That's the question I found myself asking when I first picked up Getting Started: The Financial Guide for a Younger Generation, by Brian T. Jones, CFP®. (Actually, I was asking myself another question, too: At age 36, can I even claim membership in this so-called "younger generation" any longer?)
The answer to the second question — much as I hate to admit it — is "Probably not."
The answer to the first (and more important, if you're writing a book review) question is "Sure, if you can get them to read it."
It probably won't surprise you readers to know that there are a lot of Money Idiots out there. And once you clear out all the old and middle-aged Money Idiots, then what you're left with are the young Money Idiots. To be fair, there are a great many young Money Idiots running rampant over our beautiful countrysides.
But if we can get books like Getting Started into the hands of these young 'uns, and if we can get them to drop their Wii remotes and actually read the book (aye, there's the rub!), then we at least have a chance of getting these ne'er-do-wells to do something with their time other than blowing paychecks at the mall.
Certainly Brian Jones isn't the first author to step forward with money advice for the younger set. Heck, even Suze Orman couldn't resist this market; her 2005 Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke had her practically dominating the afternoon talk-show circuit for at least 4 or 5 days there.
Here, though, one gets the feeling that Brian is a lot closer — both in age (34, at the time of publication) and perspective — to his target audience than Suze ever was. (You tried hard, Suze, to be youngish and hip in voice — I'll give you that. But you just never made me believe.)
Some interesting (and perhaps slightly unexpected) snippets from Getting Started: The Financial Guide for a Younger Generation:
1. Not falling prey to "moving on up"
3. Saying NO to impulse buys
4. Controlling your lifestyle
5. Learning to cook
6. Setting limits on your annual vacation
Ehh ... okay. I'm all good with five out of six of those. Number 2, though? Coupons? A key to positive cash flow?
True, but we're talking "most important things to do to achieve positive cash flow," right? I'm sorry, but I'd shove coupons way to the back of the cash-flow pack. Let's kick around "earn extra income in your spare time" instead. That'll put some "Oh!" in your "Cash Flow."
Preach on, Brother Brian. You're talking serious Freedom Account action right there. I like the way you think.
I'm not sure where he came up with the 5% Rule — it seems plausible enough, I suppose — but I gotta tell ya: I'd feel guilty as heck if my clan went and blew 5% of our gross income on vacationing this year.
That's, like, a lot of money. Way more than I could save with coupons.
Better watch out, Brian. Those "My SUV is a God-given right, and Exxon is the devil incarnate!" folks are a hard-nosed lot. Don't let 'em catch you trying to merge from that on-ramp ...
Concise and well-put. Agreed.
On the topic of driving and car insurance:
Brian ...dude ... get out of my head.
On divorce, and our nation's standard of living:
Hmmm ... no, it doesn't, says I. Well, I guess it might, if you're spending 5% of your gross annual income on vacations. (And since when does gross income matter, anyway? I don't know a single soul who has access to his or her gross income.)
My Overall Take on Getting Started
Suze's book looked nicer, I guess, but as an avid personal-finance reader, I enjoyed Getting Started more. The two books cover much of the same standard ground — life insurance, retirement, saving for college, and so on — but Brian doesn't ever speak from the Pearl Pedestal that Suze sometimes does. His book feels more conversational, and more earnest.
I'm particularly appreciative of all the little "personal stories" which Brian interwove into his work — relating the situations of friends and folks he's met both inside and outside his CFP practice. Brian writes that as a kid, he learned much more from his parents when they told him situational, evocative stories which illustrated a point than when they simply lectured him for a couple of hours straight.
Therein rests the reason I'd recommend Getting Started over most other young-adult-focused money books: I can relate to Brian, I enjoy his delivery, and I can glean insights from his real-world stories.
I might not always agree with his take on everything, but I'd certainly like to lob his book at a few Money Idiots I know ... and just hope that something sticks.
Labels: Book Reviews