The approach of a new decade means a chance for a fresh start with your financial habits. Maybe your loved ones could use a nudge in that direction, too.
Either way, it's time to cast out any idea that books about money have to be boring. There's an abundance of well-written, even entertaining books on the market that could make savvy holiday gifts for either the personal finance nerd in your life or that special someone who could benefit from good information.
What follows is a sampler of books for all ages to whet your per-fi appetite. Titles featuring The Berenstain Bears and Christian money guru Dave Ramsey target the young and those looking for faith-based guidance, respectively, while others focus on teens, recent college grads and value investors. And if you don't want to give them as gifts, grab one for yourself.
TITLE: The Berenstain Bears' Trouble With Money
AUTHOR: Stan & Jan Berenstain, illustrated by the authors
PRICE: $3.99 (paperback)
SUMMARY: From junk food to environmental pollution, the Berenstain Bears haven't been afraid of tackling the issues since they first appeared on the children's literature scene with 1962's "The Big Honey Hunt." This title, first published in 1983, teaches kids aged 4 to 7 the basics about money. It's not just about spending, but earning. Brother and Sister bear find ways to build up a stash of quarters so they can play video games. Along the way, they learn how to find a middle ground between being spendthrifts and little misers.
QUOTE: "It happened that the bank was right next to the video arcade. 'Say, that looks interesting,' said Papa when he saw the Astro Bear game. 'Let's give it a try!' So the Bear family gave Astro Bear a try."
PUBLISHER: Random House Children's Books
TITLE: The Teens Guide to Personal Finance (2008)
AUTHOR: Joshua Holmberg, David Bruzzese
PRICE: $12.95 (paperback)
SUMMARY: Designed for young adults taking the first step to learn about money management, "The Teens Guide to Personal Finance" lays out the basics concepts of saving, borrowing, investing and maximizing tax advantages. It's all explained in a way that's easy to understand with graphics, work sheets and action plans.
QUOTE: "Financial independence means freedom: freedom to do what you want with your money and freedom from the bonds of bad debt, creditors, employers, the government, and others who are more than happy to use your dependence on money to control or at least significantly influence your life. Financial independence is not something that only can be achieved late in life. You can achieve financial independence now or in the near future, if you're up to the task."
PUBLISHER: iUniverse Inc.
_ David Pitt
TITLE: Prepare to be a Teen Millionaire
AUTHOR: Kimberly Spinks-Burleson, Robyn Collins (2008)
SUMMARY: The authors are founders of a Texas-based business magazine called "Millionaire Blueprints" and here they compile some of the best advice from some of their issues on how successful young entrepreneurs turn their vision for a business into reality. The book features the real stories of successful teens. It details how they raised money, promoted their business ideas and other aspects of launching their ventures.
QUOTE: "To sit down with Ephren Taylor is to enter the presence of drive, determination, and charisma. Taylor represents an unbelievably rich history of overwhelming success in mind-blowing rapidness of time. Getting into the game at the very 'mature' age of twelve, Taylor was well on his way to the big bucks. By age sixteen, he had acquired his first million. Within the next few years, he founded numerous companies. Today, he serves as the youngest black CEO of a publicly-traded company and oversees millions in assets."
PUBLISHER: Health Communications Inc.
TITLE: I Will Teach You To Be Rich
AUTHOR: Ramit Sethi
PRICE: $13.95 (paperback)
SUMMARY: This six-week program to financial literacy is geared toward those just getting started with their finances. The tone is tailored to younger readers, who might be sick of parental nagging about money matters. Consider the introduction, entitled, "Would You Rather Be Sexy or Rich?" Lest readers get bored, charts, lists and even scripts for negotiating with banks are peppered throughout. Despite the sometimes casual tone, the book includes useful fundamentals on using credit cards wisely, a breakdown of credit scores and the importance of investing.
QUOTE: "Listen up, crybabies: This isn't your grandma's house and I'm not going to bake you cookies and coddle you. A lot of your financial problems are caused by one person: you. Instead of blaming 'the economy' and corporate America for your financial situation, you need to focus on what you can change yourself."
PUBLISHER: Workman Publishing
TITLE: The Intelligent Investor _ Revised Edition (2006)
AUTHOR: Benjamin Graham; updated with commentary by Jason Zweig
PRICE: $21.99 (paperback)
SUMMARY: Anyone who takes stock-picking seriously should spend some time with the book Warren Buffett has deemed by far the best ever written about investing. Buffett's mentor Graham pioneered value investing _ a strategy based on finding and buying underpriced stocks _ and wrote the book that became a stock market bible in 1949. Many bull and bear markets have passed since then, but his practical approach and insights on everything from inflation and portfolio strategies to dividends and margin of safety remain relevant. As Buffett says, it doesn't take a stratospheric IQ or inside information to invest successfully over a lifetime. It takes a sound intellectual framework for making decisions, and this book precisely and clearly prescribes that.
QUOTE: "The determining trait of the enterprising investor is his willingness to devote time and care to the selection of securities that are both sound and more attractive than the average. Over many decades, an enterprising investor of this sort could expect a worthwhile reward for his extra skill and effort in the form of a better average return than that realized by the passive investor."
PUBLISHER: Collins Business
_ Dave Carpenter
TITLE: The Total Money Makeover (2nd Edition, 2007)
AUTHOR: Dave Ramsey
SUMMARY: Dave Ramsey is a multimedia star, with a syndicated radio show, a television program, several best-selling books and a Bible-based series of training videos, all focused on helping people get out of debt and learn to invest. In "The Total Money Makeover," Ramsey admits up front that the concepts he's teaching are not new or complicated. He walks readers through the dangers of debt and myths about money, and advises a stringent program of cash-only living, aggressive payments on credit cards and other non-mortgage debt that he refers to as the "Debt Snowball." He also offers advice on building up an emergency fund and investing for retirement, college savings and paying off the home mortgage. Bible quotes and other Christian references are sprinkled throughout, as are testimonials from people who followed his program.
QUOTE: "Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn't the problem, doing it is. Most of us know what not to do, but we just don't do it."
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
_Eileen AJ Connelly