Get your money right this year with these insightful and relatable personal finance reads.
You know you need to get your money game together, but where do you start?
These personal finance books, which range from beginner’s guides to money memoirs to comprehensive reference books, are perfect for your 2020 reading list and beyond. They’ll provide some much-needed motivation and inspiration along with practical tips and crucial information. Use them to transform your finances from an overwhelming burden into a well-oiled machine that works for you.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
The authors of Your Money or Your Life want you to choose your life over your money, but you’ll have to begin with some financial legwork. First, transform the way you think about money and work. Then take your health, time, and energy back from soul-sucking jobs, tiring rat races, and paycheck-to-paycheck cycles.
This isn’t your typical “how to be a millionaire” book — in fact, the authors recommend understanding how much is enough for you and believe that more is not always better. Your Money or Your Life is all about getting yourself on the path to financial independence so you can focus on the things that are more important than money.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley
The Millionaire Next Door has been around for decades. It changes the way we think about “getting rich” by sharing the secrets of America’s wealthy. The truth is that most millionaires live far more modestly than you might assume — in fact, you might even have one living next door. Most millionaires got to where they are now by leading a humble lifestyle, living well below their means, and investing the difference.
Stanley has studied millionaires from all different backgrounds and identified seven common traits. This book lays out a blueprint for how you, too, can become a millionaire.
The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires by Dennis Kimbro
As the summary of The Wealth Choice states, about 35% of African Americans had no measurable wealth as of 2009. Study after study has shown that historical and structural inequality in the U.S. has left Black Americans at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to accumulating and passing on wealth. Dennis Kimbro sets out to change that.
The book covers seven different “laws of wealth” that the author learned from a seven-year study of 1,000 wealthiest African Americans. Kimbro combines data-based practical advice with real-life stories from African American men and women at every stage in life who have achieved wealth despite the cards being stacked against them.
Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together by Erin Lowry
Geared toward “cash-strapped 20 and 30-somethings,” Broke Millennial is a good option for folks who are in early adulthood and want an easy-to-read guide to everything money-related. It’s a good primer, especially if you have little financial knowledge and experience.
Fellow millennials may appreciate being spoken to by a peer, although it’s worth noting that Lowry’s perspective may not be shared by everybody. For example, her parents taught her financial lessons at a young age and she does not have educational debt. But if you’re looking for a no-nonsense, no-shame approach to basic financial concepts for young adults, this book is the way to go.
Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson
Find out everything you should’ve learned about money in school but didn’t with Personal Finance for Dummies. This hefty book is a great place to start your personal finance education. It covers everything from budgeting and paying off debt to taxes and investing. It’s also the perfect reference book to have on hand, as it’s easy to flip through and jump to specific sections.
While it is more of a reference-style book, it’s not too dry. Tyson does an excellent job of writing about personal finance topics in an approachable, objective, and simple — but not too dumbed-down — manner.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi
Ramit Sethi is a straight talker with a knack for speaking to the values and mindset of younger generations, and I Will Teach You to Be Rich is no exception. Rather than harp on 20-somethings for buying lattes and insist on extreme frugality as many personal finance gurus of the past have, Sethi takes a different approach: “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”
From there, he lays out a six-week action plan that breaks down exactly what you need to do to get your finances in order. While this plan won’t get you rich in six weeks, it will put you on the path toward building wealth. And the focus on “set it and forget it” financial automation means that once you’ve set everything up, it won’t be hard to stick to that path.
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber
When you have a family that wants for nothing, how do you raise children who are grateful, hard-working, generous, and good at managing money? This is the central question of The Opposite of Spoiled, written by long-time New York Times money columnist Ron Lieber. The book is an easy read and organizes itself around a host of anecdotes that convey how parents can do better when it comes to talking to and teaching their children about money.
This book is definitely geared toward a certain subset of families — those that have money and manage it well, and want to avoid the potential pitfalls of raising children in an upper-middle-class household (i.e., raising spoiled kids). The authors encourage talking openly with your children about money and discourage shielding them from financial disparities that exist in the world. There’s discussion of practices that teach work ethic and money management (i.e. giving a small allowance, and requiring chores but not tying them to the allowance so children don’t expect to be rewarded for duties like contributing to the household) and instilling a sense of gratitude and generosity in your children through charitable giving.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert Kiyosaki
If you think you can’t be rich because you don’t have a high-paying job, Robert Kiyosaki is here to bust that myth. Rich Dad Poor Dad is all about how regular people — even, or perhaps especially, those without advanced degrees and generational wealth — can become wealthy through smart money management. For Kiyosaki, the primary tenet of smart money management is pouring your money into assets rather than liabilities. According to him, most of us tend to spend money on liabilities, even when we think we don’t.
