The best personal finance books for millennial women

Who am I?

I own Aptus Financial and am a writer, financial columnist, and a Certified Financial Planner™. I also run 401(k)s (in high heels.) Financial literature and advice tends to nerd out with natural savers or shame debtors, but my passion is the folks in between—the break eveners. I believe that this group benefits from financial advice that nudges, not bludgeons. Also, many women don’t feel they belong in the world of personal finance, which is why I dedicate time to public speaking to women’s groups around the country. I am tapped into a network of financial ladysplaining authors and speakers who have collectively pulled ourselves up by our Mary Jane straps and are pulling chairs for other women at the financial table—right where they belong.

I wrote...

But First, Save 10: The One Simple Money Move That Will Change Your Life

By Sarah Catherine Gutierrez,

Book cover of But First, Save 10: The One Simple Money Move That Will Change Your Life

What is my book about?

But First, Save 10: The One Simple Money Move That Will Change Your Life focuses on a simple concept that is all about inspiring women to save 10% of everything they make. Period. It starts with the inspiration to save, arms against YOLO (You Only Live Once) brain traps, and teaches a “pay-yourself-first" cash management system for life. Financial books have been the most clichéd graduation gift of all time and have weighted down moving boxes for decades with layers of dust and guilt springing from unread pages. But this one comes with a Gen-Z movement in college sororities, clubs, organizations, non-profits, and a growing Facebook group dedicated to Save10 conversations, questions and crowdsourced answers. Financial mistakes no longer have to be a rite of passage. Saving is the new Gen-Z power suit. Yes, we can want nice things, but first, we have to pay ourselves. But first, we always Save 10.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide For Getting Your Financial $hit Together

Why did I love this book?

Money Honey is a quick and easy read that asks the reader “why are you here on the planet and why are you wasting your time living someone else’s life?” Richards’ story of saving and investing then essentially retiring from day job hours while in her 20s will get your attention. You will start asking yourself why you’re sitting on the couch scrolling social media when you could be making a business plan or increasing your savings rate. At its core, the concept is not just about money. It’s about using money for the purpose of living the life we want to live, the one “you” were designed for. She asks, why waste any time getting there? Her money bucketing system is spot-on for saving for long, intermediate, and short-term financial goals. I wanted to save so hard after reading this book.

By Rachel Richards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Money Honey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020, now including a foreword by Paula Pant of Afford Anything!**

Adulting is hard, especially when it comes to money management… but it doesn’t have to be.

What if one book could dramatically change the way you think about money? What if you could finally do the things you know you should be doing but haven’t yet, like creating a budget, paying down debt, and investing in the stock market? What if you could finally learn about finance without your eyes glazing over?

In Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide for Getting Your Financial $hit Together, bestselling author…

Broke Millennial

By Erin Lowry,

Book cover of Broke Millennial

Why did I love this book?

Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together is a bit longer how-to financial book that will have you in stitches at her stories and turns of phrase while you are subconsciously absorbing financial lessons along the way. While she is absolutely qualified to write a personal finance book, my favorite qualification is “a journalism and theater double major with a deep-rooted hatred for math.” For those paralyzed by the thought of money or who feel they have to read 3 books, 10 blogs, and listen to 20 podcasts before they are equipped to open a savings account, you need look no further. This book will get what you need and motivate you to take action with your money.

By Erin Lowry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Broke Millennial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck and Get Your Financial Life Together (#GYFLT)!
If you’re a cash-strapped 20- or 30-something, it’s easy to get freaked out by finances. But you’re not doomed to spend your life drowning in debt or mystified by money. It’s time to stop scraping by and take control of your money and your life with this savvy and smart guide.

Broke Millennial shows step-by-step how to go from flat-broke to financial badass. Unlike most personal finance books out there, it doesn’t just cover boring stuff like credit card debt,…

Clever Girl Finance

By Bola Sokunbi,

Book cover of Clever Girl Finance

Why did I love this book?

