For millennials starting out in their career and earning their first real paycheck, learning how to manage one's money effectively can feel daunting. With each new deposit, you need to decide how much to spend, how much to save and how much you'll need to set aside for retirement. It doesn't help that bookstores have hundreds of titles offering advice.
You don't need complicated finance books about day trading or buying options. The best books teach you the foundations of investing – simple advice that will teach you sound choices. You'll find once you've started down the right path early, the rest of the way will be a lot less bumpy.
The five books we've selected below are easy to read and easy to understand, but don't be fooled by their simplicity. The lessons in these pages will not only change your financial life, but your overall quality of life as well.
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke
by Suze Orman
Before you can even consider investing, you need to think about getting your life in order. That means paying off student loans and getting out of credit card debt. Although it might feel like your financial situation is dismal, Orman teaches money-management techniques that focus on setting priorities, achieving goals and finding solutions. The value of youth, argues Orman, is that there's still time to turn a bad financial situation around.
Orman provides a basic outline of stocks, mutual funds and how to improve your FICO score. She also delves into life events that could be financially stressful like getting married or buying a home. This isn't the only book you'll need, but it's a great way to start your education.
The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio
by William Bernstein
This book has become a staple for young adults who want to better understand how to invest in the stock market. Bernstein debunks myths about market timing or hiring investment managers who promise a lot and ask for too much in return.
Bernstein focuses on sound investing and automatic rules that novices should learn. This book will help you decide where to invest your money, how to rebalance your portfolio and how to allocate your assets, all while providing a touch of humor along the way. This is a good choice for both beginners and experienced investors needing a refresher.
Generation Earn: The Young Professionals Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back
by Kimberly Palmer
If you're a millennial, you've probably heard your share of stereotypes about the generation. Palmer believes that adjectives like entitled and lazy are far from the true nature of today's young adults. This book is unique in that it treats millennials with respect and focuses on lessons for those who've come of age in the midst of a crippling recession.
Palmer teaches readers how to set financial goals, how you decide whether it's best to start your own business or stick with a traditional job, and the effects of marriage and children on your future. She also provides advice for retirement and gives tips on how to give to charity in the most tax-effective way.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich
by Ramit Sethi
At the outset of this book, Sethi acknowledges that there is so much financial information out there that young people find it impossible to know which direction to go. Instead of recapping the history of the stock market and reviewing dull definitions, this book delves right into your most important questions. Sethi tells you whether you should invest in a 401(k) or pay off your student loans and how to choose the best low-cost index funds.
Beyond investing, Sethi focuses on the hard lessons of keeping a budget. He outlines how to create a personal money management system and emphasizes the value of automatic investing. This is a good, visual book that reads like a novel and has dynamic charts.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. & William D. Danko, Ph.D.
While the other books can give you a fundamental understanding of how to invest, Stanley and Danko went a step farther by interviewing wealthy people to find out how they did it. This book encapsulates more than 20 years of research into the habits and traits of millionaires. If you follow seven simple rules, the authors state, you can achieve the same level of success. What is affirming about this book is that the authors didn't interview famous athletes or ultrawealthy tech billionaires. In fact, many of the successful people featured in these pages were small business owners or individuals who held jobs that may seem trivial or boring. Instead, the focus is on making sound financial choices, understanding the value of sacrifice and sticking to a disciplined plan.