The Best Personal Finance Books: Budget Tips for College Students

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This is the time of year when parents pack up their cars to take the college kids to their new dorms. Along with them XL single bedding and shower trolleythere’s one more necessity to put in your box of stuff: a good book on college money management.

College is when kids generally get their first taste of financial freedom: they may buy their own food, pay for their own entertainment, and get their first credit card. Some will have jobs in addition to their studies, and they might try to save for a big purchase like a car.

Figuring out how to budget in college is important for students who don’t want to go into more debt after graduation. Additionally, starting college students on a solid financial footing means they can practice for four years before entering the “real world” of adulthood.

Money asked money management and financial literacy experts — including some who specialize in dorm demographics — for their top recommendations for books that appeal to young adults (ie, don’t just gather dust on the shelf) and offer solid principles and strategies for to become financially independent and to be smart with money. Here’s what they say are the best money books to give to college students.

Courtesy of TarcherPerigee

Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst at Compare Maps.comsays author Erin Lowry has a knack for presenting personal finance in an accessible way her blog and book of the same name millennium broken.

“She has a talent for making complex, confusing topics accessible and interesting,” says Schulz. “So many of the personal finance books you find online or in the library are drier than the Sahara and a challenge to get through. This is not one of those books.”

In other words, the odds are good millennium broken will appeal to a student even if she is already preoccupied with textbook reading tasks to her eyeballs.

“This is a simple money manifesto with fundamental but crucial approaches to spending, saving, investing, growing income and building wealth,” said Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundationsays of Jean Chatzky money rules.

Hyland says college kids will appreciate the book’s “easy and fun” way of presenting money concepts that young adults can use to build their personal financial management skills during their college years and beyond.

Courtesy of Green Olive Books

Phil Schuman, Director of Financial Literacy Indiana University’s MoneySmarts programsays your money life is good for college students who need an introduction to money management as well as those who already have the basics down.

“The information is presented very well and focuses on improving the reader’s financial habits and not just on improving their literacy,” says Schuman. “Every reader of the book has a good overview of how he can successfully shape his financial path.”

Courtesy of Holt Paperbacks

Schulz from CompareCards calls The financial diet by Chelsea Fagan “a perfect choice for someone just trying to get by on money matters.”

Schulz says the book is particularly user-friendly thanks to its relatable voice and easy-to-understand lessons. “It doesn’t read like a personal finance book at all,” he says. “It’s funny, it’s clever, and it has a lot of style, and those things make a difference when you’re trying to convey messages about something like personal finance.”

Courtesy of Ballantine Books

“This is one of the most practical and straightforward personal finance books I have come across,” said Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Advicesays on personal finance column Michelle Singletary Spend well, live well.

Singletary presents information in a tone that teenagers and young adults will appreciate. “It’s honest and relatable in a way that allows readers to make sound financial decisions without feeling like they’re being verbally abused,” says McClary.

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