Best Books about Being Frugal and Personal Finance

When I set my goal for this year, one of my goals was to read one personal finance book every month this year. I’m currently working on Your Money or Your Life by Joe Domingez and Vicki Robin. I haven’t decided what to read for the rest of the year though, so I thought I’d ask for suggestions. I also thought I’d let you know about a few of the books that have inspired me to live more frugally and get my debt under control.

1. Debt-Proof Living by Mary Hunt. I’ve talked about this book before. I really appreciate this book, Mary Hunt has climbed out of the debt pit herself. She provides a solid plan for getting out of debt that is especially good for people who don’t like to take big risks. Save a contingency fund, make sure your budget is funding your irregular expenses, and then pay off your debt.

2. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Despite the issues I have with gazelle intensity, Dave Ramsey has also been a huge inspiration in my quest to get out of debt. I like the Total Money Makeover, because it breaks down the journey to financial freedom into clear cut steps. It’s always good to have a plan, and Dave does the work of making a plan for you. To follow Dave’s plan, you have to be a little more willing to take risks, as he only advocates a $1000 emergency fund before paying off your debts. I’ve modified my own plan so that it falls somewhere between Dave Ramsey and Mary Hunt.

3. The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. This book is chock full of tips for living more frugally. Some of the tips are farther than I’m willing to go in trying to live a frugal life, but a lot of the tips are quite good. If you read through this book, you will find ideas for cutting back in every area of your life. Even though you might not use all the tips, there’s surely something in this book for everyone.

Now that you know what my top three personal finance books are, what are yours? Do you have any suggestions for things I should be reading over the next year?


By , on Jan 11, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. jess Marino:

    I also checked out The Average family’s guide to financial freedom that was a pretty cool book. It’s nice to get advised from people that don’t make 6 figures annually at their job.

  2. Luke:

    To reply to my own post from a few days ago….I read Jeff Yeager’s ‘The Ultimate Cheapskate Next Door’ and absolutely loved it. I literally read the whole book nodding my head and laughing. Mostly because what he wrote is what I do, but I’ve never heard anyone say it let alone write about it.

    If you already live frugal you will laugh because it will reiterate your funny outlook on money. If you are NOT frugal you should buy this book now. You will learn the hows and whys of frugality but most importantly he teaches you how frugality leads to happiness. This is an angle on frugality that isn’t harped upon, but is at the core of why people are frugal. The book is $13…probably the best $13 you will ever spend…splurge…buy it…and start being frugal the next day!

  3. Luke:

    I got started by reading Andrew Tobias books. He is the king. His books are very informative and far more entertaining than 99% of the other books I’ve read on the topic of money. Read ‘The Only Other Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need’ first and go from there.

    The Ultimate Cheapskate books look good, but I’ve only skimmed them. I can’t wait to read them because they are about frugal living in an entertaining/humorous tone. The “empower yourself” rah rah books insult your intelligence, so it is nice when you can read something that breaks from the same old same old.

    Also, Dave Barry the humor columnist wrote a hysterical book about money if you need a few laughs.

    I’m looking for books that don’t tell me how or why to save money, but give me stories about how other people saved money. I’m set with technical information, but I want to hear about other people’s struggle or success with living frugally. Anyone have any ideas?

  4. Been reading for a few days now. It was very good and solid information. BTW, I like your site design as well. I enjoyed reading it and hopefully you will write more soon. Do you have a newsletter? How do I subscribe to the blog itself?

  5. I think that it is really cool that you’re reading finance books to reach your financial goals. It looks like you are on the right track reading Dave Ramsey. I myself am on a quest for financial knowledge and have read Dave Ramsey’s book. Me and my wife are on baby step 3 right now. I just started a blog on the books I have and will read so maybe you’ll find some good suggestions there in the future. Keep up the good work.

  6. My personal favorite so far has to be The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. It is so simple and easy to read and understand. It explains why you should invest and where you should do it without going into so much detail you get bored out of your mind. I tried to read Your Money or Your Life as everyone says it is such a great book on personal finance but I couldn’t get past all the strange back to natureness of the writers.

  7. Lynnae:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Anita. That sounds like a really good book!

  8. Anita:

    I’m reading The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. This book teaches the basic principles of personal finance using a fictional story about a wealthy barber. It’s a fun read and I think it would be especially good for teens and twentysomethings.

