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.
Sometimes you need a good book to truly understand a philosophy, idea, or method. When an author has the space to express their ideas fully, you get a more comprehensive version of their message. And, as it pertains to personal finance, a book is better at delving into the nuance and complexities than most 1000-word articles.To get you started, we’ve created a list of the 12 best books for those pursuing FI. Each one presents a unique and worthwhile approach to handling your money. And, at one book a month, this could be a full year’s worth of great FI reading!
1. ChooseFI: Your Blueprint For Financial Independence
Okay, so we’re obviously a little biased here. Brad and Jonathan partnered with Chris Mamula on this project–just three suburban dads trying to make the world a little better. If ChooseFI concepts and strategies have helped direct your FI journey, you’re going to love the book.
Here are a few of the topics that the book will cover:
- Developing a growth mindset
- Defining your values and aligning them with your spending
- Cutting years from your estimated retirement date
- Questioning the status quo on “required expenses”
- Cutting travel expenses and putting family vacations within your reach
- Learning how to earn more and live in abundance
ChooseFI: Your Blueprint For Financial Independence is available everywhere books are sold.
2. Playing with FIRE: How Far Would You Go for Financial Freedom? by Scott Rieckens
Based on the Playing with FIRE documentary, this book details the ups and downs one real family goes through upon deciding to adopt a FIRE lifestyle.
Prior to their FIRE journey, Scott and Taylor Rieckens had a healthy income and were spending nearly every penny of it. They were living the “good life,” following the American Dream. But eventually, they began to realize that the “good life” wasn’t that great. The American Dream began to feel more like a nightmare.
They were living paycheck to paycheck and working like crazy. Yet when Scott asked Taylor to make a list of the things that made her happy, he was surprised to find that “coffee together” made the list, but the beach home and BMW didn’t.
That moment became the catalyst for the incredible FIRE journey the Rieckens embarked upon and which the book details. Filled with real-life case studies, you’ll find inspiration for your own FI journey.
3. Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need by Grant Sabatier
When we interviewed Grant Sabatier for the podcast, we talked about his unbelievable FI journey. Completely broke in 2010, Grant decided it was time to look at money differently. Five years later he had a net worth of $1.25 million. During that time, he discovered that most available money advice was either incorrect, incomplete or so old-school it’s obsolete.
His book challenges the idea that you need to work a 9-5 every day until retiring at age 65. Instead, he gives counter-intuitive advice on how to:
- Create profitable side hustles
- Negotiate more out of your employer than you thought possible
- Travel the world for less
- Live for free–or better yet, make money on your living situation
- Think creatively–there are so many ways to make money but we don’t see them.
One of the best things about this book is that Grant has lived these principles. While you may not be able to turn an empty bank account into a million dollars as quickly as he did, his principles are solid and, at the very least, could help you accelerate your FI timeline.
4. You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham
No matter how much money you make or how much you know about FI, the monthly budget is still the cornerstone of every successful FI journey. Jesse Mecham’s amazing You Need a Budget (YNAB) software has helped many individuals and families create budgets that work.
Mecham has put all of his concepts into the You Need a Budget book, in which he:
- Explains how a budget can be a liberating, exhilarating, and life-changing
- Shows how a budget will help you shed the guilt you experience when spending money
- Gives practical ideas for navigating the choppy waters of money and relationships
- Explores how to teach your kids about budgeting
Whether you’re single or married, this book can help you get more out of every penny of your income. And this book could make for a great wedding or graduation gift, too!
5. The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
This book came from letters Collins wrote to his young daughter, involving money and investing before she was 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. He also uses real-world examples to discuss these topics.
For instance, 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. But what we want is the beer–the real information that we all have access to.
6. Set For Life: Dominate Life, Money, and the American Dream by Scott Trench
Penned by Scott Trench, President of BiggerPockets, this book may not have made it on your must-read list yet, but it absolutely should! While some tactics explored in Set For Life may not be new to you, such as house hacking, the step-by-step ramp-up is illuminating and exciting to read.
Scott details the various stages that one would need to undertake to go from zero to financially independent. If you’re looking for an FI road map to use for yourself or share with someone, this book provides just that.
This book may not be as tactical as you need if you’re well on your way to FI (or if you’re already there). However, it spells out the stages of FIRE, and is an exciting read if you like actionable tips paired with illustrative storytelling.
7. 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 and address how reckless consumerism threatens both our society and the environment. It’s both a micro and macro view of the philosophy that eventually became FIRE.
Be sure to pick the 2018-revised edition of the book, as it has some important changes. For instance, 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.
8. 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. However, it’s likely a great book for someone you know.
If you’ve been making changes in your life that have positively impacted your well-being and your net worth, some people in your life might be baffled. Additionally, you might have also attracted some attention in the process!
For anyone who’s noted the changes you’ve made and wants to learn more, this book can be a great tool to share. Love Your Life, Not Theirs, written by Rachel Cruze (who is Dave Ramsey’s daughter), is an excellent bridge from the Ramsey community to ours. It also offers a more friendly approach for a modern audience, especially Millennials.
She takes on the Ramsey methodology in a more approachable way and accesses some modern-day influences that keep us on the hamster wheel. Specifically, 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.
9. Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
Chances are you’ve heard of The Frugalwoods blog. Elizabeth, along with her husband and two children, have been sharing their journey online about homesteading in the Vermont woods. But if you want to deep dive into how they got to FI in their early 30s, you might want to read the book.
Meet the Frugalwoods reads similarly to her blog. She details her thoughts on privilege, lifestyle inflation, and lessons in frugality they’ve learned along the way. She shares how she and her husband crafted a life around their priorities, even if it meant taking a different path along the way. Luckily for them, their path led to a beautiful 66-acre homestead in the woods.
10. The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner
BiggerPockets Podcast co-host and real estate investor Brandon Turner has written a 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 business as well as anyone. His writing is clear and informative.
Even if you already own a few properties, consider getting this book to learn how you can maximize the value you’re getting from each investment.
11. Side Hustle: From Idea To Income In 27 Days 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 motivate your inner hustler.
12. Work Optional: Retire Early The Non-Penny-Pinching Way by Tanja Hester
American working culture involves working around the clock, but Tanja Hester believes this is unnecessary
In her book, she examines what life can look like if you don’t wake up to an alarm every day and you actually love the work you do. At the same time, Tanja makes it clear that this book isn’t anti-work, but it is anti-working ridiculously long hours.
Tanja 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.
If you’re interested in pursuing FIRE or learning more about the movement, this list is a great place to start. The books will provide you with the information you need, the motivation you’re looking for, and tips to formulate a plan.
Happy reading and let us know which FI book is your favorite!
- Beginner’s Guide To Financial Independence
- The Baby Steps Of FI
- The Side Effects Of Listening To ChooseFI