Saturday, January 19, 2008

College Students Need to Learn About Money

Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.

Pink Floyd or the Scissor Sisters

I had a college business major ask me suggested classes. I told him to learn about personal finance.

He told me that personal finance classes didn’t count towards his major.

If a college business major isn’t required to know about personal finance, what chance do art and music students have?

Very little.

They will graduate from college as I did, knowing absolutely nothing about handling money.

I got lucky. A financial services company hired me and paid for me to get three professional designations and two masters degrees. I’ve spent the last 25 years immersed in the world of personal finance.

Simple financial steps are the things that matter.

I can show someone how to calculate internal rates of return. I would be much happier if I could get that same person to rip up their credit cards.

Internal rates of return calculations require knowledge. Getting rid of credit cards means altering how you live.

Lifestyle changes are a lot harder.

You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you are paying 24% interest on credit cards, you are never going to get ahead.

Until I got out of college, my formal education in personal finance was zilch. I learned from my parents and from the school of hard knocks.

30 years ago, no one gave college students credit cards. You lived on what you had in the bank.

I was lured by other college temptations. Girls, beer, fast food. If credit cards have been available, you could have added them to the list.

My lifestyle was dictated by lack of funds. Since all of my friends had the same limitations, I never felt social pressures to keep up.

I worked during summer vacation and spring breaks. My car cost $700. College was fun, even if I didn’t wear designer clothes.

Now, it seems that an expensive spring break vacation is mandatory for college students and high school students too. Skipping spring break automatically brands you as a loser.

To paraphrase Tom Petty, (a singer from my college era) it could be that the “losers” are the ones getting lucky. They aren’t coming out of college with a ton of credit card debt.

Some people are paying for that week in Panama City 15 years later.

I live in a college town and interact with lots of college students. Most are loaded with credit card debt and have monster student loans to boot.

They are going to be enslaved by debt for years.

There are two solutions. One is not issue credit cards to students who don’t have income. The second is to teach people about money so they know to avoid easy credit in the first place.

Neither are simple solutions.

Legislating against credit card companies seems futile. The credit card companies have their arms around congress. That was evidenced by the “bankruptcy reform act” of 2005 that was really a welfare bill for credit card companies.

Even though there has been insurmountable evidence that the “bankruptcy reform” hurts consumers, there has been no call to repeal it.

The credit card companies have better lobbyists than consumers could ever dream of.

Educating college students is the second battle. Sending students into the world to make stupid financial decisions seems like a waste of a college education but I don’t see any movement towards making personal finance a requirement.

Colleges ought to think about requiring personal finance, if only to protect their long term interests. Alumni overwhelmed by debt are never going to drop big dollars in the endowment fund.

Colleges need to train people to think about money the way Warren Buffet thinks about money. They might be in line when someone gives a vast fortune to charity like Buffett did.

Graduates will be coming out to face the worst economy in recent memory. While in school, I hope they can say no to credit cards and easy credit. It will be the best graduation present they ever give themselves.

Don McNay will be signing his new book, Son of a Son of a Gambler, at the Perkins Building on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus, on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7 pm. All proceeds will go the Society of Professional Journalists. You can write to don@donmcnay.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or read other things he has written at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

McNay to sign his new book at Eastern Kentucky University to benefit Society of Professional Journalists.

McNay to sign his new book at Eastern Kentucky University to benefit Society of Professional Journalists.

Author and syndicated columnist Don McNay will sign and present his new book, Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win the Lottery, on Wednesday, January 23rdth at 7 pm.

The presentation will take place in the Perkins Building on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Conference Room A.

All proceeds of the book signing will be donated to the Bluegrass and EKU Chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. McNay is Secretary of the Bluegrass Chapter.

In his second book, McNay gives practical financial advice including what to do if you win the lottery. He also reflects on the worlds of gambling, addiction, celebrities and business.

