The Personal Finance Books You Need To Get Your Money Under Control

Not everyone is ready, willing, or able to turn to a financial advisor for money advice. Sometimes, you want to begin to explore the topic on your own — and that's where books can come in!

Some titles on money meet people at an introductory level, giving them step-by-step guidance on how to budget, invest, save, and spend more responsibly. Others offer higher-level advice once you have your finances on track and want to boost your incomes, or even take the entrepreneurship plunge.

Ahead, we've rounded up some of our favorite titles whatever level you might be.

Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together

The popular podcast is now a book! Comedian and podcast host Gaby Dunn shares our observation that talking about money is hard, but that ultimately, being honestly about money is important in order to understand it. From student loans, to car insurance, Dunn adds some fun into hard task of taking control of our finances.

One reviewer said: "A frank, no nonsense book about money, Dunn adds the spice of humor to get through the skull of even those who think they are truly hopeless. Buckle up, you're about to adult hard and successfully."

Read the full review here.
Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By And Get Your Financial Life Together

Erin Lowry's Broke Millennial is a charismatic guide to personal finances for people seeking a modern, thorough introduction to the topic. While the book isn't necessarily a guide to emerging from structural poverty, it does provide practical tips for crafting a budget.

One reviewer said: "While I am pretty savvy when it comes to budgeting, I only know the basics. It is important to know all you can with finances, but I admit it has always overwhelmed me, so I was looking forward to reading this and gaining more insight and knowledge. Broke Millennial is a good read for cash-strapped 20 or 30-somethings, ready to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck and tackle those financial difficulties and situations.

"Broken down into 18 chapters and an epilogue, Lowry offers practical input on everything from budgeting to getting out of debt, to investments and retirement. You can either read from front-to-back, or skip ahead to sections that are best suited for your current situation. Each chapter ended in a brief, bullet-point breakdown to make sure you read everything that was covered."

Read the full review here.
Get A Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties And Thirties

This is a no-frills book that knocks out the basics and goes a little beyond. Kobliner writes in a very matter-of-fact way for people who don't want feel like a friend is talking to them, but are comfortable with a trusted advisor.

One reviewer wrote: "This book covers a lot of ground in just the right level of detail for someone starting to care about where his or her money is going, like a recently married thirty-something guy. The first chapter is about getting an overview of your financial situation. Where are you now and where do you want to be? Chapter Two is about debt, three about banking, four about investing. There's an obvious sequence there: get a handle on your situation, pay down your debt, build up some savings, then start investing. Subsequent chapters are about buying a house, buying insurance, and filing taxes."

Read the full review here.
Penguin Publisher Group
The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have To Be Complicated

Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack, the authors of The Index Card, have a no-nonsense, thoughtful approach to money. The idea behind their book is that personal finance is simpler than it seems — and that any individual rules can be boiled down to about 10 points that fit on a four-by-six index card. (As three women tried here.)

Here is what one reader said:

"I admit I breezed through the first few chapters. Yes, emergency fund. Of course pay your credit in full. Yep yep, maximize employer contribution... and then I hit the Rule #5: Buy Inexpensive, Well-Diversified Indexed Mutual Funds, and I thought, hang on. What are my investments? I dug the dusty paperwork off and my heart sank. All actively managed mutual funds. Crap. I need to call my financial guy.

"Then I hit #6: Make Your Financial Advisor Commit to the Fiduciary Standard, and I thought I was going to start crying on the train. I went to the free dinner. My financial advisor has sent me birthday and holiday cards. But he's not my friend, and he sure isn't working in my best interests. (He's not a bad person, he's just trying to do his job!)

"I took so many notes from this book! The original index card (which has been slightly modified) can be found on the NPR story that led me to this book. It does have very easy to understand and digestible information. The authors are quick to point out their own personal stories. It's one of the best written and most relatable books on finances I've read, and I highly recommend it."

Read the full review here.
Adams Media
On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance

On My Own Two Feet is one of many guides to personal finance specifically geared to women. While some people may assume that means the advice will be condescending or hollow, authors Thakor and Kedar are experts in the field who, even when they use a light tone, know what they're talking about.

One reviewer said: "Despite the cheesy name and cover, this book has good, straightforward financial tips and lots of tables to help you see how much actual money you should be putting toward retirement, emergency savings, etc. Good tips about how to save for money you plan to spend in the next five years (savings account/money market account/CD) vs. money for retirement, and a financial action plan. A quick read because they get straight to the point."

Read the full review here.

Another reviewer wrote: "This is the first book I have read that uses actual numbers. What I mean by that is instead of stating that the average starting salary is $41,000 and building a model budget off of that, or just telling everyone to spend a certain percentage of pay on certain items, the authors created a chart with a range of possible salaries from $20,000 to $100,000.

"Then, whenever they give a specific percentage suggestion (ex. car and related costs should be no more than 10% of your pay) they give you an actual dollar figure that equates to at each salary level. So as a reader you can find your pay level on the chart and easily determine your take home pay, how much to spend on necessities, how much to save, how much you can safely spend on a car, and how much $$$ you have left over for fun.

"One of my pet peeves is when personal finance writers provide savings benchmarks (ex.: Save 10% of your pay! Spend no more than 30% on home costs!) but don't specify whether that number is supposed to be a percentage of your net or gross income. This book avoids that pitfall. Everything is in terms of your gross income. Again, there is a chart in the back of the book this gives specific benchmarks based on gross income."
North Star Way
Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms

Amanda Steinberg, the founder and CEO of the personal finance site DailyWorth, provides methods for career-casting, investing in the stock market, owning property, entrepreneurship, and managing one's daily finances, in an accessible but down to earth way for people who want to break out of paycheck-to-paycheck living or take their ambitions to the next level.

One reviewer said: "This is, hands down, the best book for women on money that I have read yet, and I have read most of them. Amanda's down-to-earth style of talking to the reader as if we are a close friend with whom she openly shares all of her missteps and mistakes is at once endearing and refreshing.

"Her method of looking first at the big picture, net worth question, rather than focusing first on budgeting and income, feels like an intelligent woman talking to other intelligent women about the things we have all been missing out on all along, not because we are dumb or not good with money, but because financial advice has always been delivered to women in a way that is not particularly helpful to our bottom line and life goals."

Read the full review here.
William Morrow Paperbacks
The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living

Anna Newell Jones isn't a personal finance expert, but she has survived a serious case of credit card debt. Jones rebounded and paid off over $23,000 of debt by doing a spending fast. In her book, she describes how.

One reviewer wrote: "As a twenty-something with student loan debt and a yes-I've-heard-everything-there-is-to-hear-about-budgets attitude, this book was a refreshing and convicting read ...

"Overall I found this book very helpful and easy to read/understand. It felt like she was speaking to me honestly and not to some aspirational person who wouldn't have spending problems in the first place. I came out of it feeling like there were strategies I could implement and excited to have a new focus on repairing my relationship with spending/money."

Read the full review here.
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