Author: Joe John Duran, CFA

ISBN :9781608324354

When you pick up The Money Code, by Joe Duran, the first thing you’ll want to do is flip to page 124, “Afterward: A Bit About the Author’s Life.” This is the most interesting part of the book, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t read it first. Here you learn that the author grew up in Africa. He writes, “The world outside our four walls was a terrifying place. Rhodesia was in the midst of a civil war whose bitter conclusion created a new country, the Republic of Zimbabwe. The years of conflict meant that our lives were at risk every day.” Sadly, life inside the four walls were no party either. Both he and his mother suffered under the hands of an abusive father. At age 11, his mother escaped, poor but with hope for a better life.

Duran came to the U.S., built a company, and sold it for more than a million dollars. I’d love to know how he crossed the ocean, how he built a company, what kind of company it was, and so much more. I have no doubt there is a fascinating story hiding inside there, but the afterward is only four pages, so there’s little more than a tiny glimpse. 

Given his background, it is no wonder that fear and insecurity dominated Duran’s outlook on life and money. In The Money Code, he creates a fictional character, Jack, who is taken through a series of exercises on his computer by an anonymous financial expert called “the alchemist.” Jack learns to face and overcome his fears and insecurities about money. Jack’s initial question is whether or not he should take a $6,000 vacation to Machu Picchu. Through this online course, and then at the end, when he finally gets to meet the alchemist for an in-person one-hour consultation, Jack comes to a satisfactory conclusion regarding his vacation. Personally, I would have preferred to read about real clients and real financial make-overs. I couldn’t really get into the fictional Jack who seemed woefully clueless and inept.

Each chapter of the book covers one online financial lesson for the protagonist. There are also inserts in each chapter called, “Money Talk” that present a financial dilemma. These are extreme situations. For example, a couple has an argument about whether they should drain every last dollar they have in order to do a $250,000 luxury remodel on their house. Should they give up their 401(k) and their daughter’s college fund to expand their home?

In another Money Talk scenario, a young woman wonders if she should take out a loan for a brand new car, or wait until she saves the cash to afford the car. Her mother urges her to get the car now, because she “deserves” it. But the (wiser) young woman can’t sleep at night as she imagines herself under this new debt. The dilemmas in “Money Talk” are never resolved. Perhaps the author intends the readers to possess enough common sense in order to figure out the correct responses on their own?

The overall purpose of the book is to help people overcome their fears and insecurities about money and to provide them with checklists they can use as tools to make good financial decisions.


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