The best podcasts, audiobooks, and digital courses about personal finance and financial independence
Last week at the Financial Independence forum on Reddit, a user asked for podcast and audiobook recommendations related to personal finance, financial independence, and self-improvement. Livealegacy wrote:
I have about two hours a day that I spend driving and I'm looking to invest this time in myself…I'm looking for everyone's favorite investing/PF podcast or audiobooks. Might as well get smarter every day so if you have others you recommend outside of FI, this is about investing in myself so please share.
As an audio junkie myself — I like to listen while I exercise or, sometimes, as I'm falling asleep — I thought it would be useful to catalog all of this info in one place. There's a lot here. Let's get started!
I'm a recent convert to podcasts and still struggle with how best to listen. I want to be able to access them the same way I access my shows and songs on iTunes, but that doesn't seem possible. All the apps want to push new episodes to me. I want to fetch new episodes myself, but track my favorites so that I can tell which episodes I have (and have not) heard. All so confusing!
As I've mentioned before, Radical Personal Finance from Joshua Sheats was the show that got me hooked on this format. Sheats explores PF topics in detail and has a strong focus on financial independence. I like his approach.
Based on the comments at Reddit, I think these podcasts might be of interest to you money bosses:
- Afford Anything Podcast with Paula Pant. My colleagues (and friend) started a podcast about money and entrepreneurship. This is high on my to-listen list.
- If you're into real-estate investing, check out Bigger Pockets with Josh Dorkin and Brandon Turner. The hosts try to provide info for both beginners and experiences investors.
- Stacking Benjamins does a great job of covering the gamut of money topics and opinions. The hosts aren't afraid to explore different ideas and viewpoints. Plus, they consciously work to keep their show hopping so it doesn't drag.
- The Financial Independence Podcast is from Brandon at Mad Fientist. He interviews people about techniques and strategies for achieving early retirement.
- Todd Tresidder does an occasional Financial Mentor podcast that focuses on financial independence and financial planning. Tresidder's a thoughtful and knowledgable fellow, and that shines through on his show.
- Get Rich Education with Keith Weinhold looks like it's more about real-estate investing than anything, but there are episodes on topics like the stock market and investing in yourself. (I've never heard of this show, so can't vouch for content and quality.)
- The Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko is a “daily online audio show about self-sufficiency and self-reliance in the modern world”. I haven't listened to this yet, but I like the about page.
- The Voluntary Life looks like it's right in my wheelhouse. The show covers entrepreneurship, travel, minimalism, and financial freedom. Lots of content about financial independence here.
- Several Reddit users praised Econtalk, a podcast about how economics affects daily life. From the about page: “The emphases are on using topical books and the news to illustrate economic principles. Exploring how economics emerges in practice is a primary theme.”
And, of course, there are the big-name shows like Marketplace, Planet Money, and Freakonomics.
Lastly, you might want to check out Adulting from Harlan Landes and Miranda Marquit. This show isn't specifically about money, but the hosts are both personal-finance writers (and Landes is financially independent). As a result, there's lots of discussion about how to handle money responsibly.
On related note, you can find a list of podcasts on which I've been a guest on the press page.
The responses at Reddit were heavy on podcasts and light on audiobooks. Honestly, most personal finance books don't translate well to audio (which is probably why there weren't many recommendations on Reddit). There's just too many numbers and charts and graphs and footnotes. Sometimes the format works, but not often.
Personal-finance books that do work as audio include The Richest Man in Babylon, The Millionaire Next Door, and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. If you're a Robert Kiyosaki fan, his books are available on audio too. I think much of his advice is dangerous though, so I'm not linking to his stuff.
One great way to learn about how to be (or become) wealthy is to explore biographies of folks who have already achieved financial success. In December, for instance, I read the Warren Buffett bio The Snowball and picked up all sorts of nuggets about how my favorite billionaire approaches life. I'm currently listenting to Titan, a biography of John D. Rockefeller, and I'm curious about The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie.
