5 budget and personal finance books

Budget books can give you a different perspective on your finances and help you plan for your money.

The five books below are recommended by certified financial planners. These professionals took many financial planning courses, passed a brutal exam, amassed thousands of hours of experience, and pledged to act as fiduciaries.

(These PFCs responded via email and some responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

‘The One Page Financial Plan’ by Carl Richards

“This book makes you think about what is important to you and how you can align your money with your values. It is also written in plain English, with little to no industry jargon. Therefore, I think it is useful for people of all ages.”

— Serina Shyu, an Atlanta-based CFP who serves on the board of directors of the Georgia Financial Planning Association

‘Live Richer Challenge’ by Tiffany Aliche

“This is a great quick read for those looking to build their financial foundation, including how to budget. The author, Tiffany ‘The Budgetnista’ Aliche, takes a basic approach to budgeting and saving, debt and credit, insurance, and investing.

“Those just beginning their financial journey will get the most out of this book because it is an easy read that addresses the key elements of building a strong financial foundation.”

— Brent Weiss, CFP based in St. Petersburg, Florida and co-founder of Facet Wealth

‘The Land of Fare’ by Devin Fergus

“If you’ve ever wondered why mortgage closing costs are so high, or why you’re charged twice to get money from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, or why you’re charged an origination fee when you take out a personal loan, read this book.

“The deregulation of banking systems in the 1980s led to less consumer protection and gave the financial industry the ability to charge arbitrary fees on its products and services. We tend to focus so much on our own personal finances without questioning how the system has been structured to work against us.

“If you ever feel like your personal finances are always taking one step forward and 10 steps back, knowing how the financial industry works can help you navigate and defend yourself.”

— Pamela Capalad, New York-based CFP and founder of Brunch & Budget

Before preparing a budget

Track all your spending at a glance to understand your trends and spot opportunities to save money.

‘Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom’ by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

“Lynnette speaks to the reader from the point of view of lived experience and offers practical steps to help people implement their debt elimination strategy literally from day one. Lynnette’s story of how she was able to eliminate debt inspires anyone who is overwhelmed by debt and needs help.

“Even though Lynnette’s book has debt elimination in the title, having that as the goal and financial freedom as the why helps people understand the rationale for budgeting in the first place.

“Your book is for people who are just starting out and want to avoid getting into trouble. It is also for people who find it difficult to plan or break their consumption habits.”

— Frank Paré, CFP based in Oakland, California and founder of PF Wealth Management Group

‘What to do with your money when the crisis hits’ by Michelle Singletary

“I had the opportunity to tune in [Singletary’s] Talk about the book and actually listened to the book with my daughter. I love her clear, concise and practical advice. It not only helps anyone prepare for a financial crisis, but also develops a plan for a brighter, stronger financial future.”

— Marguerita Cheng, Gaithersburg, Maryland-based CFP and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth

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