I grew up in a context where money was either:
My mother did the best she could as a single parent with 1 income stream and 2 very hungry boys to feed, but times were tough. I know she said the word “no” a lot more than she wanted to. But without the resources to tell her there was another way, or examples to follow who could lead us out of the economic trap our family was in, we were stuck.
I remember, specifically around the age of 9, deciding that I was going to be rich. I entered my 4th-grade classroom just like any other day with a brown bagged lunch in one hand and my backpack in the other when I saw it.
I had only seen it in magazines and on television. The marketing made it out to be the coolest thing a nerdy 9-year-old boy like me could imagine. And there it was, right in front of me… on Billy’s head.
A Nintendo Virtual Boy…
If you’re unfamiliar with Virtual Boy, it was the most advanced gaming system of its day. Imagine what an early 90’s version of virtual reality would look like (lots of blocky shapes) and then make it black and red (it could only display those colors) – that was it. The epitome of technological advancement at the time.
Also, a blazing example of what my family couldn’t afford.
Billy wouldn’t let any else try it out, but he made darn sure everyone in the class knew how cool it was and how much fun he was having. There, at my desk that day, something clicked. Sure, I was annoyed with Billy but my frustration took hold of something deeper. Something bigger.
It’s not that I wanted the Virtual Boy that badly. Rather, its that I wanted to be able to buy it if I wanted to. I wanted to have the options other kids and other families seemed to have.
I wanted to live in a big house and drive a Dodge Viper and go on tropical vacations like I saw on tv commercials. I wanted to be able to pay people to do the chores I didn’t want to do. And, maybe most of all, I wanted the respect that wealth brought – primarily from myself. The trust in myself that I could afford the things I wanted, provide for my family, and live well because I had figured out this money thing.
I don’t know what your Virtual Boy is, but if you are going to achieve the financial level you are capable of then I urge you to find it. What is that thing calling to you in the background of your dreams? The item that would solidify, in your mind, that you made it?
I am still on my journey towards financial freedom. But unlike before, I now have the tools to get me there.
My wife and I eliminated over $80,000 worth of debt in under 3 years. We paid for her Master’s degree in cash. And now, as a full-time author, my books bring in a consistent stream of income whether I take the day off or not.
I’m learning how to build my legacy, one dollar and one good decision at a time. That is what I want to help you do as well.
Below is a list of 10 books. Each with a specific theme for helping you achieve a new level of success with your money.
The money hardships you have faced up to this point may not have been your fault. But the level of wealth you achieve going forward is 100% up to you.
Book Recommendation: Your Money or Your Life
This book by Vicki Robin is one of the first titles that helped me start thinking about my financial health within the grander scheme of my entire life. Money is only one part of our lives and yet we allow it to consume the bulk of our time and mental energy.
In Robin’s book, the author challenges readers to think about the true cost of their decisions. What if we shifted our thinking and instead of measuring our resources in terms of just money, we started looking at our time and energy as resources that were just as valuable and measurable.
Then, with that shift in place, we can make decisions that more align with our true goals. Suddenly, whether or not to splurge on a new car becomes a lot less about what we can “afford” with money, and more about how it will impact our time and energy. The same goes for the job we choose, the opportunities we pursue, and ultimately the life we create.
I highly recommend Robin’s book as a starting point for those who want to get their financial life in order because it will help you set those goals within the right context (and help you create a life you are actually excited to live).
Book Recommendation: You Are A Badass At Making Money
Jen Sincero is that friend we all wish we had. Someone who is always up for an adventure, knows how to find the silver lining in every cloud, and isn’t afraid to call you out on your poor/fear-based choices.
I stumbled about Sincero’s book mainly by accident (an error on the Overdrive app gave me her audiobook instead of the one I originally requested). But I am so happy I did. Jen, unlike most other money-writers, didn’t start getting her financial life in order until well into her 40s. By most accounts, there was little hope of her becoming financially stable let alone wealthy by the time came for her to retire. But that didn’t stop her.
In the book, she walks readers through several exercises (sometimes called “the deep work”) where we are led to examine our beliefs and habits around money, what the origins of those may be, and how to build the mental structure for what we truly want.
I can’t emphasize how important this approach is. My wife and I have walked dozens of couples through our budgeting and spending practices so that they too could achieve their financial goals. But only a fraction of them stick to the plan for more than a few weeks. Why is that? Because if you try to change your outside situation without changing the inside conditions that first made it – nothing is going to change.
