Farrell: These Books Can Set Teens and Young Adults on the Path to Wealth


Question: Could you please give me the name (s) of one or more money management books suitable for a 14 year old boy and his 20 year old sister who is in college , also very smart and thoughtful about spending? We as grandparents don’t want them to have to learn how to save and spend for a long time. Cecilia

A: I like to suggest books, especially on personal finance and economics. I’ll start with a few personal finance books for your granddaughter.

Perhaps the best-known money book for young adults is “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties,” by Beth Kobliner. She’s updated the book over the years, and Kobliner offers solid information and sound advice. Another possibility is “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by Erin Lowry and Get Your Financial Life Together” by Erin Lowry.

My next two recommendations are guidelines for establishing a handful of good financial habits.

The first is “Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated,” by University of Chicago sociologist Harold Pollack and journalist Helaine Olen. Pollack pointed out in an interview years ago that you only need a 4 x 6 sheet to deliver the best investment advice. He was challenged to follow up on his observation. He did it, and then he turned his ideas into a co-authored book.

Princeton University Finance Professor Burton Malkiel (now Emeritus) summed up his ideas in ten rules. “The Random Walk Guide to Investing” is short and savvy on the basics of money.

I would watch Michelle Singletary’s “What To Do With Your Money In A Crisis: A Survival Guide”. Singletary is an award-winning Washington Post personal finance columnist.

Its format is to come up with a typical personal finance question or problem, followed by its answer and further thoughts. Some parts of the book may not apply to your granddaughter, but she will find the basic information useful. Singletary is a voice of wisdom on life, meaning, and personal finance.

Two suggestions for your grandson. Jean Chatzky’s “Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Your Own Money” is written for children aged 12 to 15. It not only offers clever ideas on the basics of money management (not surprisingly) but also thoughts on the economics and psychology of money.

And check out Kobliner’s “Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You Are Not)”. She helps parents teach financial literacy to their children aged 3 to 23.

Farrell is a senior economic contributor to American Public Media’s Marketplace and a commentator for Minnesota Public Radio.