1) How To Win Friends and Influence People
The book was first published during the World War 2 era, but even today, it is still a dominant bestselling classic. Some things in life, particularly those that involve the interplay of human emotions and social interaction, remain timeless and forever relevant. Same species, different decade – know what I mean?
So why is this title included on a list of the best personal finance books you might ask? After all, this particular title is not directly related to the issue of money, fiscal responsibility, or investing. Well, I believe personal finance and the pursuit of financial freedom goes far behind just dollar signs and percentages. It also encompasses issues of psychology, life’s motivation, and emotional drive towards the pursuit of this ever elusive happiness. To acquire this happiness, the human and relationship elements are ever present. After all, financial success, as the author notes quite astutely, is mostly due to the “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.”
The book is filled with incredibly practical anecdotes that illustrate the best way to respond and maximize the relationship building opportunity in almost every situation. It doesn’t matter if you are a corporate tycoon, a church leader, or a college student on the rise, this book will guide you in your inevitable relationships and social objectives. The book is not exactly a thrilling page turner with exciting cliff hangers at every twist, but it’s an essential read for life long success.
2) Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Historical Biographies & Memoirs)
Any biography about the richest man in history had to have at least some useful economic and investment advice, and Ron Chernow’s edition excels at it. From the Library Journal:
“Industry consolidation, enormous new wealth, journalistic muckraking, government antitrust. Sound familiar? Reviewers enthusiastically praised this monumental work about the founder of Standard Oil, which serves as a useful reminder that what happens today in the business world often has strong roots in the past.”
3) Rich Dad, Poor Dad
This manual by Robert Kiyosaki pitches itself as offering financial literacy of a kind that is unavailable in schools. Advice is dispensed in an anecdotal manner in an attempt to increase public interest in finance, stressing the importance of financial independence through investing, real estate, owning businesses and the use of finance protection tactics. However, the key message of the text is own the business or means of production, rather than being an employee in it.
4) Think and Grow Rich
Having sold over 30 million copies in its 70 year life, Napoleon Hill’s motivational personal development book was inspired by a suggestion from the billionaire Andrew Carnegie – the owner of the world’s first one billion dollar company and second richest man in history.
Hill studied the characteristics of those who achieved great wealth during their lifetimes, some of whom were close personal friends, and developed 13 principles that would allow anybody to achieve success.
5) The Richest Man in Babylon
This inspirational guide by George S. Clason aims at solving personal money problems through the retelling of eleven ancient Babylonian parables. Clason explains that it was back in Babylon where the roots of our current monetary systems and beliefs were formed, and that by studying their ancient anecdotes, we, like the citizens of that great civilisation, can “appreciate the value of money… practice sound financial principals in acquiring money… keeping money and making money earn more money”.
6) The Joy of Simple Living
This book is a perfect resource for someone like my mother. As I have griped in prior blog posts, my mom is a chronic lifelong hoarder and a person who seems to find more and improved ways to make her life more complex and difficult. For someone like that in your life (maybe that person is you), this nice yellow book contains over a thousand very actionable methods, broken down into specific topics, to simplify all aspects of life and home. Rather than merely share philosophies and theories of frugality and simplicity, The Joy of Simple Living offers specific tips and techniques on how we can all eliminate clutter, streamline our work habits, save money, organize our possessions, and ease our mind to eliminate stress. It’s a handy book.
7) Buffett the Making of an American Capitalist
Roger Lowenstein gives the reader a biography of a man with a net worth of over $10 billion, exploring his journey from nothing to the world’s richest man through choosing stocks and companies for investment, and getting rich slowly. Publisher’s Weekly describe it as:
“By picking the right stocks and businesses to invest in, plainspoken Nebraskan Warren Buffett became the richest man in the U.S. In this excellent biography, Wall Street Journal reporter Lowenstein details the billionaire stock market wizard’s strategy of betting on the long-term growth of a handful of successful companies such as American Express and Berkshire Hathaway.”
