The Best Personal Finance Resources: Books, Podcasts, and Apps

Remember that great, easy to understand personal finance class you took in college? The one that taught you everything you need to know about managing and investing your money?

I somehow missed that one too.

And while we all know that being financially savvy is important, trying to learn the basics of personal finance can sometimes feel overwhelming. There are thousands of personal finance books to shift through and new apps, gadget, or services are created daily, aimed at helping those of us who are not so financially literate.

So we’re here to cut through the clutter and share some of our favorite personal finance resources. Enjoy—you just may learn something!

Books

The Millionaire Next Door: When I decided to read this book, I didn’t expect to learn anything new. This book is referenced in so many personal finance conversations that I felt I knew what it was going to say: Millionaires don’t drive brand new luxury cars.

However, the book offers much more than that. The authors spent years researching the average American millionaire, how they accumulate wealth, and how they live. They offer case studies of both people with average incomes who have managed to amass significant wealth and those with high incomes who are struggling to stay financially stable.

Though the book was written in 1996 and the research spans decades before that, the lessons and stories are still incredibly relevant today.

I Will Teach You to Be Rich: I almost didn’t pick up this book because the neon design and title make it look a bit like a scam, but the lessons it provides are simple, solid, and a great practical base for learning how to manage money.

Author Ramit Sethi  takes readers through a 6-step system to automate money, live within your means, and still feel like you’re living a rich life. Love your latte addiction? Hate budgeting? This book shows you how to organize income and expenses so you don’t feel restricted—and feel like you’re truly living a rich life.

The best part about this book is that it’s full of step-by-step instructions. After reading a section, put his tips into action and by the end of the book the way you manage your money will be transformed.  

Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: This book has been a recent (but useful!) addition to my bookshelf, and while it may be less tactical than some personal finance books, it deals with the incredibly important emotional side of money. Specifically, it talks about the emotional side of money for women.

Author Barbara Stanny inherited fortune, and it was mishandled by her now ex-husband—she remained in the dark about her finances. While we may not be able to relate to this specific situation, the lessons about why it’s important to be in control of your money and how to move past the general fear of finances are valuable—especially for anyone struggling to review money matters and plan for a future.

Light on investing advice but strong on tips to help you move past your own emotional blocks, this book is the perfect motivation for anyone who needs a little financial coaching.

Podcasts

So Money, with Farnoosh Torabi: Podcasts are great for learning on-the-go, but what I didn’t consider was that a financial podcast would keep me entertained—and this one does. Farnoosh Torabi is an award-winning author who publishes a podcast five days per week and talks about every personal finance related topic you can think of.

She hosts interesting speakers and big names in the personal finance industry, but makes the conversations approachable, easy to understand, and fun to listen to. I love popping this podcast in for a bit of quick education while walking around town.

Planet Money by NPR: This podcast is my absolute favorite resource for information about the economy. Produced twice per week, this podcast covers everything from assessing a presidential candidate’s economic plans to interviewing a professional poker player.

The show always delivers an interesting topic in a fun, easy to understand way and I love that I always feel up-to-date on what’s going on in the world after listening. If you’re looking for a well-rounded show on money, this is the podcast for you. 

Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips: Living up to its name, this podcast offers quick (usually less than 20 minutes) sessions full of practical tips. Though the show doesn’t go in-depth on specific personal finance topics, the tips are easy to understand and implement—and many are good general reminders.

If you don’t think you can listen to an hour-long podcast about money, but still want important financial tips, this is the podcast for you. 

Apps

Level Money: Level Money has coined itself a “financial GPS,” getting you from where you are with your money to where you want to be. When you connect the app to your bank accounts, it calculates income and recurring expenses, and then makes suggestions for what your spending (and savings) budget should be.

Rather than glancing at your bank balance to see what you have remaining—and trying to remember expenses you still need to pay—Level Money gauges expenses you have coming up and adjusts the money available for you to spend. You know exactly what you can comfortably spend, which makes accidental overspending much more difficult.

Digit: This app is like an adult version of a piggy bank. Connect your bank account with the app, and every two to three days Digit will transfer money from your checking to savings automatically. They transfer $5-$50 at a time, and guarantee that it’s never more than you can afford to put into savings.

If you need to pull money out of the Digit savings account, send a quick text and the money will be back in your account the next day (though hopefully the money will stay in savings!). It’s a pretty painless way to save, and at the end of the month I was pleased with the extra cash that was set aside (without me even noticing).

Acorn: If you want an easy way to invest, Acorn could be the solution for you. When you make a purchase, Acorn will round up the purchase and invest the spare change into a portfolio of your choice.

So, if you went out to lunch and spent $9.15, Acorn would round up your purchase to $10 and invest the $0.85 for you. While there are monthly or annual fees (which are waived for students), they don’t charge a fee when you withdraw. It’s a fuss-free service and if you want an easy and painless gateway to investing, Acorn is a good option. 

Share with us the financial resources you use in the comments!

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