We live in a day and age where we have all of the information we could ever need at our fingertips. There is a wealth of knowledge for any topic imaginable, only as far away as our local library, or Amazon download.
Honestly, there is no excuse for not being able to grow and learn. If you want to become proficient in the area of your finances, it shouldn't be too hard.
Today I decided to take a look at my list of the top 20 best personal finance books that can help you to improve your finances today. Every one of these books will leave you smarter, and may help you to open your eyes to a new world view when it comes to money.
So without further ado, let's dive into the list.
Top 20 Personal Finance Books To Improve Your Finances Today
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass
I've read a lot of personal finance books over the past decade that I've been blogging about money. Not all of them have been very good.
The 20 selections below are my favorites, and the ones that I believe could have an immediate impact on your life, if you take the time to read them.
Buy one today and start reading on your lunch break! There's no time like the present to start improving your finances!
1. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey has to be first on this list for me as it was one of the first personal finance books that I read, and it changed my life. It helped my wife and I to get our finances in order, get rid of debt, and inspired us to think about the future. It also inspired me to start this website where I talk about ways to improve your finances.
In the book Dave talks about his 7 Baby Steps to financial freedom that include saving an emergency fund, paying off debt, investing for the future, paying off your mortgage and saving for your kid's education. It gives a framework for thinking differently about money, and is the ideal read for someone trying to get out of debt and change their behavior and money mindset.
The end goal of the book is to help people find “financial peace” and this book was life changing for our family. Definitely a must read, especially if you're just starting out.
2. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle is another classic. This book argues that investing is all about common sense, and far too often those who want to invest our hard earned money are hoping we don't have it.
Bogle, who is the founder of Vanguard Group and creator of the world's first index mutual fund, lays out why most people should be investing their money in low cost index funds, and examines why actively managed investments hardly ever do better, and never really do over the long term.
A great look into why most people should be relying on a long term buy and hold strategy with their investments. As a lover of all things Vanguard group, my favorite company to invest with, this book is recommended.
3.The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley is another book that had some very eye opening revelations for me. In his studies of millionaires Thomas J. Stanley examined what those who are truly wealthy actually behave like, what behaviors they engage in that helped them to grow their wealth, and more importantly – it busts a lot of myths about what the wealthy actually look like.
For example, it looks at how many people assume that the wealthy drive luxury cars and live in expensive homes. Stanley found that actually millionaires in his studies were actually buying makes that are known for their quality like Toyota, and living in modest mid-range homes. They were better than the average person at engaging in behaviors that allowed them to accumulate wealth. They were good at living a lifestyle below their means, and finding ways to create wealth.
4.The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason is a classic book first published in 1926. The book is full of wisdom on personal finances and financial planning, and the book imparts it's wisdom in the form of a series of “Babylonian parables”.
The parables lay out the “Seven Cures For A Lean Purse”, and drive home the point that in order to succeed you need to control your spending, take advantage of compound interest, increase your ability to earn and more.
While the language in the book can feel a bit dated, the principles it lays out are still very important.
5. Stop Acting Rich: …And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire by Thomas J. Stanley
Stop Acting Rich: …And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire by Thomas J. Stanley is another great book from one of my favorite financial authors, this one details how the less affluent have fallen into a trap of striving for a mirage of elite luxury brands and lavish spending, when in reality those are often the things that are keeping them from acquiring life changing wealth.
He looks in depth at how millionaires often live rich, without spending a lot of money, how being rich means much more than just big houses and luxury cars, and details why we spend lavishly – and how we can stop the destructive cycle.
6. Dollars and Doctrine by Rob Kuban
Dollars and Doctrine by Rob Kuban is a book focusing on how the Christian faith affects our financial lives. Since this site has a Christian focus it is right up my alley.
I was introduced to by the author a few years ago when he offered to guest post for my site. He wrote several posts for my site, and I quickly realized just how insightful he was.
After devouring his book I have been recommending it to others. The book looks at the topics of giving, saving, debt, investing, poverty, prosperity, work, motivation, retirement, and much more from a Christian perspective. As it says on one review, this book is “one stop shopping for a Biblical approach to personal finance.
Investing Made Simple: Index Fund Investing and ETF Investing Explained is a book written by fellow blogger and author Mike Piper. Mike is one of the smartest people I've met, and his writing is very good at taking a complex topic and making it seem very simple. He has a whole series of self published books on financial topics, this being one of them.
Investing Made Simple is all about demystifying a lot of investing topics, making them understandable even for beginners. A great introduction to investing book.
8. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco is a bit different than some of the books on this list as it focuses on a different path to growing wealth – having an entrepreneurial mindset and growing multiple sources of revenue.
He talks about how he grew his successful businesses, finding ways to add value, and how the acquisition and application of marketable knowledge will make you rich. Definitely a worthwhile read.
9. Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was published in 1937, but the principles it teaches are golden even today.
Napoleon Hill researched more than forty millionaires to find out what made them the men that they were. He took what he learned over 25 years of research and came up with 13 steps towards riches.
The book is written in 15 chapters, and each chapter has its story of an experience Hill had while researching one of the many successful people.
10. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach was first published in 2004 and I was introduced to it after a publisher reached out for me to do a review of one of Bach's other books, Debt Free For Life.
The book looks at the story of an average couple who never exceeds $55,000 a year in income, yet somehow manage to own two homes debt free, puts two kids through college and retire at 55 with more than $1 million in savings. How? By having a plan to pay themselves first and making it totally automatic.
Bach takes a look at how you can make your saving automatic, and how it can lead to a comfortable retirement. As a big fan of automating things when you can, I loved the book.
11. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker takes us through the mind of a millionaire in two parts. In the first part of the book he talks about how we all have a “money blueprint”, a way of looking at the world and money that is influenced by how we were raised, among other things. Eker helps you to identify your own money blueprint, and talks about how to “revise it to help create success in your life.
In the second part of the book he looks at how rich people think, and how it's different from those who are poor and middle class. He gives actionable steps on how to practice thinking and engaging in behavior that produces wealth.
12. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham was first published in 1949, and has been called “the best book on investing ever written” by Warren Buffet. Buffet was so profoundly influenced by Graham that he named one of his sons after him.
The book is all about value investing, and investing for the long term. He coaches people to develop a rational plan for buying stocks and bonds, and to avoid emotional investing that we can all be tempted to engage in. A book recommended by many of the most successful investors.
13. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez shows readers how to gain control of their money, get out of debt, save money through mindfulness and good habits and then invest their savings to begin creating wealth.
It also looks at how things can clutter up our life, causing us more problems than they're worth. They look at how people exchange time for money, and they look at how much things cost in terms of hours worked. If you thought of it that way, would you really buy that new car if you knew it would cost you X hours of your life in order to be able to afford it?
14. The Simple Path to Wealth – JL Collins
The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins sprung out of a series of letters he wrote to his daughter concerning various things, but mostly about money and investing.
The book brings to light a lot of important ideas around investing and talks about what the stock market really is, why the stock market always goes up and why most people still lose money investing in it. It talks about specific investment strategies and how to implement them. In the end it gives a case study of how his plans can be implemented in real life.
JL Collins makes some dry topics engaging and at times funny. Definitely not your run of the mill financial book.
15. Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam
Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam looks at how to achieve financial independence through smart investing – and without having to be a financial guru.
Hallam was a high school English teacher and became a debt free millionaire by following a few simple rules, which he imparts in his book. It's not about getting rich quick, but about passive investing, avoiding scams and trends, and sticking to tried and true financial fundamentals.
When I was part of the Money Mastermind Show podcast, we talked to Andrew about living life as an expat, living overseas. It was a fascinating interview, which you can find here.
16. The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
The Wealthy Barber: Everyone's Commonsense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent by David Chilton is a book all about getting your financial life in order, told from the perspective of a dialogue with Wealth Barber and several friends at a barber shop. The friends in the book all come from different walks of life – a new father, a business owner and a single guy, and their different lifestyles inform the decisions they make. The book puts forward the idea that there are often no absolutes when it comes to finances, and planning is personal.
Some of the ideas put forward in the book include saving 10% early to take advantage of compound interest, making sure wills are in place, life and disability insurance, saving for retirement in whatever tax advantaged vehicles you can, and much more. It's all about making a solid financial plan for you and your family.
17. How Much Money Do I Need To Retire? by Todd Tresidder
How Much Money Do I Need To Retire? is a book by fellow blogger and ultra-smart money guy Todd Tresidder. Todd is a former hedge fund manager who “retired” at age 35 to become a financial consumer advocate and author.
His book goes in depth on the question of just how much money do you need to retire? He talks about the flaws in many traditional calculators, and why they may leave you with not enough money, or how they may leave you not spending enough to enjoy your life. Todd puts forth his ultimate retirement calculator -which takes into many variables you may not have thought of. A good read if you're looking to plan for retirement.
18. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel
A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton G. Malkiel gives an in depth look at the history of the financial markets here in the U.S., a look at different market theories and provides his defense of Efficient Market Hypotheses (EMH).
In the last part of the book Malkiel talks about how you can make EMH work for you. He goes to great lengths to prove how indexing is the best strategy for investing for most folks. If you're interested in the financial details and want to know all of the details behind why and how the markets work, this is a worthwhile read.
19. The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini
The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini looks at how most of us work for 8 hours a day, sleep for 8 hours – so what are you doing in your other 8 hours?
Pagliarini provides a blueprint in his book that will help you to carve out more time in your day and find productive ways to use that time. Not only that by being more productive you can make more money and make a new life for yourself. Build a new business on the side in your other 8 hours! Inspirational book when thinking about making money on the side!
20. Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker
Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker is one of a growing number of people interested in FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early. His book takes a look at just how he was able to retire early at 30 years old, based on a combination of smart financial choices, simple living and increased self reliance.
The book focuses on switching focus from being a consumer, to being a producer. It's more of a philosophical text and helps to make a mind shift, and much of the detail work is left to you. A good read.
Have your own top personal finance books to improve your finances today? Tell us what they are in the comments!