Personal Finance for Beginners

Personal finance is often a topic you learn from your parents. As my daughter grows, I think about how I want to introduce it to her and I’m realizing…

I don’t want to be the only person she learns from.

I want her to learn from the EXPERTS. The millionaires and billionaires I learned from.

Read their stories. See their mistakes and understand how they overcame them.

I don’t want her to read just any personal finance book and possibly get turned off because of complex case studies filled with data you have to mine through…

I want her to read the BEST financial books for BEGINNERS. With relatable stories. Clear and actionable tips.

Here are the 7 personal finance books I recommend to get started to financial freedom. These books are easy for beginners to read and apply the concepts to build a solid financial foundation.

Note: You can read the books in whichever order you like. The last book has Canadian specific tips.

Personal Finance Books for Beginners

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1. Your Money or Your Life

“This is a wonderful book. It can really change your life.”
– Oprah

 

“The seminal guide to the new morality of personal money management.”
– Los Angeles Times

 

“Vicki Robin wrote the book on retiring happy. Now a whole new generation is taking her advice. [She is] the millenial money whisperer.”
– Money Magazine

Summary: If you’re interested in the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, Your Money or Your Life is a must read. It’s a step by step guide on how to reach financial independence. While it does provide saving and earning money tips, there is a large focus on how to change your money mindset. How to transform your outlook and relationship with money and jobs.

Why it’s great for beginners: This book is structured as a 9 step framework. The steps are concrete and easy to follow. This makes it simple for beginners who don’t know where to start and what to prioritize.

Pros:

  • There are many early retirement stories of people who have gone through the 9 steps and their unique take on it.
  • The 1992 original was recently updated in 2018 and now includes money talks and how to have open conversations about money.
  • This book is 368 pages long and includes numerous examples to illustrate points.

Cons:

  • Some of the exercises require a lot of time. For example, one exercise is to calculate every single cent you’ve earned in your lifetime. This is borderline not practical. I recommend estimating these figures instead.
  • There’s much discussion on frugal living. Not as much on how to make the most amount of money in the least amount of time. I would have liked there to be more content around alternative investing strategies or side jobs. The book Financial Freedom goes in depth on this topic so it’s a good supplement.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.”
  • “Americans used to be ‘citizens’. Now we are ‘consumers'”
  • “Money is something you trade your life energy for. You sell your time for money. It doesn’t matter that Ned over there sells his time for a hundred dollars and you sell yours for twenty dollars an hour. Ned’s money is irrelevant to you. The only real asset you have is your time. The hours of your life.”

Here’s my full review of Your Money or Your Life.

Best book to learn finance basics

 

2. Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom is about a lot more than money, it’s about living a richer life.”
– David Bach, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire & The Latte Factor

 

“Grant Sabatier is a bold, new voice for this country’s next generation — a generation that chafes at mounting debt, rejects traditional modes of work, and longs for financial freedom. In this comprehensive money manual, Sabatier blends deep wisdom with proven action steps. He shows how to mold your mindset so that you can make the most of your dollars and your hours. Best of all, he provides a blueprint so that you can build the rich life you’ve always wished for.”
– J.D. Roth, Creator of Get Rich Slowly and author of Your Money

 

Financial Freedom changed my life. Reading it showed me a new way of looking at money and work that’s opened my eyes to how life ought to be lived. Grant’s book will not only guide you to financial freedom, it’ll teach you to stop being limited by conventions and what you think you can and cannot achieve.” 
 – Coryanne Hicks, U.S. News & World Report

Summary: Financial Freedom is a guide on how to make money in less time including how to create profitable side hustles, negotiate more from your employer, travel the world for little money.

Why it’s great for beginners: This book is filled with daily, relatable financial hacks that beginners can apply right away. He provides numerous examples to help.

Pros:

  • The author Grant Sabatier retired within 5 years by the age of 30. Reading his story was motivating and inspiring!
  • There’s a lot of good content on how to make more money and leverage your day job.
  • This book was released in 2019 so it’s timely!

Cons:

  • I was surprised to notice that there are quite a few grammar errors throughout the book. I think I saw a sentence or 2 written out twice by accident.
  • Some of the stock market investing and tax advice is questionable.
  • He barely scratches the surface on how to invest in real estate.
  • The book contains a lot of the same concepts as Your Money or Your Life like how the amount of money you can make is unlimited, but the amount of time you have is not. It does go into way more detail than Your Money or Your Life does on how to make more money outside of your day job like through side businesses.

