It’s no secret to any of you that I’m a big finance nerd… put that together with my love of reading and I’ve read a lot of finance books in my life. Books build knowledge, inspiration and motivation like nothing else out there. There’s a reason the most successful people in the world are avid readers. Here are my 20+ best books about finance for women, moms, and anyone who wants to be more informed about personal finance and the world of money.
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The Power of Reading
Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of our time, regularly talks about how he read 600-1,000 pages a day early in his career. And he still devotes 80% of his day to reading. And he’s not alone. Bill Gates, Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg. Countless successful leaders point to reading as a critical element in their success.
And they aren’t alone. A study of 1,200 wealthy people found they all shared a hobby in common – they read. And they don’t just read for pleasure. They read to constantly, continue their education, preferring to be educated rather than be entertained. In other words – they are reading for knowledge, not novels, trash magazines and tabloids.
So if you want to be more knowledgeable about finances, take a page from the books of the most successful financiers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and the wealthy of the world… start reading.
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Ready to read? Here are my picks for the Best Books about Finance to get you started…
The Best Books about Finance
The best books about finance aren’t just about finance. They tell stories – storytelling is an ancient art that has existed for as long as there have been people. It is so innate to human existence that it is the way our brains are hardwired to learn best.
These books teach through storytelling. They tell the stories of real people’s life experiences. How life-shattering events led to lifestyle changes, or how tales of two different lifestyles resulted in different financial outcomes.
They tell stories of people whose backgrounds are varied from our own, just like our own, and families who choose to find happiness by embracing less. Some teach us how to invest, and others teach us how to teach our kids these lessons too.
My personal favorites? The financial dramas. The epic meltdowns of alleged financial geniuses, and the hubris and arrogance that led to major fund, company and market collapses. I consider them cautionary, financial fables… only they actually happened in real life and caused widespread damage.
Books to Make You Better with Money (and Life)
Before you prepare yourself for what you think may be the most boring reads of your life, I want you to know that these are not college finance textbooks. They are real stories, of people’s real life experiences – and the real life dramas the come with that. They are life lessons they learned through their own personal trials and errors.
Take note of the vast difference in backgrounds and experiences of all of these different authors – and the similar conclusions that many of them arrive at, and how they apply these lessons in their own lives.
Some offer practical tips and methods you can implement in your own life (Atomic Habits, 30 Minute Money Plan for Moms), while others offer you insights into the habits and thought processes of successful people (Rich Dad Poor Dad, Love Your Life, Everday Millionaires). They demonstrate through surveys of countless millionaires, and their own experiences, how shifts in mindset and bucking many of our cultural norms, all contribute to financial freedom.
by James Clear
|The Psychology of Money |
by Morgan Housel
Love Your Life, Not Theirs
Smart Couples Finish Rich
Smart Women Finish Rich
The 30 Minute Money Plan for Moms
|Rich Dad Poor Dad|
by Robert Kiyosaki
If you happened to catch my LIVE Q&A with Brittan Leiser from Financial Advisher, she added the last few to my to-read list. We share a common passion for bridging the female finance gap (and an alma mater – Go IRISH!). Her best recommendations for empowering women to take control of their own finances? David Bach’s duo, Smart Couples/Women Finish Rich, Rich Dad Poor Dad (one of my favorites too!), and The 30 Minute Money Plan for Moms. You can catch the full replay and a summary of our discussion at 10 Questions to Ask A Financial Advisor Before Hiring One.
Minimalism: The Art of Living More with Less
Much of success in family finance is living within your means. It’s spending less than you make. And in our modern society, that’s becoming a more and more foreign concept.
The minimalism movement is bucking that trend. Josh Becker is arguably one of the leading voices of the movement, and the one who has made it most mainstream, demonstrating how it can apply not only to individuals or DINKs, but families too.
The More of Less
The Minimalist Home
Everything That Remains
The Minimalists are a another major voice in the movement – the duo have been friends since before they discovered minimalism. Everything That Remains is a personal memoir of how desperate their life was, and how consumed it was by materialism before it was transformed by minimalism. It is an incredibly moving and inspiring page-turner, and offers a great introduction to minimalism, while also holding up a mirror to your own lifestyle.
Want to Be Better At Investing?
Books about investing are what most of you likely expect in a list of the best books about finance. The stock market is a source of intimidation and intrigue for many families. You know you can earn higher returns on your savings by investing in the market, but there is also risk of losing your money too… and that is what holds many people back.
You can better understand investment risk, how the stock market works, and how you may be better off investing in the market as a whole with two of my favorite reads: A Random Walk Down Wall Street and The Snowball, a biography of Warren Buffett.
There are lots of options in this category to choose from but I picked these two for a few reasons. One, A Random Walk was the book I was assigned to read in my very first finance class that was strictly about investing. It was a class at Notre Dame where we actually got to manage several million dollars of the school endowment… and this book taught us not to take that duty lightly.
