10 Books to Read for a Better Money Mindset


It can be lonely living in a frugal world; maybe you're surrounded by big spenders, or mocked for being a penny pincher. Or maybe you struggle to see the long-term goals in the midst of short-term needs. Peruse this list of books for your next read, and build a stronger, proactive, and positive money mindset. (See also: 10 Beloved Books of Successful Millionaires)

1. A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell

Read A Conflict of Visions for a big picture, to understand why people think about and react to money issues the way they do. A dense read, this isn't one you'll grab for the beach. Instead, grab your highlighter and tackle a chapter at a time. You'll learn a lot about money and why people have so many conflicts with it, which might, in the end, help you feel less conflicted.

2. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Successful blogger, author, and father of six, Leo Babauta knows a few things about handling money and a life of many responsibilities. His book, The Power of Less, will help you appreciate what less can bring you, in both business and in life. It's liberating to realize that pursuing more, whether personally or financially, won't necessarily lead to more life satisfaction or more success.

Babauta advises readers to take a quality over quantity approach, focusing on what's most important and treating the rest as a distraction. It's a lesson you can use in many areas of life (decluttering session, anyone?) but when applied to your money management, this approach can make it easier for you to focus on your best money moves and quit worrying about what everybody else is doing.

3. The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner

In this classic, Heilbroner examines the history of economic thought by walking the reader through the "lives, times, and ideas of great economic thinkers." You'll learn not only about the economic philosophies developed by, say, John Stuart Mill or John Maynard Keynes, but also about the political upheavals and cultural issues that influenced and motivated them. If you're looking for a big-picture look at money and the economic systems that have been built around it, make The Worldly Philosophers your next read.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman explores the inner workings of the mind. Specifically, he introduces the reader to fast thinking, which is quick and instinctive, and slow thinking, which is deliberate and more logical. These two thinking systems, Kahneman explains, can and do serve us well; however, if we don't understand their weaknesses, we can be misled by mental biases into decisions that don't serve us well. Read this book to solidify your commitment to making money decisions based on long-term goals rather than short-term desires.

5. Debt Is Slavery by Michael Mihalik

Mihalik's direct, powerful book on dealing with debt is a great one for bettering your money mindset, because that's his whole premise. In Debt Is Slavery, Mihalik argues that getting better at money happens when you get better at how you think about money, because, he says, "all action is born from thought."

There's no fluff here; Debt Is Slavery gets straight to the point in each chapter and provides practical steps for, first, changing the way you think about money and then changing what you do with it. If you're struggling to get out of debt and wondering if it's worth the trouble, read this book to renew your motivation and maybe even improve your debt-reduction strategies.

6. Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel, Charles C. Mann, and Paul Kennedy

It's easy to fall into a bubble, then forget you're in it. For a fascinating journey far outside your bubble, take a look at Material World by renowned photojournalist Peter Menzel. Each portrait — of an "average" family and all their worldly possessions — provides a point of vivid comparison: your standard of living next to that of people in many diverse areas of the world. Some will make you feel absolutely frugal, while others (most, perhaps?) will make you feel like you live at the height of excess.

7. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig

Warren Buffett (who is also a collaborator on the book), calls it "by far the best book on investing ever written." The Intelligent Investor was first published in 1949 and has since been updated for the current marketplace with commentary by Jason Zweig, personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal. If you want to solidify your understanding of investment options and move your mindset from a timid, maybe-investor to a knowledgeable practitioner of value investing, this is the book for you.

8. If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly by William Bernstein

Written specifically to help a younger generation gain better financial footing, If You Can is also available as a free downloadable booklet on the author's website. Bernstein recognizes that the theory of saving and investing money is fairly simple, but the practice of it is much more difficult. He outlines five hurdles that the reader must overcome in order to succeed financially. Read it to understand clearly what's tripping you up.

9. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Robin's book is a practical manual on personal financial management. It's also a book that will help you connect the dots between your money, your choices, and your ability to live according to your own values and priorities. In Your Money or Your Life, you'll learn to equate time with money, and to make money decisions with the time-cost in mind. Suddenly, that $170 pair of shoes isn't so appealing when you calculate the price in hours of your life rather than dollars in your bank account. By shifting the way you think about money and value, you can see saving and investing as the reward it is, rather than as a self-imposed deprivation.

10. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich went undercover and exposed how difficult it is to get anywhere past financial survival while living on minimum wage. She opened up a big conversation on what it means to be rich and how disparate the lives of the poor, middle class, and wealthy can be: So disparate, in fact, that those in this financial segment may feel completely alienated from those in the other, unable to understand their motives, purposes, or needs.

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