If you’re just getting started on the path to FI and are hoping to reach financial independence and dream of early retirement, there are a lot of helpful books out there to frame up your journey and keep you motivated along the way.
Additionally, if you know of anyone who is interested in FI/RE and you want to send a useful book their way, the recommendations below are intended to be for beginners that want to better understand the FI mentality, break a consumerist cycle and get started down the path to early retirement and financial freedom.
The Simple Path To Wealth
The Simple Path To Wealth is cornerstone reading for the financial independence community, as we’ve mentioned it many, many times on the Choose FI podcast, and even interviewed JL. JL Collins is a hero in the community, as he takes a simple approach to both investing and spending that’s relatable and easy to implement.
While the nuts and bolts of investing are explored in this book, and strategies compared, a big takeaway of this book is simply–“don’t panic.” There will be highs and lows, but with patience and the right investments, you’ll be sitting pretty and financially free in the long term.
Your Money or Your Life
Competing for the cornerstone role is Vicki Robin's book, Your Money or Your Life. Often, many of us in the FI/RE community were quoting or mirroring concepts in this book without even realizing it! Your Money or Your Life kicked off the financial independence movement before this community even had a name.
In fact, if we were to run with a house analogy–Your Money Or Your Life isn’t so much a cornerstone, but a foundation to a well bit FI house of knowledge! You can also give episode 70 a listen for a type of audio afterword and other insights with the author, Vicki Robins. This would be a great book to pour over yourself with a good cup of coffee, and would also make an impactful gift.
Love Your Life, Not Theirs By Rachel Cruze
If you’re already on your way to FI and you’ve gotten off the hamster wheel (or at least stopped mindlessly thinking you have to stay there) this may not be the book for you–but it likely is a great book for someone you know.
If you’ve been making changes in your life that have positively impacted your wellbeing and your net worth, it might have baffled some of the people in your life. Additionally, you might have also attracted some attention in the process!
For anyone who has taken note of changes you’ve made in your spending and lifestyle and want to learn more, this book can be a great tool to share. Love Your Life, Not Theirs was written by Dave Ramsey’s daughter and is an excellent bridge from the Ramsey community to ours and has more of a friendly approach for a modern audience, especially Millennials.
Rachel Cruze takes on the Ramsey methodology in a more approachable way and accesses some modern-day influences that keep us on the hamster wheel- namely, social media. She outlines how many of us stay in a consumerist trap due to the influence of Instagram and Facebook on our spending, and gives the reader tools to get out of it.
Set For Life
We interviewed Scott Trench in episode 63 of the podcast, and his book, Set For Life is intended to get you all the way from “stuck” to FI. The key concepts of this book are to get to your first $25,000 in savings, then to invest, and finally, to capitalize intelligently on your success.
What’s useful about the book is that every phase of progress is outlined with action steps. For many of us, the first few years of our FI journey involve a lot of unraveling our past spending behaviors, trying to change our habits and working our way towards $0 after years of debt.
Set For Life outlines the challenges and opportunities to take you from a negative net worth to your first $25,000 in savings and discusses several helpful tactics on how to get there- including house hacking.
The Millionaire Next Door
This book is a classic for a reason. While most of us have woken up to the patterns of mindless consumerism that has become a fixture of American living, it’s not always a clear path from point A to point B due to the pressures of marketing to live beyond our means.
Often, we have a lot of psychological unraveling to do before we can unwed the outward markers of “success” that are usually just mirages held up by debt. Many of us don't understand why we do what we do, or simply take for granted that we need to showcase our wealth with stuff. But when we can better understand our influences and triggers, we can finally stop engaging in behaviors that aren't serving us.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko takes a peek behind the curtain of consumerism to show that true wealth isn't all that meets the eye. The truly wealthy among the middle class we know are not the ones driving the flashy cars or wearing the latest fashions but are often hidden in plain sight. When we know better, we can do better, and taking a step back from the consumerist responses we were trained to pursue by reading this book is a great first step!
What other books should be in the FI library for newbies and beginners? What books changed your perspective of FI or put a fire under you to start on the path? We'd love for you to share your recommendations!