A Review – Money: A User’s Guide by Laura Whateley
Following the recommendation of the internet, fellow students and some graduate friends, I bought Money: A User’s Guide by Laura Whateley. During this pandemic, where part time and casual jobs are scarce, many students have become a little short of money. Money is a controversial and often boring topic, but a necessary one to learn about, especially if you are hoping to get to the end of the Summer term without maxing out your overdraft. This book, from the bold credit card style cover, to the millennial writer, is created to appeal to a young audience confused about the subject. The premise of the book is to educate the younger generations about how money works, and how it should work for them. In a little under 400 pages, it covers informational topics from rent, debt, investment and tax, to asking more personal questions such as how money makes you feel, and its impact on relationships. A Noddle 2018 survey claimed that 46% of UK adults don’t believe their education prepared them to make financial decisions in adulthood, so this one stop guide is useful for educating yourself around money basics.
Reasons for recommendation:
Maybe the best aspect of this book is that it is aimed specifically at the UK reader, with all examples curated for the UK market. This is great in a market dominated by American wisdom (think Rich Dad, Poor Dad). The informal tone Whateley uses to tell her readers that it’s ok to be bad with money carries throughout this volume, making it easily digestible and actionable.
Secondly, the book is broken down into three easy sections. First, it deals with fundamentals such as budgeting, investment and bills. Whateley then moves onto money and relationships, ending, in Part Three, with ethical finance.
Whilst not all of the book is relevant to a student (buying a house is a fever dream), it is a volume you can continually refer back to throughout your 20s and 30s. Whateley’s advice sets you up for the future, demystifying topics such as pensions and National Insurance, which become a reality after graduation and entering the workforce.
This book isn’t about getting rich quickly. Instead it tells you that it’s ok to find money and finance confusing, and acts as a starting point to increase your understanding around individual finances.
Whateley herself is quick to say that this book is aimed at a “younger, wealthier-than-average demographic” and as such, at times her advice can come across as unrealistic. However, throughout the book there are useful titbits of information for any demographic.
Whilst online reviews said this volume was suitable for an 18-year-old and above, I feel that those who would get the most instant gratification/use out of this book are the newly graduating. Yet, it’s a good recommendation for students nonetheless.
Furthermore, it’s a rather basic book: Don’t read this if you already understand personal finance and want an in-depth strategy or explanation on any of the aforementioned topics. Instead see it as a grounding, before moving into more focused research.
Overall, Money: A User’s Guide provides a good breakdown of financial jargon from an author experienced in the field of financial advice. Personally, it has helped me gain confidence in areas of finance, like investment, that had previously seemed daunting. Moreover, this book will stay on the shelf, rather than be read once and discarded, as its comprehensive topic list means different chapters are relevant at different stages of life.