Speed Read: Pete the Planner
1. Based on his Klout score for Twitter (10,900 followers to date), Peter Dunn, a.k.a. Pete the Planner, was named the fourth-most-influential personal-finance broadcaster in the nation in 2012 behind Jim Cramer, Dave Ramsey, and Suze Orman. (Editor’s Note: He’s also our pick for Best of Indy Twitter Follow.) This month, the local comedian–turned–advice guru releases The Commissioner, a guide for professionals who live on a commission income, and a five-book series called Your Money Life.
2. A self-proclaimed former slacker, Dunn has made up for lost time, logging 260 speaking engagements last year, writing a weekly column for The Indianapolis Star, and hosting a show on WIBC.
3. It took Dunn more than a year to write each of his four earlier books, but when publishing giant Cengage Learning asked him to complete six books in a little over three months, he delivered. Each Your Money Life title caters to a different age group, from workplace rookies in their 20s to 60-something Boomers.
4. “It’s a really violent process,” the Carmel resident says of his work habits. “I can only write from 4 a.m. until 11 a.m., and I have to listen to militant rap music.” Dead Prez is a favorite.
5. Dunn now marries his past lives as a comedian and a financial planner. He assumes his audience shares his short attention span and doesn’t like to read, so tossing in a few zingers makes budgeting advice more palatable.
6. Dunn’s two children will learn the same lesson his father taught him: Dad’s money isn’t your money. “Starting at age 10, the best thing you can say to your kids is, once you graduate from college, you’re on your own,” he says. He has also been called a chintzy tooth fairy for giving a quarter per chomper.
One great local bargain? “Pizzology —$13 for a pizza that will blow your face off,” Dunn says.
7. Not all of Dunn’s books have been hits, including the first edition of What Your Dad Never Taught You About Budgeting, published in 2006. “It was terrible and horrific,” Dunn says. “I’ve offered to buy it back from anyone who bought it. One guy took me up on it.” On the other hand, Dunn’s book 60 Days to Change has sold about 20,000 copies.
8. Researching Your Money Life, Dunn’s biggest revelation was that people in their 40s are facing the toughest period of their financial lives. “You’re at the point of no return,” he says. “There’s no time or money left to fix things when the perfect storm of midlife crisis, college costs, and impending retirement hits.”
9. Dunn controls spending by carrying little cash and keeping his checking account free of emergency funds; a $50 balance is typical. “People tend to be more resourceful when they have fewer resources at their disposal,” he says.
10. The publishing deal helped Dunn get over a recent disappointment: Last spring, he auditioned to host a Spike TV reality show about money but didn’t land it.
The Commissioner: A Guide to Thriving on Commission Income ($16.99) and the Your Money Life series ($15.99 each) are available at Barnes & Noble.