Review: ‘Money Can Grow on Trees’ Graphic Novel

Crosspost Reviews

One of the most important practical life lessons just happens to be a subject that isn’t often taught in school or discussed much by parents…budgeting. That is where Oliver Pursche’s new graphic novel Money Can Grow in Trees comes in.

(Image by Skip Owens)

What Is It?

Money Can Grow on Trees is a graphic novel, but it isn’t a super hero battle taking place in space or a struggle for survival in a dystopian future. No, Money Can Grow on Trees is a graphic novel that looks at the lives of everyday high school and college students in various degrees of struggle to make ends meet with their finances. The stories are based on real life situations that Oliver has encountered during his many years of being a financial advisor. Each story covering a specific character or set of characters, introducing new financial planning and budgeting topics while simultaneously showing you how these topics apply in a real life setting.

I think pretty much every college student can relate with this situation (Image from Imagine & Wonder Publishers)

Who is This Book For?

Money Can Grow on Trees was written for high school students and college students who have just landed their first jobs and are finding their way through how to budget for the lives they are leading. But even more importantly it was also written for parents. The demographic for this graphic novel targets where all three of my kids are right now (late high school and early college). What I really appreciated about the graphic novel, especially as a parent, was that it really was written for both students and parents. It gives students a very realistic set of characters going through situations similar to what they are going through, but it also gives parents some guidance on how to both help their teenagers and early adults and even more importantly when to let go and let go and let them do it themselves. Finances is one of those topics that is best tackled interactively and collaboratively. In other words, just reading a few articles or books about finances doesn’t translate well into being able to apply it successfully. This book opens the door for parents to sit down and work with their kids on finances, which is really the ONLY way to teach someone about finances.

At the same time I was reading Money Can Grow on Trees I was also sitting down with my oldest daughter and working out a budget for her. She has been working for several years now and still lives at home with us, but is mostly financially independent. But sticking to a budget in the age of debit and credit cards is almost impossible, unless you just have a ton of time to spend dealing with spreadsheets or budgeting software. So we worked out a mostly cash-based envelope system budget for her. Having the Money Can Grow on Trees graphic novel was a nice addition so that my daughter can read through it and we can have something to talk about as we tweak her budget going forward.

Key Takeways

In my mind there are a couple of key aspects of setting up and living with a budget that are often overlooked and this graphic novel drives both of them home really well. The first concept is paying yourself first. Budgeting takes effort and if you are going to put in the effort shouldn’t there be some kind of reward? That is why making sure your budget is setup so that you pay yourself first for goals or activities that are important to you, while also paying for things like bills, rent and food. Otherwise, budgeting is viewed just like any other chore and people really like to avoid chores if they can. But if that chore allows you to do things you really want to do it is not longer viewed as chore…rather its a means to an end.

Planning in advance and paying yourself first can really pay off in the long run (Image from Imagine & Wonder Publishers)

The other key concept that is so important to finances is the power of compound interest. The biggest misconception about money is that you have to have a lot of it in order to make a lot more if it. But if you combine compound interest with the long length of your working career you get a combination that results in an earning potential that almost defies logic. In fact, when you see the numbers you literally have to do a double-take because they seem like they just can’t be right (but they are). Save early (even if it is a just a little) and you will be much further ahead financially than if you waited until you earned more money in the future and saved more but for less time.

This graphic really drives home the powerful combination of compound interest and time (Image from Imagine & Wonder Publishers)

Verdict

One other thing that really impressed me about this graphic novel is the brutal honesty of the author. Oliver Pursche uses himself as an example towards the end of the book showing how easy it is to overextend yourself in terms of what you can afford and get into financial troubles. Yes, even a financial expert can make mistakes.

The graphic novel is structured very well. It has a nice table of contents that makes it easy to revisit certain topics and the end of the book has a nice glossary of terms to go along with the stories throughout the graphic novel that introduce and explain these topics. The book also covers all the major topics like budgeting, investing, paying yourself first, compound interest, rent to own, payday loans, credit card reloading and good vs bad debt.

Money Can Grow on Trees is a great mechanism to kick-start a collaborative effort between you and your kids about finances and I highly recommend it for both kids (early high school through college aged) and parents alike. Money Can Grow on Trees is available now in paperback for $19.99 (or $24.99 in hardcover) from Amazon.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the graphic novel for the purpose of this review, but opinions in this review are my own. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!