Best financial planning books - personal finance resources - Savology free financial planning

With the number of personal finance resources available to American households, it can get a little overwhelming knowing which ones are actually considered helpful and pay dividends. 

Because of that, we decided to do most of the upfront research for you to shortlist 9 of the best personal finance books that will help you improve your financial literacy.

The 9 best personal financial planning books (in reverse order) are:

#9) Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
#8) The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
#7) The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley
#6) Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
#5) The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
#4) Financial Freedom: Finding What Works For You By Greg Kesten
#3) Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
#2) Unshakable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins
#1) I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Let’s take a look at each one of them in a little more detail to see which book is the right one for your next read:

Best Financial Planning Book #9: Total Money Makeover By Dave Ramsey

This personal finance book is not only a really great resource, but it’s a must-read for just about anyone who is currently feeling overwhelmed by debt or looking to manage their debt because it breaks down “baby steps” that will help get you back on track to reaching your financial goals.

In the book, author Dave Ramsey talks about how easy it can be to get caught in the trap of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Notably, Dave mentions that the very first step to getting out of this debt-cycle is taking a long and hard look at your spending habits. One of the standout pieces of advice in the book, mentions that you need to live like no one else is willing to live now, so you can live like no one else will be living later. In other words, when it comes to your money, it’s important to make important decisions and sacrifices that will pay off in the long-term.  

Dave also spends some time talking about budgeting and how it can be a very boring word. Rather, he suggests approaching it in terms of figuring out who you are paying and who is paying you? It is important to know exactly where your money is going every single month.

Once you figure out how to establish positive monthly cash flow, Dave recommends taking the following steps in this exact order:

  1. Save $1,000 in an emergency fund and do it quickly! 
  2. Debt snowball – focus on paying off small debts then work towards the big ones (get debt-free outside of mortgage) 
  3. Health emergency fund (3 to 6 months of take-home pay in savings) 
  4. Invest 15% of household income towards your retirement
  5. College funding and college expenses   
  6. Pay off your home early 
  7. Build wealth and give!

Dave Ramsey is arguably one of the more prominent financial authorities in the world of personal finance, so it may come as no surprise that one of his books made our list. 

Additional notes about the book:

Audio duration:3hrs 41mins
Difficulty:Easy read
Rating: 4.7 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #8: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason 

If you’ve read any other articles similar to this one, chances are that you’ve seen this book top the list, and for very good reasons.

Author George S. Clason stresses the importance of paying yourself first. George also makes a point of talking about how it’s up to you, as the manager of your own finances, to make sure that you are always considering who you are paying with the money you are earning. 

George’s advice is that only after you pay yourself first should you then focus on your expenses and your needs. Another notable theme in the book is the importance of deliberately taking action towards achieving financial goals and taking it upon yourself to continue moving forward.

Something that really resonated with me was George mentioning that wealth is not a matter of direct income. We sell it all too often in today’s society – most people’s lifestyle expenses grow as their income increases. It’s extremely important to avoid falling into this trap and avoid keeping up with the Joneses. 

In the book, George also makes mention of acting when the time is right. Great opportunities are rare and it is important to recognize them and act on them when they come your way.

Lastly, he talks about the power of passive income. When you put the money you have earned to work, it will always be working for you to help you to get wealthier. The more money you have working for you, the easier it is to build and compound your wealth. 

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:144 pages
Audio duration:4hrs 4mins
Difficulty:Medium read
Rating: 4.7 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #7 – The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Standley 

This personal finance book from Thomas J Stanley is quite different from the other books on this list. This book is built on years of research, and examines real millionaires as a way of understanding and showing what exactly it is that makes them so successful.

After several years of research, here are the top 12 reasons why millionaires have become successful: 

  1. Income > Expenses (living within their means)
  2. 2x more time spent on financial planning than the average person
  3. Mindset of freedom and purpose is more important than financial status 
  4. Don’t receive cash gifts from parents 
  5. Two-thirds of millionaires are self-employed 
  6. Average age is 50+ (it takes time to build wealth)
  7. Very healthy emergency fund 
  8. Well educated—most have a College education at minimum 
  9. Invest 20% of income every year
  10. Invest for the long-term and are not focused on short-term gains 
  11. Buy practical vehicles that support living within their means
  12. Cheap, very conscious of buying decisions (stick to their budget and plan)

The book highlights how millionaires have earned their fortunes by various financial practices such as keeping an annual budget, understanding their spending habits, establishing very clear financial goals, and by creating a financial plan for their future. What stood out amongst many of the things in this book is that most of the millionaires live in places that are modest, allowing them to avoid over-spending on lifestyle costs and falling into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses.

Despite what some people may think, it turns out that most Millionaires are very diligent and frugal when it comes to their money. 

