Author: Gordon Bennett Bleil

Publisher: Elate Press, Lederach PA

ISBN: 978-0-9886149-2-5

Give Yourself a Raise by Gordon Bennett Bleil is a straightforward, easy-to-understand book about managing your own finances. The author makes it clear from the onset that his is not another book about investing. Rather, as the stated in the overview, “This is a beginner’s book about the fundamentals of taking care of your own finances.”

The book begins with an assessment quiz. No, it’s not one of those tricky multiple choice tests, but an invitation to honestly evaluate, with assistance from the author, what you might consider as your “Financial Freedom Risk” score. That score becomes the basis for you, the reader, as you work through the rest of the book. Score high, you’ve got options. Score low, you’ve got work ahead you, perhaps quite a bit. Your score is the basis for setting your goals. I have worked with a number of assessment tools over the years as a professional financial adviser. The questionnaire Bleil sets forth is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. If I were still in practice, I would ask every client to take it regardless of personal net worth.

Bleil writes clearly. He uses the second person throughout in addressing his reader but the tone is instructional – never scolding; never condescending. He provides crystal clear working definitions. Did you know for example, the credit card debt was a “source of funds?” Unlike other sources of funds, however, credit cards need to be paid back. And there, again, the author takes time to explain how to break down credit card receipts so that purchases are allocated to the appropriate “use of funds” category.

The author furnishes easy to replicate worksheets for completing different steps of the program. They are all in a spreadsheet format that can be copied line for line onto a reader’s personal computer. I have used software programs in managing my household finances – Quicken and Money. Either will work well with Bleil’s program, but the beauty of it is neither is required. In fact, I wish I had seen Bleil’s methods before subscribing to any software package. His is easier to use and every bit as effective. Each chapter concludes with a summary of the central ideas in the chapter.

Bleil is realistic. He believes in a budgeting, yes, but advocates a workable system that is modeled quite simply after the way our grandparents probably ran their cash budget. They set up envelopes for the major areas of household expense, put cash in each envelop for the month, and when the cash ran out, that was the end of the spending in that area for the month. The fundamentals have not changed, in other words. Only the technology makes it appear that they have.

Too often, the emphasis on controlling finances is on the rigors of maintaining a program. Give Yourself a Raise keeps the benefits of following the author’s system clearly in sight at all times, whether it is reducing physical stress, diffusing marital tiffs, or the freedom of feeling in control.

Bleil’s focus his human. He knows the pitfalls, the temptations, the ease by which a family can slide into trouble, but his steady approach points the way out of difficulty and the author’s positive “can-do” attitude is infectious. He explains the benefits of on-line banking in a way that will challenge most readers to check whether they are utilizing the facilities at their banks to maximum advantage.

Give Yourself a Raise is the most comprehensive book on personal financial management that I have encountered in my forty year career in the financial services industry. It covers every topic of concern to an individual or couple with a family – from credit and debit card management to insurance and real estate. I am going to make certain that every one of my children has a copy, even if it means giving it to them. Let’s see, that would fall under discretionary use of funds.

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