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I began my foray into personal finance through reading personal finance books. There are a lot of bad ones, but these are the top 5 books I recommend.

I began my foray into personal finance through reading personal finance books.  Although I was dabbling in personal finance already before reading personal finance books (and of course, not completely understanding it), it wasn’t until my friend told me about a book called The Wealthy Barber that I became really interested in personal finance and investing.

The Wealthy Barber led to me reading other great personal finance books.  Although I haven’t read as many personal finance books as Teacher Man probably has (what was the last count, Teacher Man? 232? 😉 ), I think I have read my fair share (to the point that I probably lost count).

So I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the top five personal finance books you should read.  These five are great books with enough personal finance to wet your appetite for more personal finance.  I am even giving you a chronological suggestion on which books to read first, look at that!

Findependence Day Review

This book is written by Jon Chevreau who is currently the editor of Moneysense Magazine (a great magazine to subscribe to, by the way).  If you are interested in a fictional piece with personal finance information sprinkled and seemingly hidden within the prose, this is the book to read.

It follows the life of a couple, very much like you, who are interested in seeking financial independence.  The book gives the concept of personal finance relevance to your own life.  I really liked it because it is very relevant and isn’t too “high level” so that it piques your interest in personal finance just enough for you to get interested in reading other books.

Wealthy Barber Review

This is the first personal finance book I read and I instantly became hooked.  Since then, the author, Dave Chilton, has written another book.  This book also follows characters as they learn about personal finance while talking about it in a barber shop.  It’s similar to Findependence Day in that personal finance information in sort of hidden or weaved into the writing in a very stimulating way.  I highly recommend this book especially if you are Canadian!

Automatic Millionaire Review

After learning about the relevance and meaning of personal finance in the context of our day to day lives, by this time you’re probably interested in learning about how to change your current saving habits.  The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach is another great read- he emphasizes the concept of paying yourself first.  This is probably by far the most important concept of personal finance and saving that you should take home.

Although some of the examples he uses are not as relevant in our current economic situation with the stock market (8% returns aren’t really the norm these days), there is still some great information in this book.

Millionaire Teacher Review

This book is written by Andrew Hallam, who is an expatriate, a school teacher, living in Singapore.  He shows you that you can be a millionaire even though you don’t have a six digit salary.  Andrew Hallam is no-nonsense and the book is an intermediate read.  He helps you pique your interest in investing, especially index investing, which he is a big fan of.  Index investing is the way to go.  Say no to mutual funds 😉

The Intelligent Investor Review

I saved this book for the last spot in this list because I found that it was the most difficult to read, though I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is interested in purchasing stocks in the stock market, or investing.  This book teaches you what indicators to look for and how to buy value stocks and what dividend investing is.  It’s a great read and the recent edition includes commentary after each chapter in more “laymen’s” language and terminology (e.g. so I could actually understand the book lol).

These five books are by far my favourite personal finance books (trust me, there are a lot of junky books out there) and I highly recommend that you read them if you’re just starting to get into the realm of personal finance.  These books can help you jump from a personal finance newbee to someone who feels comfortable with saving, investing, and understanding that to save, you need to spend less than you earn. 😉

Readers, what are your favourite personal finance books?

Article comments

Danny says:

I’ll recommend The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco. Its an awesome one

Erdman Klassen says:

Investing in Tax Free savings account, with stock trading,(discount Broker). need some lessons re: remaining within CRA rules on withdrawals and contributions Anything published on this?

carla says:

Appreciate the top five list..but no list of canadian investor authors is complete without mentioning Derek Foster….his site is stopworking.ca

Kyle says:

Derek has an interesting story Carla, but he’s not without his controversies. Google his name on personal finance forums to learn more. I’m especially not a fan of his newest strategy of selling your whole portfolio and using options to boost investment returns.

