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8 Best Books on Personal Finance & Frugal Living

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You’ve read all our posts on Frugal for Less about personal finances and frugal living, but maybe you’re heading somewhere where an electronic device is inconvenient – the beach, the swimming pool, stuck on a plane, what now?

No worries, I have checked out some top books on personal finance and frugal living for you to bring instead. Some are from the best-sellers list on Amazon and the rest are my personal picks.

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Written by Stephen R. Covey and it’s been 25 years in production.

I picked this book to be first because of the simple fact that if you’re not being productive, you really can’t make or save money – period.

Stephen centers his book on the average person’s personal and professional habits and because it is these habits that makes up our character. Sometimes we wonder why we “can’t get ahead at work”, “can’t do well financially” and a whole bunch of different personal “defeats” we ask ourselves.

So, to improve ourselves and our situations, we need to gain better habits. Habits such as:

  • Taking control of our life
  • Making smarter & better decisions
  • Managing and improving all your relationships
  • Breaking old bad habits
  • Boost your productivity
  • Finding a healthy work/life balance
  • Learn how to be your “happiest” self

I believe once you’ve learned these new habits, you’ll find ways to make and save money much easier, do it more productively, expand your network, and enjoy it all.

Here’s an added bonus – A Personal Workbook to work with!

buy on amazon


2. The Total Money Makeover


Written by Dave Ramsey, who many people are familiar with. This book really helped my husband and I years ago when we were really struggling financially.

This book tells you step by step how to set up a proper budget, how to save money, how to pay off your debts, prepare for college funds and retirement funds, and a variety of real-life advice.

Dave covers:

  • Debunking debt myths
  • Secrets of the Rich
  • Ignorance and “Keeping up with the Joneses”
  • Saving for an emergency fund
  • Start a debt snowball
  • Investing for retirement
  • Starting a College fund
  • Pay off the home mortgage
  • Building Wealth

Not only will you learn how to get out of debt, but learn how to build various savings for the future and then living debt free and well-off for the rest of your life.

Here’s a personal tip – Instead of using the money envelopes for each budget category that he teaches, I set up these categories on Quickens (or any budgeting software). Then I just deduct the set amount from the money total and designated it to the category file. This way it’s technically not gone from the bank account but “earmarked” for that category.

Maybe this is a better explanation:

CategoryCredit/DebitBank Total
Credit Card Payment-$150$1,250
Clothing Envelope-$25$1,225
Grocery Envelope-$150$1,075
Spent from Grocery Envelope+$145$1,220

But in reality, the bank account is showing $1,250 (the $25 for clothes plus $5 grocery difference). So, when my husband goes shopping, he knows he has a limit of $150 to spend on groceries, he spent $145 so I then add it back to my online budget’s total to reflect reality. Now the grocery envelop still has $5 for next time.

Anyways, back to the book – here’s a workbook to work out your finances while reading the Money Makeover book.

buy on amazon


3. Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less


Written by Leah Ingram and she covers many topics we discuss a lot in Frugal for Less.

This book shows you how:

  • To change your shopping habits
  • Make healthier, affordable meals for your family
  • Take vacations without breaking your budget
  • To decorate your home stylishly with a low budget
  • Save up to $25,000 in a year
  • And many more great tips

Many reviewers of this book commented on how realistic the tips are and doesn’t offer any extreme or dramatic ways to accomplish goals. Other reviewers commented they have been doing some of these tips all along but “not to the level I could have been, to save even more money”.

I suggest this book as a companion to our Frugal for Less posts to maximize your ability to save money and lead a happier lifestyle.

buy on amazon


4. The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle


Written by Amy Dacyczyn and this book is a compilation of all her newsletters from 1990 – 1996 and 3 previous books along with new unpublished articles.

She covers:

  • Travel for tightwads
  • Cutting costs for college
  • Moving for less
  • Cutting bills
  • Reusing things instead of tossing them
  • Much more

Again, this is similar to what we cover on this website. Many readers have commented that Amy shows you all the little ways you can save that will add up big in the long run. She is meticulous with her examples and actually shows you by working out the math with different types of products. (Sounds familiar?)

Other reviewers have called her old fashioned and outdated – but what’s old-fashioned about saving money in little ways? So, if you’re already doing a lot of frugal things but feel they’re not enough to accomplish your savings goals, you may discover more ways from this book.

buy on amazon


5. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance


Written by Angela Duckworth, who while working as a teacher, business consultant, and in neuroscience that led to her hypothesis about what really drives success: not genius, but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.

In short, she explains it’s not smarts that get you ahead, but determination and staying the course. She covers:

  • What is “grit” and why it matters
  • Growing grit from the inside out – interest, practice, purpose, hope
  • Growing grit from the outside in – parenting, the playing field, and culture
  • And more

Now why did I pick this book and what has it got to do with personal finance and frugal living? Because too often people get discouraged from their huge debt and lack of savings that they give up and just go to living paycheck-to-paycheck (myself included).

Now it’d be great to learn about growing some grit and attacking our personal finances and persevere on paying everything off and living a happy debt-free life.

Bonus – Give your children a head start in life: Grit for Kids.

buy on amazon


6. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results


Written by Gary Keller and he teaches you how to cut down on distractions and gain more focus.

He teaches how to:

  • Lessen the “clutter” in your life
  • Get better results in less time
  • Build momentum towards your goal
  • Lessen your stress levels
  • Stay on track
  • Stop feeling overwhelmed
  • And many more

Now, who wouldn’t want to calm our chaotic lives? This applies to the financial aspect of our life too, use these same principles to get out of debt, build some great savings and live life the way we always wanted to.

Readers have commented that they were surprised by how easy the author explained each step and it actually works. One person commented it had “clear and understandable principles concerning what you want out of life”.

buy on amazon


7. You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want


Written by Jesse Mecham and he shows you how to budget “the right way”.

If you’re a frequent reader of Frugal for Less, you know we mention having a budget as the start to getting out of debt. Maybe you can’t seem to find a budget program that’s working for you – give this one a shot.

Jesse shows you:

  • Give every dollar a job
  • Break down expenses into smaller manageable amounts
  • Accept life’s sudden changes – surprise expenses, etc.
  • How to really stop living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • Stop stressing over last month’s statement and look ahead
  • And more

Many readers have commented on how easily applicable this system is and can use it on a spreadsheet program or on paper.

This book is different from other general budgeting “how to” books is that it does not tell you how to spend your money. It encourages you to determine your own priorities, or what is most important to you, and it empowers you to align how you spend your money with those priorities. So, you get to decide what’s important to focus on first.

buy on amazon


8. The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time


Written by Anna Newell Jones and she writes about how to initiate a spending freeze.

You may recall my previous article on accomplishing a spending freeze, this book expands on that.

Anna writes about:

  • Creating a life pledge to be debt-free
  • Understanding where your money goes when paying debt
  • Why saving money while paying debt may not be a good idea
  • Creating side gigs and finding extra income
  • Change spending habits to stay out of debt
  • And other great advice

Anna writes about her personal experience of being in $24,000 in debt and was able to eliminate $23,605 of it in 15 months!

I suggested this book because sometimes desperate times call for desperate actions and she lays out a doable plan and also shows you how not to fall back into the debt trap again.

buy on amazon


Audiobook Alternatives

If you rather not tote around books, most of these books are available in audiobooks by Audible on Amazon:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  2. The Total Money Makeover
  3. Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less
  4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
  5. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
  6. You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want
  7. The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time

I think that’s enough reading (or listening) material to last a while.

Have you read any of these books? Feel free to tell us your opinions on them because we appreciate our reader’s input to improve this site for you.

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