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11 Reasons Why Zac Bissonnette's A-Z Money Guide Is Wrong (and Sexist)

My guilty pleasure is reading women's magazines when I'm getting my cardio on at the gym. Whatever motivates you, right? While indulging in my seemingly harmless second favorite stress release activity (second only to running outside with my dog),  I almost fell off my hamster wheel while reading Your A-to-Z Money Guide by Zac Bissonnette in Glamour. This article touched more than one nerve in me, and as I fumed, I increased my incline and speed. Thanks for the motivation, Zac! In alphabetical order, these are the top 11 bones I have to pick with this article on behalf of all women and savvy savers of America:

A: Assets. Bissonnette lists your home as a prime example of something that "will make you money over time." As we've all become painfully aware in the wake of the mortgage crisis in our country, you can't always bank on your home as an investment. Many homes across the country were never worth what mortgage companies claimed they were, and they probably never will be again. While buying a home is cheaper in 74% of US cities, that still leaves 26% (also comprised of some of the most densely populated areas) where renting is a better bet according to Trulia's assessment. There are several key factors beyond location to consider when deciding whether or not buying a home is better than renting. This buy vs. rent calculator published by The New York Times is a great tool to figure out what works for you based on the most important criteria.

Using credit cards not only gets you rewards, but it also helps you build your credit score.

Leave my credit cards that build my credit score and give me rewards at home? Not gonna happen, Zac. Image by Robert Scoble (Scobleizer on Flickr). Some right reserved.

B. Budgets. Mr. B says forget about these, just deposit a percentage of each paycheck into a savings account and "leave the credit card at home." Budgets are actually one of the best ways to identify where you overspend, and therefore how you can better manage your spending and increase your monthly savings deposits. Paying with a credit card is smarter and more beneficial than paying with cash or debit, but more on that as we travel down the alphabet.

C. Coupons. He suggests you sign up for sites where you can buy coupons. We believe that you should never ever pay for coupons.  Why would you? They are absolutely free, and doesn't that defeat the purpose? We find them, test them, and post them for you every day in one place. For free.

E. Email blasts. The example he gives for unsubscribing to deal emails? A "$10,000 Thailand trip for $6,000...can lead you to spend money you don't have." Much like the credit card comment, this assertion assumes that readers (women) have no self control and should be uneducated consumers. Besides, anyone who impulse purchases a trip for 6K can afford it. It's not a pack of gum. The truth is, the more deals you see, the easier it becomes to identify the real deals when they come around. Why not comparison shop using free resources like our newsletter?

F. FICO. "That's the name for your credit score." Forgot, we are women so we don't know this. What I definitely do not know is, how am I supposed to build my credit score when am not using credit cards?

G. Guys. "Go for the thrifty ones. A 2011 study found that men who throw around the bucks are generally less interested in commitment than men who spend more practically." Forgot again! We women weren't interested in any financial advice anyway. Just commitment from men, as always! Pardon me while I iron my man's boxers and churn some butter.

H. Home Ownership.  No real reason to rehash the letter A, and while Bissonnette points to the New York Times source mentioned above, he also mentions 3.5% as the minimum down payment to consider. While that is the minimum required for an FHA loan, experts will tell you 10% is good, 20% or more is best.

J. Job Search. He says job searching online is a waste of time. With so many reputable job sites online and the convenience of networking directly on those sites like LinkedIn, there has never been a better time to find your next big gig on the web. I found this job on Craigslist, and before that, I had another sweet position working for a celebrity and found that listing on Monster. Networking is great, but you can't rely solely on other people to find you a job. Plus, these sites are free and right at your fingertips.

P. Pampering. Bissonnette urges you to have a student hack away at your hair to cut the cost of your next crop chop. Why do that when you can book all of your appointments through Lifebooker.com and get up to 85% off services from master stylists and aestheticians? Here's a tip: if you try a new stylist and you like them, they will more often than not offer to let you return for the discounted rate indefinitely if you save them the LB fee on their end by booking your next appointment directly through the salon.

R. Rewards Points. If I had to pick just one, this would be the worst of the bunch. He remarks that one of the most stressful aspects of traveling is "listening to people in the airport talk about how they got their flights 'for free!'” Well, they weren't paid to stand around talking about it; they did get their flights for free. He also goes back to to letter B, saying "you’ll save more money in the end if you use your debit card all the time." Paying with credit cards, especially those that offer miles and reward points like the Starwood American Express card and the British Airways Visa, pay you back as much as double in rewards on things you are buying anyway. When you pay with a debit card, you get little rewards if any, and most won't protect you if your item arrives damaged or stops working. Many credit cards, like the Amex we just mentioned, actually extend your warranties. With rewards point, you can get more than just free flights. In case you haven't seen it, check out how our founder and Editor in Chief Brad Wilson got a $40,000 trip to Australia and New Zealand almost for free!

