Peter Dunn Brings Financial Wellness into Fashion

It’s one thing to live paycheck to paycheck. It’s another to live paycheck to paycheck when you don’t know when the next one is coming or the amount it will be.

Such is the life of many artists, writers, sales folks who work on commission, real estate agents – you name it:  a ton of people are living their passion but finding it hard to balance their checkbooks.

Every one of these folks needs to meet – in person or print – Pete the Planner. Peter Dunn is a master craftsman of the commission-based life. He’s lived it. More importantly, he knows how to live it well and wants to share what he’s learned.

“The Commission: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving on Commission Income,” will be available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon on January 6, 2015. It’s one of six financial wellness books Dunn will launch on the market that day.

I caught up with Pete recently. We’d first met about nine years ago when he was still working his financial consultant business but hoping this idea for book he had would take off. He looked like a financial planner. But when he spoke – and when he wrote – he sounded nothing like any financial planner I’d ever met.

He was funny. He was practical. He didn’t fast-talk you or try to wow you with mathematical wizardry. And after an hour or so, between chuckles and grins, you walked away happy you’d invested your time with him. You marveled that in even that short time, you’d learned a little bit about how to manage your money. This would be the first time you’d remember it.

That book he was launching back then? It took off and led to others. A crazy popular blog and radio showcame next. Then national and local television appearances.  Lately he’s been busy with a lecture series that takes him all over the country talking to thousands of people.

That success has caused him to make investments in his appearance that he didn’t focus on before.

“I have to capture an audience’s attention in seconds. There’s no time to not look sharp,” says the guy from Carmel, Ind. who rubs elbows with Fortune 500 CEOs and the likes of national television anchors Steve Doocy and Shepard Smith.

It was need that drove him toward fashion rather than a desire to be runway ready. True to form, he focuses on the return on investment.

“I buy most of my clothes at a shop on Broome Street in Soho called Beau Brummel,” he says. “I’ve learned over the years that if you’re going spend money on clothes, they should fit properly. It makes a tremendous difference.”

In his early days, Dunn followed the conservative herd when it came to fashion. He had a closet full of dark suits and wore bright ties when he felt like living on the edge. He’s beyond that now, fully appreciating a well-made suit and beautiful shoes.

“I like everything from classic Adidas Stan Smith’s to Allen Edmonds and an Italian boot maker Stefano Castelli,” he says.

A self-described ginger with less ginger every day, he’s given up the vanity of contact lenses for frames by Oliver Peoples. The spectacles do more than finish his “Wall Street cred” look.

“The glasses breakup the never-ending beige/gingery nature of my face,” he deadpans.

He credits Steve Krampf at Beau Brummel for helping with his clothes, but “gravity styles my hair – at least for now. I’m approaching the go-ahead-and-shave-it decision,” he laments.

Beyond the jokes, he’s a sincere guy sincerely annoyed by bad financial decisions from twentysomethings living high off college loans, Baby Boomers looking at retirement and hoping the Social Security net is stronger than it looks, and everyone in between. That’s why he wrote the Your Money Life series, tackling financial wellness decade by decade.

“It’s not as hard as people think to manage their money,” he says. “I’m not saying everyone needs to be a millionaire by the time they’re 50. Heck, you don’t ever have to be a millionaire to live well.”

Sure, Dunn’s paychecks are heftier now than in his early days, but he lives and breathes the commission lifestyle. And in passing along his unique flavor of financial advice.

“Whether you work 9-5, sell your art on the street, get paid by the word or the product you sell, you can do a better job with your money,” he says. “I’m the guy who’s gonna help you do it.”

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