Grow Your Money is a must-read millennial investing book. The truth is that many women park their wealth in cash in the temporary lot waiting for the perfect investment but lose months, years, or decades paying the opportunity cost of missed investment compounding. As Ms. Sokunbi reminds us “It’s easy to overthink yourself into a standstill, fear the unknown, and let inertia stop you from doing anything at all. But, when you set the intent to succeed and start taking action, no matter how small at first, it’s just a matter of time before you start to reap the rewards.” Her description of the 401(k) is so romantic and saucy it belongs next to the Bridgerton series, not in the personal finance section. Why start with such a boring, jargon-laden account? Well, for many women, a 401(k) is the beginning and end of a fully funded retirement and where a small action perpetuated by the automation of deductions can prove to women over time that they are investors and that they need not fear making mistakes. Financial management is not a series of actions; it is a momentum that reinforces itself over time. But momentum has to start with the first step of investing. Ms. Sokunbi holds our hand and takes that step with us.

By Bola Sokunbi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Clever Girl Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn the basics of investing with this approachable guide to the world of finance

Clever Girl Finance: Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money is the leading guide for women who seek to learn the basic foundations of personal investing. In a no-nonsense and straightforward style, this book teaches readers:

Exactly how investing works and what you should be doing, no fancy finance degree required How to leverage investing to build long term wealth even on a modest salary The key pitfalls to avoid in order to become a successful investor How to build a nest egg and invest in…

Book cover of Smart Money: The Step-By-Step Personal Finance Plan to Crush Debt

Why did I love this book?

Smart Money: The Step by Step Personal Finance Guide to Crush Debt is for the Millennial ready to act and looking for the facts. Imagine a no-nonsense personal finance book with 9 steps to get out of debt. When people start their professional lives with credit card debt and student loan debt, they have the choice to get comfortable with it and figure out ways to “manage it.” Ms. McElroy wants the reader to be deeply uncomfortable with it and to “slay it.” Along the way, she covers the financial basics, unlike many financial books that assume a level of reader knowledge that may not yet exist.

By Naseema McElroy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smart Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Straightforward steps to financial freedom and wealth

Getting a handle on personal finance can be confusing and stressful. Get unstuck and start saving now with this streamlined, holistic plan for financial wellness. Smart Money makes it simple to ditch debt and jump-start your wealth in nine practical steps. Learn how to avoid money pitfalls, correct any wrong turns, and save and spend the right way to build wealth.

Start by assessing your current personal finance, figuring out how much you owe, and comparing your income with your spending. With a wealth of budgeting wisdom, saving strategies, banking tips, and advice…

Do It for Yourself (Guided Journal): A Motivational Journal

By Kara Cutruzzula, Tessa Forrest (illustrator),

Book cover of Do It for Yourself (Guided Journal): A Motivational Journal

Why did I love this book?

Do It For Yourself: A Motivational Journal is a great pairing with any of the books above. The beautiful and powerful designs ask questions and challenge thinking. They move you to action, like one particular page entitled, “Day One or One Day.” In a world of social media where we don’t keep up with the Joneses driving down the street but rather having the Joneses drive into our own living rooms, Ms. Kutruzzula reminds us that “Comparison Will Kill You.” Money requires action today, not promises tomorrow. It requires us to stick to our own goals and our own plan, not the plans of others. And it requires perseverance. This journal guides just that process.

By Kara Cutruzzula, Tessa Forrest (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do It for Yourself (Guided Journal) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold motivational journal for anyone seeking to boost their productivity

Whether you're embarking on a new project or planning your future, understanding what makes you tick is the crucial first step in making things happen. Do It For Yourself combines the pop-art-inspired graphics of Subliming with 75 thought-provoking prompts by creativity and productivity expert Kara Cutruzzula. Choose any goal and work through the five stages of the journal-getting going, building momentum, overcoming setbacks, following through, and seeking closure-or just open it to the phase you're in now. Each exercise is designed to help reorient your outlook, overcome roadblocks, and…

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