I read a lot of money books. As a result, a large section of my large library is devoted to books about personal finance. (And if I hadn't purged hundreds of money books when I sold this site in 2009, I'd have even more books — and no place to put them.)
Last week, a GRS reader named Lindsay dropped a line with an interesting question:
“I'm really enjoying your work back at GRS, the email newsletter, and your most recent FB live video! I'm wondering: Do you have a list of all the money books you've reviewed? I've been poking around to try and find one)?”
As it happens, I've been wanting a list of reviews myself. I know I have a million billion different projects around here, but one that I'd like to pursue is a free nicely-formatted PDF download that compiles every review I've written.
To answer Lindsay's question — and to satisfy my own curiosity — I sifted through the GRS archives yesterday to compile a list of every money book I've reviewed during my 12+ years at this site. In this post, I've linked to those reviews, plus I've included a short summary of each book.
Note: I'm certain that about half of the reviews are missing from the archives. The folks who purchased this site from me “unpublished” hundreds of articles (including many book reviews, apparently) during the time they owned GRS. Those reviews still exist, and I'll eventually find them and list them here, but it's far too cumbersome to find them at the moment.
For each book below, I've included a link to Amazon. I've also assigned each a book a letter grade and, in some cases, a star .
My letter grades might seem harsh. That's because I've tried to really think about these on a sort of curve, where the vast majority of books are average and only a few merit As or Fs. As a result, some important titles get average (or low) grades despite their contribution to the field.
- If I grade a book an A, I think it's excellent. It offers excellent advice with no real flaws.
- If I give a book a B, it's a good book with good advice, but something about it holds it back. Maybe it's poorly written or maybe it's off-base on a topic or two.
- If I give a grade of C, the book is average. That means it gives reasonable money advice in a typical way. There's nothing drastically wrong with the book, and it's worth reading.
- If I give a D grade, the book is flawed in some major way. It still has some value to it — maybe a core concept that you can't find elsewhere — but I'm hesitant to recommend this to average folks.
- If I give a book and F, I don't think it has any sort of value. I don't give many Fs because I think nearly every book has some nugget of wisdom in it.
Note that all of my letter grades were assigned today. They're based on who I am and what I know now, not when I wrote the reviews. And they're based on how valuable the book's info will be to a modern reader. (Some money books that were awesome in 1978 haven't aged well because their advice is specific to that era.)
When I've marked a book with a star , that indicates I believe regardless of my grade, the title should be considered part of a core personal-finance library. (I don't have a review of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover here. If I did, it'd get a C or lower because the book's quality is mixed and it has certain drawbacks. But the book would also merit a star because it should be in any serious library of money books.)
Ultimately, though, you shouldn't let the letter grades and stars guide your decision to read a book. Use my reviews instead. They're much more nuanced than an arbitrary grade. The grades are meant as a sort of quick reference.
Finally, I've sorted the titles into roughly reverse-chronological order based on year of publication. I think most readers are interested in recent titles. (Because of my hiatus from money-blogging, there's a gap here between 2010 and 2016.) If, like me, you prefer older money books, you'll find them closer to the end of this list.
That's enough explanation. Here then is a list of (nearly) all of the book reviews from the archives here at Get Rich Slowly!
