Updated on 09.17.14

The Best Personal Finance Book for You!

Trent Hamm

ymoylOver the last two years, I’ve reviewed almost 100 personal finance books on The Simple Dollar and read many more (most of which were so redundant, factually incorrect, or poorly written as to not be worth my time to review). After all of those books, I still find that Your Money or Your Life is the most powerful and influential book I’ve read on personal finance management. It just clicks for me in a way that no other personal finance book ever has.

But it probably won’t click for you.

The actual personal finance advice in Your Money or Your Life is pretty standard. It lives by the “spend less than you earn” mantra that almost every other personal finance book also prescribes. It encourages you to eliminate debt, offers specific tips on spending less, and pushes the reader to set goals, keep track of progress, and work towards one’s dreams.

Your Money or Your Life spoke to me specifically because of … well, me. I have a community-oriented view of things and I value my family deeply. I’m socially liberal — actually, libertarian may be a better description — in that I feel that if someone’s behavior isn’t interfering with anyone else’s life, they should be left alone to their own choices. Yet, at the same time, I feel a heavy responsibility for stewardship of the resources we all share – I’m a big believer in conservation and environmentalism. I’m introspective, and I realize that most of the personal finance answers that really matter come from inside. I’m also seeking the big answers about my life – what am I here for? What is my purpose? I don’t learn particularly well from the examples of others, but I find them interesting to read and a compelling supplement to the stuff I learn.

Those attributes don’t apply to everyone – in fact, I’d say that as a whole, they apply only to a minority of people. If you’re in that group of people, Your Money or Your Life will almost assuredly click for you. If not, reading it will either prove boring, argumentative, or a waste of your time.

In short, there is no “perfect” personal finance book for everyone (other than my own upcoming one, of course … (I’m kidding)). In fact, I often find that the more general the audience is for a particular book, the worse it is because it fails to truly connect with anyone.

Here’s a list of fifteen of the most intriguing personal finance books I’ve reviewed on The Simple Dollar, along with links to my review of them. For each one, I’ve tried to describe the type of person that, from my perspective, would really click with that book.

Please Send Money This book is for you if you’re either in high school, in college, or very freshly out of college. For the most part, your money has been managed by your parents up until now and you’ve just started to dabble by getting a checking account and a credit card. You might have a small amount of credit card debt, but mostly you’re just unfamiliar with the basics of managing your own money.

You’re So Money This book is for you if you’re a young professional, likely female, with expensive tastes and a reasonably low income, but a career track to earning a lot more later on. You’re in pretty good control of your personal life, but your money life is creaky, with some significant student loan debt and credit card debt built up. If you’ve ever thought about buying a Jimmy Choo handbag, this book’s probably the right one for you.

The Total Money Makeover This book is for you if you are a Christian who values straight, blunt talk without pulling any punches. You’ve got some significant debt and you want a straight shooter who’s direct, clear, and concise about the steps you need to take to turn that ship around.

The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing This book is for you if you’re a fact-oriented person who already has solid control over their debt but is trying to figure out what the next step in their financial journey is. You know there are a ton of investing options out there, but the sheer quantity of information seems enormous – you want to dig in, but you need a place to start. If you’re fact-oriented and you like having not just step-by-step instructions on what to do but a strong explanation of the ideas behind it, you’ll find a lot to like here.

The Soul of Money This book is for you if you have a very strong charitable consciousness. You tend to give a lot to charities, but sometimes you have difficulty keeping your own finances straight, and you wonder whether all the money you give is really doing the maximum of what it could be doing.

Automatic Wealth for Grads You’re a recent college graduate – likely a business major – and your primary focus is to build the foundations of a professionally successful life when you’re young. You’re working for another company, but intend to, at some point, start your own business. You likely have a personal mentor or someone you’ve looked up to who was a community pillar and you hope to reach that same place someday.

