Book review

“Smart Mom Rich Mom” by Kimberly Palmer (Amacom), $14.95, 246 pages

Back-to-school time is almost here, which means back-to-school bills.

Your first-grader needs all-new everything. Your third-grader needs a certain kind of crayon. Middle-school requires three different notebooks, and everybody wants new clothes.

You’re not sure how that’s going to happen this year, but with “Smart Mom Rich Mom” by Kimberly Palmer, you’ll learn how being financially savvy can benefit your future.

Some years ago, when two editors of “a prestigious investing magazine” told money expert Palmer that women didn’t read financial publications, she was taken aback.

Women, she says, and “moms especially,” make the majority of today’s consumer purchases. Within the coming years, we’ll “control two-thirds of the country’s wealth.” You’re pretty wise, financially, but can you better harness that power?

Your first thought might be couponing. That’s fine, Palmer says, but it’s not all. Don’t forget to take advantage of bigger financial boons, like signing up for flex accounts at work or putting money toward better-yield savings.

Make goals, figure out how to set aside funds for long-term and short-term needs, and get to know your “beautiful old lady” self. “That lady is going to need some money” in coming years, which might mean “extra sacrifices today.”

But, by the way, there’s no need to be Draconian; just be smart about little splurges.

Remember that kids cost money — more in the beginning, less later on — and babies don’t care about designer clothing. As your children grow, teach them simple but valuable lessons by giving them an allowance and insisting they save some of it. Show them by example that happily-delayed gratification is possible.

Ask your employer if you can take advantage of flex-time. Know if opting out of work altogether is right for you, or if entrepreneurship is better.

Educate yourself on investing by reading everything you can find on the subject. Don’t let your husband or partner take over financial reins completely; be aware of what’s going on with your accounts.

Talk to your parents about house-sharing. And above all, consider your kids; their financial security may someday depend solely on you.

No doubt about it: there’s a lot to take away from reading “Smart Mom Rich Mom.” Each page, it seems, is packed with usable, reliable information and good advice.

That is, as long as you have a well-paying job in place. If you don’t, Palmer doesn’t seem to have much to offer except that you need to “make slow and steady progress out of the troubles” you have, which isn’t very helpful. Yes, you can learn how to manage money and cut costs with this book, but if you don’t have much money to begin with, you’ll have to patch something together from what you’ll learn here. Sigh.

I think I’d have been happier with this book if it were more inclusive.

Still, if you need a boost, an idea or a fresh financial outlook, “Smart Mom Rich Mom” is a start for a good education.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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