Review of: Kiplinger’s Money Smart Kids – What they need to know about money and how to tell them

by Janet Bodnar copyright 2005 published by Dearborn Trade Publishing


Bodnar attempts to make the reader see a kid’s point of view about money – demonstrating what kids think, say, know and don’t know about various subjects.

She covers parent money personality and parent money behavior as well as skimming lightly over what kids at various ages (preschool, tweens, teens and young adults) should know, what they do know, what they ask about money and resources and suggestions to teach them.

Other topics include:

  • Helping children learn that ads and marketing don’t always portray reality.
  • Allowances and whether or not kids should have to do chores for them.
  • Specific kid questions about the coin and currency (like why is a dollar green).
  • Saving, spending and giving.
  • Generic investing ideas and tips including ways to invest without a lot of upfront money.
  • Ways for kids to earn money and what they should do with their earnings.
  • College – ways to pay, things to iron out with your young adult (like who pays for what).
  • Credit cards – shes against them even for college students.
  • Grandparents working with parents on what to give kids, how to give it as well as opening the discussion about the grandparents finances with their adult children.
  • What to do if the kids move back home after college.

Most of the book is dedicated to stories about specific people or children and their money situations. She presents multiple examples of the concept being discussed using these stories.

Read this book to understand and address:

This book is full of specific examples of ways to address questions that kids have about money. Overall, the basics it covers are covered in a more organized fashion in other books. I would not recommend buying the book, but it is worth checking out of the library for the resources.

What I liked.

Bodnar presents specific things that kids at certain ages should know, gives good descriptions of activities to do with each age group and has a long list of resources that you can use for each age group.

Chapter 11: Of Lawn mowing and Milkshake Stands was most helpful to me, as I’m trying to find ways to show my grandchildren that they can start a kid business. She lists out multiple ways kids can make money and goes into some of the child labor law issues.

What I wished for.

I thought the book could have used more information in the age related chapters – more on what kids can learn at the age levels and more suggestions of activities to do with them to get them there.

She attempted to cover too much and as a result the book was a juxtaposition of very high level concepts and detailed specific stories.

Favorite quotes.

“A few years ago, I did a special report for Kiplinger’s magazine about how wealthy parents maintain family values when the value of the family soars. What I found is that the rich aren’t so different from the rest of us in their goals for their children. They want them to have a sense of struggle and accomplishment, an appreciation for what money can and can’t buy, and, eventually, financial independence.” P 46

“The younger the child, the smaller and more immediate the [savings] goal should be” p 133

She suggests volunteering instead of having your teen get a burger slinging job on p 239:

“Kids are often given more responsibility in these positions than in paying jobs and they get exposure to a variety of careers and to slices of life that they might not normally come in contact with”.

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