Book Recommendation: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Few books have been as influential (and therefore, controversial) upon the new generation of the entrepreneurially minded as Robert Kiyosaki’s classic.
I first read this book when I was 14 years old and honestly, I didn’t take away what I should have. I grew up always being one of the smartest kids in my class and I was convinced that if I played within the system, a system I was already winning in, then I would eventually achieve the success I desired.
I didn’t pick up the book again until a decade later. By then, I had made dozens of bad financial choices. I was up to my ears in student loan debt, working a low-wage job, and looking for more ways to trade my precious time for money. I was finally ready to hear what Robert had to say and I am so thankful I did.
The book is a type of autobiography where Kiyosaki recounts his childhood experiences with “two dads”. The first, his biological father who: played by the system, was highly educated, and traded time for money (a high wage). The second was his friend’s father: a man who started his own business, was not highly educated but employed those who were, and utilized this magical thing called leverage.
This book elevated my thinking of what was possible for me and my family to achieve. It was also the moment I knew that I was going to start my own business, even though I had no idea what that would be at the time.
If you’re looking for a framework to help you permanently break out of the rat race, this is it.
Book Recommendation: Total Money Makeover
It’s impossible to talk about eliminating your debt without mentioning at least 1 of Dave Ramsey’s books or products. The man is a pillar in the industry and for good reason. His methods are simple, straight-forward, and fool-proof. As long as you follow the steps, you WILL be debt-free.
This particular book follows Dave’s famous 7 Baby Step plan. You can find templates for this plan anywhere on the internet (I see a version of it shared on Facebook at least once a week!). But for this particular theme or goal, our main concern is getting to and succeeding at Step 2: Pay Off Debt.
Step 1 is to save $1,000 and put it in an account that is easily accessible when needed. This is your bare minimum emergency fund. $1,000 can’t do a ton these days, but it can keep you from incurring more debt when push comes to shove.
Once that is accomplished, the next step is to organize your debts from smallest to greatest and then apply what Ramsey called the Debt Snowball method. In this strategy, you make the minimum payments on all of your debts except the smallest one. For that one, you throw every single extra dollar you have at it so that it can disappear as quickly as possible. Then, when that debt is gone and the payment for it is freed up, you begin applying that money to the next smallest amount. And so on until you have “snowballed” your way to debt freedom!
One of the biggest complaints with this system is that it doesn’t take interest rates into account. I don’t have enough room to write about the pros/cons of each method here – but what I can say is that we applied a modified snowball method by taking interest rates into account and that is how we eliminated $80,000 worth of debt within 3 years.
Book Recommendation: The Millionaire Next Door
If you can internalize this one fact, you will be ahead of 95% of people on the journey towards financial freedom: Wealth building is much more about how much you spend, then it is about how much you earn.
This idea flew in the face of everything I believed about money growing up. I thought that being rich meant looking rich (i.e. driving expensive cars, living in a big house, going on fancy trips, etc.). But once I stumbled upon the classic work by Dr. Stanley and Dr. Danko, my perspective took a complete 180 turn.
In their book, the authors study the earning and spending habits of hundreds of millionaires. As you could expect, some did earn their money through high profile or high paying professions (such as entertainers and doctors). However, the vast majority of these people weren’t that. They were “average” people. Plumbers, electricians, and small business owners who made strategic choices about how to spend their hard-earned money.
There are dozens of golden nuggets in this book for those looking to hit the million-dollar net worth mark. A few of my favorites are:
A good amount of this book may be common sense once you start reading a lot of modern money books. But the stories are excellent motivation to help you realize how simple becoming a millionaire truly is.
Book Recommendation: The Richest Man in Babylon
George Clason, the author of this book, was an author and entrepreneur who survived one of the hardest economic periods in history: The Great Depression.
It was with this hard-earned experience that he penned the parables that would one day be compiled into his classic book. The work contains 7 money rules by which every person can achieve the financial level of success they desire. These include simple ideas, told through truly memorable stories, such as saving money and investing wisely.
Most notably, Clason is credited with the phrase “pay yourself first”; a slogan modern financial experts live by. For Clason, money was a tool, a friend, and a skill every person could and should engage with.
As is the case with so many things, people tend to get distracted by overcomplicated systems or get rich quick schemes, when in reality that is not how 99% of financial freedom is truly achieved. Building wealth is simple. It takes a few good choices made day-in and day-out over an extended period of time, nothing more and nothing less.
One of the best things about this book is that it can be read in a single sitting. So if you need a motivational boost on your money journey, this perfectly fits the bill.
