The list of 25 great personal finance books that I have on my own bookshelves made it to the front page of Digg on Thursday. Because two other articles were picked up by major sites on the same day, Get Rich Slowly experienced record traffic. (Nearly 25,000 visitors, though it’s hard to be sure because Sitemeter decided to take a vacation that morning and hasn’t returned since.)
What’s notable, though, is that the Digg thread featured some interesting comments. There were the typical sophomoric knee-jerk reactions, to be sure, but most of the contributions were good. Some were excellent.
On the conspicuous absence of Rich Dad, Poor Dad from the list, diggumjonez wrote:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad was one of the first personal finance books/audiobooks I picked up and at first, it was fascinating. In hindsight and with more experience and knowledge under my belt, I can see it for what it is: a good guide to get inspired and think about money, but not a great guide to getting it and keeping it.
What it does is narrow down some basic concepts: being rich is not how much stuff you have, being poor is spending more than you make, the rich get richer by making money from the things they buy, using credit to their benefit, etc. These are basic concepts that most people just don’t think about because they’re too busy trying to stay afloat and because our educational system does very little to emphasize personal finance.
There are significantly better books and authors, ones who didn’t apparently make up a fictional setting in which to share their advice. The best thing RDPD does is make you take an objective look at what you have, what you want, and how you can get there.
I think this is an apt summary of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, and presages my own review of Rich Dad, Poor Dad (which I hope to share by the end of the month).
Biologic raved about another book on the list:
Your Money or Your Life literally changed my life. This book was a logical extension of my own beliefs about simplicity, and the fact that money flows from time spent, and you should spend time on what you truly value in life rather than working until you die for worthless material gain. Money is useful as a way to gain more time – earn more so you can retire earlier, spend less so you can have more savings, more investments, and earn more interest income. YMOYL even has its own forums dedicated to exploring simple living and frugality, and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from it.
There’s also another awesome forum for investors going along with the Boglehead’s Guide. They’ve got a reading list with several more excellent books on personal finance, and they’re willing to help anyone out with their current investments and financial plans.
Brundlefly76 just posted an excellent comment this morning that addresses something I wish we heard more about from personal finance authors:
I [agree] that The Millionaire Next Door was stretched out to a book to make 2 simple points, but the 2 points are unique, important, and astonishing, which is why I liked the book. But it’s true, it’s quite redundant.
Within 5 years of reading that book I quadrupled my annual income and cut my work hours in half by switching from employment to self-employment doing the exact same job. No lie.
My #1 takeaway from that book is that self-employment is so much more lucrative then employment that statistically it actually carries less risk then being employed – i.e. on average you will statistically make $x00,000 less/yr by working for someone else.
This last point is something that needs to be said more often. I’ve mentioned it from time-to-time, and my Sunday series about making money from hobbies approaches this topic oliquely, but too often personal finance authors do not mention entrepreneurship at all. That’s a shame.
Thanks to regular GRS readers, too, for your own excellent comments on the booklist itself. You’ve given me quite a list of books to borrow from the library! (As if I didn’t have enough to do already…)
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