There are innumerable ways out there to help your bank account grow, and (it seems) nearly as many books out there that promise to show you how to make more money at work, save more money with smarter shopping, earn more money by investing wisely, or all of the above.
Whether your preferred method to financial independence is earning more, spending less, investing, or even starting your own business, here are expert-recommended books that deliver the kind of insight and strategy you need to watch your bank account grow.
The Automatic Millionaire, Expanded and Updated: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach
The Automatic Millionaire is frequently mentioned when MONEY asks financial experts for suggestions of books that help people define and prioritize their money goals. “A key theme of the book is that even seemingly small savings can grow into large amounts via the power of compounding,” says Jonathan Clarke, an associate professor at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.
Unlike a lot of personal finance books, The Automatic Millionaire doesn’t give you complex investing strategies or suggest that you need to climb the corporate ladder to achieve financial stability. Instead, “This book really stresses the importance of living beneath your means and paying yourself first,” Clarke says.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
In The $100 Startup, author Chris Guillebeau offers insights of successful real-life people, many of whom would never fit the mold of what might be considered a typical entrepreneur, who turned their bright ideas into unique businesses more or less from scratch.
The $100 Startup offers a road map for people who want to take baby steps into entrepreneurship, says Jeff Rose, founder of the blog Good Financial Cents and author of Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future. “The whole concept is that you can start something on the side with little money, you can test it out, you don’t have to quit your day job,” Rose says, adding that Guillebeau offers lots of specific examples to illustrate the idea that there’s no one “right” way to go about becoming an entrepreneur.
This isn’t a typical guide for growing your bank account via business ventures, part-time gigs, or investing, nor does it offer typical frugal-living or money-saving advice. Instead, Loaded, from Morningstar behavioral economist Sarah Newcomb, might contribute something even more valuable: often-overlooked insights that explain how and why we don’t make smart choices with the money we do earn.
It’s no secret that many people aren’t always rational about money. Newcomb pushes the idea that we tend to ignore the negative messages about money and wealth we either grow up with or develop, even though these unconscious beliefs or biases have a powerful impact on how we interact with our finances, ambition, and earning potential.
“When we take in messages with the undercurrent of ‘money is evil’ or ‘money will corrupt you,’ people will avoid earning what they’re worth because they’re afraid of what having too much money will do to them,” Newcomb told MONEY in an interview. If this observation hits uncomfortably close to home, or if you just can’t figure out why your bank account doesn’t quite measure up to its potential, Newcomb’s book might be a good investment.
The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor by Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis
Apart from another Malkiel book, A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Elements of Investing might be the title we at MONEY hear the most when we ask experts what book can help people at the just-getting-started stage of growing their savings or retirement nest egg.
“The book does a fantastic jobs of highlighting the benefits of passive investing and not paying high mutual fund fees,” Clarke says. “This cost savings can really add up over an investor’s lifetime,” and Elements lays out not only why this is so important, but how you can take advantage of it.
If you take pictures, play music or noodle around with graphic design — just to name a few — you’ll want to check this book out. Rose says Real Artists is a terrific guide for people who work in creative fields and who aren’t sure how to value their skills. “I loved that book because he kind of comes from the angle that a lot of creatives believe that they won’t make a lot of money, or you have to do a lot of work for free before you get paid,” he says. Goins dismantles those myths with real-life examples, Rose says, and illustrates how people with a creative hobby can monetize that passion.
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence — And How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
If you want to grow your income by expanding into a side gig, you need a winning social media strategy, says Chris Haroun, venture capitalist and business class teacher at online education platform Udemy. “Gary is the authority on social media and side hustle thought leadership,” he says. “Anyone that wants to start a side hustle and leverage social media should listen to the audible version of Crushing It, as Gary’s passion really shines through in audible format,” he recommends.
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