Why not learn from the best of the best? One of these finance books for women will show you how to manage your finances like the brilliant money maven you were born to be!
It’s not headline-breaking news that men and women are different. On so many levels, we believe, process, act, and do things differently. Yes, good money advice is somewhat universal; however, there are things we need specific to just “us.” Don’t believe me? Let’s let famed money guru Jean Chatsky break it down for us…
“Research has shown that women tend to feel negative emotions more strongly than men. Many of these emotions, in particular guilt, shame, anxiousness, and embarrassment, are deeply tied to our finances. Add these things up, and it’s understandable that many of us don’t feel knowledgeable enough to run our financial lives with both confidence and conviction. Too many of us still prefer to sweep all things financial under the rug.”Jean Chatzky
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- Why not learn from the best of the best? One of these finance books for women will show you how to manage your finances like the brilliant money maven you were born to be!
- 1. Women & Money by Suze Orman
- 2. Women with Money by Jean Chatzky
- 3. Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
- 4. Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman
- 5. Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze
- 6. Real Money Answers for Every Woman by Patrice Washington
- 7. Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
- 8. Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze
- 9. The Financial Feminist Handbook by Brynne Conroy
- 10. Clever Girl Finance: The Side Hustle Guide by Bola Sokunbi
- 11. Preparing for Baby by Nihara Choudhri
- 12. Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames
- 13. The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement by Mary Hunt
- 14. Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche, the Budgetnista
- 15. My Money My Way by Kumiko Love
- There are so many options; which personal finance book should I read?
- At the end of the day
While what she said may be true (even though we don’t like it), it’s time to change this!
While what Jean said is true, on some levels, many women realize that they need to do something about their lack of financial savvy. Women are leaning into their financial education more and more. Resources on financial literacy for women are becoming more commonplace and sought after. (Yaaaa!)
What better way for the average everyday woman than to learn from the best! These finance books for women are some of the best on the market. However, each one may not be right for you right now. I’ve gone through each one, written up a summary, a review, and who each book might be best for. Each book has its strengths, and some have a specific focus. But each one is written with the goal for you to feel more confident managing your money! And with that goal in mind, each one of these delivers!
Best Finance Books for Women
These books are in no particular order, as each one of us has different needs. You will at the end of each recap who each book might be best for.
Published: 2007 and 2018
Author: Suze Orman has made a big name for herself over the four decades that she’s been in the finance field. Most of the coverage is good, and some of it is bad. For transparency, it must be said that she’s had her moments of controversy. She came out (in conjunction with Bancorp Bank) a prepaid debit card, which made false promises, had hidden fees, and was just a bad deal all around.
She’s written 10 New York Times bestsellers, all about personal finance, and has been twice on Times Most Influential 100 list, hosted her own specials on PBS, and has been on the Oprah show 29 times!
She started as a waitress, Then got gutsy in a job interview that started her on her finance path and is now rumored to have a net worth of $75 million.
Summary: This book follows the path of most finance books geared to women, chapters on our feelings and attitudes about money, our past mistakes, and our current hangups. And then delves into The “qualities of wealthy women,” and finally into her “financial empowerment plan, which is the meat of the book.
Almost all of her advice is sound and should be followed (you can’t follow any plan 100% of the time). What makes her book and advice different is that she spends a good amount of time talking about protecting our families through end-of-life planning (wills, trusts, etc.) and insurance coverage. (Most financial experts talk about protecting our family through saving enough money), so Suze’s book is unique in this aspect.
As women, we value security, ensuring our children are taken care of (something that really resonates with me). So I appreciate how detailed she is here.
Thoughts: Women & Money is her 8th book, recently updated, “I truly believe that the promise of strength and security that is the heart of Women & Money is more timely than ever before.”
While that initial statement sounds good, she spends the majority of Chapter 1 berating us/women for our “fundamental denial” and “conspiracy of silence” regarding how we handle money. “Why is it that women who are so competent in all other areas of their lives cannot find the competence when it comes to the matter of money?”
I wish I could say that the chapter was short, but it wasn’t. She continued to shame us/women time and time again, just not understanding why we were doing this.
Is she wrong? No, she’s not. Yet, Suze isn’t known for her subtlety. She goes with the – “let’s tear you down to build you up” school of teaching. This can be what some people need, yet for many, it’s off-putting. For me, it initially made me want to discredit her advice. But that would have been a mistake.
Suze knows what she’s talking about; she just refuses to accept your/our excuses anymore.
Best For: This book is best for someone who wants to learn about protecting their family in the long term. This book isn’t for someone just starting their financial education, as she’s not your cheerleader. Instead, she figuratively slaps you and tells you to wake up. So if you’re sensitive to criticism, pass this book by (for now).
Author: Jean has been working in the finance field for a long time (over 25 years). She’s been in research with large financial companies, written for Forbes, Money magazine, been a regular on Oprah, and is the Today Show’s financial editor. Safe to say, she knows her stuff!
