12 Best Personal Finance Books for Every Stage of Your Journey

With thousands of personal finance books on the shelf, how do you decide which ones are worth reading?

Do you need a book on investing, money mindset, or financial goals? Or should you skip the basics and follow in the footsteps of millionaires, reading what they read?

Our roundup of the best personal finance books will help you decide. 

The 12 Best Personal Finance Books

Everyone is at a different stage of their journey, so there is no single perfect personal finance book for everyone. 

Here’s what you should be reading based on your unique needs. 

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Best All-Around Personal Finance Books

It’s hard to pick just one book and say it’s the absolute must-read personal finance book, primarily as many are geared toward specific niche subjects. 

However, if you want one all-inclusive book to help you get your finances on track, check out these two options. 

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin

There’s a reason Your Money or Your Life is so widely discussed in personal finance and financial independence circles—it’s a bestseller! 

Vicki Robin succinctly lays out the basic premise of financial independence and puts into words what we’ve all felt but might not have expressed so well.

You are trading your time for money. Robin breaks down how with easy to understand examples. Let’s say you make ten dollars an hour and want to buy a new pair of shoes that cost one hundred dollars. You are trading ten hours of your life for that pair of shoes. That’s a full day of work plus two more hours! 

Do those shoes still seem worth it?

Robin does a wonderful job showing the changes we can make that will allow us to live our lives to the fullest instead of making tons of money to buy useless stuff

If you only read one personal finance book, it should be this timeless classic.

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Hill created a timeless work on personal finance. 

Originally published during the Great Depression, Think and Grow Rich doesn’t dive into the specifics of his day (though it does have some remarkable stories about Hill working with some of the wealthiest and most influential people of the era). 

The book focuses on your money mindset and growth mentality. Hill spent a considerable portion of his time studying the habits of the influential people he networked with and narrowed the path to creating wealth into 13 steps. 

The premise is similar to Back to the Future’s “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” but the book lays out exactly how to do it to build wealth. 

The Best Books for Building Wealth

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just buy a book, and Bam! Become a millionaire? 

I would get the magical book in a heartbeat! But alas, life doesn’t work that way. No book will magically make you rich. 

However, some books will help put you on the right track.

I Will Teach You to Be Rich – Rami Sethi

The name is right there in the title, isn’t it? Sethi offers personal finance advice for this new era. He discusses things like credit card hacking, separating your money, and some of the other tried-and-true wisdom of personal finance (401K matches, investing, etc.).

But Rami really shines in how he redefines the word “rich.” One of the main focuses of I Will Teach You to Be Rich is having a rich life. 

Rami doesn’t just mean monetarily. He’s one of the few personal finance gurus who will tell you to have that latte, take that trip, and spend money on things you enjoy. 

That’s a perspective I can get behind!

Financial Freedom – Grant Sabatier

Financial Freedom offers a different method of getting rich – hard work and intelligent investing. 

Sabatier went from two bucks to over a million in five years, which we’d all be interested in accomplishing, right?

Sabatier doesn’t sugarcoat what it took to get there. He worked a full-time job and is a master of side hustling. 

However, he acknowledges that growing your money through smart investments was also a huge help, and he shares the investment strategy he used to get where he is today.

Best Financial Books for Beginners

If you’re new to personal finance, you should start with the basics. These books will give you the knowledge base to begin your journey. 

Personal Finance for Dummies – Eric Tyson

You don’t typically see a “For Dummies” book on the list of must-read personal finance books, but it was the first personal finance book I ever read, and it helped put me on the path I’m on now.  

When I picked this book up, I knew nothing about finance. All I knew was that I was living paycheck to paycheck and needed help.

I went on Amazon and got Personal Finance for Dummies. This book contains so much valuable information and is geared specifically towards those with no experience.

It starts with the basics of financial literacy and covers budgeting, investing, dealing with debt, and insurance. It’s an excellent resource for someone just starting their journey to financial security. 

