Summer reading: The best personal finance books for all ages

WASHINGTON — Summer is a great time to catch up on reading while you’re catching rays at the beach or relaxing by the pool. It’s also a great time to learn something new, like tai chi or, just a suggestion, more about your personal finances.

There are lots of books that teach everything from the basics of budgeting to how to invest like a pro. I’ve listed a few of my favorites, geared toward every stage in life. If you invest a few hours in these books each week this summer, by the fall, you’ll be managing your money like an expert.


The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers,” by Tamsen Butler

If you’ve been trying, without much success, to get your teen to be more responsible with his money, then this book is the one for both of you.

This winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards accomplished the seemingly impossible — provide good personal financial information that’s entertaining enough that even a teenager will want to read it. Part of the book’s success is that Butler doesn’t preach; rather, she educates teens about their options in a reader-friendly and relevant format.


You’re So Money: Live Rich Even When You’re Not,” by Farnoosh Torabi

Learning to live on an entry-level income may come as a big shock to those just entering their first real job after college. And racking up debt on new credit cards may be a temptation that’s too hard to resist.

Torabi, a savvy financial reporter and 20-something herself, gives her peers sensible advice to help them successfully adjust to their new disposable income level, and still enjoy some of the finer things in life.

Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By,” by Cary Siegal

The author originally wrote this book to pass on good money management skills to his five children. Since most high schools and colleges do not teach students even the basics of money management, this book features eight important lessons focusing on 99 principles that will quickly and memorably enhance any individual’s money management acumen. I like this book because it’s easy to understand and the principles are ready to use.

30s and 40s:

Personal Finance for Dummies,” by Eric Tyson

This is still one of my favorite books to recommend, especially as people become more established in their careers, buy their first homes and start having families. I consider this a go-to resource for learning about investing, budgeting, debt, taxes — everything you will need to know about personal finance and how to successfully manage your money.

If you are embarrassed to read this by the pool because of its title, then my advice is to rip off the cover and replace it with “War and Peace.” No one will ever know.

The Millionaire Next Door,” by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

This is a great guide to the habits that build wealth. Based on the principal that wealthy people didn’t become wealthy by acting that way, Stanley and Danko lay out the seven simple rules to follow to become wealthy.

Know More: 12 Months of bit-sized financial tips


The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty: Answers to Your Most Important Money Questions,” by Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

You would think that the daughter of Charles Schwab would know a thing or two about money and investing, being raised by the man known for breaking down Wall Street barriers and giving individual investors affordable access to the markets.

This is a must-read for anyone approaching, or in, his 50s. Schwab does an excellent job addressing the financial issues many face in this time of life — from putting kids through college to realistic ways you can still save for retirement if you really haven’t started yet. She tackles these and other tough topics with straightforward advice and useful resources. You’re left knowing a lot more about what you can and should be doing at this stage of life, and why.

Know More: The 5 Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes

Recommended for any age:

The Truth About Money,” by Rick Edelman

Edelman provides a comprehensive look at everything about personal finance. But it’s not just numbers and calculations: It’s a road map to help you understand your money and finances. The book starts with a quiz to show you how much you already know or don’t know about personal finance. This makes is easy to skip the information you already know and focus your attention where you need the most help.

The Richest Man in Babylon,” by George S. Clason

If you like reading stories, then this is the book for you. It teaches the wisdom for financial success through parable-like short stories set in ancient Babylon. The stories are so engaging that you’ll forget that you’re learning about personal finance. No wonder it’s been a lasting favorite since the 1020s.

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World,” by Michael Lewis

This is a fun and enlightening read by the author of “Money Ball and The Big Short.” Lewis takes the reader back to the time leading up to the financial crisis with stories about Icelandic fishermen turned investment bankers, how the Greeks have turned tax-evasion into a national pastime and why Germany thought the rest of the world would behave like them.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up