Summary: I want to start by saying how impressed I was with the author’s level of research for this book! She spoke with so many experts in the fields of psychology, economics, financial law, etc. So be comfortable that the information in this book is well documented and proven. Plus, she interviewed hundreds of women on their feelings about money, how their struggles show up, and what helps them best.
“All of that combined experience has made me more conscious of the important role that money has played and continues to play. It’s made me more opinionated about the best way to think about and interact with money to get it to produce the best results. But we need a greater understanding of and comfort with money. Because money is the tool, we use to bring about the life we want. So that’s where this book is coming from and the journey on which it will take you.”
The book is broken up into three parts
- You & Your Money – how you feel & think about money (our relationship with it)
- You in Control of Money – the financial info, investing, salary, real estate, etc. (the practical & tactical stuff)
- You Using Your Money – Raising money-smart kids, caring for older generations, your legacy, etc.
I feel that this book does a great job in helping you explore your money story & money mindset, which can be so impactful. Yet, it’s an easy aspect to skip over, as many just want to get to the tactics. Don’t skip this part! It’s so essential in helping to understand behaviors and change them long-term.
Like many personal finance books, there are end-of-chapter recaps, exercises, and homework for you to do. Completing these are key to helping uncover your true thoughts and helping to drive home important concepts. (Do the exercises!)
Thoughts: Firstly, can I just say how much I like Jean Chatzky! She’s everything you’d ever want in a financial mentor – kind, intelligent, good-natured, and she knows how to support and motivate you!
Her advice is always even-tempered; she won’t try to scare you into behaving better with your money. She doesn’t sugarcoat it either. She just lays it all out and lets you make up your mind. But don’t worry, she definitely advises on the best path.
Best For: Anyone that wants a complete and well-rounded look into how money influences them and how to use it to create a life they want. This book doesn’t specialize in one niche financial topic; it’s just a great general knowledge and the perfect starting point for someone that wants to know more about their money.
First and foremost, for us, the life we want to create is the target, while money is the tool that helps us achieve it. For many men, it’s the other way around.Jean Chatzky
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Published: 1998 & 2018 update
Author: The original book was Bach’s first book and sold over one million copies, which the publishers never imagined. Bach credit’s this book to his Grandma Rose, who took him at a very young age to buy a few shares in his favorite company – McDonald’s. She became a self-made millionaire, all through investing, a huge inspiration for her son and grandson.
Even though Bach is a man, he spent most of his early career helping women. With Grandma Rose on a pedestal, he thought all women managed their money and was saddened to learn that this wasn’t the case. So he spearheaded the effort to help women learn more about how to handle their money.
Through this book and then his seminars for women, he went on to work with thousands of women over the years as part of The Bach Group with Morgan Stanley, where he was a Senior VP.
Summary: He knows that women are different than men when it comes to money. He knows that what makes women happy is living a life aligned with our values, and money is just the tool that enables it. His Chapter in the book was the jumping-off point for one of my most popular posts – Your Personal Core Values are the key to Setting & Reaching Your Goals.
“The psychological and emotional aspects of financial planning are enormously important. Yet for some reason, most approaches to the subject ignore it.”
He calls Smart Women Finish Rich a roadmap to financial security, that “if you take the right kind of action now, you can truly live and finish rich.”
David walks you through the three keys to smart money management, which enable women to gain control over their destiny.
- How to use both your head and your heart in making financial decisions.
- How you can make even the most modest wage earner a significant investor
- How the “three basket approach” to financial planning can assure you not only long-term security but the ability to realize your lifelong dreams.
“We’re going to embark on a journey – an eight-step journey that begins with education and ends with taking action. By the time you’re done, you will have learned the fundamental principles of personal finance management. Principals you can use to turn your dreams of freedom, security, and independence into concrete realities.”
- Learn the facts & myths about money
- Put your money where your values are
- Figure out where you stand financially & where you want to go
- How to create wealth with just a few dollars a week
- The three basket approach to financial security
- Biggest mistakes investors make
- Raising smart kids to finish rich
- 12 commandments of attracting wealth
Thoughts: If you can’t tell by now, let me just say that I am a big David Bach fan. He seems like just a nice guy. And his advice is so nice and steady. None of those “do it this way, or you’ll die” scare tactics or harsh bottom line requirements.
This book, I’ve read three others of his, is such an easy read. You’re not slogging through the material, telling yourself that this is BS and his method won’t ever work. You enjoy the book, his writing style, and his stories. You are optimistic, and so many times you’re thinking, “of course! This makes perfect sense!”
Best For: Someone who wants a plan without all the strict rules or tough love talk. This book gives you a structured plan for what to do with your money, yet enough flexibility (and personal ownership) to feel you can tweak and adjust as your knowledge bank grows or your situation changes.
