Do you feel lost when it comes to financial planning? You’re not alone. According to a 2015 national financial capability study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, two-thirds of Americans lack basic financial literacy. And while there are more tools available than ever before to help you bridge that gap, wading through the trendy, flash-in-the-pan self-help guides to find the best personal finance books can be a challenge.
We’ve put together this reading list — containing some of the best current and classic books on personal finance — to help you begin your journey toward financial literacy.
Current Bestselling Books on Personal Finance
Many popular books on personal finance feature a theme or concept that might seem gimmicky at first. Looking beyond that, however, the best of them are based on sound financial principles that can be useful to anyone. One of the easiest ways to jumpstart your education is simply to look at the current bestseller list and start exploring what others are reading. Here are some favorites, which we’ve culled from recent Amazon and Audible charts:
- “The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition” by Dave Ramsey: This perennial bestseller by syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey was first published in 2003, and has been updated regularly since then. In the newest edition, Ramsey cuts through the hype to take you step-by-step toward a healthier budget. From paying off debt to planning for the future, “The Total Money Makeover” is one of the best places to start taking control of your personal finances.
- “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is itself a financial success story — initially self-published, it has gone on to sell more than 26 million copies, and continues to rank near the top of Amazon’s charts to this day. Part of the book’s appeal is its autobiographical style. Using anecdotes from his own life growing up in Hawaii, author Robert Kiyosaki outlines the basic principles of investing and budgeting in a format that’s easy to understand.
- “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” by Rachel Cruze: Cruze — daughter of none other than Dave Ramsey — proves that financial wisdom runs in the family. Tailoring her advice toward the millennial generation, Cruze focuses on smart financial planning in the context of lifestyle creep, and the natural tendency to compare yourself to others. “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” is a great resource that shows you how to identify and prioritize the things that are most important to you, while letting go of the desire to keep up with the Joneses.
- “The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living” by Anna Newell Jones: “The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living” is another great example of the current crop of financial planning books that address the experiences of young people in a voice they can understand. In it, Jones recounts her own financial history as an “inveterate spender” and details how she got out of debt and started making more responsible decisions about her money.
- “Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?” by Cary Siegel: The title of Carey Siegel’s bestselling financial planning book is a question many of us have asked when it comes to money matters. Using simple, easy-to-understand principles, Siegel’s book outlines the practical principles that allowed him to retire comfortably at the age of 45.
- “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkiel: Once you’ve mastered the basics of budgeting, Burton Malkiel’s “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” can help you take the next steps and start getting your money working for you. “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” is one of the most-recommended primers on investing, and has been recently updated to reflect what the market is like in 2016.
All-Time Classic Personal Finance Books
As much as things can change in the financial world, some concepts are timeless. That’s why we’re rounding out a list of the best personal finance books with a look at some pioneers of the genre. The brief selection below is based on similar lists published in the Financial Post, Lifehacker and Inc.
- “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason: A spiritual precursor to “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and published in 1926, “The Richest Man in Babylon” contains a series of easy-to-understand parables about money management, budgeting and other important topics.
- “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill: A 1937 book based on the author’s extensive interviews with Andrew Carnegie. Equal parts financial guide and motivational speech, “Think and Grow Rich” stresses the need to change your attitude in order to achieve success.
- “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham: This classic text was first published in 1949, and contains practical investment advice that still holds up today.
- “The Wealthy Barber” by Dave Chilton: This 1989 book introduced the genre of “business fable,” making it a noteworthy classic in its own right. The book uses the story of Roy, the eponymous wealthy barber, to illustrate that through smart financial planning, anyone can achieve financial success.
Find more money management tips and resources on our WalletWorks page.