“I care about my personal finances and want an independent future for myself, but don’t have any background in the area.” These are the thoughts of a lot of people. Most people genuinely care about their finances but have no idea where to start. It is indeed quite hard to devote the time and money necessary to take finance courses or hire personal mentors in today’s busy and complicated world. There is, however, an alternative that is both efficient as it is powerful: reading.
Reading books is by far the easiest way to learn. Why do you think schools make students read so much? It’s cheap and effective. However, there are more things to learn in the world than math, chemistry, and Macbeth. Books are also an amazing outlet into the world of personal finance. Setting aside a few minutes every day to read great books will change your future.
Bill Gates, one of the most influential people in the world, asserts that reading is absolutely essential to success. In his own words: “Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently… You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning.” If the father of personal computers himself is such an advocate for reading books, why shouldn’t we give it try?
“What books should I read?” Below are three books that completely changed my perspective. As cliché as it sounds, if you follow the advice in these three books, you are guaranteed to be successful in not just your finances, but also in your life. Here are the 3 best books on personal finance for beginners.
Think and Grow Rich
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill teaches you how to do exactly what the title promises. Written in 1937, this book is more of a life-development guide than a finance book. Instead of telling you what stocks to invest in, Napoleon Hill reveals a step-by-step map to follow that can help readers achieve almost anything they want in life. How did he come up with this formula? By studying over 20 years worth of individuals who have achieved success in life.
Ever want something so bad that it almost hurt? This book will teach you how to apply a system to that desire which will ultimately yield tangible results. I have been applying these concepts to every major goal I have in life. In the first few weeks or even months, there is no visible difference. However, all of my goals have been achieved or surpassed within one or two years of applying Napoleon Hill’s methods. Exactly how it works, I have no idea, but I do know that the book worked wonders for me. This is, without a doubt, the best book on the power of visualization and desire.
- Author: Napoleon Hill
- Published 1937
- 238 pages
- Comprehension level: intermediate
Themes of the Book:
- Getting rich with your mind
- The millionaire mind and mindset
- Visualization and the Law of Attraction
Read this book if:
- You want to take charge of your life
- You want to achieve a certain goal with a time horizon longer than 1 year
- You have big dreams
- You hit a roadblock in your progress that you want to get past
- You want to change the world
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Next up is the personal finance classic and bestseller “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki documents his upbringing by two fathers, both of whom were very smart, but only one of whom ended up being wealthy. Being brought up in such an environment, Kiyosaki had exposure to the ideas and mindsets that made one father rich and one father poor. Through this book, Kiyosaki describes the attitudes towards money and work which made both his rich dad and himself, rich.
Ever wondered why the income gap between the rich and the poor is widening? Or put it in another way, ever wonder why the “rich stay rich and the poor stay poor”? Kiyosaki attributes it to the way in which families teach their children to view money, and reveals what the rich know about money that the poor do not. I read this book once when I was 13 and another time when I was 18, and both times it shifted my perspective. When I read it at 13, I realized that there were different paths in life aside from employee and self-employed. When I read it at 18, I realized that most of what Kiyosaki was describing as the “typical path” had come true for me and Rich Dad Poor Dad became one of my favorite personal finance books of all time.
- Author: Robert Kiyosaki
- Published: 1997
- 207 pages
- Comprehension level: easy
Themes of the Book:
- Entrepreneurship and financial-literacy
- The cashflow quadrant and escaping the rat-race
- Real estate investing, finance education, and not living paycheck to paycheck
Read this book if:
- You want an introduction to personal finance
- You want to learn how to build wealth
- You don’t want to work a 9-5 for 40 years
- You want to be financially free
- You want to earn passive income
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Last but definitely not least is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Covey describes ways of effective living that intuitively make sense. He advocates for aligning yourself with universal principles so that you are always working towards the right goals. Covey not only tells you how to live effectively but also gives a step-by-step blueprint on how to implement it.
Despite not being a typical personal finance book that teaches you how to be rich, this book is one that every person should read. Many people work long and hard, only to find that they simply don’t feel like they’re getting anywhere. Stephen Covey hopes to change that through his 7 habits. If you apply these principles, you will find a renewed sense of direction and also work ethic that will boost your effectiveness in a quantum way.
