Five Second Summaries of Five Top Personal Finance Books

Check the personal finance section of your local bookstore, and you’ll find it’s brimming with hundreds of titles guaranteeing to help you get out of debt, get rich on your current salary, or beat the stock market. Truth is, most are regurgitating the same financial principles you can find on this and other Web sites for free.

But in case you really want to know what you’re missing, here are the “Cliff notes” versions of five of the bestselling personal finance reads.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Credit cards are evil. Debt is evil. Never use a credit card again, unless it’s to buy this book.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money–That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Generate passive income by investing in rental properties. No money, no problem! Use risky mortgages to leverage yourself to the hilt. Hey, tenants will pay down the mortgages for you, what’s the problem? Can’t get a mortgage? Beg, borrow, and steal from family members.

Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman (or any other Orman title). You’re poor and I’m rich. And because you’re poor, you cannot afford $900 shoes. Or $90 shoes, for that matter. Unless you’re me. Because I’m rich.

Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World by Jim Cramer. No, you really don’t have to be a raving lunatic to do well in the stock market!!! You just need to live and breathe stocks, stocks, stocks until you die very, very rich!!! Or you just go 100% certifiably nuts!!!

A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing, Ninth Edition by Burton G. Malkiel. The market is random but will go up in the long run. Diversify, kick back, and shake a martini.

Did I leave out your favorite personal finance book? How would you humorously summarize it in 2-3 sentences?

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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.


  1. glad to see your comments working again…

    Freakonomics: Making abortion illegal will ruin the next generation. Giving your kid a weird name means you don’t want them to be successful. No Child Left Behind forced teachers to cheat. I loved this book.

  2. Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.