If you find that you love David Bach’s style, (because he is indeed amazing) but want something suited to a couple’s finances vs. just you then be sure to check out his book Smart Couples Finish Rich, it’s #1 on our list of the best personal finance books to help you dominate your finances!
Date published: 2016
Summary: The first part of this book chronicles the author’s life, Lauren, and the other half is a guide for recovering spenders.
“There is so much information out there for people who love learning about everything financial, but what about the people like us? Where are the books for those who just can’t seem to get it together? I wrote this book for the not-so-savvy spenders. We’ve gone through life thinking that we suck at math and there is something wrong with us. The ironic thing is that we want to get better, but we just aren’t sure how to do it.”
After she details how her out-of-control spending got her and her husband in over $40,000 of debt and how her emotions ruled her wallet, she breaks down the 12 step process for how you too can break the spending cycle. She talks about setting boundaries, taking inventory of your purchases, decluttering your brain (and your finances), knowing your values, and of course, budgeting and saving.
At the end of each chapter, she gives action steps on what you need to do to progress through the steps successfully to reach your financial goal. (In the beginning, she ran how to get out of debt seminars in her community.) I love books that give homework as it helps you (the reader) make it personal and actionable!
Thoughts: This is probably one of the rawest and honest accounts of someone detailing how they buried themselves under a mountain of debt and the financial stress it caused. She shared her lowest of lows, her faults, her failures, her blindness, and her immaturity regarding her wants, needs, and actions. You can’t help but be rooting for her as she starts to change it all around!
So if you’ve struggled with finance books in the past, and your struggle is debt, then this is the book that could help YOU change it all around!
Best For: As the author so aptly put it, “this book is for the person who doesn’t enjoy talking about money. They just want to get out of debt and stay out of debt once and for all. This book is not for the savvy spenders who have it all together financially, are masters of their credit cards, and have robust Roth IRAs and stock portfolios. I am writing this book for you – the American Spender.”
Quick Summary: This book was co-written with Rachel Cruz, Dave’s daughter. She has since gone on to write two more books, so this was most likely her chance to dip her toes into the publishing world.
But who better to talk about kids & money than this duo. The pair trades off in each chapter, talking about the topic and their experiences in raising kids and being raised in a home where money is a consistent topic.
This book is geared to those that want to start a new family tradition – a tradition of money knowledge and positive money character traits. All to help kids be successful with managing their money, and their financial future.
Your children develop their money story at a very young age (their impressions start at around 5 yrs old), so it’s imperative to talk positively about money all the time as little ears are everywhere!
The book covers…
- Work (and work ethic)
- Spending money
- Saving money
- Gifting money
- Saving for college
- Generational wealth building
Thoughts: This is probably my new favorite of the Dave Ramsey books. The principles and concepts taught here are so important! We all know parenting doesn’t come with a manual, AND personal finance isn’t taught in schools, so this book is our best bet to build money-smart kids!
The tone and temperament of the book are more light-hearted than in his other ones (perhaps that’s Rachel’s influence). So there wasn’t a lot to cringe at.
Who This Book is Best For: Parents! Or anyone who is helping to raise a young child. But please, please, please don’t wait to start until your kids are grown. Start the messages when they are young. It doesn’t have to be heavy and serious sit-down lessons. They give plenty of ideas on how to do this and for all age groups.
From the very beginning, my parents gave me a legacy of debt-free living, and that’s one of the best gifts any parent could give their kids.”Rachel Cruze
This book was co-written with Dave and his daughter, but if you love his methods (you can’t argue with the level of success his followers get), then be sure to check out our guide for choosing the best Dave Ramsey book for you!
Published: 2013 & 2016 update
Author: Patrice Washington is a speaker, coach, and personal finance educator. She’s written three books and has written for Black Enterprise and the Huffington Post, to name a few. Although lesser known than the other authors, she is well on her way to helping women all over America with their money.
She and her husband had a thriving real estate business, but 2008 took it all away in a flash. They were literally rock bottom and had to build their family back up out of the ash. Her experience has been invaluable to how she helps women today.
Summary: This isn’t your ordinary money book; there’s no roadmap to financial freedom or 12 steps to success, which makes this book worth the read.
The book is formatted with chapters on big topics like money mindset, money and the workplace, budgeting, etc. Yet, the guts of the chapters are framed as questions, and Patrice answers them in easy-to-understand language that makes finance not only approachable but also possible.
Some of the questions are tactical, like “what should I look for in a savings account, or “how do I avoid overdraft fees?” Yet most of the questions are ones you wouldn’t think to ask, but you really want to know the answer to. This is what makes the book refreshingly different. The questions are philosophical, emotional, awkward, and even uncomfortable.
Questions like, “I prefer to date men with money. Does that make me a gold digger? Or, I think I have entitled children. Can this be changed? Or, How do I start changing the way I think about money?” Every one of these questions is on point for women, and you’re so glad someone asked them so you can learn what to do too!