8) The Intelligent Investor
Despite the wealth of books written in the sector, this one stands above all of thsem as being “by far the best book on investing ever written.” At least, that’s what Warren Buffett thinks. The world’s richest investor feels so strongly about this manual of investment that he even volunteered to write the foreword:
“To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. This book precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework. You must supply the emotional discipline.”
9) Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World
Matthew Bishop, chief business writer for the Economist, and Michael Green examine the new trend of Philanthrocapitalism – where a new generation of philanthropists use their skills with business and the corporate world to form strategies for improving the lives of others through well-run charities.
The book explores the new movement and its implications, featuring interviews with some of the most powerful people on the planet, including Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, George Soros, Angelina Jolie, and Bono, showing how a web of wealthy and motivated donors have set out to change the world.
The work combines anecdotes, expert analysis, and up-close profiles of the wealthy and powerful to see how a small group of people will change the lives of an enormous number of people.
10) The Millionaire Next Door
Dr. Stanley and Dr. Danko outline seven simple rules to follow in order to become one of America’s wealthy (defined in the text as someone with a net worth of over one million dollars). The book is a compilation of research done by the two authors in the profiles of millionaires, and four of the most important points are spend less than you earn, avoid buying status items, take financial risk if it is worth the reward and avoid “economic outpatient care”, or rather, watch out for children who require their parents’ money in order to afford the lifestyle that they expect for themselves.
11) Beating the Street
Author Peter Lynch was, before retirement, the manager of the successful Fidelity Magellan Fund, which he inherited at $20 million, which rose to $13 billion under his management. The book explains what factors he examined when choosing winning stocks (and admitting the ones that got away).
Lynch’s message is to be successful, one should favour stocks over other investments, based upon investigative research into a corporation’s prospects. For instance, before investing, credit checks and visits to the firm’s installations are essential. His core belief? “Focus on companies, not the stocks.”
12) Your Money Or Your Life
In this updated and revised version of a personal finance classic, the authors continue as champions of the simplicity movement. In Your Money Or Your Life, readers are implored to sit down and really re-evaluate the priorities in their lives, especially when it comes to their jobs and relationships. The book is a bit new age-ish but not controversial. It examines numerous financial truths about the interplay between life and money, encouraging readers to break out of the doomed cycle of forever trading time for money by pursuing passive income sources. If you are unhappy with your financial life and want to learn how you can break out of your current rut and live a more time efficient and value orientated life, this money book is a must read. It will change your perspective on money and life – and help you understand that it’s not just about working and buying more stuff (not exactly a shocker, but the authors really hammer the concept home).
13) The Total Money Makeover
This book is absolutely essential for those who want to get started on the path to financial freedom. If you are up to your neck in credit card debt and struggling with pay check to paycheck living, this easy to read book by famed radio and TV talk show host Dave Ramsey was written for you. In this book, he talks about the importance of taking baby steps through his system of working hard, paying what you owe, and staying out of debt. Ramsey is an anti-credit preacher and is constantly imploring his readers to use cash for everything (while I don’t quite agree with his sentiments about credit card usage, I can certainly appreciate it on a practical level). If you are struggling with debt, you will want to take a look at the Dave Ramsey snowball debt payoff method. The snowball debt repayment method is not the most mathematically logical way to pay off debt, but it harnesses the power of human behavior and personal motivation to accomplish its debt free ends.
The book is sprinkled with many of Dave Ramsey’s own personal and devout Christian morals and practices, but even those who are not overtly religious can still appreciate his advice and recommendations such as adopting a “gazelle intensity” behavioral system to stay ahead of the financial game. The Total Money Makeover is very inspirational and not technical – definitely an easy read.
14) The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing
The title of the book – “Bogleheads” – refers to folks who admire John Bogle, founder of the world renown Vanguard mutual fund investment company. If you want to educate yourself on the most important fundamentals of stock investing, this book will deliver that to you. While not particularly earth shattering for personal finance veterans, the book’s lessons are must reads for those new to investing and those who are currently too scared to get started. The book’s main themes focuses on the investment advice and philosophies of legendary John Bogle and addresses the long term investment benefits of diversification, asset allocation, low cost and low fees, and index funds. I know the book’s subject matter sounds rather techy and dry, but the financial advice it offers up is excellent and the writing style is remarkably entertaining and easy to read – making it one of the most definitive but yet accessible personal finance books on investing out there.
