Basic financial advice--save as much as possible as soon as possible, and spend wisely for what you have to spend--with hokey, sometimes lengthy illustrations and a show of numbers. Stein's unoriginal idea is that financial planning creates a reserve for unexpected, as well as expected, needs and can thus lead to greater peace of mind. Using federal income and consumption data for a variety of age groups, he purports to show how each of these groups--the 20s (starting out), the 30s (having children, buying homes), the 40s (sending kids to college), etc.--can best plan its finances. Almost every group has at least one success story of the smart saver and/or cautionary tale of a spendthrift or gambler. The only approved investments, correspondingly, are conservative ones--like CDs (insured) or Treasury bonds. Allowing for the excess verbiage, and for the fact that average statistics don't reflect local conditions, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Stein's counsel--but it is far less useful in specific circumstances than such established guides as Bob Rosefsky's or Sylvia Porter's.