“I’m offering you a more balanced approach to your relationship with money… The four sections of this book will help you master the ones I believe to be the most fundamental.”
Thoughts: At first, I wasn’t too excited to read this book. Q & A books become outdated very quickly. You can Google everything you need to know and have all the info at your fingertips. But her type of questions quickly changed my opinion. Her advice is on point, straightforward, and she makes it all sound achievable.
Best For: This book is best for the woman who’s already partway through her financial journey. She wants to learn more about money but doesn’t want anything heavy or too process-laden. This book is an easy read, perfect for any woman on any type of plan, be it reducing debt, saving money, or planning to get married and combine her finances.
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Published: 2015 & 2019 update
Author: Nicole Lapin started in finance at age 18 and became the youngest anchor ever at CNN and then at CNBC while contributing to MSNBC and The Today Show. Nicole has also served as a business anchor for Bloomberg Television and a money contributor on The Wendy Williams Show.
She is now a New York Times bestseller for this book and has gone on to write Boss Bitch, A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career. Somehow, she found time to create her own production company to produce accessible money content geared toward women.
But she didn’t start out so financially savvy, “I started out making 20k/year and getting into almost as much in credit card debt. What was ironic was that I took a job as a finance anchor at the time… but I was a mess with my own. I eventually got out of this mess, but when I finally did, I learned a valuable lesson.” (source)
Summary: “Let me be clear. Being a Rich Bitch is good… It means going after what you want in life by getting the financial part in order. That’s what this book is going to help you do. You’re going to set your goals, and then together, we’re going to figure out how to achieve them. My mission is to make you so financially fit that you’re confident to call yourself a Rich Bitch.” Author – Nicole Lapin
The book is set up as a 12 step program, with the obligatory chapters on your life goals, budgeting, debt payoff, saving money, career, and investing. It covers all the basics. There’s even a chapter on managing relationships with men in your life – from a financial & career standpoint.
She says that her book is different from other financial experts books; she wants you to have a latte, she wants you to make financial decisions on your own, to stop doing blindly what the gurus tell you to, and decide your own path, to think hard on the conventional wisdom to see if it’s for you.
I will say that some of her financial advice is counter to the other experts in the field (i.e., not closing any credit cards seems like you’re asking for trouble). And her investing advice has some questionable points. I think she’s geared it more towards people who are like her (very financially savvy) vs. the general population. This is fine, but then it needs to be made clear who specifically it is for.
At the end of each chapter, she goes through some money myths and long-held financial truths (which may not be true) and counters them. Her arguments are well thought out and offer insight on taking this advice and customizing it to your unique journey.
“I’ve got your back; I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know, straight up, without any jargon. Yet, “this isn’t financial boot camp; it’s a sustainable financial diet, one that encourages small indulgences to keep you from binging later.”
Thoughts: Lapin does a good job of taking the dreary and stuffy money talk and making it more approachable, more current, geared more toward a younger generation.
Lapin frames most of her financial lessons inside a personal story, the lessons she learned, and recaps what she wants you to take away from it. In each chapter, there are “Bitch Tips” and her “Confessions of a Rich Bitch.” And you guessed it; she says bitch a lot. Now, I’m all for a well-placed f-bomb to punctuate something. Yet when the term is used every few paragraphs, it gets old, like it’s trying too hard to be cool.
I think that this book just isn’t for me; I was bored with the storytelling and easily grew tired of trying to think of myself as a Ritch Bitch. (Geeze, is this how I discover that I’m “old”?) Maybe if I had read this book at the beginning of my research, I might have felt it more revolutionary. A better read with similar content is Get Good with Money (later on down the list).
Best For: Someone who feels the other finance books are dreary and stuffy. Or someone who is firmly on the corporate ladder path would relate well to the issues in her storytelling.
Author: Rachel Cruze is no money newbie; she’s Dave Ramsey’s daughter and following in his footsteps in helping America do better with their money. Yet, she’s written her own books, been on her own tours, and been featured on numerous national TV shows.
Summary: This book goes over the seven money habits you need to live the life that you want. “It made me realize how important it is not to just be aware of your habits but also to take control of them if you want to truly take control of your life.”
The book goes through common money myths and the excuses we tell ourselves about why and how we spend. The first few chapters focus on America’s #1 problem, debt. According to Bankrate, “As of September 2021, consumer debt is at $14.96 trillion, with the average American debt among consumers at $92,727.”
The other chapters & money habits revolve around having a financial plan, communication around money, saving, spending on purpose, and giving. All of these are important topics but written here with a new spin, a new focus.
“As we go through this book, I will shine a spotlight on the habits you need to take control of your money and be able to afford the things you value. These money habits may not come easy to you, and you may not get it right every time, but as Larry Gelwix says, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent” And permanent positive change is what we’re after.”