Carla says:

Actually Kyle, Derek frankly admits that selling his whole portfolio was a mistake. But he moved on and regained it back making sure to get good prices as he slowly purchased his fave equities back.
It was smart of him not to overpay for them, but to
use strategies to buy at the best prices possible.
The best thing about Derek is that he is honest and doesn’t pretend to be an expert. He found something that has worked well for him….just ask his family of six kids “:)

Kyle says:

Well Carla, I’d admit to it having been a mistake as well considering it went directly contrary to his first three books. Anytime a “guru” doesn’t practice what they preach I grow very suspicious. I’m not alone in this, check out some of the Canadian personal finance forums. I’m an indexing guy, but Derek’s original strategy to put money in DRIPs was something I could get behind for a lot of people (keeping it simple). Selling your whole portfolio at the bottom of a recession, only to use option strategies that are quite dangerous in the hands of most investors is not something I would ever get behind. I haven’t even mentioned yet that he gained his original nest egg by making a leveraged bet on a tobacco company – again not something I could ever get behind. Derek’s first few books aren’t bad and I admire his commitment to spending time with his family, but he’s not an author I’d recommend when there is so much better stuff out there for Canadians.

Luis says:

Hi, are these books valid for European residents?

Teacher Man says:

Hi Luis,

I would say to some extent they are valid. The principles they teach and the basic investing advice they give would certainly translate pretty well!

Megan says:

This is a very worthy list – I’ll be checking out Findependance day with all haste. I really like Chilton’s work – as you say he has a great way of putting things.

One other one that I really like for the messaging is: Debt is Slavery by Michael Mihalik. Old hat to those who worry about PF, but critical for newbies.

Teacher Man says:

Chevereau is definitely a worth writer, he has some good stuff (especially for the Boomer crowd). I hadn’t heard of Debt is Slavery but I love the name and certainly agree with the premise. It is now on my Amazon wish list!

Thanks for posting. I’m going to be sure check out these out!

Another book that I think would complement the books you listed nicely is, ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George S. Clason. I read it this past summer and loved it. I became hooked to the stories and many parables that related to the basic principles of effective money management. Check it out!

Teacher Man says:

Another classic read for sure. A little old school relative to The Millionaire Teacher etc., but definitely worth a look.

Hey Young,

I was just stopping by your site to see what you were up to, and I saw the mention of my book. Thanks for that! I’m really glad you liked it.

As for the food post….you’re making me miss B.C.

Although we had some amazing Indian food in Southern India last week. I think you would have liked it!


Young says:

@Andrew Hallam- OMG now you’re in southern india?? Kerala? Dosas? Yum…..! I haven’t been to southern india but it’s on my to-travel list 🙂 Hope you are well! Nice to hear from you!

Kerala! Where the local distance buses are great, if you can get a seat! You can travel for 4 hours on about $1

The best part was a backwater boat trip. We hired a huge one bedroom boat (probably twice the size of a city bus) had our own cook and a single captain. Just my wife and me. The Lonely Planet says it’s the most expensive thing you can do in India, but worth every bit. Total cost, for food and 2 day tour? Roughly equivalent to a night at the airport Best Western in Vancouver. You have to go!

Young says:

@Andrew Hallam- omg I love India. A few years ago I traveled for 2.5 months and only spent $250 or so. I remember staying at a hostel for $2.00 a night. Kerala is definitely on my “to go” list- good to hear inflation hasn’t really affected India a few years later, Andrew!

BeachBoy says:

I’m sorry, but ANY top whatever finance book for Canadians should include Wealthbuilding by Kurt Rosenreter.
It’s the best book for Canadian personal finance, bar none.
It’s not a self motivational book, nor a specific strategic and detailed book. But everyone in Canada should read that book first, before reading other books more specific on saving, investing or others topics.

Teacher Man says:

Wow, a recommendation I haven’t read! I’ll definitely check this out.

The Single Best Investment and The Investment Zoo – great books.

Young says:

@MOA- cool- I haven’t heard of those! I wrote them down and will look into them 🙂

Maria Sself says:

Thank you so unbelievably much for sharing! It’s good to get a book advise from a professional in the field;-)

Young says:

@Maria Sself- I don’t claim to be a professional! 🙂

I need to read the wealthy barber. Sounds like a good book.
You should read Behavior Gap. That’s one of the best book I’ve read recently.
I like millionaire teacher too, but I don’t think most people can live that frugally like he did at the beginning of his career. 🙂

Teacher Man says:

The only thing I’ll say about the original WB is his rates of return for mutual funds were definitely off. It’s the style that is most noteworthy though in my view.