This is less of a step-by-step how-to and more of a money-mindset book. It gives you a good base from which to jump into another book that covers the nitty gritty of managing your money.
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore, Michael LeBoeuf, Mel Lindauer
If you’re tired of feeling like you’re being sold to while reading personal finance advice, you’ll appreciate The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. This DIY guide to investing is all about simple, low-cost investment strategies that can work for anyone. The authors of this book have no hidden agendas or profit motives, they’re just enthusiasts of John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard and creator of the index fund. The trio are passionate about Bogle’s investing philosophies and want to bust the Wall Street myths that cost everyday investors more than they earn.
This book covers tons of ground, including emergency funds, paying off debt, investment strategies, tax efficiency, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and more. It’s accessible to folks with little investing knowledge, yet avoids being overly simplistic. The recommended strategies are all about simplicity and minimizing the time you spend managing your investments. This is a good choice for both beginner investors and those looking to fill in the gaps or challenge conventional wisdom.
Clever Girl Finance: Ditch Debt, Save Money, and Build Real Wealth by Bola Sokunbi
Clever Girl Finance is the perfect entry-level personal finance book for anyone who wants to pay off debt and save more. Bola Sokunbi covers all the bases while incorporating real-world stories that make the book’s advice engaging and relatable.
Sokunbi’s goal with both her book and website is to demystify personal finance for women who might feel intimidated by the field. She sets out to prove to readers that they, too, can make plans for their money and achieve financial independence. In just under 200 entertaining and encouraging pages, she does just that.
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner
Written for today’s young and young-ish adults, Get a Financial Life is a personal finance primer that takes into account everything younger generations have had to deal with financially: recession, overwhelming rents, burdensome debt, and more.
This introductory personal finance book covers all the basics in a practical and guilt-free way, even addressing various income levels to make the advice relevant to everyone. This is the perfect book for the recent college graduate or older millennial who feels their financial knowledge may be lacking.
The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
The creators of the wildly popular millennial personal finance website The Financial Diet, Fagan and Ver Hage load all the website’s wisdom into one advice-packed yet fun book of the same title. Ideal for young adults, the tone of The Financial Diet is accessible and funny with plenty of hard-to-swallow but important financial truths sprinkled throughout.
This book ticks all the important checkboxes like budgeting, debt, and investing. But one thing that sets it apart from other beginner’s guides is that it also talks about the other aspects of our lives that money extends to. There are sections about the intersection of money and home, money and relationships, money and eating/cooking habits, and more. All in all, that makes it almost a handbook for growing up with a focus on money.
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
This is far from your average general personal finance book and the advice in Meet the Frugalwoods won’t apply to everyone. But anyone who’s ever dreamt of quitting their 9 to 5 to lead a simpler life — as a homesteader in rural Vermont, for example — will find this book both inspiring and actionable.
In this memoir-style personal finance book, Thames spills the details of how and why she and her partner quit their urban professional life to live on a 66-acre homestead in Vermont with their daughter. It took them less than three years to reach their goal, during which they saved over 70% of their income. In the process, they embraced frugality and minimalism which unlocked a new sense of freedom and confidence they didn’t have in their former consumerist lifestyles.
Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together by Gaby Dunn
A mix of memoir and financial how-to guide, Gaby Dunn’s Bad with Money is a new breed of personal finance book altogether. Gaby Dunn’s experience as a comedian, and writer and director for Buzzfeed make for a book that is humorous, youthful, and blunt. She also comes at the book from the perspective of someone who has made a lot of money mistakes rather than a lifelong financial expert, which adds to the book’s relatability and relevance.
This book is geared toward millennials. Specifically, millennials who identify more with the debt-strapped, underpaid, and overworked version of their generation than the brunch-obsessed, entitled stereotype that’s often peddled. That being said, it’s also an excellent choice for younger folks, including high school graduates. Dunn’s entertaining style makes this one personal finance book an 18-year-old might actually read.
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