Summer Reading List: 23 Books to Read About Money

Now that we’re well into the lazy, hazy days of summer, many of us are anxious to work through our summer reading lists. I know I am. A few weeks ago, I spent a good part of a 10-hour car ride reading Laura Vanderkam’s latest, “I Know How She Does It.”

In between changing movies out for the kids in the back seat, divvying up drinks and snacks, and answering dozens of questions, I gleaned plenty of helpful information from Vanderkam’s study of female high-earners. Among the tidbits of wisdom were tips on how to make the most of each hour of the day, how to get the most out of everything – including your career and your family – and profiles of many career-oriented women who seem to “have it all.”

I finished that long car ride with a few more tools in my tool belt and a renewed desire to maximize my already busy schedule. But now I’m ready to move on to something new — that is, after I read “Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny,” which should be in the mail as we speak. Ahem.

Another book on my radar is one I just gifted to a few college graduates, “Next Round’s On Me: How to Achieve Financial Freedom in Your 20s,” by Martin Dasko. Although that ship – my 20s – has sailed, I thought it was an excellent graduation present for anyone trying to avoid debt and build wealth in their first decade of real adulthood.

The Simple Dollar’s Summer Reading List

To find out what my friends are reading, I reached out to a bunch of personal finance writers and bloggers to see what they recommend for the remainder of the summer. Here’s what they came up with:

Barbara Friedberg ( The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor” by Malkiel and Ellis is the “perfect” investing and money book by brilliant and well-regarded financial experts. It’s written for the average Jane or Joe in about 100 pages.

Chenell Tull ( I loved “The One-Page Financial Plan” by Carl Richards. The book really highlights the importance of your mindset on your personal finances. Understanding the influence your thoughts and mind have on your financial situation can help you make major strides in your life. This book helps you come to this realization, while also providing a lot of great financial tips along the way.

Deacon Hayes ( A book that I think would be a great read for people this summer is “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John Bogle. Investing can be a very complex subject and Bogle does a superb job of taking very complicated topics and making them simple to understand. He also provides in-depth research to help people make the best decisions when it comes to investing their hard-earned dollars. Whether you are just getting started or you are a seasoned investor, this book is a solid read for anyone looking to be better when it comes to investing in the stock market.

Doug Nordman ( I really enjoyed last year’s “Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin.”

Beverly Harzog ( agrees about “Gold Diggers”: I literally couldn’t put it down. Fascinating stuff and a well-written book.

J. Money (Budgets are Sexy): My all-time favorite money book is still “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi. Any book that can get you to laugh AND get your money on lock should be a mandatory read for everyone. Especially those cracking open a beer on the beach this summer.

Jackie Beck ( My favorite personal finance book published this year is “The Great Debt Dump” by Toni Husbands. It’s a clearly-written, step-by-step guide to getting out of debt. I like that it encourages you to do so as part of a community.

Joe Saul-Sehy (Stacking Benjamins): I loved Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money.” It’s been reprinted lots of times because it’s so even-handed… but even more because it’s funny. I don’t want my personal finance heavy in the summer. This book is full of cartoons, funny charts and graphs that’ll keep you turning pages quickly. Love it.

Joseph Hogue ( I really liked “Personal Finance: Budgeting and Saving Money” published by Pamela Jones in February 2015. It’s one of those quick and inexpensive books on Amazon, $0.99 on Kindle and just over 30 pages, but it offers several different perspectives on budgeting. I like it because it helps guide you through a few different types of budgets as well as some apps. It also talks about budgeting on an irregular income which is a biggie for us entrepreneurs.

Jim Wang ( The book that opened my eyes the most in the last year was Farnoosh Torabi’s “When She Makes More.” I’m not the target demographic nor am I in a relationship where my wife makes more, but a lot of what she covers is applicable in any relationship. Money can change the power dynamics of any relationship and it’s usually not about the money but what it represents. She comes at the issue from the perspective of maintaining and, sometimes, saving a relationship, but you’ll find the ideas work in a variety of situations.

John Rampton ( I really like Peter Thiel’s book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.” It’s a book about how we need to be creating companies and changing our mentalities. We have to think differently and create companies differently because of the challenges of the future. Innovation starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places. It caused me to think about money in a different way. If we’re all getting worse with our money, we need to come up with different ways to achieve victory.

KellyWhalen ( “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money” was a great book for parents or those interested in passing on personal finance skills to kids (educators, grandparents, etc.). It was a solid with lots of practical advice for raising kids who know the value of a dollar and what it takes to earn one.

