Book Review: Money Out Loud: All the Financial Stuff No One Taught Us, by Berna Anat, Monique Sterling (Illustrator) Published April 2023.  Recommended for grades 8-12 Please note: this book is not yet in the Pageturner library and requires a student request be submitted for purchase.

Here’s what I recall about money from school: to the left of the decimal point=dollars, to the right=cents; these numbers can be added/subtracted in a column, just like regular numbers. There were some math problems: how many apples can I buy for .25 if I have $2.86 and how much change will I get? Ok, I’ve forgotten a bit. But writing a check? Balancing a bank account? These I learned much later, struggling alone as an adult. (Writing checks today is, or course, quaint, having almost been consigned to history.) 

Author Berna Anat tells us we have “set in stone” fixed ideas about money by age 9—which means we have a lot of wrong ideas. This book frees us from that emotional baggage at the start. This is NOT a book to breeze through; chapters invite pros to provide additional information, answer FAQs, and provide mini reviews. She gently guides us through budgeting as “Needs, Wants, and Dreams.” She shows various methods for setting up a budget.  From there she discusses the various kinds of banks: big, small, online, and credit unions (which offer SAFE accounts for the undocumented and accept government IDs from other countries). She shows how an undocumented person without a social security number can get an ITIN number from the IRS (which is separate from any immigration agencies) as an alternative, and how to open a bank account if you’re under 18. She goes into the different kinds of bank accounts and what questions to ask a bank before opening an account, such as whether they insure your money, what fees they charge and why, and what their savings interest rates are for the different kinds of savings accounts.

Berna—by now we’re on a first name basis! --addresses capitalism head on, and she’s sassy about it: “Capitalism is a system built for imbalance.  It’s specifically designed to make certain people (*cough/scream* marginalized communities) poor. It’s a system that forces almost all of us to exploit others in order to “make” it. It’s a wack-a$$ cycle…If you’re sitting here like, “Berna, I have the answer…Eat the Rich,” you’re not wrong—but it’s a bit trickier than that.” Instead, she writes, “How can we work within this system to survive? And how can we reimagine other ways of creating things, sharing resources, and supporting each other?”  

Berna shows us how to find “fintech” (financial tech) buddies and even turn the tougher aspects of financial planning into virtual parties (with caution), that is, individuals can join groups to share information about money, research companies, and go in together to invest in stocks.  A group has more buying power and greater research ability than one person alone. She shows how understanding money can be enjoyable, even fun, and productive both for us as individuals and together, because capitalism is better together. As for taxes, she lets us off the hook and writes we should just hire a certified public accountant to do them—WHEW. I only wish I’d had this book when I was in high school, or in many times since, for that matter.  Ms. Anat’s breezy air helps digest all this material much more easily.  Like the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down, this book helps develop strong financial health.