If you are familiar with Dave Ramsey and his teachings, this book will follow along (in some parts) his baby steps. It is nice to see how this advice fits in with a larger and more comprehensive plan.
Thoughts: One of the main messages is contentment, how (in the age of social media) to not always feeling the need to buy new things, but to be content with what you have and the direction you are taking your life. This is counter to everything that current culture has normalized, with rampant consumerism, and our debt stats are the direct result.
Cruze wrote about being sucked into social media, “I had come to terms with the fact that I was caught up in comparisons. I was chasing someone else’s life instead of enjoying my own. I was letting someone I never met influence not only how I was going to spend my money, but how I was going to live my life.”
Being honest about how we are susceptible to the comparison game will be one of the most critical conversations that we can have with ourselves. Then use that info to shape how we want to spend our money and lead our lives.
Best for: This book is a worthy read for anyone looking to understand better how things influence them and their money. It would probably be a good fit for someone already on their financial journey.
Author: Brynne is the creator of the blog Femme Frugality, a Plutus Award finalist for three years running). She writes about all aspects of personal finances pertaining to her life or her readers’ lives.
Summary & Thoughts: This is a different kind of financial book. There’s no 12 step plan to financial freedom; there’s no checklist to get your finances in order. What there is, is a gut check, an awareness realization, and an attitude shift. Don’t worry; it’s all for the good.
This book looks at financial issues/difficulties from a woman’s perspective, especially those whose finances are impacted negatively by disablism, racism, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and kyriarchy. Yes, it sounds heavy because it is, and it deserves your full attention. As women, this affects us all, even if we don’t know it and even if we don’t support it.
The author calls this “intersectional feminism. If feminism focuses on the oppression and equality of women, then intersectional feminism focus on the same or all oppressed groups.”
This book isn’t here to teach you how to budget; it offers a different insight. “Whether we’re looking at internal or external oppression, those who would preach that numbers and math are all there is between you and a magical, early retirement at some ungodly age are wrong. They are likely oozing with privilege that blinds them to the difficult realities which they themselves had never had to face.”
Reading the above statement was very hard for me, as I have absolutely viewed people’s hardships through my own lens. So, needless to say, this book was a much-needed total wake-up call for me. I say it was hard for me, but I know facing my own prejudices isn’t nearly as hard as those who have lived under this system that keeps people down. This book humbled me, and it will absolutely change how I help people navigate their finances.
One of the key differences of this book is that it’s very tactical in its help (which most finance books focus on strategies). Tactical help is much more actionable and immediately beneficial, as strategies are long-term benefits.
“In every chapter, Brynne offers both actionable steps and hope for individual women who want to improve both their lives and their finances. She offers suggestions for how to fight the unfair system while also working within that system.”
For example, she offers chapters on…
- Getting a higher education for as close to free as possible.
- Navigating the loss of income during maternity leave
- How being disabled, part of the LGBTQ+ community, a person of color, a female (gender pay gap) affects your income and overall finances.
- How to negotiate an equal/better/higher salary
- The rise of female entrepreneurship
- The effects of divorce on women’s finances and how to set yourself up for a better outcome.
If you didn’t consider yourself a feminist before, you will be moved to change and take action after reading this book.
Best for: This book is a worthy read for any and all women. It is especially helpful if you are experiencing financial hardships due to systematic oppression.
Make no mistake, this book is a heavy read, especially if you are unfamiliar with or unaware of the issues discussed. It makes you question how you have interacted with those facing hardships (i.e., judgment, aggression, dismissal, etc.). The book is heavy, as there are lots of pauses you take for self-reflection, yet it goes at a fast pace, so it doesn’t feel as though you’re slogging through the info.
The Financial Feminist Handbook goes into many financial issues that women deal with. Yet, if you’d like a quick intro into exactly why & how financial planning for women should be different, then check out our post on how women can take charge of their finances once and for all!
Author: Bola writes from experience as she started Clever Girl Finance, a finance blog, as her big side hustle, after trying out a few other ideas first. She is now a full-time entrepreneur with CGF. Needless to say, she knows what works, shares her mistakes and the lessons learned.
Summary: This is one of the more niche books on the list (which makes it a nice change); it’s all about how to start a successful side hustle. While not specifically a money management book, learning how to make more money (especially when it’s your own business) can immensely help your finances.
“I’ve written this book specifically for women just like you, to guide, encourage and motivate you on this journey to building an amazing business.”
“I’ll be challenging you to ditch any fears holding you back from following your passion, showing you exactly how to layout the right plans (and financials) that work best for you, and guiding you step by step as you build a business…”
The book covers…
- Challenging assumptions and fears of starting a side business
- Deciding what kind of business to start
- Creating a business plan
- Building your brand & marketing it
- Business finances
Throughout the book, there are good interviews with other entrepreneurs, their struggles, successes, and the unexpected things that happen to you as a person along the way.