V. Visa and Mastercard. This letter is used to tell you, once again, not to use credit cards and to use your debit card for all of your purchases. He says doing so ensure that you'll have "no more excuses to spend money you don’t have!" Isn't that what a budget is for?

What do you think of Mr. Bisonnette's advice? Sound off in the comments section below! Sign up for our newsletter to get more deals and news like this delivered to your inbox!

About the Author: Brittni Brown

Brittni creates, publishes, and curates editorial content for BradsDeals.com. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Bryan and their beloved puggle doghter, Bella June.

27 Responses to “11 Reasons Why Zac Bissonnette's A-Z Money Guide Is Wrong (and Sexist)”

  1. Rebecca says:

    While I agree with some of your points, others I don’t. For one, while I agree a budget is a must, I don’t agree that you HAVE to build a credit score and have credit cards to do so. We paid off, cut up & have never gotten another credit card for years & years now! This has not affected our ability to buy a house, get small loans for vehicles, etc. Being debt free (or as much as possible) is really what true freedom is about. We don’t have to rely on using a credit card to try to “earn” point to do anything, we save for what special trips or occasions that we want, use Groupons or other money saving sites (including Brad’s Deals of course!), to get the best deals on everything, and the best part? We DON’T pay a dime of interest and we have not spent more than we earn.

    Second, I have and don’t have a problem with “buying” coupons (ie, ones that come in the Sunday paper). These work best when they have coupons available and in quantities that you can’t get in your local area. Pair your local sales ads with multiples of coupons you have paid a services to cut & mail to you & you can get amazing deals on many of one item you use! For example, I have not purchased toothpaste for 6 years now. When a local store had double coupons up to $2, I used multiples of coupons I got from an online service, and I was able to get free (or paid pennies for) a large amount of toothpaste. We have a family of 6 so it’s something we use a lot of. I would not of been able to get that many coupons locally and/or not for the value that was available through the coupon service. But for online coupons/deals/etc, nah, I would never pay for that because those are out there for free, and I love love love Brad’s Deals for putting them together so neatly for us!

    Last, I wouldn’t get too worked up about what you are interpreting as “sexist” remarks. Women do need more education on how to take care of themselves financially, whether married or not, looking or not. Well, actually almost everyone could use more financial advise/education. But before you dismiss that women are not looking for a financially stable man, a lot of us have/are! Why is it so wrong to assume that some of us are or are wanting to be housewives? We may not iron his shorts or churn butter (some do, lol) but we are thrifty, smart, and down right tickled to be a stay-at-home mom while our men work hard outside the home. If Mr. B is assuming this role of women when he wrote this, don’t be upset, because there are millions of us who do fit that type. If it didn’t apply to you, no big deal! Your role as a woman is perfect for you while mine is perfect for me.

    Thanks for your take on his advice! Sounds like we both love a good deal and want to be smart about what we do with our hard earned money.

    • Thank you, Rebecca! Awesome toothpaste deal. I’m really impressed! Just to be clear, I do not dismiss that women are looking for financially stable men, nor did I say about or against stay at home moms (I love them, I had one)! The point that I am making is that this was an article about financial advice, so Bissonnette’s letter G comment “Guys. Go for the thrifty ones…men who throw around the bucks are generally less interested in commitment than men who spend more practically” was inappropriate because it was irrelevant to the topic and made a generalized assumption based on a cliche that all women are really interested in is commitment from men. Thanks again for your insights!

  2. Joe says:

    As a man who grew up with 4 women in the house (3 sisters and mom) and now have 5 (4 daughters and wife), I am more open-minded than your typical man to things such as gender equality. So, when I read this article with you angrily going off half-cocked, I ask myself a few questions. For example, you say that this Mr. B must be insulting women because women are his target audience. So, I ask myself if it is plausible that this article be published in a men’s magazine. SUre…why not. Yahoo’s homepage has articles every week that tells us how to save money and their homepage is gender neutral. Read Mr. B. article again and pretend you are reading from a magazine targeted at men. See what I mean, Gloria? Bottom line is that I think you are just one of those overly-sensitive, angry women that spends all of your free time agressively seeking out ways to call out men for one reason or another. Thanks for the reminder that I need to raise my daughters to not be so friggin’ sensitive and accusatory.

    • nic says:

      Maybe you’ll be on the New York Times best seller list too someday Gloria, you can write a book of hyper sensitive reactions to sound advice…the number of times you advocate the use of credit cards in this article made me smile though. America has never…ever had an issue with relying too heavily on credit.

  3. Lily says:

    This article was published in a woman’s magazine, so of course it was geared toward women. . .

