12 Best Personal Finance Books of All Time
Learning about personal finance is one of the most important investments that you can make to live a good life. The problem is that school, our parents, and society often do not teach us the basic skills of personal finance and investing. That’s why reading great personal finance books can help you get started on the right foot and build necessary money skills.
While there are many bad personal finance books that feature fake gurus telling you how to make a quick buck with the hottest trend, there are also wonderful, timeless books that can help you learn valuable skills, regardless of where you’re starting from.
These personal finance books teach you everything you need to know, from how to start investing, to how to use credit cards, to what you should do with your 401(k), to how to manage your own psychology with money, to how to negotiate a raise at your job and more.
Below I’ve listed 12 of the best personal finance books of all time. These are the books that you want to read if you’re serious about improving your financial knowledge and trajectory. Even reading one of these books can change your relationship with money in ways that will benefit you throughout your life.
1. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
“The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays.”
In The Psychology of Money, writer Morgan Housel teaches you how to have a better relationship with money and to make smarter financial decisions. Instead of pretending that humans are ROI-optimizing machines, he shows you how your psychology can work for and against you.
2. The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
“Since money is the single most powerful tool we have for navigating this complex world we’ve created, understanding it is critical. If you choose to master it, money becomes a wonderful servant. If you don’t, it will surely master you.”
Read this book if you want to get your personal finances in order. In a simple, engaging way, Collins shares the basic wisdom you need to make your money work for you, not against you. You’ll walk away with a practical toolkit to achieving financial freedom with minimal effort.
3. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Brendan Moynihan
Time is very painful when you’re losing money. All I wanted was for the market to rally back to the August highs, and I’d get out.”
This book is great for active investors because it shows you what most books fail to talk about – how you can lose in the market, its impact on your psychology, and how you can avoid the common traps that lead to large losses. You’ll walk away with a better grasp of how to avoid the big mistakes as an investor, which can help you stay in the game and do better over the long run.
4. Mastering the Market Cycle by Howard Marks
“In my view, the greatest way to optimize the positioning of a portfolio at a given point in time is through deciding what balance it should strike between aggressiveness and defensiveness.”
In this book, Howard Marks gives a masterclass in economics and markets. He introduces you to the natural cycles that repeatedly occur in markets over time and the factors that drive them. While the details differ across different markets and times, the patterns repeat. With an enhanced understanding of cycles and how they work, you walk away with a better understanding of what drives markets, how to think about where we may currently be in a cycle, and how to use that information to position yourself to benefit.
Bonus reading: Howard Mark’s periodic investing memos will teach you a ton about finance.
5. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke
“What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge. That state of knowledge, in turn, is some variation of ‘I’m not sure.’”
Professional poker player Annie Duke explores how we can all become better decision-makers in an uncertain and challenging world. She helps us understand how to disentangle the role of luck and skill in determining outcomes, ultimately helping us make better bets that lead to better outcomes and a better life.
6. More Money Than God by Sebastian Mallaby
“Capitalism works only when institutions are forced to absorb the consequences of the risks that they take on.”
More Money Than God is a deep dive into the history of hedge funds and its biggest players. In the book, you learn all about the titans of the industry and how they have each applied unique strategies to defy academics and try to beat the market. Some of their stories end in glory; others in peril.
If you’re at all interested in hedge funds, this is a good place to start. I listened to it on Audible and didn’t take many notes, so I don’t have a lot of quotes or key takeaways like with other books. But overall, I recommend the book if you’re interested in the industry. You learn about some of the biggest players while getting exposure to a plethora of interesting cool investing strategies.
7. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre
“There is nothing like losing all you have in the world for teaching you what not to do. And when you know what not to do in order not to lose money, you begin to learn what to do in order to win.”
First published in 1923, this memoir details the trials and tribulations of a successful stock market trader who made and lost his fortune multiple times. If you’re interested in making better investing decisions, this story reveals a number of timeless ideas about market timing, human psychology, assessing markets, and tactical strategies for speculating in markets. What’s interesting is that you walk away feeling like while the players and details have changed, the game of speculation is nearly identical to what it was 100 years ago.
8. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
“The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth.”
In his seminal work, Princeton Professor Burton Malkiel gives a masterclass on the history, theory, and psychology of markets and investing. If you had only one book you could read on personal finance, this may be it.
9. MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins
“Compound interest is such a powerful tool that Albert Einstein once called it the most important invention in all of human history.”
Personal development guru Tony Robbins helps you define and understand your own financial needs and journey, dispels a number of common myths, and provides a large set of tools you can consider to achieve financial success as you define it. Beyond the basic personal finance knowledge, he has interviews with financial titans including Ray Dalio, Charles Schwab, and Burton Malkiel.
10. Rich Dad Poor Dad By Robert Kiyosaki
“It’s fear that keeps most people working at a job: the fear of not paying the bills, the fear of being fired, the fear of not having enough money, and the fear of starting over. That’s the price of studying to learn a profession or trade, and then working for money. Most people become a slave to money – and then get angry with their boss.”
In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki gives you the crash-course financial education that you should have learned in school.
11. The Man Who Solved the Market by Gregory Zuckerman
“We’re right 50.75 percent of the time . . . but we’re 100 percent right 50.75 percent of the time,” Mercer told a friend. “You can make billions that way.”Whatever we face, we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?”
Former mathematician and intelligence agency employee Jim Simons solved the market and became the most successful money manager in modern history. This story reveals how his fund beat the market with computers and averaged annual returns of 66% since 1988.
12. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
“Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”
In this introduction to personal finance book, personal finance expert Ramit Sethi gives you a basic understanding of the fundamentals you need to know to start having a healthy and successful financial life. This was one of the first personal finance books I read after graduating from college, and it helped me learn some very important skills that I still use today.