A blog for the young and broke

Many leave college with overwhelming credit card debt

July 06, 2006|By JESSICA BERTHOLD | JESSICA BERTHOLD,THE MORNING CALL

If Alex P. Keaton were around today, he might have a thing for Amanda Gleason.

Keaton, you may recall, was the briefcase-toting teen played by Michael J. Fox in the '80s sitcom Family Ties who ardently read the Wall Street Journal and had a picture of Ronald Reagan on his bedroom wall. Gleason is the founder of Young and Broke (youngandbroke.typepad.com), a personal finance blog for the younger-than-25 crowd.

Young and Broke is largely without the eye-glazing chatter about diversified stocks and P/E ratios you often find on other sites. Mostly, it's just helpful tips and links that hammer home a simple message for the college and post-college set: Time is on your side. Save your pennies. Here's how.

Gleason, 24, lives in Chicago and works at a financial services firm. Frustrated by the lack of information for young people about how to start investing, she began her blog a year after college graduation to help others her age make their way in the world of personal finance.

What are the three biggest financial mistakes young adults make?

Racking up a lot of credit card debt in college is one. I think a lot of people think they'll graduate and get a great job, but they don't realize how tough it is to get a job. Also, not setting up enough for a 401(k) plan to get an employer match, because then you miss out on free money. And not rearranging payment plans to prioritize what is good debt and bad debt.

How should a newbie start learning to manage money?

I'd suggest they get some sort of tried-and-true money book that tells you how savings and interest rates work, how a 401(k) works. Then look to other sources like blogs or peers or families for suggestions on how to manage money.

Any books you recommend?

I know a lot of people hate Suze Orman, but she is a good person to start with. She has a money book for 20-somethings; it's informative and a good resource, easy to read, and more entertaining than others.

Some people think financial stuff is boring. Your response?

I don't think you should let it dominate your life. If you are super-obsessed with any topic, it becomes tiresome to others.

Have you always had an interest in money?

I always had an entrepreneurial streak. I started an eBay business and a vintage resale thing when I was in school.

Do you keep a strict budget?

I set a monthly budget and have it in a spreadsheet, and I say, "This is what I'll put in savings and this is for expenses," and what's left is discretionary.

Do you ever get tired of being so diligent?

If you try to force yourself to do something too strict then you will get sick of it too fast. For a lot of people, doing what I do isn't going to work.

How much spontaneity do you allow for in your budget?

I am the same as everyone else, and I succumb to splurges, but I have become less spontaneous over time because I have different priorities. If there's $50 I might spend on eating out, I think, "Well, I can put that toward my honeymoon."

Does your fiance [they've since married] share your interest in personal finance?

He thinks it's a little obsessive. At the same time, we've had to come together and align our financial goals, and those are good discussions we've had.

Do you have combined bank accounts?

We have a joint checking account for joint expenses, but for discretionary spending we keep it separate, since we make comparable salaries. It's nice to have some independence with the money we make.

Do friends hit you up for financial advice?

They read my blog, but they don't call me on a regular basis about it. I don't claim to be this almighty financial person.

Jessica Berthold writes for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

YOUNGANDBROKE. TYPEPAD.COM

In a word:

Practical

E-Candy for:

Young people who always get their taxes done early

In sum:

Advice for college students and recent grads on how to save and invest money

This blog as a person:

The kid with the lemonade stand, 15 years later

Sample topics:

Whether to buy a new or used car. Hidden fees for using your debit card. Good wines for under $10. Why vacations are good for your career

Classic post:

"Weekends as a young adult living in a city can get costly. ... Go home, and you may find yourself not spending a dime. ... Not that any of us should abuse our parents' kindness or use them for their stocked fridges, but if you ever need a good, old-fashioned, low-key, spend-free weekend, pack your bags and head home!" (May 19, 2006)

Making it happen:.

Amanda Gleason, 24, who works at a financial services firm in Chicago

Created:

September 2005

Updates:

Roughly once a day

Writing:

Adequate, though a bit hurried at times

Design:

Cluttered

Comments allowed?

Yes

Popularity:

600-700 hits per day

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