Top Seven Books Money Books for Recent Graduates Plus a Giveaway!

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I’m excited to be providing you with a book list you can use for the recent graduate in your life, and a giveaway of some of these amazing books!

Know someone graduating from high school, college, or a masters/PhD? Each life stage requires a different level of financial knowledge. The person graduating high school may not have received any financial education at school or from their parents. The new college graduate may be facing a future filled with student loan repayments. And the person finishing a masters or PhD might need something at a more advanced reading level that covers the basics all professionals should know. At the end of the article, I’ll also share some ideas on getting your gift to be actually read (instead of thrown in a drawer or something). AND I’ve got a great book giveaway you can use for the grad in your life, or yourself! So without further ado, lets get into it.


So without further ado, here’s a few top five lists for the recent graduates in your life:

Financial Book Gifts for a Graduate

Let’s take a minute to first put ourselves in the mindset of someone graduating high school or college. They likely haven’t received any financial education at school – since only 17 states require any personal finance education. Their parents may or may not have covered financial basics with them. They need to know what those of us in the personal finance community would consider very basic information – how to save, how to invest, what the different types of financial accounts are, and so on. This is all information you won’t just pick up on your own. Instead, you need to seek it out.

But they also need lessons in the overarching concepts of personal finance. Compound interest is the most powerful when you’re young – starting to save and invest in high school or college will pay off enormously over time. And graduates may already be working, or start working shortly, and need to decide if they’re going to spend all they earn or set some aside. When you’re just graduating, retirement feels many lifetimes away. Even goals like buying a home or sending your kids off to college are not top of mind. The problem is that if they wait until those subjects are of more immediate interest to start saving and investing, they’ll find they don’t have the time left to make a big impact. Compound interest can no longer work for them – it’s too late. Instead they’ll need to rely primarily on raw savings, which is difficult. Particularly when you’re already used to spending everything you make.

Here are my personal top seven recommendations on personal finance books for the  graduate in your life:

  1. The Millionaire Next Door – The book by Dr. Thomas Stanley that changed many of our lives, including mine. Now, this is not a book to teach you how to invest, or how 401k’s work. But it’s a fabulous introduction to the basics of personal finance and the power of living below your means. Many times, someone just finishing high school would only have seen the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” on TV, online, or in magazines. You know what I’m talking about – flashy cars, expensive clothes, huge mansions, and so on. This book will show graduates that wealth does not equal stuff-in fact, many of the wealthy live well below their means, save, and invest.
  2. The Richest Man in Babylon – An older classic by George S. Clason, this book is timeless. It has brief chapters about various fundamental personal finance concepts – like saving a portion of everything you make, and not investing speculatively.  The chapters are very short, and the book is told in a parable format that appeals to people that aren’t interested in personal finance. I had my oldest son read this book before at the age of 12 (he’s 13 now), and I just interviewed him on what he thought about it.
    • Me: Hey, Nick, do you remember the book “The Richest Man in Babylon”?
    • Nick: Yes, actually I think it’s still in your car.
    • Me: Yes it’s still in the trunk. What did you think of it?
    • Nick: I liked it!
  3. The Wealthy Barber – Another story format book, but set in more recent times than The Richest Man in Babylon, this book is another of the four that changed my financial life. I actually read it as a teenager, and the concepts it taught left a big impression on me. Now, when I recently re-read and reviewed this book, I found a lot of the specifics to be outdated – and they are. However, it’s still a fabulous introduction to basic personal finance concepts told in a story format. I just wish that the author David Chilton would update it again.
  4. I Will Teach You To Be Rich – This is a relatively recent book by Ramit Sethi, and its inspired many people to save and invest their money. One warning would be that this book is targeted primarily to boys/men, not to women – in fact a review quote on Amazon specifically says “His style is part frat boy and part Silicone Valley geek, with a little bit of San Francisco hipster thrown in. — San Francisco Chronicle”.  But many find his writing style to be engaging and fun, and he covers all the basics that you need to know about personal finance.
  5. The Automatic Millionaire – This is a fabulous basics book by David Bach. It is easy to understand, sprinkled with stories, and covers all the financial account basics. It was recently updated with current accounts, tax law, etc. and so is not dated like some of the books on this list. This would be a more “how to” book for a graduate, as opposed to one about the overarching concept of personal finance like many others on this list. But if someone in high school reads this book, they’ll be many years ahead of their peers in terms of financial knowledge.
  6. Get A Financial Life – Personal Finance In Your 20’s and 30’s – This is a NY Times Bestseller that was also recently updated. It would probably be a more appropriate gift for someone graduating college, completing a masters degree, or getting a PhD – it is not for the faint of heart. Reading this is more like studying a personal finance textbook than it is relaxing on the beach with a fun book. However, you can’t get better than this for covering everything about money you might need to know. This would be a great beginner resource, and a book someone could come back to time and time again for more information as they get older and their needs change.
  7. How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio – I absolutely loved the previous book in this series – How to Ruin Your Financial Life – it was hilarious. The only reason I don’t have the original on here is because it’s out of print (but you can still get it – check out the giveaway below!) This is a humorous adventure in personal finance, giving you all the instructions on how to create a disaster in your financial life. Spend beyond your means? Sure! Take out giant loans you can’t afford? You deserve it! Keeping up with the Joneses? Of course – everyone should do that! This would be a great gift to someone who loves funny books.


