7 of the best personal finance books to read in 2020


Whether you want to retire early, understand more about the key principles of investment, or learn how to ‘own the world’ there are personal finance books out there that can help.

But which ones should you add to your reading list for 2020?

Here’s your guide to seven of the best.

1.  Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By, by Cary Siegel

Author Cary Siegel received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Chicago and went on to have a successful career in marketing and sales before taking early retirement at age 45.

In his book ‘Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?’ he breaks down 99 principles of money management into eight broad lessons, including budgeting, saving, spending, debt, and investment.

The lessons aren’t from textbooks so much as from real life, beginning as lessons the author wanted to pass on to his five children as they approached adulthood.

At only 188 pages, it’s a quick read, packed with great tips, whether as a present or as light reading for you.

2.  How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free, by Ernie J Zelinski

Belying the book’s subtitle ‘Retirement wisdom that you won’t get from your financial adviser,’ we recommend this book because it’s about achieving happiness – enjoying your retirement, regardless of the amount you’ve saved.

With chapters on reclaiming your creative spirit, forming routines within your leisure time, and enjoying cheap, adventurous and eco-friendly travel, Zelinski’s path to a happy retirement involves – quite simply – doing whatever makes you happy.

Simple advice maybe, but the book’s irreverent tone and inspiring quotations make the book a pleasure to read. You may well pick up some great tips along the way too.

3.  Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, by Erin Lowry

So-called millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1996. They are technology and social media savvy but beset by unaffordable housing and lower wages in relative terms.

So, whether it’s for you, your child or even your grandchild, ‘Broke Millennial’ may be the book to help the 20- to 30-something in your life get to grips with their finances.

The book is engaging, conversational and very much aimed at its millennial audience. Chapter titles include:

  • ‘Money Isn’t the Worst! Seriously’
  • ‘Is Money a Tinder Date or Marriage Material?’
  • ‘Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner.’

But it’s this fresh perspective that won it much of its praise, explaining monetary matters and delivering financial concepts from a youthful perspective, offering sound advice without preaching.

4.  Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein

‘Nudge’ is about the choices we make as human beings, and as consumers; about how we’re ‘nudged’ towards certain choices without being aware of it – a concept referred to in the book as ‘choice architecture’.

It asks how we can change our in-built biases and swerve the nudges to make better choices.

Covering a range of topics from health, family, and education, it also covers finance – a topic its author, Richard H Thaler, is qualified to talk upon. He won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics.

Amongst chapters on resisting temptation and saving the planet, we also have sections on saving and investing.

Engagingly written and packed with interesting examples throughout, ‘Nudge’ won’t just change the way you save, it might alter the way you think.

5.  The Richest Man in Babylon: with the Magic Story, by George Clason

Succinct, and written in simple language, this collection of short stories, charts the rise of a slave in ancient Babylon, as he becomes a man of great wealth.

Whilst reading these brief but entertaining stories you’ll inadvertently learn the secrets to success in business, the key to personal wealth and be inspired by its parables of thriftiness and the joys of prosperity.

Beginning as a series of pamphlets that Clason wrote from 1926, the best were compiled to create The Richest Man in Babylon.

Clason is also credited as coining the term ‘pay yourself first.’ A favourite slogan of investors – and popular in personal finance literature ever since – it’s the principle of putting money aside before all else.

6.  Money, by Yuval Noah Harari

Released as part of the publisher’s ‘Vintage Mini’ series, ‘Money’ collates extracts from million-copy bestsellers ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ and ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.’

Tracking humankind’s relationship with money, from how it came to be invented to why it now has such a significant role in all of our lives, Harari asks whether it makes us happier or unhappier.

Harari – who has a PhD in History from Oxford University – will guide you from our hunter-gatherer ancestors through sixteenth-century Aztecs to the present day.

7.  How to Own the World: A Plain English Guide to Thinking Globally and Investing Wisely, by Andrew Craig

Author Andrew Craig graduated in Economics and International Politics in 1997 and worked in Washington, DC before returning to the UK and joining UBS.

In this, the third edition of his personal finance bestseller, Craig will teach you how to make the most of your money, turn your financial fortunes around and ‘change your life.’

Beginning with why you can and should invest your money, Craig moves through the specific types of investment vehicles you should use and the importance of each, before giving his explanation of how you can ‘own the world.’