Some people think the Christmas shopping season starts in early fall, when ads for Salad Shooters turn up on TV, but purists cling to the belief that Thanksgiving is the official opening day for holiday gift buying.
So, it seems fitting to use the holiday to offer some gift ideas tied to money: Or, as one financial adviser said, "for the person who has everything and wants to keep it."
* "One Up on Wall Street," by Peter Lynch (Viking Penguin, $10.95, paperback). The former manager of the Fidelity Magellan fund didn't win his superstar status by accident. He used fundamental investment techniques that included getting basic information about the companies he was buying. Of all the investment books published in the last few years, this is perhaps the only one likely to achieve "classic" status.
* "How to Buy Stocks," by Louis Engel and Brendan Boyd (Bantam, $5.99, paperback). This is one of those classics. First written by Engel almost 40 years ago, it has been updated by Boyd to reflect new investment products and changes in tax laws.
* "Making the Most of Your Money," by Jane Bryant Quinn (Simon & Schuster, $27.50, hardcover). Published this year, this tome will be a valuable reference for anyone looking for information on financial planning, insurance, mutual funds, investing, retirement and estate planning. While the country escaped a major tax bill this year, future tax-law changes could make parts of this book obsolete, but the basics will remain useful.
* "The Only Other Investment Guide You'll Ever Need," by Andrew Tobias (Bantam, $9.95, paperback). The most recent of Tobias' investment guides, this book gives readers a tour through different financial vehicles and investment strategies. Apart from the good advice, it is probably the most fun to read, which might make it easier to take during the holidays.
NB * Value Line Investment Survey (10-week trial offer, $55 (800)
833-0046, credit card orders only; available only once every two years to any household). The normal rate is $525 for one year, $965 for two years, but this $55 offer includes the latest full-page reports on all 1,700 companies Value Line follows regularly. For the person who wants to do his or her own stock research, Value Line is an important tool that shows each company's recent earnings, dividends, changes in share price, as well as an analyst's report.
* Membership in the American Association of Individual Investors. The AAII is a national, non-profit organization. One of its most useful activities is the AAII Journal, an investment guide published 10 times a year that covers mutual funds, newsletters, insurance and securities regulation.
AAII also publishes a guide to no-load mutual funds, and other investment books. Local chapters hold meetings where well-known investment specialists share insights and expectations for the future.
Membership is $49 a year. Write the American Association of Individual Investors, 625 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
* "Your Rights as an Investor: How to Prevent and Fight Back Against Misconduct and Fraud in Your Brokerage Account," by David E. Shellenberger. If the people on your gift list are thinking of investing with a stockbroker, they should read this first. The basics of opening a brokerage account, commissions and hidden sales incentives, churning, manipulation, fraud and arbitration are covered in just 15 double-spaced pages. Send check for $5 to David E. Shellenberger, 99 Summer St., Suite 1430, Boston, Mass., 02110.
* Investment clubs. For information on how to start one of these clubs, where small groups of people get together to start and build an investment portfolio, write the National Association of Investment Clubs, 1515 East Eleven Mile Road, Royal Oak, Mich. 48067.
* Morningstar Mutual Funds (Morningstar Inc., 52 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Ill. 60604; (800) 876-5005; $395 a year). This is by far the most expensive item on this gift list, but for the mutual fund "junkie" who wants detailed information on most of the widely available funds, it will be a welcome gift. New reports on the performance, risk and makeup of each fund are published every six months, along with an analysis of the fund's strategy and future prospects. It also includes useful articles on the industry and fund investing.
* 1991 Directory of Mutual Funds. Send $5 to Investment Company Institute, Box 66140, Washington, D.C. 20035-6140. Published by the mutual fund industry's trade group, this book gives the addresses and phone numbers of ICI members, which includes most funds available to the public. There's also some basic information on different funds.
* IBC/Donoghue's Mutual Funds Almanac, Box 8008, 360 Woodland St., Holliston, Mass. 01746-8008. Or call (800) 343-5413 and ask for Customer Service. At $34.95, this book is more expensive than the ICI guide, but it has more information, including the amount of any sales charges, or loads, charged by funds.