- Get Money by Kristin Wong (2018)
- Get Money is all about applying game-playing principles to money management. Most money books tend toward boring and stale. Not this one. Get Money is both funny and wise, packed with practical tips for how to play the game of money — and win. It's a useful money manual from a favorite former GRS staff writer. [my review] B
- Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts by Annie Duke (2018)
- For a long time, I’ve argued that the best money books are often not about money at all. Thinking in Bets is an example of this. Duke says that there are exactly two things that determine how our lives turn out: The quality of our decisions and luck. She uses plenty of personal finance examples, but the book itself is about self-improvement. It’s not specifically about personal finance, yet the info here could have a profound impact on your financial future. [my review] A-
- Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames (2018)
- Meet the Frugalwoods isn’t a money manual. It isn’t fiction. It’s memoir. The book covers ten years in the lives of Liz and her husband Nate, from their post-college job-hunting experiences in Kansas to purchasing a 66-acre homestead in Vermont. Through their story, Liz shows readers it’s possible to move from a life of consumerism to a life built around frugality and purpose. My chief complaint? The Frugalwoods didn't achieve financial independence through frugality; they achieved it through a high income. [my review] C
- You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham (2017)
- You Need a Budget is a simple book, but it’s excellent. It doesn’t try to throw the entire world of personal finance at you. It’s laser-focused on one thing: building a better budget. Because Mecham has been reading and writing about budgets since 2004, he’s learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. He’s constantly receiving feedback from the tens of thousands of people who follow his program. This book is a culmination of that experience, and it shows. If you need a budget, I highly recommend this book. [my review] A
- The Simple Path to Wealth by J.L. Collins (2016)
- The Simple Path to Wealth presents the advice from the author's blog in a coherent, unified package. It’s an easy-to-understand primer on stock-market investing — and financial independence. Although the book is intended to offer wide-ranging advice about the journey to financial freedom, I think it’s at its best when Collins covers retirement investing. [my review] B+
- Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker (2010)
- Imagine a personal-finance book written by a theoretical physicist. What would it be like? Full of formulas and figures, right? Well, that’s what you get with Early Retirement Extreme. This feels like a book written by an engineer for other engineers. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is unique. Some people will love it; others will hate it. Also, this book could use a professional editor. These caveats aside, ERE is packed with excellent information, and is one of the key books in the Financial Independence movement. [my review] B
- The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm (2010)
- This book isn’t really about personal finance. There’s personal finance in it, sure, but like Hamm’s blog, The Simple Dollar is about personal and professional transformation. This is a book about change. The information in the book is good, and it’s sure to be useful to many people, but the content is so jumbled that it’s difficult to see the Big Picture. [my review] C-
- Mind Over Money by Ted and Brad Klontz (2009)
- Mind Over Money won’t teach you how to budget and it doesn’t ever mention index funds. This isn’t a book about the nuts-and-bolts of personal finance. It’s a book about how we relate to money. The strength of the book isn’t in the answers it provides, but in the questions it provokes. If you're looking for a book about the psychology of personal finance, this is worth reading. [my review] C
- Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim (2009)
- Escape from Cubicle Nation starts at the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey: deciding what to do with your life. Slim spends several chapters discussing how to get in touch with what’s important to you. At times, this almost seems touchy-feely. Almost. Thankfully, the book packs in ton of practical info on how to start a successful small business that matches you and your lifestyle. [my review] B+
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (2009)
- On paper, The Happiness Project may seem sort of lame. Rubin decided to spend one year consciously pursuing happiness. Each month, she tackled one specific aspect of life — marriage, work, attitude, and so on — and during that month, she attempted to meet a handful of related resolutions she hoped would make her happier. Fortunately, the book isn’t lame. Rubin’s style is warm and engaging, and the material here is useful. [my review] B
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (2009)
- This book is great, but it’s not for everyone. First of all, it’s targeted almost exclusively at young adults. If you’re under 25 and single, and if you make a decent living, this book is perfect. But if you’re 45 and married with two children, and if you struggle to make ends meet, this book is less useful. That said, it's packed with solid advice, cites its sources, and provides scores of tactical tips for managing money. [my review] A-
