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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time for Some Basic Financial Training, February 25, 2012
This review is from: Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training for Your Money (Paperback)
Personal finance is an important topic that affects everyone, yet it hasn't received the level of coverage that it deserves for most of the past few decades. The financial meltdown of the past few years has, thankfully, resulted in a newfound emphasis on personal finance and hundreds or perhaps even thousands of books have been published in response. Dollars and Uncommon Sense is one of those books. It is a book about financial responsibility and it emphasizes how we could all be a little better off financially with some simple basic training.

I'm a financial person myself and I have spent the past twenty- plus years advising people on financial matters, lecturing college classrooms about personal and corporate finance, and writing about financial topics. Thus, I am always ready to read another book on the topic, just to see if it presents any new ideas or advice on ways to manage money, reduce debt, invest wisely, etc. Dollars and Uncommon Sense covers most of the basics of personal finance, complete with tables, instructions, and other tips to help you get your financial house in order.

One thing I like about Dollars and Uncommon Sense is that the author has already been through a financial crisis of his own. He talks in the book about his own stint with debt and how he used to rack up credit card bills like there was no tomorrow. Because of this, he is able to relate to the reader who may be faced with a similar situation. He isn't just talking about what should work based on research- he is speaking from experience and he seems genuinely interested in helping others achieve their financial goals.

Dollars and Uncommon Sense starts off talking about attitude and how our personal perceptions and relationships with money are critical because they will determine whether or not we succeed financially. The book then proceeds to talk about three general areas of personal financial management: Spending, debt, and saving/investing. These are three very broad areas and there is very little space available in this book to cover all that needs to be covered. It discusses what its limited pages permit, but financial people in particular will quickly realize that many important topics such as insurance and education savings plans are not covered at all.

I generally like what this book offers, but one area of disagreement I have is with the basic plan for financial improvement. Specifically, I do not agree that people should give ten percent of their income to charity before they even touch any of their other responsibilities, like paying debt, investing, saving, etc. I am certainly a firm believer in charitable giving and I donate money on a monthly basis. However, I don't agree with this as a matter of priority for several reasons. First, many people cannot afford to give up ten percent of their earnings- they wouldn't have enough money left to survive. Second, even if all the important bills were paid and food was on the table, it would still make more sense to divide up the ten percent among accelerated debt payments, investments, and charity. Now, if you can actually afford to give up ten percent to charity, then by all means go ahead and give. But this should not be your top priority and I disagree with the book's advice that we move into a smaller home and downsize our lifestyle just so we can have enough cash to give away ten percent of it to non- profit organizations.

Other than my strong opposition to the book's spending allocation plan, Dollars and Uncommon Sense does offer some good, basic financial advice in many respects. Financial literacy is sorely lacking among most individuals and this book does offer at least some good, general basic training on personal finance.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2012 7:18:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 1, 2012 7:20:01 AM PDT
Wendy Breeze says:
Perhaps this author believes that a principle of many faiths called the "tithe" is more important than the strict numbers on paper. Many believe in a real God who blesses obedience to Him, in this instance by the tithe. And there are many testimonies of this happening. If God truly owns it all and we are stewards, one can begin to grasp this concept. If anyone reading this is hostile to faith, then forget it. I write this because this reviewer seems utterly unfamiliar with this concept. If you are a faith-hater, there will be no debate from me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2012 1:05:25 PM PDT
pcbdeb says:
Wendy, you are spot-on! God promises he will bless those who are faithful to give back some of what they have been entrusted with

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2012 11:47:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2012 11:51:24 AM PST
Wendy, you make a good point. Unfortunately, most churches use tithing as a way to line their pockets or support their business which has nothing to do with pleasing God. Those that consider themselves Christian, should be aware that tithing is only an Old Testament concept. Jesus never advocated giving any money to the church leaders, let alone a specific percentage. He threw the "moneychangers" out of the temple and encouraged giving to the poor or helping those in need directly without taking any credit (anonymously). He did point out that the donation of a widow who gave two mites (all she had) was more meaningful than a rich man who gave more money. The point was not her giving to the temple treasury, but that she gave her all to what she believed. You are totally correct that God already owns everything and we can only be stewards. The only thing of value we can give Him is our willingness to serve and do His will. This obedience has nothing to do with giving money to a church. Any church that collects money openly and tracks donations, as a way to please God is dead wrong (we could never afford our salvation, if that price was not already paid on Calvary). The bottom line is we should help those in need to the best of our ability, if we get any credit for it in this life that is our only reward. Whatever we are able to give in secret will be to our eternal credit, but again New Testament obedience to God is never about money. May God bless us all as we love Him and others more than ourselves (following Jesus).
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