I love books. I don’t just read books, I consume them. I typically read 2-3 books per week and, over the last two years, the majority have been business or finance books. (My wife is still on me about finishing the Harry Potter series) Below I’m listing my top 10 books on personal financial freedom, so I’ve done a lot of the pairing down for you. Not to say there aren’t books on my list that are worthwhile, but I need to cut it off somewhere. Maybe you’ve never picked up a personal finance book. Or maybe all these below are familiar. Maybe you prefer the “…For Dummies” series. Regardless, if you’re lost on where to start or looking for a jump start, try the list below.
10. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
What personal finance book list would be complete without Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad? The truth is, Kiyosaki is the perfect entry point for rethinking how you think about personal finance. If you’re at the bottom of the barrel or just need to change things up, this is a great place to start. The first steps to changing your financial situation occur in your mind! Kiyosaki takes a lot of the old adages (like “go to school so you can get a job so you can retire at 65”) head on.
9. How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban
Showing a little love for the local (Pittsburgh) business guru. Cuban’s book is a quick read at 73 pages and is compiled from early blog posts. The best parts of the book are Cuban starting from literally nothing — owning two cheap polyester suits, a POS car that barely ran, and sleeping on the couch or floor of an apartment shared with a lots of other people. His story alone is inspiring, but his mantras and work ethic are pure rocket fuel to read.
8. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
These guys are PhDs, so of course you should listen up! This book won’t teach you how to be reach, but it goes hand in hand with Rich Dad Poor Dad in that it changes the way you think about money and wealth. The authors travelled the country, interviewing millionaires and examining their lifestyle. The average millionaire lives in a modest home, drives a used car, and buys jeans at Walmart. It’s Chicken Soup For the Penniless Soul.
7. Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
Kiyosaki Part II: The Return! If you’re going to read any books by the Rich Dad author, this is the one. This one is also one of my personal favorites and I reread it occasionally. It’s not a play-by-play on how to become wealthy, but more of a roadmap. The ESBI (Employee, Specialist or “Self Employed”, Business, Investor) quadrants show just how tilted the scales of the system are. Kiyosaki gives plenty of good reason to be on the literal right side on the quadrant and how you can get there.
6. Investment Biker by Jim Rogers
I love Jim Rogers but this cover is awful. This is also the first book on this list that actually covers investing. I became infatuated with Rogers when I found out he retired at 37 after making a billion dollars running the Quantum Fund with George Soros. After retiring, he became a globe-hopping adventurer, exploring foreign markets and investment ideas all over. The book is an adventure as much as it is a lesson on value investing. Love him or hate him, Rogers is a personal hero to me and he gets a spot on the list.
5. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
This is the best book on investing on this list, and one of the best of all books on investing. (If you’re looking for credentials, Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffet’s mentor). I plan on doing a review of the book on this blog so I’ll keep it light here. The book is not for lightweights but is a heavy discourse in finding investment-worth assets and determining the right assets to buy. The book is famous for Graham’s favorite allegory of “Mr. Market”, a kind fellow who shows up at the stock holder’s door every day offering to buy or sell his shares at a given price. Unfortunately, Mr. Market is prone to irrational behavior…but that’s where the fun of investing comes in.
4. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Ok, technically I didn’t read this one. I have it as an audiobook (read by Dave himself!) and I listened to it over and over and over as I was going through the baby steps to crawl out of the debt sinkhole. I have to give credit to Ramsey here, because the method works. It holds your hand through the process (which makes it even more fun listening to Ramsey’s southern drawl in the audiobook) and reminds you that it’s not easy, that others will give up, and hits close to him when he calls out stupid things people do with money. If you’re trapped by any kind of debt (regardless of amount), this book is a must. Seriously, I recommend the audiobook over reading this one!
3. Unscripted by MJ DeMarco
I don’t see this book appear on a lot of personal finance lists. I know it’s new, but maybe a lot of people aren’t aware of it. This is the only book I’ve ever seen that peeks into the life of a financial independent person. DeMarco is incredibly candid with how he invests to maintain financial freedom, and makes recommendations and shows how you can take moderate wealth (after paying off debt…see Dave Ramsey above) and build a “money machine” as he calls it to generate income to live off. Granted, the first half of the book is a lot of rehashing from DeMarco’s first book, but the second half is worth it’s weight in gold. I have a million sticky notes sticking out of the pages of the last chapter of my copy.
2. A Random Walk Down Main Street by Burton G. Malkiel
This one is another staple of the investing/personal finance internet lists. If you want to achieve financial freedom, investing is a critical piece of the puzzle (just ask any other authors above). The thesis of Malkiel’s book is to take on all the modern theories and market strategies. In one of the early chapters, Malkiel dissects various market bubbles in history and his analysis of the 1999-2000 .com bubble is hilarious as he goes through some of the ridiculous internet companies that went public at the time. This book is not easy to read and not for everyone – it can become tedious at times – but if you want to begin investing seriously, it’s a worthwhile read. If you’re not up to it, I’ll summarize Malkiel’s investing theory: Buy and Hold.
1.The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
This book changed everything for me. To be honest, the title made the book sound like a hackjob to getting rich (there’s a lot of those books out there) I will be writing about it at length in future blog posts, but take my word for it that this book is a MUST if your goal is financial freedom and independence. So many other personal finance books go about the “Get Rich Slowly” method, where you work a job for income and invest in a 401k to retire wealthy. DeMarco points out the obvious that no one else draws attention to: Why wait until you’re old or in poor health to enjoy a wealthy lifestyle? Even worse: what if you don’t live long enough! Why work and toil all your healthy, youthful years away in the hope you can retire wealthy and enjoy a few years before sickness or death. The thesis of DeMarco’s book is Time. Time is everything. It’s the most important thing there is — more important than money. To sacrifice time is the ultimate sin. If you want to be free, you MUST READ THIS BOOK!
What did you think of the list? Did I miss any big ones or your favorite personal finance book? Comment below or send me a message. I’m always curious to hear what other people are reading! I plan on doing more lists in the future and breaking down the above books into their own posts to deep dive in how you can be financially free.