For whatever reason, the management of personal finances and wealth building tactics are not covered in traditional school. As a result, far too many people who are successful in other areas of their lives are woefully underinformed when it comes to the best ways to manage their finances and grow their wealth.
This means that it is up to us to educate ourselves and improve our financial literacy and wealth building wellbeing.
If you have every felt that your finances are out of control, or that the stock market is a complete mystery, or that your money can’t seem to grow or work for you then read on. What follows is a list of the 11 best books for people who want to regain control of their financial lives (and build wealth while they’re at it!)
A quick note. Not all financial wellbeing books are created equal. When creating this list, I focused on books that offered true value and weren’t clearly written to score a quick payday or to boost some finance guru’s brand. The books contained on this list really are the best of the best!
Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide for Getting Your Financial $hit Together by Rachel Richards
Money Honey is a book cast in the mold of the current trend of tough love.
A decade ago money experts and those with the wisdom to dispense financial advice were largely members of the uptight suit and tie crowd. That’s no longer the case and nowhere is this shift from stuffy advice to no nonsense money game plan evident than in Money Honey.
This book is built around a simple and straightforward approach to increasing your income while reducing expenses, consolidating debt so you can get your money future back on track, and building the strongest money allocation strategy you can while putting your money to work for you.
This book covers everything from building a straightforward budget to navigating the intricacies of taxes and insurance without putting readers to sleep.
Investing QuickStart Guide by Ted D. Snow, CFP®, MBA
This is the investing book you wish you had when you started investing. If you have ever thought of the stock market as a mysterious black box, that means that your money isn’t being put to work for you.
In addition to essentially being a 101 course on investing fundamentals, the Investing QuickStart Guide also acquaints readers with investing ethics, the pursuit of financial freedom, and powerful asset allocation models—all without using excessive jargon or getting off topic. This book truly lives up to its name by making complex concepts clear and understandable.
You won’t find a faster way to get started putting your money to work and leveraging the immense wealth building power of the stock market!
Lightbulb Press’s Guide to Money & Investing by Virginia and Kenneth Morris
This is the most useful beginner-level investment book that you’ve likely never heard of.
Lightbulb Press’s Guide to Money & Investing has been previously published as The Wall Street Journal’s Guide to Money & Investing as well as The Standard & Poor’s Guide to Money &Investing.
Though the branding and licensing agreements have changed over the years, the content remains spectacular, particularly for beginner-level investors. This book is an end-to-end tour of the financial universe, from the role of the Federal Reserve to options trading essentials. Though heavy with info, it avoids feeling too dense or overbearing.
The sections are well organized, and literally every page features fun and informative graphics.
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
John Bogle is best known for being the founder of the Vanguard Group and recently passed away in January 2019. Under Bogle’s leadership, Vanguard introduced a new take on investment strategy—the index fund—which changed the game for average investors.
Though Bogle penned many books, his simple “common sense” philosophy is most efficiently embodied in The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.
Bogle spends a lot of time encouraging readers to be wary of fees, and he explains how even small unnecessary fees can have a decimating effect on a portfolio over time. For investors just getting their feet wet, this is the kind of advice that is crucial to have right now, before they invest that first dollar.
The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel
The Random Walk Guide to Investing is a spin-off title based on Malkiel’s classic, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. This title is a much more digestible approach and much more preferable for many readers to its 400+ page counterpart.
What I liked about this book and what I’m sure most beginners will appreciate is Malkiel’s willingness to lay out detailed, yet simple, asset allocation strategies that he believes are conducive to a healthy portfolio.
The graphs and pie charts in The Random Walk Guide are really easy to follow and clearly illustrate what Malkiel deems an appropriate investment approach for every stage of life. He tracks the changes to risk tolerance and asset allocation that should be considered as the average investor moves nearer to retirement, and he spells out, for instance, just how much of your portfolio should be in stocks, bonds, international investments, emerging markets, etc.
In addition to being precise, The Random Walk Guide is also brief and highly readable. The wisdom of Malkiel’s “random walk” philosophy of investing is nicely compacted in this title.
I Am Net Worthy – The Financial Master Plan For Millennials by Chris Smith
I Am Net Worthy is a personal finance roadmap geared mostly toward millennials, but this book contains financial insights that are useful for everyone.
The goal of this book is to present a clear and simple path for those who are struggling to navigate today’s world of financial pressures. When attempting to put your financial house in order, the task can seem pretty overwhelming at first. Even just getting started can be full of uncertainty.