    G. Guys. “Go for the thrifty ones. A 2011 study found that men who throw around the bucks are generally less interested in commitment than men who spend more practically.” Forgot again! We women weren’t interested in any financial advice anyway. Just commitment from men, as always! Pardon me while I iron my man’s boxers and churn some butter

    Really? It only makes sense to partner with a like-minded person when looking for a life mate. Saves many arguments, and disillusionment later.

    • Hi Lily! Thanks for you joining the conversation! I couldn’t agree more that partnering with a like-minded person is a great idea. As I mentioned to Rebecca above, this was an article about financial advice, so Bissonnette’s letter G comment ‘Guys. Go for the thrifty ones…men who throw around the bucks are generally less interested in commitment than men who spend more practically’ was irrelevant, and this comment is based on a sexist cliche, that all women are really interested in is commitment from men. You are correct, and your comment is insightful, but that is not what he is saying here. Thanks again for your comment!

      • Laura says:

        I thought his info was good and am reading his new book (love it so far). I did not take any of that as being sexist…I think that the type of partner you choose can make a huge impact on your financial life, si in my opinion, it is a valid piece of advise. If you choose a big spender, you may spend a better portion of your dating and married love trying to recover from big expenses. I think the point is to find someone who also cares about money and in commitment manages money well with you.

  4. Steve says:

    Amen Joe – I am in the exact same situation as you and am raising my daughters to think for themselves and to not cop an attitude as Gloria has. Well said!

  5. Cyn says:

    I absolutely agree with you on all points – even the possibly “sexist” comments. I’m not sure about the other posters, but I’m in my early 20′s and (thankfully) I had good financial advice growing up.

    For the comment about not needing to “build your credit” – I think that is insane. Maybe you haven’t used credit cards in years, but I’m sure you did earlier in your life to start building credit. Although creditors are bouncing back from a few years ago where new regulations made it harder to get credit, there was so much talk going around about not using/getting credit cards. So many in my age group now are finding it hard to get loans on cars, houses, and other credit because they were told to never get/use credit cards in college. (Also having trouble paying off school loans…but that’s another problem)

    Also, why in the world would you pay for coupons? I know that couponing is coming back like a storm, but in general – when you get a “coupon booklet”, how many do you REALLY use? As someone who does use coupons (btw, I love brads deals), even I only use at most 5% of what comes through the door now.

    Maybe this whole issue is an “age” and “audience” thing – I’m not a normal reader of Glamour, but I know many people in their 20 – 30′s do…who are generally single with no children. My generation has definitely gotten horrible financial advice as a whole since we’ve been new to the whole economic slowdown and housing crash. On one hand I agree that I feel slightly offended by the sexist comments, but as others have pointed out – many men in my generation also face the same problems.

    • Thanks, Cyn! Great points, especially about paying for coupons. There are many sites out there, like the sites suggested by Bissonnette that charge you to see “their” coupons, that they got for free! We agree that it is wrong. We also publish coupons from coupon booklets (that we purchase) so that our readers can use them for free. PS, We love you back!

  6. Nancy says:

    Gloria, I dig your tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to Glamour’s shoddy “money guide.” It made me chuckle and nod in agreement. I read your tone as witty, sarcastic, and did not feel that you were “copping an attitude” at all. I teach 7th grade, so I can assure you that I’m familiar with what that looks and sounds like both in print and in person, as I am so often on the receiving end of it.

    I also think that the “overly-sensitive, angry women” and “friggin’ sensitive and accusatory” remarks are unfair and unwarranted. I wonder if that commenter would talk to his daughters that way? I certainly wouldn’t talk to my kids or anyone else’s like that. I’m also left wondering where’s everyone’s sense of humor today? I’m all for taking deal-getting seriously, but must that intensity to light-hearted article reading?

  7. Nancy says:

    Correction: Last line should read “must we EXTEND that intensity . . .”

  8. Sandra says:

    I agree Gloria – good for you for offering this rebutal. I think its hilarious that the comments from two men, Steve & Joe, are accusing women and instead will be “protecting” and “teaching” their daughters to not be “angry” or “overly sensitive.” Hah, um, Steve & Joe, hate to break it to you but that’s sexist! Would you teach your sons to not be “overly manly?” I too am a mother to two daughters… I WILL be raising them to look at things from a feminist lens. Sorry since we dont live in a world of unicorns and leprechauns… the reality is SEXISM exists. Especially subtle sexism like this article or financial tips for women. In reality women are short shafted, paid less for more work, and I want my daughters to learn how to leverage their earnings to go farther than their male counterparts will have to. Go Gloria GO!

    • You are so right, Sandra! By the way, my name is Brittni. Steve gave me a huge compliment by referring to me as Gloria, as in Gloria Steinem, one of the creators of New York Magazine and arguably the most famous leader of the feminist movement. She is such an intelligent and talented woman. I am so flattered, and I could only hope that I will one day change the world .1% as much as she has. Thank you for your insightful contribution to this discussion. You really hit the nail on the head! Sounds like you are one awesome mom and your daughters are lucky to have you.