15) The Automatic Millionaire
As the title makes clear, the author is a big proponent of the need to automate one’s financial life. After reading this book, one of things I came away with is that there are really no secrets to becoming wealthy and no special get rich schemes that can get me there quicker. All that’s really required is a bit of money saving common sense, the ability to live within your means, and the understanding that you must “pay yourself first”. One of the most crucial and emphasized principles of Automatic Millionaire is the need to avoid the so-called “Latte Factor”. To have the ability to save up enough to make contributions towards a retirement plan or savings account, one must make the affirmative decision to stop racking up debt and reduce spending on day to day expenses such as on frivolous and wasteful items like coffees, lattes, and cigarettes. This book is highly recommended and a must read for those looking to start saving for the future and those interested in starting up a retirement account by opening a Roth or IRA. The advice David Bach offers is quite excellent and recommended for both beginners and seasoned personal finance readers looking for a refresher course.
16) Debt is Slavery
The message of this poignantly titled book is exceedingly clear – money is a powerful and liberating tool, but it can also shackle you and bind you into a life of miserable servitude. The philosophies that author Michael Mihalik writes in this book are succinct and direct but all are designed to force you, the reader, into a call for action to gain control of your finances and get rid of the shackles of bad debt. In fact, one of the most interesting and somewhat controversial concepts in the book is the author’s distinction between good debt (loans that will produce value – college student loans or loans to start a business) and bad debt (loans such as credit card debt accrued to fund an unsustainable and unaffordable lifestyle).
If you want a personal finance book that will help you understand and respond to the terrible problem of consumer debt, turn to this easy to read book. Perhaps the next time you pull out that trusty credit card to make a purchase, you’ll be reminded of the mantra – “debt is slavery” (* insert loud thunder crack *).
17) Debt to Wealth
Debt to Wealth, created by John Cummuta, is the best-selling personal debt elimination and wealth building program in the world today. John Cummuta developed the program from years of experience as a Financial Advisor, Business Consultant, Speaker, Entrepreneurial Advisor, and Seminar Leader. Debt to Wealth is not debt consolidation, but a well conceived debt elimination roadmap. What can you expect? You will become debt free in 5-7 years provided your debt is in the ballpark of the average American, which is 2 1/2 times their annual income (obviously longer the further in debt you are), and then create so much wealth you’re able to retire a debt-free millionaire. An Introductory Kit, the Debt to Wealth three part video course, a companion workbook, and financial audio tips from John Cummuta comprise the bulk of the program. Additional bonuses are included, such as ebooks concerning financial myths and realities, credit repair, and investment market trends. Those who have purchased this program, followed the steps, got out of debt, and built up savings, retirement, and investment portfolios they never thought possible. If you are in debt, there is no time to lose.
18) 4 Hour Workweek
Two words: Passive Income. 4 Hour Workweek teaches you to build and implement systems in your life that with very little work on your part will develop into income generating systems. I was inspired to get off my butt and figure out a few ways to bring some $ my way after reading this book.
19) Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune Reviews
Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks? Whether your rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle, frugal spending can help you free your precious dollars without drastically affecting your lifestyle. Frugillionaire identifies 500 ways to eliminate expenses and accumulate a sizable savings that can be used to pay down debt or reinforce retirement investments. Frugillionaires master the art of frugality, living richly while saving a fortune. For within this book you’ll find tips for; Dining on a dime, Saving at the supermarket, Slashing utility costs, Shrinking your bills, Creating a stylish home on a shoestring, Growing lush low cost landscapes, Dressing to the nines on next to nothing, Staying gorgeous on a budget, Enjoying arts and culture cheaply, Having a blast without breaking the bank, Saving money when your on the move, Travelling without a trust fund, Managing your money and making it grow, Raising happy kids on a pint sized income, Getting through the holidays without going into debt, and thinking like a Frugillionaire.
