cover image THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DAD: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money

THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DAD: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money

David Owen, . . Simon & Schuster, $22 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-0480-4

This is a terrific little book that could completely change the way many parents think about children and money. Owen, a staff writer for the New Yorker, entertainingly details ways to "raise children who aren't overwhelmed by the financial side of life." He convincingly argues that the purpose of most parental savings plans for children "is not to promote saving but to prevent consumption." His book sets forth a very clever idea: by setting up a checking account for his children using a Quicken program with a high interest rate—5% per month—Owen shows how he was able to teach them that "the more you save, and the longer you hold it, the more you will be able to spend." In each case, he deftly proves his main idea: that "they became savers because I created a system that rewarded them for spending less than they earned." Most important for parents beleaguered by kids demands to "buy them something," Owen shows how a savings program such as his can help take the emotion out of buying, so that the question kids have to answer "is not 'How can I talk Dad into paying for this?' but 'Is this something I really want?'" His savings plan (along with his equally interesting "Dad Stock Exchange" idea) is rooted in a clear-headed view of economics as well as a good-faith desire to help parents help kids to become responsible, not greedy, adults. (Jan.)

Forecast:This smart book has the potential to become a parenting classic, as well as a wonderful gift book to give to current as well as prospective parents.