Best personal finance books for your young adult children

By John Atkins

Parents of adult children often struggle with limits on help and guidance. A parent wants his or her child to stand on their own two feet and face life with confidence; however, it’s hard not to lend a helping hand if the child goes through financial difficulties.

To lay the groundwork for not only self-sufficiency but also success, parents should strive to educate their children on the finer points of personal finance. There comes a point in every adult’s life when they no longer want to hear mom and dad’s lectures on thriftiness; if you’ve already reached that point with your adult children, consider slipping them a copy of a good book.

#1: On My Own Two Feet

As children transition into adulthood, everyday concerns can trump preparation for the road ahead. Parents who have experienced the ups and downs of life often worry that their children have failed to lay the groundwork for future security.

Liz Miller, president of Summit Place Financial Advisors, often addresses these issues with the adult children of clients. Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar’s On My Own Two Feet serves as a valuable tool to stimulate personal interest in finance.

“I present them with a copy of On My Own Two Feet, because it’s an easy-to-read book about the principles of money management,” says Liz. “It teaches readers basic budget skills, and also shows how to secure a retirement plan and prepare for a down payment on a house.”

#2: The Millionaire Next Door

It may not be easy to accumulate a million dollars, but you can at least emulate the habits of the rich. Parents who want to encourage a reasonable, common-sense approach to spending would do well to recommend The Millionaire Next Door. This book, informed through 20 years of research into the lives of the rich, reveals seven principles as the keys to wealth.

“It’s not so much a how-to as it is a detailed look at how the most financially secure people in America got that way,” says Giovanni Isaksen, CEO of Ashworth Partners Ltd. “No hype, no ‘be a millionaire tomorrow,’ just information on how people with average jobs and businesses did it.”The book will serve as an excellent corrective for children with unrealistic expectations about money and success. The authors consistently emphasize discipline, frugality and hard work, qualities in direct opposition to the flashy consumerism that many young people associate with wealth.

#3: The Total Money Makeover

When asked for their recommendations for financial books for adult children, finance experts recommended one book more than any other: The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey. A contemporary classic on personal finance, The Total Money Makeover helps readers design practical plans to pay off debt and establish nest eggs.

“Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is by far the simplest and most motivating personal finance book out there,” says Catherine Alford, a family finance expert who has shared her wisdom with Good Morning America and the Huffington Post. “There are a lot of wonderful books for the adult child to get excited about money, but you can’t really get any better than this one.”

The book comes with useful forms and budget worksheets to give readers actual tools to take control of their money. For adult children who may feel resistant to reminders to save and skimp on indulgences, The Total Money Makeover will appear as a breath of fresh air. The author does not denigrate extravagance, and simply encourages readers to spend within their means.

“There is no better general resource for the average American to combat debt, prepare for the future and create a long-term personal financial plan,” says Rob Drury, executive director of the Association of Christian Financial Advisors. “If started early enough, this book will guide most anyone through life’s financial journey.”

The best gifts that a parent can give a child are the lessons necessary to lead a long and fruitful life. While a little monetary support never hurts, the knowledge gained from the right book lets children create their own wealth, solve their own problems, and prepare for lives of true independence.

About the Author

John Atkins is the former community manager for Self.

Written on November 6, 2015

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