Ric Edelman is a financial services professional who has hosted television programs, radio shows, conducted seminars, written books, and counseled thousands of people on the subject personal finance. He runs a consulting firm and he makes appearances through all sorts of media outlets, spreading the message of investor education and personal financial management. He designed this web service, ricedelman.com, as a resource for those who want to learn more about their money and how to gain control over personal financial matters.
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What Does This Service Offer?:
This investor education web service is divided into the following sections:
About Ric- This area introduces you to the man behind the web site, Mr. Ric Edelman. It provides a background and describes his credentials as a financial professional along with the many awards and recognition he has received over the years.
Tune In- Here, you can find links to Ric Edelmans media contacts, with information on his television show, radio program, newspaper articles about Ric, etc. You can also schedule Ric to make a speaking appearance before your organization.
Educational Store- This section allows curious individuals to purchase one of Edelmans books, audio tapes, or video tapes. If you decide to make a purchase, you will be linked into Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.
Financial Planning- This is strictly an educational area, with advice and facts about estate planning, saving for educational expenses, debt elimination, home ownership, taxes, retirement planning, etc.
Financial Tools- These tools number exactly three. There is a tool to help you select and locate a good financial advisor; one to help you determine how much to contribute to an IRA; and a money quiz that tests your knowledge in 13 key areas of personal finance.
Financial Services- This area of the site includes more educational material on mortgages, retirement, savings, insurance, etc., plus it includes a sales pitch for Edlemans financial firm and contact information if you want to hire an advisor.
Newsletter- No financial web site would be complete without some sort of newsletter. You can sign up for Edelmans free newsletter through this section of the site and, if you want more thorough coverage, you can purchase a subscription to Edelmans Inside Personal Finance- a printed newsletter that is delivered to your home or office.
In the News- This is a chronological listing, going back several years, of some of Edelmans favorite financial columns.
Ric Edelmans headquarters is located in Fairfax, VA. If you need to contact the site about technical problems or if you want to request financial assistance, you can call 703-818-0800 or send a fax to 703-818-1910.
Ric Edelman is a financial expert who eats, drinks, and breathes money. His columns can be found in many newspapers (he writes a syndicated column titled The Truth about Money) and he can often be seen on television, either as host of his own show or as a guest on another program, talking about personal finance and the importance of taking the initiative to get your finances in order.
I first heard about Ric Edelman a few years ago when I obtained one of his books. The book is titled Financial Security in Troubled Times and it contains Rics recipe for protecting ones self against all of the possible financial tragedies that living from day to day can bring. This book was written after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and it tended to be too pessimistic and too quick to rely on insurance to protect against anything bad that could (and probably would, according to Edelman) happen in the future. The book was very pushy about insurance, and it caused me to have doubts about Edelman and his financial expertise. I knew that he operated a web site, but I was reluctant to bother visiting the site after reading this sub-par book.
After finally giving in, I discovered that the web site contains more than just pushy advice on buying every type of insurance offered under the sun. It includes some good advice on all aspects of personal finance and it is actually a very well- rounded web site, covering all the important bases of personal finance: debt reduction, mortgages, retirement planning, saving for education, paying for health care, even advice on covering the expenses of a wedding. Each of the main areas is broken down into subsections so that web surfers can narrow down to the one specific topic that they want to find out more about.
As far as the writing goes, some of Edelmans advice is rather simplistic and sometimes the headings of each section do not necessarily coincide with the article itself. Take for instance his section on mortgages. There is a subsection titled Never Rent Real Estate Youd Rather Sell. By using the word never, the title seems to indicate that this is an article that argues completely against ever renting your property. Well, Edelman does point out the negatives, but what he says is rather obvious- that if you cannot find someone to rent your house and cover most or all of the mortgage, taxes, and insurance, you could end up taking a loss each month (Well no sh-t, Sherlock!). He also points out that the real estate prices in your area could drop (this is possible, but not likely over many years of time) and that you may have trouble keeping the property rented and guaranteeing monthly cash flow. But then, he contradicts what the title suggests by stating that there are some instances (like when property prices are appreciating at a better than average rate) where renting property is worthwhile. He does this in other areas of finance, too- making quick one- sided arguments without really analyzing all of the possibilities and using too many if statements (if this is true, and if this is true, and if this
..etc). With so many variables to consider, most investors will not be able to take his advice all that seriously because it is doubtful that anyone fits all of the criteria contained in the endless string of if statements.
Most of the advice given here, however, is very sound and it can really come in handy for the average investor. For example, Edelman correctly describes the common mistake that investors make when they double pay the taxes on mutual fund investments. He also explains the importance of naming beneficiaries on your retirement plan and he gives tips on how to avoid paying tax on a 401k distribution. Some of his other advice (like that mentioned above, with renting property) is debatable, but it can prove to be helpful in some situations.
One thing that could improve this educational site is the addition of some more user tools. There are only three tools available and they do not cover the vast majority of the questions and issues that investors want to know. There is no retirement accumulation tool, no debt reduction tool, or any of the other standard programs that exist in other educational sites to assist individuals with proper financial planning. In many instances, an interactive tool (where you answer a few questions about your debt, investments, etc., and wait for the computer to give you advice based on the numbers) could help provide investors with some quick, visually- stimulating advice on what to do next. Like in the section titled Should you choose monthly income or One Lump Sum? (regarding receiving pension money from an employer). Edelman talks about the legal requirements to take one action over another and how important it is to invest wisely. But he leaves the issue open (probably hoping that you will purchase his firms consulting services). A quick, simple to use, interactive tool would be very helpful here.
Ric Edelmans on- line investor education service is quite good overall. It isnt perfect (few web sites like this are), but it does manage to cover all of the important topics relating to personal finance. It would be better with more thorough responses and fewer one- sided discussions about specific topics. A few good user tools would enhance the site, too. But overall, it is still a good place to start. It can help teach investors some of the important measures that need to be taken to ensure financial security.