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Summer Reading List – Financial Security Books

Posted June 23, 2014 by Kelley Long in Life After Five


I’m often asked for book suggestions by friends and clients who are looking to better educate themselves on money and the basics of financial security. The array of choices can be dizzying, and I’ve read a LOT of them. Here are some of my favorites that you might add to your Wish List.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez: An old friend of mine who turned his life around after reading this book gets credit for introducing me to my favorite personal finance read. This book is best explained by a paragraph in the Prologue:

Once upon a time “earning a living” was the means to an end. The means was “earning”; the end was “living.” Over time our relationship with money – earning it, spending it, investing it, owing it, protecting it, worrying about it – has taken over the major part of our lives. Most of us spend much more than 40 hours out of the week’s total 168 hours earning money. We must take time to dress for our jobs, commute to our jobs, think about our jobs at work and at home, “decompress” from our jobs. We must spend our evenings and weekends in mindless “escape entertainment” in order to “recreate” from our jobs…

It goes on to explore the evolution of money’s place in American society while also exploring our personal conflicts between our values and lifestyle, material priorities and other things that cause us to stress about money and let it get in the way of true enjoyment of life.

I find the explanations of practical financial matters such as budgeting and investing to be clear and easy to understand and I really like how the book gets to the heart of addressing the REAL reasons that Americans find it so difficult to live within their means, no matter what income level.

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Personal Finance by Kenneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel: This book starts with the basics of banking, from why a check bounces to how ATMs work, and continues all the way to an explanation of investing and the different vehicles available. The book makes great use of graphics and serves as a personal finance dictionary of sorts. It’s a quick read and I highly recommend it for those looking to truly learn more about all the aspects of money.

It’s Not About the Money by Brent Kessel: If you’re looking more for a way to explore your emotional relationship with money, this book is a great place to start. Mr. Kessel defines and explores eight financial archetypes, noting that most of us resemble two to three different archetypes, offering suggestions for ways to make peace with money based on your financial personality. Read this book if you’re looking for some “Aha!” moments about yourself or those close to you.

Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More & Live Better by Clare Levison: If you’re looking for a no-excuses, practical book that will call you on your stuff, this is the book for you. Clare is a good friend of mine (she’s the other CPA answering questions for Feed the Pig’s Facebook Q&A sessions) and she dishes out financial knowledge in a way that makes sense to “everyday Americans.” And I can attest that the stories she shares in the book are 100% true life.  

Great With Money: 6 Steps to Lifetime Success & Prosperity by Ellen Rogin & Melissa Burke: Ellen Rogin is another friend and I am actually a Certified Prosperity Coach®, trained to walk groups of women through the six steps of the Prosperity Circle defined in this book. If learning about money basics isn’t really your thing, but you’re more interested in digging deeper into your money-mindset and finding some techniques to change what you don’t like, I recommend this quick read. And if you’re interested in forming a Prosperity Circle with your girlfriends and walking through the accompanying workbook together, let me know and I will be happy to facilitate!

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey: I almost didn’t include this book because Mr. Ramsey can be a touch chauvinistic and old-fashioned, but his plain-English explanations of basic money principles are spot-on so I would be remiss to ignore it. Dave Ramsey is the “Debt Snowball” guy who encourages all Americans to live on a cash-only basis. If you struggle with credit card and other consumer debt, this is a good book to check out. If your debt is mostly mortgage and car-related, you might find it too elementary.


About the Author

Kelley Long

Kelley Long is a CPA/PFS and CFP® who believes that the true meaning of financial security means having choices in life. She uses her 15 years of experience in various financial services industry jobs to inform her work as a Resident Financial Planner for Financial Finesse, providing unbiased financial guidance through workplace financial wellness programs. She’s also a volunteer and media ambassador for Feed the Pig and 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy. In Kelley’s perfect world, everyone would feel great talking about their money concerns, fears, questions and problems, because then everyone would see that we ALL have those concerns, fears, questions and problems. Kelley lives in Chicago with her husband and their Himalayan cat Miles, where she also teaches BODYPUMP group fitness classes at the Chicago Athletic Clubs.

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