Andrew Hallam is definitely the man. I am certainly not living as frugally as Andrew did. On the other hand I don’t need to build a million quite as quickly as he did. I’m cool if I’ve built that by 55 to go along with my inflation-adjusted pension (to go along with my wife’s inflation-adjusted pension as well).

Teacher Man,

We teachers need to stick together! I’m glad to hear that you’re pushing your own school’s curriculum. One of my first missions was to get rid of my school’s stock market game, which promoted the wrong things:

1. That you could start with $100,000 before saving anything
2. That non diversified portfolios would win
3. That disciplined game playing was a losing strategy



Teacher Man says:

Hey Andrew,

This game drives us business teachers crazy. In fact, you may have just given me an idea for a new post! Within our little group of teacher contacts between Saskatchewan and Manitoba we fully agree with every point you made. The funny thing is that I remember playing this game when I was in high school and even though I had NO idea about anything financial, I came to the conclusion that a person would have to, “Put all of their eggs in one basket” in order to win the game. I didn’t know if that’s what real investors did or not, and I didn’t think about it much after the game (I think I ended up doing fairly well, like 137th in Manitoba or something), but you’re right in that it teaches exactly the wrong way to invest. The weird thing was that it was supported by our Chamber of Commerce I believe.

I have some really good resources from our securities council that teach how to value a stock, and then of course I often pull up this eBook on ETF investing written by an anonymous author ;).

If personal finance for students is still a passion for you Andrew, we’ve got a very interesting project in the final stages of production I’d like to run by you and get some feedback on. I emailed it you once before, but I’m sure you get 5,500 emails a day. Just give us a quick shout if you’re at all interested.

Thanks for stopping by!

Young says:

@Joe- It is 🙂 Especially since you’re Portland and basically Portland is an extension of BC, Canada (and vice versa). I’ll check out behaviour gap- interesting title!

Teacher Man says:

For the record I do have a geeky passion for personal finance books, but I’m not obsessed or anything! I do think I’ve got the Canadian market more or less cornered. Really, the classics are classics for a reason though, I love the five you mentioned!

Young says:

@TM- Sometimes the non-classics tend to be rehashing of the classics! So its always refreshing when there’s a different spin on things.

Andrew says:

Nice roundup of interesting books. I haven’t actually heard of any of them but they look pretty good. The only personal finance book I’ve actually purchased is Ramit’s, and I agree with you and Joe that he writes good stuff.

Teacher Man says:

It’s definitely a modern look at personal finance!

I have found that Findependence Day, Wealthy Barber and Millionaire Teacher complement each other very well for a well rounded introduction to financial independence and understanding the investment world along with the flow of money.

Teacher Man says:

I would agree with that assessment PIE. That’s a high school curriculum right there as far as I’m concerned.

Young says:

@TM- Except its’ not included in high school curriculum… and it should be!

Teacher Man says:

I’m working on it… So much red tape and resistance. It’s cool though a literal course on football just got approved so I’m sure that’ll help our household debt issues.

Be'en says:

I read these 3 books recently.. glad to see I didn’t waste my time!

Thomas S. Moore says:

I haven’t read any of these. I used to rad Jim Cramer and some of Robert Kiyosaki books. There is so much good information on the net you really don’t need to buy any books though. I hear “I will teach you to be Rich” is a good one as well.

Teacher Man says:

I liked Rich Dad Poor Dad, but other than that I personally don’t find Kiyosaki anything special. Since I don’t believe in picking stocks, Cramer isn’t my cup of tea. I actually like watching his show for entertainment though. The best Cramer incident was when Jon Stewart handed him his butt on national TV.

Young says:

@TM- I read that too but his company going bankrupt didn’t please me. And him selling his Cash Flow Quadrant or advertising it throughout the book wasn’t my cup of tea either.

I didn’t know Jim Cramer had a book. Would the letters in it be in all capslock? How does he insert is bells and whistles into the text? 😉

Teacher Man says:

HAHA! *Comment of the year* goes to Young!

Intelligent Investor is hard to push through, but definitely the Bible for Investing.

Ramit Sethi’s “I will teach you to be Rich” is pretty good. Has different takes on money.


Teacher Man says:

I’m a big fan of Sethi too, buy we are cut from the sarcastic cloth.