Quote from the Book:

  • “Another reason I don’t like budgets is because they reinforce the idea of scarcity. They are designed to make you track every penny you spend to the point that you end up feeling guilty if you overspend or spend money on something you don’t absolutely need.”

Best introductory finance books

 

3. Rich Dad Poor Dad

Summary: Rich Dad Poor Dad is about the opposing mindsets and habits of the author’s 2 dads – his rich dad (his best friend’s father) and his poor dad (his biological father). His rich dad, who never finished grade 8, is a wealthy entrepreneur. His poor dad, who is a Stanford PhD, has a stable government job, but still struggles to pay the bills.

Why it’s great for beginners: The first part of the book is told from Kiyosaki’s point of view when he was 9 years old. His rich dad makes him go through exercises to learn lessons. This is an easy read for beginners as the concepts are broken down in such a way that young children can understand them.

In the second part of the book, the lessons are told from Kiyosaki’s perspective as an adult. They become less simplified and detailed, but still have big picture ideas that beginners can use and apply.

Pros:

  • The main ideas are thought-provoking. For example, one idea is that while the poor and middle class work for money, the rich make money work for them. He’s basically saying that the rich and middle class work for a paycheque whereas the rich are entrepreneurs and seize opportunities.
  • His personal story at 9 years old when he wanted to learn how to become rich is a heart-warming and fun read!

Cons:

  • While the main ideas can apply to any endeavor and business, there is a focus on real estate as that is where Kiyosaki excels. If you’re not interested in using real estate to make money, you might not find his examples as applicable.
  • Some of the examples don’t have concrete steps. It’s difficult to understand how you would replicate his actions.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”
  • “Stop blaming me, thinking I’m the problem. If you think I’m the problem, then you have to change me. If you realize that you’re the problem, then you can change yourself, learn something and grow wiser. Most people want everyone else in the world to change themselves. Let me tell you, it’s easier to change yourself than everyone else.”

Here’s my full review of Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Finance books for beginners

 

4. I will teach you to be rich

“The easiest way to get rich is to inherit. This is the second best way—knowledge and some discipline. If you’re bold enough to do the right thing, Ramit will show you how. Highly recommended.”
– Seth Godin

 

 “Ramit Sethi is a rising star in the world of personal finance writing . . . one singularly attuned to the sensibilities of his generation . . . His style is part frat boy and part Silicon Valley geek, with a little bit of San Francisco hipster thrown in.”
– San Francisco Chronicle

 

“Particularly appealing to the younger generation with its easy-to-read, no-holds-barred language.”
– Business Insider

Summary: I will teach you to be rich is a 6 week program on how to make and save more money. It’s comprehensive and includes topics from how to eliminate your student loans to how to handle buying a car or house and pay for a wedding. He even shows you how you can save a lot of money while still buying the lattes and treats you love.

Why it’s great for beginners: The concepts are in layman’s terms. They’re clear and easy to understand. There are also templates and scripts so you can easily apply what he’s teaching from how to talk about finances with your partner so that you’re on the same page to how to negotiate a big raise at work.

Pros:

  • His writing style is not boring and complicated.
  • There’s practical advice that applies to everyone including how to lower your phone and insurance bills.
  • This book has been updated in 2019 and includes stories of how previous readers applied the book to become rich.

Cons:

  • If you’re not living in the U.S., some of the information like the banking and retirement options will not be useful.
  • This book is highly geared towards millennials so if you’re not one, you might find his approach less appealing.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “The single most important factor to getting rich is getting started, not being the smartest person in the room.”
  • “My friend Jim once called to tell me that he’d gotten a raise at work. On the same day, he moved into a smaller apartment. Why? Because he doesn’t care very much about where he lives, but he loves spending money on camping and biking. That’s called conscious spending.”

Best introductory financial books

 

5. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

“The implication of The Millionaire Next Door…is that nearly anybody with a steady job can amass a tidy fortune.”
– Forbes

 

“Debunks the image of the rich as high-living spendthrifts.”
– U.S. News and World Report

 

“A primer for amassing wealth through frugality.”
– The Boston Globe

Summary: The Millionaire Next Door is the original version to the updated The Next Millionaire Next Door. Based on thousands of interviews of U.S. millionaires, the original discusses the 7 common traits amongst the wealthy. The updated one is written by the daughter of the original author who passed away. It dives into another investigation of millionaires 20 years later and offers a comparison analysis.

