Five PF Books I Really Like

It’s Book Club time here on The Amateur Financier.  If you have even a passing interest in personal finance, you’ve likely browse through the money and investing books available.  There are thousands of books covering these topics, ranging from the good, well-researched books, to the bad, unhelpful books, to the ugly, downright fraudulent books.  How can you know where to get good information?

Enter this book club; I am sharing five personal finance books that I’ve found particularly interesting and helpful.  I can’t claim that these books will be the best for every one of my readers, in fact, it’s all but certain that some people will find these books downright unhelpful.  But, particularly for those people who are just getting involved in personal finance and investing, these books are a good place to begin your research.

1) The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Brokeby Suze Orman – A good all-purpose personal finance book, this covers most of the major money issues facing people in their twenties or early thirties.  Ms. Orman covers a variety of topics, ranging from using credit cards properly to paying down student debt.  One feature I particularly like is the detail she gives to saving for a house downpayment and getting a mortgage; too many personal finance books skip over any mention of buying a house (perhaps assuming that their readers would already have a mortgage).  It’s a good starter book for any young person who would like to get a handle on their expenses.

2) The Automatic Millionaireby David Bach – David Bach is big on making all of your financial transactions automatic, from saving up an emergency fund and paying down debt to investing.  As a result, he spends a lot of time showing methods to set up automatic deposits and withdraws into bank accounts or mutual funds.  The information is a bit on the simple side, but if you need a hand-holding guide to setting up your finances, this book is a good place to start.  The chapter on automatic tithing (that is, regularly giving to charity) was particularly interesting; I’ve been using the information he provided on investigating charities to find out information for my Charity Spotlight posts.

3) Yes, You Can Get A Financial Life! by Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth – This book is rather different from either of the previous books, both in layout and content.  It’s organized as a decade by decade blueprint to spending, saving, and investing, from your twenties into retirement.  It’s a bit wonky; you should expect lots of graphs and detailed calculations based on the average salaries and savings in the US.  If you’re mathematically inclined, or like of lots of detail in your PF books, this makes an excellent overview to how to organize your finances and change that organization over time.

4) Investing Online For Dummiesby Matt Krantz – I’m going to be honest: this is my favorite investing book.  It’s simply filled with helpful information on how to invest, as well as numerous web addresses for financial advice  and services.  The comparison information provided about online brokerages and mutual fund companies helped me to decide on Vanguard and Sharebuilder.  If you’re ready to begin investing, especially if you intend to do so online, reading this book is a must.

5) Dave Barry’s Money Secrets– Alright, this isn’t exactly a serious investment book.  But Dave Barry skewers everything from late night real estate commercials to stock investing techniques (his plan involves detailed historical research and a time machine; of course, most people aren’t willing to do the research).  And if you’ve been reading a lot of personal finance information (a fairly dry subject by nature), chances are you could use a few laughs.  Plus, he answers some of the burning questions of the day, like why there’s a giant eyeball on the back of the dollar bill.  It’s definitely a fun read.

Those are some of my favorite personal finance books.  What are some of yours?

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