I have gotten dozens of requests for book requests from Money Habit readers. The right book can be a real game-changer. So without further ado, here are my 9 favorite personal finance and career books.
Your Money Or Your Life – YMOYL was one of the the first personal finance books I read and was one of the most influential. I consider it a classic of the FIRE movement. It helps you build a life philosophy and framework for how money fits into your life. One of the most impactful exercises they walk you through is dividing how much you earn by the number of hours you work. You now have a way of converting each purchase to a number of life units rather than just money you must spend. Seeing that a new phone purchase will cost you 50 hours of your life will do a lot to curb unwise purchases. It also ignited my interest in investing, because you can send those dollars to work for you and buy your time back. A few of the chapters especially around recommended investment strategies are a little outdated, but it’s still one of my favorite personal finance books of all time and well worth the read.
The Millionaire Next Door – Another classic. By interviewing thousands of millionaires, Stanley Thomas debunks all the myths of how a millionaire actually spends his/her money. Millionaires look incredibly different than what Hollywood portrays. If you want to be a millionaire yourself, you’d do well to read this book.
The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need – Unfortunately, it is not in fact the only investment guide you’ll ever need, but it’s a pretty great start. This book walks you through the basics of all different kinds of investment options and also talks about who they might be appropriate for. I don’t agree with all the advice, but it’s a well-rounded, simple and clearly written book to introduce you to possible investment strategies from real estate investing to stocks to treasury notes.
The Bogleheads’ Guide To Investing – The Bogleheads community follow the tenets of Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard. There focus in one passive investing strategies that rely on investing in low cost index funds. I don’t believe passive investing is the only way to make money (I personally know several active investors who have beat the market consistently for over 20 years). That said, it is an excellent primer on passive investing which I believe is appropriate for at least 75% of the population in the tradeoff of time/knowledge/stress/risk. Anyone who wants to actively invest should have a strong foundation in low cost index fund investing which should serve as a benchmark for their performance, which means it is a good read for everybody.
What Every Real Estate Investor Needs To Know About Cash Flow – This is a pretty math-heavy book, but to me it is the best way to approach real estate investment, whether it is an owner occupied or rental unit. Gallinelli talks about the four ways real estate makes money for you. He walks through the different ratios to evaluate an investment opportunity. This is a nice manual you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf and pull out every time you consider a home purchase.
The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss has put some pretty revolutionary ideas between the pages of this book. I found this in college and think it is an inspirational read with a focus on developing semi-passive investment by building your own business. He sells the idea of the nomadic lifestyle which is less appealing to me (indeed, it doesn’t appear sustainable for many people as Tim has settled down himself). Overall, it’s a great book and the revised version shares a bunch of case studies from successful readers which is a nice touch.
Lean In – I think everyone should read this book, whether you are a man or a woman. Sheryl Sandberg’s views on joining a rocket ship, being vocal at the table, and being present with pedal to the metal until you actually make some sort of transition are all tens of thousand of dollar type ideas. They will make you real money in your career. I’m ashamed to say that I avoided this book like the plague when it came out because I didn’t dig the feminist angle and thought I was already a confident pseudo-dude in the workplace, but she taught me a ton that I’m grateful for. A friend gave it to me with the advice to “get over yourself and read this book: it’ll be worth it.” I impart those same words to you.
The First 90 Days – This book is focused on what you should do in the first 90 days of a new job to ensure your success. I like it not just for the techniques it covers, but also for its general mentality that you can “manage” your career in an active fashion beyond developing your technical capabilities. People live tens of thousands of dollars on the table in promotions and raises by not acknowledging there is an entire skill set to build beyond their technical skills. This gets you thinking about some of those skills.
Saving The Best For Last
The Power of Habit – This book isn’t strictly personal finance nor is it focused specifically on career. It’s better than that. This book is everything. The tenets of this blog are based on how powerful habits are in helping you achieve what you want. Duhigg walks you through all sorts of psychology research as well as the technique for identifying your cues, routines, and rewards, and substituting new routines in the loop to speed you to success. I have bought copies of this book for friends and family. I own it in hard copy and e-book. It doesn’t sound glamorous, but it is crazy effective. If I were able to jump up and down to get your attention for one book, this would be it. It’s game-changing if you actually apply it to your life.
My Biggest Tip for Financial Success: How To Earn More
You will find a thousand blogs with tactics about how to save an extra $10 or $15. Those are good, but there’s a limit to how much you can save. There is not, however, any limit to how much you can earn, and yet so few people think about how to move the needle on this. There has never been a better time to start your own side hustle, and the one I like the most is blogging because the content of any area you are interested in writing about can become a passive revenue stream for you.
There are blogs that make $20k-$50k for three hours of work a week once in maintenance mode. There are also huge successes where the blogger makes over a million dollars a year (from a boat in the middle of the ocean – they always seem to be somewhere exotic while running their online empire). Check out actual case studies of how bloggers make money.
And if blogging isn’t for you, there are a host of other options to consider like doing freelance work on Upwork, hosting dogs on Rover, or renting out an extra room on AirBnB. Don’t let your day job limit your earning potential and set the trajectory for your early retirement.
How Are You Tracking Your Move Towards Freedom?
Whether you choose one of these books to guide you or you strike out on your own, you need to have a good sense of where you’re starting from. You make the most progress on things you can measure constantly. Check out the FREE expense, portfolio, and net worth tracker I use to monitor my own accounts. I share a more in-depth review of how I use it here. It takes five minutes to hook up and you’ll have a crystal clear view of your financial health.
Are any of your favorite books missing from this list? Tell us about your top reads in personal finance and career and why they make the list.