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart is based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper series about the insider-trading scandals that hit Wall Street during the 1980s. As you hear the stories of Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and Dennis Levine, you'll be shocked (and outraged) at how much money stock brokers bleed from small investors — even when they're not breaking the law. More than anything, this is the book that converted me to index funds.
Long-time readers know that I love Tom Butler-Bowdon's “50 Classics” series. These books provide capsule summaries of well-known works on a particular subject. So, 50 Psychology Classics provides an overview of 50 different books about psychology, with author info and historical context. (I plan to use Butler-Bowdon's model for an eventual Money Boss summary of essential books about money and financial independence.) This series works surprisingly well on audio.
Relevant titles for Money Boss readers include:
- 50 Prosperity Classics, which contains “wisdom from the most valuable books on wealth creation and abundance”.
- 50 Success Classics, which covers “winning wisdom for life and work from 50 landmark books”.
- 50 Self-Help Classics, which explores “books to transform your life from timeless sages to contemporary gurus”.
Malcolm Gladwell's work often contains useful info for financially savvy readers. He has four major books.
- In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Gladwell explains how gut instinct and snap judgment influence our daily lives. The book includes some fascinating insight into how marketers manipulate consumers.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference explores how big changes start with small movements.
- Outliers: The Story of Success is my favorite Gladwell book. It explains how some people become great at what they do while the rest of us are mired in mediocrity. (It's in this book that Gladwell popularized the research that showed it takes about 10,000 hours of work to become an expert at something.)
- Gladwell's most recent book is David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, which is about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. I haven't read this yet but have it queued for when Kim and I get back on the road.
While it's tough to find good PF books on audio, it's easy to find recordings of books on other related topics. Here are a handful of my favorite self-help books on audio:
- The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine (a favorite of folks who favor “leanFIRE”)
- The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho
I'd love to discover more audiobooks about financial independence (or personal finance, in general), so if you know of one I should check out, let me know.
Although I do listen to the occasional self-help or PF audiobook, mostly I listen for pleasure. My favorite audiobook of all time is probably True Grit, written by Charles Portis and read by Donna Tartt. This might be the funniest book I've ever read (although the humor is very, very dry); it's much better than the two movie adaptations. I also love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (kind of like Jane Austen crossed with Harry Potter), which I've listened to dozens of times. Finally, I'm a big fan of the Aubrey-Maturin series of naval novels written by Patrick O'Brian and read by the fantastic Patrick Tull.
Podcasts and audiobooks aren't the only way to learn about money by audio. Over the past few years, I've come to love “classes” produced by a company called The Great Courses. In the olden days, the company provided college classes on audiotape — ancient history, music theory, classic literature, and that kind of thing. In recent years, they've moved to digital content and have expanded their courses to include subjects like photography, cooking, and (yay!) personal finance.
Most of the courses I own aren't about money — they're about music theory and cultural geography, believe it or not — but I've listened to (and liked) the following:
- Money Management Skills with Michael Finke
- How the Stock Market Works with Ramon DeGennaro
- Understanding Investments with Connel Fullenkamp
- The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal with Seth Freeman
- Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision Making with Randall Bartlett
- History of the U.S. Economy in the 20th Century with Timothy Taylor
- Modern Economic Issues with Robert Whaples
The big problem with The Great Courses is their pricing model. Courses have a regular price of several hundred dollars. But a couple of times per year, each course goes “on sale” at a vastly reduced rate. For instance, The Entrepreneur's Toolkit is normally priced at $150, but right now you can buy it for $45.
This is dumb. I don't get it.
I have two courses sitting on my “wish list” right now waiting for the price to drop before I can buy them: Behavioral Economics ($130) and Critical Skills for Business Success ($350). Why not let me buy them at the lower rate now? I mean, does anyone ever pay the artificially inflated price?
This complaint aside, The Great Courses are an excellent way to get pro-level info in audio format.
Now it's your turn! I'm sure there are lots of worthwhile listens I've left off this list. What are your favorite money-related podcasts, audiobooks, and courses? And if you've heard any of those I've shared here, what do you think? Are they good? Bad? Ugly?
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