.)

Barry's one-, two- and three-liners start right from the introduction. In explaining why you need his book, he writes: "Because chances are that when it comes to your personal finances, you are, with all due respect, a complete moron. I do not mean that in a derogatory way. I mean it simply in the sense that, when it comes to handling money, you are a stupid idiot."

Now, don't get offended. This book, like the comments from my daughter, is intended to lighten you up a bit. Because truth is, personal finance has become so complicated that we all have to chill or we will go bonkers.

Barry particularly delights in making fun of financial guru and best-selling author Suze Orman. He writes: "Suze always has a smile on her face -- the radiant, confident smile of a person who will not hesitate to kill anybody who gets in her way. The reason Suze has sold so many books is that she offers a clear, simple common-sense message that resonates with everyday people: you pathetic loser."

In explaining cash flow, Barry writes: "Cash flow is a term that accountants use to describe the flowing of cash. To analyze your cash flow, first sit down at your kitchen table, put your head in your hands, and think really hard about the following question: Where the hell does all my money go?"

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