Young & Broke? PBS Wants to Help With 'Your Life, Your Money'

Today's cuppa: Bewley's Gold Blend tea

Forget the mortgage meltdown, forget economic upheavals, forget rising mountains of national debt -- a lot of young Americans are starting out in life with a crushing personal debt load, busted broke before they even get a chance to have house payments, be laid off or find themselves in a punishingly high tax bracket.

Here's a syndicated piece I did for this week on how PBS is stepping up to help out ...

Your_Life_Your_Money_PBS.jpgIt's exhilarating and scary to graduate from college and head out into the world. Of course, it's probably just plain scary if you're heading out carrying $30,000 in credit-card debt.


Premiering Wednesday, Sept 9 (check local listings), the PBS special "Your Life, Your Money" introduces viewers to Amanda McCormick, the indebted Florida college senior, along with six other young people facing financial issues.


Donald Faison ("Scrubs") is host for the one-hour special, which also offers insights from hip-hop icon Russell Simmons and R&B/pop singer D. Woods (Danity Kane).


Also offering advice is personal finance expert Beth Kobliner ("Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties").


"Financial education should be a one-credit course that everyone takes," Grant says.


"Why did they give mortgages to people who didn't have jobs, who didn't have incomes?" Kobliner says. "Same with credit cards. And these young people are graduating, and they can't get jobs. If you owe $1,000, and you only make the minimum monthly payment, it's going to take you 18 years to pay it off.


"I'm a financial journalist. I go around the country and talk a lot to colleges. And the number-one point that young people of this age group are realizing: They're going to have to move back in with their parents."


Obviously, many of these parents would like to avoid that eventuality and steer their kids on the right financial track.


"A lot of us wound up having kids at or near the target age of the program," executive producer John Grant says, "so we would sit around and tell these personal stories of either their failures or successes, in that regard.


"The broadcast of the program is really aimed in as many ways at parents as much as it is the target audience."


"Your Life, Your Money" also has a companion Web site with extensive information to help young people become more financially literate.