7 best books about money: Advice on personal finance, saving and investing

Get clued up on how to manage your funds with these top titles

Stacey Smith
Tuesday 02 June 2020 08:45
Forget trying to get rich quick, these non-fiction reads include practical, realistic advice for average earners
Forget trying to get rich quick, these non-fiction reads include practical, realistic advice for average earners

Whether it’s something you spend plenty of time thinking about, or try to avoid at all costs, being in control of your personal finances will make you feel in control of your life.

Today we’re coping with a very different financial landscape to that of our parents’ generation, one that’s only got more precarious with the recent Covid-19 pandemic and all of its implications.

But rather than feeling helpless, these books promise to help us make sense of it all. Desperate to ditch the debt? Haven’t got a clue how to go about sticking to a budget? Want help getting your head around investing in stocks and shares? There’s a title here to show you the way without resorting to any confusing jargon.

Facing your finances probably isn’t the most enticing use of your time, but once you’ve got your head around the basics, it’s sure as hell empowering.

Having read these books cover to cover, it’s interesting to see how many were written by women (the gender pay gap has a lot to answer for), with millennials in mind.

Forget trying to get rich quick, these books include practical, realistic advice for average earners (if you’re looking at how to invest your trust fund you’re probably in the wrong place).

They also look at our attitudes and relationships towards money which, for many, can be a bigger factor than where the decimal point is on our statement.

All of these titles left us feeling motivated and many of the tips and tricks really did save us money or make our money work harder for us.

We know that talking about money has often been seen as vulgar. The problem with this is, we’re not really taught about personal finance at school and what little we do know has probably been gleaned from how our parents treated money – whether they’re aware of this or not.

This information gap can have a profound impact on how we approach our cash today, leading us to think everyone else has got it all figured out, when the truth is probably far from it.

Of course, situations change as we go through life, with priorities shifting along the way but by grasping the fundamentals, you’ll make informed choices and maximise your money’s potential at every turn.

Recurring themes to come up throughout all the titles we read were that it’s always better to tackle problems head on rather than bury your head in the sand – the sooner you get started the easier it will be.

With many people’s situation having changed recently, now is the perfect time to really get to grips with what we’re dealing with and start moving in the right direction.

Andrew Johnson, money expert at the Money and Pensions Service said: “People have lots of things on their mind at the moment, with financial wellbeing likely to be high up the list. Whether you talk to friends, family or seek impartial guidance, talking about money issues can help you to make better financial decisions and feel less stressed or anxious.

“You can call the Money Advice Service helpline for free on 0800 138 7777 or go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk for help.”

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

'Money: A User's Guide' by Laura Whately, published by HarperCollins

Helpfully split into concise, bitesize chapters, Laura Whateley (consumer champion at The Times), calmly presents the facts in this helpful guide. Whether you’re repaying debt and trying to make sense of student loans while renting, or you’re trying to get on the property ladder and have some spare cash that you’re considering investing in stocks and shares, this book will show you the way. And because of how it’s laid out, if a chapter isn’t relevant to you it’s easy to skip it and dip back in when you need it. Through following the practical advice, we found an old pension (free money!), changed our current pension to an ethical one and downloaded a free app to help us keep track of our finances. A great all-rounder, quite frankly, we’d like to see this on the school curriculum.

'Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life' by Alex Holder, published by Profile Books Ltd

Named one of Business Insider’s 30 Most Creative Women globally, Alex Holder’s campaign highlighting the gender pay gap not only went viral but changed an actual law in the process. Here she is encouraging us to start being more honest and open with regards to our relationship with money – both with ourselves and with each other. If the thought of sharing your bank balance makes your toes curl, you’re not alone but the clear benefits presented will outweigh any momentary discomfort. Whether it’s with family, friends, your significant other or at work, Holder shows us how it’s done.

'Real Life Money: An Honest Guide to Taking Control of Your Finances' by Clare Seal, published by Headline

Rather unusually the author of this book openly admits to still being in debt. Clare Seal set up Instagram account @MyFrugalYear, with more than £25k worth of debt to her name. It was initially anonymous and intended to hold her to account as she started on her financial “journey”. However, it struck a chord, gaining 45k followers in the first year alone. Split into two parts, the book starts by looking at all the reasons one might find themselves in debt, picking apart the stigmas surrounding perceived poor money management and the emotional toll that takes. The second section provides realistic, manageable ways to move forward. Gentle and forgiving, think of this as the book equivalent of someone holding your hand.

'Your Not Broke, You're Pre-Rich' by Emilie Bellet, published by Octopus Publishing Group

Firmly aimed at female millennials, this title is written by Emilie Bellet, founder of VestPod, a digital platform designed to provide education for women, in order to start breaking the taboo around money. Peppered with emojis and exercises throughout, chapters are broken up with quick-fire finance centred interviews with high flying women. Informative without being confusing, it covers a wide spectrum of financial advice, from tackling debt, planning for the future and asking for more whether you’re freelance, have a side hustle or work for someone else.

'Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grown-Up' by Sam Beckbessinger, published by Robinson

Originally written for a South African audience, it’s since been updated for UK readers. Potty-mouth Sam Beckbessinger tells us like it is with straight-talking no nonsense advice for those wanting to see results. You’ll begin by considering why money matters to you, get to grips with assets, compound interest and diversification (not as scary as it sounds), set goals and even start thinking about the future. Containing helpful illustrations, graphs and exercises to try yourself, there’s even quick pop quizzes to make sure you’re really paying attention.

'Money Lessons: How to manage your finances to get the life you want' by Lisa Conway-Hughes, published by Penguin Books Ltd

If lack of time is your main excuse for putting off sorting out your finances, this is the book for you. Lisa Conway-Hughes promises that if we can dedicate just one hour once a month for a year to the m-word, we’ll be better off for it. Each chapter focuses on a specific area, from funding big trips to detangling finances with an ex – with space for you to document your progress (and more importantly, to see just how far you’ve come).

'The Money Revolution: Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances in a Digital World' by Anne Boden, published by Kogan Page Ltd

Anne Boden, founder of online challenger bank Starling, shows us how to utilise this new wave of smart banking to our benefit. So much has changed in a decade, but this bought us right up to speed on fintech (financial tech) and the advantages of open banking. Containing interesting insight on future banking trends and lots of suggested apps to download – you’ll be making more of your money before you’ve turned the last page.

The verdict: Books about money

We’re awarding our IndyBest Best Buy to Money by Laura Whateley thanks to the real cash it managed to unearth for us and the deeper understanding of some essential banking terms we gained. If you’re looking for something a little more conversational, we loved Open Up by Alex Holder for telling it like it really is for the average millennial today.

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