- Spend ‘Til the End by Scott Burns and Larry Kotlikoff (2008)
- Burns and Kotlikoff analyze dozens of hypothetical scenarios as they seek to discover which choices provide the greatest “lifetime living standard per adult”. Their aim is to find a way to balance today and tomorrow, to pursue what's known as “consumption smoothing”. Much of the book’s advice is geared toward those nearing retirement, but there’s still plenty for readers of every age. [my review] C+
- Increase Your Financial IQ by Robert Kiyosaki (2008)
- The problem with the standard financial advice is that it’s bad advice. You’ve been told to work hard, save money, get out of debt, live below your means, and invest in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds. But this advice is obsolete — so argues Robert Kiyosaki in Increase Your Financial IQ. I'll be blunt: Kiyosaki is full of shit. I worry about his financial IQ. [my review] D-
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss (2007)
- When I picked up The 4-Hour Workweek, I was worried it was some sort of “get rich quick” book. Ferriss makes a lot of bold promises, and some of the details along the way read like the confessions of an internet scammer. Ultimately, though, I found tons of value that I could apply to my own entrepreneurial ventures. In fact, this has become one of my most-bookmarked books of all time! An intelligent reader can easily extract a wealth of useful here, which is why it's become a modern classic. [my review] B-
- The Quiet Millionaire by Brett Wilder (2007)
- The Quiet Millionaire is different from most of the other money books I review. Though Wilder includes behavioral finance and life planning concepts, this is a numbers book. It's like a textbook for personal finance. It isn’t really a book for beginners. It’s targeted at folks who are out of debt and building wealth. I suspect many people will find this book boring. But then, smart personal finance is boring. [my review] B
- Debt Is Slavery by Michael Mihalik (2007)
- Debt is Slavery is a deceptively simple book. It’s short. Its advice seems basic. And it’s self-published, so how good can it be? Well, I think it’s great. In fact, I found myself wishing that I had written it. Mihalik’s advice is spot-on, and he covers a lot of topics that other authors shy away from, such as the effects of advertising, the weight of possessions, and the soul-sucking misery that comes from a bad job. This book may be short, but it’s sweet. Especially great for recent graduates, I think. [my review] B+
- Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny (2007)
- Overcoming Underearning isn't what I expected it to be. When I read the title, I expected a book about how to stretch your dollars and how get more from what you do earn. This book is about asking for more, creating more, and working your way through the psychological pitfalls that lead to being satisfied with less in the first place. But the book contains few actionable steps that will help you make more money or invest well. If you need a “how-to” book, keep looking. If you need to get started, or are started, but have hit a wall and you don’t know why, this might be the book for you. [my review] C-
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006)
- The Secret is all about the so-called Law of Attraction, which is not actually a law of anything. The Law of Attraction states that your life is a result of the things you think about. From a psychological perspective, this notion has some merit. But this book offers no evidence of any kind: no scientific discussion, no experimentation — only scattered cherry-picked anecdotes. It’s the worst kind of pseudo-scientific baloney. And its money advice is actively harmful rather than helpful. [my review] F
- The Millionaire Maker by Loral Langmeier (2006)
- The Millionaire Maker attempts to codify Langemeier’s “proprietary Wealth Cycle Process”. She believes there are better places to put your money than in mutual funds. This book is a mixed bag. While it preaches what ought to be preached, and Langemeier provides more specifics than some authors, her message sounds hollow. There is some good information here, but there’s stuff that raises red flags, too. [my review] D+
- Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement by Bob Clyatt (2005)
- For years, Work Less, Live More has been my go-to book for info about early retirement. I give away copies several times a year. I recommend it when replying to email. I refer to it myself when I have questions. I like this book because it strikes a balance between the high-level Big Picture stuff and the low-level nitty-gritty numbers crunching. (See also: Bob Clyatt's guest post here at GRS about his life since writing the book.) [my review] A
- All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi (2005)
