You know what really sucks about trying to be a grown up? Money. Making money, keeping money, and trying to be smart about your money management. Personally, that’s one of the things that I had trouble with when I first started college. I would freak out if I didn’t have money to buy a DVD, but still have enough in my budget to go out to eat three days a week; I was not the best financial planner. Being away from home, maybe with a credit card, it can be hard for a lot of students to figure out the best ways to both spend, and save money. And when you leave college, and realize that the looming threat of student loans has finally caught up with you? I know that I’m going to be thinking nostalgically about my biggest stress being a ten page paper due in two hours. Luckily, there is help! There is a nationwide program called Money Smart Week, a public awareness program dedicated to helping people better manage their money. Throughout the week of April 20-27, a number of financial institutions are putting on free seminars and activities throughout the country, and online! Interested? Join the Money Smart Hunt PhotoScavenger Hunt, a nationwide photojournalistic game, with tasks requiring participants to demonstrate their financial savvy. How do you play? Simply head to the Apps store on iTunes or the Android Market, and download the free Scavenger Hunt with Friends app, create a user name and password, and search “Money Smart Hunt”. Then check out the list of items, and begin uploading pics of yourself completing each task. Know what the best part of money is? Winning it! The prizes include a $600 Apple gift card for 1st place, a $100 Visa gift card for second place, and $50 Visa gift card for third. So get downloading and hunting right now. And after that, check out these great books to help you be a savvier spender- no more pop tart dinners ever again!
Zombie Economics: Lisa Desjardins and Rick Emerson
Zombies are all the rage right now. So are zombie survival plans, where people debate on how they would survive if the dead started rising up and eating everyone (or just attempting a Thriller style dance routine). On TV, in movies, on T shirts, everyone seems to have a plan. But if you have a zombie plan, do you also have time to do silly things like making a financial plan? This book manages to combine zombie killing and financial planning, showing how fighting a zombie invasion is surprisingly similar to fighting for financial security. It’s detailed plan shows how to pay your bills, get your career on track, cut costs, and keep from getting distracted and spending excess money, among other things. It alternates between that and a tale of a zombie survivor, where the narrator (you) must fight through an endless horde of zombies to eventually survive. The tale of zombies is interwoven with financial tips that relate to what’s going on in the story. It’s easy to read, fun, and perfect for any student (or recent grad) that has detailed plans on what to do in event of zombie attack posted on their wall, but still isn’t sure where to send their car payments. And most importantly, it reminds the reader that no matter how many zombies (bills) stack up, you just have to remember one thing: you will survive.
Financial Planning for Your First Job: Matthew Brandeburg
As a soon-to-be college graduate, I have a very big problem that must be dealt with: what am I going to do with years’ worth of USI t-shirts?! Oh, and where can I find my first job, and how can I manage my finances in the real world? Little things like that. For that, I can turn to books like this one, which give helpful and professional lessons in managing debt, finding a good insurance plan, and planning for the future. Looking to invest some money? There’s help for that. Having trouble building a portfolio? Advice on that. Deciding where to live, how much to spend, or measuring financial risk? All right here. It’s quick, clean and to the point, jumping from issue to issue, and has plenty of information for anyone, recent grad or not, who is entering the “real world”. Read this book, and get ready to become master of your financial destiny! And as for the shirt thing, let me know if you think of something. Please.
Starting Out: Ruth J. Mills
. Still feeling a little shaky about the prospect of heading out on your own? There is more help to come! This online book will give readers more tips and tricks on how to get your life on track, especially right after leaving college. Set as a sort of financial road trip, the book speeds around from finding a place to live, establish a budget, and even how to discuss finances and plans with a future spouse. It also offers “postcards”, true stories of people trying to navigate the stressful, crazy world of finance, and how they succeed. It also details what happens when you hit “road block” and “toll booths” and other financial trouble spots, and how you can escape them. Finances are hard, and sometimes you feel like it’s a long, endless road with no exit in sight, just a bunch of sketchy looking gas stations and an old Waffle House off the interstate. But with a travel guide like this one, finances can be like a highway you want to ride all night long, not a highway to hell.
As scary as finances can be for people just starting out, there is help! With Money Smart Week, people who are actually good at this financial stuff are trying to help us figure all this out, and are even willing to give us prizes for it! And there are authors, professors, and other real grownups out there writing books to help people like me get it together, and figure out how to balance student loans and their Netflics account. So play a scavenger hunt, create a zombie plan, plan a road trip, and get working on that pile of bills sitting on your desk. Just remember: You will survive.