Creating a personal budget sounds easy — and we all know we should keep close tabs on our personal financing — but in these fast-paced times, such a task can often be easier said than done.
That’s why it can be helpful to seek the advice of personal finance experts; those who can show us the steps we need to take to track expenses, save money and remove many of the physical (and psychological) obstacles standing between us and our financial goals.
Here are five books (some classic, some brand new) worth reading to give your personal budget — and financial planning — some much-needed structure.
5 Books To Add To Your Personal Budget Bookshelf
1.The Automatic Millionaire (by David Bach)
Despite the bold title, this bestselling financial book is not a get-rich-quick guide (or even a get-rich-slightly-quick guide); it’s a no-nonsense blueprint to help you build that foundation for financial wealth through simple, consistent behavior over time.
One of the book’s biggest contributions is the concept of “The Latte Factor,” or the idea of cutting out discretionary expenses — such as that four-dollar daily low-fat latte — and “paying yourself,” instead, in the form of savings or an emergency fund.
Though the book doesn’t offer earth-shattering budget concepts — one of its biggest tenets is the power of “compound interest” over time — this quick read is a great jump-start for those getting started with financial planning and requiring a bit of help to focus on the big budgetary picture.
2. Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps To Financial Freedom (by Tony Robbins)
Yes, that Tony Robbins; the same motivational speaker and strategist who’s sold more than 50 million books, CDs and DVDs. In this book he turns his attention toward that most confounding of dilemmas: “how to secure financial freedom for ourselves and our families.”
Unlike many books on creating a personal budget — which give broad prescriptions on how one must approach personal finance — Robbins’ guide uses interviews with financial experts (such as Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn and Steve Forbes), as well as stories, to illuminate even the most complex (and head-scratching) of financial concepts.
The New York Times praised the volume by calling it the “distillation of every good personal finance idea of the last 40 years.” But perhaps the greatest selling point of the book is its ability to appeal to both naive investors, as well as veteran million-dollar asset managers, to provide a cohesive seven-step plan for financial (and personal) freedom.
3. How To Manage Money When You Don’t have Any (by Erik Wecks)
Unlike most personal finance books, which seem written with the “Grey Poupon” crowd in mind, this no-nonsense guide is perfect for anyone wanting to save for the future (at the same time having difficulty staying above water in the present).
This self-described “finance book for the rest of us” isn’t so much focused on creating color-coded budgets, or downloading the latest budget organization app, but instead on realizing what you spend your money on represents your most profound values and beliefs (and then making sensible financial plans to ensure those values and spending behaviors are aligned).
If you find yourself with a surplus of funds each month, and not sure where and how to spend them, this may not be the personal finance book for you. But if you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck — or simply have the sneaky suspicion your mindset may have something to do with your lack of monetary stability — then this “financial wake-up call” might be just the personal budget alarm you need.
4. Pogue’s Basics: Money: Essential Tips And Shortcuts (That No One Bothers To Tell You) About Beating the System (by David Pogue)
Grasping the big-picture strategy of budget organization — and what steps you’ll take to achieve your financial goals — is just the first step. At some point you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and jump into the personal budget trenches and start exacting control over how much you spend.
And this slim, easy-to-read tome from David Pogue, New York Times bestselling author and technology expert, is a great way to find “hidden” ways to pay less for what you’re already spending money on. From discovering how to buy giftcards at 20% off to paying off taxes with a cash-back credit card — to learning the secrets to reducing (possibly eliminating) your cable and insurance bills — this simple collection of “personal finance hacks” is the perfect addition to your bookshelf.
That said, this is not a book about creating a personal budget or learning the art of personal financing (there are plenty of other books that do that). However, if you’re looking for small, specific and highly actionable things you can do each day, week and month to save money (without breaking a sweat), this short book might be a great add to your Amazon wishlist.
5. The Richest Man In Babylon (by George S. Clason)
Part self-help book, part-parable, part-financial planning guide; this bestseller first published in in the 1920s offers timeless advice to the modern reader wanting to understand personal finance and the basics of money.
Told through “Babylonian parables,” this classic work on the subject of wealth and thrift worthiness uses “stories” to illustrate key financial concepts. And though none of the tenets — such as “Control thy expenditures” and “make of thy dwelling a profitable investment” — will come as a huge revelation, this quick, entertaining read can underscore how the best personal budget principles often happen to be the oldest.
It’s Called “Personal” For A Reason
Though there are many fine personal financing books, the best guides out there realize that a personal budget is just that: personal. The right budget needs to be tailored to your specific needs. And while there are some universal guidelines about creating a personal budget — and some common mistakes about spending to avoid — the key is to know exactly where you want to go, financially, and then make a plan to get there. If the advice of a personal finance expert, who’s been where you want to go, can help, all the better.