personal finance books

8 Outstanding Personal Finance Books Everyone Should Read

49% of Americans have concerns about their financial health.

Are you one of them?

Financial education isn’t something that’s only for the rich.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. If you’re knowledgeable about finance, you can make the right decisions to grow your wealth and save for your future.

But do you know where to start?

Start by learning from the experts. Personal finance books offer a rich selection of knowledge, personal anecdotes and stories to help you get started.

We’ll take you through a list of eight personal finance books that everyone should read, from novices to experts alike.

The Total Money Maker by Dave Ramsey

It’s important to understand how you treat money. If you understand your behavior, you stand a better chance of making changes to improve your financial health.

The Total Money Maker, by Dave Ramsey, is a confidently written guide to help readers understand their approach to money and take back control.

His belief is that 80% of personal finance is your individual behavior towards money. With both success and failure stories to refer back to, the book can help turn you into a confident financial mastermind, even if you’re used to struggling.

It’s perfect for financial newbies, with advice to take readers out of debt and to build the right behaviors for the future. It’s also easy to read, so no complex technical jargon to get confused by.

If you’re looking at which personal finance books you should read first, Ramsey’s book is a great place to start.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi is another proponent of the belief that money and finance are largely led by human behavior.

He doesn’t hold back, either.

Sethi’s book focuses on how your financial problems come from one root cause, and that’s you. His suggestion is to develop a budget that focuses on essential costs, investments for the future, as well as money for spending without guilt.

By allowing yourself budgeted money to spend and enjoy without any concerns, you’re altering your behavior to reign in uncontrolled spending. Sethi’s no-nonsense tone is forceful in challenging this behavior.

Sethi’s book lays out a six-week approach to quickly make changes to your financial spending and set up a workable budget, as well as thinking long-term with investments and a 401(k).

Most personal finance books are written to make you more financially responsible, and this book certainly aims to do that.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad is arguably one of the most popular and successful personal finance books of all time. It’s sold 32 million copies since it was first launched in 1997, and it’s a favorite among celebrities.

It’s heavy on personal anecdotes, but that doesn’t take away from its usefulness. Kiyosaki writes to generate inspiration, as well as provide practical steps to take for your own financial future.

Like Sethi and Ramsey, Kiyosaki tries to tackle the behavior around money. He wants readers to think long-term about their future. That means cutting back on short-term spending and focusing on generating money over the longer term through their investments.

Simply put: the rich don’t need to work for their money, but the poor do. It’s a book that has its critics, but if you’re looking for inspiration, read Rich Dad Poor Dad before anything else.

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? That’s the message from David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire.

Bach’s idea is pretty simple. Using patience, regular investment and a clear and automated approach to your spending, you can become a millionaire over your lifetime.

Personal anecdotes help sell the idea. Some people find it hard to visualize the process, so hearing about the hairdressers with $2 million saved helps to sell the narrative.

Bach is selling the power of compound interest. By making regular, automated investments to your long-term savings every week or month, your savings keep growing. As the savings grow, so do the interest on those savings, so that you start to gain interest on your interest.

Sounds confusing? It’s explained in more detail here. The point is, as Bach explains, by paying yourself first, even if the amounts are pretty small, you’re building up a lump sum for the future.

And if you want to learn more about investment? Take a look at our how to start investing guide to help you get started.

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie Zelinski

For a lot of people, retirement seems a lifetime away. By that point, you’ll be so worn out you won’t be able to work anymore.

But what if you could retire well before your hair turns grey or your best days have passed? What if you could retire in your thirties or forties?

Zelinski’s book is aimed squarely at the growing number of people who are aspiring towards Finance Independence with the aim to Retire Early, or FIRE. Unlike Bach, Zelinski isn’t suggesting you need a million dollars to live comfortably.

After all, you might not have a million dollars now. So why would you need it when you retire? And why wait 30 or 40 years to enjoy what you have saved?

The suggestion Zelinksi has is not to work forever, but to work towards retiring as fast as possible. By saving much more of your income, reducing your outgoings, paying off debt and moving somewhere cheaper on retirement, Zelinski suggests you can retire well before retirement age and without a million dollars.

It’s as philosophical as it is practical, by encouraging you to think about how to live your life without the struggle of work by replacing it with fun and meaningful pursuits.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez

First published in 1992, Robin and Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life isn’t like some of the other personal finance books listed here. It isn’t filled with concrete steps to take to get from A (poor) to B (rich).

Instead, it focuses on your lifestyle and how money can impact on that.

There are no get rich schemes being presented here, and it isn’t talking about becoming a millionaire. Instead, Robin and Dominguez suggest that you should focus on maximizing your time for your benefit and if you need to quit your job to do that, so be it.

No 40+ hours of work a week, slaving away to make yourself rich. Robin and Dominguez suggest cutting your expenses, do away with materialism and like Zelinski, retiring early to enjoy life.

Rather than living for a career, these two authors suggest you work to get to a specific endpoint which gives you enjoy to live happily.

If you like the idea of FIRE, this book will be right up your street.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley & William Danko

Most people think that to be a millionaire, you have to live like a king.

That means big houses, expensive cars, jet-setting holidays and a constant pursuit of more and more things to own.

Stanley and Danko shatter this illusion. They provide rules for true millionaires, ranging from living a lifestyle that is well below the means that their wealth can provide, to being efficient with money and putting financial independence at the top of their priorities list.

If you’re able to live below your means and work a career that can generate a lot of money, you can build wealth that gives you control of your future.

For those who like personal finance books that are aimed towards wealth acquisition, this is an interesting insight into how to get into the mindset of truly wealthy people.

Generation Debt: Take Control of Your Money by Carmen Wong Ulrich

You could argue that Stanley and Danko’s book is aimed at an older audience. By contrast, Carmen Wong Ulrich’s Generation Debt is aimed at a younger generation who struggle with debt and expenses that they can’t afford.

Ulrich offers a thorough approach to get out of this cycle, through budgeting and careful financial decisions aimed to reduce a reliance on debt that can become overwhelming.

For younger readers, it’s a great starter that focuses on both short and long-term financial aims. While it starts with talking about clearing debt and reducing costs, later chapters focus on longer-term spending priorities, like housing and retirement.

Unlike some of the philosophical personal finance books listed here, Ulrich aims for practical from the start, so if you’re young and looking to make decisions right away, you should read this book.

If you do have a lot of debt to clear, consider our 10 important strategies to help pay it all off as quickly as possible.

Personal Finance Books to Help Build Your Financial Future

Personal finance doesn’t have to be hard, boring or tough to deal with.

By making the effort to learn more about personal finance, you can develop the right strategy and budget for your own wealth.

It doesn’t matter at what stage you’re at. These personal finance books offer solutions to beat debt, grow your income and build your wealth, so they’re perfect for you whatever your position is.

They also help you set attainable life goals and rethink your relationship with money.

Remember, a strong budget is a good foundation for any wealth. If you’re looking for help, take a look at our guide on how to prepare a budget that works for any lifestyle.