  9. nic says:

    This site is clearly biased toward advocating products and practices that you offer, the same ones that pay your salary, email blasts, coupons, online deals etc. This article is a joke. Have you met Zac, he is basically a woman anyway, not sexist in the least.

    • Elise says:

      I totally agree with you, and I have met zac, so naturally I laughed hysterically through this entire article. I wonder if she wrote two books before 25?

      • Laura says:

        It is TRUELY SAD how catty women are towards each other. I see it here. I disagree that the article was sexist also BUT agree or disagree, any reason why we can’t all have opinions respectfully.

  10. Toni Brown says:

    Your home is no longer your cash cow or your ideal investment We are no longer living in the 50′s. Credit cards with cash back are great. I pay my balance by direct debiting my CMA acct.monthy so I’m never late. I get a lot of cash back whenever I want; I try to put everything on my card. Cheap, frugal, guys are neurotic and clingy so I’ve learned not to commit to them!! Brittni aka Gloria G. is awesome and so is Brad’s Deals. I grew up with Gloria G. as my role model,go girl!

    • Laura says:

      Per Zac’s book and use of thrifty… I believe he is implying something along the lines of “innovative and creative rather than materialistic” not cheap, frugal & neurotic.

      I also put everything on my card and pay off at months end but I do not think that most people do (hence so many people in debt.)

      Homes can be a great investment if you do not buy over what you can afford as so many did.

      I also love Brads Deals and appreciate B’s opinion.

  11. ryan says:

    Everyone has the first amendment going for them. All of us have the freedom of speech as well as the freedom of press, on paper and online. I’m not going to point out the other three benefits of the first amendment, just the two, relatively similar ones mentioned in the beginning. We can all say what we want to say, when we say, what we want to say, but not always where we want to say it at. That is where press comes in to play and is able to go everywhere so any and everybody gets the chance to see someone else’s point of view. If they want, they can turn around and respond with something else, but remember this, its almost always going to be an opinion if what you’re talking about involves emotions to this degree. If it is not just an opinion and is a fact, that’s fine too. I don’t believe downing another persons “opinion” should be necessary. At the end of the day, we are all humans and, male or female, all breath the same air as everyone else.
    Maybe the first amendment should clarify and readjustment itself saying freedom of agreement or disagreement. That way everyone understands. Just try to leave the obvious negativity out, because it is a fact that not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say.

  12. Tori says:

    So basically you’re just pissed because Zac is prettier than you?

  13. LaLa says:

    Thanks for your witty rebuttal, Brittni. I stopped reading women’s mags a long time ago. I found they just had the same few articles rehashed ad nauseum, were overly simplistic and way too superficial. I mean, everyone wants to look better, eat healthier, etc. but the way these mags are set up they seem to say these are the ONLY things women want! Yuck!

    Imho, they rank right up (or down) there with those gossip rags – a guilty pleasure and little else.

    It sounds like this Zac dude is just the same in a long line of writers for women’s mags. As such, I’ll give his advice the same weight – as in NOT.

    Great rebuttal article!

  14. Joe says:

    LOL – I referred to the author of this blog as “Gloria” for Gloria Steinem (or Gloria Allred for that matter) and subsequent posters mistakenly called her Gloria as well. Whoops. Sorry Brittni. Otherwise, I still think you are being way too sensitive and must be seeking out men to bash. And I will raise my daughters to not be taken advantage of whether it be by man or woman. They’ll have to pick their own battles, but I will be damned if they put a chip on their shoulders around men waiting for it to be knocked off.

  15. Sandy says:

    Wow. Loved your article. It’s so inappropriate to include choosing a guy in with all of his financial advice. And job searching online is GREAT! I also think email newsletters about deals are wonderful ways to grow accustom to actual amazing deals. I recently used a free earned flight to visit a friend and she told me that her family “doesn’t do rewards” and I was just astonished. She’s a broke college student like me! It’s like throwing away money. The same holds for credit cards and their rewards. He should advocate for more responsible credit card usage, not just throwing the whole idea out, which brings me to what I believe is the most absurd advice: no budgets!! I really don’t even know where to start. I love them. Love love love them. I agree that it’s important to be depositing a percentage into a savings account, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible for keeping track of how you spend the rest of it. Well, you can be responsible without a budget, but it certainly makes it easier. And by the rest of the advice in his article, I’d say it seems like it was written for people who are either inexperienced or irresponsible and need all the financial help they can get. Idk, maybe I’m missing something, but I think I’ll be skipping some of his financial advice.

  16. Dudeman says:

    I’m half way through and this has to be one of the dumbest articles ever, almost like reading the Onion…is this article purposefully a joke? I’m really hoping the second half gets better or I wasted my life.

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