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Money books that make great gifts

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20s and 30s
"The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke" by Suze Orman. People in their 20s and 30s often have big expenses and enormous debt. As a result, they have little leftover for savings. Orman's book tailors advice to this generation's situation by focusing on credit cards, college loans, income and opportunities for saving.

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Hughes said her 24-year-old son, who recently graduated from college, liked the tone of the book and thought it made sense. He was particularly impressed with discussions about how easy it is to fall into debt and the dangers of owning too many credit cards.

"Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery" by Gail MarksJarvis. Benton likes this book because it "emphasizes the importance of starting to save early." Benton also likes how MarksJarvis focuses on using retirement plans to defer taxes, collect employer contributions and accumulate greater levels of retirement wealth.

Other themes in this book include the importance of managing costs and the long-term benefits of asset allocation.

For more about MarksJarvis, read Bankrate's interview with the personal-finance columnist.

"The Four Pillars of Investing" by William Bernstein. This book argues in favor of the plain vanilla, low-cost approach to do-it-yourself investing. Hughes said this book is an especially good gift for anyone who "remains unconvinced of the benefits of low-cost indexing."

40s and 50s
"The Encyclopedia of Financial Planning." In recent years, this association has drawn from its archive and from up-to-the-minute observations from its financial planners to create this book. It is designed to help current and prospective financial planning consumers make smart financial decisions and realize their dreams. Readers of any age can benefit from this book, but it may be especially useful for those in their 40s and 50s who have delayed saving for their retirements.

"Stocks for the Long Run" by Jeremy Siegel and "What Works on Wall Street" by James O'Shaughnessy. Benton likes both of these books because they provide good introductions to the historical record of stocks, the importance of committing money to equities, the fickleness of markets, behavioral foibles of investors and how to cope when things don't go as planned.

Benton admires Siegel as an especially astute stock-market analyst and praises O'Shaughnessy's analysis of strategies, benchmarks and the tools that have provided investors with the best results.

"The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki. This book argues for the power of collective wisdom -- the notion that groups of people are often far smarter than the single brightest individual within them.

"This book is about more than money," says Yeske. "It provides great insights into why the economy or financial markets work so brilliantly."

"Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich" by Jason Zweig. Too often, investors find that they are their own worst enemies when it comes investing. Zweig's book looks at how the intersection of neuroscience, psychology and economics has a profound influence on personal wealth.

"The book offers a great explanation of why we're hardwired to make bad financial decisions," Yeske said.

Zweig also discusses how people can overcome these natural propensities and achieve greater investing success.

"The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham. Brenton likes this classic text because it contains pearls of wisdom for "both the defensive and enterprising investor." Benton believes anyone can benefit from reading this book again and again.

Legendary investor Warren Buffet also is a big fan of this book, calling it "by far the best book on investing ever written." The latest edition features a preface and appendix by the Oracle of Omaha. Included are Buffet's reflections on how using Graham's concepts can lead to superior portfolio performance.

Next: "The book tends to match lifestyle wishes to habits ..."
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