This is not your dad’s list of the best personal finance books to read in 2019.
No offence to your dad either, but it often feels like the exact same books have been recommended on “best of personal finance” lists for the past thirty years.
The classics are the classics for a reason, but they’re not a fit for everyone—and if you’re looking for a more modern, or slightly more diverse, take on personal finance that feels relevant to your life today? You’re in the right place.
The best personal finance books to read in 2019
There are books to help you figure out a budget you feel great about, books to help you get out of debt, books to help you invest your money, and books that can help you navigate the sometimes-overwhelming world of finance. (And PS. The links are affiliate links, so if you buy through them I may earn a small commission—but all of the books should be available at your local library as well!)
Worry-Free Money: The guilt-free approach to managing your money and your life by Shannon Lee Simmons
This book is hands-down my favourite personal finance book, especially for people who are just getting started when it comes to managing their money. It’s approachable, fun to read, and breaks down exactly how you can manage your money—no matter how much of it you have, or how many commitments you’re juggling—on a monthly basis. Plus, there truly is no guilt involved, and nowhere does it advise you to stop spending on the stuff you love.
Shannon walks through multiple examples as well, to help illustrate different points and scenarios, and they’re so varied that I guarantee at least one of them will serve up an “aha!” moment about your budget.
Money isn’t just about one thing—it’s not just budgeting, or just investing, or just earning more. That’s why Get Money is such a great book to add to your shelf (and your brain) in 2019. Kristin has managed to gamify all of the most important concepts you need to know when it comes to your money, including things like negotiating and side hustles.
With a mix of expert interviews, advice, challenges and concrete goal-setting steps, Get Money is perfect for you if you want to take real, specific action on your finances this year, and you don’t want just another book about theory.
Plus, and maybe this is just me, I love to see books addressing the True Realities of millennial finance, like side hustles. Things that were not at all addressed in money books written the year I was born: that.
The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
Money isn’t just money—it’s how we can afford to live the lives we want, and it touches everything, from our emotions to the food we eat. The Financial Diet’s book covers all of that in a truly well-rounded and approachable way, including everything from saving for retirement to how to grocery shop and cook effectively (on a budget).
If you’re looking for an experience that feels like the best of a glossy magazine and the best of solid financial advice, this is the book for you. It’s a great place to start for a total beginner, doesn’t have too much country-specific information (so it’s great for everyone, everywhere) and even if you’re a seasoned money pro, it’s just fun.
Even if you’re not a broke millennial, Erin’s got you covered with this thorough overview of money 101. While you can read it from cover to cover, Broke Millennial is also structured as a choose-your-own-adventure book. If you’re already rocking a solid budget, but you have no idea what’s up with credit scores, you can skip right to that section, and vice versa. Beginners will get a lot out of the whole book, but even if you’re advanced, there are some topics (getting financially naked with your significant other, for example) that we can all use some helpful tips on.
If you’re in the US, there are also seriously helpful breakdowns of your retirement accounts that will be informative and help you make the most of them—but it’s a heckin’ useful book no matter where you are.
Refinery29 Money Diaries: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Your Finances… And Everyone Else’s by Lindsey Stanberry
Money Diaries is one of my favourite things on the internet when it comes to money, so it’s no surprise I loved the book, too. If you aren’t familiar, women from all over the US (and infrequently cities around the world) share their income, their expenses, and a detailed look at one week of their spending.
The series is wildly popular, and often sparks a lot of uh… “conversation” online, but I think it’s vitally important that we start to normalize and talk about how much money it really takes to live a certain kind of lifestyle, and the choices and tradeoffs we all make behind the scenes.
The book does include multiple unpublished money diaries, but it also breaks down some of the how-tos we all need to tackle, using the diaries as examples and lead-ins. Some of the information is more US-specific, but trust me, the person who read it in one sitting: it’s fun for everyone.
Living Debt-Free: The No-Shame, No-Blame Guide to Getting Rid of Your Debt by Shannon Lee Simmons
Shame and blame seem to come standard in “get rid of your debt” advice, at least from what I’ve seen previously—not anymore. Right off the bat, as soon as you open this book, you’ll know that there’s finally a book that’s not going to make you feel awful about having debt.