Get Good With Money – Ten Steps To Becoming Financially Whole – Tiffany Aliche

Aliche, AKA The Budgetnista, is the millennial generation’s financial guru.  Her experience as a preschool teacher helped her break down complex financial topics, making them easy for anyone to understand.

The New York Times bestseller Get Good With Money covers all aspects of personal finance, allowing people to see how their relationship with money affects every aspect of their lives and giving them the tools they need to make better financial decisions. 

Aliche is passionate about financial literacy and education. She helped draft a law making financial education mandatory in New Jersey schools and created a platform to educate people about money management. 

The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley

I love The Millionaire Next Door because it discusses one of the main problems people have with personal finance—keeping up with the Joneses. It highlights that anyone with a decent income can become a millionaire through smart investing and frugal living. 

Throughout the book, Stanley stresses that there are tons of millionaires everywhere in the US, living their everyday middle-class lives with little fanfare. These people might even be your neighbors! They shop at thrift stores, clip coupons, and work their regular jobs like everyone else. It’s refreshing to see the idea that if you just keep your head down and keep on trucking, you can likely achieve your financial goals.

However, the book has one glaring problem. Stanley’s points were highly valid in the 90s when it was first published, but life is different now. The cost of living has risen exponentially while real wages remain stagnant. Modern readers may scoff at some of Stanley’s assertions. 

Despite the dated material, the book still holds immeasurable value and is worth reading. If you work, invest, and live frugally, you may not become a millionaire, but you’ll likely achieve financial security

Personal Finance Books That Don’t Feel Like Personal Finance Books

Personal finance books can be a bit dry and dull. If you can’t get through another lesson about EFTS, 401ks, Reits, and other weird acronyms, consider these books that package the essential financial lessons with real-life stories and examples, making them interesting reads. 

Broke Millennial – Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life in Together – Erin Lowry

Lowry perfectly captures millennials’ money problems. Her honest, refreshing take on student loans and money’s impact on relationships gives us a financial resource we can relate to. 

Broke Millennial is packed with crucial financial advice and simple finance tips but also offers stories from Lowry’s life, showcasing how money affects everything and helping people navigate complex money situations. 

Any young adult struggling financially would benefit from reading this funny yet relatable resource. 

Own It! – Iona Bain

Bain’s Own It! feels more like a social issues book than a personal finance book. It covers real barriers young people face to financial wellness, like wage stagnation, unaffordable housing, and even the impacts of COVID-19. 

However, it offers expert advice on navigating these difficulties with modern solutions. Bain helps young people understand investment and risk, providing insight into dangerous apps and robo-investors while assisting people to maximize their money. 

As a voice for millennials, Bain also covers sustainable investing, helping people understand how to invest in the planet’s future while investing in their own futures. 

The Best Books on Escaping the Rat Race

If you’re done working for the man and want to spend more time doing what you want, you should explore these personal finance books on escaping work culture. 

The Four-Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferris

The Four-Hour Work Week is also a little dated – it was published in 2007 at the peak of the market! Then, a recession came, and people may think the information presented in the book is no longer valid.

However, I love The Four-Hour Work Week because it’s the first book I read that made me think about financial independence. True, it’s not exactly about that, but it does lay out the idea that trudging through a job you hate for forty hours a week just to “someday” be able to live your life is a miserable way to do things and gives options for a different path. 

Ferris’ way is the four-hour work week. In it, he describes how he found ways to stop doing the things that don’t matter at work and focus on the few things that make him money.

I’ve read this book a few times because I love the premise, and I think that even if you can’t achieve what he’s laying out in this day and age, the message is still essential. 

Maybe we can’t achieve working four hours a week in the way that he did, but his premise that working until traditional retirement sucks and there’s a better way is spot on.

Work Optional – Tanja Hester

In Work Optional, Hester takes a practical approach to financial freedom. She recognizes that work isn’t exactly the problem. It’s our society’s relationship with work that causes so much frustration. Hester offers solutions on how to build and live your dream life, whether that includes working or not.