Why it’s great for beginners: While there’s a lot of data involved, the author is able to distill and explain it in useful and easy to digest messages. For example, one conclusion is that the wealthy live well below their means and don’t spend money on luxuries to impress others. It’s straightforward and universal. Anyone can apply this principle.

Pros:

  • It’s an interesting read as it debunks the myths of how millionaires spend money and makes you aware of your unconscious spending habits.

Cons:

  • The statistics are dated, but the principles are still sound. You could read the updated version, which was released in 2018.
  • Most of the book is about frugality. If you’ve read other books about frugal living, you might not learn anything new.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “Good health, longevity, happiness, a loving family, self-reliance, fine friends … if you [have] five, you’re a rich man….”
  • “I am not impressed with what people own. But I’m impressed with what they achieve. I’m proud to be a physician. Always strive to be the best in your field…. Don’t chase money. If you are the best in your field, money will find you.”
  • “Wealth is more often the result of a lifestyle of hard work, perseverance, planning, and, most of all, self-discipline.”

How to learn finance basics

 

 

6. Million Dollar Habits

Summary: Habits are directly correlated with your happiness and success in life. Million Dollar Habits is about how to develop the habits of successful millionaires. How to think and make better decisions to grow your personal wealth and business sales. This includes how to organize your financials, focus on your mental and physical health, take initiative on your vision and build financial independence.

Why it’s great for beginners: Everyone has bad habits that we often don’t realize is holding us back. Regardless of the stage of life you’re at, you can benefit from the practical tips and actionable steps.

Pros:

  • There’s a wealth of information on useful skills like people and entrepreneurial skills as well as deeper values like character building.

Cons:

  • Some of the content about self-affirmations like telling yourself “I can do it” might not resonate.
  • There’s a lack of evidence or data.
  • If you’ve read any of the author’s other books like Eat That Frog, you might feel like this book is repetitive.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “No matter what you have done or not done in the past, at any time, you can draw a line through your previous life and make the decision that your future is going to be different.”
  • “If you are willing to work on yourself long enough and hard enough, you can form and shape yourself into the kind of excellent person that you were designed to be.”


Finance for beginners books

 

7. The Wealthy Barber Returns

“I love this book! It’s wickedly witty and wonderfully wise – a Canadian icon returns just in time.”
– Senator Pamela Wallin

 

“He strikes just the right tone as a witty regular guy who happens to know a lot about money and is glad to share.”
– The Globe and Mail

 

“It’s a praiseworthy book, if only for the reason that it makes personal finance less intimidating for the average Canadian and may get many of them to save instead of borrow and spend. ”
– Canadian Business

Summary: The Wealthy Barber Returns is for Canadians interested in learning about personal finance. It’s somewhat of a sequel (although it’s very different from the original The Wealthy Barber). The original is a fictional story whereas this book discusses his thoughts on all things related to money.

Why it’s great for beginners: The book reads like a casual conversation. The author jokes, “It’s almost as though I’m in your living room except better because, well, I’m not.” The chapters are also short and sweet – very digestible for beginners.

Pros:

  • There are laugh out loud moments!
  • There are fun, entertaining stories used as examples.

Cons:

  • Some of the financial advice, especially about investing, seemed a bit basic and not detailed. It’s a good starting point for beginners.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “I hate to begin with a harsh dose of reality, but here it goes: Unless you marry into wealth or come from a well to do family (Both highly advisable strategies, by the way), you’ll have to learn to spend less than you make.”
  • “It’s really this simple: Credit cards allow us to act wealthier than we are and acting wealthy now makes it tough to be wealthy later.”
  • “One of the most damaging misconceptions in personal finance is that saving for the future requires sacrifices today that lessen people’s enjoyment of life. Surprisingly, it’s quite the opposite! People who live within their means tend to be happier and less stressed. That’s not only true for the obvious reason – they know their futures look bright – but also because they are not consumed with consumption.”