He chronicles the saga of several Powerball winners who have lost their money or had bizarre things happen to them.

McNay’s previous book, The Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher, sold well and was critically acclaimed.

Also on the 23rd, McNay will appear on The Pulse with Leland Conway on WLAP-AM in Lexington. On January 31, McNay will appear on Mike McConnell’s nationally syndicated radio program.

For more information about Don McNay go to

For more information about Winner and Losers, go to

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lottery Winner Outed

Lottery Winner Outed

Gonna Take your mama out all night.

Yeah, we’ll show her what it’s all about.

Scissor Sisters

Linville Lee Huff of Bullitt County Ky. was outed.

The outing had nothing to do with his personal life. He wanted to be a closet Powerball winner but is now a public figure.

Huff was the winner of the December 12, Powerball Jackpot. He claimed the cash option of $16.8 million.

Mr. Huff had requested to the Kentucky Lottery that his winning ticket remain anonymous. Instead, Huff’s name was obtained by the Louisville Courier Journal and published after the Courier Journal made an open records request.

Linville Lee Huff will be forever be known as Linville Huff, Powerball winner.

Mr. Huff had good intentions about keeping his winnings quiet. He implemented those intentions poorly.

When the initial story broke about a Powerball winner asking to stay anonymous, people contacted me and said, “whoever won the lottery must have read your book.”

I just published a book called: Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What To When You Win the Lottery.

I tell people to protect to use trusts and corporations to protect their privacy.

Mr. Huff didn’t make it to my book signings.

I wish Mr. Huff had read my book. He would be enjoying his new fortune in private. He needed to find an advisor and attorney before rushing to cash the winning ticket.

A man who just got $16.8 million should have spent some of that cash on good advice. Any sudden millionaire, Powerball winner or not, needs to bring in expert consultants.

Huff could have avoided the mad rush of friends, strangers, charities and freeloaders looking for a piece of his money.

After the Courier Journal disclosed Huff’s name, some readers took umbrage with the newspaper. It was not the Courier Journal’s duty to help Mr. Huff protect his identity. They are not in the business of providing free advice to lottery millionaires.

The Courier Journal is a news gathering organization. Mr. Huff’s identity was news. Huff did not take proper steps to protect himself.

I wish all lottery winners wanted to stay out of the newspapers. Too many preen for the cameras, waving the check like they won a game show.

Mr. Huff needed to do more than to orally state his preference. He needed to set up a trust or corporation.

A lottery winner, who purchased a 2006 ticket near Cincinnati, won a $148.1 Powerball. The winner (or winners) set up a trust and a bank trust officer cashed the ticket. We don’t know who received the money.

As a test, I went to extensive lengths to see if I could identify the winner. I couldn’t. The trust officers did their job.

I wish Mr. Huff had found an attorney to plan and draft the proper documents.

Legal instruments and legal documents are important. That is why we have them.

If someone wants to give their third cousin their car at their death, they need to have a will. If they die without a will, state law will dictate how assets are divided.

Third cousins don’t make the list.

Families often battle when a family member die without a will. When I die, I have a will, trust and definite intentions for who gets what.

If my third cousin wants my car, he had better start sucking up now.

I’ve always offer lottery winners three tips: 1. Never let anyone know you have won. 2. Seek advisors before you cash a ticket. 3. Take the payments annually instead of the lump sum option. .

Huff did not follow any of the three rules. Powerball winners like Jack Whittaker and David Edwards have life stories that that make Britney Spears’s life look normal They have blown through millions and lived shattered lives.

It has been said that over 90% of lottery winners blow through their money. I hope that Mr. Huff is not one of them.

It wasn’t his mama that took Mr. Huff into the limelight. It was Huff’s failure to seek proper advice.

Don McNay is the author of Son of Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What To Do When You Win the Lottery. He will be signing his book at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky on Wednesday, January 16th at 7 pm. You can write to him at don@donmcnay.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or read other things he has written at