While there were takeaways from Jim Cramer’s Real Money that may ultimately prove themselves valuable, overall I was disappointed with the experience of reading this book.
In the first chapter, Cramer raves about how he is writing a book so that normal people can understand the secrets to getting crazy rich, but then in later chapters, he explains things only vaguely, assuming you have a deeper, pre-existing knowledge of the details than a “normal person” would have. He spends lots of time hammering his tenets of investing, and berating others who don’t follow his path, but doesn’t really deeply explain the concepts he is laying out.
I feel like this book would better target someone who is just starting out as a Wall Street trader, as opposed to a “normal person”. Most of the “normal people” I know (and have tried to talk investments with) would have been scared off in the second chapter. While he gives overviews of the concepts, he assumes an understanding that (if you don’t already have it) makes the process of following his advice rather difficult. And even though I already had an interest in investing prior to reading this, I found a lot of his “Wall Street gibberish”-slinging (which he specifically says he doesn’t do) off-putting. I feel like this is a case of being so out of touch with what it feels like to be a newbie in the field, that you skip over the essentials, and don’t build a complete bridge from A to B for the people trying to follow you. And there’s nothing wrong with writing a higher level book that expects a prerequisite level of knowledge – but be up front about that in the introduction, rather than framing your intent as making your topic accessible to everyone.
I did glean some takeaways, but I felt like the majority of his writing was tantalizing me with the shape of an idea that could help me, without fleshing it out enough that I felt I had a handle on a new tool. I’ll be doing some research of my own on the seeds of ideas that were deposited, and perhaps I will be able to establish my own understanding of the concepts he’s selling. Then, if I return and reread this book later, after some investigation and trial and error, perhaps I will feel like I can truly grasp more of what he is saying.
And while I am not discounting that Cramer has been wildly successful, or that he has a deep understanding of the market and its trends, I (whether due to ignorance, pushback, or simply too few years of experience) disagree with how strongly he refutes ANY strategy other than his own. In personal finance, I tend to think that the right strategy is the one that works – and that can vary for everyone, based on personalities, temperaments, opportunities, etc. I also dislike that his writing feels like fear-mongering to cow me into signing up for his (paid) stock tip services, which are mentioned multiple times in the book — especially because he only half explained how I could do the process of finding these stocks on my own (and I understood that to be the entire point of the book in the first place).
And this may be too harsh a judgment, that exists because of my own inexperience with (and amateur’s knowledge of) the market. Perhaps this book would revolutionize the strategy of your average day-trader. But since Cramer emphasizes in his introductory chapter that he can make outsized gains available to everyone, without relying on a financial/market expert, I expected more thorough explanations, less assumption of the reader’s familiarity with economic movements, and less advertising for his paid-subscription financial services(!).
If you already have a decent understanding of the ins-and-outs of the market and trading, and are looking for additional guidance to increase your returns, this book is probably quite helpful. If you are new to investing, and trying to get a foot in the door, don’t start here! Instead, I would point you to Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich or Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life. I think either of these books would have a far more profoundly positive effect on the health of your financial situation than Cramer’s would. I am also a strong believer in dividend growth investing for the average Joe/Jane.
All that said, I do believe this book merits a reread in a few years. It has overwhelmed me with many new concepts that I don’t yet understand, and I imagine that, with experience and by revisiting his advice once I have a better handle on these ideas, they may yet prove helpful. Also, because much of his strategy goes strongly against my own, it at least serves to ensure I am not hiding in an echo chamber of my own confirmation bias. ;P
Non Fiction Bingo 2018 Progress
Cramer’s book ticked off the “Personal Finance / Investing” category of #nonficbingo2018.
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