Book Reviews Culture — 26 September 2012
Basic Training for Your Money

Read It or Not with Faith
Dollars and Uncommon Sense; Basic Training for Your Money

By Faith Dougherty

I can sum up my response to Steve Repak’s, Dollars and Uncommon Sense; Basic Training for Your Money in one syllable: duh. There are no secret formulas or shortcuts provided by Repak, just common sense advice and his own professional and life examples that beg to be dismissed as meaningless clichés. The simplicity and clarity of this quick read, however, are the source of its strength.

The purpose of the book is simple: he’s out to change the minds and habits of his readers, because in his words, “it’s the way you think about money that determines how much money you have.” Repak successfully draws on his experience in the Army, specifically his basic training, to provide the straight-forward emotional and mental training that can transform anyone into a wealth builder.

The book is designed to be approachable and read in one sitting. Repak keeps it simple with the three key areas of financial health: spending, debt and savings. His message is  most convincing when he draws on his experience as a certified financial planner and his own struggle to overcome the $32,000 worth of debt he acquired after twelve years of military service. Readers can put this mixture of anecdotes and advice into actual practice with helpful worksheets, basic formulas and online resources provided throughout the book.

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Dollars and Uncommon Sense seems to be a book Repak wrote to his younger, debt-ridden self. He even promises that saving will “feel so good” and make the reader want “more and more” just like his own awakening to the Joy of Sex. As someone who had the good fortune of growing up in a financially responsible family, complete with a father who taught me about the birds and the bees, Repak’s book only served to reinforce the basic ideas and relationship I already had with money without providing any new information.

His tone is clearly intended for the young, military male, keeping a conversational feel; imagine talking finances over a couple of beers. Technical vocabulary and investing options don’t make an appearance until the last chapter. Repak seems to take a less puritanical approach to finance than other contemporary money gurus like Dave Ramsey, though he still hammers home on the concept of donating 10 percent to charity and saving 10 percent of your income right off the top.

While I’ve heard this all before, I still paused when reading to dig out a calculator and make sure I was saving enough in what he calls my “Life Happens Account.” Even though this book lacks in originality, his clear writing and useful take-away tips provide common financial sense with uncommon accessibility and clarity.

I say: read it. The most you’ll lose is a couple hours on the couch. And who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy applying his fundamental skills to building wealth to the point where you find yourself wanting more and more.


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