They're out there. Clawing at your mailbox. Gnawing at your mind as you sleep. Ready to devour you and your family. They have no souls. They have no conscience. The only thing driving them is the desire to eviscerate you until there's nothing left but bare bones. Zombies? Nah—those undead pussies are nothing compared to humanity's greatest predator: debts.

We're in the midst of a financial apocalypse, and only the strong will survive.

Portland radio legend Rick Emerson has teamed with CNN economic reporter Lisa Desjardins to write Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance (Avery Trade, 304 pages, $18), a book Emerson hopes will arm the indebted with the tools to deliver a shotgun blast to the faces of mounting debt and collection agencies. With a running zombie-survival narrative paired with keen financial advice in chapters such as "A Basement Full of Ammo" and "Shooting Dad in the Head," the publication is part workbook, part survival thriller and all grisly, tongue-in-cheek metaphor. Emerson chatted with WW to explain the concept of zombie economics and the very real threat of an undead uprising.

WW: What is zombie economics?

Rick Emerson: It's a stripped-down, real-world approach to financial survival that uses zombies as a metaphor to make financial strategy easier to understand and institute and make the whole concept a little more compelling. 


So where did the zombie connection come into play?

I'm a big believer in using pop-culture metaphor to convey ideas in a different way. I knew it couldn't be zany or kooky or kitschy or any of those things, because when you're dealing with financial stress, it's not like you wake up every day and you're like, "What a laugh fest, what a riot."

....The analogy we use that we find works is, waking up one day and finding a single zombie on your lawn. One zombie, you can outrun—you can probably out-walk—they're not fleet of foot. Two zombies, three zombies, it becomes a little hairy. But if you have a hundred zombies on your lawn, it becomes a whole different situation, because you don't know where to run, what to shoot first. Most people don't get into debt instantly. It's not one bill. You don't go 70 grand in the hole overnight. You wake up one day and find that you're surrounded. That you're in debt or your credit's ruined or you're living month to month. 

Did the actual economic apocalypse feed into the idea of comparing the financial crisis to a zombie outbreak?

The recession was one factor, but the larger point was that I spent a long time being low-grade terrified of not knowing how I was going to make it if disaster struck. I survived because I became a colossal cheapskate early on. It is a book I wish I had when I was 20. A lot of finance books seem to be written for people who are already rich.... This is a book for people who are in the trenches and trying to get on stable financial ground. There are a lot of people out there for whom it's not a question of mutual funds. It's a question of how I'm going to pay the rent next month, how I'm not going to be evicted. 

So it's kind of like a survival guide written by a survivor?

Exactly. There are a lot of people out there who are going through something that's very real. It's not a question of how to shelter your wealth. It's a question of how to survive. They're trying to get through today. You are the hero and the survivor of your own story, and it is possible, and there are practical real steps you can take, and our goal was to strip away the clutter and nonsense and make it a little bit easier for people.

Who is going to benefit most from this?

College students and families of college students. Somebody who's 22, 24 getting ready to leave school and they don't have a lot of experience managing their own finances at a post-college level. When you leave college it's kind of like being dumped into the 15th level of a video game. You have no guns, no armor, and they tell you to get to a safe house on the other end. This is a way to help college kids hit the ground running. 

Enough of this metaphorical stuff. Where are you going to go when the real zombies come?

I'm reluctant to give it away. I used to say Costco, and finally after a long discussion I realized it's not the best idea because you're not as worried about the zombies as much as other survivors, because it's such an obvious location with usually no fortification from humans. Assuming it happened here in the Northwest, I'd go to Bi-Mart, because (A) they have firearms and (B) they have a steel gun cage where they keep firearms, so you can retreat to it as a last resort. I will be prepared when it actually happens. 

If you run out of supplies, I'll be at Andy and Bax, so if you need anything feel free to stop by.

A lot of people have said Andy and Bax. I can't really find fault with that. 


Best of luck.

READ IT: Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance is in bookstores now.