Her advice offers a great overall roadmap, along with lots of tactical exercises for you to do.
Thoughts: This is the book I WISH I had when I first started my side hustle. Sure, I Googled all of the info I needed while starting, but it was haphazardly pieced together, some of it outdated, and some from questionable “experts.” To put it bluntly, it was a hot mess.
I can honestly say it would have gone a lot faster and smoother with such a well-written and cohesive book. Bola covers the topic in detail, tells you where to focus your time and energy, and tells you the roadblocks and how to avoid them.
Best for: This book is a good read for anyone even slightly considering starting their own business. It will give you a complete understanding of what’s really involved in starting your own business and help you decide if you’re up for the challenge. If you’ve already started on your path, this will help reign you back in and ensure you’ve done all the proper steps.
Author: Choudhri is a graduate of Columbia Law School, a mom, and the author of other major life event books (i.e., Marriage, Money & Prenups). She also reached out to many experts to help review chapters pertaining to their field, so you can be sure she’s covered all the bases.
Summary: This book goes through all the aspects of financially preparing for your bundle of joy to arrive AND after they are born. This book isn’t about budgeting; it’s about all the critical decisions you have to make that impact your finances. “We created Preparing for Baby to help with new and expecting parents navigate the many legal, financial, tax, and insurance issues that are part and parcel of the parenting process.”
The chapters cover…
- Your workplace rights during pregnancy and after delivery
- Getting your legal documents set up at birth
- Important coverage and documents that parents need – life insurance, estate plans & wills, etc.
- Going through college savings options for your child
- Tax breaks for new parents
It goes through all your important questions (i.e., FMLA coverage) and many things you never considered before (i.e., hiring a nanny and the legal requirements).
At first glance, I questioned how valuable this book is, as many aspects frequently change, such as tax laws, 529 savings considerations, etc. Would this book be basically obsolete soon after publication? I was happy to see that the book gave the most up-to-date information and additionally gave you the online resource to fund the best place for current laws. So while some minor details are out of date, it points to the current info.
The book is broken up into main category chapters, and within that chapter, the info is formated in a FAQ style. So the exact question you have is probably answered here. For example…
- I am pregnant, and I just lost my job because of company-wide layoffs. What are my health insurance options?
- How long do I have to enroll my baby in my health insurance plan?
- Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover my nanny’s on-the-job injuries?
- What should I look for when trying to fund the best 529 college savings plan?
- What questions should I ask before buying a life insurance policy?
The authors understand the expecting parents and new parents are very busy. So each chapter/topic can be read on its own; you don’t need to read it all right now (but at some point, you should read every chapter). This makes reading this book much less daunting, as the topics can be intimidating (important financial issues and decisions usually are).
Also, in each chapter, there are icons to draw your eye to important information, potential roadblocks, and to extra resources you may want to seek out. This is a nice feature when skimming information.
Thoughts: I would say that this book is a must-read for any new parent who really likes to have all the info or the parents who love to be a checklist completist. This book is for the over-anxious parent who is worried about covering all their bases.
Summary: This is a different kind of personal finance book, so I’ll recap it differently than the others. It’s a personal story of Elibath and her journey from being broke to spending money to spending hardly anything by embracing a sort of minimalist lifestyle.
It’s an important book because she shares her struggles of not having money, how she survived and then being able to buy what she wanted and how that impacted her and her husband’s life. “We were working for the weekends and spending the money we worked so hard to earn in an effort to make ourselves feel better about how hard we worked. It was a vicious cycle.”
She details her life while she worked for Americorps, living in New York City, to living in Cambridge, MA. Where they thought they were being frugal but weren’t really, then embraced a huge savings rate of 82% for a short time to fund their dream of living simply, in a rural town, without the pressure of needing a job.
Thames spends a good amount of time detailing why she doesn’t want to be a part of the traditional consumer society; how that lifestyle drains away your most important resources (time & money) while not bringing you a true benefit.
“Nate and I were victims of the hedonic adaptation that plagues our consumption-focused society. It’s the concept that we calibrate ourselves to whatever we repeatedly do. If we constantly reward ourselves (with restaurant meals or scones from the bakery), we deaden our ability to derive true pleasure from those rewards. Then we require larger and more frequent rewards.”
They hated the lifestyle that they had created; it’s the typical American lifestyle. So they decided to change how they used their money. Thames started thrifting, buying only second-hand goods, using her time and labor to get things for free. She felt good about not adding to the garbage lifecycle by using something and then throwing it away. She loved the simplicity and the challenge being frugal brought. They focused on what they truly loved and only spent money on those things (mostly).
