From Ramen to Riches: Hints on How to Get There

By Mary Ellen Slayter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 27, 2006

People used to talk about their salad days.

Nicholas Aretakis wants to talk about his noodle days. As in good old 10-for-a-dollar ramen noodles, that dietary staple of broke college students and recent grads everywhere.

"I ate ramen noodles, and so did everyone I know. When we graduated, my friends and I may have wanted to get good jobs and make some money, but unspoken, our goal was to be able to afford to eat something other than those wavy noodles," Aretakis writes in "No More Ramen" (Next Stage Press, $14.95), which comes out next month.

Unlike a lot of authors who have tackled the topic, Aretakis writes, not as a twentysomething just over the hump himself, but as an older, wiser guy looking back. At 45, he has the perspective of someone who has learned a thing or two about life without forgetting the struggle. From his experiences, as well as from hundreds of interviews with young adults across the country, Aretakis crafts his own recipe for a balanced life: freedom, accomplishment, money and enjoyment. And no ramen, of course.

But don't expect a lot of sympathetic head pats here. His advice is more bossy, got-it-together older brother than wise, indulgent grandpa.

One section, "Are You Entitled?" should be required reading for all recent grads. Aretakis lists a few signs that you might be fulfilling that bratty stereotype:

· "You feel really put out when you can't have your Starbucks Mocha Latte every morning."

· "You feel like you are going way above and beyond by working until 5:30. After 5 is your time."

· "You live at home, rent-free, and recently bought a flat-screen TV, an iPod, a Gameboy and a closet full of designer clothes."

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