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Book Review: Get Your Head Out Of The Sand

Get Your Head Out Of The Sand

By Lisa Dudson
Only $29.95

Reviewed by Gina Stewart on behalf of the Good Returns Bookstore.

Don’t bury you head in the sand when it comes to your financial affairs. This guide will show you how to reduce your debt and provide you with the skills to become your own money manager.

This book is an introductory guide to managing finances for the everyday Kiwi. It is written by a successful and recognised financial planner, adept to dealing with New Zealanders and helping them learn constructive behaviours towards their finances. I perceived it to be beneficial for the financially ignorant or ‘in denial’ kiwi who perhaps wouldn’t normally choose to read finance books, and would as the author says, prefer to “bury their head in the sand”.

The book is very approachable right from the brightly coloured cover featuring an informal font and amusing picture of an ostrich and this follows through to the structure and the content. It is supportive and encouraging from start to end. Clear and uncomplicated language contributes to the encouraging and almost lighthearted tone of the book. It is easily read and flows logically and progressively.

Structured as a workbook style guide, it incorporates useful exercises to follow the major points and advice. These exercises throughout the book are commonly in the form of worksheets that encourage further thought on the topics. This technique reinforces the information, actually applying it to the reader, and can be a reference point to return to making it easier to stay on track.

The layout is very manageable. The chapters are not too long and major points are backed up with interesting examples. Every chapter is broken down and summarised at the end, which clarifies the main points being made.

Dudson utilises inspiring quotes through the book that are relevant to each chapter, and she refers to stories from her own clients and from well known people (Henry Ford, Walt Disney etc.) She discusses cases that she has dealt with in her own career, comparing and contrasting the habits and situations of different clients and highlighting the negative and positive outcomes of different approaches. She includes examples of famous business role models from recent history, comparing the method of their achievements to what anyone can achieve on a smaller scale. This also reinforces the advice while providing inspiration along the way.

The book starts out by coaching the reader into the right mindset and developing the right attitude. This very motivational part of the book is all about creating the self-belief, confidence and positive approach that is necessary to succeed. I think it is important as it can be applied to all aspects of life, not just finances alone. The reader has to critique themselves and their approach to their finances, acknowledging bad habits and considering a different outlook and approach.

From here the book applies the attitude and skills to the reader’s life. It continues to coach the reader with practical advice and skills that cover the main issues relevant to most kiwis such as mortgages, investments and retirement funds. There is a focus on setting and approaching realistic and achievable goals.

Dudson explains that she thinks a lot of budgeting fails to work for the common person because the traditional budget can be too stringent and punishing which has a discouraging effect. She suggests that if we are realistic in our approach and cut ourselves a little bit of slack we are more likely to succeed in the long run, and she offers examples to work from.

With the conversational tone of the book and the use of practical exercises to individually tailor the advice, it almost creates a sense of really being in a series of sessions with a financial planner.

Get your Head Out of the Sand would not be very relevant to anyone with an above average knowledge or experience in personal finances. I think this book is highly beneficial to those with little experience or knowledge, who know that they should be confronting their financial future but are in the habit of putting it off. Suitable for a large range of ages and demographics, it will start the youngest reader on the right foot and offer the advice and techniques to turn around destructive money habits of the oldest reader.

It confronts and attempts to resolve the growing issue surrounding a lack of proper finance education in our society and the resulting debt faced by New Zealanders. I think Lisa Dudson has set out to provide some education on the necessary basics to anyone willing to seek it, and she has successfully achieved it through this book.


Get your Head out of the Sand is available for $29.95 through the Good Returns online bookstore.

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