How To Get Them To Actually Read the Book

Bribery, and knowing the recipient.

Yes, I’m serious. Most people just graduating high school or college have little interest in personal finance and investing. It’s “boring”, seems not applicable to their life, and feels like something that can wait until they feel more like a real adult. If you’re thinking of giving one of these gifts, though, you know better. You know that the more they know now, the better off they’ll be in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. Personal finance isn’t all about saving for retirement one day-it’s about structuring your life in a way you can achieve everything you’ve dreamed of. The problem is that usually recent graduates have no idea what their adult dreams will be. Their future self will be kicking that recent graduate and how they blew all their extra money on video games, clothes, comics, or whatever else.

So the way to ensure the recent graduate actually reads the book you give them is to bribe them in some way. First, I’d recommend gifting the book with a letter – describe to them why you want them to learn about personal finance at this stage in their lives. Put yourself in the mindset of a recent graduate – why do they need to know this now? How can this information help them in both the short and long term? Put that in the letter.

In the last paragraph, give them an offer. Perhaps you’ll buy them one of their textbooks for college (pricey!). Or take them out to a fabulous meal where they’ll tell you all about the book. It could be money in exchange for a description of what they’ve learned, or tickets somewhere they would like to go. I offered my son $5 to read The Richest Man in Babylon, and it worked – although the low amount only worked because he was 12. You likely know the graduate in your life best, and can figure out something that would entice them to read the book.

The other way to be sure they’ve read the book is to tailor your selection directly to them. Which option would be best? Do they even like to read? Do they like to read non-fiction, and to learn from books, or would they do better with a story format? A good book that actually gets read hands-down beats a dense book with tons of great information that sits in a drawer.

So pick a book that best fits the personality of the graduate, bribe them appropriately, and be a part of helping to change their life.

The Giveaway!

I’m running an awesome giveaway of two personal finance books for grads (or you, or a friend) – The Wealthy Barber and the original How to Ruin Your Financial Life.

How do you win? It’s simple:

  • Leave a comment on this post with your favorite book recommendation for new grads
  • Tweet about the giveaway to your friends and followers
  • Visit my Facebook page
  • Do all three for even MORE chances to win!

Just click here to enter to win!  Sweepstakes ends next Saturday June 10th 2017, so hurry on over to enter.

What books about money would you recommend to recent graduates?

I want to hear from you – what are your top picks for a recent graduate? What book do you think you would have actually read as a teen or young adult? Let me know in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Top Seven Books Money Books for Recent Graduates Plus a Giveaway!”

  1. Your Money or Your Life and I Will Teach You To Be Rich are the two classics I can think of. On a different note, I’m reading Robert Cialdini’s Influence right now, and while it’s not exactly a personal finance title, the PF applications of what I’m learning from it are incredible. I feel like it’s giving me advertising-resistance goggles. I would definitely tuck that one in the hand of a new college grad.

  2. You need to read The Wealthy Barber Returns, the latest book by David Chilton.

    I would also recommend The Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam.

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