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

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

In light of all that, parents, extended family and close friends should consider adding a personal finance book to graduation gift lists. The gift will help the graduate establish a sound financial footing for the long haul. Here is a shortlist of potential choices:

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

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

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

“The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to be Complicated,” is another option. The authors are journalist Helaine Olen and University of Chicago social scientist Harold Pollack. Pollack remarked in an interview several years ago that everything you need to know about managing money could fit on an index card. He was challenged to make good on his observation, so he proceeded to write his suggestions on a 4x6 index card and posted a photo of it online. The card became an internet sensation and eventually this book.

Anyone saving for retirement should read at least one book by John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group financial services behemoth. Bogle is a passionate advocate for keeping money affairs simple. A good choice might be “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.”

Happy graduation!


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