Money Smarts for the College-bound

DOLLARS & SENSE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS OR HOW NOT TO RUN OUT OF MONEY BY MID-TERMS

By Ellen Braitman

Princeton Review

224 pp., $10.95

Sit me down for a discussion of investment portfolios, and I'll start checking my watch. Mention money market accounts, and I'll change the subject.

Financial management to me is like eating vegetables: I suppose it's good for me, but I'd rather eat expensive chocolate.

So, if I can get through 224 pages of pecuniary advice, it has to be good.

Ellen Braitman's "Dollars and Sense for College Students" is like a flotation device for the financially inept. It doesn't take much to hold on, and even though you might be soaking wet, you're glad to have it.

It's packed full of common-sense advice. There are tips on monetary mysteries like sorting through college financing options, finding a cheap plane ticket, and investing your pizza money wisely.

Braitman describes how to manage those accommodating credit cards and avoid common pitfalls that can trap students and their money. She also peppers the text with true stories that help connect good advice and college life.

The writing is crisp, the text is broken up with helpful charts, and the key points are bulleted. This is as easy as eating Brussels sprouts is ever going to get.

For someone who grew up with Louis Rukeyser's "Wall Street Week," the advice might seem banal. But if you thought the little booklet that came with your checkbook was promotional scratch paper, pick up this book.

And if you're starting out at college, don't be afraid to do as Braitman says: Leave the car in the driveway and read this on the bus.

* Kristina Lanier is a Monitor intern.

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