The Best Books on Investing and Personal Finance

Finding the best books on investing and personal finance can be a real challenge. Both subjects are very broad, making it hard to find specifics. And everywhere you turn, someone has an opinion about what works and what doesn't.

As I've mentioned before, the safe investing decision-making process allows you to use different methods and techniques at different times. This also allowed me to find my own style; the things that worked for me.

Investing is putting money into the market today (via stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc.) with the expectation of getting more money out tomorrow. As a safe investor, your goal is to invest using a structured process to limit your losses.

In looking for books on investing, I tried to find the ones that helped me create my investing process. Stabilizing my personal finances was the first step, along with how to "think" about money. So those are the types of books on investing that I read first.

But that doesn't mean these books were always good or useful. Personal finance books generally focus on special situations (how to avoid bankruptcy) or are very general and leave you wanting more (i.e. the author's next book).

Most of the books on investing or trading that you've probably read are used later in the safe investing process (Planning, Trading, Monitoring, and Adjusting). They tend to give an overview of "how" to investing (i.e. what investing techniques to use) or try to describe "why" prices change (i.e. why markets behave this way or that way).

So, to help you get started, here is my list of the best books on investing and personal finance. I've included Amazon affiliate links for each as well.

In the Beginning

Before you start investing, you need to figure out why you're investing. What are your personal financial goals?

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, is the quintessential book on "getting your mind right" and figuring out what you want.

If nothing else, the book has a great section on how stand out in a crowd when looking for a new source of earned income (i.e. a job).

Think and Grow Rich

How to Think About Personal Finances

For a big-picture view of personal finance and how investing fits to your situation (i.e. your starting point), the Rich Dad series is very helpful. Rich Dad Poor Dad is a story comparing and contrasting the mindsets of "rich" and "poor" father-figures. This is the book that kicked things.

Not everyone is a fan of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Check out this review (open a new window). Not exactly glowing, and not all together incorrect.

This book will not give you specifics on how to invest. Rather, it will give you examples on how income, expenses, assets, and liabilities fit into your life, and where investments can help or hurt you. This is the book that gave me my first view of investing as a "process", rather than an event.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

This book is written from the standpoint of a day laborer in Babylon. The main character reminds me of today's handyman (or yesterday's considering how few there are these days).

The story conveys a very simple explanation of how anyone can create wealth from their weekly paychecks (i.e. earned income). But you can easily apply the lessons to any type of income.

The Richest Man in Babylon

The Rules of the Game

In any game, winning and losing is dictated by the rules. If you don't know the rules, you don't know how to win. When it comes to investing, you also need to know the rules if you're going to have any chance of being successful. This book is a great instruction manual; one that tells you the rules, the different players, and how to play.

Trading and Exchanges

Background and Building Blocks

This book will cover the basics: why long-term timeframes are important, how employer-sponsored retirement plans can be used to minimize taxes, the basics of diversification, rebalancing your portfolio, dollar-cost averaging, and investing in index funds.

The Elements of Investing

An investing classic from the father of "value investing", Benjamin Graham.

The Intelligent Investor

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

Growth Investing

This is the book that sold me on Investor Business Daily's growth investing strategy. The book answered many of the questions I had about buying and holding through downtrends (don't do it), showed me proof that there is a better way to invest, and then backed it up with real world examples that I execute myself.

A lot of investing books are written from the perspective of a professional money manager; someone with millions of dollars at their disposal. It's one thing to show how a mutual or hedge fund operates, but it's an entirely different ballgame for the individual investors trying to make money in the markets. Why? Because the markets were never meant for individual investors, so they're not set-up for us to succeed. IBD admitted as much, and then created rules based on how the professionals behave.

How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad, Fourth Edition

Trading Systems

Trader Vic: Methods of a Wall Street Master

Trend Following (Updated Edition): Learn to Make Millions in Up or Down Markets

This was one of the first books I found that contained real examples of how build a trading system. It actually has the code you need! Granted, I'm not a coder, but there were enough data points that I recreated a lot of things in MS Excel.

And many of the examples directly relate to concepts described in Micheal Covel's "Trendfollowing" book mentioned above.

Trading Systems That Work: Building and Evaluating Effective Trading Systems