Whidbey sailor writes financial advice book

He knows what it’s like to make mistakes

  • Saturday, February 10, 2007 5:00am
  • Business

Young sailors are known for a lot of things, such as having a lot of courage and energy. But financial acumen is not considered one of their strong points.

So it was with Kurtis Solberg, who joined the Navy right out of high school at the tender age of 18 and soon found himself in financial difficulty.

“I was really bad with finances,” Solberg, 28, said, looking back at his spending habits of 10 years ago. So bad, in fact, that “I had to take a class.”

The Navy can order sailors in financial trouble to take a class, but it can’t make them pay attention. But Solberg did, and it changed his life. Ten years later, after taking more classes and spending endless hours in independent study, he calls himself an “investment entrepreneur,” and he’s written a book to help others who are lost in the world of finance, as he once was.

A brief paperback of fewer than 100 pages, “Financial Invigoration for the Average Joe,” is described on its back cover as “a roadmap for the financially challenged.”

Solberg isn’t a gambler, so don’t expect him to recommend any risky business ventures. His advice is all grounded in common sense, starting with the necessity to save money — no matter how much it hurts.

“Most people don’t even start thinking about saving for retirement until they are approaching it,” Solberg writes. “Would you rather buy those Pearl Jam concert tickets with backstage passes, or deposit $200 into your retirement account?” The answer, he urges, should be the retirement account.

But his approach to saving isn’t miserly. Just set aside 10 percent of your paycheck, take care of the bills and then spend what you want. “The rest of the money is yours,” he says, recommending against trying to stick to a detailed budget.

As the Pearl Jam allusion suggests, Solberg’s book is a fun read that young investors will particularly enjoy. While financial topics can be mind-numbing, Solberg spices things up with down-home humor. One part of the book suggests investing on Rolling Stone companies with staying power, rather than trendy Britney Spears companies that won’t last.

“Finance is kind of a dry topic and I wanted to make it a fun read,” he said.

The book is complete with definitions of financial terms, simple charts to explain investment options and gains, and different approaches to investment. And when necessary, the author pulls no punches in warning against bad financial decisions. “These businesses rip you off big time!” he writes of payday loan companies; then he goes on to recommend better ways to get financial help when times are tough.

Solberg is an electronics technician, the leading petty officer for Wing 10 at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. He’s got 10 years to go until retirement, and after that he plans to be a full-time investor.

“I don’t want to work for someone else,” he said.

So far, he’s taking his own advice on investing and doing quite well. Although he hasn’t yet reached his first goal of becoming a millionaire, he says “I’m getting there.” His wife Jodie has the same entrepreneurial spirit and is a successful sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. They plan to make Whidbey Island their permanent home.

“Financial Invigoration for the Average Joe” is published by Infinity and has a list price of $10.95. With tax time arriving, many of us no doubt are thinking about taking our finances more seriously. As Solberg advises, “Challenge yourself to learn something new instead of eating M&Ms on the couch and watching American Idol.”

The book can be purchased online or stop by Wind & Tide Books on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.

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