Gift Idea: A Book About Money

Books on managing your money better are an especially apt holiday gift this year. If you need some ideas, Vanguard recommends these 16 books. Mastering your personal finances, the gift that keeps on giving.

Books on investing
Winning the Loser’s Game, by Charles D. Ellis
A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton G. Malkiel
Straight Talk on Investing: What You Need to Know, by Jack Brennan
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, by John C. Bogle
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing, by Benjamin Graham, updated by Jason Zweig
The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio, by William Bernstein
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf
Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich, by Jason Zweig
How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street: Golden Rules Any Investor Can Learn, by Allan S. Roth

Books on financial planning
Guide to Starting Your Financial Life, by Karen Blumenthal
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, by Beth Kobliner
Personal Finance for Dummies, by Eric Tyson
Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People, by Jane Bryant Quinn
The Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?, by Terry Savage
The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, by Lynn O’Shaughnessy
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning, by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Richard Ferri, and Laura Dogu

One deficiency of this list is that it does not include Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel by Consumerist’s own Phil Villarreal. This is probably because his book is a parody and is funny.

Give the gift of smarter investing [Vanguard] (Thanks to c-side!)


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  1. tbax929 says:

    I wouldn’t give a book of this type to anyone on my list. I do regularly give books as gifts, but these types of books are, I think, the kind one should be for oneself. I like to give out the classics – books I’ve loved that I think the recipient will also love. While these books may contain useful information, they seem like terrible gift ideas.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      They’re kind of insulting, even if you don’t mean to be. The simple suggestion that one could be more efficient about investing implies that one is terrible at investing – and no one likes being told they’re bad at something. I agree: stick to the classics, and if you must give financial advice, learn these tips yourself, apply them, and let your friends and family ask you what you’ve learned.

  2. AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

    Unless someone has asked you for financial advice, I can’t imagine giving them a financial book. It basically says: “I noticed you’re shit with money, maybe this will help your broke ass. Merry Christmas!”

    And believe me, I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan and would love for everyone I know to learn what I’ve learned about money. But it just crosses a line.

  3. Triterion says:

    So… learn how to save money by spending it on a book! Who knew! Here’s a free money tip:

  4. travel_nut says:

    I can’t imagine giving a financial planning book to *anyone* I give Christmas gifts to. They would be confused and/or insulted.

  5. Tim says:

    This is right up there with giving someone a weight loss book for Christmas.

  6. vladthepaler says:

    Ben: All your posts (and only yours) are missing “More” links on the main page.

  7. TheRedSeven says:

    I HIGHLY recommend The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias

    It has a focus on the importance of saving. My wife (with very little financial knowledge) found it accessible and informative. I (a fairly money-savvy guy) thought it was great, and learned quite a bit. My father (a career-long banker/mortgage broker/investment advisor) thought the advice was great, and recommends it to a variety of people.

  8. Skipweasel says:

    How about a token for the book? Would that be an acceptable gift?

  9. Digitizer says:

    I don’t comprehend how anyone would give a “For Dummies” or “For Idiots” book to anyone whose feelings they care about….it seems like something you would purchase or check out for yourself.

  10. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    I guess I’ll have to be the lone dissenter here.

    Even used copies of the financial books my father got me, are some of the most valuable books I’ve ever owned.

    Two sets of friends got married in the 1990s, and as I recall, in addition to other gifts, I got the Kobliner book for one couple and a tax planning guide for the other, and both couples appreciated it. Then again, I think it depends on the friendship. One of the couples was pretty hopeless with money and had no idea where to start – they got the Kobliner; the others were more responsible than I was at that age – the wife had taught me a few things – but didn’t have any experience filing their own taxes.

    So if you’ve had a pretty close conversation about what your friend’s financial needs are, and they ask you for advice/trade notes, I don’t see why these would be bad gifts.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      No place I ever went to school had any classes in practical personal finances. And college is where you will get bombarded with bills and card offers in short order. I agree that they are full of valuable information that later on people will wonder why no one told them about it sooner.

      But ‘sooner’ is always too soon to get this kind of book as a gift, unless they have specifically asked for it or something like it. I did try it once, but the recipient was puzzled.

      It’s a well intended thought, but likely to not be worth the trouble.

      • Verdant Pine Trees says:

        I know what you mean… it’s a real shame there isn’t more education about money for college students and younger students!

  11. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. If someone on your list likes to read this stuff, or you know they’re trying to learn more about it, there’s no reason why a legitimate (meaning not overhyped bullshit get-rich-quick scheme) book about finance would be a bad or insulting gift. The college one could be very helpful indeed.

  12. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    May I also recommend Barnes & Noble basics – Saving Money.

    Simple, easy to read and understand, effective, but most of all – surprisingly not boring to read.

  13. gparlett says:

    My Aunt gave me a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover for my wedding. It came with a card that said she hoped we didn’t take offense, but that she and her husband had terrible financial habits when they were first married and she wished someone had done it for her…. That book sat on my shelf for three years before I finally pulled it down and let it change my life. One of the best gifts I’ve every gotten.

    This year every married couple in my family is getting Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, again a book about making your marriage better could really offend some people, but I’m including a card with each one saying that this was one of the 10 best books I read this year and hope they find some value in it, plus I’m giving it to everyone so I’m not singling anyone out.