These Personal Finance Books Would Make Great Graduation Gifts

I am at the stage in life where recent college graduates are asking for insight into jobs and careers. They need income and they want engaging, exciting and meaningful work. The good news is that employer demand for entry-level talent is strong.

That said, most graduates receive a student loan repayment schedule with their college sheepskin. Many will change jobs frequently early in their careers. They will need a savings cushion to get through the transitions. When they land a good job, chances are they’ll receive a benefits package, including a retirement savings plan.

In light of all this, parents, extended family, and close friends should consider adding a personal finance book to graduation gift lists. The donation will help the graduate establish a solid long-term financial foundation. Here is a short list of potential choices:

Burton Malkiel, author of the investing book “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, has now distilled his insights on personal finance into 10 rules of money management in “The Random Walk Guide to Investing”. It’s a little book with critical benchmarks for managing money well over time.

Another possibility is “The Elements of Investing” by Malkiel and consultant Charles Ellis. The authors are strong on the fundamentals; consider running a 401(k) or 403(b).

Beth Kobliner’s target market has long been young adults starting their careers and families. “Get a Financial Life” was first published in 1996. The latest edition is a major overhaul that takes into account the changes that have taken place in economy, society and finance over the past two decades. Kobliner covers the basics of personal finance well.

“The Card: Why Personal Finances Don’t Have to Be Complicated” is another option. The authors are journalist Helaine Olen and social scientist Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago. Pollack remarked in an interview several years ago that everything you need to know about money management could fit on a index card. He was challenged to act on his observation, so he wrote his suggestions on a 4×6 index card and posted a photo of them online. The map became an internet sensation and eventually this book.

Anyone saving for retirement should read at least one book by John Bogle, the founder of financial services giant Vanguard Group. Bogle is a strong proponent of simplicity in financial affairs. A good choice might be “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing”.

Happy graduating!

Chris Farrell is a senior economics contributor to “Marketplace” and a commentator at Minnesota Public Radio.