If you want your life to count… if you want to provide for your loved ones and create the life of your dreams, these 10 personal finance books could be life-changing. Use a few hours a week (or even just one hour) to boost your money smarts. You’ll be glad you did.
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On the other hand, these wealth-building books may “ruin” your life… if your idea of the good life is to come home from work, plop down in front of the TV, drink beer, and graze on chips all evening.
Some of these books should be reread every year or two, because of the incredibly great principles they contain. (We all need reminders of the things we already know.)
Others may launch you on a new venture or side hustle, help you enhance your career, or introduce you to sound investing advice that grows your money while you sleep.
All of them will challenge you to look at life, finances, money, and freedom with new eyes. They will dare you to chart a new course for yourself – one that you take charge of. A strong foundation for money freedom, time freedom, and a life well-lived.
With that, here are my top 10 picks for personal finance books that will lead to a successful 2021. Aim to read one or more per month. You’ll be better – and better off – for it.
1. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
The Richest Man in Babylon is one of the all-time greatest books ever written on the topic of how to build personal wealth. It’s the parable-type story of rich and powerful Arkad, who (over time) learned how money works and set himself on a sure path to prosperity and happiness.
The story takes place in ancient Babylon – the wealthiest city of the ancient world. Arkad was one of the most prosperous people in Babylon.
His childhood friends eventually begged him to reveal the secrets of how he acquired, kept, and grew his money. Arkad’s answers revealed how to gain the gift we all want – less struggle today, security for the future, and a life we enjoy living.
George Clason takes us back to ancient Babylon with his story of how Arkad helped lift people out of poverty and struggle to become the best version of themselves. The story is every bit as relevant now as it was when it was written in 1926. After all, the secrets of financial wisdom are mostly evergreen.
I recommend reading The Richest Man in Babylon at least once a year. It’s an easy read with a terrific message in a fun story form.
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki
Discover how the rich really became rich, how they think about money, career, and business, and how you can walk in their footsteps.
Kiyosaki compares his “rich dad” to his “poor dad” – how each of them thought about money, work, education, assets vs. liabilities, security, paychecks, and more.
Money is a form of power. But the most powerful of all is understanding how money comes and goes. How it works. When you gain money insights and power over your money and your mind, you can truly begin building wealth.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is another favorite personal finance book worth rereading every year or two. The truths it contains are timeless – and critically important to your financial success.
3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Reading this book could make you millions, if the testimonies of Daymond John (Founder and CEO of FUBU Apparel and Co-Star of Shark Tank), S. Truett Cathy (Founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, Inc.), and best-selling authors Brian Tracy and Harvey Mackay mean anything. Daymond John says he rereads it every couple years – which is good advice!
It all started when Napoleon Hill, an investigative reporter, was assigned to interview Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie hinted about a magical law of the human mind that brought unusual success. Carnegie suggested that this secret could be used to achieve whatever you want – be it money, fame, power, position, prestige, influence, wealth, peace of mind, or happiness.
Think and Grow Rich was the capstone of Hill’s 25 years of study, with research drawn from stories about the wealthiest and most successful men of his day – including Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Charles M. Schwab, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford, and many others.
4. The Top 10 Reasons the Rich Go Broke: Powerful Stories that Will Transform Your Financial Life… Forever by John MacGregor, CFP
Learning from your mistakes makes you smart. But learning from others’ mistakes makes you smarter – and with far less pain!
Reading The Top 10 Reasons the Rich Go Broke can absolutely transform your financial life. Written by a Certified Financial Planner who’s “seen it all” over a span of 25 years, this book includes jaw-dropping stories of people who had it all – and then lost it.
The mistakes that made them go broke are far more common than you think. We all have our blind spots. No matter how well we’re doing – or how smart we think we are – our blind spots can be devastating and debilitating. One man lost his entire fortune and nearly lost his marriage with it – during retirement at the age of 78. The same thing could certainly happen to you or a loved one.
No matter how competent you are at managing your money, in The Top 10 Reasons the Rich Go Broke, you’ll learn what not to do with your money.
Financial freedom is a long game that requires you to do things right – and avoid mistakes! – for a long period of time. This book is one of the best ways to avoid making money mistakes by learning from the mistakes of others.
5. Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: Strategies that Transformed 177 Average People into Self-Made Millionaires by Tom Corley
Discover the purpose of habits… and then how to turn good habits into money.
In Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, Corley examines specific habits that make us rich… as well as those that keep us stuck in poverty.
He spent five years researching the daily habits of 233 wealthy individuals and 128 poor individuals. What he found is astounding.
He then shows you how to change your own circumstances, no matter where you’re starting from. Using these habit-changing strategies will make you successful. Getting control of your habits is incredibly liberating and sets you on a clear path to success.
6. Side Hustle Bible: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas and How to Start Making Money Right Away by Jacob Wallace
I’ve been side hustling since I was a kid. In high school, I pitched beauty products door-to-door. In college, side jobs were my ticket to sanity – rescuing me from the boredom of constant study. Most jobs I had bored me to death. So side hustles became my way of life, a way to make real money, learn new stuff, and try new ventures. Side hustling has helped feed and provide extras for my family for many years.
