"If Time Is Money, No Wonder I'm Not Rich" Essay - Critical Essays

“If Time Is Money, No Wonder I’m Not Rich”

Time may be the most precious commodity in contemporary society. As hours at work increase and leisure time decreases, money management is one of many personal activities which suffer neglect. But personal finance is too important to ignore. Tax and financial expert Mary L. Sprouse offers an introduction to financial planning, a guide to investments, and suggestions for applying time management principles to managing your money.

Her tips on simplification range from the mundane—but a file cabinet, consolidate bank accounts—to advice on how and when to hire a financial professional (banker, broker, lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, financial planner, and others). An overview of investments rates everything from savings bonds to mutual funds to junk bonds, in terms of such factors as time involvement, liquidity, risk, and tax implications. Another chapter covers “ten safe investments” in more detail, including EE savings bonds, certificates of deposit, mutual funds, Ginnie Maes, universal life insurance policies, and more. Other topics include computer software for money management, investing, and tax preparation; and advice on efficient record keeping for tax time.

In the interest of trying to briefly cover nearly the entire world of personal finance, IF TIME IS MONEY often loses focus. Although the main purpose of the book is supposed to be methods for saving time, one of Sprouse’s first suggestions is to subscribe to two or three financial magazines, along with a variety of other reading. To simplify checkbook balancing, she advocates the questionable practice of assuming the bank is right if the discrepancy is $10 or less. Looking for a simple guide to investments? Sprouse offers too many possibilities, and is not always clear about the income level of her audience. Her “safe” alternatives include blue chip stocks (not safe at all if not part of a diversified portfolio, or if held short-term) and universal life policies (which often yield a low rate of return, and have no guarantee). Every piece of good advice is counterbalanced by questionable or confusing statements such as these. Personal finance is a crowded field; better to stick with Sylvia Porter or one of the many other established experts.