The best books for changing the way you look at money

Who am I?

When I was about 8, I remember taking all the money out of my piggy bank, counting it, and carefully putting it back in again. My sister called me Ms. Moneybags. But I wasn’t worried about accumulating money. I was fascinated by money’s pure potential. I could do anything with it! From that early interest in the potential of money, I grew to be an avid reader of financial books–and that led to a surprise career as a money writer. I still love to think about money’s potential and the best ways to allocate that potential, and I love to bring my readers with me on the fascinating journey.

I wrote...

Making Social Security Work for You: Advice, Strategies, and Timelines That Can Maximize Your Benefits

By Emily Guy Birken,

Book cover of Making Social Security Work for You: Advice, Strategies, and Timelines That Can Maximize Your Benefits

What is my book about?

Despite reports of Social Security's impending bankruptcy, Social Security remains an important part of most Americans' retirement plans. But will it be enough? Making Social Security Work for You teaches you what you need to know about Social Security retirement benefits and the options you can choose to help meet your retirement goals. In straightforward, easy-to-understand language, this compact guide provides advice on the advantages and disadvantages of delaying benefits as well as the best ways to maximize your benefits depending on your financial or marital situation.

Featuring a glossary of terms to help you better understand Social Security jargon and practical, actionable advice on how and when to save additional retirement funds, this book shows you how to make your retirement the best it can possibly be.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Why did I love this book?

As of 2023, behavioral economics is no longer a surprising new look at old economics principles–but that doesn’t change just how entertaining, surprising, and challenging you will find the experiments detailed in Predictably Irrational. 

In one notable experiment, Dr. Ariely placed six-packs of soft drinks next to plates of cash inside of communal dorm fridges–to prove we tend to be honest about cash but feel no compunction about swiping someone else’s Coke. In another memorable experiment, male volunteers were asked moral questions when they were in a state of arousal–which helped prove that morals are flexible depending on the circumstances. 

Reading this book will make you realize just how often you make decisions–especially financial decisions–that are weird, illogical, and irrational.

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…

Book cover of Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

Why did I love this book?

This graphic novel tells the story of how Vladek–Spiegelman’s father–survived the Holocaust. Though Spiegelman illustrates Germans as cats and Jews as mice, this story is not cartoonish and it pulls no punches. We see the horrors and brutality of this awful event.

Reading this book made me realize there’s no such thing as “financial security.” Vladek and his wife were wealthy prior to WWII. Their story illustrates that money is not safety, and that any fortune can be taken away.

But the book also provides an odd sort of hope. Vladek was masterfully resourceful, which helped him succeed prior to the Holocaust. The Nazis took everything, but they could not take his resourcefulness and intelligence. Vladek used those traits to survive. 

Maus helped me let go of the idea that I need money to protect me. I can’t count on money, but I can count on myself–just as Vladek did.

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Maus I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling first installment of the graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker) • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • One of Variety’s “Banned and Challenged Books Everyone Should Read”

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his…

Book cover of Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence

Why did I love this book?

Your Money or Your Life is like a cheat code for living. The authors cut through all the “shoulds” we place on money to ask this simple question: What do you really want from life? 

Once you have pinpointed the specific things that make you feel satisfied, alive, connected, contented, and energetic, you can easily let everything else go–and then your money decisions easily fall into place. You simply need to ask yourself if a financial decision supports the things you want most.

The lessons of this book are simple to understand, but not easy to implement. But getting into the habit of thinking more about your life energy than about money means you’re on your way.

By Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Your Money or Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have Enough Money for a Rich Life-Without Winning the Lottery
How much money is enough? Vicki Robin has made it her life's work to explore this question. Her remarkable discovery: money is energy-and conscious awareness is the key to finding its real value. On Your Money or Your Life Robin shares the nine-step program originally created with her teaching partner Joe Dominguez, which has helped nearly three quarters of a million people worldwide reach new levels of comfort, competence, and consciousness around their personal finances. Updated for the 21st century, this two-CD program offers hands-on tools and practical insights to…

Book cover of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Why did I love this book?

In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich took a number of low-paying jobs to understand the challenges facing the working poor. This book opened my eyes to things I’d always taken for granted.

Prior to reading this book, it never occurred to me how expensive it can be to be frugal. Theoretically, making yourself big batches of homemade soup is far cheaper (and healthier) than getting fast food for every meal. But if you don’t have pots or utensils, the initial set-up cost of making your own food is far higher than the cost of a single Value Meal. 

This book will challenge your beliefs about what it means to be “good with money” and the meaning of “unskilled” labor.

By Barbara Ehrenreich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nickel and Dimed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beautifully repackaged as part of the Picador Modern Classics Series, this special edition is small enough to fit in your pocket and bold enough to stand out on your bookshelf.

A publishing phenomenon when first published, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed is a revelatory undercover investigation into life and survival in low-wage America, an increasingly urgent topic that continues to resonate.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job―any job―can be the ticket…

Book cover of It's Not You, It's the Dishes: How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship

Why did I love this book?

Szuchman and Anderson use the framework of economics principles to look at marital relationships. Though the book was written as more of a self-help marriage guide, it’s an excellent introductory primer to many economic theories. 

Every chapter introduces and defines an economic theory–including moral hazard, comparative advantage, loss aversion, supply and demand, and incentives. Then the authors profile a married couple in crisis and describe how the economic theory fits the marital problem.

It’s a fascinating way of narrowing the larger issues of how to allocate scarce resources into the domestic sphere. I found applying economic theories to married couple fights helped me better understand economics as a whole, and the ways I make decisions in every part of my life.

Additionally, this book can be laugh-out-loud funny.

By Paula Szuchman, Jenny Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Not You, It's the Dishes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Your marriage is fine, right? Sure, there are showdowns over who unloads more dishes, and some simmering discontent over who drives more car pools, cleans more dust bunnies, and keeps the social wheels of your existence greased. The sex is good, though you can’t remember when you last had it. Come to think of it, you’re plagued by a nagging sense that marriage used to be so much more fun. Marriage can be a mysterious, often irrational business. But the key, propose Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson in this incomparable and engaging book, is to think like an economist. We…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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