20) Real Money
Straight from the crazy CNBC financial guru/lunatic who got famously hammered on the air by Jon Stewart – comes Real Money, by the emotional booya man himself – Jim Cramer. I know some say that Jim Cramer has lost all credibility in the eyes of serious investors due to his propensity and history of offering dubious advice, but the fact of the matter is that while he is definitely starting to attract a growing cadre of haters, he still attracts a very loyal investor following and knows a lot about the business. Honestly, individual stock picking isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the science and psychology behind this somewhat risky business, you might as well learn it from a very entertaining author on the subject.
The reality is that there is no one out there who has a perfect stock picking record and frankly, such an activity is really an educated crap shoot. But Jim Cramer’s Real Money and his other books are still fairly decent guide books chocked full of very good investing advice – tidbits such as, you shouldn’t risk your life savings in the stock market and most definitely not in any single stock. It’s one of the few books out there where you may just wind up loving and hating it at the same time. Try it for a spin.
21) The Wealthy Barber
If you enjoyed the preceding title, The Richest Man in Babylon, then you will definitely enjoy The Wealthy Barber as well. This book is written as a novel built around a central story plot set inside of a barber shop, with personal financial self help lessons sprinkled throughout. Some of the stories have characters engaging in discussions regarding important financial concepts such as proper saving habits, investing strategy, and tips on buying a house. The book offers the usual rehashed financial advice that other books offer, but with clear practical examples and in narrative form. If you are intimidated by traditional financial books about money, then this book’s conversational story book form will definitely appeal to you. It’s a great book about money and life for beginners to the subject.
22) Who Moved My Cheese
A very motivational parable. I found Who Moved My Cheese to be an easy way to learn simple financial life lessons, a way of shaping a more fiscally responsible mindset. Because it’s very basic and easy to read, I always recommend it as a first personal finance read.
23) What Color is Your Parachute?
Year after year, the author releases a new updated revised edition of this bible of sorts for job hunters and career change seekers, one that is always chocked full of new advice and resources. The current edition was clearly written with job loss sufferers of the current economic recession in mind as it contains plenty of advice on how to cope and save money in difficult times. This book is an excellent read for anybody who is actively searching for a job or contemplating a career change. The book services as a career guidance counselor that helps you discover your true aptitude, based on your skills, talents, and interest – to help you find a profession that maximizes your potential. The author’s writing style is very thorough and complete, and some people might be slightly turned off by the way he painstakingly hand holds the reader through every explanation in great obvious detail. But regardless, the Parachute series of self help books is a great resource and offers great advice on how to approach prospective employers, tackle interviews, and discover your true calling.
24) Personal Finance Handbook
I like this book because it teaches you the basics of every aspect of money. This includes paying debt, credit cards, stock market, real estate, making large purchases, and so much more. This book will help you find your way, and from it you can choose more specialized books depending on what you want to get into. Think of it as a wikipedia page on personal finance.
25) A Random Walk Down Wall Street
Don’t be fooled. This best selling book is a must read for those who want to understand more about why it’s nearly impossible to beat the market and why following the advice of so-called stock picking gurus can be detrimental to your financial health. This book discusses the famed random walk theory and dives into the intricacies of behavioral finance, which studies the social psychology of investment decisions – with reviews and discussions of past historical stock market bubbles and investment crazes. The message of the book is clear – the market, while not perfectly efficient, is efficient enough to make it very difficult and extremely cost prohibitive to beat. At the end of the day, a savvy investor is better off holding an extremely broad basket of???? all available market index funds for the long term than trying to seek out the undervalued stocks and hidden gems. This book will make you think twice the next time you blindly adhere to the financial tips that you glean from popular financial publications and financial quacks on TV. In most cases, picking individual stocks is really just a flip of the coin and a prayer. According to the author, these sources have absolutely zero predictive value in the success of individual stocks.
The book is somewhat more technical than some people might like, but I think the average reader can handle the basic charts, graphs, and ratios introduced in the text. The book is definitely not a short or quick read, but it will definitely make you think. I definitely recommend it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this list, and please leave a comment if you have read any of the above and share your thoughts, or if you have read other books that have not been listed, but should!
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