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Financial Planning

Financial Tips From Rock Icon Gene Simmons

The Kiss frontman riffs on investing, saving and building a brand.

Pedro Mera/Xinhua/Landov

Even if you don’t know Gene Simmons’s music, chances are you know his face—the one he’s trademarked, anyway. The Kiss cofounder and bassist has established a personal brand that encompasses everything from his band’s thousands of licensed products to his co-ownership of an Arena Football League team called the LA Kiss.

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Simmons’s latest venture is a money book titled Me, Inc. (Dey Street Books, $27). In it, he explains his branding strategy, a message sure to resonate with anyone looking for a job in today’s market. The philosophy in a nutshell: Never forget that marketing yourself is every bit as important as what you bring to the table. “If a vacuum cleaner salesman rings at your front door, he will be selling himself first. The vacuum cleaner is secondary,” Simmons writes.

The ambitious book covers other money topics, too, including investing, saving and home buying. Simmons says he set out to write an abridged version of all the money advice you never learned in school. “They don’t teach you how to pay taxes, earn a living and invest,” he says. “They teach you Columbus discovered America in 1492. Great. I’m prepared for life now.”

But the book addresses these subjects mostly with familiar financial platitudes. Simmons tells you to live within your means and riffs on Poor Richard’s Almanack (two pennies saved is one penny earned post-tax). Don’t expect more than the Cliff’s Notes version of personal finance. When Simmons does go into detail, he occasionally appears a little out of his depth. Sure, you shouldn’t buy a house you can’t afford, but if everyone waited to amass a net worth four times the value of the home they want to buy, as Simmons recommends, it would spell the end of homeownership as we know it. His idea of a diversified investment portfolio quickly devolves from stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average to penny stocks.

With Me, Inc., Simmons offers a glimpse into the financial mind of a rock legend. But don’t quit your (many) day jobs, Gene. Leave financial advice to the pros.