THE AMBITIOUS goal of Ellen Roseman's Money Guide for Modern Families (Doubleday, 2 10 pages, $16.95 paper) is to "tailor advice to modem families in all their diversity." Mind you, as befits her status as "Money" editor at the Globe and Mail's "Report on Business," Roseman narrows the diversity considerably by assuming a comfortable family income.
Money Guide is much more wide-ranging than most financial planning books. Like most, it contains useful sections on life insurance, wills, and the options available in financing children's education. But it also features substantial advice on topics such as keeping children happy on long car-trips and getting visitation rights for grandparents after a divorce.
As a result, the book reads like a women's consumer magazine. It assumes that readers have an incessant thirst for lifestyle advice of every sort. Some readers may want -- or need -- the advice; others may find it impertinent and wonder why they are supposed to be in need of it.
But after all, Roseman's stated goal of addressing advice to diverse families is probably not do-able, precisely because the value systems by which families live are diverse.
For example, the chapter on teaching children about money contains a wealth of suggestions from various sources. But this reader found the chapter disquieting because, surely, the parents' ultimate philosophy of life -- not prudential considerations -- determines what children ultimately learn about money.