Financial Literacy for Beginners
April is Financial Literacy Month and for good reason. Most working Americans live with little savings, to much debt, and the struggle to tie it all together.
Many of us learn about money in the School of Hard Knocks which can leave us battered, bruised and broke. That’s why I take financial literacy so seriously. It has changed my life and it can do the same for you.
So how do we personally fill this gap and turn our behavior around?
Start in the Beginning
I encourage you to read the Bible (for a lot of reasons) but especially if you want to learn scriptures about debt, saving, work ethic, giving, and sowing and reaping, which is how wealth is created. I also wrote a post about tithing and what it has meant for me. Please check it out here.
While I keep a lot of personal notes on scriptures about money, one of the most comprehensive resources I have found is ChristianPF.com, now known as SeedTime.
I am excited to share some of my favorite financial books with you. Some are about practical ways to manage money and others are about our relationship with God and how faith should impact our finances. Whatever your background, there is something on this list for you.
My 7 Best Books About Money That Will Change Your Financial Future
1. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. This book is a GAME CHANGER. It dispels every myth we have about wealth and how to obtain it. We assume people who drive the nicest cars, live in the nicest homes, take the nicest vacations and whose kids attend the nicest schools are wealthy. In actuality, these people may have a nice income but they don’t have wealth. Building wealth is about asset accumulation and a frugal lifestyle which the book does a great job illustrating with several studies and use cases. I value this book so much that I try to read it at least once a year (usually in January). If you have never read it, pick up a copy.
2. The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey. If you have ever listened to Dave’s podcasts or watched his YouTube Videos, you know he is a no-holds bar evangelist of money mastery. He hates debt, encourages everyone to live on a written budget and provides 7 Baby Steps to put your financial house in order. We have hosted his Financial Peace University course at our church for the past 6 years. It’s always a success and people leave empowered to change their lives. Get the book or join a class in your area.
3. Free and Clear, God’s Road Map to Debt-Free Living, Howard Dayton. This is a great read. I love it because it’s simple and practical. Included is the Crown Money Map created by Larry Burkett from Crown Financial Ministries. Early in my journey, this book helped me learn about God’s view of money. It also has great resources about mortgages, co-signing, finance companies and payday lending. No one talks a lot about the damage of payday lending and the secondary market of finance companies, but these are major pitfalls which keep people hostage to the WORST kind of debt.
4. Understanding Financial Stewardship – Learn what God has to Say about Managing Your Money, Charles F. Stanley. This is a great tool of how faith should connect with our finances. At the onset, Stanley explains that God’s view of our net worth is based on the whole of our life not a numerical value. He addresses how our attitude towards work can hinder God’s best for us. This helped me a lot in my my overall work ethic. He also illustrates how five attitudes (covetousness, pride, selfishness, presumption, and pleasure) can destroy God’s prosperity in our lives. Stanley is just a great teacher!
5. Finding Financial Stability in Unstable Times: Experience God as Your Provider, Brian Kluth – Our church held a study of this book after the Great Recession. My financial foundation had been shaken and this book was the light I needed. Kluth does a great job explaining how God is the source of our provision literally meaning whatever we are paid to do career-wise, God gave us the strength to do it. When we realize that God is our provider, His ownership does not start with our bank accounts but His ownership starts at the cross. If you are re-building, I highly recommend this book.
6. The Road to Wealth: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Money, Suze Orman – This book is the textbook of textbooks, totaling over 500 pages of financial terms and definitions covering debt, insurance, retirement planning, home ownership, stocks, mutual funds, annuities, will and trusts. As you can see, it’s comprehensive. It’s my dictionary and while copyrighted in the early 2000s, it’s still very relevant.
7. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. This is an honorable mention because it’s not an actual financial book. However, it is a wonderful tool for woman navigating the workplace and the challenges we face leading and advancing the corporate ladder. Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, gives insight from her personal challenges and how we can lean into changing cultures and behaviors. The book has also brought more attention to Equal Pay for Equal Work–women in the United States are typically paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. By closing this gap, women will have more money to care for themselves, their families and to support their communities. Read. This. Book.
Current and Future Reading
I am currently reading Unshakeable, by Tony Robbins. This Financial Freedom Playbook explains how to have peace of mind in our uncertain world and market corrections. I’m enjoying the section on retirement accounts and how hidden fees can diminish returns and performance. So far, I give this one a definite thumbs up and encourage you to add it to your finance library.
I also look forward to reading The Richest Man in Babylon soon! I have always heard great things about this book.
Get Started – You Can Do This
Well there you have it, my best books about money for beginners. Each will enrich your knowledge and your ability to improve your finances. Links to Amazon have been provided if you are interested in purchasing any of these books for you or for someone you care about.
Take one positive step to improve your finances by reading and then get in the game of building better finances!
What financial books have you read that have changed the way you manage money?