Book by Carol Carter
Review by Megan Forbes
Pre-Transfer Advising
University of Maryland

Affording college and beginning strong, successful financial lives is, or should be, on the minds of all prospective and current college students. Dollars & Sense: How to be Smart about Money provides an informative overview of the important topics to understand when thinking about one’s financial future.

The topics covered in Carter’s book include credit and debit, establishing savings plans and investing, and financial responsibility and decision-making. The book breaks down complex topics into simple terms, which are then illustrated effectively by student vignettes, tools such as worksheets and formulas, and thorough examples of additional resources.

At first read, the conversational tone of the book is geared more toward high school students, which may turn off college students who feel they have moved on from the high school experience.  If advisors can help move students past this first impression, college students can benefit from the lessons included in the text and from the real-world examples of financial successes and obstacles. Certain resources included, could be applied directly to any college student’s current financial life such as an example of a college student budget worksheet (66). Throughout the book, Carter reinforces to students that they should begin to develop a relationship with their money and with their financial situation, which may ring true for new college students, for many of whom building relationships is a key component of the beginning of their college experience.

College students may find the final chapter especially impactful. This chapter covers financial planning for college, career, and life (225). Topics such as how to discuss money issues with roommates, training and degrees needed for different careers, how poor financial decisions can affect the future, and planning for future goals such as buying a car and a home, can enlighten students as to the importance of learning financial management strategies and practicing positive financial behaviors. 

Advisors looking for an easy-to-understand text to incorporate into an orientation course or to be the basis of a financial literacy program should look to Dollars & Sense.

Dollars & sense: How to be smart about money (2001). Book by Carol Carter. Review by Megan Forbes. Denver, CO: LifeBound, LLC. 286 pp. $16.95, (paperback), ISBN # 978-0-9820588-3-1

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