Ask Money

Personal finance suggestions for grandson

Chris Farrell Jun 22, 2012

Question: What do you recommend I get for my grandson who is in his third year of college and has no idea of how to manage his meager funds? William, Amherst, MA 

Answer: It’s a wonderful thought. He’ll also be graduating before you know it, and a grasp of personal finance basics could really pay off. His meager funds will hopefully grow.

One thought is to encourage him to take a financial literacy class, if his college or university offers one. I think it should be a required class before graduating, but at least it’s a course offered on more college campuses these days. The career development center on most campuses is another useful resource. He can download college-based budget templates there, too.

I would also think about how your grandson learns best. I had a friend who could absorb lectures and conversation with ease but always struggled with learning from books. In that case, talking with finance professional could be useful. I would ask around and find a certified financial planner (CFP) who has or had college-age youngsters. I would set up an appointment or two for the CFP to go over the financial basics with your grandson, from student loan repayment to budgeting to savings. I assume there would be a charge, but it would be well worth it if it gets your grandson off to a good financial start. Most professionals I know enjoy passing on their knowledge to the younger generation.  

If your grandson does better with books or you want to supplement an appointment with some reading material, I would consider The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel. It’s a short, simple book with advice that will hold him in good stead, especially once he has a 401(k) or similar retirement savings plan at work. My book, The New Frugality, deals with everything from a thoughtful approach to finances to the basics of budgeting. 

The online world is useful, of course. Perhaps he could spend some time at, a money management site with an orientation toward budgeting and debt reduction.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.