In fact, Shannon goes as far as to lean in to her role as your personal get-out-of-debt cheerleader, and she does an amazing job of it. As with her first book, Worry-Free Money, she uses real-life stories and examples to illustrate her points as she goes, and it makes for an immensely readable and, dare I say it, fun book about getting out of debt.
Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong
It’s easy (well, easy enough) to read about money, but it’s a bit harder to figure out how you’re going to implement the wisdom you’re reading in your everyday life. Luckily, Melissa Leong has got you covered in her new book, Happy Go Money.
It’s a fantastic beginner’s guide to thinking about money in the context of your life, and using it to make yourself happy on your terms—but because that means a personalized approach you can actually stick to, she takes it a step further by ending every chapter with concrete steps you can take, and questions you can ask when you have “Money Talks.”
Building a small group of trusted friends or family you can talk about money with is just one of the fantastic, approachable, and high-impact suggestions she offers as she walks through everything you need to know for your own Happy Go Money. (Happy Go Money officially comes out on January 8th, 2019.)
I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program that Works by Ramit Sethi
Unlike many of the books on this list, this isn’t a newer title—it came out in 2009 and let me just say, it stands the test of time. If you’re more interested in specific, actionable steps you can take week by week to get your money in order, this is the book for you.
Ramit breaks down exactly how to build and implement a system that, over time, will make you rich. What rich means to you is also covered, and that’s a topic he’s really expanded on using his blog and social media presence since this book came out, so if you’re interested in learning more about that, they’re great places to check out afterwards. His Instagram stories in particular are among my favourites, and not just when he’s on an amazing honeymoon adventure around the world.
There’s a lot of information out there about how to budget your money, and build systems, but less about how to navigate the incredibly complex world of financial products—especially if you’re not a super-rich person who has a swanky financial advisor. That’s where Preet and his awesome book comes in.
Preet’s simple rules are practical advice that anyone can follow, and they help you navigate your entire financial life. What does that mean? Well, when I went to buy life insurance after we bought our house, I knew exactly what I needed and what questions to ask—not to mention products to avoid—when talking to the salesperson.
The best personal finance books to pre-order in 2019
While I can’t (yet!) tell you how much I enjoyed each of these reads, I can tell you they’ve all been pre-ordered and I’m just waiting for the Amazon shipment notification when their release date rolls around. Here are three books, coming from three amazing writers in the financial space, you should look forward to this year.
A follow up to her first book, Broke Millennial, this time Erin is tackling investing. She interviewed experts who work in the industry in a variety of different roles, and distilled their knowledge into a practical guide suitable for everyone who wants to get a handle on how to use their money to make more money. AKA, investing. Speaking from personal experience here, a bit of background knowledge will go a long way to making you feel more comfortable when the markets go loopy (which they do from time to time).
Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way by Tanja Hester
Tanja is the author of one of my favourite financial independence blogs, Our Next Life, and her first book is all about the approach she took to financial independence—which is markedly different than a lot of the advice out there. If you want to read an actionable guide that makes financial independence feel approachable, doable, and fun? This is a preorder you need in your life. Some of the information is specific (and highly, highly relevant) to the US, like planning for healthcare, but most of the book is applicable to anyone who would love to build more freedom into their financial plan.
Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All The Money You Will Ever Need by Grant Sabatier
I don’t write a lot about side hustles, but I do often give my side hustles credit for a lot of the financial goals I’ve achieved in the past few years, from buying a house to planning a debt-free wedding. If you’re interested in learning more about side hustles, making more money, and fitting it into your life in ways that make sense, Grant’s book should be right up your alley. He’s a blogger and entrepreneur who went from $2.26 in his bank account to a millionaire in just a few years, and his book breaks down what he’s learned in the process.
Get your hands on one of the best personal finance books of 2019
To celebrate the new year and to say thanks for hanging out here in my nerdy corner of the internet, I’m going to give away 3 of the best personal finance books of 2019!
To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment here with which one you’d most like to read! I’ll choose 3 comments randomly on Monday, January 7th, 2019 at (Note: the contest is unfortunately only open to readers in the US and Canada, due to shipping constraints.)
The contest is now closed, and the winners have been notified by email. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and I’m so happy to see that so many of you are excited to read some of my favourite books this year!