Favorite Reads: Money

As some of you know, I love to read and once in a while receive inquiries about which finance books I might be able recommend. I have to admit that while I am very interested in personal finance, I haven’t read too many actual personal finance books. The few that I have read have been very popular ones like The Total Money Makeover. I did enjoy these books, but found that I didn’t necessarily carry a lot of the lessons into my everyday life.

I sat down and thought about the books which have made a real impact in how I approach my finances, and here are the five standouts. I hope you find some of these picks helpful!

Finance Books

The Tightwad Gazette. During an especially broke feeling period in college, I started googling “ways to save money” and somehow found myself ordering this book, which is full of ideas to save money that range from the reasonable to the possible extreme. Reusing ziplock bags that have held dry goods? Makes sense. Dumpster diving for only slightly expired food? Maybe not, at least not with my coordination. In all honesty I don’t really use many specific lessons from the book. It’s value to me has always been as a) an entertaining read, and b) a general lesson to never waste anything, and to always be resourceful and creative with what I already have.

The Intelligent Investor. I am by no means a sophisticated investor. Over the last ten years I have had some experience making small investment choices, and experienced the satisfaction of watching investments go up, and the supreme disappointment of seeing them tank. Ben Graham’s classic book serves as a reminder that market is not always efficient, or absolutely correct in valuation, and you shouldn’t lose your head if it dips on you. I always try and see the stocks I’m buying as part of a larger belief in the value of a company, and not just speculation. But even for a small fry like me after about a decade (albeit a very turbulent one), I still think investing takes nerves of steel!

The Big Short. I love all of Michael Lewis’s books and own almost all of them. The Big Short is a fascinating read about some of the very few individuals that made out like bandits in the financial crisis of 2008. For me personally, it’s a lesson that going “against” the market isn’t always bad, and that in some cases, it can be very lucrative – if you have the stomach for it, and the capital.

The Millionaire Next Door. Anyone who has even paid a passing glance over this blog would know that I’m not doing the greatest job of being frugal in all areas of my life. This book has a few poignant lessons that can always bear to be repeated, and it always serves as a great reminder to me to save, to invest, and to be responsible.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is my favorite book in the world – a novel which at first glance has nothing to do with personal finance. However, the story of a young girl who grows up very poor in Brooklyn has always moved me. The joy that Francie the main character describes when choosing a penny bag of candy or enjoying a trip to the library reminds me that many of the best things in life can be had for very little, or free. It’s a lesson that I sometimes forget – that you don’t have to spend a lot of money, if any at all, Β to find what brings you joy in your life.


Now that I’ve shared a few of mine – I’d love to hear yours. What are some of your favorite books about finance, money, and more?

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  • Girlie Blogger
    March 29, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Hi. Just wanted to say thank you for these suggestions. A lot of readers glance over subtitles on blogs – I’m guilty too – and leave a one-liner comment. But I actually read all the descriptions. I like informational books as you do. I even forwarded this page to my personal email, which I rarely do. I often googled “ways to save money” in college. In fact, I still do. Have a great weekend.

  • Girlie Blogger
    March 29, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Also, regarding what you said about the Big Short…I haven’t read it, but going against the market can really save you in a turbulent economy. My mom invests that way – I’ve yet to learn how – but she’s weathered 2008, and is doing great now. I think I will read this one next. The Millionaire next door was good. I also read Millionairess Next Door. I like the first one better.

    Wow. I just said an ear-full. Sorry. I like reading :O) Just suggested a couple of books on my own blog entry last night.

    • Katherine
      March 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I need to head over to your blog and get some more recommendations! Thanks for your thoughtful comment πŸ™‚

  • Jill
    March 29, 2013 at 9:40 am

    About the Tightwad Gazette, my mom had this book, and I think there was a newsletter she subscribed to as well. I never read it myself but my mother told me that one of the suggestions to save money involved using dryer lint to make children’s Halloween masks. I’m all for saving money but that seemed really extreme to me and I felt bad for this lady’s kids. I believe there was an article some years back that was like an update on Amy Dacyczyn and her family and I think one of her daughters complained about every single thing being a hand-me-down. I would not be surprised to find out at least one of her kids have turned out to be total spendthrifts because of the extreme budget living from the time they were born.

    • Katherine
      March 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Jill, that is fascinating about Amy and her family! Having read the book I am not too surprised about a few things – I believe she had the best intentions at heart but can easily see how her children might have been quite annoyed. Thanks for sharing!

  • E
    March 29, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I love shopping as much as I love reading about personal finance. It is not very easy to balance saving and spending for things that I love at the same time.

    Below are some books that I read and liked:

    – Young, fabulous and broke by Suze Orman
    – I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi

  • reeder
    March 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I like Ramit’s personal finance blog and he also has a book. The blog encourages making more, saving on big things, spending on what matters to you, automating your finances, testing your assumptions, and most important to me is being willing to question invisible scripts.

    There’s a lot of invisible scripts I have about fashion, being a rather low key dresser. It isn’t something I particularly fret about in the morning because I love to sleep. However, I’ve also allowed myself to purchase more fashionable clothing following some of the fashion bloggers style sense I like and only keep things which fit my body. I’ve also decided there’s nothing wrong with being a low key dresser or not owning a Chanel Flap πŸ˜‰

    • Katherine
      March 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      I enjoy Ramit’s books too πŸ™‚ Yup, nothing wrong with not owning a Chanel flap – especially with the prices these days!