The cool thing about Hester is that she lived what she wrote. She’s not a financial professional trying to sell you something. She actually achieved this work-optional lifestyle, and her book guides you on how to get there, too. 

The Best Books on Investing

Investing is one of the best ways to build wealth. Financial advice that tells you how to save, budget, or live a frugal life is great, but the nuts and bolts of building wealth definitely come down to investing. 

Since I’m a huge fan of index fund investing, my top picks are related to that. 

A Random Walk Down Wall Street – Burton Malkiel 

Have you ever wondered what made exchange-traded funds (ETFs) so popular? I can’t say for sure that it was a Random Walk Down Wall Street, but considering it was initially published in 1974 and has sold over a million copies, it probably played a role. 

This book popularized the Random-Walk hypothesis, stating that stock prices vary randomly. In layman’s terms, it means that ordinary people can’t possibly choose stocks well enough to outperform the market average, making index funds that track the market more appealing than actively managed mutual funds. 

The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing –  Taylor Larimore,  Mel Lindauer, and  Michael LeBoeuf

The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing helps novices learn to invest in easy-to-understand products like index funds. Bogleheads are a group of people who fully endorse Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard, and his method of investing. 

Bogle spearheaded the move towards these low-cost investment options, and his almost cult-like following is a testament to how much the finance world needed this type of product. 

The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing discusses investment basics, from knowing what you are buying to the tax implications of your gains. It’s straightforward and uses simple language to guide even the most inexperienced investor toward financial literacy. It’s an excellent resource for any beginner.  

Personal Finance Books for Children

As a bonus, instead of discussing personal finance books for adults, I thought I’d throw in a great resource to help you teach your kids about personal finance.

Raeshal Solomon writes children’s books specifically designed to help kids understand money. I thought that was such a cool concept, so I bought Shop Shop Shop for my nine-year-old niece for her birthday. She loved it! 

I will add a “My Little Banker” series book to all my gift orders from my niece and nephew. The books are age-appropriate ways to help children learn about money management, and I’m completely in love with the concept.

What Books do Millionaires Read?

Many people want to understand the millionaire mind—what are they reading that helped them achieve success? 

One of the world’s most famous millionaire investors discusses one finance book at length.

The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham

Warren Buffet, the billionaire investing guru, was asked which book changed his life. His answer:

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. 

Although this book is also getting old (though not quite as old as Think and Grow Rich), it still has lots of valuable information applicable today.

The main idea behind The Intelligent Investor is value investing. Graham discusses finding undervalued stocks and holding them for the long term. This strategy led Buffett to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, and he still espouses its wisdom today.

Personal Development Books

Most millionaires aren’t exactly reading personal finance books – they already have millions, so they don’t really need them. 

However, they devour personal development books. 

The top two personal development books praised by millionaires are  “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

The wealthy are uber-focused on enhancing their networking and interpersonal skills, which are essential for growing your fortune.

Personal Finance Books to Skip

Two prominent personal finance authors are missing from this list: Dave Ramsey and Robert T. Kiyosaki. Their respective books, The Total Money Makeover and Rich Dad, Poor Dad, constantly make the lists of “best personal finance books.”

Both men are problematic. 

Ramsey is a rude, misogynistic elitist. He thinks poor people don’t deserve any happiness and that women belong in the home serving men. His advice is outdated, and he treats people who call into his radio show like garbage. Ramsey doesn’t deserve a spot on any list. 

Kiyosaki built his wealth in real estate. He doesn’t understand that the housing market has completely morphed since he first published his book and still opposes stock market investing. His books drip with disdain for people with low incomes. He also “predicts” a recession every six months or so – eventually, he will be correct, but he’s not the guy you should be listening to about money. 

You don’t need their books to get your financial life in order. 

What Are Your Favorite Personal Finance Books?

Join the conversation! Which personal finance books are on your must-read list?

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life. 

3 thoughts on “12 Best Personal Finance Books for Every Stage of Your Journey”

    • You’re welcome! and I love that there’s an entire series dedicated to helping kids understand money. I needed that when I was little!

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