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Weekend reading: Christmas gifts to buy the (should be) investors in your life

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

Still to buy all your Christmas presents? You’ll get no sympathy from me if you intend to shop on foot like some Luddite from the 1980s.

Why not go the whole hog and hit the High Street on a horse?

Me, I’ve done all my Christmas shopping online via Amazon for years now, sending the bulk of it direct to my mum’s house – the scene of the annual family bust-up reunion. It’s become even easier since I joined Amazon Prime. No crowds, no packing, no delivery fees, and no worries it won’t make it on time.

So in the spirit of giving, I’ll share a few Amazon-able gift ideas with you.

Fear not! I won’t try to cherry pick the best BBC box sets or handmade soap.

Instead we’ll stick to what we know, with money and investing book ideas plundered from the many I’ve read and featured here in 2013.

Best for new passive investors

The third addition of Smarter Investing is no more exciting than versions one and two, but my co-blogger The Accumulator swears he’d never have got started in index funds without Tim Hale’s definitive and sober advice. The Bible for UK passive investors.

Best for those who should know better

Investing Demystified by Lars Kroijer is only a little less sleepy than Tim Hale’s tome, but the fact it’s a passive investing treatise written by an ex-hedge fund manager does add some extra frisson. An impressive turnaround.

Best for old-school share investors

John Lee is one of the greats of UK private investing, with the noble Lord having become famous through his FT columns – and his revelation that he was an ISA millionaire by the early 2000s through his investing results. Now we can learn how he did it in his eagerly-awaited How to Make a Million Slowly. I’m glad to report there’s even a Monevator plug on the back!

Best for value investors

I wish I’d bought the attractive hardback version of The Value Investors instead of the Kindle edition – it’s much more in keeping with this old-school method to riches. Good to dip into for a quick inspiring story about some quirky maladjusted male made good. The Asian case studies were all new names to me.

Best for investing wisdom

The Most Important Thing: Illuminated is the new version of Howard Marks’ super distillation of years of investing insights. A must-read for active investors, but in stressing just how hard it is to beat the market – and to run away from the herd –  it could also make a good read for the passive investor in your life.

Think of the children!

There’s a dearth of new books out there for newcomers to investing – a shame given that the state pension age has just been raised to 143 (or thereabouts) and half the country is in hock.

This means it is hard for me to recommend new books for disinterested nieces or nephews.

I still meet people whose life was changed by reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, and even though it’s dated, US-based, and the author is a controversial salesmen, I bet it would still work its magic. Just make sure you steer them clear of his gazillion pound follow-up courses.

Alternatively, perhaps just throw the superlative Warren Buffett autobiography The Snowball at them, and hope they get inspired!

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: The Post Office is offering attractive five-year fixed rate mortgages that can beat Help To Buy alternatives if you can stretch to a 10% deposit, reports ThisIsMoney. It’s charging 4.29% for a five-year fix at 90% loan to value, but there is a £1,495 fee.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • October best month ever for UK tracker sales [Search result]FT
  • ETF fund strategists are making hay from the ETF boom – Reuters

Active investing

  • Asset prices: Not yet fully inflated – Economist
  • Shares can survive the end of money printing – Telegraph
  • Buffett’s peerless market-beating ways revealed – Bloomberg
  • Cash is still king for affluent investors – FT
  • 10 US stock ideas from the ‘ultimate’ stock pickers – Morningstar

Other stuff worth reading

  • How many tulips can you buy with one bitcoin? – The Atlantic
  • Bankrupted by a mobile phone bill – The Guardian
  • House prices show biggest leap for six years – The Guardian
  • Autumn Statement disappointing for savers – Telegraph
  • New CGT rules for homeowners turned landlords – ThisIsMoney

Book of the week: Don’t fancy the money books? Then indulge your bucolic fantasies with this gorgeous book of Perfect English Farmhouses. The words might be good, but I just look at the pictures and sigh. A bit wet, I know.

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  1. Reader Ken notes that: “FT articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.” []
{ 14 comments… add one }
  • 1 Snowman December 7, 2013, 2:22 pm

    That Vanguard blog made me chuckle.

    It would be quite nice to invest in a SNOWY ETF to utilise the outperformance of the letter Y

  • 2 L December 7, 2013, 5:33 pm

    Pretty cool to see a Monevator quote on the back of Lord Lee’s book. Does that make you part of the mainstream now TI?

    On a more serious note, I don’t know much about Lord Lee but from what I read I was heartily impressed. I particularly like his emphasis on finding and investing in solid small family owned UK firms. It feels like a noble mix of empirical based investment combined with a social and sustainable ethics centred philosophy. Certainly makes a change from the usual heartless investment analysis (noise). Will check out the book.