It Pays to Talk This book is for you if you actually already know how to manage your money, but you have a very difficult time talking to your loved ones about your shared financial needs. You want to talk to your parents about their planning, but you don’t know where to start, and you may be facing a similar situation with siblings or perhaps with your own spouse.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette This book is for you if you find great value in saving money rather than spending it. You’re naturally always looking out for ways to trim a few cents here and there and you’ve found a lot of good ways to do it, but you regularly find new and interesting ideas for shaving more money – and you can’t wait to try them.

The First National Bank of Dad This book is for you if you’re a parent who has children that seem to be showing signs of not having any grasp of money – and you dread the idea of them going through the nightmares of debt that you went through. You want to teach them about money, but you’ve tried a few things and nothing’s really worked that well – plus, you’re always tempted to give them extra things because they’re such great kids.

Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People This book is for you if you’re a professional in your late twenties to middle age and your schedule is simply packed extremely tightly with a burgeoning career, family and (likely) parenting responsibilities, community responsibilities, and countless other things. You’re falling behind financially not because you don’t know how to manage money, but because it feels basically impossible to carve out time for the money management you “need” to do. So you use your credit card, keep the balance low, and figure you’ll do it later.

The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches This book is for you if you like to laugh but really don’t like to read big, boring books. Your financial situation isn’t devastating, but you can tell your family spends a bit more than they should and you’d like some little places to cut back and get things under control before they get crazy. You prefer books like Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, where you can learn a few facts and get a laugh or two in a few minutes, put the book down, and move on with life.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth This book is for you if you prefer reading stories about others. The lessons that you’ve learned from life have mostly come from watching others and learning from their mistakes. You like reading fiction and biographies because the stories of others help clue you in to your own best choices.

Start Late, Finish Rich This book is for you if you’re nearing retirement age and you’ve suddenly had a huge epiphany that you’re not ready for it. You attended a retirement seminar or two or read some articles online, took a serious look at your situation, and are sick to your stomach – are you going to have to work until you’re 80?

You’re Broke Because You Want to Be This book is for you if you thrive with no-holds-barred blunt talk. You likely perform at your best under the pushing and prodding of an intense coach – you thrived in sports competitions, prefer using a personal trainer, and learn best from teachers that pushed you hard. In short, you do best with a coach that doesn’t coddle you, but shoves you a bit.

Make Money, Not Excuses This book is for you if Sex in the City is your kind of escapist fantasy. You like being an independent and headstrong woman, but you also have a very strong taste for fashion and shopping and girly things. You believe that a lot of generic women stereotypes apply to you – but not all of them, as some of them are just false.

None of these fifteen books really set my world on fire. I learned a thing or two from each of them, and some of them spoke more to me (The First National Bank of Dad) than others (Make Money, Not Excuses), but none came close to the impact of Your Money or Your Life.

In a nutshell, you’re better off looking for that one book that really clicks for you than just reading whatever one is convenient. For me, for example, I’m not sure Make Money, Not Excuses would have really been an epiphany for me, nor would a very generalized book like Two for the Money. I got far more out of the first chapter of Your Money or Your Life than I did out of many of these other books, and thus it would have been well worth my time to try to find a book that clicked for me than to just read one of those other ones.

I hope you find the book that clicks for you. If you have found that book that clicked for you, please share it in the comments.

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  1. David says:

    This is a great website, but I am generally unable to read every posts from beginning to end. You are a very talented, prolific writer…however, I have 10 or so feeds that I read everyday…but I am unable to get thru your posts. Perhaps you could write a summary that preempts each post.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Jaymo says:

    Fantastic breakdown Trent. Very helpful. Thank you good sir.

  3. Miranda says:

    Thank you for sharing this list. I, too, enjoyed Your Money or Your Life. I think that The Soul of Money might be something interesting as well.

    In the main, though, I find that I am most helped by reading different personal finance viewpoints online. It is a good way to find people that offer regularly sound advice, and provides a quick way to look for styles that speak to me.

  4. Penny Squeaker says:

    Dear Trent,

    The simple dollar has re-enforced, what I have read several years ago and forgot.

