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Feb. 6, 2023

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4 books for kids, teens get them off to an early start earning, saving

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Want to help your kids or grandkids get smarter about money, as well as establish good saving and spending habits? Many parents and grandparents would like to help, but how?

Lecturing may have little impact other than to annoy. Instead, let a book convey important personal-finance lessons.

I recommend these four books because they offer different approaches to coaching kids (and their parents) about money — earning it, saving and investing it, setting goals and planning for the long-term.

‘How to Money’

By Jean Chatzky (Paperback, $16.99)

Target reader: Teenagers and young adults.

Longtime national financial writer Jean Chatzky describes her book as “your ultimate visual guide to the basics of finance.” She starts with a big question for her young readers: What do you want from your life?

Chapters proceed from earning and managing money to how to budget and invest it.

“There’s no getting around it. You need to know how to manage money to know how to manage life,” Chatzky writes.

Filled with helpful illustrations and quick-hit tips, “How to Money” offers chapters on the best use of an allowance, starting your own business as a teenager and ways to turn your free time into a money-making opportunity.

Later chapters address budgeting, setting money goals and establishing credit. Her final chapters look at next steps: How to outline a career and manage a paycheck.

What I liked about this book: Chapters are easy to navigate and well-labeled. Information is presented in easy-to-understand short segments. The book has great illustrations with lots of entry points explaining concepts. To get readers started, Chatzky suggests putting together a list of five things you enjoy doing and what college majors or training programs would allow you to turn those passions into a well-paying and rewarding career.

‘I Want More Pizza’

By Steve Burkholder (Paperback, $9.99)

Target reader: Older teens, college students.

More than anything, “I Want More Pizza: Real World Money Skills for High School, College and Beyond” is intended to help young readers take control of their financial future by avoiding money pitfalls and by laying out a road map for personal success.

Burkholder organizes book chapters as slices of pizza rather than chapters.

Slice No. 1: You.

Your goals, priorities, and action. “Think about your goals and write them down,” he advises.

Slice No. 2: Saving.

“Saving (using auto-save) must be a priority. You can’t afford not to save,” he writes.

Slice No. 3: Growing your savings.

Put your savings to work by using compound growth. In other words, reinvest earnings from T-bills, certificates of deposit, mutual funds and stocks. The rewards will be great, over the long-term, he points out.

Slice No. 4: Debt.

Managing credit card debt and paying for college are two challenges facing young people, Burkholder says.

“Unfortunately, you’re never too young to do something that will negatively impact your finances. That something can be a bad decision with debt,” he writes.

Among his tips, use studentaid.gov to research scholarship opportunities.

What I liked about this book: “I Want More Pizza” is jam-packed with money basics. Written for teens, the book is a first-person money coach. Inside there is room for notes as readers work through the “slices” (chapters).

‘A Smart Girl’s Guide: Money’

By Nancy Holyoke (Paperback, $11.99)

Target reader: Girls, ages 10-15.

Do you have a daughter or granddaughter who you want to help build good money habits? “A Smart Girl’s Guide: Money” may be the answer.

Geared to younger girls who are old enough to read and who might be starting to earn babysitting money or want to set up a savings plan, the book explains how. With great illustrations and simple language, “Money” spells out the “trick to saving for something big,” how to avoid impulse buying, and how to brainstorm a business idea. Topics include having a money talk with parents regarding expenses, saving and spending.

Quizzes throughout ask young readers to identify their “money style” and six questions to ask themselves before buying something. It concludes with 101 moneymaking ideas for girls.

What I liked about this book: This hands-on book is perfectly geared to young girls. Well-illustrated and easy to access, the book offers terrific tips for building good money habits and money confidence, as well as great moneymaking ideas.

‘Smart Money Smart Kids’

By Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze (Hardcover, $10.50)

Target reader: Parents and grandparents.

This extensive 250-plus-page book first published in 2014 is directed at parents (and grandparents) who want to get their kids (or grandkids) off to a good start with money and then continue to help them make good money decisions into adulthood.

Ramsey and Cruze, his daughter, build a case for establishing family money traditions early. They offer tips to help little kids understand the concept of delayed reward and promote the mantra that work “is NOT a four-letter word.” Their book shows parents how to teach kids about money using family chores, consistency and responsibility.

Ramsey and Cruze recommend that older kids start a business by first brainstorming ideas and then setting up an action plan. The book covers spending and saving wisely.

Cruze includes first-person accounts of how she learned to manage her money, set up a business while in high school and how she got through college without huge debt. In fact, debt is a big topic for Ramsey, a nationally known financial guru. Ramsey and Cruze warn college kids about credit cards and taking on student debt without realizing the burden.

They discuss how to best finance a college education. They talk about 529 savings accounts and education savings accounts. They discuss choosing a college and a major, winning scholarships and working while going to school.

What I liked about this book: It offers great advice for parents and family who want to establish good money habits early for their children and then help them make good money decisions as they grow into their teens and go off to college. At the back of the book is a student budget outline to help college-bound students get a handle on expenses.


Julia Anderson is the author of “Smart Women Smart Money Smart Life: Take Charge Now to Have the Life you Deserve.” She hosts Smart Money, a public television show on YouTube, and is the former business editor of The Columbian.

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