Financial Literacy for Beginners: A Reading List

One of my goals for this year was to become more financially literate and I decided to use a resource that I often turn to: books! As more of a words person, I typically find any discussion of math and numbers completely boring and hard to grasp. Nevertheless, I endured to find books that would at least grab my attention and keep me focused as I wanted to feel more knowledgeable about my finances. With this list, I hope that at least one of these books will be useful no matter where you are in your own journey with finance and money. This list is not exhaustive by any means (nor do I think it is the best one out there!) but if any of these titles pique your interest, you can follow the links in this post to the VPL catalogue where you can request it for yourself. If there are any books that you especially recommend on the subject of personal finance, please feel free to comment below and let me know what I should read next!

A Canadian’s Guide to Money-Smart Living by Kelley Keehn and Alex Fisher: This book was created between the partnership of a financial educator and CPA Canada. A lot of finance books are written for an American audience so it’s always nice to find something specifically targeting Canadians. This book walks you through all of the basic information you need to learn more about your finances and how personal finances work. Though I read this book more recently than other books on this list, I still learned a lot and I found that the book really explains basic concepts in a succinct and understandable way. It doesn’t necessarily teach you how to budget or the best stocks to invest in but it does teach you all the basic financial concepts so you can get an understanding of where to start and what you need. For example, it covers credit scores, mortgages, insurance (did you know house fraud is a thing?!) and even talks about how to have money conversations with family members. I would recommend it for people who have always felt that they don’t know or understand financial concepts as well as they should.

Talk Money to Me by Kelley Keehn: If you are looking for another great primer about all things money management, I recommend this book. The writing is accessible and I like that the author provides clear examples of ordinary folks and their money management mistakes and successes. The chapters are divided by concept but each chapter also includes a real-life example (with names changed for privacy, of course) to contextualize the concept. For each story that tackles a specific issue, the author also provides action steps to fix the issue and how to avoid it. Some of the chapters are definitely aimed at people with spouses and/or children so those in similar situations would probably find this book more useful but regardless, it is definitely a great jumping off point if you would like to read about common money management mistakes and how you can avoid them. The author, Kelley Keehn, also wrote the title above so I do recommend that you read the book above first then this one. Keehn is also a personal finance educator and media personality so it may be worth it to check out her website and YouTube videos if a visual lesson is something you benefit from.

Get Good With Money by Tiffany Aliche: This book was brought to my attention by an influencer I follow on social media and then again a few days later by a library customer who suggested that we add the book to our collection. While this book does have an American focus, I found a lot of the advice useful especially the earlier chapters on budgeting. I liked that Aliche provides readers with clear-cut advice and spreadsheets, especially for readers with debt that they need to tackle, and I found a lot of the concepts quite engaging. Aliche definitely has a writing style that feels more intimate and personal and she explains things in a clear way that avoids talking down to the reader. If you are new to the world of books on finance or want advice from a professional that has put in the work on their own situation before educating others, this is a great starting off point. I would also especially recommend it for those with debt as this book really provides action items on how to tackle and understand it. This is another author that has a great website with free resources and videos so I would recommend checking those out as well if the concepts in this book resonate with you.

Quit Like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung: This book grabbed my attention for its outrageous title. Becoming a millionaire without a trust fund, luck, or gimmicks? It seemed too good to be true. I was shocked to find out that it wasn’t really all that unbelievable and that the authors retired at a young age from the corporate world and now they travel the globe using their large net worth. While this book did not empower me to become a millionaire immediately (if only!), it did introduce me to the concept of F.I.R.E: Financial Independence, Retire Early. This is a movement of people who really cut down on spending, build their wealth and portfolio, and then retire early. It’s an interesting concept and I definitely liked seeing advice from people who have done it. Another lovely part about this book is that the authors are Canadian, so unlike other finance books, the advice within is written for both an American and a Canadian context. This book really changed my thinking about the consumerist society we live in, which is a unique thing to say about a finance book! This is definitely the book on this list that I’d recommend the most because even if you do not necessarily agree with the authors’ philosophy, it is still fascinating to read their life story.

Playing with FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) by Scott Rieckens: This book is actually based off of a documentary of the same name that follows Scott Rieckens and his family as they join the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement. As I had already read Quit Like a Millionaire, I knew the basics about the movement but I still found this novel quite useful. I think it works not only as a great primer about FIRE but it definitely provides real examples about how to live life while pursuing FIRE. The book detailed all of the sacrifices and choices that Rieckens and family had to make in order to pursue their financial independence. I am drawn to memoirs so I found this really interesting as not only a finance book but as a family story. I think that readers who are curious about FIRE or how to actually go about it will find the book interesting and similar as the book above as a potential wake-up call to reject the consumer cycle that we sometimes find ourselves stuck in.

Clever Girl Finance: Grow Your Money by Bola Sokunbi: This book is one that I would recommend if you feel more confident about your budget. Now that you’ve tackled debt and some savings, the next step is investing. While this book isn’t going to be perfect for everyone, it will definitely help someone who is curious about investing and the best practices before getting started. The intended audience is women & girls but I do think it is a great primer for all. The book does have an American audience intended for it so keep in mind that some of the concepts won’t be applicable but there is a dedicated section at the end of each chapter that is written for a Canadian context.

As I said above, I hope that you find at least one of these titles useful and I would love to hear your personal recommendations on books focused on money or wealth. In writing this blog post and speaking to colleagues and friends about this topic, I realized that there are many people out there who also felt (as I did) that finance is a topic that has always been out of reach for them. I hope that this list helps you gain a bit more understanding on the topic.

About Shelly

Shelly is an Information Assistant II (Youth). They love novels with great characters and a plot that transports you, whether it be in real life or in fantasy worlds.

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