Six Yahoo! Finance Columnists Are Worth Reading. The Other Six … Aren’t.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Yahoo! Finance. There’s always plenty of great, free stuff there to read on all sorts of finance topics. I particularly enjoy reading the columnists on the site, because many of them have distinctive and interesting voices. On the other hand, some of them just rehash the same thought week after week.

The columnists pretty clearly fall into two separate groups: ones who write well and contribute interesting ideas with each column and those who are there to pimp their books and media appearances. Guess which ones I like and which ones I don’t.

The Good

Harold MaassThe Best of Today’s Business: I read this column every day without fail. He’s basically writing a really wonderful blog here, tucked away inside of Yahoo! Finance, one that should get a lot more attention than it currently does. Well-researched, well-sourced, interesting article choices, good (and occasionally provocative) comments, and never longer than it needs to be.

David Bach‘s The Automatic Millionaire: I kept expecting this column to be a tired rehash of his books, but Bach continually surprises me. The column again shows off that he gets how to write online and he doesn’t just stick with the same formulas that he’s already written about.

Ben Stein‘s How Not To Ruin Your Life: Ben is my favorite writer on Yahoo! Finance: he has this perfect blend of seriousness and humor and covers a wide variety of interesting topics. He’s the only writer that I envision actually thinking, “Well, that’s interesting, I’ll write about it” with a little curl of a smile on his face.

Rhonda AdamsThe Passionate Entrepreneur: This is just a very fun column on small business issues that sometimes bleed into general personal finance concerns. Rhonda is a light and airy writer whose style meshes well with the web.

Suze Orman‘s Money Matters: You either like Suze or you don’t; there’s pretty much no middle ground about it. When I see her on television, I want to strangle her, but when I actually just read her writing (and force myself not to hear her “television” voice), there’s interesting stuff there. As long as I can avoid dreaming about her, this column is fine.

Laura Rowley‘s Money and Happiness: Laura sometimes rides the fine line between actually writing useful stuff and full Dave Ramsey “cheerleader” mode, but her columns are always easy to read and usually have at least a couple little pieces of food for further thought.

The Bad

Jeremy Siegel‘s The Future For Investors: I almost hate to put Jeremy Siegel in the “bad” category, because his topics are interesting and he presents them well. The big problem is that his writing is boring, particularly for web writing. You need to either write great prose or quickly jump to statements that make a point. Jeremy doesn’t do either.

Jim Citrin‘s Leadership by Example: Much like Jeremy Siegel, it’s not so much that he’s bad, but that there are a handful of glaring flaws that water down something that’s potentially good. Here, it’s inconsistency: one week, he’ll write something that is little more than a rebranded quote from a generic management book; the next week, it’ll be something really interesting and insightful. You can almost feel the “mailing it in” vibe sometimes, while at other times he shines.

Robert Kiyosaki‘s Why the Rich Get Richer: Hey, Robert! You wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in the 1980s … isn’t it about time to stop repeating what you wrote in that book? Each column reads like an excerpt from that book or one of its countless sequels.

Ram Charan‘s What Every Company Should Know: Ram Charan must believe that his name will pull in the readers, because reading any two or three books on management will cover basically every principle that has ever appeared in his columns. He’s an okay writer, but I’ve read all of this stuff before.

Ken Dychtwald‘s Reinventing Retirement: Most of the time, this is an AARP bulletin on retirement lifestyles, which makes this column feel really out of place – and very out of touch with a younger-than-usual finance audience that Yahoo! has. Even worse, he goes through long periods without writing a single thing, even though it’s advertised as appearing every other week. Either get enough columns ahead so that you’re not disappointing your readers, or give up the column.

Charles Wheelan‘s The Naked Economist: Charles tries wa-a-ay too hard to come off like the people behind Freakonomics – and I wasn’t exactly impressed with Freakonomics, either. No matter how much you believe in economic principles, they don’t explain the world! This “new breed” of economist seems to think that the world is a bunch of nails and economics is the hammer.

Of course, my personal advice to Yahoo! Finance is to hire me as a columnist. I’m pretty sure I could write a great column for them once every two weeks or so. If you work at Yahoo! Finance and you’re reading this, look through the archives and email me an offer!

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