There are countless financial books out there that promise to make you a more intelligent investor, an expert budgeter, or a money guru. But which ones contain solid advice, and which ones should you pass over? There are so many options that it's hard to tell.
Here, I highlight five financial books that have stood the test of time, plus include my new personal favorite! These books were written 20+ years ago (though my personal favorite was written in April 2021), but the information gleaned from them is still relevant today. Sound financial habits and strategies never go out of style.
Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was originally published in 1937 and was republished in 2016. Its original publication followed the Great Depression and was well received because it provided specific steps to achieve wealth. It also endorses a philosophy of positive thinking, which so many Americans needed at the time (and still need today). Its life-changing tips are timeless and can be applied to modern-day investors just as well as they were applied decades ago.2
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad was originally published in 1997, but it remains one of the most popular books for investors today. The book outlines the dichotomy of two fathers: one who makes smart financial decisions (rich dad) and one who doesn't (poor dad).1
Not only does it offer practical investment tips, but it also addresses our financial habits and how these habits can make or break our success. Becoming financially literate is the first step to becoming a successful investor, and Rich Dad Poor Dad breaks this financial literacy down in an easy-to-understand format.
The Intelligent Investor
Originally published in 1949, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham focuses on the philosophy of “value investing,” the practice of buying an investment that appears to be underpriced relative to its value. For example, a value investor might buy a stock that has a lower price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, which can help illustrate how expensive a company is in relation to its earnings.3
Throughout the many years since the book's publication, market developments have continued to prove the wisdom of Graham's strategies, making this a financial book that has truly stood the test of time.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley was published in 1995, and while it includes some dated references (no one has a Sears credit card nowadays), the principles in the book are still worth examining. The premise of this one is that wealthy people spend less on frivolous expenses—like cars and watches and huge mansions—and spend more of their time investing in appreciating assets to grow richer.4
Some of the findings are surprising because you wouldn't expect a millionaire or multi-millionaire to drive the least expensive car on the block, but these small choices are how the rich grow richer and why the middle classes often live paycheck-to-paycheck. This is another book that will help you examine your financial literacy and habits.4
The Richest Man in Babylon
Who knew that there were so many sound financial lessons we could learn from the ancients? George Clason did when he wrote The Richest Man in Babylon in 1926! Many readers consider this book “the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth.” In it, readers will learn about the famous Babylonian parables, which help outline these concepts in an easy-to-understand way.5
MY NEW PERSONAL FAVORITE!
Richer, Wiser, Happier: How The World's Greatest Investors Win In Markets and Life
In this fantastic book, renowned financial journalist, William Green, shares life-changing lessons based on hundreds of hours of interviews that he conducted over twenty-five years with a pantheon of investing wizards. As he reveals, their talents extend well beyond the financial realm to practical philosophy. These men and women view the world in a more interconnected way. They're remarkably intuitive about trends, practice fanatical discipline, think rationally about how to minimize risks and maximize rewards, and have developed a high tolerance for pain. They're also stunningly good at boiling down the maddeningly complex to two or three simple variables.(6)
In the Epilogue, the author highlights that while money matters, it's not the essential ingredient of an abundant life. In this section, on page 243, he writes about my father, Arnold Van Den Berg. I am so proud!
Are you going to pick up any of these timeless classics or maybe my new personal favorite? Whether you choose to read about finance from a Great Depression author or a contemporary, learning more about healthy financial habits can help set you on the path to financial success and well-being.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading,
Scott Van Den Berg, President, CFP(R), ChFC(R), AIF(R)
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