Money is such an important topic in our everyday life, but few of us have actually been offered a class on personal finance as part of our formal education, and young people today still don't quite learn about it. Many people learn about personal finance through friendly advice, observing family members, and — painfully — by making our own mistakes (read: debt). So financial planning doesn't always come easy and a money makeover can feel like a big to-do.
However, your financial life becomes less of a mystery when you are more informed about how to best manage debt, invest appropriately, actively build wealth and achieve financial independence.
You don't need to become an automatic millionaire or intelligent investor right away, and you won't achieve a total money makeover over night. But there are a wealth of personal finance experts to explore, so I’ve curated a list of 10 books that include a variety of money-related topics, credit card tips, diverse perspectives on how to strengthen your financial foundation and more, and that are interesting, thoughtful reads. Enjoy these books from the millionaire nextdoor (okay, from a few really smart finance pros) on your way to developing a stronger millionaire mindset!
Carla’s book is an inspiring, thoughtful perspective on how to succeed in your professional career. Why is it at the top of my recommendations for personal finance books? Because a successful career contributes to income growth, which creates more economic power and provides you with even more options for how to grow your wealth.
In Expect to Win, Carla draws on her own experience from decades on Wall Street to provide specific strategies for networking, career management, and countless other professional topics. Her perspectives are illuminating, because many women think that hard work and competency are enough to get ahead professionally. Carla’s experiences have taught her that you’ll need strong relationships, a career strategy, and a unique point of view to succeed — and she details this in her book.
Considered one of the most prolific personal finance experts, Suze Orman consistently provides practical advice that is grounded in her experiences in the financial industry as well as her own personal journey. Suze’s journey is an incredible story — she grew up in a working-class family that struggled with money, and infamously went from waitress to multi-millionaire, along the way authoring countless books and meeting her soulmate, KT, at 50.
Her book, Women & Money, explores both the practical hurdles to building wealth as well as the mental and emotional barriers that can keep us from acting in our own best interest when it comes to personal finance. For those who get motivated by creating a plan, this book comes with an action planner that can support improving our financial habits in order to build wealth.
Like Carla Harris’ Expect to Win, Own It emphasizes both career advice and personal finance perspective. If you’re inclined towards data and research, you’ll be fascinated by the information in Sallie’s book — she presents information on inequality in income, saving, and investing that underscore just how much opportunity exists between genders.
However, Sallie is also inspiring, acknowledging that women are increasingly college-educated, control a tremendous portion of everyday household spending, and are making progress in the professional sphere. With all of these opportunities, Own It serves up a massive dose of take-action advice and inspiration from Sallie, in a candid tone that will leave you feeling like you just finished a discussion with a new favorite girlfriend.
Emily’s book includes a deep exploration of how and why money causes stress and anxiety. The chapters explore money habits, behavioral tendencies that are ingrained in human behavior, and present big ideas in a simple and straightford manner.
I recommend Emily’s book to anyone that is feeling particularly overwhelmed with their finances. She brings a non-judgemental tone to deeply personal feelings about money, and provides frameworks and self-assessments that allow you to revisit your relationship with money in order to end financial stress and begin creating a more positive relationship with money.
David Bach is author of the Finish Rich series, which includes this book, and others including Smart Couples Finish Rich. These books are grounded in David’s experiences as a personal financial advisor, which make them extra practical. The series provides simple wealth-building advice, and includes a values-based approach to personal finance.
By starting with the things we value most, David’s books make it easier to spend in alignment with your goals, as opposed to creating an abstract budget that may (or may not) support our longer-term objectives and values.
Known as The Budgetnista, Tiffany brings a straightforward step-by-step plan to help you live a richer life in under 40 days. Her philosophy of living richer is grounded in building a stronger sense of control over your money.
The Net Worth edition of the Live Richer Challenge is focused on increasing your personal balance sheet - building the amount you have saved and invested, while decreasing what you owe to others. Tiffany has also developed Credit and Savings editions, which provide more targeted guidance on those topics, and provides online resources and tools to help you make progress towards your objectives.
