Here's a sample of some of the best personal-finance books that have come across our desk in the past year.
Summer’s here: Time for basking on the beach with a good book. And with so many of us in “staycation” vacation mode, that may mean traveling no farther than the backyard and plunking down with a meaty best-seller or a riveting murder mystery. Good enough.
But amid these queasy, uneasy economic times, why not indulge in some financial brain food, as well?
Here’s a sample of some of the best personal-finance books that have come across our desk in the past year or so:
“The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received” by Liz Claman, Business Plus ($12.99). Don’t take just one great investor’s advice: Try a dozen. And many more, including Warren Buffett, Jim Cramer, Suze Orman, Steve Forbes, Vanguard’s John Bogle. The author, a CNBC business-news anchor, has culled some of the best investment advice from some of the biggest financial gurus of our era.
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Claman, who grew up watching her physician father pore over the daily newspaper stock listings, said she wrote the book to give people like her dad the insights from Wall Street insiders.
Quote: “Don’t look at stocks like a marriage. When you buy a stock, you are just supposed to date it, sell it when it’s up and, whatever you do, don’t marry it.” (Howard Lutnick, CEO, Cantor Fitzgerald)
“True Self, True Wealth” by Peter Cole and Daisy Reese, Atria Books ($16.95). As local experts in “financial psychology,” this husband-and-wife team unpack the emotional baggage that often thwarts our best intentions to manage money wisely. Based on their experiences as family therapists as well as finance experts (he’s a chartered financial consultant), the couple spell out 10 “money scripts” — the habits and attitudes inherited from our parents — that can play havoc with our financial lives as adults.
Once you’ve untangled those knotty issues, the book’s second half offers practical, common-sense ways to achieve financial and emotional security. It’s the perfect marriage of money and emotions.
Quote: “Even if you have a practical knowledge of money and investing, it is still very possible to make bad money decisions if you do not understand your money psychology. We have seen otherwise well-informed investors make foolish financial decisions due to their emotional blind spots.”
“The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches” by Jeff Yeager, Broadway Books ($12.95). Unlike lots of personal-finance books that extol “get rich” routes to financial happiness, this one takes a different path. Embracing his “Inner Miser,” Yeager has learned to live — quite happily — on less. In his case, $40,000 a year. Quote: “By being cheap … you’re valuing time and the things you can do with it, more than money and the things you can buy with it.”
“Se Habla Dinero?” by Lynn Jimenez, Wiley Publishing ($19.95). When it comes to finances, lots can get lost in translation. Longtime financial reporter Lynn Jimenez aims her book at helping Latinos acquire financial fluency, but it speaks to any consumer who wants help answering the question: Do you speak money? Written bilingually, with facing pages in Spanish and English, the book covers financial basics: credit cards and credit scores, student loans, saving and banking, mortgages, even starting a small business.
Quote: “One of the most important things you can do with money is teach your children how to use it properly so they can survive and thrive.”
“The Teen Girl’s Gotta-Have-It-Guide to Money” by Jessica Blatt with Variny Paladino, Watson-Guptil ($8.95). This colorful, upbeat guide dishes up the basics on shopping, saving and spending in a slim, girl-friendly style. In a consumer-addled culture, the authors show how acquiring smart money skills gives young women confidence and independence.
With a big emphasis on the value of work, it covers job hunting, saving and budgeting, even how to make that first investment.
Quote: “When it comes to money, the most powerful four-letter word isn’t an obscene one. … It’s ‘save.’ “
“You’re Broke Because You Want to Be” by Larry Winget, Gotham Books ($20). Known as the “Pit Bull of Personal Development,” Winget delivers the tough-love approach to personal finance.
There’s no sweet talk in his advice, which distills down to: Get off your duff and start doing the hard work necessary to make financial success happen. His advice includes: Give up cable TV. Get a cheaper car. Move to a more-affordable home. Live on what you earn.
Quote: “It may be ugly and it may be bleak but you can always get ahead. I am not going to insult you by telling you it will be easy. … The biggest mistake you can make is to believe your situation is hopeless.”
“Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People” by Jane Bryant Quinn, Simon & Schuster ($26). It’s not new, but Newsweek’s venerable personal-finance columnist knows her stuff. While some of it might be slightly past its prime since its 2006 debut, “Smart and Simple” is still a clean, informative money-management book that’s right for any lifestyle, whether it’s 20-somethings starting that first job and 401(k) account, or a baby boomer couple eyeing retirement. It includes lots of helpful Web sites. Quinn writes from experience.
“The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook” by Glenn Ruffenach and Kelly Greene, Three Rivers Press ($14.95). If you’re contemplating retirement (and who hasn’t?), pick up a copy of this guidebook, one in a series of WSJ finance books. As you’d expect from the country’s leading financial daily newspaper, it covers all the money issues involved in retirement, from IRA withdrawals to estate planning.
But it also looks at quality-of-life issues. Based on hundreds of interviews, the book is sprinkled with real-life anecdotes of successful retirees, whose common denominator is “a decision to immerse themselves in a wide range of activities and a firm belief that their best years are still ahead of them.”
Aimed at baby boomers in their 50s and beyond, it’s a one-stop resource on retirement planning.
Quote: “In the space of a single generation, retirement for many has become something of a puzzle with dozens of decisions and too much guesswork.”