11 Books to Read After The Total Money Makeover

Jen SmithPersonal Finance6 Comments

best frugality books

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Shortly after I started Saving with Spunk in August 2016, I read The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires & The Middle Class by Keith Cameron Smith. I loved it so much I reviewed it on the blog and it became one of my most popular pins on Pinterest.

In 2017 I got more into entrepreneurial books. It was necessary because I had no clue how to run a blog, much less get paid for all the time I put into it. Now that I have a slight grasp on the direction of the blog I want to get back to my first love, personal finance.

I was recently asked what books I recommended reading on the debt free journey and I didn’t have a solid answer. There are so many great ones out there I just haven’t had the time to read them. This year I want to read more personal finance books and I want you to read them with me!

I’ve found 11 books I want to read in 2018, one per month for the rest of the year, and made suggestions on which Baby Step I think they’re most relevant to. Most are geared toward Baby Steps 1 and 2 with a few most appropriate for 3 and 4.

The books are in order of Baby Step recommendation. Most will be available through local libraries but I’ve also included the Amazon links just in case. If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you think and I’ll post links to the reviews as I post them on the blog!

1. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage

I love the ladies over at The Financial Diet. Not only because they took a chance on me when I was a brand new baby blogger by syndicating my posts on their website. But also because the way they talk about money is accessible and authentic.

Chelsea and Lauren aren’t perfect, don’t claim to be, they just want to help people care about their money as much as they do their other “diets.” This is another great Baby Step 2 book because you’ll learn how to have those awkward “I’m on a budget” talks with friends and stuff like ingredients to have in your kitchen.

I personally can’t wait to read this one.

2. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

My internet friend Cait Flanders gave up spending for two years on everything except groceries, toiletries, and gas. Over that time she discovered how engrained consumerism is in our coping methods and found the less she spent, the more fulfilled she felt.

Cait is a sweet soul who you’ll connect with instantly. Her book just came out a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to dive in. The money I spend out of boredom, frustration, and stress are the expenses I’m most embarrassed by and Cait has spent years shining a light on that on her blog CaitFlanders.com.

If you’re in Baby Step 1 or 2 I highly recommend giving this book a read ASAP.

3. Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry

This book came out last year and I hadn’t planned on reading it but it’s had such great reviews I have to give it a try. It’s not a book about debt and investing it’s about dealing with real life money issues.

Erin’s book is about forming good habits and making good decisions in the day-to-day. And for most of us, that’s how debt is paid off. A great read for Baby Steps 1 and 2.

4. Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames

Elizabeth Thames was my age when she and her husband decided to become financially independent and retire early to a homestead in Vermont and three years later they accomplished it!

They did it through intentional frugality. Elizabeth was my mentor at FinCon and I sat with her for hours as we talked about my blog and she is the sweetest soul. I am so thankful for my time with her.

She described Meet the Frugalwoods as a “memoir of frugality.” They crafted a life of sustainable frugality and were able to quit their jobs to live their dreams. Her book doesn’t come out until March 6th and I’m chomping at the bit to read it!

Learning frugality is a major theme in Baby Steps 1 and 2 so this one fits in great there but if you’re in Baby Step 4 it could motivate you to save beyond retirement and go for financial independence!

5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I’m an aspiring minimalist. I hate buying stuff, love the feeling of purging, and a clean home is my happy place. So I’ve always been interested in learning Marie Kondo’s KonMari method to decluttering.

I think this is the perfect book to follow up The Total Money Makeover in Baby Step 2 because while mindsets shift, old habits die hard. If you want to change your habits of overspending and mindless spending you have to replace those habits with something positive and I think Kondo offers that.

If you really want a deep dive on kicking your shopping habit and transforming your relationship with spending then check out my book The No-Spend Challenge Guide. I walk through all the aspects of doing a no-spend challenge and teach you how to make the most of it. #ShamelessSelfPromotion #ItsOnly3Dollars #BecauseImCheapToo

6. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley

If you’re looking to be inspired to become a millionaire, look no further. The Millionaire Next Door is the quintessential Dave Ramsey guide to becoming a millionaire.

The book is a collection of stories and data that tell how millionaires built their wealth. Spoiler alert: it’s not by making a lot, it’s by living below your means. Dave’s talked about this book for years and is even doing an updated research study that builds’s on Thomas Stanley’s 1996 data on millionaires.

