Getting_loaded

Getting Loaded:

Make a Million While You’re Still Young Enough to Enjoy It

On the road to $1M rating:

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I’ve mentioned previously how valuable I think it would be for kids to get a basic financial education before they go to live away from home. And for those interested in the topic, this book is a fantastic place to start. Getting Loaded is specifically targeted to young people, and it’s a thorough introduction to the main financial issues they’re inevitably going to encounter in the following years: from credit cards to taxes, investing, insurance, pension plans, or buying a home.

As I said, the book is mainly targeted to people of around college age, but it works for older ones as well -I learnt a lot from it about such things as umbrella insurance policies and disability insurance. The quest to reach a young audience, however, sets its tone, which is funny, at times even annoyingly so: each single paragraph seems to contain at least one joke, which occassionally left me with the impression that the author -Peter Bielagus- was trying too hard. He nevertheless deserves praise for trying to make personal finance -not the most alluring topic- accesible to the young.

The book makes a remarkable effort to warn teenagers and 20-somethings against all those things we now wish we had avoided, like getting swamped in debt if you go to college or not taking the opportunity to contribute into your first job’s 401(k) -particularly if it came with matching contributions.

Of course Bielagus is aware that a typical 20-year-old will have a list of a thousand things on which to spend their first wage, which probably doesn’t include contributing to their pension. But instead of telling them to save because “it’s good for you” or “you’ll be happy you’ve done it when you retire” -who can imagine retirement when they’re 20?- he puts forward these hopefully more convincing -and less long-term- arguments:

  • Starting to save while young allows you to rip all the benefits of compound interest. (Granted, this sounds very much like “you’ll be happy you started young when you retire”, but maybe seeing the actual numbers can inspire some young readers to take action).

  • Keeping your finances in place can help you achieve your dreams. In other words, instead of longing for the day your parents will buy you a new car, why not make a specific plan, find out how much money you actually have, how much you could save if you gave up cable t.v. or started working part-time, and how long it would take to put the money together to buy the car yourself?

  • Your savings may even provide you with extra money to spend on the other things on your list. (Several chapters in the book cover the basics of investing, an activity that could yield good retuns to readers willing to be patient).

For added value, the book throws in extra tips that young boys and girls can use to reduce their -or their parents’- tax bill or get a discount when buying their first car. It even makes a convincing case for them to start their own business -a suggestion I liked so much that I dedicated a whole post to it.

I was very pleased with the book overall, but of course I don’t know what younger people think about it. If you’re a teenager and have read it -or if your teenage kids have given it a shot-, I’d be very interested in hearing your opinion.

In the press these days:

TALKBACK

  • Have you or your kids read this book?

  • Did you find it useful? Would you recommend it to a teenager interested in learning about personal finance?

PLEASE SHARE YOUR OPINION HERE

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