Looking to improve your financial pow-wow in 2020? This reading list of evergreen finance books is for you.
We know that reading books about finance is often not on the top of the list for anyone. But, having read all these books, our team swears by the fact that these are totally binge-worthy and filled with some great pointers that you can implement into daily life right away.
Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape
For a finance book, Scott Pape's message is refreshingly anti-materialistic: do you need a BMW when a Holden will do? But also: you should still go to the pub, take holidays and give to charity. The principles set out in Barefoot Investor emphasise on saving, not living beyond your means and having a manageable mortgage. We think this book has gone on to create a movement mainly because it doesn’t overwhelm the reader with a bunch of tips. It’s not a get-rich-quick book. Or a book about how to buy 30 investment properties. Or how to retire by 40. Instead, it’s about security and tapping into the basic and boring stuff like saving for retirement. Scott keeps his rules to wealth simple and uses humorous analogies throughout on how wealth building works, taking the mystique out of money. And now there’s also The Barefoot Investor for families which are meant to be a money guide for the kids and hope to equip them with financial literacy as well.
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The Big Short talks about the build-up of the United States housing bubble during the 2000s. This book was a bestseller when it came out in 2010 and if you’re really struggling with reading you can watch the movie for this one instead. For those looking to understand the basics of the 2008 financial crisis, this is one very good place to start. One of the things Michael Lewis does best explains many of the technical aspects of the financial system like “mortgage-backed securities,” “credit default swaps,” and “collateral debt obligations in a manner that can be easily understood. The book is a page-turner and reads like a fantasy novel. One has to remind themselves over and over again that the series of events noted throughout the book actually happened. If you ever wanted a deeper understanding of what actually led to the GFC then this one is for you.
Stay the Course: The story of Vanguard and the index revolution by John Bogle
Today Vanguard has $5 trillion in assets under management, but the road hasn't been easy. Early on it was dubbed "un-American" and mocked by Wall Street professionals. Named after his most iconic piece of advice, "staying the course"; Bogle's last book is a memoir that traces the history of the Vanguard Group and you'll enjoy this walk down memory lane detailing how this finance behemoth got started. The book shares how Bogle changed the rules for investors and provides a fascinating look into the mind of an extraordinary man. No single individual has done more to fight for the average investor than Jack Bogle and if you enjoy biographies, this one will be a keepsake.
The millionaire next door: The surprising secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley & William Danko
This book is an old one but an inspiring read that shows how almost anyone can become a millionaire. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Through countless interviews and a vast list of data, Stanley pulls together that being the average millionaire is within reach of just about everyone so long as they are willing to sacrifice. He shares how becoming a millionaire has nothing to do with luck, or being an entrepreneur (although it doesn’t hurt) but living below your means, having a budget, investing and not trying to impress people you don’t like with money you don’t have! The Millionaire Next Door is required reading for anyone hoping to understand the unglamorous secret to wealth.
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough
The fight to control RJR Nabisco during October and November of 1988 was more than just the largest takeover in Wall Street history. The ultimate story of greed and glory, Barbarians at the Gate is the gripping account of these two frenzied months, of deal makers and of an old-line industrial powerhouse that became the victim of the ruthless style of finance in the 1980s. This book is a really good read even 30 years after the event and explores a lot of today’s financial issues like real business v/s the financial world or the possibilities and risks of leverage. For those of you who are interested in how business really works, this is one of the epics in business history. The added bonus is that this is one of the few finance books that reads like a thriller fiction with a gripping story that has many twists and surprises.