This is a good read in any Baby Step but because of its emphasis on frugality I put it in Baby Step 2. I feel like I’m the last person in the personal finance community to read this book so it’s pretty high priority for me.

7. You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

I’ve heard great things about Jen Sincero and her latest book. I’ve had (and still have some of) the limiting beliefs that keep a lot of women from creating financial wealth.

Learning what to do with money is only half of it. If we hadn’t worked to make more money we would’ve been in Baby Step 2 for another two years. But there are so many people, women, especially who think they can’t make more money.

This is outrageous! Not only do you have something to offer out of the innate fact that you are a woman, but everyone has something unique to offer to the marketplace. I can’t wait to read Jen’s book and further break through roadblocks to create more for my family.

8. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason

This classic book is perfect if you learn through story, ie. you love fiction books but can’t get through a self-help book. There are no step by step instructions or tips and strategies to follow. The book is filled with parables set in ancient Babylon and written in the 1920’s.

It’s a short read and widely recommended so I think it’d be a good read in Baby Step 2 as a break from the typical nonfiction.

9. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

One of the most recommended books of all time, Think and Grow Rich is the epitome of self-help books. Napoleon Hill spent 20 years interviewing mega millionaires from Andrew Carnegie to Henry Ford on success mindset.

It may have been written in 1937 but it’s still relevant because it’s not about business techniques, it’s about changing the way you think and these core human truths stand the test of time. This is a thick one but I’m excited to venture into it.

As you’re closing out Baby Step 2 and discovering more freedom in Baby Step 3 this is a great transitional mindset book.

10. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

I got to meet David Back at FinCon last year and he is the kindest man. He cares so much about people using simple actions to grow rich. The Automatic Millionaire is best to read in Baby Steps 3 & 4 but can also be helpful in Baby Step 1.

It’s all about paying yourself first. You’ve probably heard about the “latte effect” well this is the book it’s from. David isn’t saying you can’t have lattes, he’s saying if you have a limited disposable income you have to give up some things to become wealthy. It’s a great message from a great man.

11. The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins

Full disclosure, this book does not follow Dave’s recommendations for investing in Baby Step 4. This is the quintessential book on investing in index funds. Elizabeth Willard Thames (author of Meet the Frugalwoods) and her husband used the principles in this book to retire early.

By the time you get to Baby Step 4, I think it’s essential to learn ideas about personal finance from many experts. Dave Ramsey isn’t God and while his advice is good you might be able to get better, it’s worth exploring to find out.

I want to read this book because Travis and I are veering off the Baby Steps to achieve financial independence. We may not do it in 3 years but it’s the direction we’re heading because we want to live life more flexibly. And now that we’ve paid off our debt we have the freedom to make that choice.

I’m so excited about getting back into a consistent reading habit and I hope you all will keep me accountable! Oh, and if you have any other post Total Money Makeover recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Books to read while paying off debt. Awesome books on frugality, how to save money, and investing!

6 Comments on “11 Books to Read After The Total Money Makeover”

  1. Love the list – some I’ve read (I LOVE minimalism books and a Kondo-inspired purge of my house is always my first new year’s resolution, 3 years strong now!), and look at all the good ones that I haven’t even come across, so thank you for sharing some great ideas!

    Do you have a post of your entrepreneurial books? That’s an area that I’m looking to learn more about, and would love to start doing some digging this winter 🙂

    1. Inspiring! I just read it last week (snuck in a January book) and I can’t wait to purge! I thought I was pretty minimalist but while I was reading I realized all the things I’m holding onto for no good reason.

      On entrepreneurial books, I just finished The Millionaire Messenger by Brandon Burchard, I LOVE The One Thing by Gary Keller, and the 4-hour work week is classic. I’m about to start Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I’ve heard it’s great!

      1. Nice!! I’ll add these to my GoodReads list!! And don’t be too harsh on yourself for the amount of minimalist you are – Kondo is at God-Like levels 🙂 I find I get better and better at it over time! (And I love how much $ it saves me!)

  2. Hi Jen, I definitely agree about “The One Thing”. I implemented the tips in that book in my business and without a doubt it increased my income substantially. Prior to reading it, I was letting myself get distracted by a whole host of things throughout my work day. Because I was letting so many things distract me, I wasn’t focusing on the tasks that contribute most to my income. Once you center your day around the most important tasks, everything else seems to have a way of falling into place. “The One Thing” is definitely one of my top 10 favorite business/self help books.

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