The 1-2-3 Money Plan by Gregory Karp  is a book that seeks to provide practical and specific financial advice that anyone can use – it says so on the back! Published by Finantial Times Press, this book seeks to help you establish a structure to your personal finances and give you a process you can follow to get you on track.
About Gregory Karp
First, who is Gregory Karp? He is a nationally syndicated columnist whose weekly “Spending Smart” column appears in the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, and several others. The column has won the Best Column Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers three different times. He’s also authored another book, Living Rich by Spending Smart. If he has a background in finance, it’s not listed anywhere in his bio – in a sense, he’s kind of like you and me. He’s someone who has learned the principles of personal finance, had the opportunity to write about it for over twenty years, and has parlayed that learning into a book.
The 1-2-3, Step by Step Approach
When I first opened the book, I thought the 1-2-3 meant there were only three steps to the money plan. To be honest, I didn’t believe that personal finance was so simple that three steps alone could set someone back on track. While it appears I’m still right, Karp’s book doesn’t refer to a three step plan, the 1-2-3 refer to how each part of your financial life must be tackled step by step. There’s no 1-3-5 money plan, it’s 1-2-3.
So, now that you know it’s not a three step process, what does the book cover? It covers everything from how you get started to estate planning, from ID theft to bill paying, from making sure you have adequate insurance to whether organic food is worth the price. It’s pretty detailed in the topics that the book covers, but I wanted to talk about the overarching principles he prints on the inside jacket of the book.
Don’t be paralyzed by perfection: Be good enough – When I saw that, it added to what I thought of Karp. While I’ve never read his columns, this single line told me that he was a realist. He wasn’t a financial adviser looking at hard numbers and telling you that you should invest 50% in this and 50% in that. One of the greatest challenges for regular people like you and me is overcoming analysis paralysis. Should I invest in the stock market today? What if it goes down tomorrow? While you tell yourself you shouldn’t market-time, we all know we do it. Karp’s saying that it’s better to make a good decision now than a perfect decision someday… a someday that may never come. I wholeheartedly agree.
The book has a lot of other practical tips sprinkled through. For example, he echoes the idea that you should be contributing 10-15% of your salary towards your 401(k). If your eyes bugged out of your head, you weren’t alone. He gives a good suggestion, again one I’ve seen elsewhere, that you can just increase your contributions by a percent or two every time you get a raise. It softens the blow and you probably won’t even notice it!
Overall, I liked the book. The step by step approach is very practical and actionable. Whether it’s a book for you will depend on where you are in your life, it’s a book you should check out at the bookstore and, after flipping through it, you feel it’s for you, pick it up. If you don’t have it in your bookstore, Google Books has a sneak preview  you can check out.