  9. TagerTux:

    It’s always worth reading the infamous ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’. Many question whether the stories/material is true or not but it is something a personal finance blogger should read once. It’s full of random stuff, some of which isn’t helpful at all but the most interesting thing is his re-definition of assets and liabilities.

  10. “Tightwad Gazette” and “Your Money or Your Life” are two of my favorites that I refer to frequently.

    I’d like to humbly recommend my new book, “Fix ’em Up, Rent ’em Out,” as a book which promotes using your spare time to buy and repair fixer-uppper houses, and then rent them out. It’s aimed at people who don’t have a lot of extra income, but who have a desire to get started making money in real estate.

  11. I’ve been reading the Tightwad Gazette since it was only one book and I was even a subscriber! Go there, and read it all year through. I wouldn’t read it in a month – it wasn’t written that way. The Caramel Corn recipe from Volume 2 is wonderful.

  12. For me this is a great idea. I personally like building my plan by taking a little here and a little there. Your plan has to be tru to who you are, or it won’t work!

  13. boomeyers:

    I like the book “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. It’s kind of a fun book to read. One of my favorites is “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan” by Elizabeth Warren. If you liked Mary Hunt and Dave Ramsey, this is a good read. It makes a lot of sense!

  14. LJ:

    I really loved The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
    It isn’t exactly a personal finance book, but more of a tale of the “REAL” wealthy people and how they accumulated their wealth and how they hold onto it. It is a pretty inspiring book, because it makes you realize that anyone can be wealthy if you only change your mental image of “wealth”. Definitely worth checking out if you are getting sick of the millions of “step by step” personal finance guides out there. It is an easy read with a lot of great information and stories.

    Take Care


  15. MichelleH:

    I also like “Your Money Map” by Howard Dayton. It’s similar to “The Total Money Makeover” but a little less intense. (Howard took over the radio show “Money Matters” after Larry Burkett passed away.)The “Tightwad Gazette” books would have to be my all-time favorites though. I really want to read “Your Money or Your Life” this year.

  16. ak:

    Michelle Singletary, pf columnist for the Washington Post and writer of the column “The Color of Money”, published her top 10 finance books about a year ago. I read most of these and out of those, I kept 3 on my shelf:

    “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Andrew Tobias – a something for everyone book with a chapter on frugality and a chapters on advanced investing and the rational for staying away from the too complicated. Very funny.

    “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. – A classic, written in the 1920s. Allegorical tales of good financial habits, a slim book that feels redundant but worth the read. It may be especially good to introduce concepts of savings and investing for a teenager.

    “Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas” by Bill McKibben. – McKibben is a hero of a writer and person. His ideas are practical and this little book should be read every November. My favorite tip from this book is making a tradition of feed the birds on Christmas morning.

    One of Singletary’s recommendations that I have not yet read but want to is: Benjamin Franklin’s “The Way to Wealth.”

    Hope this helps, best wishes.

  17. Lee:

    Wow!, where do I start? You picked 3 of my favorites, also if you haven’t read any of Ellie Kay’s books, she writes all about saving money. Her most recent is “1/2 Price Living- Secrets to Living Well on One Income” It’s an enjoyable, to the point, affordable book, with some great advice. Another good one is Jonni McCoy’s “Miserly Moms”, it’s been around awhile (1994), but there’s a lot in the book to help out us moms, again about living on one income. I also have read “The World’s Easiest Guide to Finances” by Larry Burkett. His books always have some practical guidelines to most areas of personal finance, with a good Biblical base. I hope that gives you some good ideas…(now I’m off to see about the Dave Ramsey giveaway, since I can’t find my copy of “Total Money Makeover”!)

  18. Too hard to pick favorites. But there have been a lot of good ones named here. Dave Ramsey has provided me with some real inspiration for getting started. Total Money Makeover was one of the first PF books I read.

  19. Michelle Dawn:

    I’ll definitely make a request for “The Tightwad Gazette” at my library. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

  20. dawn:

    I’m with you on “The Tightwad Gazette” totally…
    But another favorite of mine is “The Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food” by Janet Chadwick. It is a fabulous resource for instructions on canning, drying, and freezing all sorts of fruits and vegetables. It also has some terrific recipes. You should check it out. Even if you don’t garden, it is great for dealing with bargains you may find at the farmer’s market or grocery store.

  21. Lynnae:

    @dawn – Thanks for the recommendation! One of my goals this summer is to learn how to can food. I’ve never heard of that book, but I’ll be checking my library for it!

  22. I think I need to invest in the Tightwad Gazette. . .I’ll check my budget. . . :)

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