I Am Net Worthy alleviates this stress by tackling the important questions and getting things rolling the right way. Critical questions like
“Should I pay off my credit card debt or student loans first?”
“What should I do if I want to buy a house, but I am not even close to being ready?”
And just about any other high pressure financial questions that are stressing you out (but that you are too embarrassed to ask!).
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
For the beginner-level investor this book offers insight into the investment choices, personal spending habits, and even family dynamics of the wealthy.
Meanwhile, The Millionaire Next Door brings the topics of investment and money management down to earth by revealing how even someone with a modest income can accumulate substantial amounts of wealth over their lifetime by applying patience and discipline.
The powerful examples and stories contained in this book illustrate principles that are critical for beginner-level investors in search of lifelong financial success.
The Forever Portfolio by James Altucher
You’re not likely to see this book on other lists of top investment books.
It’s not a popular title, and its release was unfortunately timed, coming out right in the middle of the Great Recession.
But I chose to include this book because, for beginner-level investors especially, The Forever Portfolio offers simple and clear insight into the macro-level forces that persist in the market for years and decades.
Altucher’s book is full of amusing personal stories that illustrate his interesting approach to picking stocks. He probes industries such as water management, pandemic preparation, and tattoo removal, and charts the performance of specific stocks that cater to these needs.
Because the book is nearly ten years old, it’s easy to look up Altucher’s 2009 recommendations and see how they’ve performed over the years. I personally followed up on a few of Altucher’s featured stocks, and I’m beginning to believe that a portfolio crafted entirely of the stocks featured in this book (and bought at the time of its publication) would be incredibly valuable in today.
Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies by Ann C. Logue
This book is stuffed to the brim with good information and many beginner-level investors may not even realize that socially responsible investing is, in fact, a thing.
It seems that virtually all major mutual fund companies are now offering “socially responsible” investment products. These offerings, combined with a growing body of third party investment monitoring services, have given investors a chance to put their money where their hearts are.
Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies may be the densest book on this list thus far. It functions best as a reference title for those interested in the topic.
Also, please don’t interpret this recommendation as a blanket nod to all For Dummies brand titles. Some of them really stink. But this one’s quite good.
Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel
Included in the pages of this book are 99 personal money management principles that you should live by, broken into 8 important lessons that are ideal for everyone from those entering high school to readers who are approaching retirement.
Focusing on the qualitative rather than quantitative side of money management and financial wellness, this book is an invaluable resource for readers who don’t want to get lost in a sea of numbers and spreadsheets—but still want to take control of their financial lives in a big way.
Stocks for the Long Run by Jeremy Siegel
A lot of the books on this list are either old classics or obscure and mildly dated gems recovered from the muck of bad investment books.
While much good investment practice is essentially timeless in nature, it will serve you well to have at least a couple of resources on hand that are more contemporary. Jeremy Siegel’s classic, Stocks for the Long Run, though first published in 1994, has been updated throughout the years to address the hot topics of the day.
The most recent edition of the text covers the emerging economic influence of China and India, lessons of the financial crisis, ETFs, and other issues that are currently front-and-center in the financial world.
This book is long, 448 pages, but it should be manageable and enjoyable for most beginner-level investors looking for a nice head start on their road to investment mastery and financial independence.
The bottom line is that despite the fact that good money management and personal finance practices are not taught in schools, you don’t have to remain powerless. A little bit of reading and some understanding of the fundamentals can get your money management strategy off to a solid start.
If I had to distill the biggest takeaways from each of these books into a few summarized lessons there are a few common threads.
- Make a plan and stick to it. You are best served when you approach your money strategically. This can be hard because money is an inherently emotional topic but with practice this can be achieved.
- Participate in the stock market. There is no better way to put your money to work for you and build wealth over time. If the stock market sounds like a daunting, scary place, well…that’s because it can be. But you owe it to yourself (and to yourself in the future) to get the fundamentals right and grow your wealth.
- Loosen up! Money is a serious topic, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Knowledge is power and the more you learn and grow, the more control you will have over your own financial health and wellbeing!
Author Byline: Bryan Bonwich
Bryan is a blogger, author, and Senior Finance Contributor for ClydeBank Media. He specializes in the worlds of tech and finance, having both authored and collaborated with industry veterans on a variety of titles. Listen for his voice when searching for investment strategy and financial wellness tips.