And my second pick is to show what disciplined, genius looks like. Today, Warren Buffett is widely regarded as the greatest investor of all time. But his success came from careful thought and discipline over decades. There are no overnight, fairy tale millionaires in the stock market – unless you are the entrepreneur who started the company and are taking it public. And even then, it takes years of hard work to get to that point.
True Finance Dramas that are More Entertaining than a Real Housewives’ Reunion
This is my favorite category. Why? Because I firmly believe there is far more to be learned by examining colossal failures, especially those who had success, let that success warp their judgment, and lost it. It is important to understand financial history, in order that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past (or adopt the character traits or habits of those who made the mistakes).
I share the personal anecdotes and connections to each story to help convey just how real and true these stories are… and how closely they touch and impact all our lives.
When Genius Failed tells the story of one of the most successful hedge fund launches ever, and shortly after, one of the largest hedge fund collapses. Years later, my husband, before we met at Notre Dame, worked in the LTCM building after RBS took it over.
Barbarians at the Gate tells the story of what at the time was the largest private equity, leveraged buyout ever: KKR’s buyout of RJR Nabisco, maker of Oreos and cigarettes. It holds a special place in my heart because two of my former bosses appear in the book – one as the junior banker at Citi and the other as the analyst on the deal at KKR. I worked for Bill Strong when he was Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley, and head of Investment Banking in Chicago as an analyst in my first real job. My next job? I was hired by Scott Stuart, who had just left KKR to start his own equity hedge fund.
It’s also the book I gave to my parents to explain my new job when I went to work for Scott.
Who is old enough to remember the collapse of Enron in 2002? The Smartest Guys in the Room tells the story of what was one of the largest energy companies in the world, turned into a scandle-ridden fall from the top, bringing down not only Enron, but an entire global accounting firm too. The Big 4 that exists today, used to be the Big 5 until Arthur Anderson went down with Enron in its collapse.
One of my oldest and closest friends was a freshly graduated accountant working at Anderson when it happened… and her now husband, who she wouldn’t meet until more than a decade later, was working at Enron.
I would actually list every single one of Michael Lewis’ books on this list, but The Big Short has the greatest financial wisdom and modern history to share. It walks through the collapse of the US housing market in the early 2000s and how we got there.
The regulatory changes a decade earlier that started it, the loose credit that fueled it, the financial wizardry of the investment banks and invention of Mortgage Backed Securities that was like putting lighter fluid on a bonfire, and all the millions of home buyers buying houses they couldn’t afford who flocked like sheep to the flames.
If you lost big money on your first home like we did, this will help you understand why. And in case you doubt any of it? Another one of my best friends worked at FrontPoint Partners, right across the street from my office, when their fund profitted from “the big short.”
Reads to Help You Teach Your Kids About Money
One of our biggest educational failures today is we don’t teach our kids about money. At home, we don’t talk about it, or only talk about it as spouses behind closed doors or after the kids go to bed. And they certainly aren’t teaching it in schools.
So we send our kids off to college, signed up for student loans that will handicap their financial futures for a decade to come. It’s like throwing a kid who doesn’t know how to swim into the deep end of a pool filled with sharks.
These are my 3 favorites to help you bring the knowledge of money, savings, markets and generosity to your kids. As Beth Kobliner highlights in her book, Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), it’s never too early to start – because financial habits form as early as the age of 7! These do a great job of highlighting ways to start the conversation with your kids, actions to model and encourage, and what to talk about at different ages and stages.
Make Your Kid a Money Genius
Smart Money Smart Kids
The Opposite of Spoiled
The Best Books about Finance for More Advanced Insights
Ready to read beyond budgeting, saving and the basics of investing? These books are a little more challenging to read and I can’t promise aren’t loaded with financial jargon. But if you want to learn more, these are some more of my favorites that are just a little more advanced.
Big Debt Crises
|Too Big to Fail|
by Andrew Ross Sorkin
|The Intelligent Investor|
by Benjamin Graham
A Colossal Failure of Common Sense
The Black Swan
If you go with any of the above… be prepared to have to look up terms, use their glossaries, or come ask me about thing you don’t understand!
Get the Best Books About Finance for FREE!
So for those who don’t do this already, did you know you can check out books online for FREE right from the comfort of your couch and pjs??? Before you rush out to buy all my best books about finance, try this. If you have a local library card, see what online ebook service your library uses. Some common ones are Overdrive, Libby and Hobbit.
You enter your library card, and can access all the ebooks and audiobooks they have licenses too. They often pool their licenses with a few other area libraries. You get to check out the book online for 2 weeks! End those expensive subscriptions to Audible, Kindle Unlimited and use the resources already funded by your tax dollars!
So, what books will you be adding to your to-read list? Any of your favorites that didn’t make my list? Would you guys be interested in a monthly discussion of a specific finance book? I’m considering starting a Family Finance Mom Book Club over on Instagram, if there is enough interest.
Also, if you are looking for a kids’ version of picture books about finance and money, stay tuned. I’ll be sharing one very soon over at Happily Ever Elephants!