Understanding finance for dummies

 

Summary of the Best Financial Books for Beginners

  1. Your Money or Your Life
  2. Financial Freedom
  3. Rich Dad Poor Dad
  4. I Will Teach You To Be Rich
  5. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
  6. Million Dollar Habits
  7. The Wealthy Barber Returns

 

Bonus Finance Books

I’ve included 2 books I love that are a bit of a departure from personal finance…

Here’s a book for how to introduce little beginners to money:

The Opposite of Spoiled

“I started reading this book and cannot put it down. . . . I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to raise their kids to have curiosity, patience, thrift, modesty, generosity, perseverance, and perspective. A godsend of a book.”
– Jessica Seinfeld

 

“In the course of profiling dozens of savvy families, Lieber gives tips on how to talk about money with kids in a calm way. . . . He makes a convincing case that the tendency to avoid the topic is a missed opportunity.”
– The Wall Street Journal

 

The Opposite of Spoiled is flush with practical ways to incorporate money lessons into family life. . . . Lieber’s style is conversational and frank, with a sense of humor. . . . It’s rare to find a book about finance with so much heart.”
Associated Press

Summary: Written by New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber, The Opposite of Spoiled covers all the fundamentals: allowance, the tooth fairy, chores, charity, savings, birthdays, holidays, cell phones, splurging, clothing, cars, part-time jobs, and college tuition. The book also shows you how to instill good values like patience, generosity and modesty through money talks.

Pros:

  • It addresses how to answer difficult, stomach-turning questions like “Mommy, are we rich? Are we poor? Why couldn’t you be a doctor or a lawyer so I could have a horse?”
  • The author provides a lot of helpful examples in the format of if your scenario is this, you can say that to your child.

Cons:

  • While the book does provide a lot of details, I still left with questions. I understand the benefit and process of giving children the “give”, “spend”, and “save” jars. What do you do after that? For example, how do you slowly introduce them to what to do with the money in your “save” jar? You don’t want to just put it in a low interest savings account. How do you transition them to learning about other investment products?
  • His advice is based on interviews with several parents. What would be the advice from people who have been professionally trained to work with children?
  • There seems to be less relatable examples for families that are struggling with their finances.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “Spoiled children tend to have four primary things in common, though they don’t all have to be present at once: They have few chores or other responsibilities, there aren’t many rules that govern their behavior or schedules, parents and others lavish them with time and assistance, and they have a lot of material possessions.”
  • “Money is central, but it is also a teaching tool that uses the value of a dollar to instill in our children the values we want them to embrace. These traits—curiosity, patience, thrift, modesty, generosity, perseverance, and perspective”

Here’s my review of the book.

Learn personal finance

 

Here’s a book that’s an interesting read for entrepreneurship and productivity tips.

4 Hour Work Week

“It’s about time this book was written. It is a long-overdue manifesto for the mobile lifestyle, and Tim Ferriss is the ideal ambassador. This will be huge.”
– Jack Canfield, Co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul®, 100+ million copies sold 

 

“Reading this book is like putting a few zeros on your income.  Tim brings lifestyle to a new level–listen to him!”
– Michael D. Kerlin, McKinsey & Company Consultant to Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and J. William Fulbright Scholar 

 

“Part scientist and part adventure hunter, Tim Ferriss has created a road map for an entirely new world.  I devoured this book in one sitting–I have seen nothing like it.”
– Charles L. Brock, Chairman and CEO, Brock Capital Group; Former CFO, COO, and General Counsel, Scholastic, Inc.; Former President, Harvard Law School Association

Summary: 4 Hour Work Week is a blueprint on how to escape the 9-5 and live anywhere in the world. The author shares how he went from $40,000/year working 80 hours/week to $40,000/month working 4 hours/week.

Pros:

  • There are lots of tips on entrepreneurship and how to outsource and be productive with your time.
  • There are case studies from readers who have learned from the original book.
  • He includes handy templates for eliminating email and negotiating with customers and employers.

Cons:

  • The messages in this book are not realistic for many professions where you need to physically be present like doctors or high school teachers. It’s focused towards people working in a product-based business.

Quotes from the Book:

  • “But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.”
  • “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
  • “Focus on being productive instead of busy.”

Personal finance basics

 

Final Thoughts on Personal Finance Books for Beginners

If you’re interested in more personal finance books, here are the

You can listen to many of these books through Audible’s 30 day FREE trial, which gets you 2 FREE books! Audible, an Amazon company, has the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks. Even if you cancel within the free trial period, the books are yours to keep!

Alternatively, read The Opposite of Spoiled at a discounted rate through Amazon’s FREE Kindle reading App. This allows you to read your book on most devices including PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

Personal Finance for Dummies

Related Financial Book Reviews for Beginners:

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Finance for Beginners Books

 

Which personal finance books for beginners do you recommend?