13 Great Money Books Worth Reading
The ‘Friends Talk Money’ podcast hosts share their favorites on personal finance, investing, paying for college and more
Whether 2022 is the year you've resolved to manage your money better or you have an adult child or grandchild you'd like to learn some personal finance basics, have I got some books for you!
Actually, they're 13 money book recommendations from my "Friends Talk Money" podcast co-hosts Pam Krueger, Terry Savage and me and come from our most recent episode (you can hear it wherever you get podcasts or at the end of this article). They're an eclectic bunch of books — some newly published and others that are classics. But I promise that all are helpful.
As Kruger said on the podcast, these are "books that might actually help you realize that goal of making yourself financially stronger" and "can be life-changing when it comes to how you approach your personal finances."
Incidentally, Krueger, Savage and I are all personal finance authors and we're voracious readers of this ilk. So, we know a thing or two about money books that are worth the price.
That leads me to two caveats about personal finance books that I shared on the "Friends Talk Money" podcast.
Number One: If the book has advice about taxes or retirement planning, check the publishing date. You don't want to purchase a book with outdated financial advice.
Number Two: Read the author's bio. Some personal finance books are little more than cleverly disguised sales come-ons for insurance and annuities from authors who sell them.
Savage's advice when selecting a money book: Ask yourself "what profound attitude adjustment can this give me towards money and what new ways of thinking about money and financial topics are there that it makes it worth my time to read?"
Now to the 13 books (some with the longest titles you've ever seen), starting with five Krueger said she's "actually tried to live by" and has "read and reread."
Ask yourself: "what profound attitude adjustment can this give me towards money and what new ways of thinking about money and financial topics are there that makes it worth my time to read?"
"The Little Book of Common-Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns" by John Bogle. The author is the late founder of Vanguard mutual funds, the father of the low-cost index fund (typically a mutual fund that buys shares of the entire stock market) and the man known as champion of small investors. First published in 2007, Bogle's seminal, plain-English investing book was updated in 2017. Said Krueger: "It slices through the Wall Street noise, getting to the heart of how you and I as investors can do the little things to prosper."
"The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. First published in 1996 and reissued in 2010, it's all about ways to spend frugally to save more — the way modest small business owners often do to help them become millionaires. Krueger said the authors "can change your life by changing your habits." (I interviewed Stanley when I was a writer at Money magazine, just before the book first came out, and was impressed by his research and advice.)
"Get Good With Money: 10 Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole" by Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche. This 2021 book could be a great primer for your grown child or your grandchild. Its author is also young; Aliche is a former preschool teacher turned financial educator. Krueger's suggesting it to her niece who just turned 30. "It's a good book to get kids thinking about budgeting and living without debt," she said.
"The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing" by Benjamin Graham. Talk about a classic; Graham, an economist, professor and investor, first published this book about value investing (finding stocks trading for less than their intrinsic value) in 1949. It's been updated, of course; most recently by Wall Street Journal "Intelligent Investor" columnist Jason Zweig. Krueger — who has read this book at least three times — said on the podcast that when she interviewed legendary investor Warren Buffett a decade ago, he said this is the one investing book that changed his life.
"The Savage Truth on Money: Third Edition" by Terry Savage. Krueger insisted she'd recommend this 2019 book even if syndicated personal finance columnist Savage wasn't one of our co-hosts. "What I like about this book the most is that these are [personal finance] strategies that actually work for real people, especially for people who are getting ready to retire," Krueger said.
Savage's four picks:
"The Warren Buffett Book of Investing Wisdom: 350 Quotes From the World's Most Successful Investor" by Robert L. Bloch. Savage called Buffett "the current modern-day iteration of Benjamin Graham."
"The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make" by Ron Lieber. The author is a New York Times personal finance writer and his excellent 2021 book is all about funding college tuitions and selecting colleges; we excerpted it on Next Avenue.
"Money Magic: An Economist's Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life" by Laurence J. Kotlikoff. Hot off the press, this 2022 book by an iconoclastic Boston University professor and Social Security maven, is filled with smart and sometimes provocative personal finance tips. Next Avenue recently published a Kerry Hannon interview with him about his book's advice. One of Savage's favorite parts: Kotlikoff's section on "why your daughter might be better off being a plumber than a doctor."
"What I like about this book is that these are [personal finance] strategies that actually work for real people, especially people who are getting ready to retire."
"Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude" by W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill. Savage concedes this 1960 self-help book, which she recommends for young adults, has a flaw: it talks only about men achieving success with a positive mental attitude. But if your child or grandchild can get past that, she said, they'll find the advice inspirational. Savage said she first started reading it in her 20s when her father had the book on his desk. (A former newspaper reporter, Savage wrote Stone's obituary just after his 100 birthday.)
And here are my four recommendations:
"This Is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order" by John Schwartz. This 2018 book is helpful and funny (how many personal finance books can you say that about?). Schwartz — now a University of Texas journalism professor — recounts his prior year, in his 50s, finally figuring out how to manage his money; he interviewed financial smarties to show him where he'd gone wrong and what to do instead. I interviewed him for Next Avenue when the book came out.
"How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Money Guide" by Jane Bryant Quinn. One of the greatest personal finance writers (Newsweek, AARP) and commentators (CBS), Quinn published this 2020 book especially for people looking for smart, practical and straight-from-the-hip retirement planning advice. I interviewed her about the book for Next Avenue, too.
"Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy… and Pays the Bills" by Kerry Hannon. A perfect book for this Great Resignation era, it's all about full-time and part-time job opportunities and the skills you'll need to snag them. Hannon, as you may know, is a longtime Next Avenue writer; here, she really delivers the goods.
"Right Place Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life" by Ryan Frederick. Recently published and featured on Next Avenue, Frederick's book can be hugely helpful if you're thinking about where to live, whether to downsize or how to age in place.
Happy reading, happy wealth-building and happy new year!