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Best Money Books for New College Graduates

Mark Kantrowitz

October 07, 2010

College is a transition from a sheltered existence where your parents worried about money matters on your behalf to the real world where you are responsible for making ends meet. But there are many lessons about managing money and living on your own that aren’t taught in a college classroom.

According to the Council for Economic Education, 13 states require high school students to take a personal finance course to graduate from high school and 34 states have curriculum guidelines that include personal finance. The Jump Start Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, which has tougher standards, reports that only 4 states require a one-semester or longer course devoted to personal finance and 20 states incorporate it into other courses, such as economics.

The following books will help prepare you for life after college. They provide practical, how-to advice and common sense wisdom about budgeting, debt, credit scores, taxes, insurance, saving and investing. They address the major life-cycle events, including buying a car, getting a job, saving for retirement, getting married, buying a home, having children and (gasp) paying for your children’s college education. These books are the closest you’ll get to a guide for grown-ups.

Introduction to Money Management

The following three books are good all-around introductions to personal finance for college graduates. In addition to these books, every college graduate should subscribe to Consumer Reports, the best source of expert reviews and ratings of consumer products and services.

Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner ($16.00, 352 pages, 2009). An introduction to basic money management and financial literacy for college graduates. Topics include budgeting, credit cards, ATMs, getting out of debt, renting an apartment, buying a car, buying a house, insurance, investing, taxes and saving for retirement. The book also includes good summaries of fundamental money management principles and advice.

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman ($16.00, 400 pages, 2007). Focused on consumers in their 20s and 30s, this book helps you take control of your finances by setting priorities and implementing an action plan for achieving your goals. The books discusses credit cards and FICO scores and debt consolidation, as well as career advice, saving money, merging newlywed finances and solutions to common problems.

The Wall Street Journal. Guide to Starting Your Financial Life by Karen Blumenthal ($14.95, 316 pages, 2009). Written by the author of the Wall Street Journal’s Family Money column, this book takes you on a road trip through personal finance fundamentals, from bank accounts to credit cards to investing to insurance to taxes to big ticket purchases, always with good directions and sage advice.

There are also relevant books in the “Dummies” and “Complete Idiot” series, including Personal Finance For Dummies by Eric Tyson ($21.99, 480 pages, 2009) and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly ($18.95, 384 pages, 2009).


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