Q: I have children in their 40s and 50s, and grandchildren in their 20s. What book or books about money management and financial planning would you recommend for them?
A: Ah, I have many books on personal finance and economics on my bookshelves at home and at work. What to choose is always a hard choice, but here are a few suggestions. I've divided my recommendations by age, but your children can profitably read the books for your grandchildren, and vice versa.
In their 40s and 50s
• "Personal Finance For Dummies'' by Eric Tyson. It's a comprehensive reference resource that covers the personal finance basics well. Tyson is always thoughtful and smart.
• "The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work, and Living,'' by Mark Miller. Syndicated columnist Miller deals with getting finances in order before the retirement years, but then he looks into the many trade-offs and considerations of retirement itself, from part-time work to the nuances of Social Security.
• "Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well,'' by Ralph Warner. Too much of the advice in the personal finance industry seems to feed off the fear we all share of not having enough money. Warner, the founder of the self-help legal organization Nolo.com, offers a healthy antidote to fear-mongering and at the same time, practical financial tips for constructing a meaningful life.
• "The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife,'' by Marc Freedman. Many people are redefining retirement. They're thinking about continuing to earn a paycheck, but maybe doing something that offers greater meaning and purpose. Working longer also shores up household finances in the last third of life, too. Freedman is inspiring in imagining the possibilities for encore careers.
For grandchildren in their 20s
• "The Random Walk Guide to Investing'' by Burton Malkiel. Princeton University finance professor emeritus Malkiel is an advocate of low-cost, broad-based index fund investing. This is a short, sensible guide toward managing money, a must read for any young worker with a 401(k) and similar retirement savings plan.
Malkiel also lays out in clear language his 10 rules for doing well with money for the long haul, from understanding compound interest to the whys of insurance.
• "Risk Less and Prosper: Your Guide to Safer Investing'' by Zvi Bodie and Rachelle Taqqu. The Boston University finance professor and the certified financial analyst focus on the long-term investing implications of your jobs and career. They take seriously the idea that how you save and where you save is all about what you want out of life — your goals, your values, your lifestyle.
• "The New Frugality'' by Chris Farrell. (Yes, me.) Frugality doesn't mean old-fashioned penny-pinching — far from it. I recommend merging money management with a sustainability sensibility for a lifestyle of less waste, lower environmental impact, lower financial stress, more career opportunities and in the long run, deeper satisfaction.
Chris Farrell is economics editor for "Marketplace Money." His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.