Top Ten Personal Finance Books

There are a bjillion personal finance books out there.  (Yes, I know that isn’t a word.  But I like it.)  I like to keep reading to keep myself focused on the things that are important to me.  How do you know which books are worth your time?  I’ve compiled a list of some all-time favorites.  Click on through to find some inspiration and learn more:

  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason:  First published in 1927, this classic collection of short stories is easy to read and understand.  The wisdom is timeless and entertaining.
  • Young, Fabulous and Broke by Suze Orman:  Though her personality can be a bit off-putting, Suze Orman’s financial advice is always right on.  Aimed primarily at young adults but useful for anyone, Young, Fabulous and Broke explains financial concepts clearly and shows how your decisions as a young adult can help you create the future that you envision.  This is a simple compilation of most of the information in Orman’s other books.  For more in depth information, I would send you to her other books as they expand on the information in Young, Fabulous and Broke.  I own several and regularly borrow the rest from the library.
  • Smart Couples Finish Rich and Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach:  Why hasn’t he written a Smart Men Finish Rich?  I don’t know.  However, I have found these two titles to be quite helpful.  The first talks about the emotions and communication involved in financial management as part of a couple, and strategies for working together to reach financial goals that are important to both of you.  The second book looks at personal finance from a female perspective and shows women that they have the power to positively change their financial future whether they are single or part of a couple.
  • Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko:  The authors have dissected the behavior of millionaires across America and distilled it to simple habits that anyone can practice.  Thought-provoking and easy to read, Millionaire Next Door shatters myths about how wealthy people act in their daily lives.
  • Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey:  The author, host of a popular personal finance radio show, has inspired many people to change their behavior and take control of their finances by paying off debt.  Ramsey identifies some of the hurdles that stop people from succeeding at following his straightforward plan, and fills the book with inspiring stories of people who have succeeds.  Definitely motivational!  This book does promote strong Christian values throughout and some people find that offensive, but please don’t pass on this book just because you don’t agree with Ramsey’s religious beliefs.
  • Debt-Proof Living and Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt:  Hunt has a rare perspective on spending.  Her family was once in $100,000 in credit card debt and it took 13 painful years of multiple jobs and strict budgeting to pay off the debt.  Both books look at the emotions and experiences that shape our financial behaviors.  Hunt suggests new ways of thinking about money and offers lots of solid suggestions for cleaning financial house.  Debt-Proof Your Marriage deals with the communication and cooperation required for couples to be financially successful – I’ve read it at least a dozen times and I learn something new every time.
  • Die Broke by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levin: Pollan, a financial adviser, promotes a different way of thinking about income, living and retirement.  He advises that you attend to the big financial tasks to allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the things that are important to you.  The second half is a bit outdated, but still contains useful explanations of key subjects.
  • The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton: Remarkably uncomplicated and entertaining, Chilton’s book presents personal finance concepts in story about siblings visiting the local barber.  The language and writing style are elementary and this book deals primarily with basic finance.
  • Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominiguez, Vicki Robin and Monique Tilford:  A series of unusual exercises designed to help you figure out what is important to you, then plan a way to align your financial choices to your values.  This book truly changed the way that I think about money and I can’t recommend it enough.  There is a new edition coming out in December…if you plan to buy it, please wait for this updated version to be released.
  • Born to Buy by Juliet Schor:  If you have children, spend much time with children, or are just concerned about what our children are learning about spending, this is a must-read book.  Frightening statistics about the effects of our consumer society on our children, plus suggestions for helping your children to navigate the sea of shopping and advertising.  Fantastic!

Obviously, there are many other great personal finance books out there.  These can be found at your local library, or if you must buy them, please consider buying them used  You can look at, Amazon or eBay for used books at deep discounts.  I know how fun it is to go book shopping but new books are awfully darn expensive!

I find that reading (and rereading) these books helps me to make good decisions and continue toward my financial goals.  Pick up a few and see what you think, or add your favorites to the comments.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.