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The One Personal Finance Book You Need to Read

How many of us feel that we are just one book away from finding the insight we need to change our financial lives? Like the saying that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the one that turns into a prince, so too must you read many books before you find your answer. In the end, it will probably be the collective wisdom of many books (and magazines, blogs, and life experiences) that guide your financial mindset.

Those who regularly follow my posts know that I read a lot of books. I enjoy personal finance books, but expand my choices to include business, tax, and economics books as well. At times, I read four such books in a week. Sometimes it may be one a month. My overall goal is to read at least two financial books a month, which I almost always do and often exceed.

The trouble with looking for one book to answer your questions is that in most cases the intricacies of our situation requires multiple answers from multiple domains. It’s highly unlikely to find such complicated answers from any one book. What’s more, the one book that works for you likely won’t work for someone else.

That being said, there are certainly books I would recommend. Rather than saying “if you’re only going to read one book, read this one,” let me caution that if you’re only going to read one book, you’re probably not going to see much of a change in your financial philosophy. Still, the following list might help to get you started on your own personal finance educational journey.

Start with The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clason. The wisdom in this book is timeless. The justification for the advice makes you more likely to implement it, even if it’s a concept you’ve already heard about and dismissed. The fact that this book uses parables and reads more like a novel than a self-help book makes it a great first step.

Next, try The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko. This book will likely change your perceptions of the lifestyles of those who are rich. The authors’ research shows that the small business owner living down the street with the apparently middle-class lifestyle is more likely to be affluent than someone with the appearance of wealth.

Finally, read Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin. Though dated in parts, most of this book is still highly relevant for anyone looking to increase his or her wealth, the meaning in his or her life, or a combination of the two.

These three books will provide a solid foundation, change your perception of wealth, and give you a plan of action with a high likelihood of success. As you read more, you’ll start to discover the specific finance topics that you enjoy, as well as those areas of your financial education that need the most improvement. Until I started reading so much, I never knew how much I liked behavioral economics or that early retirement was something I could easily accomplish with the right guidance.

Reviews for many of the other books I’ve read are available in the Financial Book Review archive on my blog, Richer by the Day. All of the books I’ve read recently are there and I even give away any books that I’ve purchased to readers when I’m finished with them.

Has any one particular finance book changed your life? Which books do you regularly recommend to friends? Please share your experiences and recommendations.

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