MONEY

Top 10 Personal Finance Books of All Time

These ten books have ten different (and powerful) approaches to accumulating personal wealth.
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Previous posts have identified the best motivational business books of all time, and the best eye-opening books for the entrepreneur. Here's a list of books to help you get out of the rat race of debt and achieve the wealth that you truly deserve.

10. The Richest Man In Babylon

George S. Clason's faux-biblical parables about acquiring wealth have inspired investors since the 1920s. Like most of the personal finance books that followed, The Richest Man In Babylon emphasizes saving over spending. However, the book also insists that charitable giving is equally as important, provided you don't allow those two whom you give to become dependent upon your gifts.

Best quote: "Budget thy expenses that thou mayest have coins to pay for thy necessities, to pay for thy enjoyments and to gratify thy worthwhile desires without spending more than nine-tenths of thy earnings."

9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad

An eighth-grade dropout who spends less than he earns is smarter than a college professor who can't make ends meet, according to Robert Kiyosaki. Furthermore, while working for a steady paycheck can get you started, your best investment of your time and money is to buy property or a business. Or better yet, do what Kiyosaki himself did and write a best selling book.

Best quote: "The key to financial freedom and great wealth is a person's ability or skill to convert earned income into passive income and/or portfolio income."

8. The Millionaire Fast Lane

Working hard, saving 10 percent, and retiring at 65 is a chump's game because 1) financial markets are simply too volatile and 2) you'll "be in a wheelchair" by the time you actually have enough to retire, according to author MJ DeMarco. A better strategy is to use the volatility of the financial markets to get rich quickly and enjoy it now.

Best quote: "Show me a 22-year-old who got rich investing in mutual funds. Show me the man who earned millions in three years by maximizing his 401k. Show me the young twenty-something who got rich clipping coupons. Where are these people? They don't exist."

7. Your Money or Your Life

Contrary to popular belief, living more frugally increases (rather than decreases) your quality of life. Author Vicki Robin's cites many examples, such as the practice of working at a job that brings in less than the amount you pay out for childcare and "time saving" trips to McDonalds.

Best quote: "Conditions have changed, but we are still operating financially by the rules established during the Industrial Revolution--rules based on creating more material possessions. But our high standard of living has not led to a high quality of life--for us or for the planet."

6. The Science of Getting Rich

Even though it contains nothing that even vaguely resembles "science," this 1910 book provided the intellectual framework for thousands of personal wealth-building seminars.  Author Wallace Wattle believed that your ability to accumulate wealth is directly dependent upon how you think about it. In other words, if you believe that money is the root of all evil, you'll never be wealthy.

Best quote: "No man can rise to his greatest possible height in talent of soul development unless he has plenty of money."

5. The Millionaire Next Door

Through research into U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more, authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko identifies most individuals as Under Accumulators of Wealth (UAW) who have a low net wealth compared to their income.  They then provide advice (like take skimpy vacations) to help people achieve a higher net worth compared to their income.

Best quote: People whom we define as being wealthy get much more pleasure from owning substantial amounts of appreciable assets than from displaying a high-consumption lifestyle.

4. Total Money Makeover

Anyone who's listened to Dave Ramsey's radio show knows that he's all about common sense: avoid buying on credit, pay cash for everything possible, get yourself out of debt and build an emergency fund. Rather than airy-fairy promises and feel-good anecdotes, he offers solid basic advice for the everyman and everywoman.

Best quote: "What I have done is packaged the time-honored information into a process that is doable and has inspired millions to act on it."

3. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

Most personal finance books seem to be written with the about-to-retire set in mind. In this sprightly offering, TV star Suze Orman helps millennials navigate the basics of the financial world, like coping with huge student loans and a job market that, for young people, is nearly as dismal as the Great Depression.

Best quote: "You picked up this book because you are broke. Keep reading and you will discover what you need to know--and do--so you will not be broke forever."

2. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

If you're poor, it's because you think like a poor person and if you're rich, it's because you think rich, according to author (and multi-millionaire) T. Harv Eker. To make matters worse, poor people essentially program their children to be poor, by providing them with a worldview that makes wealth accumulation impossible. Not to worry, though. If you start thinking like a mogul, you can be one, too.

Best quote: "The vast majority of people simply do not have the internal capacity to create and hold on to large amounts of money and the increased challenges that go with more money and success."

1. Think and Grow Rich

Way back in the 1930s, author Napoleon Hill interviewed a series of millionaires and philanthropists, starting with the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. The result was a perennially best-selling work of self-development that encourages the notion that "greed is good"--as long as you're willing to share your wealth.

Best quote: "If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to be so determined to have it that you convince yourself that you will have it."

What other books should have been on this list. Leave a comment!

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IMAGE: Jetta Productions
Last updated: May 8, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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