    I own “The Complete Tightwad Gazette” book, many-many of those ideas we have implemented into our lifestyles saving thousands upon thousands of dollars. Over $120K of savings, in the last 7 years of book ownership.

    Your money you life book, never heard of it or saw it until it was mentioned at this webportal.

    We’ve bought the book, read it, it will be pass on to all our family members. Both these books, are a vast knowledge not taught anywhere.

  5. Trent: The problem with a lot of these books (including some on your list) is that they are so weak in economic science. Lots of re-cycled opinions and motivational mantras. I want data and I want rigorous analysis. I suggest you read “Spend ’til the End”, a recent book by Scott Burns. It sounds like its only for baby boomers like me but trust me, its not. Thanks for the list.

  6. Shanel Yang says:

    You named one that clicked for me: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Life. But there are a few others — not exactly personal finance books, but nevertheless important books about money and our attitudes about it — that changed my life:

    1. Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich (which I summarized parts of in “Money Lessons for Nice People” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/04/01/money-lessons-for-nice-people-self-test/ )
    2. The Millionaire Next Door
    3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad
    4. The Under 40 Financial Planning Guide

  7. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “I want data and I want rigorous analysis.”

    The inherent problem for me with books that provide “rigorous analysis” when it comes to personal finance and investment is that they’re dated by the time they hit the shelves, and they’re usually error-prone or prone to the personal whims of the authors (remember, anything can be ‘proven’ through statistical manipulation). Give me simpler ideas that I can prove myself – I don’t want to read people dancing around to ‘prove’ their own esoteric investment philosophy.

    In “Spend ’til the End,” for example, they make a big pile of claims based on the current tax brackets, which are almost assuredly going to change significantly in the next decade. They also claim that declining home prices will save you money on taxes and insurance, which isn’t true – a declining home market has no affect on the assessed value of your home.

    Instead of talking about such narrow specifics, I’d rather a book talked about general principles that I can actually observe myself and apply.

  8. amy says:

    Your Money or Your Life is one of my favorites
    also. Breaking down a large purchase into the
    number of hours you have to work to pay for it
    is one of the things they mention that has
    always stuck with me…

  9. Bettsi says:

    Thanks, Trent! I found my favorites (Your Money or Your Life and The Tightwad Gazette) years ago, but did wonder if there might be more out there. I think Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth would be a good read- I know I enjoyed The Millionaire Next Door. I am re-reading Your Money or Your Life and I am eager to really put it into effect- especially as I am now on my own and my ex did not care for money management or financial planning at all. Sure will be interesting to see how I do now that I have no one but myself to blame!

  10. Michael says:

    Trent, I really like the choices you offered here and I might browse some of the ones that fit my situation (new grad with a career).
    The book that first struck me on how to do finances and retirement right was the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Investing like a Pro. While it totally seems like a book about how to beat the market, it’s mantra is its easier to save a dollar then earn an extra dollar (whether in your paycheck or in your investments). I have never seen you review it, and it doesn’t have any revelations you can’t get out of these other books, but if a person likes encyclopdia or straightforward knowledge, its a great book.

    Michael Cummings
    1LT, US Army

  11. Trent – Thanks for the reply. I think maybe you didn’t read all of Burns’ book. He and his co-author most assuredly expect tax rates to rise significantly in the future. They make that point repeatedly and in their earlier book, “The Coming Generational Storm.”

    Also, declining real estate values will affect your property taxes. Trust me – If they don’t, the tax assessor will get booted out of office by the baby boomers. We vote early and often and with our wallets.

    Anyway, keep the good stuff coming. I enjoy it.

  12. Brian says:

    I really connected with “All Your Worth” and its discussion on balancing must-haves (50% of take-home pay), savings (20%), and wants (30%). This book isn’t as popular as others, but I find its priciples to be very helpful in managing my finances.

  13. Madame X says:

    Great post– you’re so right that no one book can be right for everyone, and with so many out there, this is a valuable guide.

