Is Your Money Situation Grave? 'Zombie Economics' Could Be a Lifesaver

The brain-eating undead have something to teach you about money. That's the novel approach of Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance (Avery/Penguin, $18), out this month.

Zombie Economics likens debt to an invasion of moaning, shuffling ugliness that will munch your brains if you don't take serious action. The book weaves practical advice into a tale of advancing undead horror. You're essentially slaying zombies with every step you take to tackle your money woes.

"The zombie metaphor is a great translation to deliver ideas with punch, clarity and immediacy that will register with people," said Rick Emerson, a Portland, Ore., broadcaster who wrote the book with CNN Radio economic correspondent Lisa Desjardins. The horror-filled how-to serves as an antidote to chirpy quick-fix books, he told DailyFinance. "You can find your way out of financial stress, but it's not going to happen tomorrow. There's a step by step way to do this, but you have to buckle down and be honest with yourself."

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Emerson admits that the information and advice the book presents isn't new. It's all in the delivery, punctuated by urgency and frankness. One cold-blooded chapter, "Shooting Dad in the Head," exhorts readers to sever ties with "financially infected" friends and family. Even Dad. The symptoms of such unfortunate victims include compulsive shopping, constantly borrowing money for non-emergencies, and bragging about their precarious financial situations. Just as you would never open the door to a zombie horde, you should avoid cosigning loans or handing out money to the financially infected. "They are a disease that walks like a person," Emerson said. "It's not a matter of being an irritation or annoyance. They will harm you -- legally and emotionally."

Zombie Economics begins its advice with a no-brainer, commanding readers to pay their bills for shelter, food, light and water. Immediately. Those who can't will be presented with grave options later, including the last-resort: "Setting Fire to the House," aka declaring bankruptcy. The book also offers tips on avoiding zombies in the first place for everyone from college students to retirees.

Those overwhelmed by choices need concrete instructions in the correct order, the author explained. The tools required to regain your financial footing are the same as those required to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Emerson got the monstrous idea for Zombie Economics over a dinner conversation with his wife about friends losing their jobs. What would be the ideal pop-culture vehicle to convey the terror of facing financial ruin? Zombies popped into his head within seconds, he recalled.

"You have to save yourself and your family," he said. "No one is going to save you. That's the overriding premise of this book."