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Essential Personal Finance Books

I’ll be the first to admit that browsing the personal finance section at your local Barnes & Noble can be intimidating. There are hundreds of personal finance titles to choose from; it’s possible to spend a small fortune trying to learn how to make a small fortune. But you don’t need to.

In my opinion, a few personal finance books stand out from the rest. Whether you need some broad financial motivation or a specific action plan on how to get out of debt, automate your finances, or start ingesting, there’s a book here for you. And, by the way, these books also make great gifts!

Your Money or Your Life

Among my personal favorites, this book truly puts money into perspective. Other books show you how to manage your money, this book gives you compelling reasons why to be smart with money (and the reasons are more than just amassing a life savings for your heirs).

Learn more at Amazon.com

Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey is the king of anti-debt, tough love financial advice, and his bestselling book offers a detailed road-map to escape financial dire straights, make a plan, and learn new money habits.

Learn more at Amazon.com

Stop Acting Rich…and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire

I have mixed feelings about this book’s message; I push back on those that live so frugally they forget that sometimes it is okay to spend money on yourself. I do, however, think that Dr. Stanley’s books provide a powerful wake-up call to anybody who needs to master living below your means.

Learn More at Amazon.com

The Richest Man in Babylon

This thin stocking-stuffer is a classic parable of how to build wealth slowly; it proves that the fundamentals of personal finance haven’t changed since biblical times.

Learn More at Amazon.com

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Perhaps the only investing book you’ll ever need, and certainly the first one you should read. This is the “best-selling, authoritative, and gimmick-free guide to investing”.

Learn More at Amazon.com

Think and Grow Rich

Another classic, this book makes the compelling case for how positive thinking can lead to success and wealth. Save yourself time and money and skip all the fluffy “law of attraction” and positive thinking spin-off products and just read this book instead.

Learn More at Amazon.com

Smart Couples Finish Rich

Serious couples need to take co-mingling funds seriously, and Bach’s primer on smart money management for couples can help. I’m a big fan of Bach’s “set it and forget it” strategies.

Learn More at Amazon.com

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

A list of money books for twenty-somethings would be incomplete without fellow blogger Ramit’s recent publication full of tried and true tricks to help you get richer in just weeks.

Learn More at Amazon.com

What Are Your Favorites? I could go on and on listing more great personal finance, business, career, and organization books, but I’ll stop with these essentials. What are your favorite personal finance books, or books on other subjects that have helped you manage your money better? Please let us know in a comment!

Published or updated on November 30, 2009

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. I loved the Millionaire Next Door. It totally changed my way of thinking about people who had money.

  2. Bonnidette says:

    Think and Grow Rich changed my way of thinking and my way of life. If anyone reading this has not read this classic book on what it takes to be successful in life, I highly recommend it.

  3. They said that brilliant minds think a likes. These books are the same I will recommend at any given times.

  4. For any early 20-somethings that feel like they could use a step-by-step guide (literally, like a check list), I’d highly recommend Suze Orman’s “Young, Fabulous & Broke”. For me, this book spelled out all the questions I was unsure to ask, and helped me put together a solid game plan for my individual goals. It also comes with a code that you use on her website to get the most up-to-date information that didn’t make it into the printed edition.

  5. Speak Your Mind