Many Americans think they’ll never have enough money to retire. So being able to retire early can seem like a Holy Grail — an impossible quest none of us will ever come close to achieving.
According to experts, though, it is possible not only to retire early but to fulfill personal goals, explore new interests — even reorient yourself into an entirely new career if you find that a life of leisure isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
There are two key ingredients to making the dream of early retirement a reality: You need to define goals for both your career and your finances, and have a specific plan for each that will help you get there. MONEY asked financial management and investing professionals as well as career experts what books they would suggest for people who desire an early retirement.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Joe Heider, president of Cirrus Wealth Management, says that Your Money or Your Life offers “a very different approach to personal finance.” Author Vicki Robin talked to MONEY earlier this year about her book’s huge and unlikely millennial fan base, a group seeking FIRE — or, “financial independence, retire early.”
Despite Robin’s lack of a traditional finance or investing background, this book is often recommended a must-read if you want to retire before you spot your first gray hair in the mirror. “[It] really is thought-provoking regarding your relationship with money and how to use it to achieve your best life,” Heider says.
“This book about one’s financial beliefs and mindset changed my life when I was 18 years old,” says Jason Dorsey, president of The Center for Generational Kinetics, a research and consulting firm that focuses on Generations Y and Z.
A key component to retiring early is financial security, and Dorsey says The Instant Millionaire offers real-life tools and insights to help people play the long game when it comes to wealth creation. “The book helps people to see that how they view themselves in relation to money and what they think is possible for themselves opens up or limits what is possible for them,” he adds. “[It] helped me to recognize that the future you want is possible, but it’s up to you to create.”
John Challenger, CEO of executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, sees a lot of hard-charging professionals in his line of work, and his observations lead him to offer this unexpected recommendation by the author of Alexander Hamilton, the book that led to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical.
While Grant is not about retiring early, per se, Challenger says this biography of the Civil War hero and president is a great way “to see how people were able to pivot and adapt to their situations to make significant advances in their careers.” Thanks to Chernow’s exhaustive research, readers get a deep dive into how Ulysses S. Grant reinvented himself time and again, Challenger says.
Jonathan Clarke, an associate professor at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, has high praise for The Elements of Investing. He calls it “the best book on personal finance for young people,” saying it “is straightforward and easy to read. It stresses passive investing strategies, which tend to work best.
Clarke also praises Malkiel’s other investing bible (and MONEY reader favorite) A Random Walk Down Wall Street. “I read this book about 25 years ago and it’s had a huge impact on how I invest,” he says.
“This is not a get-rich-quick book, but a way to view the practical and compounding effects of recognizing how you spend, save, and invest to reach your financial goals,” Dorsey says.
The Millionaire Next Door is essential reading for people who want to retire early because it offers a research-based strategy for financial independence, Dorsey says. “The book is packed with great data and stories which make it very readable and answer the question of how do you get to your financial freedom starting wherever you are today,” he says. (Cirrus Wealth Management’s Joe Heider also gives kudos to Millionaire Next Door for giving readers “great lessons for financial independence.”)
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