It's a workout: Get financially fit, author says

Saimi Bergmann

There's no magic bullet.

Sorry, says Peter Dunn, you can’t twitch your nose and become financially secure. Nor can you pawn the task off on others, worry about it tomorrow, or go at it half-heartedly.

It’s about discipline, says Dunn, radio show host and author of “What Your Dad Never Taught You About Budgeting” and “60 Days to Change.”

“I make analogies to health and fitness throughout the book,” Dunn said. “In general, I find people who are very healthy are also healthy financially. It’s about being disciplined.”

Dunn’s no-nonsense approach focuses on changing money habits, beginning with the admonition to stop spending money irresponsibly.

“The best way to get out of the hole is to stop digging it,” he says, encouraging people to start using the phrase, “I can’t afford it.”

Instead of budgeting, Dunn recommends counting transactions.

“How many times you participated in commerce over the course of the week? How many times did you hand over cash or credit card?” 

Dunn asks people to reduce purchasing to five to nine transactions per week, forcing them to think before they spend.

Dunn also warns against these tempting financial traps:

- Debt consolidators.

“It’s the Adkins diet of financial wellness. Yeah, you lost 13 pounds in a week, but you’re going to gain it all back.

“Like a rich uncle dies and leaves you enough money to pay off your debt. The likelihood of you going back into debt is high. You haven’t fixed the problem that caused your problem.”

- Twelve months same as cash.

“Always a bad idea. In this economy, really bad. We’re in a recession; you could be in a worse financial situation 12 months from now. Jobs we thought were secure aren’t.”

- Store credit cards.

“The concept of a part-time sales clerk making financial decisions for you? It’s nauseating to me — a 16-year-old suggesting I affect my credit to save $10 that week on my bill. Just because your wallet has seven credit card slots doesn’t mean you have to fill them all up.”

- Buy a house as soon as you can.

“Renting is not a shameful thing on the East and West coasts, but in the Midwest, there’s this weird shame that hangs over you if you’re renting. It makes sense now, until the real estate market settles out, to spend these transition years renting, instead of taking a big financial risk.”

The Repository