Color of Money: When it comes to personal finance, seeing is believing

Michelle Singletary on

Cagan is a certified public accountant (the money person) and Lariviere is an artist and designer.

Throughout this reference guide are bold, colorful illustrations covering budgeting, saving, spending, debt, credit, investing and housing.

Not sure how a budget works?

Apply the 50-30-20 rule, Cagan suggests, using buckets to illustrate the point. In one bucket are your "needs," which make up 50 percent of your expenses. These necessities include such things as housing, food and medical costs. In the "wants" bucket, which accounts for 30 percent, you have clothing, vacations, eating out and entertainment. The remaining 20 percent pail is earmarked for your emergency fund, retirement savings and extra debt payments.

Confused by how to calculate your net worth? The book's graphic of assets and liabilities makes it easy to understand. "Smart money strategies -- like paying down debt and saving for retirement -- send your net worth higher and beef up your financial fitness. Imprudent moves, like shopping sprees and ballooning credit card debt, can put your net worth on life support," Cagan writes.

If you're looking for a way to introduce financial concepts to a young adult, this book will do the trick. It doesn't patronize them, it simply delivers a tough topic in graphically appealing, digestible bites.


I'm hosting an online discussion about "The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance" at noon Eastern time on Jan. 4 at Cagan will join me to answer your personal-finance questions. All types of learners are welcome!


Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook ( Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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