Notable books — February 2012

In the spirit of looking at things anew as the new year unfolds, some of you may be looking hard at your personal finances, investments, and retirement savings. If you’re like me and need to learn about this stuff from the ground up, here are some helpful sources:

Andrew Tobias, The ONLY Investment Guide You’ll EVER Need (rev. ed., 2010) — Several years ago, a dear cousin (now sadly passed) turned me on to this book, which proved to be a great starting place for understanding investing and financial planning.

Ilyce R. Glink, 50 Simple Steps You Can Take to Disaster-Proof Your Finances: How to Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones and Survive Any Crisis (2002) — Slightly dated, but still full of good advice. For me this book falls into the “do what I say and not what I haven’t done” category. Yikers, I have some work to do this year.

John C. Bogle, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (2007) — The founder of the Vanguard Group is one of the most respected people in financial services.

Ben Stein & Phil DeMuth, The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing: Do’s and Don’ts to Protect Your Financial Life (2010) — Recommends a quirky approach to assembling a retirement investment portfolio; a bit too complicated for my tastes. But at least read it for the wise and sobering commentary about saving for retirement.

Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America’s Economic Future (rev. ed. 2005) — A pre-meltdown warning shot about tomorrow’s economy, interweaving economic analysis with concrete advice on personal finances. This book, more than any other, taught me about projecting how “big picture” economic trends affect our personal finances.

Edwin M. Bridges with Brian D. Bridges, The Prudent Professor: Planning and Saving for a Worry-Free Retirement from Academe (2010) — Well, I probably found this book a little too late to put into practice all the advice that might provide me with that elusive “worry-free” (yeah, right) retirement, but it’s helpful for academicians of any age.

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A note to readers — I know that for some, “financial planning” and “retirement saving” are wholly unrealistic concepts right now. Many folks are barely making ends meet (if that), and if you are in this situation, I hope that your circumstances improve markedly and allow you to plan your finances with a longer-range perspective.

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Starting in February 2012, every month I’m sharing short mentions of books related to recurring topics on this blog that I have read, reviewed, or used, a mix of newer and older works. On occasion, like above, I will emphasize a specific theme.

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