Beau Browning | July 8th, 2021
There are hundreds of personal finance books, podcasts, and documentaries available, so many that no one could read, listen, or watch them all. Nor would you want to. Not all personal finance content is created equal. The bar is so low to produce a book, a podcast, or a documentary (anyone can post self-made content on YouTube) these days that anyone can do it. That means some content is just plain bad, and some of it provides incorrect or even damaging information.
But these things can be significant sources of information and often downright entertaining. I’ve separated the wheat from the chaff for you. These are some personal finance books, podcasts, and a documentary that are informative and enjoyable.
Personal Finance Books
I know that delving into a personal finance book is not quite as gripping as cracking open a good biography or mystery, so I’ve chosen a few books that are easy to read, provide great information, and are relatively quick reads.
Rich Dad Poor Dad was published in 1997 and has become one of the best-selling personal finance books of all time. The book’s premise is the lessons Kiyosaki learned from his “two dads,” his father, the poor dad, and his best friend’s father, the rich dad. Through their examples, he learned that wealth comes not from education and hard work but from being educated about money and how to make it work for you.
Rich Dad says, “The poor and middle class work for money. The rich have money work for them. “ This sums up the book nicely. Kyosaki then explains how to make money work for you throughout the remaining chapters. These are the six big lessons from Rich Dad Poor Dad:
- It’s not how much you make; it’s how much you keep. Assets put money in our pockets, and liabilities take money out.
- It’s not the smart who get ahead; it’s the bold. Educate yourself on accounting, investing, and the markets to increase your financial intelligence.
- Corporations are the key to wealth because they lower the tax rate than those employed by someone else. Employees pay more in taxes because they can’t write off their expenses the way a corporation can.
- The rich concentrate on their asset columns while everyone else focuses on their income statements. Start buying real assets, not liabilities, and keep your expenses low.
- People who avoid failure also avoid success. We learn via our mistakes; if we never take a risk, we won’t learn important lessons.
Like Kiyosaki, Morgan Housel agrees that education and hard work are not the essential ingredients for building wealth. Our behavior is much more critical. Understanding and improving your relationship with money is vital.
- Knowing how to do something is not enough. Often, you’ll need to win the battle against your emotions. We all know, for example, to buy low and sell high. But what often happens when there is a big market dip? People start panic selling. They know intellectually this is a mistake, but they cannot control their emotions of fear and panic.
- Patience is key to building wealth. Successful investing isn’t necessarily about earning the highest returns but earning pretty good returns for a long time.
- Money’s greatest value is its ability to give you control over your time.
- Your saving rate is more important than your income or investment returns.
- Not all financial decisions are solely about money. Aim not to be coldly rational when making financial decisions; just aim to be pretty reasonable. Reasonable is more realistic and something you can stick to long-term, which is what counts.
- Plan for things to go not according to plan with a margin of safety in a world governed by odds, not certainties. You can’t plan for what you can’t imagine, so minimize the impact by avoiding single points of failure. This is a fancy way of saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
- We change over time. Don’t anchor decisions to past efforts that can’t be refunded. Don’t make your future self a prisoner of your past self.
- You might know Carl Richards as “the sketch guy" from the New York Times. His book aims to alleviate the anxiety around financial decisions that often paralyzes us from doing anything at all. You don’t need to overcomplicate your financial plan.
- Figure out why money is important to you. When you know what you value, you can create a plan that fits your needs and goals. Someone who wants to retire at 40 and travel the world will look very different from someone who wants to buy a home and start a family.
- Predict what your future goals might be. The future is unpredictable, but your plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and the unexpected.
- Know where you are right now. You can’t make any plans or decisions without a picture of your current circumstances. You might know you have some debt or some retirement savings, but how much exactly? To find out, create a simple balance sheet.
- Track your spending with a budget. Knowing how much is coming in, going out, and where is essential to any financial plan.
- Save as much as you can and automate it.
- Before making an investment, study it as a scientist would.
If a book has been in print since 1937, there must be something to it! Unlike so many things in life, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to personal finance, and that explains the longevity of this book. The points it makes were true 83 years ago, and they’re true (and relevant) today.
Hill endeavors to understand and explain why some people become wealthy while others remain poor and if there were commonalities among those who became wealthy. And Hill had access to some of the heaviest hitters in history, interviewing 500 of the richest men at the time, including John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford.
- Success is rarely overnight. You have to fail, often several times, before finding success.
- To succeed, eliminate all possibilities for retreat. If you have no choice but to make something work, you’ll make it work.
- All thoughts repeated over and over are accepted by our subconscious, good or bad. If you tell yourself you’ll always be poor; you’ll be right. Believe and repeat a positive idea.
- Education alone won’t make you rich.
- Create a plan and follow it.
- One of the leading causes of failure is indecision.
- Drive fear out of your mind.
Podcasts are great for their sheer convenience. You can listen while you commute, work out, make dinner, mow the grass, or a million other things.
The Compound is a weekly roundtable-style podcast that discusses business, investing, economics, finance, and trading. The topics are timely, wide-ranging, not always sticking to financial matters, and the discussion flows conversationally. The podcasts are long-form, typically lasting more than an hour to an hour and a half.
Some recent topics have included inflation, bonds, a Bitcoin ETF, UBI, student loans, horror movies, and the health benefits of coffee.
Animal Spirits is a weekly podcast hosted by Michael Batnick, who also features on The Compound, and Ben Carlson. The pair discuss financial markets, personal finance, asset management, and business. The podcast is more casual than The Compound, often delving into the pair’s interests and family life. The episodes typically last less than an hour.
Some recent topics have included inflation, buying a home, meme stocks, and cryptocurrencies.
Just when you thought you’d binged on everything Netflix has to offer, along comes a fascinating and entertaining series about the psychology of money.
This five-part series is from Vox Media. Each episode is narrated by a well-known figure and covers topics like get rich quick schemes, the effects of gambling on our brains, and the history of retirement plans. This is an episode list:
- Get Rich Quick: Why do people keep falling for these scams?
- Credit Cards: A look at the actual cost of convenience.
- Student Loans: The current crisis and possible solutions.
- Gambling: How the gaming industry takes advantage of our brains on gambling.
- Retirement: How retirement became so out of reach for millions of Americans.
Each episode is just about 23 minutes long, so you can binge them all in an evening.
I hope this gives you some reading, listening, and watching ideas for this summer. Enjoy!