The author of Consumer Tactics Manual (1980) and the syndicated column ""Count Your Change"" approaches family finances from an unusual, safety-first perspective. For Dorfman, indeed, risk seems to begin with a common stock that doesn't pay a dividend. But middle-income families, especially those with coilege-bound youngsters, stand to gain from his conservatism. At the outset, he lists 20 common-sense rules, e.g.: try to invest 15 percent of your after-tax income; keep three months' income in a NOW or savings account; keep another three months' income in either a CD or money-market fund; if possible, own your own home (a superior tax shelter, in Dorfman's view); hold stocks for the long term; diversify investment holdings; and, ""in getting advice, consider the source."" Within this framework, he reviews investment alternatives ranging from fixed-income vehicles and precious metals through real estate and collectibles--making it a point, in each case, to anticipate questions the average person might ask: how to read bond quotes in the daily paper, for instance, or the rationale for dual-purpose mutual bonds (in which investors can take income and/or growth positions). Now and again, his objectivity falters (as per his reference to ""the blood-drenched historical record"" of REITs); more often, he picks up what others miss--see his observations on the subjective valuation of collectibles, his closely reasoned caution against the fluctuating returns afforded by single-premium, tax-deferred annuities. And, consumer-wise: how to go about selecting a competent broker. A readily accessible reference--Dorfman is one of the better organizers around--firmly grounded in the old-fashioned virtues of prudence and forethought.