  14. Kevin says:

    @ToughMoneyLove –

    I don’t know how it works in your county or state, but here we have rising real estate assessments even in a down market. Why? Because the assessor’s office has a cap – that is they cannot raise the assessed value of homes more than a certain percentage, even if the “value” goes up much more than that (which it has during the run-up during the past few years). So there is still some catching up to do. Has nothing to do with who is elected, that is how the law is written.

  15. GettingThere says:

    I’ve only found small pieces of various books to be helpful. I’m 44, single, have no kids, rent and am in a profession (I’m a minister) where there is no chance for significant pay increases. Even when these books try and address different types of lifestyles, they always make some major assumptions for my age bracket (usually a house, kids and a chance at high pay) that just don’t apply. It gets frustrating.

    Books I did like, even when they didn’t apply, included The Motley Fool’s “You’re Richer than You Think”, which opened my eyes to handling debt and increasing savings; Suzie Orman’s “The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom” which, in my professional opinion as a minister, does a very good job of tackling the psychological issues that drive poor financial choices; and Andrew Tobias’ “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” taught me about the market a long time ago, though it’s now wildly out of date.

    Like most things, good financial planning isn’t rocket science: spend less, make more, think carefully, and that’s advice that applies in every situation.

  16. Nate says:

    Declining real property values do affect your property taxes if the current value of your property drops below the assessed value and you file an assessment appeal. At least this is the case in California.

  17. Debbie M says:

    I’m feeling a little pigeon-holed here. I also really liked Your Money or Your Life and although I am liberal and socially conscious, I really didn’t like those parts of the book. What I liked were that there were doable steps, that were like little homework assignments, that teach you about yourself and that can motivate you. I especially like the thorough take on net worth (though I don’t calculate this for myself) and the crossover point.

    And I feel like The Tightwad Gazette isn’t just for people who are into saving money. It’s also good for people who don’t get the whole saving money strategy because it explains it so well. And it’s not really about just saving money. It’s also about figuring out what you really want so you don’t spend money on things you don’t really want. And it’s about training yourself to look for alternatives for accomplishing your goals instead of just either doing or not doing the one thing that first occurred to you.

    Those books really clicked with me. Another one that clicked is Get a Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well, which is about all the things you should do to prepare to retire (and it’s more than just saving money).

    Another one a lot of people like is the Millionaire Next Door.

  18. expat says:

    I enjoyed Your Money Or Your Life, but the book that makes me want to get up off my fanny and do something about my situation is Your Broke Because You Want To Be.

    I guess that in-your-face style is what gets me motivated. Don’t like something in your life? What can -YOU- do to change it?

  19. Eric Hollins says:

    I’ve been a big fan of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties. I picked it up in college and I thought the advice was really sound. The latest edition was published in 2000 so it is in need of some updating, but it is still a good book. I’ve bought extra copies of this book and give them to people who are asking for help about personal finance.

  20. ajc says:

    The problem is that most of these books concentrate on saving/taxes/debt and not on the subjects that will make you wealthy: debt/leverage/income ..

    … just as a general observation.

  21. FFB says:

    What I liked about Your Money Or Your Life is that it makes you sit down and analyze your life and why you spend. It doesn’t say you have cut back on this or that, it just asks you to realize why you spend. It also opens your eyes to what your time is worth and what you really get paid for your time.

  22. Steve O says:

    “Your Money or Your Life” is unlike any other money book I’ve ever read. I read it years ago, but I didn’t see how I’d ever be able to implement their strategy. Still, it was always percolating in the back of my mind as I grew less and less excited about working until I dropped dead.

    When I was suddenly offered a voluntary buyout from my newspaper job at age 53, it all clicked. The book’s low-level analysis of what money really is gave me a wonderful base upon which to do my calculations of living expenses and income. Yes, I still spent hours with a legal pad and calculator, but I knew what my goal was.

    This book is worth reading if only to make you ask why you work for money. Think about it.

