Book Club Advice, All Wrapped Up

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, December 7, 2008

By now you've either read or heard that we are in a recession.

In fact, we've been in one since last December, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The economists on the panel that determines the beginning and end of a recession said payroll employment -- the number of filled jobs in the economy, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' large survey of employers -- peaked in December 2007 and has declined every month since.

This is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression. But now that we have proof of what many of us already suspected, what the heck do we do?

Should you pack any cash you have under a mattress, as one reader told me he wants to do?

Or should you lose faith in the economy and let fear keep you from spending on anything other than necessities, as another person said she wants to do?

Part of what I'm doing, and what I've been encouraging people to do for years, is to become more educated about personal finance. I don't care who you are -- all of us, myself included, can do better with what money we have.

That, my friends, means you have to set aside some time to read and research what it takes to make the best decisions about the money you earn. It's why I started the Color of Money Book Club.

"Knowledge is power," wrote Francis Bacon, the British philosopher and essayist. But that isn't quite right. What if what you think you know is wrong? That could cost you money.

If you haven't done so already, take a look at the list of personal finance books I've selected this year, which I think give you the right information. You can find the complete listing at In the search field, type "Color of Money" and then click the link for "book club."

This month I haven't selected a book. Instead, if you can afford to shop this holiday season, consider buying one of these books I've already recommended instead of a lotion set or cologne or something else that won't last past spring. Here are several of my favorite picks:

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company