The ultimate round-up collection of personal finance books

man reading book

Reading books on investing money is a great way to learn more about what you should do at each point in your financial journey. In some respects, it doesn't really matter where you are in your journey because, no matter what you need help with, there's a book that covers it.

Deciding which book to read when, though, can be a bit of a challenge. So we created this huge collection of personal finance books to help with that. Here's how it works:

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10 Ways to Save Money on Books

I used to spend thousands of dollars a year on books, most of which I never read. Recently I've begun to trim my book spending. I spent nearly $3000 on books in 2003, but that number dropped to $700 last year. How did I do it? Through self-discipline and some common sense tricks.

1. Avoid new releases

New releases sell at a premium. Sometimes you can get them cheap at Costco or Amazon. It's best to avoid them completely. Put them on hold at the library. If you're tempted to buy a newly-released book, ask yourself: "Why do I need to own this now? Can I wait?"

2. Read reviews

Reviews help separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a terrible feeling to spend $25 on a book only to discover it's awful. Amazon is an excellent source for reader opinion. I also like Metacritic and The New Yorker. Find a source that you trust, and rely upon it to screen books.

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Money-Making Hobbies (from 1938)

Note: For a modern look at this topic, check out six tips for money-making hobbies.

What would Get Rich Slowly have been like if it were produced seventy years ago? Maybe something like this. (Or maybe not.) All text and illustrations from Money-Making Hobbies by A. Frederick Collins, published 1938 by D. Appleton-Century Company. I am not making this up. Enjoy!


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Book review: The Millionaire Next Door

Some personal finance books promise to show the reader how to become a millionaire. The Millionaire Next Door (by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko) is different. It is built on years of research, on a body of statistics and case studies. It doesn't make hollow promises. Instead, it profiles people who have already become millionaires. This is a subtle but important difference.

Many people who earn high incomes are not rich, the authors warn. Most people with high incomes fail to accumulate any lasting wealth. They live hyperconsumer lifestyles, spending their money as fast as they earn it. In order to accumulate wealth, in order to become rich, one must not only earn a lot (play "good offense", according to Stanley and Danko), but also develop frugal habits (play "good defense"). Most books focus on only one side of the wealth equation: spending less or earning more. It's refreshing to read a book that makes it clear that both are required to succeed.

It's as if people can be classified based on the following table (which is my own invention based on the authors' findings):

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Secrets of the Millionaire Mind


Initially, T. Harv Eker's Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth seems cast from the same mold as Loral Langemeier's The Millionaire Maker (my review): full of vague promises, unsupported claims, and thinly-veiled sales pitches for products and seminars. It's true that Eker is guilty of some of these faults. But ultimately I could not help but like the book once I stopped thinking of it as a personal finance guide and began to consider it as a motivational tool.

I'm sure that 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.

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Getting Things Done: How to take control of life

Taking control of your finances is easier when the rest of your life is in order. If your mind is swamped with worries about work, or home improvement projects, or obligations to friends and family, personal finance can become a low priority. You have other Stuff to worry about.

David Allen's Getting Things Done provides a system for tackling all of the Stuff in your life. I've avoided mentioning Getting Things Done before today. But I'm currently writing a couple of articles that will make more sense if you're familiar the concept, so an introduction is in order.


Getting Things Done (GTD) is about productivity. Its aim is to help you do more while feeling less stressed. Rather than explain the system — other sites have done so already — I want to share how I implemented it in my own life. Since I didn't follow things to the letter, and since many of you are probably unfamiliar with GTD, I'll begin with a brief description. The following has been simplified.

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How to manage a windfall successfully

This entry is part of JLP's October project — a month-long, cross-blog review of the book The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing. Some of what follows is taken directly from the book.

You have won $50,000! So, what do you do now?

Every day I give advice on following the slow, sure path to wealth. But what happens if you do manage to get rich quickly? What happens if you win the lottery, or hit the jackpot in Vegas, or inherit a million bucks from your Great Aunt Tilley? Continue reading...

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Are You Normal About Money?

How much do families spend on food? How much has the average person saved for retirement? Do others balance their checkbooks every month? Every week? Every day? When shopping for homes, how much time do people take?

I recently spent $4 on a book that answers these questions and others like them. Are You Normal About Money? by Bernice Kanner purports to offer a statistical representation of the financial lives of normal Americans. While I question the methodology — it mostly comprises the results of surveys at, hardly a scientific sample — the results are interesting.

Here are some typical questions and responses:

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Book review: The Millionaire Maker

Loral Langemeier claims that she can turn anyone into a millionaire. In her recent book The Millionaire Maker, she writes:

You can give me someone who's severely in debt, you can give me a single mom on a low income, you can even give me a guy who's living a big lifestyle on fumes. I can take all of them and make them millionaires.

The Millionaire Maker attempts to codify Langemeier's "proprietary Wealth Cycle Process". (That's how she writes it — with capital letters. Langemeier is big on capitalized jargon, tossing around terms like Financial Baseline, Gap Analysis, Freedom Day, Cash Machine, Wealth Accounts, Forecasting, Wealth Account Priority Payment.) Continue reading...

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Phil Town’s rule #1 investing

Rule #1 by Phil Town is not a general personal finance book, and it's not a book for beginning investors — it turns a lot of conventional investment wisdom on its ear. The book explores a philosophy ascribed to Columbia University's Benjamin Graham (author of The Intelligent Investor), and popularized by Graham's student, Warren Buffet (perhaps the most successful investor of all time).

What is The Rule? "There are only two rules of investing: Rule #1: Don't lose money [...] and Rule #2: Don't forget Rule #1." Town writes: "Most Americans are trapped in mutual funds that, at best, ride the waves of the market." He believes that his method can help investors break free from these cycles.

At its heart, Town's philosophy is simply "buy low, sell high". He's not pushing a get-rich-quick scheme (though at times, especially early in the book, that's exactly how it comes across). But he's certainly encouraging his readers to abandon traditional "get rich slowly (and surely)" techniques. Continue reading...

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