Christmas is fast approaching, and with it the challenge of finding great gifts. As usual, I've done some research, and found great books on money.
Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein is a fascinating read. The author guides us through the history of money from the time of Aristotle, through the barter system, to the invention of various sorts of paper money.
Did you know there was a time in America when many banks printed their own currency? Many put out Christmas bank notes adorned with pictures of Santa Claus!
Naturally, money's history is interspersed with tales of financial crises, and how they were handled.
The book also covers the creation and abolition of the gold standard, and finishes with a detailed description of the start of cryptocurrencies and where they may be heading. It's the perfect present for anybody interested in the financial system.
Psychology of Money, byMorgan Housel,is described as "timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness." Each of its 19 chapters contain a major lesson. I particularly like the way Housel stresses the importance of compounding on your long-term financial plan.
He writes: "compounding works best when you can give a plan years or decades to grow. This is true for not only savings but careers and relationships. Endurance is key. And when you consider our tendency to change who we are over time, balance at every point in your life becomes a strategy to avoid future regret and encourage endurance."
I really loved this book, and enjoyed the fact that I got a double benefit: it reinforced many of the things I've learnt over my own life, and opened my eyes to other issues I have not considered. Highly recommended for just about anyone.
Retirement Made Simple, my latest book, is the perfect gift for anyone aged 45 and over. Retirement is often touted as a worry-free time - but right now it's not easy. People are living longer, government budgets are stretched, financial markets are volatile, and interest rates are at historic lows. On top of that, there are the constant challenges of understanding investor psychology - including your own - and avoiding scams.
A major facet of a fulfilling retirement is preparation: the sooner you start to plan, the better your retirement is likely to be. Yet so many people facing retirement don't know what they don't know. Retirement Made Simple will help you avoid making costly mistakes at this time in your life, making it a gift that can pay great dividends.
As soon as you have any assets, including children, getting your estate in order becomes one of the most important things you can do. However, the sad reality is it's also one of the jobs most people are always "going to do", but never quite start.
Often people think they can't find the time to do it - but in reality, they don't want to think of their own mortality, don't know where to start, find the process so confusing and full of legal jargon they give up, or make the effort once, but don't update things as their situation changes.
This is why Legacyby Melisa Sloan, Principal at Madison Sloan Lawyers in Melbourne, would make such a great gift.
It's an easy read - only 180 pages - but sets out clearly and simply the steps you need to take to get your affairs in order.
Sloan writes: "Why am I so passionate about you creating your legacy and Estate Plan? I have seen the alternative. I have seen the pain, stress, emotional toll, and once close families destroyed when someone dies without a Will."
This book will not take the place of specific advice from a qualified professional, but it will give you a good overview of how the whole estate planning process works, and help you understand the importance of making sure your affairs are in place sooner rather than later.
So why not do friends and family a favour this Christmas, and give gifts that provide hours of interest, plus many benefits in the years ahead for those who not only read, but also act.
Noel Whittaker is the author of Retirement Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. Send your money questions to firstname.lastname@example.org