- This book was written by the mother-daughter team of Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. (Warren is now a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts!) The authors don’t get bogged down in the details of frugality and investing. They’re more interested in changing behavior, in fixing the big stuff. They offer a framework around which the reader can build lasting financial success. The book's advice is solid, if sometimes flawed. To me, its lasting legacy is the introduction of the Balanced Money Formula (which some now call the 50-30-20 budget), a concept I promote extensively in my public speaking gigs. [my review] B-
- Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker (2005)
- Many people would dismiss Secrets of the Millionaire Mind as useless. There’s not a lot of concrete information here about how to improve the details of your financial life. (Though the scant advice presented is sound). Instead, this book encourages readers to adopt mental attitudes that facilitate wealth. It’s about changing your psychological approach to money, success, and happiness. (This book is the source of my money blueprint concept.) [my review] C
- Money Without Matrimony: The Unmarried Couple's Guide to Financial Security by Sheryl Garrett and Debra Neiman (2005)
- As difficult as marriage and money can be, things are even tougher for unmarried couples, both gay and straight. It’s difficult for these folks to get good advice in a society that’s geared toward married couples. Money Without Matrimony is a great book with sound suggestions. It’s non-judgmental, practical, and packed with advice. If you’re in a committed unmarried relationship, I highly recommend you track down a copy. [my review] A
- The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (2005)
- David Bach is perhaps best known for coining the term “the latte factor”, a phrase that has almost become a joke in personal finance circles. That’s too bad, really, because Bach has some good ideas. And the latte factor is a marvelous concept, applicable to many people who casually spend their future a few dollars at a time. This book encourages readers to eliminate debt, to live frugally, and to pay themselves first. But the core of his book is unique: rather than develop will power and self-discipline, Bach says, why not bypass the human element altogether? Why not make your path to wealth automatic? [my review] C
- Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career by John D. Krumboltz and Al S. Levin (2004)
- Luck Is No Accident is a short book. Nothing in it is groundbreaking or revolutionary. Yet its common-sense wisdom is a powerful motivator. Whenever I read it, I cannot help but come away inspired, ready to make more of my situation, and to try new things. If you’re the sort of person who wonders why good things only happen to other people, I encourage you to read it. [my review] B+
- The Random Walk Guide to Investing: Ten Rules for Financial Success by Burton Malkiel (2003)
- Malkiel’s advice can be stated in a few short sentences: Eliminate debt. Establish an emergency fund. Begin making regular investments to a diversified portfolio of index funds. Be patient. But the simplicity of his message does not detract from its value. If you want to invest but don’t know where to start, pick up a copy of this book. [my review] A-
- The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (2002)
- The Bountiful Container beats most gardening books hands-down in several key areas. It focuses on growing plants that give a beginning gardener the most “bang for the buck”, plants that are both edible and decorative and can be grown with limited space. It is splendidly organized and easy to read, and has a great index, too. And the level of detail is just right for almost any skill level, and the writing is pleasant to read and easy to understand. [my ex-wife's review] B+
- The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein (2002)
- In this book, Bernstein describes how to build a winning investment portfolio. He doesn’t focus on the details — he tries to explain fundamental concepts so that readers will be able to make smart investment decisions on their own. The Four Pillars of Investing is challenging in places, but it provides an excellent introduction to the theory, history, psychology, and business of investing. If you’re able to finish, you’ll have a better grasp of investing than 99% of your peers. [my review] B
- Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill (2000)
- In this book, Paco Underhill — an environmental psychologist — describes what he learned through years of research into consumer behavior and retail marketing. Like it or not, you’re manipulated all of the time while you’re shopping, and in ways you don’t even suspect. But by taking Underhill’s lessons for marketers and flipping them around, you can make yourself immune to marketers’ manipulations. (Well, maybe not immune, but less likely to succumb to their ploys, anyhow.) [my review] B
- Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes (and How to Fix Them) by Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich (1999)
- In this short book, Belsky and Gilovich catalog a menagerie of mental mistakes that cause people to spend more than they should. What might have been a boring topic becomes fascinating thanks to an engaging style and plenty of anecdotes and examples. This book covers a couple dozen psychological barriers to wealth. [my review] B+
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko (1998)
