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Not Your Parents' Money Book

Making, Saving, and Spending Your Money

Illustrated by Erwin Haya

About The Book

For the first time, financial guru and TODAY Show regular Jean Chatzky brings her expertise to a young audience. Chatzky provides her unique, savvy perspective on money with advice and insight on managing finances, even on a small scale. This book will reach kids before bad spending habits can get out of control. With answers and ideas from real kids, this grounded approach to spending and saving will be a welcome change for kids who are inundated by a consumer driven culture. This book talks about money through the ages, how money is actually made and spent, and the best ways for tweens to earn and save money.

Reading Group Guide

Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Your Own Money by Jean Chatzky
A Discussion Guide

How often have you heard a parent exclaim, “My kids think that money grows on trees. They have no idea about the value of money. They just want, want, want.”  How do children learn about money? What is it we want them to know? Do we know enough to explain money management to them, and are we comfortable doing that? 

Not Your Parents’ Money Book is a step-by-step discussion of the important issues of personal finance and money management. The author, Jean Chatzky, spent three months meeting with groups of middle school and junior high school students from around the country. She discovered what these young people already know about money and what they wanted to find out. The results are highlighted in this very readable book that features fun facts, trivia, and real information about the students’ pressing question of how one can make more money.

The book is filled with quizzes and brainteasers, and calls for value judgments by the reader. There are even interesting appendices for the history buff, and for readers who are primarily investors. The Web Resources section lists games and activities for added interest. (Don't forget the old standby games of Monopoly and Life as additional practice for handling money.)

Parents, grandparents, and teachers can use this fact-filled handbook. It is a great resource for any adult who has a special relationship with a preteen or teenager.

Below are two guides: one for parents and another for teachers. The parents’ guide provides an overall look at the book’s content and offers suggestions suitable for home use in a one-on-one setting.  The teachers’ guide is a chapter-by-chapter list of discussion questions and activities for the classroom or reading group.  Please use whichever information is most appropriate for your situation. And please enjoy the understandable way in which the author presents the details of a complex subject.


Not Your Parents’ Money Book is a handbook about personal finance for middle school and junior high school students. While the content is written in language appropriate and interesting to young people of this age, its chapters are packed with important and useful information for folks of any age. Adults can use this book as a shared experience with their child in any or all of the following ways.

1.       Read each chapter along with your child. Discuss important ideas such as:
  • The three rules of money
  • The use of credit
  • The difference between credit and debit cards
  • The workings of the United States monetary system
  • The basics of investing
  • The importance of saving
  • The place of charity in your life 
2.       Share your own money experiences with your children. At whatever level you are comfortable, inform them of your household’s mortgage costs, car expenses, and food costs. 

3.       Your child’s allowance is a lesson in money management. If your child does not currently get an allowance, begin it now. Be sure to agree upon the expenses that the allowance will cover since that determines the amount you will provide each week. 

4.       Let your preteen/teenager help you balance your checkbook. If he or she is earning extra money, it might be a good time to open a checking account in his or her name. This is a good time to open a savings account too.

5.       There are many exercises and quizzes in each chapter of Not Your Parents’ Money Book. They complement and reinforce the ideas presented and they are fun to do with your child.

6.       Enjoy this experience with your child. It will refresh your knowledge and open your child’s eyes to the real world of money.

The following guide presents discussion questions and activities for each chapter or topic in this book. The content is written in language appropriate and interesting to ten- to fourteen-year-olds. There is much important and useful information packed into each chapter.

Use the discussion questions listed below to start the conversation about the subject matter before the actual book chapter is read. There are quick quizzes embedded throughout the book which should be used as the class learns the content of each chapter. Suggested activities can be conducted as individual or group projects.

Not Your Parents’ Money Book is a “real world” math unit that holds student interest. Do not underestimate the sophistication of your students when it comes to this topic.
The goal of this book is to give young people a basic understanding of personal finance. Depending upon the age and academic level of the students, the teacher can modify the objectives listed below.

  1. Learn Jean Chatzky’s “Three Rules of Money”
  2. Understand the use of credit
  3. Know the difference between credit and debit cards
  4. Attain a basic understanding of the workings of the United States monetary system
  5. Understand the basics of investment options: stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  6. Learn the importance of saving and how to make it a habit
  7. Understand the place of charity in your life
Not Your Parents’ Money Book is progressive. Each chapter builds upon the information in the previous ones; this guide is written with that in mind.

