I was stunned.

My family was watching a rerun of the “Teachers Tournament” on “Jeopardy.” I got excited because I knew the correct response to this question: “This proposed federal rule would have required all retirement planning advisers to act in their clients’ best interests.”

But before I could get my answer out, my 21-year-old son shouted, “What is the fiduciary rule?”

Wait. What’s happening?

I paused the television and just stared at him. “How did you know that?” I asked.

He knew about the rule from watching HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” The comedian had done a show on retirement planning.

What came next made my heart flutter with joy. My son initiated a conversation about investing for his retirement. He wanted to know if he should start saving by using money earned this summer as an intern at NASA.

Whether it was his mama’s regular financial lectures or Oliver’s monologue that got my son to this point, the answer is: Yes, it’s time.

My son won’t have any student loans when he graduates from the University of Maryland Baltimore County — with a degree in math, I might add. He’s a great saver and careful spender, all of which means I have no doubt he’ll have money to spare to invest. He has two more years before he finishes college, so I’m going to have him contribute to a Roth IRA. You need earned income to fund a Roth. And because contributions are made after taxes, earnings in a Roth grow tax-free.

Young adults have available to them an important investing strategy that older investors don’t. They have time on their side. Consistently investing over a 30- or 40-year career can result in a seven-figure retirement account.

Yet, with the stock market taking deep dives lately, it might scare away a lot of young adults. Experts are talking about the possibility of a recession. In one day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 800 points.

Despite the market turbulence, young adults can invest with confidence, but they need to do some homework beyond watching a television show — no offense to John Oliver. To help with that, for the Color of Money Book Club pick this month I’m recommending “The Everything Guide to Investing in Your 20s & 30s” by Joe Duarte, a market analyst and money manager.

In a note to his young readers, Duarte addresses the barrage of news about the daily gyrations of the stock market.

“The financial markets are influenced more than ever by the rapid speed of information,” he writes. “The markets are evolving on an almost daily basis. ... Thus, prices tend to move rapidly, and investors without the right information and training on how to use the information could face big losses. But if you have the right information and know how to use it, you can set yourself up for success throughout the rest of your life.”

Rather than dive immediately into the complexities of investing, I like that Duarte begins with this simple question: Can you afford to invest?

Far too often, we criticize millennials for not investing, without recognizing that they may not be ready for this financial step.

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Build your savings first, Duarte suggest. Save at least $1,000 before buying shares in a mutual fund that invests in stocks and bonds, which he recommends as a good entry-level place for investors.

“Markets will always rise and fall, so in order to stay in the game, set aside as much as you can as often as possible,” he writes. “That’s how you make the most out of compounding.”

And pay off as much debt as possible, he urges.

“Debt is a drag on your ability to save,” Duarte writes. “Think of debt as a big sack of potatoes that you carry on your back everywhere you go. By paying down debt and eliminating it altogether, you are taking a big weight off your financial shoulders. Being lighter makes you move faster.”

Investing is complicated and can be mind-numbingly boring to read about. But the chapters are chopped up so that they don’t overwhelm the reader.

There are a lot of investing books out there. And, like others, Duarte’s book covers quite a bit — from understanding risk to the basics of market analysis to explaining stocks, bonds and mutual funds. It’s a lot to digest, but this guide is one I would give to my son.

I’m hosting an online chat about the guide at noon Eastern on Aug. 29 at washingtonpost.com/discussions. Duarte will join me to answer questions about investing in your 20s and 30s. Because the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.

Michelle Singletary welcomes comments and column ideas but cannot offer specific financial advice. Write to her c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20071, or email michelle.singletary@washpost.com.

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