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7 of the best personal finance books to add to your reading list

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7 mins
“If you want to be healthy, study health. If you want to be happy, study happiness. If you want to be wealthy, study wealth.” — Jim Rohn

It’s unfortunate, but very few schools offer courses on personal finance. Learning about managing your money and building wealth is more often “caught than taught.”

Hopefully, you’ve been lucky enough to have a role model or financial advisor in your life who has taught you some of the fundamentals of personal finance and helped you get started down the path towards financial independence.

But if you’re like most people, you're learning as you go when it comes to managing your finances. Maybe you've watched some helpful YouTube videos when you’ve had some free time, attended a seminar or two hosted by an investment firm or financial planner, or even taken a course at your local community college (if they offered one).

Better yet, your local library or bookstore probably has a book(s) that can change your financial future just waiting for you. And, of course, just about every book ever printed on personal finance is available digitally for you to read on your favorite device with just a click.

So, where to start? Every author says they have the “silver bullet” that will teach you everything you need to know about personal finance. But, the answers you’re searching for are probably going to be found in more than one book since no single individual possesses all of the wisdom there is concerning money management.

To save you some valuable time and help you discover some of the best personal finance books ever written, here’s a shortlist of some of the best reading material on money management you can find (in no particular order).

1. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

A true personal finance classic first published in 1926, this little book provides an abundance of financial wisdom in the form of a series of parables set in ancient Babylon. It can be read in one or two sittings, and even though it was published nearly a century ago, its advice is timeless, and it remains among the most influential personal finance books ever written.

2. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

Spoiler alert: most millionaires aren’t at the country club — they’re at home in a middle-class neighborhood driving an older model car. This book will show you how high-income, white-collar professionals are more likely to spend their money on status items or luxury goods while neglecting other savings and investments that will secure their financial future. The stories are captivating and will help you develop a long-term perspective on building wealth.

[ Related: How to live within your means ]

3. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

When it comes to teaching the fundamentals of personal finance and making them look doable, Dave Ramsey is about as good as they come. This bestseller gives you a simple, straightforward game plan to pay off all of your debt, build up an emergency fund so you won’t need credit cards when unexpected financial predicaments pop up, save for a comfortable retirement, and much more. The book includes many helpful forms you can use, and it’s a resource you can keep on your bookshelf to refer to time and time again.

4. Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

You’ll find this volume very helpful if you’re one of the 80% of Americans dealing with some form of debt. The author shares her story and strategies of how she wiped out $100,000 of credit card debt in only three years. She provides you with a 30-day, step-by-step action plan to jumpstart your finances – regardless of how hopeless your situation may seem.

5. Women with Money: The Judgement-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, Yes, Rich) Life You Deserve by Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky believes that women face unique financial challenges, and they need advice geared specifically towards them, whether they’re a “caretaker, breadwinner, or both.”

Her book offers women a three-part plan that helps them explore their relationship with money, take control of their finances, and use their financial resources to create the life they want. Her goal in writing this book is to help women be joyful while leaving a legacy. Judging by its popularity, she’s succeeded nicely.

[ Related: How to navigate the she-cession ]

6. The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach

One of the most popular financial books of our time, this book starts with the powerful story of an average, middle-class couple whose joint income never exceeds $55,000 a year; yet they manage to own two homes (debt-free), put their two children through college (without loans), and retire at 55 with over $1 million in savings.

Bach’s approach is contrary to that of many traditional personal finance writers. He doesn’t believe that having a monthly budget, being interested in money, or even having the willpower to be wealthy are needed to be rich. Instead, he believes in a simple plan, one that can be set up in an hour and then runs on autopilot.

Over 1.5 million copies of The Automatic Millionaire have been sold. If you’re looking for a “simple, but not easy” approach to managing your money and building wealth, this is a good one.

7. Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry

Millions of millennials struggle with living paycheck-to-paycheck, paying off exorbitant student loans, and now — maintaining their standard of living as inflation pushes in against them.

Broke Millennial provides a step-by-step guide for moving from being flat broke to a financial rock star. Lowry teaches her readers how to manage student loans without panicking, develop a healthy relationship with money, and “get real” financially with their partners.

This is not “your parent’s personal finance book.” It’s chockfull of simple advice and stories that will have you laughing out loud. All age groups could find this one helpful.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve seen a title or two that have caught your eye, and you’re ready to get moving and get your personal finances in the best shape they’ve ever been in. Millions of people have changed their financial lives for the better through these books — why not give it a try?

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

— Published April 22, 2022
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