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Money Can Grow on Trees: When You Take Care of It

This 120 page graphic novel takes an inside look of the do's and don'ts of investing. Money Can Grow On Trees provides the reader an easy to comprehend guide to the fundamentals of finance and how money, credit, and budgeting can be easily managed.

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“The emphasis on graphics really meets the student audience where they are, and the real-life examples are explained in straightforward language that resonates with high school students. Teaching financial literacy early on is critical to future success and Oliver Pursche’s novel is a valuable tool to do just that. Case in point, it passes muster with my 17-year old.”

Greg McBride, CFA, Chief Financial Analyst,



Credit cards are a tool. And like any tool, when used properly they work well, and when used the wrong way, they can be damaging.

  • Use credit wisely

  • Utilize free online budgeting tools like the ones offered by or or use this Microsoft template

  • Avoid impulse buying

  • Examine your bills

  • Use coupons and look for deals

Chapter 1
Financial Literacy

We have all been tempted to buy things we don’t need and spoil ourselves a little. And that’s okay occasionally, but it becomes a real problem when it a habit and goes from occasionally spoiling yourself to a destructive behavior. Budgeting is a cornerstone of avoiding trouble, use the tools linked in the introduction to help you develop a budget. Also, take good care of your possessions – by taking care of them, they will retain their value longer, and will remain attractive to you, thereby reducing the desire to replace items that work just fine. Remember “New does not mean Best”.

Lesson Plans

Chapter 2
Saving = Paying Yourself

Spending, saving, living, it’s all expensive, but it’s also necessary. Think of the 50/30/20 rule – spend 50% of your income on needs, 30% on wants and 20% on saving & investing.

  • Needs include housing, groceries, transportation, phone, utilities, medical insurance

  • Wants include self-care (manicure, pedicure, haircuts), eating out, gym membership, travel (vacations), streaming services and entertainment

  • Saving & Investing includes building up an emergency fund, paying off debt (if you have), investing

Here are some useful templates to help you budget when considering a large purchase such as a car, figuring out how much your credit card debt is really costing you, and how much you should be able to save on a monthly basis.

Chapter 3
Building a Budget, Income Statement & Balance Sheet

Building a budget might sound daunting, but it really isn’t that tough and most importantly it is one of the critical components of a successful financial life. This chapter will show you how to:

  • Build and Income & Expense statement

  • Develop and track a budget

  • Understand the differences between discretionary and non-discretionary spending

  • Provide some savings tips


Furthermore, you will see what types of assets you should include in your balance sheet, which will serve as a sub-document of your budget, and what assets to exclude.

We are including some helpful templates to help you build your budget, as well as understanding the true cost of, for instance, leasing or financing a car. The main point of a budget is to have a constant ability to ‘self-check’ and see where you stand compared to your goals. If you find yourself falling behind, this can help you course correct.

Chapter 4
Saving versus Investing

Saving and investing complement each other. Think of saving as you working hard to put some money away for a ‘rainy day’, while investing in putting your money to work to make it grow over time. In this chapter you will learn about:


  • Investment risks

  • Types of investment vehicles

  • Return on Investment

  • Various types of investment accounts


You will also see some examples of how to determine how much to save and invest. This chapter and the next go hand in hand and are best studied back-to-back.

Chapter 5
The Value of Time

Now that you have a better idea of the types of accounts that are available to you for investment purposes, as well as the types of investment vehicles that you might chose for yourself, it’s time for one of the most impactful lessons of this novel. It is time to learn about the power of compounding or as I like to say “It’s not about market timing, it’s about time in the market”. Here you will learn about:


  • Asset allocation

  • Compounding returns and the time value of money

  • The impact of inflation over time

  • Hidden costs of investing that will impact your returns

Chapter 6
The Temptation of Rent-to-Own
and Buy Now / Pay Later

Let’s focus on hidden costs and predatory lending / financing behaviors. Most of us realize that the financial choices we have are often restricted and driven by where we live and our financial status. Sometimes, there are only poor choices available to us. This chapter tackles:


  • Understanding the importance of reading “The Fine Print”

  • The real cost of Rent-to-Own

  • How deferred interest works and how expensive it can be


Sometimes we have to finance items that others don’t need to finance. That’s okay – but it’s important to know the real costs and what questions to ask before signing a contract.

Chapter 7
What about student loans for college? Tricky Question...

The cost of college has outpaced inflation and wage growth by more than twofold over the last 25 years. Meaning that even when taking into account inflation and better income, college has gotten a lot more expensive. Today, it is not unusual for someone to graduate with $200,000 of student debt or more. This chapter takes a look at the cost of college and some potential alternatives.


  • Is a trade school or craft more suitable?

  • What about buying a business?

  • Student loans, grants and scholarships


Education matters, as a matter of fact I believe you should always be learning. Knowing the various choices and options available to you, as well as their costs is important. Once you fully understand the cost of something, you can determine if it’s worth it for you and compare that cost to alternatives.

Chapter 8

Credit Card Companies, banks and other lenders make their living by charging you interest. While they may appear to offer a ‘good deal’ or somehow trying to do you a favor, virtually all of the time they are in it for themselves. In this chapter you will learn about ‘Predatory Lending”, Teaser Rates and the real struggle and difficulty of getting out of debt.

Chapter 9
Not all debt is bad debt

For most of us certain items need to be financed. It is very rare that someone can purchase a house without a mortgage, it is also unusual to buy a new car without some form of financing (especially in your younger years). Understanding the cost of financing and how even a ‘smart’ decision can turn out badly is important. In this chapter, you will learn about:


  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Mortgage costs

  • Amortization

  • Leasing


Understanding the above and how it relates to your budget and investment plan is critical to long-term success.

Chapter 10
Don't spoil a good thing

This one is for the parents and in some cases grandparents. It’s easy and natural to want to provide for your children, but there are risk that you spoil them. This chapter looks at the difference between Credit and Debit cards, budgeting and overspending, and other pitfalls over overindulging young adults.

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