A Simple Way to Be Smart About Your Money

Join us in welcoming avid reader and reviewer, Jeff Tompkins, Jr. Jeff’s thoughtful yet entertaining Book Reviews will appear on selected Fridays, starting today. You can meet Jeff up close and personal in his biography, below. 

The One-Page Financial Plan (Portfolio / Penguin 2015) by Carl Richards
Reviewer: Jeff Tompkins, Jr.


My mother often describes my personality as microwave. I have little patience for the slow cooker; I want it now and with as little effort as possible. And by it I mean anything that is important at the moment.

When a book touting a “one-page financial plan” was recommended to me, you have to know it sounded like a match made in heaven. What I got from The One-Page Financial Plan wasn’t a magic key to a life of champagne and caviar. I got a very smart and simple reminder of the first step we all have to take as we wade into financial planning: relax.

Walk through Barnes & Noble, browse Amazon or even turn on any number of cable TV shows and you will quickly see what the author refers to as the massive financial entertainment industry—the countless “experts” barraging us with hot stock tips, the smartest money moves; the fool-proof places to put our money.

And what’s the problem with that? Richards says there does not exist a one-size-fits all financial plan. In the immortal words of that philosophical guru Po from Kung Fu Panda, “there is no secret ingredient.”

Instead, Richards puts forth that our individual financial plans should be guided by our own subjective goals and values. We shouldn’t be making a financial decision whether it’s to buy a house, invest in certain stocks or funds or what have you, by blindly following suggestions based on guesses that a so-called expert is making.

Sure, there are some universal best practices that Richards also puts forward as wise—things like budgeting, paying off debt (one of the wisest investments we can make), saving and spending less than we earn. But otherwise, how do hotheads on TV know that a certain stock is the perfect fit for your portfolio, or that it will be the next home-run, make-you-Warren-Buffett-wealthy type of investment? They don’t. If they were that able to predict the future they would already be wealthy and wouldn’t be sharing it with you! The secret ingredient, it turns out, is us.

Richards’ book delivers on exactly what it promises. It is simple and it’s smart.

Simple because the book isn’t pushing us to spend all of our free time reading the annual reports of Fortune 500 companies; it doesn’t require us to become “experts” in stop-loss orders, dividend yield or P/E ratios.

Smart because the author realizes he is writing to fallible humans. For those hoping for the super-secret stock tips and someone telling you exactly which small company will make you a millionaire if you invest now, this isn’t your Holy Grail. But you would be very wise to read and digest the truths found here!

Using his popular sketches, which break down big concepts into easy-to-remember visuals, the book is a provocative, even fun, exercise that moves people toward the lives they want.

The One-Page Financial Plan is an easy read that will get you noodling on your own financial situation and how you might need to correct your course; what biases you have accepted as financial truth that may very well conflict with your own values and goals.

Grateful to now own The One-Page Financial Plan, there is no doubt that I will continue to underline, discuss with family and friends, and return to it time and again to refresh and remind myself of the great principles within.

I am confident you will find it to be the same, and hope that it leads you to taking a deeper look at your own financial life.

I highly recommend this book. It is as practical as it is rich in wisdom and encouragement. A lot of good information, a great resource.

Turning the page to our next great read,


 A self-avowed bibliophile, Jeff Tompkins, Jr. has been an avid reader since he was old enough to string together difficult passages like, “I do not like green eggs and ham!” thanks to his parents who instilled in him a love of words. In his real job, Jeff enjoys a career in commercial real estate, “mainly to fund my rampant book obsessions!” he quips.

A Texan by birth, Jeff now lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter, along with two dogs who Jeff is convinced exist solely to try his patience. 


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  • Jo

    Great suggestions. Not sure if this was a past idea of yours, but I save $1 bills that carry my initials in the circle on the front left side. Once I have 50 I turn them in for a 50. Then I save the 50”s and use like petty cash. I think a lot harder about breaking a 50 vs spending 1’s.