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:272 pages
Audio duration:8hrs 16mins
Difficulty:Easy read
Rating: 4.6 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #6 – Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

It wouldn’t be an accurate list of the best personal finance books if this one didn’t make the cut, especially considering that Rich Dad Poor Dad has been classified as the #1 personal finance book of all-time.

In Rich Dad Poor Dad, author Robert T. Kiyosaki shares his story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad — and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

Robert talks about the importance of saving a portion of your income so you can build up your assets and keep your liabilities under control. He also stresses building up enough assets that it produces enough income to potentially replace your job. Robert emphasizes the importance of acquiring assets (or things that will earn you money) instead of liabilities (things that take money out of your pocket). 

The book advocates the importance of financial literacy, financial independence and building wealth through investing in assets, real estate, and owning businesses. After reading this book, it becomes very easy to understand that financial literacy, and even success, is not about how much money you EARN, but rather how much money you keep and how you manage it.

Robert stresses the importance of increasing your financial knowledge in these four areas:

  1. Accounting
  2. Investing 
  3. Understanding markets 
  4. Understanding of the law (and tax systems)

One of my favorite quotes from Robert in this book is this: “Often, in the real world, it’s not the smart that get ahead but the bold”. An important reminder for all of us that we need to be willing to pull the trigger and commit to getting ahead. 

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:207 pages
Audio duration:6hrs 9mins
Difficulty:Medium read
Rating: 4.8 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #5 – The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards 

In this book, author Carl Richards focuses on an important and underlying theme: how traditional financial planning can often be overly complicated and confusing. Carl notably mentions unless your financial plan is simple and broken down into steps, it’s very unlikely that you will follow it. That’s definitely something we can relate to here at Savology.

According to Carl, there are three things that your financial plan (and all plans) should do:

  1. Help you answer why money is important to you
  2. Provide flexibility for your evolving goals and life situations 
  3. Help you understand where you are and how to get where you want to be  

Regardless of where you are on your financial journey, and whether or not you currently have a financial plan, Carl does a great job of breaking down the important components of a financial plan, along with delivering great principles that can help just about anyone improve the relationship they have with their money.

This book is a must-read for anyone who is looking to understand the benefits of financial planning and how you can even create your own plan if you so choose to. 

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:224 pages
Audio duration:4hrs 3mins
Difficulty:Easy read
Rating: 4.4 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #4 – Financial Freedom: Finding What Works For You By Greg Kesten

This book is the first in a series of pocketbooks that work as a primer for anyone seeking ways of achieving financial independence. Specifically, this one includes case studies of real people who have been coached by author Greg Kesten, who happens to be an expert in the field and a financial coach.

What’s unique about this book is the narrative and how it is written from the perspective of a financial coach (Greg). Greg does a great job walking you through the approach he uses for his clients and how he is able to help them improve their finances. He talks about the importance of clarifying your financial goals and desires in terms of the lifestyle you want to be living now and through your retirement years. Once you have clarity about how you want your life to look like, it’s much easier to then create your financial vision, which you can think of as being similar to a vision board but strictly for your finances. In the book, Greg stresses how these practices enable you to make better financial decisions and create positive habits.

Some very notable themes and topics that Greg spends time talking about include:

  • Having clarity on your current financial standing and financial goals
  • How having positive cash-flow is king and an important indicator of success
  • How constantly comparing your financial status to others can be detrimental; instead, focus on gratitude and good things will follow
  • The importance of having strong reasoning behind actions to guide decisions

If you’re looking to gain some clarity on your current financial situation and adopt proven methods then this is the book for you. 

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:116 pages
Difficulty:Easy read
Rating: 5.0 ★ on Amazon

Best Financial Planning Book #3 – Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker 

Have you ever wondered what the mindset difference between millionaires and those less fortunate are? This is exactly what author T. Harv Eker explores and talks about in this book. As it turns out, there is quite a difference. According to Harv, rich people adopt a mindset of “I can create my own life” while the no-so-rich people seem to fall back on the mindset of “Life happens to me”. He stresses the importance of not falling into the trap of blaming, justifying, or complaining about your current financial situation. Rather, just owning it.

Harv is able to extract a very important and underlying theme that is not just present in the book, but a stark reality. Rich people are excellent at receiving, while poor people seem to shy away from it. Again, it boils down to mindset and perception – you need to start believing that you are good enough. Good enough to build your wealth, good enough to reach your financial goals, and good enough to improve your current situation. Self-worth, confidence, and respect can often make or break people.  

Lastly, a really important mindset difference is that rich people live with the mentality of abundance compared to that of poor people who live with a scarcity mentality.

This book teaches you that your mindset is everything when it comes to your wealth and your life. If you’re looking to explore ways on how to shape your mindset and adopt the mentality of millionaires, give this book a read.  

