When I decided to study the basics of personal finance as a student, I devoured book after book. While a short article or video can be informative on specific topics, books can help you delve deeper and develop a more nuanced understanding of the subject.
In honor of National Book Day, here are some of the best financial books for college students.
"Broke Millennial: Stop Scratching and Bring Your Financial Life Together" by Erin Lowry
Students new to personal finance will appreciate learning the basics from Lowry, an expert in personal finance and a former Mint employee. This book describes basic financial concepts such as choosing a bank, determining your creditworthiness, creating a budget, and dealing with student loans.
"I'll give it to everyone I know as soon as they're 18. It's that good!" said Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Cents of Sense.
The letter is clear, concise and easy to understand – even if you have never read a personal financial book.
Lowry uses examples from her own life and interviews with experts to describe each concept. She also discusses awkward money topics like living with your parents after college, dealing with friends who have more money than you, and managing money when you're in a relationship.
Bonus: When you are finished with this book, read Lowry's follow-up, Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginners Guide to Getting Your Money Up.
This book explains the basics of investing, opening a retirement account, and the differences between stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Even if you don't have the money to start investing, this book explains what to do after you've graduated and found a job.
"Bad With Money: The Imperfect Art of Raising Your Financial Money" by Gaby Dunn
Comedian, writer, and podcaster Gaby Dunn's book is less a personal financial guide than a treatise on her own financial mistakes. Readers will enjoy how reliable the book is and how Dunn doesn't preach the same old tale, "If you buy avocado toast, you will go broke".
When you're done with the book, listen to Dunn's "Bad with Money" podcast. She covers topics such as student loan termination, the psychology of personal finance, and the economics of self-care.
"Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Changing Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence" by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez's book is considered by many to be the beginning of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement.
The book is less about the math of early retirement and more about the abstract concepts of finding meaningful work and building a fulfilling life. It is inspiring read for college students with the prospect of competing in the rat race and starting a career.
Robin and Dominguez challenge readers to think about what they have likely accepted as true – that you have to live a certain way or do a certain job to be a happy, productive member of society.
Roger Fisher and William Ury reached an agreement without giving in
This book is about the art of negotiation and has been popular since its publication in 1981. Learning how to ask for more money is an important skill that many people fail to develop, although it can lead to life-changing career opportunities. The more money you make, the more you can save, invest and spend on the things that really matter to you.
Let's say you are negotiating and investing an additional $ 5,000 per year. In 40 years that would translate to $ 82,201.16 with a 7% growth. Every extra dollar negotiated will become much more before you retire.
"The Index Card: Why Personal Finances Don't Have to Get Complicated" by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
While personal finance may seem like a complex topic, the basics can be reduced to a few key principles. This is the premise of this book, which outlines the nine strategies that both students and graduates should follow.
This book was created after Pollack claimed in an interview that everything you need to know about personal finance could fit on one index card.
The book contains general rules like saving 10 to 20% of your income, paying your credit card in full each month, and avoiding investing in individual stocks. It's also easy to read and has 256 pages – no index card, but close enough.
"Make money: Live the life you want, not just the life you can afford" by Kristin Wong
Freelance writer and Mint contributor Jackie Lam loves Get Money because it plays personal finance. Wong's book has three different levels, and readers must master each level before they can move on to the next.
"It's a great primer as it covers the pillars of personal finance without sounding too dry or boring," said Lam. “She also wants people to live their lives and find balance with their financial goals. Far more realistic than just eating corn flakes for 10 years until you pay off your student debt.
"You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellbeing and a Purposeful Life" by Jason Vitug
Jason Vitug's book is a common addition to college personal finance courses – and for good reason. It goes over the basics of "How do you create a budget?" To "Why should you create a budget?"
The author asks students to think about the type of life they want and how money can lead them there. There is also discussion about building new financial habits and eliminating unhealthy ones.
"I will teach you to be rich" by Ramit Sethi
This remains one of the most popular personal finance books more than a decade after it was first published. It is intended as a six week course for 20 to 30 years.
Unlike personal finance books, which encourage a full commitment to frugal living, Sethi is realistic about his audience.
"It gives people permission to have affordable luxuries in their lives, such as fancy restaurants and travel, as long as other basics are in place," said author and podcast booker Karen L. Cordaway.
Zina Kumok (102 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.