Career & Finance

The Best Books and Podcasts to Help You Take Control of Your Personal Finances

personal finance"
personal finance
Source: @dagnedover
Source: @dagnedover

I finished college with almost zero personal finance skills.

In my early 20s, I racked up a fair amount of credit card debt on multiple cards and took out a car loan that I couldn’t afford. I barely understood the 401k offered at my job and had no knowledge of any other retirement account or investing options. “Emergency fund” definitely wasn’t in my vocabulary.

Now, in my early 30s, I’m a completely different person than I was a few years ago (though I’ll always be a financial work in progress). All of those credit cards are now completely paid off. I traded the expensive car in for a used model that I paid for in full. I take advantage of the 401k employer match, as well as the tax-advantaged dependent care and health savings accounts. I also started a separate savings account for emergencies at a high-interest online bank.

What forced me to change was having my daughter in my late 20s and realizing I wasn’t financially prepared for parenthood. I knew my finances needed to be more sustainable in order to raise a family, send our kids to college, and eventually retire.


What forced me to change was having my daughter in my late 20s and realizing I wasn’t financially prepared for parenthood.


I fixed my money situation by teaching myself personal finance and money management skills through books I came across or that were recommended by friends. These books taught me that my salary number is really just one piece of the wealth-building puzzle, and what’s also important is how I learn to make my money grow, set my spending priorities, and use what I have wisely.

In order to build a strong financial life, I need to focus not just on earning raises, but also adding in smart investments and passive income streams, boosting my credit score, and negotiating and shopping around for high-dollar goods and services. It makes more of an impact to figure out how cut my expenses by 10% than to get a 5% raise. It’s not always worth chasing more and more when you can be smart about what you have.

These are the books I keep on my shelf and constantly thumb through as I work towards the concrete steps of building and strengthening my financial life.


all your worth
Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi
All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan

Elizabeth Warren has excellent financial knowledge that anyone can learn from — regardless of political viewpoint. This practical book focuses on getting your money in balance between must-haves (50%), wants (30%), and savings (20%). Not letting your necessary financial commitments creep above half your income is a good ballpark for financial health.
This book taught me what has turned into my guiding principle: to focus on saving the dollars, not the pennies. It makes a much bigger impact on your “must-haves” category to lower your insurance costs or phone bill instead of clipping coupons to save 50 cents.

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Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money

No list about personal finance is complete without Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is best known for helping people eliminate debt through the debt snowball method. This book is the handbook for the Financial Peace University course and will help you put together a long-term money plan with concrete and tangible steps.

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David Bach
The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich

This book teaches you how to automate your finances to build wealth. Making everything automatic means saving and investing isn’t left to your own willpower. If you start automating your investments early, you benefit for years of compounding interest.

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Beth Kobliner
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties

This book is great for learning the basic principles on money management and getting an in-depth lesson on them. It is full of information on managing loans and credit cards, choosing a bank, retirement accounts, mortgages, insurance, and taxes.

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Tanja Hester
Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way

I am not necessarily interested in retiring early, but this book has amazing advice on how to become financially independent, and importantly, how to avoid the “lifestyle creep” that never allows us to get ahead even as we earn more and more money. This book also has an incredibly detailed chapter on investments that I’ve already referred back to multiple times.

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frugal woods
Elizabeth Willard Thames
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living

This is another personal account of achieving early retirement. The author and her husband retired to a homestead in Vermont in their early 30s through extremely frugal living. While that way of living isn’t for everyone, there is some great advice about prioritizing your spending and freeing yourself from a consumer mentality.

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Cary Siegel
Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School? 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By

This is a quick and easy read of 99 tips on managing your money wisely — like investing 50% of every salary increase, saving 90% of every bonus, negotiating prices, and buying used or older models of big-ticket items.

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Additionally, I’ve discovered a few favorite podcasts for personal finance advice as well as inspiring stories of women taking control of their financial future.


Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life

I LOVE this podcast because the episodes are short, but very concrete and actionable. The host provides very tangible advice and lessons on income taxes, IRAs, budgeting tools, HSAs, and much more.


Clever Girls Know

Clever Girls Know is hosted by Clever Girls Finance, an organization dedicated to empowering women and helping them become financially stable. Their episodes cover practical topics like grocery budgeting and beginner investing, but also personal financial stories, like being the “first generation everything” of immigrant parents.


The Money Nerds

The Five Tip Friday episodes are great. They are five minutes long and provide quick money management tips on topics like saving for vacations, setting up spending rules, and reducing monthly expenses.

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