Book Review – Not Your Parents’ Money Book

We all want to give our children the best financial start that we can, which was (as you might recall) the subject of yesterday’s post (amongst others).   A large part of that is giving those children the best education possible.  But given both the dearth of financial knowledge among most adults and the fact that most personal finance books are geared towards adults (and more than a few even go above said adults’ head), how can you help give children a head start to good personal finance?

Not Your Parents’ Money Book attempts to do just that.  Providing a light tone, plenty of illustrations, and information about various aspects of personal finance, the book attempts to teach the basics of personal finance while aiming at the preteen and young teen population.  Does it provide a good introduction to finance for the youth, or fail to deliver on its promise?  Let’s read on and find out!

Summary

Not Your Parents’ Money Book opens by explaining why Jean Chatzky decides to write a money book oriented toward children, particularly trying to answer their questions to her as she traveled and asked them what they wanted to know about money.  It also introduces some of the book’s features, including statements from select 12-14 year old children and the artwork found throughout the book.  (In case you’re wondering, the artwork is drawn in a sort of westernized anime-style; don’t act so surprised, I’m engaged to an artist, after all.)

The first chapter opens up the book by describing the economy at large, and particularly how the government influences the economy, from printing money to the basics of the Federal Reserve.  Chapter two looks closer at the basics of individual money management, noting some basic tips to do financially well in life, and sharing some of things the children interviewed knew (or frequently, didn’t know) about money.

Chapter three starts to cover the basics of earning money, from the importance of higher education in increasing your income prospects to the realities of taxes when you get into the work force.  There’s also a list of possible ways for the target population to earn money besides baby sitting (without too much elaboration on each method though).  The fourth chapter looks at some of the ways young people can spend money after they make it, and includes ways parents can monitor the allowance they give their children.  It also includes a table listing the average income for numerous professions.

Chapter five discusses how to spend less than you earn, providing ways to help control your wants and emphasizing the importance of saving.  Chapter six discusses the basics of banking, covering some of different types of banks and similar organizations.  It also provides some basic instructions on how to balance your checkbook (something more than a few people well past their teens should learn how to do).

The seventh chapter covers how to spend smartly, including how to comparison shop and other methods of saving while shopping.  There’s also an introduction to credit cards and debit cards, both things people are using when they are younger and younger.  There’s also a few warnings about gift cards, particularly the fact that they expire pretty quickly.

Chapter eight provides a crash course in investing, introducing stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, as well as providing some basic advice on how to invest given your time frame for needing the money.  Chapter nine finishes off the book by talking about the emotional aspect of money, particularly how it can drive people so crazy.  The book finishes with some advice on how to give back to charity.  There are a few appendices at the end, including the history of money, how money is made in the US today, and a glossary of terms used throughout the book.

Pros

The book and the information is interesting and pretty informative.  The illustrations and the humor in the writing help make the book much more entertaining and should help it to grab the attention of its target audience (as well as those of us who simply enjoy cartoons).  It covers most major aspects of money, and does it in an easy to understand manner; plus, it’s pretty entertaining.

Cons

The information is rather sparse in places throughout the book, from the list of possible ways to earn money (without any further details) to the chapter on investing, which didn’t provide much information on HOW to invest when you are old enough (or mentioning custodial accounts).  The book is also quite basic, not really providing much new information for anyone who isn’t a complete beginner in money management.

Overall

Not Your Parents’ Money Book is pretty solid introduction to money for the target audience members.  It is a very, very basic book, and if you (or the person you intend to give it to) has already started to learn about money, there might not be too much new information found in the pages of the book.  With that said, though, it is pretty entertaining, and can provide some decent resources to the money management beginner

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