“By retaining the things we love, we were able to craft a lifestyle that isn’t focused solely on saving money, but rather on optimizing for our priorities.” They went on to buy two used cars with cash, a rural home in Vermont, had a baby, and now work from home because they love their work, not because they need a paycheck. They live a life that is fulfilled, not leaving them wanting for “more.”
I thought I was so clever with these deals I found. But I’d missed the truism that every sale in the world won’t save you as much as simply not buying anything. Buying clothes didn’t automatically make me more confident or more beautiful; it just automatically meant I had less money. Plus, clothing couldn’t mask the fact that I was unhappy with how my life was unfolding. They were a smokescreen I employed in an effort to appear polished, poised, and happy when in reality I felt the opposite.”Elizabeth Willard Thames
Best for: All in All, I think everyone should read this book, as she takes you through some very revealing self-reflection about how we use money. Hopefully, it can give you clarity on how you use money, and you can decide it’s that’s how you want to use it. Or do you need to change your focus and evolve as a spender and become a better you?
Another book similar to The Frugalwoods is Cait Flander’s A Year of Less, where she committed to buying as little as possible of a year. This book is more about discovering yourself than it is a book about spending less but some of the themes resonated well across the main point.
Author: Mary Hunt is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 23 books, such as The Financially Confident Woman, Debt-Proof Your Marriage, and Cheaper, Better & Faster. Hunt’s books have sold more than one million copies, and her syndicated daily newspaper column is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Everyday Cheapskate readers nationwide. She’s also a sought-after motivational speaker who helps men and women ditch debt.
Summary: I was excited to read this book, as there aren’t many titles geared explicitly to women about retirement planning. “Ladies, we must do what we do best; take charge. The question is how. How do you balance one more thing when you are already so heavily burdened? How do you plan for thirty years down the road when you’d be happy just to get through the chaos of the day. While I can’t make you change the way you’re living and spending now, I can show you how to do just that.”
She does this by going through 6 main components…
- Develop a money management system
- Build an emergency fund
- Get out of debt
- Maximize your retirement accounts
- Own your home outright
- Build your personal investment portfolio
Thoughts: While excited initially, I was a little disappointed to find that the first 7 Chapters (80 pages) were the same pieces of financial advice that most other books talk you through. Nothing innovative or surprising. Maybe I would feel more charitable if I read this book earlier (this is the 10th book I’ve read for this post); perhaps I’d be more appreciative. There’s nothing wrong with the book, but nothing that makes it stand out.
Yet, Chapter 9 – 14 (just 64 pages) are worth your while. Especially her insight on buying a home and paying it off early. Her advice on building an investment portfolio is spot on, yet not a page-turner (it’s not meant to be; your investment strategy should be boring). Plus, a helpful chapter on where you should be at and what you should be doing by your age group. It’s always helpful to know what the “norms” are so you can be sure you’re doing at least that, if not more.
I was disappointed because the book was titled “planning for retirement” when most of the book wasn’t focused on it. I felt a little let down; I wanted something more. More options, more strategy, more guidance.
But, truth be told, there’s not a lot more to tell about it. By nature, it’s boring; you shouldn’t be doing much with your retirement money other than leaving it alone to compound. That is if you subscribe to the set it and forget it investing mentality as I and many others do. So it makes sense that there’s not a lot more to tell.
Best For: This book is best for someone who wants targeted info, to spend 1-2 hrs with it in the library. It’s best for someone already on their financial journey who wants a bit more insight into what retirement planning looks like. To be honest, it’s not the most entertaining read, but it’s good info that we all need to know.
One title on this topic that I do want to read is Clever Girls Finance – Grow Your Money. But it’s rather hard to find at our library network (I belong to three different county library programs, and only one paperback is available. I’m on the waitlist for it.
However, if you want to learn about investing right now, then one of my all-time favorite personal finance books is about investing! It’s JL Collins, The Simple Path to Wealth. Unlike most investing books this is an easy read, very enjoyable, and tells you exactly what to do!
Author: Tiffany Aliche started off like thousands of people – she had a good job, some savings, and then 2008 came, and it all came crashing down. Coupled with a financial shark incident, she spent the next two years living in her childhood room, paying off debt and rebuilding her life. She’s the author of two children’s books and now is on the New York Times Bestseller List with Get Good with Money.
She also has an online program, The Live Richer Academy, where tens of thousands of students have enrolled to manage their money better and transform their financial lives.
Summary: The Budgetnista book walks you through her ten steps of financial wholeness. “There are ten lessons you need to learn, ten areas of your finances that need to work in sync for you to get to financial wholeness… When all the aspects of your financial life are working together for your greatest good, your biggest benefit, and your richest life.”
- Budget building
- Save like a squirrel
- Dig out of debt
- Score high (credit)
- Learn to Earn (increase your income)
- Invest like an insider (retirement and wealth)
- Get good with insurance
- Grow Richish (increase your net worth)
- Pick your money team (financial professionals)
- Leave a legacy (estate planning)
Each chapter is broken up into the plan, the do, and the review. It’s very straightforward, so you’re never in doubt about the big takeaway and how it impacts your financial life.
