Though financial literacy has become a big issue in the zeitgeist over the last few years, it remains one of the most evasive topics to discuss. For one, there are so many layers to unpack—personal finances, investing, loans, budgeting, ahh!—and with inflation currently on the rise and a recession looming, most people won’t even bother to delve into the subject. Still, you can never have too much knowledge and perhaps one of these 15 financial literacy books will help you manage your hard-earned money better, even if you have no desire to be an investor of any kind.
15 Financial Literacy Books You Should Read for Better Money Management
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Key Takeaway: You can’t rely on the school system to teach your kids about money
This is arguably the most popular book about personal finances. It outlines the money lessons Kiyosaki learned from his two fathers—his own dad and a friend’s dad, who’s the “rich dad” in the book. Kiyosaki advises readers on why they don’t necessarily have to make a lot of money to become rich, breaks down the difference between an asset and a liability and challenges the idea that a house is an asset.
Key Takeaway: The snowball method—a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off your smallest debts first then use the money you were putting toward that payment to pay off your larger debts.
Nothing is more detrimental to your financial well-being than a seemingly insurmountable amount of debt. And when you don’t have a game plan for managing it, you may find yourself in an even bigger financial hole. Thanks to this New York Times best seller, that doesn’t have to be you. This book offers a plan for paying off debt, busts some money myths and may help you secure a nest egg for big emergencies or retirement.
Key Takeaway: How to get “financially naked” with your partner and find out his or her (debt) number.
Part of a three-book series counselling millennials on how to make the best financial decisions, Broke Millennial is catered to those 20 to 30-something-year-olds who are constantly cash-strapped and can’t figure out how to make their money work for them. Broke Millennials also outlines how to deal with IRL awkward scenarios—i.e. what to do when you can’t afford to split a fancy dinner bill evenly—that many millennials face.
Key Takeaway: How to start and succeed at your side hustle.
Maybe you’re not swimming in debt and your finances are just steady enough. This book could help you take things to the next level. Financial expert Bola Sokunbi breaks down how you can better monitor your expenses, build a budget and actually stick with it so even if you’re not a big earner, you still have dough in the bank.
Key Takeaway: It’s important to figure out if you have a “don’t make enough” problem or a “spend too much” issue. The distinction is not always as simple as it may seem.
Sure, Aliche could’ve stopped at outlining the ten-step process that helped get her on track. But what makes this book even better is the fact that she includes advice from experts—aka “budgenista boosters—she relies on herself, so you’re getting gems of financial wisdom from some of the top financial advisors without breaking the bank. The book also comes with helpful checklists, worksheets and a toolkit of resources so you can actually formulate a plan as you go.
Key Takeaway: Pay yourself first, live within your means and invest in what you know.
Hailed as one of the best books on being thrifty, personal wealth and financial planning, it’s no wonder The Richest Man in Babylon is still in circulation almost 100 years after it was published. It’s a collection of parables told from the perspective of a fictional man named Arkad who came from being a scribe to amassing so much wealth he became the richest man in Babylon. Through his journey, readers get lessons on how to not only generate wealth, but to also protect and invest that money wisely.
Key Takeaway: Price and value are two entirely different concepts when it comes to investing
Dubbed as one of the greatest investment advisors of the 20th century, Benjamin Graham wrote this for the people who are well-off enough to make some substantial investments. Still, just because you’re a strong earner doesn’t mean you’ll be a wise investor. That’s why this “stock market bible” is chock full of advice that can shield newbie investors from making substantial errors and teaches them to develop long-term strategies with their money.
Key Takeaway: Put wealth into perspective and you can live rich without spending more
The idea of living beyond your means to keep up appearances and fit in existed long before social media amplified it. And that’s why this masterpiece by Thomas J. Stanley is a classic. He details how the less affluent have fallen into the elite luxury brand trap that keeps them from acquiring wealth. He also suggests that emulating the working rich is a better strategy than trying to copy the lifestyles of the super elite.
Key Takeaway: Investing doesn’t require you to feel guilty about buying the things you want.
This witty take on investing challenges the notion that you have to sacrifice the things you like in order to be able to invest. What Sethi teaches instead is how to strike a balance between all the little splurges—i.e. mani-pedis, your everyday cup of coffee, ordering takeout etc.—and allocating your finances to the right place.
10. The Basics of Bitcoins and Blockchains: An Introduction to Cryptocurrencies and the Technology that Powers Them by Antony Lewis
Key Takeaways: Everything you need to know about cryptocurrency and the technology behind it.
To most people, cryptocurrency, bitcoin and NFT talk pretty much sounds like Klingon. Yet, there are some folks who really have it figured out and are making a killing in the cybercurrency world. If you’re thinking you need to at least place a few dollars in that world but you don’t know how any of it works, this may be the book for you as it answers all your questions on cryptocurrency and outlines how that market works.
Key Takeaway: Money management is not just mathematical, it’s also emotional and psychological
Though being a master budgeter and excellent mathematician may make you a good handler of money, this book urges you to analyze your relationship with money on a deeper level. Do you have any financial trauma? Are you spending to feed your ego? What preconceived notions do you have about money? The Psychology of Money is a compilation of 19 short stories exploring the different ways people think about money and it teaches you how to make better sense of your relationship with moolah.
Key Takeaway: Budgeting is not the only way to save money
Much like The Psychology of Money, Your Money or Your Life is all about managing your relationship with money from a non-mathematical lens. This nine-step program focuses more on teaching you how to spend deliberately and meaningfully rather than just resort to plain ol’ budgeting.
13. Student Loan Solution: 5 Steps to Take Control of your Student Loans and Financial Life by David Carlson
Key Takeaway: Understanding all your options is the key to paying off your debt without being stressed.
With about 92.8 million Americans riddled by student loan debt, this book is a handy guide on how to get a handle on your finances whether you’re fresh out of school or you’ve been working for a while. With the five steps offered, you’ll better understand your loans, find out what options are available to you and learn how to improve your greater financial life while paying down your student loan debt.
Key Takeaway: How to get good with money even if you’re on an entry-level salary.
One of the biggest mistakes people make—especially after just graduating—is to stave off financial literacy until they’re making more. However, Chelsea Fagan geared this book toward her fellow millennials as a way to get everyone on the finance bandwagon sooner rather than later. There is expert advice to be found, as well as tips on how to create a budget-friendly wardrobe, how to negotiate a salary raise and how to get good with money within a year.
15. Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel
Key Takeaway: Learning about finances doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious.
Honestly, how many times have you asked yourself this question after finding out about taxes, mortgages, deductibles or some other adult thing that you weren’t educated on? Siegel initially wrote this book as a personal finance guide to give his children as they entered adulthood. However, as it developed, he realized our school system had a gaping hole when it came to money management education. So, he developed eight important lessons on money management, focusing on 99 principles that will quickly and seamlessly enhance any individual's acumen.