- The Millionaire Next Door has earned its place in the canon of personal-finance literature. It's built on years of research, on a body of statistics and case studies. It doesn’t make hollow promises. That said, the book is a flawed classic. It offers a fascinating portrait of the wealthy, but it buries this beneath mountains of detritus. The book is poorly organized, repetitive, and dull. (The section on car-buying seems to go on forever.) A patient reader will be rewarded with a glimpse at what it takes to become a millionaire, but I can’t help but feel this book could have been something more. Warning: Avoid the audiobook, which suffers even more in the tedious sections. [my review] C+
- Yes, You Can Achieve Financial Independence by James Stowers (1992)
- Yes, You Can Achieve Financial Independence is informative without being dense. It’s accessible without being condescending. Its advice is solid. The book is filled with investment advice, but it gives equal time to thrift and savings. Best of all, it asks as many questions as it provides answers. It prompts the reader to think, to evaluate his priorities. Its message is that yes, you can achieve Financial Independence, but you can’t get there overnight, and you can’t get there without setting goals and making sacrifices. [my review] A-
- How to Retire Young by Edward M. Tauber (1989)
- How to Retire Young is one of the oldest books I’ve found on the subject of early retirement. Tauber’s premise is that many people can retire early — if they plan and remain dedicated to the plan. I wish I could say that this is a great book. Sadly, it’s not. It’s good (don’t get me wrong), but it suffers from being first. [my review] C-
- Cashing In on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst (1988)
- Cashing In on the American Dream is a seminal early retirement book and its advice was spot-on for 1988. But that strength is now its weakness. Some of the advice is thirty years out of date. If you don’t need specific advice but are instead interested about theory (and story), then seek out this title. (The last half of the book is filled with stories from folks who made early retirement happen.) [my review] B
- How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis (1988)
- How to Get Out of Debt is built on the principles of Debtors Anonymous, a twelve-step program founded in 1971 to help those who struggle with compulsive debt. Mundis was himself a debtor, and he based this book on his own experience. This isn’t purely theoretical information from the mind of some Wall Street finance whiz who has never struggled; this book contains real tips and real stories from real people. [my review] A-
- You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen (1980)
- Whether you like it or not, your life is filled with negotiations. You negotiate your salary, for the price of a car, for the cost of a couch. You negotiate with your wife about where to spend your summer vacation, with your husband about what color to paint the baby’s bedroom, with your daughter about what time she should be home from the football game. Of all the books I’ve recommended at Get Rich Slowly over the years, You Can Negotiate Anything is one of the best. [my review] A
- How to Get Rich and Stay Rich by Fred J. Young (1979)
- This book is built around a single principle: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference in something that you think will increase in value and make you rich. It reads like homespun advice from your favorite uncle. While there’s plenty of good advice in these pages and lots of amusing anecdotes, there’s very little polish. [my review] C
- The Incredible Secret Money Machine by Don Lancaster (1978)
- Though the title smacks of get-rich-quick schemes, The Incredible Secret Money Machine is really about starting and running a small business. To Lancaster, a “money machine” is any venture that generates “nickels”. Nickels are small streams of revenue from individual customers. If your goal is simply to earn a comfortable income for yourself by doing something you love, then this book can help you explore the idea of business ownership. It’s not going to help you launch the next Google or Microsoft, though. Lancaster is all about nickels, not about dollars. [my review] C+
- Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel (1970)
- In 1970, writer Studs Terkel published Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, which features excerpts from over 100 interviews he conducted with those who lived through the 1930s. Terkel spoke with all sorts of people: old and young, rich and poor, famous and not-so-famous, liberal and conservative. The book is fascinating. It’s one thing to read about the Great Depression in textbooks, or to hear it used as leverage in political speeches, but it’s another thing entirely to read the experiences of the people who lived through it. [my review] A-
That's it! If you find any reviews I missed, let me know so that I can add them to this index.
I consider this a “living article”. I plan to add to it with time. As I re-publish old reviews that are currently “unpublished”, I'll add them here. And as I write new reviews in the future, those will get added to the list too.
Know of a money book that I should read and review? Drop a line to let me know!