  • Revanche
    March 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

    That’s an interesting mix – I haven’t read most of them which is only a little surprising. Despite being an inveterate bookworm, I don’t actually love a ton of finance books. They often feel outdated, too narrow-minded or dry. (Coming from someone who does enjoy career and mgmt books, that’s pretty dry.)

    I honestly took more away from books I read MANY years ago like The Boxcar Children, and the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankwiler where the protagonists had to be creative, figure out how to survive on their own, think about their needs and wants carefully.

    My “real” finance resources tend to be blogs and forums, and the very occasional finance-trustworthy friend. (MyMoneyBlog, SingleMa when she was still finance blogging, Ramit from IWT, Fatwallet, etc.)

    • Katherine
      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Ha! I agree with you on many of them being dry – and LOVED the Boxcar Children growing up! What an amazing series! Thank you for the SingleMa recommendation, I had heard of the others before but not her!

  • adele
    March 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I can honestly say I’ve never read a book about money. I’ve always loved money & wanted to work with it, which I did – I controlled a budget of Β£80million, so I guess my job taught me a lot about how to handle £££
    Trench coat Giveaway on my blog!
    Wishing you a Happy Easter Hun xoxo

    • Katherine
      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      That’s quite a budget! You must get enough of an education at your job πŸ™‚

  • phiphi's blog
    March 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

    thank you for these suggestions, Kat. i have been trying more and more to understand investing money. saving has been a goal for a long time, and i still try to do as much as i can *trying operative word* but investing is something i have little tolerance for as i have a low-risk threshold. i’ll have to check out your picks.

    have a great weekend! xox P

    phiphi’s blog

  • Olivia
    March 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the great suggestions! Are there any good personal finance blogs you would recommend? Have a wonderful weekend!!

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    March 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve read 2 out of the 5 books you’ve recommended here. I’ll have a look at the remaining 3 on Amazon or my library. I’m guilty of not reading enough of these books in the past 6-7 years but I used to devour these type of books including ones on property earlier on. Thank you for the reminder that I need to do more and get better with managing my finances.

  • Grace
    March 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Great post! I’m now heading to Barnes&Noble to get me a copy of ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’. πŸ™‚

    I have the Millionaire Next Door and it was life-altering for me! I’m so grateful I read it in my early 20’s and immediately took action. So far so good according to our financial advisor, so hopefully he’s right.

    I also have the Tightwad Gazette and I’m afraid I’m not creative enough to turn a cardbox box into a robot costume for Halloween nor am I frugal enough to ever want to reuse Ziplock baggies. It did turn me into a walking contradiction — I complain paying for a $5 parking after I’ve bought a $600 pair of shoes!


  • Jo
    March 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Katherine, I used to read a lot of these books when I was a financial advisor. The only one I read from your list is the Millionaire next door. Have you read the Wealthy Barber? It’s pretty popular but I didn’t finish it. Have a great Easter weekend!

    xo Jo

  • Fifi B
    March 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    Great post. I love reading books on finance and am now particularly interested in reading ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ so thanks for the review. My favourite finance books so far have been anything by Suzie Orman and Australian finance expert Paul Clitheroe. I am part the way through ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ as well as ‘Your Money Or Your LIfe’ Fifi x

    • Katherine
      March 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      I’ve never heard of Paul Clitheroe – thank you for the recommendation!

  • Cassie
    March 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Lol, I LOVE that even carrying around your Chanel and Hermes bags, you still count The Tightwad Gazette in your list of favourite finance books.

    As far as personal finance goes, the most recent one to blow my mind was The Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. It was incredibly straight forward, logical, and easy to read. I revamped my retirement savings investments after reading it and haven’t looked back since.

    Another good one is actually a biography about Warren Buffett called The Snowball. A couple chapters into the book I knew I wouldn’t have what it took to become a billionaire, but millionaire was still a very real possibility. It explains a lot about him and his personal life, showing that there were some distinct downsides to being the financial guru that he is.

    • Katherine
      March 31, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you for the recommendations – I’ve added both Snowball and The Millionaire Teacher to my list, I’m especially excite to try Snowball!

  • thisgorgeouslife
    March 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

    This is an awesome post! I recently read secrets of millionaire women and i loved it and my favorite personal finance book still remains smart women finish first by David Back. I also really like the personal finance blog –
    I will definitely be checking out your favorite books!

  • Ali
    March 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I’m so happy that you included A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    • Katherine
      March 31, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I love this book!!

  • Trey
    April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Well, I was actually having a drink in The Royalton bar a number of years ago, waiting to see Jude Law as Hamlet (Fabulous BTW, especially with an audience of Swooning women! But Shakespeare, on Broadway, in the 21st Century. WOW!) when Mr Lewis walked in and seated himself just behind me; he was shortly followed by a young woman. Turns out she had written some graduate paper on the financial crises and he peppered her with questions. Basically, she said the lower level people knew the housing rise was indeed a bubble, and it would all blow up, while the higher up’s were too busy bonusing themselves and implementing Plausible Deniability to care. The latter then convinced our elected leaders they were indispensable when it all blew up, handing us taxpayers with the bill, even as they should have been put in jail. We do live in very different times! Act accordingly….. And BTW, investing is easy, no broker can ever add enough value to justify their fee; it’s simple math. So. put your money in Vanguard ETF’s, simple, easy. Expert’s recommend the Total Market fund, while I prefer the S&P 500.

    • Katherine
      April 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      That’s fascinating! Thanks for sharing that anecdote πŸ™‚