When I saw that Kimberly Palmer was publishing a book, I immediately asked her for a copy to review. This is the first time that I actually asked an author for a copy of a book to review. For those who don’t know me, I tend to read about 5 books a year… and I’m counting the 90% that I never actually finish in that number. I have a bookshelf with over 100 untouched personal finance books from authors who have offered to send me their book for review.
For those of you who don’t know Kimberly Palmer, she’s a columnist for US News and World Report. In my world (which is admittedly focused on personal finance), she’s the only reason that US News isn’t another college rankings publication. You can catch up with her writing at US News’ popular Alpha Consumer website.
The book is Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back. The title is appropriate. It doesn’t try to cover the entire area of personal finance. It doesn’t cover questions like, “How do you know when you can safely retire?” The book focuses on just about everything that someone in their 20s and early 30s needs to know about personal finance.
The book is divided into three areas: Building Your Life, Creating a Home, and Changing the World. The Building Your Life covers the basics of budgeting, managing your career, understand credit and debt, investing, and getting a good start towards retirement. The Creating a Home section deals with all the personal finance question that come with family issues. You’ll lending/receiving money from family, cheap dating, marriage, and planning for children. The last section, Changing the World, covers being environmentally friendly, making your investments match your personal ethics, giving to charity, and starting a non-profit.
Before I give my final thoughts, I should state some potential biases I have. Since Palmer covers personal finance and I cover personal finance our paths occasionally cross. That said, I’m a particularly difficult person to please when it comes to personal finance books. I’ve been reading Money Magazine for “fun” (yes, I’m weird) since I was 13. I’ve been blogging about personal finance for 4.5 years. It is a tall task to keep me interested in a personal finance book. Plus, I’m a little biased against books. John Lennon said it best: “All You Need is Blogs.” They seem to suit my attention span best.
I found myself, time and again, nudging my wife saying, read this paragraph or read this page. There were just a number of times where I remember having this exact discussion with her in the past. If I could pry the Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood books from her hands, perhaps I can get this on her radar.
It’s sad, but one of the biggest criticisms I had was on page 17, where Kimberly Palmer devoted almost a half page to praising wine with screw caps… while that’s great, there are a number of ways to save money on wine. However, she makes up for it with a great tip on how to make homemade hummus, something that I found to a good cash savings.
The best part of the book was also the most unexpected. On area that is grossly under-covered in this space, and in the personal finance area in general, is the section on Changing the World. It always takes a backseat to the personal finance basics. It was quite a welcome surprise, especially considering where I am with my life right now. Maybe I’m having a third-life crisis or something, but I’ve been thinking more and more about how I’m going to make a difference in the world. I hope that Lazy Man and Money has helped a few (especially those who are victims of a MonaVie scam), but I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last couple of months putting a plan together that will hopefully allow me to do more.
Sometimes people ask me what is the perfect gift for a new grad. I’m putting Generation Earn at the top of that list. For more reviews an information about the book, check out the official Generation Earn website.