If You’re Interested in Personal Finance Books, We Answer 3 Questions About Them Here

Much of the best personal finance advice out there is found in books, where the entire scope of a personal finance plan can be explored in depth. Your local library has a plethora of personal finance books on the shelves, covering almost any sub-topic you could want, and can request many more if you simply ask.

But among all of those books, there are questions. Which personal finance book is the best? Which one is right for me? How does the advice in a personal finance book apply in today’s world where we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences? Let’s look in-depth at some of those issues.

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In this article

    1. What’s the best personal finance book?

    What is the best personal finance book? There are thousands of them on Amazon and I don’t know which ones are worth reading.

    – Max

    It’s hard to define what “best” really means in terms of something like personal finance because people are coming to these books from such different places in their lives. A person in their 20s at the start of a great career, single and earning a good salary, is going to be looking for something much different than the type of book that would appeal to someone in their 50s who has always struggled to make money and is now very scared about retirement.

    Thus, if you’re looking for the “best” personal finance book, you would want one that explains core concepts of personal finance in a way that’s meaningful and applicable to a lot of people.

    [ More: More Americans Are Using Retirement Savings to Cover Expenses ]

    One very good choice in that regard is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The book focuses on examining personal finance through the lens of how much of your life you’re devoting to earning money, and thus how much of your life you’re spending with each transaction, casting money-saving decisions in a very powerful light. It is an incredibly powerful argument for spending less in the modern world, and overspending is one financial challenge almost all of us face.

    Aside from that, look for a personal finance book that matches your life situation. For example, if you’re young, look for a book targeting folks in their 20s and 30s, like “Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner.

    2. How do I explore frugal hedonism while isolated?

    I enjoyed learning about “The Art of Frugal Hedonism” and I picked it up from the library recently. Disappointed to find that it was mostly about doing things socially, which is much harder right now. How do you do frugal hedonism when you’re isolated?

    – Dana

    The Art of Frugal Hedonism” is a great book that addresses saving money from an interesting perspective. It views frugality as a creative constraint, meaning that it nudges you to explore new things that you may not have done before, and those new things often expose you to pleasures that are entirely new to you.

    Many of the examples given by the authors throughout the book are indeed oriented toward spending time with others, which is a difficult challenge for those practicing social distancing or socially isolated for other reasons. In our conversation with author Annie Raser-Rowland, she even directly points this out as a problem, noting that there’s no easy way around it.

    So, what can a socially isolated person do to practice frugal hedonism? You can start by simply trying a wide range of low-cost solo activities and hobbies, particularly things you’ve never tried before. Try growing some vegetables in the spring, learning how to knit or learn how to cook.

    [ Next: The Best Personal Finance Books ]

    You can, in fact, be a frugal introvert. There are many things you can do solo that is quite inexpensive. Go through that list and pick out a few that you haven’t tried before that seem like they have at least a bit of potential to be interesting, and try them. Some will click, and that’s great. Some won’t, but then at least you’ll have an interesting story to tell.

    3. What is the best Dave Ramsey book?

    I have been listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio recently and I like his advice. I looked on Amazon and they have several books by him. Which one is the best or the best to read first?

    – Michael

    Hands down, the best Dave Ramsey book is “The Total Money Makeover.” The reason is that, among all of Dave’s books, it’s the one that leans in the strongest to his core message.

    Dave Ramsey is extremely good at practical psychology. He’s very good at helping people define the personal finance problem they’re facing and have the willpower to overcome it through motivational tactics. He leans into that strength, which is great, but by doing so, he’s perhaps not so good at other areas. He chooses to offer motivational predictions rather than offer extremely accurate numbers, which is why he’ll consistently overestimate stock market returns when he delves into investments because doing so motivates people to turn toward investing.

    That’s why “The Total Money Makeover” stands out amongst all of Dave’s books. It sticks with the practical psychology of debt and focuses on developing a debt repayment plan, his variant of which he calls the debt snowball, and how to motivate yourself to actually pull it off. This is the area where Dave shines, and it’s never more clear than in this book.

    Do you have any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, via full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

    We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Trent Hamm

    Founder & Columnist

    Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.