Did you know that the average millionaire has seven different sources of income, according to the IRS?
Obviously, you can’t have seven full-time jobs. But a side hustle isn’t a job. For me and many others, side hustling is a way of life.
It’s searching for hidden opportunities… in order to pay off your debts, save for a down payment on a house, find money to invest, or meet whatever other financial goal you have. And it’s best done where your passions lie.
Whatever your age or stage, you can find lucrative side hustles to help meet your financial goals. No matter where your interests lie, there are side hustles to fit. And regardless of how demanding your primary job is, there are side hustles that can fit on the side.
Jacob Wallace lays out the side hustle landscape, including side hustle ideas for artsy folks, techies, teachers, lawyers, law enforcement officers, mechanics, speakers, and more. Hoping to ditch your full-time job in favor of a side hustle? He gives you the lowdown on when that’s a good idea, and when it’s not.
Follow the yellow brick road to your side hustle and the hidden income that can help fuel your dreams. Read Wallace’s Side Hustle Bible today.
7. Investing Quickstart Guide: The Simplified Beginner’s Guide to Successfully Navigating the Stock Market by Ted D. Snow, CFP, MBA
Want to learn how to start investing in the stock market without making big mistakes? Start your search with Snow’s Investing Quickstart Guide. He explains investing terminology and concepts in simple-to-understand language… perfect for a beginner, and a perfect review even for a seasoned investor.
Discover what you need to know about stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, index funds, bonds, REITs, and more. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of day trading, options trading, short selling, or other less-common strategies, Snow has you covered. At least as far as the basics.
And don’t miss Snow’s brilliant section on investment psychology:
- The subtle seduction of marketing timing – and what Warren Buffett says to do instead
- The best way to protect yourself from the potential for loss
- How stocks are like children to some people (but why you shouldn’t treat them as such)
- When the trend is not your friend
- What to do about “hot tips”
- And more…
If you want to create a winning portfolio so you can retire early (or on-time and comfortably), you owe it to yourself to read Snow’s Investing Quickstart Guide before your next paycheck.
8. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle
Short of time and want to simplify investing and maximize returns without having to make a lot of decisions? This is your book.
If you have little interest in managing investments and want a one-and-done plan, Bogle shows you how to do things simply and easily with almost zero fees. And you’ll get consistent results too!
What’s more, Bogle shows you the fallacy of “beating the market” – why it’s nearly impossible to do, why you shouldn’t even try, and why you’ll get better results his way.
If you’re going to “let someone else” do your investing for you, skip expensive mutual funds with high fees and do it Bogle’s way. This decision alone can make you a fortune, while preserving your time for other more important things.
Bogle presents a compelling argument for a simple portfolio that consistently produces your fair share of stock market returns. He discusses the three types of stock market returns (dividends, earnings growth, and changes in market valuation).
If you follow Bogle’s plan, all you have to do is decide which index fund to invest in, then sit back and let Mr. Market work for you. In the long run, you’ll harness the magic of compounding returns without the drawback of compounding costs. And there’s a lot to love about that!
Make Bogle’s Little Book of Common Sense Investing part of your financial smarts today.
9. A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market: Everything You Need to Start Making Money Today by Matthew R. Kratter
This short book contains a wealth of information on stock market investing and short-term trading – including Kratter’s guidelines for winning in the “world’s greatest wealth machine.” Sadly, most people never learn how to use this wealth machine to their benefit. Which means if you read A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market, you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
It’s written for the stock market beginner, and explains how the market really works.
It covers everything from what a stock is to the difference between an investor and a trader. Along with five things you should never do in the stock market.
Kratter also includes important tips on how to select momentum stocks and how to day trade, for those who are interested in leveraging more tools in the stock market toolbox.
I highly recommend A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market for its practical and easy-to-follow pointers on various ways to make money in the stock market.
10. Investing 101: From Stocks and Bonds to ETFs and IPOs, An Essential Primer on Building a Profitable Portfolio by Michele Cagan, CPA
Many finance books are boring enough to put you to sleep in five minutes. Or they read like a graduate school biochemistry textbook.
The book defines relevant investing terms in simple language. It describes the strategies used by various types of investors. It also discusses the traps you should avoid for each strategy and type of investment. It covers everything in just enough detail without becoming overwhelming.
Investing 101 also makes a great reference book – you can go back to it and read about an investment strategy you weren’t ready for when you first read it.
Finally, this book includes important info about risk tolerance and time horizons. Including one of the best short risk tolerance “quizzes” I’ve ever seen. In about two minutes, you can discover how conservative or aggressive an investor you are. Then you can create your plan accordingly.
Note that this book was written in 2016. So, a few random comments are a bit out of date, such as the comments on transaction fees for discount brokerage houses, many of which are at zero now. But the concepts are spot on.
Overall, I rate Investing 101 a five-star read when it comes to covering the broad investing spectrum, besides its quick and highly accessible intro to basic economics. Dedicate a few hours to reading it to become a smarter investor and saver, no matter where you are now. It might just be the book that propels you to go after your dreams in 2021.