10 Best Personal Finance Books: Learn to Budget Effectively
Updated: 7 days ago
Let’s face it: most of us dreamt of being financially independent when we were children. Of course, we didn’t use such complicated terms back then – we only knew we wanted to have our own money and spend it as we pleased. However, once we got to that stage, it turned out to not be as fun as it sounds: money can be hard to earn but easy to waste.
Because of this, all new adults must gain some financial literacy and budgeting skills – and there are multiple ways to do this. Remember when we discussed learning with podcasts and even movies? This time, we’ll be going back to the classic method of learning: books. Keep reading to find 10 most inspiring and practical personal finance books and book series available now!
Table of Contents
1. The Broke Millennial series by Erin Lowry
First published in 2017, Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together has landed on many best personal finance books’ lists since. Now, it’s accompanied by two more books: Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginner's Guide to Leveling Up Your Money (2019) and Broke Millennial Talks Money: Scripts, Stories and Advice to Navigate Awkward Financial Conversations (2020).
Erin Lowry has written for Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan before, so you just know she understands how to explain things in a clear, engaging, and understandable manner. Whether she talks about credit scores or salary negotiations, there’s no complex terminology or industry jargon to be afraid of. Just keep in mind that not all of the topics are universal – some of the information (like retirement plans) relates to the US financial system and might differ in other countries.
By the way: if the word ‘millennial’ in the title got you interested, check out the article about the financial habits of different generations on our blog!
2. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman
Remember when Khalid sang ‘Young Dumb & Broke’? Well, it turns out if you’re not dumb, you might get out of being broke, too – and Suze Orman is determined to help you do that. An author of multiple best finance books for both adults and children, she currently also hosts a podcast called Suze Orman Women & Money Podcast (you can find it on Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms).
Keep in mind that this book was first published in 2005, so some of the information (like the 401(k) rules) might be a bit outdated now. However, the key concerns of those who have just recently started handling their own finances haven’t changed that much: most of them still struggle with student loans, understanding their saving options, and navigating money conversations in relationships. If you do, too, you’ll find a lot of good advice in this book.
3. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
Jen Sincero first made headlines with her self-help book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life that became the #1 New York Times bestseller and got translated into 20+ languages around the world. She has since published three more books in her Badass series, one of which – You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth – became a New York Times bestseller as well.
What makes this one of the best personal finance books is the fact that Jen Sincero is relatable. She’s not afraid to use humor when speaking about complex matters or admit she hasn’t always been the master of money, either (in fact, she still lived in a converted garage at forty). While it might not make you a renowned expert of the financial world, you will definitely learn to understand and handle your money better – isn’t that the goal?
4. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey is the author of multiple personal finance and budgeting books who also has a radio show and had a TV show for 4 years. Most of his teachings are US-oriented: for example, student loans and credit cards that he focuses a lot on are nowhere near as relevant in, say, Europe. Nevertheless, the main principles of budgeting stay the same wherever you are.
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness revolves about seven baby steps to financial freedom, including building an emergency fund, using the debt snowball method, and investing for retirement. As you can see, it’s not strictly aimed at those who have just become financially independent – you can still benefit from it if you already have a family and a mortgage.
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5. The Clever Girl Finance book series by Bola Sokumbi
It’s no secret women still earn less than men in virtually every sphere, and it’s even harder for women of color. When Bola Sokumbi’s mother understood she was financially dependent on her husband, she took matters into her own hands and started working on various business ventures – with little Bola watching and learning in every step.
The Clever Girl Finance book series consists of three books: Clever Girl Finance - Ditch Debt, Save Money & Build Real Wealth (2019), Clever Girl Finance - Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money (2020), and Clever Girl Finance - The Side Hustle Guide: Build A Successful Side Hustle & Increase Your Income (2021). The titles are pretty self-explanatory, so you can easily find the information you need the most right now!
6. Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By Paperback by Cary Siegel
We all make mistakes. The smart ones learn from them – and the smartest actually manage to teach, too! Cary Siegel realized he didn’t put enough emphasis on teaching his kids money management and budgeting skills as they were growing up, so he wrote this book for them. Little did he know it would be appreciated by thousands of people worldwide, translated to Spanish, and called one of the best personal finance books around!
The book provides exactly what it says it would: 99 principles on personal budgeting and making smart financial decisions in their lives. The topics range from earning and saving to investing and insurance, covering most of the finance issues young (and not so young!) adults have to deal with at one point or another, and the lessons are concise and jargon-free enough to remain clear and engaging.
7. Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement: The Secret to Freedom, Flexibility, and Financial Independence (& how to get started!) by Rachel Richards
If you’ve read about the FIRE movement but never saw anyone actually do it, Rachel Richards is a perfect example. Formerly a financial consultant, she and her husband were able to retire before reaching thirty!
Of course, while she does not have a full-time job now, she does spend some time every week on generating and managing the passive income she earns from multiple streams – however, it’s nowhere near as hard, limiting, or time-consuming, and a lot more rewarding than your regular 9-to-5. In her book, Richards explains various types of passive income and the first steps you should take to start.
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8. How to Manage Your Money When You Don't Have Any by Erik Wecks
This book was first published in 2012 – however, it would be a mistake to throw it out of the best finance books’ list just yet. First, financial systems don’t change as fast as, let’s say, computer programs, so the information doesn’t lose its relevance that quickly. In addition to that, the US is now in a very similar situation like it was ten years ago: they were recovering from an economic crisis then, and they’re recovering from the pandemic now.
Just as the title states, this book is meant for those who have very little. You won’t find tips on investing huge sums of money in this one – instead, Erik Wecks will teach you to pick the right priorities for your spending and get as much financial security as your means allow. The author knows firsthand what it means to make do with a very limited budget, and the readers sure appreciate him not being patronizing!
9. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
We’re sure you’ve heard a ton about No Spend Weeks/Months or other challenges focused on not buying things you don’t really need. But have you ever wondered how they go? In this book, Cait Flanders tells us about her year of only buying absolute necessities. And while it belongs on the shelf of memoirs and not financial literacy books, thousands of people actually found it inspiring as they made their own No Spend decisions.
While most of the best personal finance books tell you where and how you can save, it won’t take you far if you feel miserable pinching those pennies. In her book, Flanders focuses on feeling better about her life and finding fulfilment as she minimizes her spending. The fun and personal approach makes for a refreshing read and a way easier stepping stone to the world of budgeting for complete newbies.
10. Blockchain Bubble or Revolution: The Present and Future of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe, and Parth Detroja
“But I thought I was reading about the best personal finance books,” we can almost hear you complain. Hear us out: a lot of the financial literacy books we already introduced mention investing as the top way to grow your capital. Right now, digital currencies are among the most discussed and leveraged investment choices – however, to do it correctly and minimize the risks involved, you need to understand how they work.
While the topics of cryptocurrencies and blockchain are pretty complex and in no way easy to wrap your head around, this book does a brilliant job at explaining them. This is in no way an investment guide – instead, it will give you a strong background and in-depth understanding of crypto. The reviews are great, too; people from all types of backgrounds praise it as one of the best digital finance books currently on the market.
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The more you know, the easier it is to make the right decisions and reap proper rewards. In the field of personal finance, where losing might mean losing it all, it’s especially important to learn to minimize the risks. Housing, education, healthcare, and overall life satisfaction are closely related to financial security, so make sure you master at least the most basic principles of managing your money the right way!
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