Sometimes, nothing beats an old fashioned book when it comes to learning about a specific topic. These 10 personal finance books can help you get started on your journey into personal finance.
The internet is a great source for information about personal finance. If you want to know how an index fund works, which debt repayment method is most effective or how to save money on groceries, you can find ten articles with the information you need to know.
But if you want to dig deeper into a money mindset or financial philosophy, there’s still no substitute for a good old fashioned book. That’s why even successful bloggers and TV personalities also publish books—it gives them an opportunity to flesh out their worldview in a comprehensive, detailed way.
I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with finance and self-help books for most of my adult life, and I’ve waded through my share of mediocre writing. Unfortunately, being a finance expert doesn’t make you a good writer, and being a good writer doesn’t mean you know jack about finance. But when you find a book with a well-articulated and thought-provoking perspective, it can change your life forever.
Here are some of my favorite personal finance titles, along with choice picks from my friends and colleagues in the personal finance sector.
Best book combating frugality: All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam
I first read Laura Vanderkam’s book in 2012, shortly after I’d graduated from college. I was already interested in personal finance and had taken a basic class in college which taught me how to budget, save money, and open an IRA.
But Vanderkam’s book is different. It’s about how to spend money to get the most value out of every dollar. If you hate doing chores, for instance, spend your money outsourcing laundry and errands so you have more time to devote to hobbies, work and family. If you love date nights with your husband more than anything, splurge on babysitting instead of new clothes or shoes.
Best book for debt payoff: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey has been a personal finance legend for decades, starting with the 1997 publication of his book, Financial Peace.
It was his 2007 book, The Total Money Makeover, that helped Deacon Hayes of WellKeptWallet and his wife pay off off $52,000 of debt in 18 months. Page after page, Ramsey shares the incredible transformations of people who paid off thousands of dollars in debt. Hayes says the snowball method that Ramsey recommends made the biggest difference in their budget.
Best book for parents: Money A to Z by Scott Alan Turner
Jim Wang says his six year-old kid loves this children’s personal finance book, which teaches money by using the letters of the alphabet. Every few weeks, his little boy rereads Money A to Z, lingering on his favorite letter—E for earn “because you have to work to make money and spend it wisely.”
Best book for investors: The Little Book of Common Sense by John C. Bogle
R.J. Weiss of The Way to Wealth first read this book right after graduating college, when his temptation to pick the next hottest stock was strong. Bogle is the founder of The Vanguard Group, an investment firm famous for its index funds. He believed that index funds, which track a specific index like the S&P 500, provide a better return than individual stocks.
Weiss said this book convinced him to start investing in index funds. “I started thinking less about getting rich picking stocks and more about my growing my savings rate,” he said.
Amanda Holden of Dumpster Dog Blog added, “I’ve read just about every book on investing out there, and believe that if someone can understand every concept in The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle, they’re going to be set!”
Best Book for Shopaholics: The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman
Greutman’s story of being a recovering shopaholic resonated with Athena Valentine of Money Smart Latina. Back in the day, Valentine used shopping “to fill a void” in her life. She resonated with Greutman’s story of shopping addictions.
Even now when Valentine shops, she remembers Greutman’s wisdom “when I want to get crazy swiping my debit card.”
Best book for early retirement fans: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
“Rather than focusing on numbers and practical steps like so many other personal finance books do, this one focuses on your emotional response and the way you think about money,” Lotich said.
Best books for simplifying finances: The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
Famous for his financial doodles in the New York Times, columnist and financial planner Carl Richards demystifies the financial planning process in his second book.
Kali Hawlk of Going Beyond Wealth said she loves how the book shows the way behavior determines if someone will succeed financially—not which stock they pick or how much they earn.
Best book for twentysomethings: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William D. Danko
Curtis Hearn, CFP of Smart Money Nation recommends this personal finance staple for people who are enticed by material goods. This book was first to discredit the common notion that millionaires always have luxury cars, designer clothes and giant mansions.
Stanley and Danko analyzed the behavior and habits of millionaires to show how they save, spend and invest money. The findings were surprising. It turns out that people with a net worth of $1 million or more tend to live in middle-class neighborhoods, not in gated communities.
Best book for motivation: Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
One of the original personal finance books, “Think and Grow Rich” was published in 1937, in the aftermath of the Great Depression. The book’s lessons are distilled from interviews with the most successful people of the day, including Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller and Charles M. Schwab.
Hill takes their lessons and reworks them into bite-size formulas that the everyday layman can follow. It’s not necessarily solely geared toward making someone financially successful, but successful in all aspects of life. He wants you to chase after your wildest dreams, no matter how crazy they might sound.
Best book for beginners: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
If personal finance is new to you, then you might want to check out the 1997 classic, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” This tome tells parables about personal finance while advocating for real assets and investments, including real estate.
It doesn’t tell you how to build wealth while avoiding Starbucks and fast food, but how to build successful businesses that will create passive income for you. It’s not about asking for a 5% raise at your job, it’s about creating streams of income that will work for you.