3 new, must-read money books

College SavingsThree recently-published books are well worth your time and money, thanks to talented authors who offer new takes on some familiar financial topics: Social Security, raising money-smart kids and investor manias.

The first is “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” by economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff and journalists Philip Moeller and Paul Solman. This book is a deep dive into Social Security claiming strategies, which may not sound sexy until you learn that people are costing themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars by making bad decisions about when and how to get their benefits. Larry is one of my go-to sources for Social Security questions, and his grasp of the intricacies of this complex system is amazing. Even more amazing is how readable this book is given those complexities.

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money” by New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber is one of the best books I’ve read about children and money. Ron aims his book at more affluent families–those with incomes over $50,000–but most of what he writes pertains to any American family that can buy its children everything they need and at least some of what they want. The chapters on what to tell your kids about how much you make and how to handle allowances are particularly thought-provoking.

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute” by best-selling author and all-around wunderkind Zac Bissonnette. You don’t even have to be old enough to remember the Beanie Baby craze to enjoy this gossipy (but deeply researched) account of how so many people lost their minds–and not infrequently their savings–in a frenzy to corner the market on mass-produced stuffed animals. It’s not just collectors who should read this book. Any investor who wants to avoid being taken in by an unsustainable mania should take note. In fact, this book should be required reading for every high school personal finance course, although some of Beanie creator Ty Warner’s weirder proclivities might have to be edited out.