  23. Bill says:


    This is a great list. The Total money makeover is the book for me and my wife. I don’t agree with your assertion that one has to be a Christian for it to fit. Dave Ramsey notes some of the Biblical sources of the approach but it is hardly an approach that requires one to be a Christian or even understand Christianity.


  24. Red says:

    @Trent and ToughMoneyLove

    I very much agree with ToughMoneyLove, in that when I’m reading a book on finances, I want facts and analysis, not analogies.

    The book that got me truly *interested* in finances was David Swenson’s “Unconventional Success”, because the first 150 pages or so really lay out in clear mathematical terms how saving for retirement early is advantageous and the advantages of diversification.

    “Spend less than you earn” is certainly foundational, but I have a hard time believing the majority of people don’t already know this. Do people tell new mothers “You need to feed that, like, everyday.”

  25. Katy says:

    Though not a personal finance book, _The Four Hour Workweek_ is the book that most changed my perception of money. Ferris gives an exercise to imagine a mini-retirement and calculate the cost. I was shocked when I realized that my ‘dream life’ cost about $20,000/year.

    I used to worry that I was not saving enough for retirement, but after running the numbers, I realize that I am fine.

  26. Mary says:

    Your Money Or Your Life has been my favorite book on personal finance for over 10 years. I’ve never found another that has helped me as much. Recently I read another newly published book, that while not really a finance book, is worth a read. It’s called “Put Your Life on a Diet:Lessons Learned From Living in 140 Square Feet” by Gregory Paul Johnson. (one does not have to live in a small space to benefit from his advice).

  27. chillyrodent says:

    YMOYL absolutely changed the way I look at earning and spending. How many of my finite hours am I willing to trade for this item? Also, figuring out my true salary was very helpful.

    I sort of turned off at Federal treasury bills. I guess I prefer the fluffy concepts to the hard One True Way to Be Wealthy.

  28. Cambo says:

    Although a bit OTT Christian, I really like Dave Ramsey ‘Total Money Makeover’ – there’s basic commonsense in there.

    I’m an Australian so all of the retirement and tax stuff in most books doesn’t apply (we have 9% compulsory super our employers pay and normally we can salary sacrifice some extra % from our before tax salary to top it up) but the fundamentals and psychology of spending less than you earn is pretty universal I think.

  29. Missi says:

    Hey Trent,
    What about “America’s Cheapest Family: Gets you Right on the Money”? What do you think about that one?

  30. Brian says:

    I think if you want economic science, you’d be better off with an “economics” book, not a personal finance book. A classic that’s still relevant is “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt. I have a paper copy of this book because I go back to it a lot, but you can get the text online here – http://jim.com/econ/contents.html

    A more recent book (and maybe a better starting point) would be “The Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford. Since this one was written more recently, it’s an easier read, though it covers less ground than “Economics in One Lesson.”

    I’d recommend either of these books to someone with an armchair interest in economics, or who is trying to understand how the “economy” works.

  31. Chris says:

    Great post, Trent… I completely agree with your point regarding the way different books like the ones you listed appeal to some more than others. I checked out “Your Money or Your Life” from the library a couple months ago, and while I could see why it appealed to you so much, it didn’t me. OTOH, I read TMMO nearly four years ago, and it was exactly what I needed… then. Next is take two on the Boglehead’s book… I’d checked it out of the library back when you reviewed it, but we weren’t yet out of debt… now I’m ready to take another look. (Incidentally, the Bogleheads’ forum have been an excellent compliment to TSD… they are by far my two online daily finance reads.)

  32. Great review, sounds like a basic but a really good book.
    100 personal finance books, now that is a feat. Did you make more money from Amazon sales than you did from buying the books?

  33. Lea says:

    What is the book for someone who has an emotionally complicated relationship with money? (i.e, wants to have fun and not worry about details??)


  34. Shevy says:

    You said: Start Late, Finish Rich This book is for you if you’re nearing retirement age and you’ve suddenly had a huge epiphany that you’re not ready for it.