Book Recommendation: The Simple Path To Wealth
Over the last decade, a community has grown like wildfire online based upon a single idea: how to retire early. This group is appropriately named F.I.R.E. = Financially Independent, Retired Early. And for this group of hundreds of thousands of members, there is one book, in particular, every single member swears by: The Simple Path by J.L. Collins.
I was wary at first when I joined a F.I.R.E. Facebook group and heard Collins’ book recommended no less than 10 times a day. A book with that much hype can’t possibly be as good as people say, can it?
Well, in this case, it can. Collins delivers a work that is truly worth its weight in gold.
The book grew out of a desire Collins had to teach his daughter financial literacy. At this point, she was in high school, preparing for college, and had no interest in her money other than making sure she could afford to eat out with friends and own her car when she went to college. Because of this background this book, which covers topics such as index funds, tax advantages, and Roth ladders, should be mind-numbingly boring but it isn’t!
The authenticity of Collins’ writing and the simplicity of the retirement system he encourages is truly captivating. I read the entire 265-page book in one afternoon. It was that good.
If retirement intimidates you but you want control over your financial future, pick this book up.
Book Recommendation: The Book on Rental Property Investing
As your knowledge about money increases, you will soon understand the necessity of multiple streams of income. Having a single job as your only source of financial security is a seriously risky endeavor. You are essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket. Let alone a basket that you have no control over, is held firmly by your employer, and could be pulled away at any moment when your employment no longer benefits them. It's mind-boggling how people still consider the 9-5 life the safe option.
Enter the most historically effective method of not only becoming financially independent but also to becoming a millionaire: investing in real estate.
There are literally dozens of ways to get involved with real estate (flipping, renting, becoming a loan provider, land, turn-key services, etc.) and for each of those there are options regarding the type of real estate you focus on (single-family, multi-family, condo, apartment, mobile, commercial, etc.). The options are endless.
What I have found to be one of the most attractive paths to wealth, as well as beginner-friendly, is the category of rental properties. This book, created by one of the leaders at BiggerPockets (the online capital for everything real estate related), is everything you need to get started in this industry.
It’s important to note that I’m including this later on in my recommendations because I think it should come later in your financial journey. Once you have a healthy income level, little to no debt, and a firm grasp of where you want to end up money-wise – that is when you can decide how and if something like real estate can help get you there.
Book Recommendation: Small Time Operator
In nearly every financial book I have ever read, the subject of owning your own business has come up at least half a dozen times. Why? Because, along with real estate, it is one of the most consistent paths to wealth creation.
Owning your own business allows you to do work that aligns with your values, your skills, and your priorities. Plus, if you choose a model that allows you to scale your business it can quickly become a way to break you out of the 9-5 rut and into a new level of financial freedom.
But with that, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome and a lot of information to be aware of. Enter this book. Many consider this textbook-sized manual by Bernard B. Kamoroff to be the “bible” of self-employed finances.
Since Kamoroff is a CPA, the information is rich with vital information to keep your business endeavors on the up-and-up. And although it can be a dense read at times, the money and headaches this book will save you is well worth the investment.
Book Recommendation: The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth
You don’t have to look far to notice that the world we live in is changing dramatically. Industries which were once staples of the American economy have vanished, “secure” jobs have been pulled out from under people’s feet, and the competition even for the most menial of jobs is now more fierce than ever.
Much of this is a result of the internet and its impact on how people spend their money and time. The change is real and more change is inevitable, so we have two options. Standby and complain as our planned path gets swept away; or look, with truly open eyes, at the new economy that is available to us.
In this book by James Altucher, readers are given an adventurous and hopeful look at how they can not only adapt but also wildly succeed in this new money world. Yes, James may be on the eccentric side of the entrepreneurial equation. But that energy and temperament for risk are also what enabled him to build multiple million-dollar businesses (I think he’s at 6 and counting…).
The heart of his book aims at helping readers accomplish 2 things. First, to develop an awareness of the possibilities and opportunities available to us in the new economy. Second, to construct a foundation (mentally, physically, spiritually, and habit-wise) that will enable us to take full advantage of those possibilities and opportunities.
I hope you found these 10 Money Book Recommendations helpful! No matter where you might be at in your financial journey, I guarantee at least one of these titles will be able to move you forward.
Each and everyone played a vital role in my journey towards financial literacy. Now, they continue to support me as I make my way towards full financial freedom.
If you have read any of these titles already, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Did the book help you accomplish what you wanted? Where are you in your financial journey now? And where would you like to be 3 years from now?