Best money books for summer

Let’s be honest. Your summer book list isn’t crammed with money titles. But I’m guessing your financial skills could use some time in the sun. 
Admittedly, the following reads aren’t the mindless ones meant for skimming at the lake. But they won’t put you to sleep — and they’ll teach you a thing or two.

For your teen

Money Sanity Solutions: Linking Money and Meaning by Nathan Dungan

Dungan, a Minneapolis-based financial speaker, wrote this book after years of parents asking him about how to talk money with their teens. Money Sanity Solutions starts the conversation, with 15 sections on topics ranging from budgeting to philanthropy, all with the goal of bringing families financial sanity in this consumer-driven world. 
Extra credit: Hand your high school junior Secrets to Winning a Scholarship, written by college financing expert Mark Kantrowitz. Each year, 1.5 million scholarships are given out worth a whopping $3.5 billion.

For the next Warren Buffett

The Investment Answer: Learn to Manage your Money and Protect your Financial Future by Daniel Goldie and Gordon Murray

In just 66 pages, these financial professionals teach average investors what they need to know to successfully save for retirement. In a nutshell, only work with a financial adviser that puts your interests first. Diversify. Come up with a rebalancing plan so you won’t let emotions tell you when to buy and sell.

For the piggy bank set

It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit by Sam Renick

This book follows the adventures of Sammy Rabbit, who learns the importance of saving when he finds out he needs $300 to ride the first space coaster. The series of books, written by a financial consultant turned financial educator, is geared toward five to eight year-olds and focuses on developing smart spending and savings habits.
 Economic lessons exist in many children’s books, even the ones that don’t have financially-focused plotlines. For a list of kid lit that teaches dollars and sense, visit

For your frugal friend

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

This book is far more than a guide to living on less, although there are plenty of good suggestions in that vein. The authors ask readers to evaluate how much their life energy is worth, how much of it they give up at the office in return for a paycheck, and what to do if there’s an imbalance. 

For an all-around finance guide

The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy by Liz Weston

Try fellow personal finance columnist Liz Weston’s new book. She covers every topic facing modern families — from figuring out how to save for emergencies while paying for hockey gear to how to get along with your partner when you are financial opposites. She ends each chapter with an easily followed series of action steps. She even gave me a new budgeting tool — her 50/30/20 budget — 50 percent of your after-tax income for life’s “must-haves,” 30 percent for “wants,” and 20 percent for saving and paying off debts.

Kara McGuire is a personal finance writer and a St. Paul mother 
of three. Send comments, questions and story ideas to