6 Books That Make Saving, Budgeting, and Investing Interesting—and Easy
No one has to explain that a reading a good financial book is worth it—but that doesn’t make reading a book about money any easier. Bookstores are full of financial tomes that work better as sleeping aids. Which is what makes these six books remarkable. Each is smart and conversational, and each gives a refreshingly new perspective on a topic that usually makes us want to run for the door—or the bed.
Don’t let the subtitle—Intelligent Decision-Making for the 1%—turn you off. This book has incredibly smart takeaways for the 99 percent. The goal in writing it, Frazer Rice told us, was to make accessible the “tips and practices that the wealthy use to stay wealthy.” That includes knowing how to grow your money, which Rice, a senior wealth strategist at Calamos Wealth Management, has been helping his clients do for more than fifteen years. He breaks it down in a smart, measured way. What’s most compelling is Rice’s advice on what not to do—some obvious, some less so. As he says, one of the worst things is to make big money decisions “in the context of a very emotional moment.” Rice writes this in a very clear, positive, realistic way that makes reading this book feel like you’re having a chat over coffee with your financially savvy friend.
Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez started talking money in the 1970s. They both wanted to live without the crippling effect money can have (no more living paycheck to paycheck). And they wanted their money to work so they could live the way they really wanted to live. Dominguez came up with a brilliant—and somewhat excruciating—nine-step financial plan that became the basis of the couple’s book, published in 1992. (Dominguez passed away several years later, and Robin continued to spread the message. She released the most updated edition in 2018.) Think of Your Money or Your Life as the most rigid cleanse combined with a weekend empowerment seminar. It forces you to scrutinize every aspect of your life that involves money (i.e., everything), find your bad habits, and reframe how you manage and connect with your finances. It sounds painful. But Dominguez and Robin are empathetic and encouraging. They want readers to think in terms of having enough and to break from the trap of consumerism. You’ll want sticky notes and a pen. You might need a glass of wine after some chapters. But Dominguez and Robin help you see what’s most important.
Jean Chatzky goes deep about money. She covers the logistics and spreadsheets. But she also leans toward the more nuanced side of the issue: why we do what we do and feel how we feel around it. (Ever wonder why a small criticism might drive you to impulsively buy a new dress?) Money is so maddeningly emotional (to steal Chatzky’s phrase). It helps us live, but it’s also tied to our self-worth, well-being, and social circles. And it can be a huge trigger. That’s what Chatzky explores in her new book, Women with Money. She talks to career women, including attorneys, financial advisors, and psychiatrists, about who we are in relation to our money, how we can manage it to get what we want (i.e., more family time, more freedom, stability, all of the above), and the ways it can impact the ones we love.
One of the—many, many—things we love about financial expert Farnoosh Torabi: She makes talking about money fun. And easy. That’s why her podcast, So Money, holds a spot on so many goop staffers’ podcast queues. Torabi has written a handful of books, but her most recent, When She Makes More, broaches an elephant in the room: the imbalance, confusion, and emotions that can bubble up when women make more than their partners. As Torabi points out, women who bring home a higher salary than their male partners do are more likely to burn out and get divorced. (There’s greater pressure on them than on women who don’t make more to make everything—finance, household chores, career—a success, according to a survey Torabi and Dr. Brad Klontz conducted for the book.) Torabi loads us up with guidance on how to handle this. “What we need is a map of how to best manage our relationships when dealing with this complex and delicate dynamic—in addition to knowing how to address economic nuts and bolts,” she writes. The book shakes up old narratives and expectations around gender and money. A very satisfying read.
Erin Lowry had a lightbulb moment in her early twenties. Lowry and her friend were talking about work and finances when her friend said she always hoped that she had enough money in her account at the end of each month. That struck Lowry: Why did this woman with a job and a stable background have enormous stress about money? And how many others were overwhelmed? These questions inspired Lowry to start writing stories about money, and the stories turned into a popular financial-literacy blog and two books on personal finance. Her most recent book, Broke Millennial Takes On Investing, covers investing in a refreshingly grassroots way. Lowry explains base-level financial terminology and builds the book on the why, how, and when to invest. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to the concept of investing while saddled with student loans. Without giving away Lowry’s insight, we’ll tell you the answer surprised—and motivated—us.
There are great money lessons all around us—checking out at the grocery store, paying bills, shopping for a car—that we need to capitalize on to teach our kids, says Beth Kobliner, who is an expert at helping parents teach their kids about money organically. Kobliner has built an arsenal of tools, which includes her interactive online program, Money as You Grow (she developed it while she was a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability), and her book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not). Her book is witty, to the point, and filled with best practices and things to avoid. A favorite takeaway: Share the talking. “No matter your family configuration—mom and dad, single parent, two moms, two dads, or two parents plus two stepparents—make it everyone’s business to participate actively in the money talk with your kid,” Kobliner writes. The book covers preschool to college—but its lessons transcend age.