Book offers kids a fun, quiz-filled way to learn how to run their own money
January 26, 2023
The Kids’ Money Book by Jamie Kyle McGillian is that long talked-about and much-needed resource for young people that’s designed to teach them everything they need to know about money.
It’s written in a breezy, clear, and kid-friendly way, with plenty of diagrams, quizzes and fun facts. Although the book is intended for U.S. kids it is still totally relevant for a Canadian audience.
McGillian beings by remarking how her own two daughters used to spend all their pocket money on “candy and costume jewellery,” but have now graduated to coffee, music and apps for their phones. “In the past decade, as my little spenders have grown into big spenders, the world of money has changed, thanks to technology,” she writes.
A study by U.S. investment bank Piper Jaffray found “teens spend more of their cash on food than anything else” at places like Starbucks, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread. Clothing is next, at 20 per cent, with top brands being Nike, Forever 21, American Eagle and Ralph Lauren, the book notes.
After a look at the history of money from bartering all the way up to bitcoin, the book’s first quiz doles out some good advice, such as to “nurture you own interests in responsible ways, make solid decisions that reflect good judgement,” and to “put a price on fashion and ask yourself — is it worth it?” Other advice is being generous and charitable.
“Grown-ups who don’t learn money sense when they are young often learn the hard way,” the book advises. “Even if they do avoid big money mistakes, always worrying about paying bills and not having enough money to take care of the family are not fun. Learn to make smart money decisions and you’ll have a better chance of leading the kind of life that you want to,” writes McGillian.
And that’s what the book does. A chapter on the difference between wants and needs leads the reader to logical conclusions. “It’s all right to have a lot of wants, but the idea is to keep them in check,” she writes.
Later, we learn that folks with money smarts don’t give in “to the little voice in his or her head that screams `I want it now,’” and are happy with what they have (and not unhappy about what they don’t have). That’s because they “know how to make money work” for themselves, are “usually careful and precise with money” and aren’t wasteful, the book advises.
The section on allowances advises kids not to “spend every penny of your allowance. Leave at least a little for savings and sharing.” As well, the book advises young readers to “think about it carefully” before committing to a large purchase.
The book talks about ways younger folks can earn more money than just allowance, through babysitting, car washing, caring for pets, or creating arts and crafts. There’s a chapter on how to “increase your earning power” by boosting your casual conversation skills, selling yourself and your abilities, and keeping a sense of humour.
There’s a great, simple little chapter on budgeting — set aside money for school lunch, snacks, clothes, entertainment, “drugstore and miscellaneous spending,” and you can have money left over “for saving, sharing and investing.”
On shopping, the book advises young folks to be smart consumers. “Comparison shop. Judge different brands of products against each other. Talk to friends and relatives before you buy. Find out what brands they are most satisfied with. Research the product.”
The “Investing 101” chapter provides a nice overview of bonds, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and more. The credit card section highlights the good and importantly, bad things about credit cards — annual fees, interest charges, and the ability “to start spending more than you can actually afford.”
This is an excellent book that helps deliver the medicine of basic financial literacy with the sugar sweetness of gentle writing, lots of graphics, fun quizzes and simple examples. Well done Ms McGillian!
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Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.