The first week after New Year’s can be quite depressing: no more presents to open, you’ve taken down the tree and wham! — you’re hit with a bunch of holiday-related bills. Which is why there’s no better gift to give this holiday than books that will help you to take control of your finances, tame your spending and even explain what the heck a fiscal cliff is. Here are my top 10 must-have picks to put under the tree this Christmas.
1. The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton
In this follow-up to his classic, The Wealthy Barber, Canadian finance guru, David Chilton, delves into the dynamics of spending and debt. Why do we buy things we can’t afford and why do we dig ourselves into financial holes? It’s a great way to put your spending in to perspective and learn to use four words that will save your financial life: I can’t afford it.
2. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J Stanley
Since this book was published in the 1990s, it’s become a classic. Author Thomas Stanley debunks the myth that rich people throw their money around on estates and fancy cars. Instead, he shows that the richest people are often those who merely control their spending, live modestly and save and invest their money wisely. These are words to live by.
3. The Pension Puzzle by Bruce Cohen
Are you relying on a pension to retire? It’s one of your most important assets so should understand how it works. Bruce Cohen’s easy-to-read book breaks the whole pension puzzle down for novices, explaining what they are, how they’re structured and how they’re governed.
4. Count on Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money by Alison Griffiths
This is a step-by-step, easy-to-follow book with advice on how to take the reins of your finances. Alison Griffiths spells out the impact of investment fees and gives options for creating a low-cost, low-maintenance investment portfolio. What I like best about Griffiths is how she uses other womens’ experiences and mistakes (including her own!) to make her points – those real life examples make this book really approachable.
5. It’s Your Money: Becoming a Woman of Independent Means by Gail Vaz Oxlade
Queen of the money jars, Gail Vaz Oxlade, shows women how to take control of their finances at every age and stage, from establishing good habits and a solid foundation in her early years to major milestones like partnering, raising kids and retirement. There’s also plenty of good advice money for women who find themselves single later on in life. Vaz Oxlade is always a great, accessible read.
6. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Published in 1949, this classic is still a great roadmap for investing your savings for the long-term. In it you’ll learn the rules of the value investing approach and why it has made guys like Warren Buffet rich.
7. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton Malkiel
Sure, Ben Graham is a value investing guru, but Burton Malkiel is all about the other side of the coin: the passive approach. That means investing in things like low-cost index funds and even exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as a way to grow your savings.
8. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
If the term fiscal cliff leaves you scratching your head then this book is for you. Lewis’s book is a compelling and dramatic account of the greed, hubris and downright foolishness that went into creating the 2008 financial crisis.
9. Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood
Another look at the causes and effects of the financial crisis, Margaret Atwood’s book takes a close look at the dynamics of our debt-driven society and culture. She delves into the history of debt and explores how it has evolved in our imagination and what it means to us today.
10. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson
Delve deeper into the history of money with Ferguson’s book which traces the evolution of it from the Bible to modern times, with plenty interesting anecdotes. It might not help you become a good budget balancer, but it might just help you understand the roots of credit, debt and power in Western civilization.