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17 Apr 2023

Five great reads for personal finance success

CitiYoung or old, rookie or experienced investor, our five picks from the countless personal finances books out there have something that can help anyone grow their knowledge and their wealth.

Want to know more about making and managing money? There is no shortage of books out there that promise to boost your financial literacy – and your bank balance. But which ones are worth your time?

For our money, these five contain genuinely useful insights to help you get your money smarts on.

Making Money Made Simple

Billed as the quintessential personal finance guide for those who want to stop worrying about money and start living, this book by homegrown financial adviser, author and speaker Noel Whittaker has taught generations of Australians the basics. Now in its twenty-third edition, Making Money Made Simple continues to deliver straightforward advice for getting – and staying – out of debt, saving money on your home loan, investing in shares and growing your super balance.

‘Get rich quick’ strategies are conspicuous by their absence, but there are plenty of practical tips. They include switching your credit cards for a debit card – Whittaker has memorably described the former as being like warm salted cashews: hard to stop once you get the taste for them – and finding a financial buddy who can help you stay on track. If you’d like to start feeling relaxed and comfortable that you’re making the most of what you have, this no-nonsense guide is likely to prove an excellent investment.

The Barefoot Investor

Finance guru Scott Pape, aka the Barefoot Investor, needs little introduction. Since 2016, when The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need first hit the shelves, he’s made the business of managing money interesting, accessible, even cool – and turned himself into a personal finance rockstar in the process. In 2021 the book became the all-time best-selling book in Australia.

The Barefoot phenomenon outlines a series of nine highly practical money management strategies to live by. Whether that’s everyday advice such as creating a ‘bucket’ system to divide your finances into and paying off high-interest debt first, or bigger picture stuff like investing in low-cost index funds and making extra superannuation contributions as early and as often as you can, Pape’s straightforward steps to financial freedom have inspired millions of everyday individuals to take control of their income and investments. He even suggests scheduling a Barefoot Date Night once a month to stay on track – meaning money management has never been as much fun.

She’s on the Money

Victoria Devine, founder of the Melbourne financial advice start-up Zella Wealth, has well and truly tapped into the growing desire of younger Australians to take charge of their finances. First a wildly popular, award-winning podcast and then a book, She’s on the Money takes a look at personal finance through a millennial lens, offering age-appropriate advice on budgeting, saving, investing and getting on the property ladder, plus tips on avoiding the money-draining pitfalls that can sabotage getting ahead financially.

The book is peppered with relatable stories from millennial women who are winning their own money game. The social side of things is big too – readers are encouraged to connect with one another and share their own queries and quandaries via the She’s on the Money website and social media. If you’re a financially curious twenty- or thirty-something looking to find your tribe, this highly approachable read could easily become your personal finance bible.

The Millionaire Next Door

Would greater wealth see you live a life of conspicuous consumption? That’s exactly what many genuinely wealthy people don’t do, according to US academics Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko.

Instead, they’re happy to fly under the radar, stashing their cash in income-producing investments and leaving conspicuous consumption to the wannabes. First published in 1996, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy reveals seven frugal traits that are common to high net worth individuals. They include living well below their means, allocating their time and energy to activities that build wealth, and valuing financial independence ahead of social status. If you’d rather be rich than look rich, this book is a blueprint for reforming your financial behaviour and the way you think about money.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack

There’s perhaps no better-known investor on the planet than Warren Buffett. The Berkshire Hathaway chair and CEO has amassed a multibillion-dollar fortune using his value investing strategies – buying into high-quality, under-priced companies and waiting for them to appreciate. But what about Buffett’s long-term investment partner, Berkshire Hathaway vice-chair Charlie Munger? Sure, he enjoys a lower profile but his opinions on business and life make for fascinating reading.

A collection of his speeches and talks, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T Munger offers insight into some of the philosophies and practices that have informed his and Buffett’s extraordinarily successful stock picking run. Highlights include Munger’s musings on the psychological biases that prevent people acting rationally, the mental models he uses to evaluate risks and opportunities, and his keys for living a happy life. Hard work, humour and honesty feature high on his list, as does the love of family and friends. At close to 500 pages, this is a big book of ideas from an extraordinarily successful individual who epitomises the old saying ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’.