Reading personal finance blogs and listening to podcasts is great (here’s one you might want to try if you haven’t already), but sometimes there’s no substitution for the deeper dive that well-researched and well-written books can give you.
The right books for personal finance and personal development can provide an incredible amount of powerful knowledge that, once you have it, you can leverage to not just build your wealth but improve your entire life.
With no further ado, here are some of the best books I’ve read that have helped me evolve my perspective on both personal finance and personal development.
Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World’s Top Asset Allocation Strategies by Meb Faber
I recommend this title to all of my clients who ask for additional reading materials to supplement our investment conversations.
Meb Faber provides an excellent overview of the power of diversification in an investment portfolio. Global Asset Allocation is a must-read
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks
Ever feel like you get stuck at a certain point and just cannot seem to break through, no matter what you do? Or like the universe keeps conspiring against you – or even you conspire against yourself and fall victim to self-sabotaging tendancies?
Gay Hendricks would call that an upper limit problem, or what happens when we come to the verge of “leveling up” in life but our brains, preferring the known and the comfortable, just won’t let us reach just beyond our current limits to get to the other side.
The Big Leap is a great way to shift your perspective and consider things from new angles – and to help you consider the possibility that you are the only thing standing in your way.
The Geometry of Wealth: How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning by Brian Portnoy
Too often, personal finance as a whole ignores the “why” behind money. It just looks at the “how” – how do we manage it, how do we invest it, how do we get more of it.
Brian Portnoy must have noticed this gap and stepped in to fill it with The Geometry of Wealth. The book lays out a powerful argument for not just understanding our own personal “why” behind building wealth, but also to set our own understandings of what enough looks like.
Portnoy explains that without knowing why we’re working so hard to accumulate money and failing to define how much of it is actually enough for our wants and needs, we’ll never feel satisfied (no matter how big of a pile of cash we have at the end).
This book provides a helpful framework for defining both these elements, which can help inform the best choices to make with your overall financial plan.
The Best Investment Writing Volume 2, Edited by Meb Faber
Can you tell I like this guy? This is a collection of articles by multiple authors, but Meb served as the editor who helped pull them all together.
The articles are recent, which is part of the reason why I love this book; other reads like The Intelligent Investor are wonderful and I’d argue that you need them, too, but it’s nice to have more modern thought to review.
The Best Investment Writing, Vol 2 provides a great compilation to dig into if you want to improve your knowledge around financial markets, portfolio building, and even big trends like cryptocurrency.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Is any best-of personal finance book list complete without Ramit Sethi’s classic? Very, very few personal finance writers or so-called gurus will dive into specific tactics for earning more money; in fact, very few of them will admit earning more is a critical step in becoming wealthy.
Sethi, on the other hand, provides strategies for negotiating your salary, increasing your income, and then managing a growing cash flow wisely to turn it into true wealth over time.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich truly lives up to the promise of its title to give you the information you need to build a system that will help you grow your net worth.
Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns
Fair warning: this book is not for the faint of heart or anyone who just wants a simple overview of equity markets.
It’s actually a textbook and can be quite pricey if you’re looking to buy your own copy, so checking to see if your local library has it in the reference section might be the way to go here.
Triumph of the Optimists provides long-term perspective, which can be extremely helpful as you try to manage your own investments in the present day. It’s easy to let recency bias get in the way of clearheaded thinking of not just what is possible for the future, but what may be most probable.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
I feel like this is probably the most eye-roll-worthy entry on this list, but I did find a lot of value in Think and Grow Rich because it served as a good reminder that our actions tend to follow our thoughts.
I don’t believe in magical thinking or manifesting something from nothing just because you wished hard enough for it, but I do find that adjusting my mindset is a good first step in adjusting my behavior and angling toward the success that I want.
If I think negatively, I tend to see nothing but the bad. It’s not a great viewpoint to work from, and I’ve found that reframing situations can help me see solutions I might have missed before.
Remember, you’re free to take what you find useful from titles like these, which may be just a paragraph or two that helps you see something from a different angle. You can always discard what feels outdated, silly, or unhelpful.
Nudge; Predictably Irrational; and Thinking, Fast and Slow
All these titles fall somewhere in between personal development and behavioral finance, and all will help you better understand the way your own brain works.
By actually knowing the how and why behind what we think, we can position ourselves to make better, more rational choices – especially around our money.
Any of these would be great reads to add to your collection:
- Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton Malkiel
If you’re determined to make it on your own as a successful DIY investor, then this is your guidebook.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street is a classic, although it’s been recently updated so still highly relevant. I just reread it at the beginning of 2020 and wanted to make it assigned reading for all of my clients.
If you only take one recommendation from this list, this might be my pick in terms of which will help you make the most progress toward your biggest, long-term financial goals and need to generate wealth to fund your future.