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Two of my favorite bloggers wrote and published a book together.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how monumental that accomplishment is?! They published a book! I have been compiling notes endlessly for months for a book that I have yet to put any plan in place to publish, so these girls are my heroes.
I’ve been following Alli and Shelly for a while now and relate to them both in different ways.
Alli is the debt free, money savvy MBA student behind financiALLIfocused.com, the blog that documents her journey to financial independence while helping others reach their own financial goals along the way. Her day job is in a similar setting and field as mine, and she is looking forward to early retirement just as much as I am.
Shelly is a fellow frugal, introverted, Harry Potter lover and is the travel blogger at theeclecticvoyager.com. Her blog was created to help people like me who have serious wanderlust – without serious money.
The two 20-somethings met in college and have shared a lot of adventures together, learning about personal finance through their own experiences along the way.
Which brings us back to the book.
Not Another Money Statistic: Lessons We Wish We Learned in High School is just that – the definitions, examples and explanations of the basics of personal finance that no one taught us about in those crucial years of becoming an adult.
At 100 pages, it is a short, easy to read book written for a late high school age student, ideally on the college path, who is about to experience the firsts of adult life – finding a job, getting a paycheck, putting together a budget, applying for college and possibly getting into debt to further their education. It consists of three sections, and each chapter provides the information needed to build a good foundation with the small amount of money the student is starting to earn so that he or she can build the habits necessary to manage the higher pay they’ll receive in the future.
This is what sets Not Another Money Statistic apart from so many other personal finance books. It is not aimed at adults desperate to correct the money mistakes so many of us have ignorantly made; it is designed to help young adults make educated decisions during a transitional time of their life when they are about to be presented with major choices and decisions that school just doesn’t prepare them for.
Let’s dive in and discuss what I loved about the book, as well as a couple things I would like to have seen more of.
What I Loved
1. The True Basics
I think most of us take the extreme basics of personal finance for granted as adults. We forget how exciting – and how very overwhelming – it was to set up a checking account at the age of 15 or 16. We’ve had jobs for so long now that we don’t stop to remember how it felt filling out a job application for the first time and receiving that first paystub with government jargon that we don’t understand.
Some parents are not good teachers, and a lot of parents – like my own – just never thought about personal finance as being something to teach. When you’ve known something for so long, you sometimes simply forget what it was like to learn it and therefore cannot have the empathy required to properly teach someone else. This book takes care of that.
2. Getting and Keeping a Job
Chapter 6 of this book is my favorite. I absolutely loved it and think every teenager needs to read those five pages. Alli and Shelly discuss how to not only find a job but how to keep it. They encourage trying jobs in different fields so that teens can figure out what they like and don’t like to do, while also encouraging them to stick it out for at least a season. Possible seasonal and year-round job options are provided in addition to ideas for finding those jobs.
As someone whose parents let her quit her first job after a three hour day without a word about it, I really appreciated this chapter. Instead of my parents using my desire to quit as a teachable moment to set me up for success in the future, I had to learn the hard way that such an important part of our character is not being a quitter. I wish someone had handed me these few pages back then.
3. Budgeting Made Easy
Even as a debt-free Baby Step Sevener, I set up a monthly budget with my husband at the start of each month and maintain it almost every day. Therefore, I was looking forward to what Alli and Shelly had to say to a teenager about budgeting, and I was not disappointed. They explain what a budget actually is and go into detail about how to put together their (and my) recommended type of budget – the zero-based budget. Examples are provided and are kept simple, emulating the few budget categories typical of a high school student. I was also happy to see free budgeting apps recommended to make the process easier for them.
Budgeting shouldn’t be taught as a result of getting yourself into money trouble, just as a healthy diet shouldn’t be taught as a result of gaining too much weight. Learning to budget at an early age is about much more than learning how to put a spreadsheet together, it’s learning that you are in control of where your money goes.
4. The Skinny on Credit Scores
This chapter doesn’t just teach how to build your credit score like most books aimed at adults. It first explains exactly what a credit score is, what factors affect it and just why it matters.
Being a Dave Ramsey nerd for almost all of my adult life, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you hardly anything about credit scores before reading this book. I learned a lot about what exactly a credit score consists of from this chapter – at 29 years old.
5. Preparing for the College Path
Alli and Shelly have been through it and therefore know what teenagers on the college path need to know to prepare for it. How to choose a school, how to apply for financial aid and scholarships, the different types of student loans – it’s all laid out in the third section of Not Another Money Statistic.
I went to college for a semester and never applied for student loans, so I was glad to finally learn what words like “Subsidized” and “Federal Perkins” actually mean. Parents of students considering student loans need to read this section to understand exactly what these very different loans are so they can guide their barely adult children in making this huge decision. If the choice is made to go into student debt, Chapter 11 explains how to choose which loans to accept.
What I Would Like to Have Seen More Of
1. An “Anything is Possible” Mentality
I was surprised to see the word “lucky” used once in regards to staying debt free, and I was a little disappointed that saving and paying for a house in cash was made to seem impossible without winning the lottery or otherwise falling into a huge sum of cash. It would have been awesome to see these incredible, uncommon accomplishments presented as a challenge to young, very impressionable readers. I think it would lead them to see that there are no limits and that it all comes down to choices. Including a few examples of people who have actually done these things would have been a good opportunity to show that not only is it possible, it has been done.
2. A Strictly Black and White Approach to Credit Cards
Chapter 4 covers credit cards and gives great, black and white information on exactly what a credit card is, exactly what it isn’t, what their extremely high interest rates entail, and why it is so important to be disciplined with them. However, the overall tone of this chapter felt encouraging, which makes me a little nervous considering the very young age group of the intended reader.
If criteria are to be suggested to help choose a credit card (including names of specific cards), I would like to have seen secured credit cards explained and suggested. This type of card would allow them to build their credit while gaining experience and discipline using a credit card – without having access to a credit line larger than the amount they initially deposited.
I would also like to have seen a service such as Debitize suggested to avoid overspending by preventing a young person from thinking they have more money in their checking account than they actually do, forgetting about the dollar amount of transactions placed on their credit card.
Not Another Money Statistic: Lessons We Wish We Learned in High School is a must-read for late high school age students to get an idea of not only how to start handling money but of the very important, life-altering choices they will make in regards to money very soon. The chapters on maneuvering the financial aspects of applying for college makes it especially ideal for students desiring to continue their education after high school, even more so if they are considering going into debt for it. This book isn’t aimed at my age group, but I learned new things from it at age 29 and after blogging in the personal finance sphere for almost two years, so I would recommend it to anyone of any age desiring a crash course of the basics of personal finance, especially parents of teens.
If you are a teen and have stumbled onto my blog, or in a much more likely case, if you are a parent/uncle/aunt/grandparent/cousin/neighbor/friend/mentor of a teenager, I urge you to invest in his or her future by giving them this book and letting them know that they can come to you with questions on topics that they may have a hard time grasping.
Not Another Money Statistic: Lessons We Wish We Learned in High School is now on sale on Amazon. Grab a copy by clicking here and help a teen you love while supporting two selfless members of our amazing community!