Don't get roped into paying for expensive "investment classes"

Have you seen the infomercials or the advertisements in newspapers and online for investment classes? They're going to teach you how to use your spare time and money to become financially free! You're going to learn how to turn your small savings into lifetime wealth!

These advertisements either want you to buy their expensive book/CD/system, or attend and outrageously priced seminar. A WalletPop reader wrote to us about Better Trades, a seminar she was considering attending for $3,995.

The marketing materials sound impressive. (They're supposed to, aren't they?) You'll learn how to make money trading stocks whether the market is up or down. You'll find the secrets of leveraging your money and buying stocks at a discount. You'll learn how to trade "risk free!"

The truth is that these programs rarely teach you anything that you can't learn from a book you buy on Amazon. And that book won't cost you almost $4,000. Let's face it -- Stock trading isn't for any old amateur. If it was, everyone would be doing it. People lose money in the stock market every day (even professionals who have been doing it for years), and people who don't know what they're doing should tread very carefully.

It's one thing for an amateur to try their hand at some low risk trading strategies, with money they're not going to need for a long time. It's quite another to take your entire life's savings and invest it like you're going to become a millionaire overnight.

The only people who are really making money from these seminars are the people who put them on and get people to part with thousands of dollars. And don't think that once you're there you won't be inundated with other "must have" products to buy.

If you want to learn how to trade stocks, buy a good book, find a friend who is willing to teach you a few things, and take it very slowly. Don't spend thousands on a class that won't really teach you much!

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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