These days, so many of us get the bulk of our worldview from snippets we read online. We’re more informed than ever, but often lacking in the depth of perspective that comes with long-form writing. That is unless you’re an avid reader of books.
I write articles for a living but sometimes you need a good book to truly understand a philosophy or method. When an author has the space to express their ideas fully you get is a more fully-formed version of their message. As it pertains to personal finance especially, a book is better at delving into complexities and nuance that a 1000-word article can’t even begin to unpack.
Here are some of the best books for those pursuing FI, each with a unique and worthwhile approach to handling your money. Read ahead for the full list.
“The Book on Rental Property Investing” by Brandon Turner
BiggerPockets Podcast co-host and real estate investor Brandon Turner has written the book on real estate investing . Literally. In this 341-page guide, Turner explains how to evaluate real estate properties, how to calculate the ROI on each purchase and the pros and cons of each type of home.
Passive income is a key focus for FI. So this is the handbook on how to build your own real estate empire. As an owner of over 40 rental units, Turner knows the ins and outs of the business as well as anyone. His writing is clear and informative.
Even if you already own a few properties yourself, consider getting this book to learn how you can maximize the value you’re getting from each investment.
“The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John C. Bogle
Founder of Vanguard and creator of the index fund, Bogle has been frequently named one of the most important investors of all time. In this book, he shows why investing in single stocks and mutual funds isn’t a good bet for the long-term.
Bogle’s philosophy about picking low-cost index funds correlates with Vanguard’s mission, but the book isn’t a marketing ploy. It’s just an attempt to show investors how to increase their investment earnings without risking their portfolio.
Even if you’re already investing with Vanguard, this book can explain exactly why index funds are the place to stash your retirement funds.
“Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Published in 1992, this book is one of the first to espouse the virtues of living below your means in order to retire early . The two authors describe how to cut back on mindless spending. They also address how reckless consumerism threatens both our society and environment. It’s both a micro and macro view of the philosophy that would eventually become FIRE.
Be sure to pick the 2018-revised edition of the book. (The original has sections about investing in government bonds with 12% yields.) Still, the book is full of helpful nuggets about living a well-rounded life while also paying attention to your finances.
“Side Hustle” by Chris Guillebeau
Sometimes the best way to achieve financial independence is to plug away at your desk job. Then you can save 50% of what you earn and invest it in low-fee funds. But if you have a low-paying job or high fixed expenses, you may need another boost. Enter the side hustle .
Guillebeau’s book isn’t about driving for Uber or delivering food for Postmates. It’s about taking a unique business idea and making it a reality–all in 27 days. His timeline may be too compressed for some, but the passion behind it will probably motivate your inner hustler.
“The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Lieber
They say that every parent is a child’s first teacher. So isn’t it also true that every parent is a child’s first financial planner? In this book, New York Times columnist Ron Lieber explains how parents can raise kids who are money-conscious and well-adjusted .
He discusses all the aspects of money and child-rearing. Including topics such as how to handle an allowance or whether or not to pay for chores. He also tackles the question of whether a parent should buy a car. And takes a look at parents paying for a child’s entire college education.
“The Simple Path to Wealth: Your roadmap to financial independence and a rich, free life” by JL Collins
This book came from letters Collins wrote to his young daughter, involving money and investing, before she was quite old enough to read them. He believes that investing should be available to everyone, not just those in the personal finance sector.
Collins covers everything from how to avoid debt to understanding retirement accounts to the truth behind social security. And he uses real-world examples to discuss these topics.
For example, he compares the stock market to beer, saying the stock market is exactly like when a bartender pours a beer out of sight and into a dark glass. You have no way of knowing how much of it is beer or foam. The foam is all the hype and scare-tactics used to drive people away from investing on their own. What we want is the beer–the real information that we all have access to.
“Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes” by Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich
Most of us know the secret to becoming wealthy and retiring at an early age. Earn as much as you can, save half of what you make and invest aggressively.
But every person has inherent biases that can transform even the most logical investor into an irrational consumer. This book counters the most common behavioral mistakes that cause people to lose money , creating a pathway for a more rational approach to investing.
Even if you always stay the course when the market tanks, this book could explain the unconscious behaviors that cause you to lose money.
“Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penning Pinching Way” by Tanja Hester
American working culture involves working around the clock, Tanja Hester believes this is unnecessary
She looks at what life can be like if you don't wake up to an alarm clock everyday and actually you love the work you do. On the same note, Tanja makes it very clear that this book isn't anti-work, but it is anti-work ridiculously long hours.
Tanja also covers how to create your dream life, plus how to protect that life from recessions, future unknowns, and rising healthcare costs.
She goes on to cover topics that often get left out of the financial freedom discussion. These topics include: the pros and cons of homeownership, substantially equal periodic payments, Roth conversion ladders, sequence of returns risk, and more.
Happy reading and let us know which FIRE book is your favorite!
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