Personal Finance Books are the Gift That Keeps Giving

Michelle Singletary

Michelle Singletary

Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Columnist, The Washington Post

Every year, someone asks me what financial books I recommend as holiday gifts to teach children or young adults about money, to help somebody prepare for retirement — or for someone who is trifling with his or her money.

Let’s be honest, not many people are going to exclaim great joy when they unwrap a personal finance book. They are likely to respond as I did years ago when my husband gave me exercise clothing. I was not a happy camper even though I had been telling him I wanted to get in better shape.

Give a personal finance book, and despite your good intentions, you might get a similar response with the recipient left feeling financially unfit. Still, I think it’s worth the risk. In fact, pair the book with an offer to go out to dinner to talk about it. This is one way to ensure the book doesn’t end up on the shelf unopened.

So for you risk-takers out there, instead of a Color of Money Book Club selection this month, here are my top picks in several categories for financial books to buy this holiday season.

Oldies but goodies: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason; Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez with Monique Tilford; The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko.

There are some financial books I think everyone should have on their bookshelf or in an e-reader. Think of these books as food staples you keep in your pantry. Follow the advice and you can live a rich life. And by that I mean understanding that you can live well following the concept of living within your means or curtailing your sense of entitlement.

Books to help raise financially savvy kids: O.M.G. Official Money Guide For Teenagers by Susan P. Beacham and Michael L. Beacham; Raising Money Smart Kids: What They Need to Know About Money — And How to Tell Them by Janet Bodnar; and The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin.

The book by the Beachams came out this year. It’s a slim, colorful, graphic-filled work that is great as a conversation starter with teens. I could see you giving this 48-page book and then talking through some of the topics covered — good budgeting choices, how to handle credit cards, and the importance of charitable giving.

The Bodnar and Sabin books were published a while ago, but I still pull them down when I’m looking to reinforce information I’m giving parents. I love the nonjudgmental way the authors convey their advice.

Books on retirement/aging parents: The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together by Roberta K. Taylor and Dorian Mintzer; How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire by Stan Hinden; They’re Your Parents, Too! How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy by Francine Russo.

All the books in this category address issues people often put off or don’t want to talk about, including long-term care for a parent to the conversations that couples need to have before retiring.

Be sure to get the newest editions of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle and How to Retire Happy. Both have been expanded and updated.

Your gift of financial knowledge may not be greeted with glee, but hopefully the people who receive the books will realize the advice and wisdom are priceless.

For more information on how to book Michelle Singletary for your next event, visit

Source: Dallas News

To move forward financially, first face your past
WASHINGTON - At the beginning of the year, we often talk about the new things we want to see happen in our lives. When it comes to your finances, you might promise to save more or spend less. You may now have a plan to reduce your debt. But what causes so many people to fail at their financial goals? They can't change and move forward bec...
Read More
College students should master cash before getting a MasterCard
There is a method to what some readers consider my madness. Some people hate that I hate debt. Others disagree when I encourage families not to borrow for college. And, man, do I get a lot of email when I recommend that college students, especially freshmen, not have credit cards. I value this feedback, so I created the Color of Money "Talk ...
Read More
Are you prepared for the coming retirement storm?
Stop complaining about the demise of pensions, and start preparing. As with a category 5 hurricane, Americans are in for catastrophic problems if we fail to address the looming retirement crisis. Retirement planning cannot be shoved down on your to-do list. If you're in your 20s, start thinking about it now, because you've got plenty of time ...
Read More
Don't let rental car snafus wreck your vacation.
Like many rental car customers, my husband and I declined the expensive insurance offered at the counter. We knew we were covered through our auto insurance provider. Additionally, the credit card we use covers rental cars. In my mind, if we got into an accident, I would just use the coverage offered by the credit card company. But during our ...
Read More
What will creating financial freedom take? Lots of research, so start here.
In 1966, Margaret McNamara took a bag of used books to four boys she was tutoring in reading in Washington. She allowed each child to keep one, and they were delighted. Her giving soon developed into a program that would bring books to millions of children nationwide: Reading Is Fundamental. Since I started writing a column, I've tried to do s...
Read More
Personal Finance Books are the Gift That Keeps Giving
Every year, someone asks me what financial books I recommend as holiday gifts to teach children or young adults about money, to help somebody prepare for retirement - or for someone who is trifling with his or her money. Let's be honest, not many people are going to exclaim great joy when they unwrap a personal finance book. They are likely to ...
Read More
Gift Cards No Longer Seen as Presents From The Lazy
My husband and I were talking with our children about what they wanted for Christmas. All of them are in their teens, and any pretense of Santa has long been gone. The holiday has now become their chance to break down our frugal barriers.But we do love to hear their squeals of delight at finally getting a coveted item. And then there are the gif...
Read More
There's Always a Catch With 'No Interest' Offers
We have become a nation charmed by offers that something might be free. Especially when it comes to credit. Let's look at the offers many consumers will receive as they shop for the holidays. Professionals call these promotions "deferred interest plans."; But more commonly the advertising may say something like "No interest for 18 months"; or "...
Read More
Sometimes, It Pays More to Rent Your Roof Than Own It
For as long as I can remember, homeownership has been a home run on the American Dream scorecard. When I graduated from college, my grandmother gave me two choices - live with her or buy a home. In her mind, to rent meant I was a failure financially. "When you rent, you get nothing for your money,"; Big Mama would lecture. Because I didn't ha...
Read More
As the Holiday Shopping Season Approaches, Learn to Spend Wisely
We, the anti-consumerists, are losing the battle to curtail the consumerism that drives America, especially during the holiday season. Again this year, major retailers are leaping over one another in an effort to be the first to open early on Thanksgiving Day - before you even have a chance to cut the apple pie. This trend has been building sin...
Read More