  • 3 neverland December 7, 2013, 8:51 pm

    I still swear by the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley even though it’s 20 years old now.

  • 4 living cheap in London December 8, 2013, 12:45 pm

    Rich Dad Poor Dad was the first FI book that came my way, but the intense focus on Real Estate as the income stream left it feeling a little irrelevant for me at that time of my life.

    Like “Neverland” above The Millionaire Next Door was much more of a mind-shifter for me.

  • 5 The Investor December 8, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Yes, Millionaire Next Door is a great eye-opener. I suppose I read it in my late 20s. I was already on-message by the time it came along though.

    @L — I’m going to review Lord Lee’s book soon. Watch this space! 🙂

    @Snowman — Be useful in a market meltdown. Chortle.

  • 6 Vanguardfan December 8, 2013, 8:52 pm

    I agree there is very little for children, certainly in the UK. I have bought Martin Lewis’s guide to money for teenagers (not an investing book). For inspiration a bit later I am going to try ‘millionaire teacher’ which is American but looks to combine a bit of inspiration with common sense investing principles.
    I find ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ pretty annoying I’m afraid.
    But it is amazing really how few books there are available for young people about basic financial literacy. No wonder so many people are clueless about debt and saving.

  • 7 Tony December 8, 2013, 9:05 pm

    I rather feel it’s a bit nerdy to buy someone a book on investing for Christmas, surely it’s better to buy your friends something more festive.

    Pretty well everything anyone really needs to know about investing can be found in Dilbert’s (aka Scott Adams) acclaimed 87 word investment primer.

    (Ok, for a UK citizen you’d want to change 4 to company pension , 5 to ISA and 7 to easy-access savings account, or something like that).

    Anyway, here it is (you could always print it on the inside of a Christmas card if you really must give investment advice as a gift!):

    “1. Make a will
    2. Pay off your credit cards
    3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
    4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
    5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
    6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
    7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
    8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement

    If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.”

  • 8 The Investor December 8, 2013, 9:20 pm

    @VanguardFan — Yes, one book was enough for me though I tried a couple more in my youth. He’s very American and a showman and many would say worse, but that first book does part the clouds for many. It helped me!

    @Tony — I once bought literally all my family members (over 8) money or investing books. Are you trying to tell us something, said one. I was! And with some it made a difference. Rather OTT I admit. One a year a bit more subtle. 😉

    Most Christmas presents are suboptimal in my experience, often destined for landfill, unless you live in one of those families where you ask for what you want. My girlfriends family even buys their own presents, and wraps them together. Can’t get my head around that!

  • 9 SDN123 December 9, 2013, 7:19 am

    “The Richest Man in Babylon” is a fun read, suitable for teens, educational and available free in a number if electronic formats. What’s not to like?

  • 10 vanguardfan December 9, 2013, 2:00 pm

    @TI – what did you buy for the 8-12 age group?

    One thing I don’t like about most of the American books is the emphasis on ‘getting rich’ – this isn’t the way I see being responsible about money – to me its about understanding enough not to waste money unthinkingly but to use it wisely on the things that are important (simply ‘being rich’ is not a life goal imo!). So, for my kids, I really want them to understand the stupidity of (most) debt, and why its cheaper to save up for things you want, and be able to understand more clearly the choices they are making about spending.

  • 11 The Investor December 9, 2013, 3:01 pm

    VF — I got the Richest Man in Babylon for someone, probably the youngest. I also got Alvin Hall’s Your Money or Your Life, from memory, for one. It was a few years ago.

    Some room to grow into them, clearly! I buy clothes that are too big, too. 😉

  • 12 Steve December 9, 2013, 8:23 pm

    For beginners, I’d definitely recommend:

    The Richest Man in Babylon
    Millionaire Next Door

    Smarter Investing Tim Hale
    All About Asset Allocation Richard Ferri

    Re. Rich Dad…
    Your Money or your life….. etc
    Most of this is just common sense. TMF have a nice board ‘Living below your means’. Well worth a visit.


  • 13 Amit C December 9, 2013, 8:35 pm

    I would also suggest

    The First National Bank of Dad: A Foolproof Method for Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money

    It is the best way I know of teaching kids about money
    in a smart way.


  • 14 the k man December 10, 2013, 2:57 pm

    I can understand why ‘rich dad poor dad’ gets a lot of stick, but have to say it was the turning point for me.

    I never agreed with the risk taking & real estate investments the book harps on about, but the key lesson I took away was having money work for you. Up until then, I was squirreling cash away with no plans & hardly any returns. Now I see light at the end of the 9-5 tunnel, and have a great hobby to boot!

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