Q: My three teenage grandsons have the potential to come into some inheritances within the next few years. My financial adviser has said he would be happy to talk with them within the next few years, but I would like to start them thinking about this sooner with an easy-to-read book. Any suggestions?
A: Two book recommendations. One is “Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Money,” by Jean Chatzky. The audience for her book is teenagers in the 12 to 15-year-old range. The other is “Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23,” by Beth Kobliner. Both Chatzky and Kobliner know personal finance well. Their information is good, and their insights are sound.
Your grandsons will get the most out of either book (or both) if you also read them. You can use stories or information from the books to start conversations about various money topics with your grandchildren.
Speaking of conversations, there are other ways to encourage teenagers to learn about money. For instance, I would encourage them — assuming it’s OK with their parents — to get summer jobs. There are so many money and life lessons that come from working part-time for a paycheck during the summer months. The teenage job market is better than it has been in years.
Another money conversation I always suggest is about decisions for charitable giving. Charitable giving is a good topic for broadening the money discussion to some very basic considerations. Why do you give money away? How do you decide where to give your money, and how much? Ask your grandchildren what charitable activities they think are important to support and encourage them to research the possibilities. A major reason for highlighting the giving conversation is we learn with age how critical it is to try to marry meaning and money. The pursuit of both purpose and a paycheck is critical to not only creating a good life, but to managing money well over a lifetime.
One last thought: Establish an account with a small amount of investment money. Teenagers have various passions and interests. Most likely, there are some public companies for them to research and perhaps invest in. Investing opens up a different way of looking at the world. The goal here isn’t necessarily to make money, although that would be nice. Instead, it’s to learn the fundamentals of money management.
Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, “Marketplace,” commentator, Minnesota Public Radio.