    Except that I`m really not a fan of Bach`s. And it doesn`t deal with my situation of being close to retirement with a 5 year old, but then I don`t think there`s a book written that deals with that. But really, the idea that I can just stop going to Starbucks and therefore I`ll be able to put away $10 per day and then I`ll be fine is pretty ridiculous.

    I ran some numbers today, trying to see what I`d end up with if I put the maximum 18% into my RRSP every year. I am allowed to put a little less than the $300 he`s talking about away for the next 15 years but if I`m only getting about 3% (which is about what I`ve been getting in GICs), I`m only going to have just a hair under $62,000. Somehow I don`t think that, combined with what I`ve already saved and a $100 per month annuity from a former employer is really going to cut it (especially since my family members seem to either die quite young or keep going strong until their late 90`s). What if I end up having 30 years after retirement and only have 3 years worth of retirement savings. (Sorry, my keyboard is acting up and the question mark and apostrophe are not working, arrrgh.) Or I could try to live out those 30 years with only $230 or so per month over my Canada Pension. Better hope CPP stays solvent!

    Really, my big complaint is authors who prove their point by assuming you can make 10 or 12% per annum on your investments. Then you hit a period of time like now where people are having negative growth in their mutual funds or on stocks, never mind earning 10% and secure investments are earning under 5%. If you have 30 years to retirement, no problem, but if you turn 65 soon you could be in a major mess.

  35. Jess says:

    I’m with Bill, the TMMO isn’t just for Christians, but it’s for people who like to have logical steps to follow, who need a kick in the pants to get moving and want to get fired up and wired about to go out and KILL their debt, SAVE up an emergency fund and LIVE their lives.

    TMMO inspired me to cut out my overdraft protection (which I was using every week) and really get gazelle intense about KILLING my debt. I’m almost there too!

  36. reulte says:

    Bill (#15) and Jess (#22) — TMMO isn’t just for Christians as you say, but if I hadn’t known of its very Christian bias before I started reading it, I probably would have flung it against the wall before page 30 and tossed. Having said that, I WAS aware of the bias, I did read it and I agree that it is an excellent book.

    My personal favorites are Your Money or Your Life, The Millionnaire Next Door and The Complete Tightwad Gazette (compilation of TG 1, 2 and 3). I can’t wait to read The 1st National Bank of Dad.

  37. Kelli says:

    I agree with Chris – different books have been right for me at different times. First, it was YMOYL, because it shifted my thinking about money and *stuff*. Now, it’s TMMO because I am sick of the debt hovering around and it gave me, as one other poster said, the kick in the pants to take a different kind of action. Whereas in YMOYL they advise you to be really cognizant of whether x job is worth your life energy, in TMMO he basically says “Do what it takes!” to get rid of debt. I’m in the process of reconciling those kinds of discrepancies now to find the best answer for me.

  38. Jeff says:


    Are you into the voluntary simplicity movement? I’ve been looking at how to get more involved, and seem to be doing a lot of similar things that you do.

  39. Mark Nelson says:

    There are a ton of good financial books out there. They key is to read them. Or how do you get people to follow the ideas and strategies?

    People need help with finances and we need to start teaching basic principles in school.

  40. Sarah says:

    How to Invest $50-$5,000 by Nancy Dunnan. If you’re wondering how to go from being a saver to being an investor, this book will tell you how to do it. Make sure you get the most recent copy, as the author keeps updating in order to tell you about all the new ways available online as well. This book is a step-by-step guide on how to start getting interest when you’re stymied by minimum investment requirements.

    PS: I wasn’t sure if this book had been reviewed or not, and didn’t want to look through all 344 “Book” posts to find out. I think you should break down that category beyond a few specific books and top 10 lists, Trent, in order to make it easier to find things that aren’t your personal favorite.

  41. Ro says:

    Intersting post! I havae tried to get through YMOYL several times, both with the current edition and with a past one, but it doesn’t speak to me that much for whatever reason. TMMO has been very helpful and The Tightwad Gazette is the one that started me into the mindset of living a more frugal life many years ago. I just finished reading You’re Broke Because You Want To Be a few days ago and am considering adding it to my personal library. I’m definitely not the type you described as the target audience but for it but I loved it for some reason.