Prereading Activity
Look through the book: chapter titles, appendices, glossary (note that each underlined word in the text is listed in the glossary). Pay particular attention to the list of online games that enhance the concepts presented in the book. 

1. Why is money important?
2. How do you manage (handle) your money?

Chapter 1
  1. What do adults mean when they talk about “the economy”?
  2. Are we presently in a bad or good economy? 
  1. Find out the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the United States for this quarter. Is it good or bad?
  2. Design a flow chart describing the movement of money in the banking system.
  3. Divide students into groups of five or six people. Each group has the assignment of finding out what happens to the country’s overall economy when interest rates go down or interest rates go up. Each group gets one assignment so there will be more than one group looking at both situations. Did all the groups reporting on low or high interest rates draw the same conclusions?

Chapter 2-3
  1. How does one get enough money to live comfortably?
  2. How much money do you think you need to live comfortably as an adult?
  3. What have you learned from your parents about money?
  4. What does “delayed gratification” mean?
  5. How can you make money (and not just through babysitting)? 
  1. Generate a list of jobs for young teens. Compare it to the list found in Chapter 3.
  2. Have students take the quick quiz in Chapter 3.

Chapter 4

  1. How much money does a young person need in a year for going out on weekends, clothes, school supplies, and snacks?
  2. How much money do you believe your parents spend on you each year?
  3. How much do you think the average adult in the United States earns each year?
  4. What are the best paying jobs/professions in the United States? What do really famous people earn? Make a list and compare it to the salaries listed in the book. 
  1. Discuss the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Use the worksheet in this chapter.
  2. Have each student keep track of what they spend for a week or a month.
  3. Group activity: Make a bar graph depicting age and allowance amount.

Chapter 5
  1. How can you save money?
  2. What do you need to save money for?
  3. What do you want to save money for?
  4. How much money should you save? What do your parents think? Do they agree with your estimate?
  1. Find a picture or draw one of something you want to save for. Hang it above your desk or make it the background on your laptop or cell phone. It will be a reminder to help you save.
  2. Complete the needs-and-wants worksheet in this chapter.
  3. To inspire the class, list some examples of your own “needs” and “wants.” (See Jean’s rules in the text.)

Chapter 6
  1. What is a bank? What is a credit union?
  2. What is the difference between simple interest and compound interest?
  3. How does a checking account differ from a savings account?
  4. What is a money market account?
  1. Have students refer to the checklist included in this chapter. What information does it contain?
  2. Practice balancing a checkbook. Search online for sample statements and checkbook illustrations to share with the class.

Chapter 7
  1. What is a credit card?
  2. What is a debit card?
  3. Does anyone have his or her own credit or debit card? How do you use it?
  4. Do your parents allow you to use their credit cards? 
  1. Play “Let’s Make a Deal.” Use the list of items in this chapter or have the class create their own list. The students then guess how much they think each item on the list costs; compare guesses with the actual costs (which they can research online).
  2. Conduct a survey with each student asking their parents what they prefer to use for their daily and recurring expenses: credit card, debit card, or cash/check? Why?
  3. Have students take the quick quiz on good debt vs. bad debt.

Chapter 8
  1. What does “investing” mean?
  2. What does “risk” mean when we are talking about investing?
  1. Each student picks a company that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It should be the stock of a company that they are familiar with (e.g.,  McDonald’s, the Gap, Google, Amazon, etc.). Set a time frame in which the students follow the stock day by day or week by week in the newspaper or online. At end of the time period, each student prepares a visual graph of their stock’s performance and a short summary of why they believe their stock performed the way it did.

Chapter 9
  1. What kinds of feelings do you personally have about money (e.g., guilty, happy, anxious, causes fights, etc.)?
  2. Who is in control of your money?
  3. Do you or your families ever donate money or material objects/belongings?
  1. Divide the students into groups to discuss the situations concerning money and value judgments  noted in the “Money and Right and Wrong” section of this chapter. 
Those students interested in the information noted in this section can prepare reports of their findings to the class. 
Web Resources
Use these as an integral part of your discussion and unit. It will hold your students’ interest and reinforce the information presented in the book.




About The Author

Photograph by John E Barrett

Jean Chatzky is the bestselling author of several books including Pay it Down!, You Don't Have to be Rich and Make Money, Not Excuses. She is the financial editor for The Today Show and has is appeared on Oprah as a money coach several times. She has two children and lives in Westchester County, New York.

About The Illustrator

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 10, 2010)
  • Length: 176 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416994732
  • Grades: 5 - 9
  • Ages: 10 - 14

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