- Author: Stephen Covey
- Published: 1989
- 381 pages
- Comprehension level: intermediate-advanced
Themes of the Book:
- Choosing your principles wisely
- Productivity and efficiency
- Finding direction in life
Read this book if:
- You work hard but feel unproductive
- You want to find direction in life but don’t know where to start
- You want to have a purpose in life
- You need a guide on how to achieve your goals
Best Books on Personal Finance for Beginners
Whether you want to invest smarter, retire wealthy, or just get some sound financial education, these 3 personal finance books will undoubtedly help you out.
“Think and Grow Rich” tells you the right mindset to adopt for taking charge of your life: it is a powerful book for shaping your future. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” introduces you to the world of personal finance: if you want to be financially free, this book is a must-read. Finally, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” ties it all together: it shows you how to take your mindset and knowledge and apply it to your life in a practical and efficient way. Collectively, these three are the best books on personal finance for beginners that I can recommend.
What if I Don’t Have Time to Read
If you’re like me, you’re super busy, all day every day. When in the world are you going to find time to read not one, but THREE books? To that I say, read 5 minutes every day.
You might be thinking “5 minutes every day? That’s it? It’ll take me a year to get through these books.” And you would be correct. But the magic of setting aside 5 minutes every day to read is in two components:
- You will instill a habit of reading every day and that will build consistency
- You’ll find yourself reading way more than just 5 minutes once you start
Famous actor Woody Allen once said “80 percent of success is showing up.” In the same way, most people don’t have time to read because they never get started. “I’m too busy to read; I’ll start that book once I have more time.” Keep saying that to yourself and you’ll never start the book at all.
Instead, set a reminder in your phone to read at least once a day for 5 minutes. If you are scared about being busy, you can even set a timer for 5 minutes and start it once you start reading. I promise that if you devote 5 minutes a day to reading, you will get through way more books than you thought possible.
Best Personal Finance Books For Beginners (Pt. 2)
Some honorable personal finance and investing books that didn’t make the top 3 are:
- The Automatic Millionaire: David Bach
- Ex financial advisor David Bach gives you an in depth guide on how to invest automatically every month.
- The Richest Man in Babylon: George Samuel Clason
- Clason compiles various parables and pamphlets to create a classic in financial advice books that will teach you how to be money-smart.
- A Random Walk Down Wall-Street: Burton Malkiel
- More heavily stilted towards the financial markets and stock market investing, this book is a guide to investing built on the random-walk theory.
- The Millionaire Next Door: Thomas J. Stanley
- Stanley reveals in this book that most millionaires are actually middle-class as opposed to “affluent” and teaches you how to save and how to invest your money to achieve millionaire status yourself.
- The Intelligent Investor: Benjamin Graham
- Written by the teacher of Warren Buffett, The Intelligent Investor is a hefty investment guide which covers everything a stock market investor needs to know to succeed including topics such as interest rates, mutual funds, and debt.
- Your Money or Your Life: Vicki Robin + Joe Dominguez
- A big proponent of the financial independence and retire early movement, this book aims to change your relationship with money and ultimately brings you that much closer to achieving financial independence yourself.
So, you’ve gotten recommendations for three of the best financial books out there, each of which could change your life on its own. On top of that, you’ve been shown how they can work together to provide you with the necessary tools, knowledge, and plan to drastically improve your financial future. And, you’ve been provided with a simple strategy (that can’t hurt you to try) for getting through these books. What are you waiting for? Get out there and get reading… it could change your life.
Thanks for reading through my post! Despite being a bit lengthy, I hope you gained something useful from it and/or had fun reading it. For more about achieving financial freedom, head over to this post. For more about me, head over to this link here. Finally, for exclusive updates and newsletters, drop your email in the “get updates” box up top! Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!
Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student passionate about making smart financial decisions both in school and in the workplace so that he can spend more time doing what he loves (like playing golf, spending time with family, and travelling). He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys sharing all things personal finance, academic, and golf-related. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.