Thanks to BookLook for a review copy of the book. Do you need debt help? I’m not a regular Dave Ramsey listener, but I know about him and from what I’ve heard, the financial advice he offers is on target. I also have three teenage daughters. So, I was happy for the opportunity to review his latest book, Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, written with his daughter, Rachel Cruze.
I have always felt grateful that money has not been a problem area in my life. Even during my grad school days, when I was living on minimum wage, paying for schooling, and paying my bills in a Birmingham apartment, I was still able to scrimp and save enough to make things work. It did involve hardship, including going without heat for part of the winter, although that wasn’t as tragic in Alabama as it would have been in, say, Minneapolis. What can I say? When it comes to money, I’ve always had discipline. I wish I had that much discipline with eating — yet if I did, you wouldn’t be reading this, because I’d be off working as a supermodel somewhere (well … it might help if I were 6 inches taller, but anyway …)
I hope to pass this along to my kids, so I read a bit of the book aloud after dinner each night. It’s full of good information on teaching kids how to think smartly about money — something that is sorely needed in our nation today, populated as we are with people living paycheck-to-paycheck or who don’t even earn a paycheck at all, instead relying on others to meet their basic needs.
The book is divided into chapters, and Dave and Rachel take turns giving advice in each. It’s kind of like having a conversation with them. The book has an informal tone and feel. There are chapters on jobs and working, on saving, on spending, on college, giving, debt, and budgeting — pretty much every money topic you can imagine.
Most chapters have sections for how to approach the topic with younger kids, and also how to discuss it with teens. Since my kids are older, I didn’t read the parts geared toward younger kids.
I found the information good for the most part, and even when I didn’t agree, it was interesting to read about the Ramseys’ opinions on various topics. For instance, the Ramseys’ policy on getting teens a car was that the teen saved for a car, and the parents matched what the kids had saved.
I really appreciated the book’s emphasis on work, and that the way one gets money is through work. They emphasize teaching kids this from a young age.
One issue where my opinion differs from Dave’s is on credit card usage. I’ve always had a credit card since I’ve been in the workforce. Yes, I’ve paid it in full each month, and I feel it’s been a positive thing for me. I’ve gotten lots of cash back from my cards. But Ramsey is firmly anti-credit card. His daughter tells a story that cracked me up: she was on a first date in college, and at the restaurant, the guy pulled out a credit card. HORRORS! Apparently this was almost more than Rachel could handle. But honestly — I can’t imagine life without a credit card. How would you buy things online??? (Again, I totally get that many people carry credit card debt over month after month, and obviously this is not smart).
The book discusses earning scholarships for college and counsels kids to never get college loans. I think this is wise advise, and yet then Dave goes on to say that he paid the full amount for his kids to attend any public, in-state school of their choice. This is generous and kind, and yet I was left wondering — can the average child finance such an education without taking out loans? (I did this, myself — and yet college costs have gone up dramatically since my college days).
I think the book could have used some chopping. It becomes very repetitive in spots, and a common theme around the dinner table became “Um … I think they said that already” or a dramatic yawn — then again, as I said, I have three teens.
Overall though, I recommend the book for any parent. It’s full of solid money advice for kids, teens, and adults as well.