    I enjoy your reviews quite a bit and have checked out many books after reading your thoughts on them. Keep up the great work!

  42. Susan says:

    I’ve tended to notice the best personal finance book tends to be the first one you read. Perhaps it has to do with attitude, as soon as you are ready to change financial habits, you grab the book that fits your life best at the time (one on debt, for women, for college grads, etc.). After that, like you said, all of the advice tends to be the same.

  43. Susan says:

    I’ve noticed the best personal finance book tends to be the first one you read. Perhaps it has to do with attitude, as soon as you are ready to change financial habits, you grab the book that fits your life best at the time (one on debt, for women, for college grads, etc.). After that, like you said, all of the advice tends to be the same.

  44. My journey of saving money started with Your Money or Your Life. LOVE that book.

  45. Jenzer says:

    Back in the mid 1990’s, when I was fresh out of college and dealing with a pile of expenses I’d never managed myself (like health insurance and car payments), Eric Tyson’s book -Personal Finance for Dummies- came to my rescue. He covered all the PF basics in bite-sized pieces (spending less than you earn, how insurance policies work, building a cash emergency fund, etc.) AND he explained a lot of terminology I didn’t understand. It was tough to shop wisely for health insurance when I didn’t know the difference between a premium and a deductible.

    That’s my big complaint with a lot of “basic” personal finance books: they assume you already have a lot of knowledge that you may not have. Andrew Tobias’s best-known book comes to mind. If you don’t have a basic understanding of what a stock or bond is, then his book definitely *won’t* be The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need.

  46. Chris says:

    I second Janzer’s comments regarding PF for Dummies… as I’ve noted previously here, I think it’s one of the best PF books out there… Ramsey may have given me motivation & a concrete plan, but Tyson laid a solid foundation.

  47. With all Financial books the true worth is in making you sit up and take action.

    My personal favourite has got to be “The Richest Man in Babylon”

  48. Touched by an Angel says:

    My interest in personal finance started about a year ago. The book I bought, and recommend, is The Wall Street Journal’s Complete Personal Finance Guidebook. It explained the basics about things I didn’t fully understand (savings accounts versus money market accounts versus money market funds versus mutual funds).

  49. For me Your Money or Your Life is a great personal finance book. I like the whole emphasis that is placed on doing the work/career that you want. Its not all about the pure facts and figures of how to manage your finances – it covers a lot of the “soft” stuff.

    I agree with Shevy’s comments that a lot of personal finance books make the misplaced assumptions that you can earn somewhere between 10 – 12% a year. If you can tell me where I can get that rate of return then please do! :-)

    Best of luck


  50. Sarah G says:

    Loved this post. I checked out from the library Smart and Simple Financial Strategies and found the first four chapters really clicked for me – this was exactly what I needed – get things in place and then let them be. Thanks for the rec! I am still waiting on Tightwad Gazette and TMMO from the library as well.

  51. RRPF says:

    I have to say that while I loved YMOYL the one book that really lit my fire was All Your Worth. The 50/30/20 ratios of after-tax income flat out work. For my friends who just want to try to get their finances under control, it’s the first book i recommend THEN i recommend YMOYL.

  52. Interesting book review. I’m with Fisher Investments, and another must-read investment book is by Philip Fisher’s son, Ken Fisher, called The Only Three Questions that Count. In it, Ken outlines the important questions investors should be asking themselves prior to investing in the market. It was well received by both independent investors and people in the financial services trade.

  53. Lynn says:

    This is a great list. My favorites have been the Tightwad Gazette and The Millionaire Next Door. I’d add to the list The Ten Differences Between Millionaires and the Middle Class, just for the philosophy it takes toward asking empowering questions about one’s life situation.

  54. Jessica says:

    Thanks, I have to check this book out.

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