The best books with insights for managing your money wisely

Who am I?

I’m an economist who started out in stockbroking. But that felt like an exploitative industry and, looking for a more positive role, I moved to the consumer organisation Which? There, I cut my teeth helping people make the most of their money and then started my own freelance business. Along the way, I’ve worked with many clients (including financial regulators and the Open University where I now also teach), taken some of the exams financial advisers do and written 30 or so books on personal finance. The constant in my work is trying to empower individuals in the face of markets and systems that are often skewed against them.


I wrote...

Be Your Own Financial Adviser

By Jonquil Lowe,

Book cover of Be Your Own Financial Adviser

What is my book about?

These days we’re expected to take ever more responsibility for our own financial well-being. That’s a challenge given inflation, volatile interest rates, shifting legislation, and the threat of scams. The professional advice that could help is unfortunately costly and scarce, plus it can be hard to know who to trust. But your best adviser can be you!

Be Your Own Financial Adviser shows you how to apply the sort of financial planning that professionals use. It will help you to make informed and robust decisions across all aspects of your personal finances ‒ protecting your health and family, buying a home, saving and investing, retirement, and passing your money on ‒ so that you can achieve your life goals and build your wealth.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hidden Persuaders

Jonquil Lowe Why did I love this book?

Long before ‘nudge’ became a buzzword, Packard wrote this fascinating account of how US advertisers, from the 1930s onwards, developed psychological means for getting us to buy things we never even wanted.

Packed with case studies – such as why washing powder isn’t sold in yellow boxes and how to make insurance an impulse buy – this classic is as relevant today as its first edition in 1957. It’s a book with timeless warnings for controlling our finances.

Understanding that we are (still) being subliminally groomed to be part of the consumer society is a first step to reasserting our own agency. It can help us step back from working and borrowing to spend on a dream we are sold and instead pursue our own goals. 

By Vance Packard,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Hidden Persuaders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the best books around for demystifying the deliberately mysterious arts of advertising."--Salon

"Fascinating, entertaining and thought-stimulating."--The New York Times Book Review

"A brisk, authoritative and frightening report on how manufacturers, fundraisers and politicians are attempting to turn the American mind into a kind of catatonic dough that will buy, give or vote at their command--The New Yorker

Originally published in 1957 and now back in print to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, The Hidden Persuaders is Vance Packard’s pioneering and prescient work revealing how advertisers use psychological methods to tap into our unconscious desires in order to "persuade" us…


Book cover of Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers

Jonquil Lowe Why did I love this book?

US economist Frank Knight is credited with distinguishing uncertainty from risk back in 1921. Yet the two are often conflated.

Kay (an eminent economist) and King (a former Governor of the Bank of England) argue powerfully that the distinction does matter. They range widely across macroeconomics, politics, and consumer choices to show why reducing the future to a set of numbers (probabilities) creates a false – and often disastrous – illusion of power over future outcomes.

They argue that instead we should aim to make decisions that stand a reasonable chance of being robust against unknowable, as well as forecastable, paths that the future might take. That’s very much the ethos of my own books: building in resilience is a key part of successful personal financial planning.

By John Kay, Mervyn King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Radical Uncertainty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some uncertainties are resolvable. The insurance industry's actuarial tables and the gambler's roulette wheel both yield to the tools of probability theory. Most situations in life, however, involve a deeper kind of uncertainty, a radical uncertainty for which historical data provide no useful guidance to future outcomes. Radical uncertainty concerns events whose determinants are insufficiently understood for probabilities to be known or forecasting possible. Before President Barack Obama made the fateful decision to send in the Navy Seals, his advisers offered him wildly divergent estimates of the odds that Osama bin Laden would be in the Abbottabad compound. In 2000,…


Book cover of Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon

Jonquil Lowe Why did I love this book?

This is the story – as Lewis knew it so far – of Sam Bankman-Fried and his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX.

Lewis is the chronicler par excellence of the financial dramas of our times. He has a gift for making Byzantine market practices intelligible and weaving them into a compelling read. At the time Lewis was writing, Bankman-Fried was facing fraud charges in the US. Lewis speculated that possibly his actions were not intentionally criminal - though the US court has now found him guilty. Moreover, FTX customers have so far been unable to retrieve billions of dollars.

This book is a reminder of why crypto should be treated as a gamble, not an investment: most crypto tokens have no intrinsic value; their prices may be determined by large, leveraged program traders; and there is little oversight and no compensation when you play outside conventional regulated markets.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Michael Lewis first met him, Sam Bankman-Fried was the world's youngest billionaire and crypto's Gatsby. CEOs, celebrities, and leaders of small countries all vied for his time and cash after he catapulted, practically overnight, onto the Forbes billionaire list. Who was this rumpled guy in cargo shorts and limp white socks, whose eyes twitched across Zoom meetings as he played video games on the side?

In Going Infinite Lewis sets out to answer this question, taking readers into the mind of Bankman-Fried, whose rise and fall offers an education in high-frequency trading, cryptocurrencies, philanthropy, bankruptcy, and the justice system.…


Book cover of Farewell to Growth

Jonquil Lowe Why did I love this book?

Much of personal finance relies on the premise that you will achieve your goals by investing in economic growth.

One narrative says we can play our part in tackling climate change by shifting our investments towards sustainable growth – for example, backing green technologies and carbon capture. However, Latouche questions whether economic growth is compatible at all with living within our planet’s resources.

He argues that we have to detach from the cycle of over-consuming and over-producing that is implicit in targeting economic growth and instead shift to a goal of maximising human wellbeing. His radical alternative is a world where we work less, share more, and respect nature.

It is arguably the only real solution to the climate crisis, but powerful vested interests stand in the way of its adoption.

By Serge Latouche,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Farewell to Growth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most of us who live in the North and the West consume far too much - too much meat, too much fat, too much sugar, too much salt. We are more likely to put on too much weight than to go hungry. We live in a society that is heading for a crash. We are aware of what is happening and yet we refuse to take it fully into account. Above all we refuse to address the issue that lies at the heart of our problems - namely, the fact that our societies are based on an economy whose only…


Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Jonquil Lowe Why did I love this book?

Cialdini is a social psychologist who set out to explore what makes us comply with requests from strangers.

He did this from the inside by taking jobs where he was trained by various organisations to sell their wares. What makes this book so valuable is that Cialdini not only identifies six key methods of persuasion that are routinely deployed but also offers guidance on how to defend yourself against them. This has huge relevance for personal finance.

As banks and other financial institutions increase their fraud detection systems, criminals increasingly see you, the individual, as the weak link they can exploit to defraud you. Cialdini’s book is a great tool to help you detect and rebuff scammers intent on parting you from your money.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


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Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

Book cover of Lethal Legacy

H R Kemp

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth? Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger. As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she unravels a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength to expose the truth and navigate a treacherous landscape where the lines between trust and betrayal blur. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth, but also deeper into the dangerous realm of those who wish to silence her forever.

Can she triumph over the shadows of corruption and finally bring justice to light? Or will she succumb to the deadly grip of those who will stop at nothing to protect their dark legacies?

Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

What is this book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth?

Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger.

As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she begins to unravel a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength and relentless determination…


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Interested in risk, financial crises, and persuasion?

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