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By David Pitt, AP Personal Finance Writer

Once you get past the hesitancy of buying a book written for dummies or idiots, you can get some very practical information out of the titles in these series.

Penguin Publishers, provider of The Complete Idiot's Guide series, has dozens of business and personal finance titles. A couple of the most recent books on investing and boosting your financial IQ provide guidance for everyday things like buying a car, getting a credit card or choosing a bank. They also address financial planning and investing for college or retirement.

Publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc., the creator of the more than 1,400 "For Dummies" books has titles focusing on investing, insurance, taxes and many other topics.

"Asset Allocation For Dummies" is a good primer on spreading out your investment risk. It's helpful whether you're an individual investor dabbling in the market or simply hoping to better manage your retirement and college savings plans.

Here's a glance at three titles that can help speed you up the learning curve:

TITLE: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Investing

AUTHOR: Edward T. Koch, Debra Johnson

PRICE: $19.95 (paperback)

SUMMARY: Whether your goal is simply to budget better or to put money aside for college or retirement, this guide to investing is a good primer. In this fourth edition, the authors review the current recession, explain how it came about and how it affects consumers. The discussion moves quickly to helping readers with understanding their own financial planning, risk tolerance and goal setting.

The authors walk through resolving debt issues and credit problems, discuss home ownership and saving for a child's education. The investing coverage features chapters on stocks, mutual funds and discusses life changes like marriage and divorce and how they affect finances. But the book covers more than the basics. Readers will also find an introductory discussion of more advanced investment options like hedge funds and venture capital.

QUOTE: "Start by becoming an intelligent investor, not a trader. Traders live and die on the gains and losses they experience each day. You are in this for the long haul, so forget about day trading — that's an emotional game. If you need some drama in your life, go to the racetrack; it's a lot cheaper! To become an intelligent investor, start thinking in 10-year time chunks. Here's the best piece of advice we can give you: don't look at the price of your stocks and/or mutual funds every day."

PUBLISHER: Alpha Books (Penguin Group)

TheStreet Recommends

TITLE: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Boosting Your Financial IQ

AUTHOR: Ken Clark

PRICE: $16.95 (paperback)

SUMMARY: This book intends to give readers the essential information about the financial issues most of us deal with all the time like bank accounts, loans, credit cards, buying a car and retirement plans. Its value lies in the depth of information and ease of accessibility. For example, if you're about to buy a car, read the chapter The Car Dealer in the Life's Biggest Expenses section. You'll learn about the subtle moves a salesman can make to prompt you into buying and the business manager's methods of maximizing profits by selling you insurance or rustproofing products. You should come away with a strategy for getting a better deal and not spending more than you should.

QUOTE: "Many of the most important financial opportunities in life only come along once. If you or someone you're trusting to look out for your best interests fumbles the ball, there may be no recovering from it. The single best investment you can make in your financial future is to increase your financial IQ. By expanding not just your financial knowledge, but also your perspective of how and why the financial world works, you'll be sure that the road to financial freedom is a one-way street.

PUBLISHER: Alpha Books (Penguin Group)

TITLE: Asset Allocation For Dummies

AUTHORS: Jerry A. Miccolis, Dorianne R. Perrucci

PRICE: $24.99 (paperback)

SUMMARY: A thorough but easy to read look at diversifying risk by making sure assets are properly allocated among cash, bonds, stocks, real estate and commodities. Financial adviser Jerry Miccolis has organized it so that the reader may digest the information from cover to cover or jump around to read just the topics they want to learn more about.

QUOTE: "You don't need to be an expert analyst, a star stock-picker, or a rocket scientist to have better investment results than most other investors. You just need to allocate your assets in the right way, and have the conviction to stick with that allocation."

PUBLISHER: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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