Did you know women that earn more than their partners (in heterosexual relationships) face higher risk of burnout, divorce, and infidelity? It’s incredibly frustrating that women who are the breadwinner in their relationship aren’t rewarded, but instead face these daunting statistics.
Personal finance guru Farnoosh Torabi tackled this topic because it was her reality — and was relevant to many of the women in her life. In When She Makes More, Farnoosh tackles how to manage (and even benefit from) this unique circumstance, not just financially but emotionally and socially. She also addresses the emotions that women can face when they out-earn partners, which can include pride, but also guilt, shame, and even fear.
Jean has written so many amazing books that it was challenging to pick just one. I’m recommending her Money 911 because of its unique format. This book was written to serve as a personal finance index, highlighting the countless money questions that Jean has received over the course of her career as a financial journalist.
Jean’s book can serve as your personal finance reference guide, so you can explore key topics that matter to you today — like student loans — or explore topics that are new to you.
While this book isn’t about personal finance specifically, it provides an astounding look into one of the greatest financial minds in business today. Alice’s book offers an unprecedented view into Warren’s early life, and how some of the basics of money and personal finance have served to make him one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet.
Reading this book will change the way you think about wealth creation. The authors studied the behaviors of millionaires, and conclude that a status lifestyle is one of the biggest hindrances to real wealth.
Thomas and William wrote this book before the advent of social media, but the principles explored may change how you respond to those that constantly post their new acquisitions online. While you may never be able to fully banish feelings of envy, understanding the data behind a millionaire mindset may help keep you focused on your financial goals.
In addition to the books outlined above, many of the authors have podcasts — Jean Chatzky’s Her Money is a favorite of mine — and strong online presences on social media. I recommend following some of these money gurus to keep a stream of financial-related perspective coming into your life.
And for those feeling overwhelmed by debt and don’t know where to begin, take a deep breath and pick up The Index Card, a personal finance book that is all about keeping it simple. Instead of explaining essential financial concepts in a complex or long-winded manner, it boils the key components down to what fits on an index card. This book makes a simple and comforting promise: Everything you need to know about managing your money can be summed up in 10 rules that fit on one four-by-six-inch index card.
Things like “Pay your credit card balance in full every month” and “Make your financial advisor commit to the fiduciary standard,” each have their own chapters.
Still want more options when you're finished reading the above?
And then here are some other honorable mentions as they're ranked as the best sellers on Amazon under the personal finance category:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Eleventh Edition)
- The Art of Mental Training — A Guide to Performance Excellence
- Principles: Life and Work
- Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
- The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
- The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
- StrengthsFinder 2.0
- Introducing Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide
- Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Introducing Body Language: A Practical Guide
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
- Outliers: The Story of Success
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Managing your finances isn’t fun unless you're someone who just so happens to love spreadsheets. But, for most of us it can be stressful, painful and even feel shameful. That said, money is a fact of life so we need to learn how to manage it and take control of our personal finances. Personal finance books can empower us to budget, save for retirement, get out of debt and tackle many other money-related decisions that we all face at one point or another — and they can be just what we need to better manage our money and personal finances. But the possibility of falling down an Amazon rabbit hole or spending all day at the bookstore debating which title to pick is enough to deter some people from giving money management a genuine shot.
Forget the books that promise to turn your into an automatic millionaire or some intelligent investor over night with a total money makeover of some kind. They won't work. But the above options are the best personal finance books for everyone — young people and older people — to reach financial freedom and financial independence with a little common sense and some expert tips. Achieve the financial life you want with the common sense investing, student loans, money makeover and credit card tips in these easy-to-read books that don't over-promise.
Do you have any other easy-to-read books on financial planning or financial freedom you'd add to this list?
The Feminist Financier is on a mission to help women build wealth and own their financial independence, by improving financial literacy and taking the mystery out of money. Ms. Financier is also a shoe addict, travel fanatic, and wine enthusiast.