'tis the season for getting a financial clue (or at least reading a good book about it)
December 8, 2011 8:37 AM   Subscribe

holiday gift filter: personal finance books for a brainy but somewhat clueless academic obsessed with not retiring in poverty?

Lately, a good friend (early 30s, no student loan debt, few assets, modest lifestyle, etc.) has been expressing anxiety over his financial future. That is, he's worried about a faculty salary (probably $60k/yr) not being enough to eventually retire upon comfortably (which may be true for all of us, but I believe in being as proactive as possible at the individual level despite however lousy the big picture may be).

Obviously, I've brought up meeting with TIAA/CREF, which he will. But, even before that, to start the thinking/planning process, I'm looking for recommendations of books on personal finance which could help him work through the basics of how to approach making a plan for the future that fits his particular values, priorities, and lifestyle, etc. He's definitely a humanities type so far as finding "numbers" intimidating (needless to say, he'll need to get over that), although I could easily see him eventually becoming quite engaged with this topic. Overall, he's a pretty logical, methodical, and sensible type who definitely takes seriously matters like security and the future. (Bonus points for any books dealing the unique features of the U.S. financial system for someone more familiar with the economics/politics/public policy of Commonwealth countries.) Thx.
posted by 5Q7 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The three books on investment that most changed my ideas about investing and finance were John Bogle's Little Book of Common Sense Investing, Gordon Murray's The Investment Answer, and Ric Edelman's Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth.

All three were highly readable, entertaining (to me), and most importantly, profoundly changed how I thought about money and investing. The first two books are quite similar in their approach. Edelman's book is a bit different, some find it polarizing, but I found it rather compelling.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:03 AM on December 8, 2011

Fail-Safe Investing by Harry Browne.

The book is about the idea of a 'permanent portfolio' where one can just set and forget.

This blog article how one might implement it.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 9:37 AM on December 8, 2011

One of the classic books on finance and investing is A Random Walk Down Wall Street. It's a great read and extremely accessible. It includes quite a bit of history and explanation along with the practical advice, which might appeal to him. On the other hand, it's over 400 pages, so not the best if he's looking to just sit down for 30 minutes and figure out what to do with his cash.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2011

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