In each chapter, the author gives you assignments of how to enact the step she just laid out for you, which is extremely helpful as people can be good readers but get lost when it comes time to act.
The book also gives you forms and templates to use as you work through the assignments. She also has online challenges that you can sign up for that complement the book’s teachings. Challenges on saving, home buying, credit, and the fundamentals.
Thoughts: Overall, I found her writing style a very easy read, engaging, and entertaining. Yet, I appreciate even more the detail she gives when talking about how to do something. For example, her chapter on budgeting; nothing new or earthshattering, but she explained it step by step, in an actionable way.
I was also impressed with her chapter on understanding and improving your credit score. She goes into a lot more detail than other books, which helps round out what it is, why it’s so important, and what specifically you can do about it. She took a similar approach with her chapter on investing and wealth-building.
Best for: This is a great book for anyone who wants to better with money, all in one book! It covers everything you’d need to know and gives great actionable steps on what to do. If you only have time for 2-3 finance books, this should be on your list.
Author: In the first part of this book, Kumiko shares her story; she started out knowing nothing about money (and not really caring – the way many of us start out). She found herself a newly single mom with nothing in the bank except worry and anxiety. Fast forward many mistakes and triumphs later; she started the popular site – The Budget Mom.
Now she’s a financial counselor and teaches thousands of women how to manage their money, just like she did – with the budget by paycheck method.
Summary: “I take a different approach to money, one that actually relies very little on the numbers. Money is never a conversation about numbers. When we talk about money, we’re talking about emotional health. We’re talking about happiness. We’re talking about the quality of your life.”
The book focuses on why we spend money – panic, fear, anxiety, shame, doubt, etc. This is the aspect that so many other books miss. (I’d say that David Bach’s approach with understanding your Personal Core Values is very similar, but Kumiko takes it a few more steps beyond that).
She says there’s no one path to managing your money, and the gurus who tell you to scrimp every cent are wrong. This book is about the emotions when you spend money and figuring out what your priorities are.
“Regardless of your income level or credit card balance, you deserve to live well. You deserve to save with dignity. And you deserve to spend money toward your own unique dreams. That’s why I call it My Money My Way.”
“I’m going to teach you how to think about money differently, so you can make different decisions. You’ll be making decisions based on your unique needs, values, and emotions. Once you figure this out, your financial plan will practically write itself.”
The book takes you through her story, and she shares stories of women who have come to her for help. Maybe you’ll read about a situation similar to your own and connect, finally see that there’s hope?
The book then takes you through her signature budget by paycheck method. This is a combination of planning your spending by each paycheck (not by month), and she adds in using cash envelopes for spending control and sinking funds for saving.
The budget by paycheck method isn’t new, but her combo with other tactics makes it more unique than other gurus’ methods.
The book also has chapters on debt payoff, saving for retirement, long-term financial goals & investing, and living a life you love.
Thoughts: Before reading this book, I wasn’t very familiar with her process. It seemed overly complicated to me at first glance.
Yet reading through how she explains it and the reasoning behind it, I can see where she’s coming from. I still think that there are a lot of steps (and highlighter overload), but sometimes people need to double and triple check things to ensure their brain is getting it and that they’ve done things correctly.
I can see this being helpful for brand new budgeters, but pairing down the process once you are experienced, say after a year or so.
I do, however, really like the importance and thorough explanation she gives about how emotions play into managing your money (something that Dave Ramsey doesn’t even go into). This piece of the puzzle is enough of a good reason to read the book.
Best For: This book is best for anyone brand new to budgeting who has a hard time controlling their spending. Someone who feels a lot of different emotions about their money and is trying to only look at the numbers. This book will help you clarify why you spend and how to prioritize differently, with your values and goals in mind.
There are so many options; which personal finance book should I read?
I know that this was an extensive list of the best finance books for women, don’t feel that you have to read them all now. Pick 1-2 to start with; pick the one that will have the biggest immediate effect for you right now. If you don’t have a budget, reading a book on investing doesn’t make sense. Start where you are, then grow from there if you want.
- If you only have time to read one book and you know you are 100% ready to make a change – Get Good with Money.
- If you only have time to read one book and aren’t sure why or if it’s possible, then read – Smart Women Finish Rich.
At the end of the day
Learning about money doesn’t have to be complicated and overwhelming. Each of these finance books for women breaks things down easily, chunk by chunk, so that you can get traction with your finances. It won’t all happen immediately, and you may get confused here or there; that’s okay.
What we’re after is growing your confidence, little by little, consistently, over the long term. Trust me; once you get the ball rolling and start to feel that you are in control, you will want to do more. You will want to go full steam ahead with your new life, and we are right behind you, cheering you on every step of the way!
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