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:224 pages
Audio duration:5hrs 10mins
Difficulty:Medium read
Rating: 4.8 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #2 – Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins 

This is arguably Tony Robbins most-talked-about book and for good reason. If you are new to investing and looking to improve your literacy and understanding, then this is your book. Tony talks about the importance of investing and not being scared of market corrections. He stresses how time in the market is more important than trying, and probably failing, to time the market by investing only when stocks are low. No one knows when winter (a market correction) is coming.
However, what we do know is that spring always comes after winter and the financial markets always go up in the long run.

Some important takeaways from Tony in this book include:

  • Market corrections happen, on average, once every year
  • Nobody can predict the market consistently (if your advisor tells you they can fire them)
  • The stock market grows over time (markets always recover and rise)
  • The greatest danger is staying on the sidelines (not investing in the market) 

Tony also talks about the importance of not overpaying for underperformance. You should be aware of the fees that you are paying in your mutual funds and investments, especially in your 401(k). Actively managed funds often underperform index funds and come with higher fees, taking away a sizable amount of your investment every year. 

Here are three principles that Tony shares which all great investors possess:

  1.  Don’t Lose – when you choose to invest, you should be more concerned about avoiding losses than maximizing gains. 
  2. Tax Efficiency – you will pay far less in taxes if you use retirement advantaged accounts and also by holding your investments for more than a year.
  3. Diversification – in these four ways: 
    1. Across asset classes 
    2. Within asset classes 
    3. Across markets and countries
    4. Across time

My last takeaway from this book is the importance of not being your own worst enemy. Many people get caught up in market cycles and buy when things are high and sell when things are low. This results in fewer returns and ends up being very detrimental to a lot of people. This is why having a financial advisor can be so valuable because they can help you set up investment plans or rules and help you to follow them when markets are dropping and your brain is yelling “sell, sell, sell”. There are many biases that we can fall victim to when it comes to investing which is why creating a financial plan and systematically following it is key.   

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:256 pages
Audio duration:7hrs 21mins
Difficulty:Hard read
Rating: 4.6 ★ on Audible 

Best Financial Planning Book #1 – I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi 

And topping our list as the #1 personal finance book is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. In this book, Ramit talks about the importance of defining what it means to be rich to you personally. You need to define what is important to you and spend your money accordingly on those things, while at the same time cutting back on anything that is not important to you. 

Once you have done this, it is important to start today! Starting early is important, so start today with what you need to do. Way too many people get decision paralysis because they are worried that it isn’t the best investment, account or principle for them. The key thing is just to get started and make improvements as you go. Ramit makes a clear point of mentioning that even getting something 85 percent ‘right’ or ‘done’ is better than not getting it done at all. 

Next, Ramit stresses that it is extremely important to focus on the big wins. Getting the big things right has a much bigger impact on your financial future than doing the small things combined. This would include getting your employer to match your 401(k) contributions and other retirement accounts, getting the right types of cards and bank accounts, buying an affordable home and car, and negotiating a raise. 

Ramit also talks about the importance of keeping your finances automated to be more efficient – from investing on a monthly basis to making recurring payments. As humans, we have lazy tendencies, so the more we are able to optimize our time and commitment, the more likely we are to make things happen. 

Lastly, Ramit talks about investing in target-date funds and index funds. Similar to Tony’s investment philosophies above, this is because it is next to impossible to beat the market over time. It also takes a lot of time to get good enough to outperform the market, time that could be better spent on helping you get those big wins so that you can continue to focus on moving all areas of your financial life forward.

If you’re looking for sure ways to adopt proven and sound money managing principles, and blueprint your way to financial success, just stop looking. This is the book that you need to read next and you’ll soon find out why.  

Additional notes about the book:

Pages:256 pages
Audio duration:12hrs 8mins
Difficulty:Hard read
Rating: 4.7 ★ on Audible 

Choosing your next personal finance book

After reading this roundup of some of the best personal finance books available, you now have some incredible resources that can help you improve your financial literacy (and confidence) almost immediately.

If you’re still not sure about which one to get started with first, here’s what I would recommend. 

First, be honest with yourself about your current level of financial literacy. If you are just starting out and need all of the help you can get, then start by picking one of the books that are considered an easy read (based on their difficulty score). These books will slowly introduce you to the world of personal finance in a way that’s palatable, but also very informative and useful.

On the flip side, if you are pretty well-versed with your own finances and are now on the hunt for something new to improve your literacy, then I’d recommend challenging yourself and moving on to one of the books that are considered either a medium read or a hard read.

Regardless of where you’re at in your financial journey, there are always resources available such as these financial planning books to help you improve your literacy and guide you towards reaching financial success.

Your financial future starts today

Savology is a free planning platform where you can build a free, unbiased, personalized financial plan in about 5 minutes. Your Savology plan will give you action items to start working on as well as an overview of your current financial situation. After you have made some progress, Savology can connect you with some of the world’s top providers to help you accomplish your financial goals.

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