Finance is an area of extreme importance in the personal and professional lives of military members, or at least it should be. In order to give readers a quick head start, I’d like to provide them with a list of recommended resources that offer sound advice and can be read quickly. Let’s face it, we’re all busy.
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties – If you want one book to guide you in nearly all aspects of your financial life, this is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and useful financial book I’ve ever read. It offers sound advice in a concise format and covers investing, banking, insurance, real estate, taxes, and nearly every other topic you can think of. This is the best money you could spend if you are in your twenties or thirties, and probably even if you are older than that and just getting started.
Jonathan Clements Money Guide 2016 – This is another comprehensive resource I recommend. After a 2015 and 2016 edition, he transitioned the content to a free money guide on a blog called Humble Dollar, but if you want a physical book the 2016 edition is still highly relevant and recommended.
How to Think About Money – Clements’ other book is short in length (158 pages) but extremely useful when it comes to shaping your approach to personal finance. He teaches you how to think about money and use it to maximally impact your life and happiness.
The Bogleheads’ Guide to the Three-Fund Portfolio – I’d encourage anyone who is using a financial planner to read this book. Investing does not need to be complicated, and you probably don’t need to be paying an advisor when you can easily do this yourself.
The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor – For investment advice, I turn to two authors, Burton Malkiel and John Bogle. Malkiel is the Chemical Bank Chairman’s Professor of Economics at Princeton University and is most famous for his bestselling book, A Random Walk down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing, which is 500 pages long. His lesser known book, The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor is much more manageable at less than 200 pages, was published in 2013, and provides all of the advice without the in-depth theory. It’s like skipping to dessert without having to eat your vegetables. In addition, you can check out The Random Walk Guide To Investing, which is only 224 pages but a bit dated since the last edition is from 2007. The principles, though, remain unchanged so it is still a worthwhile read.
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns – Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, is also famous for a book that I highly recommend, Common Sense on Mutual Funds. This book, however, is heavy on theory. If you don’t want a degree in finance, you can get the Reader’s Digest version by reading his other book, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns. This book is also a much easier read at 216 pages long, and will teach you how to get rich slowly, the only surefire way to get rich.