If you want to dig deeper into a money mindset or financial philosophy, there’s still no substitute for a good old-fashioned book. The best personal finance books include ones that are well-articulated and thought-provoking enough to change your life and outlook on money forever.
I’ve had something of an obsession with finance books for most of my adult life, and I’ve waded through my share of mediocre writing. Unfortunately, being a finance expert doesn’t make you a good writer, and being a good writer doesn’t mean you know jack about finance.
Here are some of my favorite personal finance reads.
Overview: Best finance books
- Best for beginners: Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche
- Best for paying off debt: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Best for new investors: The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
- Best for advanced investors: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle
- Best for easy money management: The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
- Best for spenders: I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- Best for early retirement: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- Best book for simple finances: The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
- Best book for 20-somethings: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William D. Danko
- Best book for motivation: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Best book for beginners: Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche
Tiffany Aliche doesn’t assume any level of financial savvy in this book. It starts at the beginning and goes from there. Get Good with Money teaches simple techniques for getting control of your finances in a way that works for you.
This book lays out the author’s 10-step guide to “financial wholeness.” She describes financial wholeness as all aspects of your life working together for the greatest good.
Best for paying off debt: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey has been a personal finance legend for decades, starting with the 1997 publication of his book, “Financial Peace.”
If becoming debt-free is your number one goal, then The Total Money Makeover is where you should start. It gives solid step-by-step directions to pay off your debt. Dave Ramsey coined the term “debt snowball” and this method is widely regarded as the most effective way to pay debt off.
Best book for new investors: The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
“The Simple Path to Wealth” is a book about the incredible power of index funds. That sounds about as boring a topic as you could imagine, but it’s surprisingly easy to read.
JL Collins explains how index funds work and why they are a great place to get started when investing in the stock market.
If you are nervous about investing in the stock market this book will soothe your fears. You’ll walk away from this quick and easy read with a solid understanding of how index funds work.
Best book for advanced investors: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle
Author John Bogle is the founder of The Vanguard Group, an investment firm famous for its index funds.
He believed that index funds, which track a specific index like the S&P 500, provide a better return than individual stocks.
This book will give you an in-depth education on stock investing, but be warned that it is not an easy read. However, it’s pretty much required reading for anyone who is serious about investing.
Plus, who better to learn from than the founder of one of the largest investment firms in the world?
Grab The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
Best book for easy money management: The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
This book takes the adage “pay yourself first” to a whole new level. David encourages you to put your money on autopilot so you can be sure you are saving what you need to save without having to rely on willpower or complicated budgeting systems.
If you are looking for a plan to manage your money with as little effort as possible, while still meeting your goals, this is worth the read.
Best book for spenders: I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Along the same lines as David Bach, Ramit is a proponent of setting up automatic systems for your money so you don’t get caught up in the small details.
He also encourages the idea of earning more money rather than paring down spending as a way to build wealth. He despises extreme frugalism and instead encourages you to spend lavishly on the things in life that are important to you while cutting back ruthlessly on the things that are not.
Best book for early retirement: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
Your Money or Your Life is a rallying point for the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community.
This book will challenge your relationship with money and encourage you to look again at your current lifestyle.
Some critics disagree with the investment advice in the book, so read this book if you are looking to change your relationship with money and consumer culture — and consider getting your investment advice from another book on this list.
Best book for simple finances: The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
Famous for his financial doodles in The New York Times, columnist and financial planner Carl Richards demystifies the financial planning process in his second book.
He says that a great financial plan has nothing to do with what the markets are doing and everything to do with what is most important to you. Pick up this book if you are looking to create a simple, values-based financial plan.
Best book for 20-somethings: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William D. Danko
Stanley and Danko analyzed the behavior and habits of millionaires to show how they save, spend, and invest money.
The findings were surprising.
It turns out that people with a net worth of $1 million or more tend to live in middle-class neighborhoods, not in gated communities. It’s a fascinating look at how real people create and keep wealth.
Best book for motivation: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
One of the original personal finance books, Think and Grow Rich was published in 1937, in the aftermath of the Great Depression. The book’s lessons are distilled from interviews with the most successful people of the day, including Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Charles M. Schwab.
Hill takes their lessons and reworks them into bite-size formulas that the everyday layperson can follow. It’s not necessarily solely geared toward making someone financially successful, but successful in all aspects of life. He wants you to chase after your wildest dreams, no matter how crazy they might sound.
Nothing beats an old-fashioned book when it comes to learning about a specific topic, and these 10 books can help you get started on your journey into personal finance.