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5 Personal Finance Books That You Should Read


These books serve five different, but overlapping, financial needs


For investors.

Elements of Investing, by Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis.

By "investors," I don't mean day-trader hotshots who think they can pick stocks. I mean anybody saving for retirement in a 401(k), IRA, or plain old brokerage account.

Elements is short and devoid of jargon. It teaches you a way to invest that is easy, requires little of your time, and is overwhelmingly supported by academic evidence.

Investing is one of the only areas of life where people who work harder at it do worse. Unlike the other books on my list, this one basically tells you how to win by chilling out and not doing much.

By the way, I've mentioned this book in my column probably two dozen times by now. Its authors are two very successful investors. If they knew how much some guy in Seattle loved their book, do you think they might want to adopt him? Just saying.

For freelancers and the self-employed.

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed

The self-employed are a diverse group. Etsy craft mavens, app developers, plumbers, and this writer all have something in common: We have to do our own tax withholding and retirement saving, buy our own insurance, and generally get socked with all sorts of financial annoyances that W-2 employees don't even know they're missing out on.

No wonder so many freelancers, even well-paid ones, get into money trouble.

If you're your own boss, The Money Book explains in plain language what to do and what not to do. It's not about how to rustle up sales leads or do your job; it's about how to manage your money properly so you can keep working for yourself and stay off the 9-to-5 train.

Among its most important lessons: Freelancers need a holy trinity of accounts to stay solvent and keep out of tax trouble.

There you go: five books that changed my financial life. Read them, live them, and let me know if you have any favorites that didn't make my list.

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Amster-Burton was originally published on MintLife.

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Twitter: @mint
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