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Your Guide to Personal Finance Books

Jan. 10, 2013
5 mins
An older man scratches his head as he sits at his laptop

Swing by your local book store and you’re apt to find rows upon rows of books touting financial fix-alls and miracle debt solutions – but the truth is, personal finance is a highly subjective thing. What works for one person may not be a great option for you.

To find the right reading material, one needs to consider the many different factors playing a role in your personal finances; are you learning to conquer debt? Make the most of your wage? Invest to retire early?

Bolster your book shelf and your know-how with our list of helpful personal finance books.

Lessons for the non-personal-finance fan

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton

In 1989, Chilton sold over 2 million copies of The Wealthy Barber – a financial advice guide masked as a novel that used humour and dialogue to communicate with the reader. The book sold out and educated millions of readers on common sense financial tips, but that wasn’t the last of Chilton.

In 2011, due to mounting frustration over the recession, Chilton released The Wealthy Barber Returns. Divided into 54 short chapters, the author has chosen to speak through his own voice rather than the fictional characters used in the first. Once again armed with humour and a focus on consumer materialism and spending habits, Chilton examines five essential lessons: The Wealthy Barber Returns is perfect for anyone who has had a hard time making it through the first page of a financial book.

  • Remove temptation triggers
  • Remember that banks are a business
  • Credit cards are evil
  • You can’t have everything
  • Wealth depends more on savings than income

For the first timer with an allowance

Money-Smart Kids by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

By now, Vaz-Oxlade is a household name as host of the financial reality television shows "‘Til Debt Do us Part" and "Princess". In fact, any one of her books would make a good addition to your bookshelf, but the focus here is on teaching kids about financial reality. Geared towards inspiring economic confidence in young people, Money-Smart Kids tackles a broad range of first timer saving advice from: how to set up an allowance; how to make saving a habit; learning the difference between a need and a want; establishing a practice banking system called the “Magic Jars”; and create life long money management skills. The book is a perfect way to ease a first timer with an allowance into the first steps of financial literacy.

A guide to kick-starting an investment portfolio

The Lazy Investor by Derek Foster

Forget for a moment that Foster – dubbed by some as Canada’s youngest retiree – left the workforce at the age of 34. The guy definitely has his strategy worked out, enough so that many Canadian investors have followed suit. So, how can you get in on the secret of investing with ease?

As Foster points out, it’s not the most complex way of seeing a return on your investments. As he explains in The Lazy Investor, the key is putting your investment dollars towards steadily increasing dividend paying companies. Why? It pulls emotions out of the equation, forcing the investor to focus on investing for cash flow.

It's a recession-resistant strategy, and dividends are taxed favourably compared to other types of cash flow. As only stocks with a long history of annual dividend increases are chosen, the plan has proven to be inflation-resistant as well. The book is well-rounded touching down on a number of things from setting your first portfolio to how to communicate frugality with your kids.

Learn from the rich

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

For those looking to increase their personal finance aptitude, Kiyosaki’s book comes highly recommended.

The book is a product of the author’s own unique upbringing, drawing influence and contrasts from his own highly educated, but fiscally unstable, father and the multi-millionaire eighth grade drop-out father of his closest friend. Rich Dad, Poor Dad advocates financial independence through investing, real estate, owning businesses and increasing financial literacy.

Although the book has faced some scrutiny, it is an interesting look at how the techniques used by higher class society can be used by anyone.

Andrew Seale

Andrew Seale is a freelance writer with an absurdly hyperactive mind and predilection towards the obscure and eclectic. He frequently shares his personal finance experiences and mishaps with TheDot readers but has also been known to profile business leaders ranging from financial savants to bootstrapped entrepreneurs. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Yahoo Canada Finance and News, Profit Magazine, The Toronto Star, Enroute Magazine, and on the back of napkins sometimes tucked into the pockets of strangers. He can be found at

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