Best Holiday Buys to Learn About Money & Investing

Money, investing, personal finance and estate planning weren’t taught in school when I was growing up – unless of course you majored in a finance area in college. If you are in my situation (some schools still don’t teach kids about money!), there are plenty of self help options out there. Check your local community education programs to see if there are inexpensive classes offered by financial experts in your area, look for online classes or lean on your financial adviser or broker for information.

Books and games are also great sources of information about money and investing. Here are a few of the ones I have read over the years. Perhaps they would make a good gift for someone on your holiday list, or perhaps even for yourself!

General personal finance

The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy

I met the author, Liz Weston, at FinCon12 – the financial bloggers conference, where she spoke.

Her interesting introduction to each concept includes three variations in advice: Old School, Bubble and New Rules. For instance, when she wrote about creating a budget, her intro concepts were: Old school, live within your means. Bubble, live to the max with easy low payments. New rules, use a 50/30/20 budget to know what you can really afford and what you can’t.

She includes information on budgeting, dealing with debt, creating emergency funds.

The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying

This is one of the first books Suze Orman wrote. It contributed hugely to her becoming a media finance person. Read about her in this post: Are You the Next Suze Orman – Internationally Acclaimed Personal Finance Expert.

You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It : Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make When You Retire

Also among the early books written by Orman, this one deals with things pertinent to folks at or nearing retirement age including choosing a financial adviser, estate planning and more.

Stock and Bond Market investing

You’re Fifty–Now What? Investing for the Second Half of Your Life

I bought this one when I was in my fifties. Sometimes we think that aggressive investing is only for the young, but Schwab makes the case for those in our second half to stay invested (even up to 80%) in stocks rather than cash and bonds.

Understanding Wall Street, Fifth Edition

This handy little manual explains in direct and factual terms everything you want to know about the stock and bond markets, starting simply with what is a share of stock and marching into complex topics such as options and the principles of technical analysis.

Learn to Earn: A Beginner’s Guide to the Basics of Investing (The Classic Guide)

In a short 4 chapters, Peter Lynch and John Rothchild cover the history of capitalism, the basics of 5 types of investments, the life-cycle of a company and stories about specific companies, including the birth of Coke.

Weskel Games Portfolio Board Game

My new favorite game for adults – teaching the benefits of asset allocation – is Portfolio. It is a board game and no matter how sophisticated you think you are, there are some game board questions that will stump you! My review is at Investment Board Game Review: Portfolio the Asset Allocation Game.

Real estate

The 16% Solution: How to Get High Interest Rates in a Low-Interest World with Tax Lien Certificates, Revised Edition

Tax lien certificates are not your typical real estate investment. There is a reason that the big boys in this market don’t want the rest of us to join in on the fun. You can make big profits, but you have to do some learning and digging first!

The author covers everything from what these animals are, through the differences between some of the state laws around them to avoiding the (sometimes considerable) risks, such as having to evict the owner or getting title to a property with huge issues like environmental hazards.

I went to a tax lien certificate sale for our county and wrote several articles on it, but have not yet chosen to bid on any certificates.

Rich Dad Cashflow 101 board game (with CD’s)

Created by the Rich Dad/Poor Dad guy – Robert Kiyosaki to teach the concepts of cash flow, balance sheets, net asset values, passive income and more, this expensive board game is played by clubs of people using each other to better their understanding of financial concepts. The kids version is basically the same as the adult version, except it only has the Rat Race (not the Fast Track) and it has more 3D objects for the kids to experience.

Tax planning

Retire Secure!: Pay Taxes Later – The Key to Making Your Money Last

In today’s deficit environment, taxes will get worse and worse, especially if you are successful. In this book James Lange makes the following points:

  1. Contribute the maximum to your retirement savings plans while working
  2. Spend your after tax money first when you stop working
  3. Pay taxes later, not now (with a couple of exceptions)
  4. Chose the right retirement plans if you have a choice (favor roths over non-roths, allow retirement funds to accumulate while you continue to contribute)
  5. If you can, limit your distributions to your RMD after 70 ½
  6. Continue tax deferral with your beneficiaries after your death
  7. Make exceptions for: Roths are better than unmatched traditional 401k 403b: Convert to Roths from traditional:take distributions at targeted income tax brackets (chapter 4): on large estates, sometimes you should withdraw from an IRA to avoid estate taxes

It would be a great gift for that 1 percenter on your list!

Estate planning

Estate Planning for the Healthy, Wealthy Family: How to Promote Family Harmony, Affirm Your Values, and Protect Your Assets

This book starts from the premise that estate planning is not done in a vaccuum, but rather requires the definition of your goals and values. The author delves into questions that help you clarify and prioritie your values, moves into money myths and training of heirs and ends up squarely in traditional estate planning territory.

Perfect for parents with whom you want to encourage those money discussions.

Overcoming the Inheritance Taboo: How to Preserve Relationships and Transfer Possessions

If you are an executor, or you have designated a family member or friend as one, this book will help.

The author’s Mother had died just prior to the book being written so he speaks from recent experience. The inheritance taboo is the reluctance of potential heirs and of grantors to speak of what will happen after death. The premise is that because of this lack of communication, multiple issues will develop. Take a look at my review for more information on The Inheritance Taboo.

What best holiday buys for learning about money and investing do you recommend?

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