Lance Cothern ( I really enjoyed Todd Tressider’s book, “How Much Do I Need To Retire?.” Rather than just spout off the typical advice, Todd shows you many different ways you can achieve your retirement money goals. He also goes into detail with research to show you why he says what he says. To top it all off, this book is a quick read. You get exactly what you need without the fluff.

Larry Ludwig ( I really enjoyed “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” by Tony Robbins. If you can get past the filler, and the promoting of various products Tony may have an interest in, the book presents the information in a nice logical format. Though, for example, there’s nothing earth-shattering about the All Seasons Portfolio. In my opinion, the dream and goal setting section is the most useful section of the book.

Whitney Hansen ( agrees: It’s not every day you find a personal finance book that turns your world upside down and makes you question what you thought you knew. “MONEY Master the Game” did that for me. It was insightful and well-supported with research and interviews with very successful wealth managers. It will empower you to take personal control of your investments. I appreciated the simple language used for an already complicated topic.

As if that wasn’t enough, Andrew Schrage (Money Crashers) also suggests Robbins’ book: Although the book was first available in late 2014, try the work from Tony Robbins titled “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.” He’s an amazingly talented coach and an expert in a wide variety of topics, but this book in particular is great for those who want easy-to-digest and simple-to-implement strategies and tips for achieving financial freedom. It mostly centers on advice geared toward investing, but that’s a particularly relevant subject these days, with the stock market at all-time highs but with many money experts wondering when and if the ride is going to end.

Lee Huff ( I just finished reading Derek Olsen and Carrie Olsen’s book “One Bed, One Bank Account: Better Conversations on Money and Marriage.” It was a quick and fun read of around 80 pages. I liked it for two reasons. First, there were plenty of personal stories from Derek & Carrie, as well as some of their clients, so that you could easily connect with the topics, and I really appreciated the focus on communication between partners that enhances not only your finances, but also your marriage.

Michael Gardon (The Simple Dollar): I have two. First, I really enjoyed “Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions.” Risk in our everyday lives is greatly underestimated, but understanding it is key to making better decisions. This book has a ton of much-needed advice about how to interpret and understand the numbers that marketers feed us every day. Understanding base rates and how to interpret statistics properly have wide ranging implications for investment decisions, personal finance, and our healthcare. Another book I am gearing up to read is “Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World.” I’m excited to read this one. My life has gotten increasingly complex in the last few years, so I’ve been doing a lot to simplify my everyday decisions, save time, and have less worry. There is way too much going on at any one time to be in control of everything, so the simplest strategies usually perform better. This is true in investing as well as raising kids!

Michelle Jackson ( “The Average Family’s Guide to Financial Freedom: How You Can Save a Fortune on a Modest Income” is a book I found many years ago and for some reason I absolutely fell in love with it. I think what’s so appealing to me about this book is that it is written by a regular family, with real problems, and with similar hopes and dreams to most people that I know. Also, they were making an average amount of money at the time they wrote this book. But, this family was able to proactively grow their wealth with some straightforward and simple steps.

Miranda Marquit ( My favorite is “The Millionaire Fast Lane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime,” by MJ DeMarco. It was the first book to really make me think about “conventional” financial wisdom and whether or not it really makes sense for me.

Paula Pant ( I found “The Power of Zero: How to Get to the 0% Tax Bracket and Transform Your Retirement” by David McKnight interesting food for thought. The author describes how to significantly lower your taxes in retirement (a concept that could easily translate to both the early retirement and traditional retirement crowds). He shares ideas about how to get your annual income down to the level that all of your personal exemptions and deductions would cover it, so that your income is functionally tax-free. (That’s around $20,000.) I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but life would be boring if I only read authors I agree with 100% of the time. He clearly knows a lot about the topic, and if nothing else, it’s a book that makes you far more tax-aware, particularly around retirement planning.

Valerie Rind ( Beverly Harzog’s bestselling book, “Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made,” focused on the ins and outs of the mysterious world of credit scores and cards. Her latest, “The Debt Escape Plan; How to Free Yourself from Credit Card Balances, Boost Your Credit Score, and Live Debt-Free” takes a more personal approach. She openly discloses her path in and out of the debt dungeon. It’s an encouraging book for anyone drowning in their own debt quicksand. Of course there is no quick and easy way out, but you can gain insight into how you got there, what keeps you stuck, how to escape, and how to stay out of debt permanently.

What is on your summer reading list?

Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.

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