Resources

I read a lot of books and blogs on personal finance and related topics, and I've gathered my top picks here. These are the resources I'm constantly recommending to my friends. I am not paid by any of these authors or creators, and I do not promote sponsored content; I just really like this stuff, and I found these particular resources personally helpful.

General Personal Finance Overview

Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson

I've read a lot of books of this type: overviews of general personal finance topics, such as budgeting, debt management, and retirement planning. This is my best pick. It is clear, easy to understand, and doesn't have an agenda. All the burning questions are in here, such as the difference between types of IRAs and the optimal order to pay off your debts. See my full review of Personal Finance for Dummies on Goodreads.

Budgeting Book

All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tiyagi

A decade before becoming a United States Senator, Elizabeth Warren was a law professor with a special interest in studying the reasons ordinary people end up in bankruptcy. In this book, Warren and her daughter, business owner Tiyagi, lay out deceptively simple budget guidelines that are concrete enough to follow yet flexible enough to work in almost any circumstance. In fact, I can sum up the core of the plan right here: it's called the Balanced Money Plan, or the 50/30/20 Rule, and it means that you should spend no more than 50% of your income on your must-haves, such as rent and basic groceries; no more than 30% on your wants, such as comic books and bubble gum; and at least 20% on saving for tomorrow, such as paying off debts or investing in a retirement plan. The book provides plenty of detail on the nitty-gritty of what counts in what category and how to realign your budget if it's out of balance. See my full review of All Your Worth on Goodreads.


Investing Overview

The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing

This is a nice overview that gets into more depth on investing topics than does Personal Finance for Dummies. It's written by the Bogleheads, a group of people who are enthusiasts (but not employees!) of the investment philosophy of John Bogle, founder of the discount broker Vanguard. In a nutshell, Bogle believes that the best strategy for the average investor is passively investing in the entire stock market using low-fee index funds. It's a strategy that I support and follow as well, and this book lays out an easy path for getting started.

Early Retirement Blog

Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache has an in-your-face, no-excuses attitude that I sometimes find tiresome, but by golly if he isn't effective at inspiring you to get off your ass and do something productive with your time, money, and energy. Mr. Money Mustache's position is that it isn't all that hard to save, live on half your income, and retire early--that these aren't extreme positions. You don't have to be exceptional. You just have to reject what society is telling you. It's a powerful message.

Frugal Mindset Building Book

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

This is a collection of paper newsletters written and distributed by simple-living mom, writer, and frugalista Amy Dacyczyn in the early 1990s. It's basically a huge collection of frugal tips. Some of the tips are very dated but I kind of like that (I'm a huge fan of the 90s). Taken together, it forms the basic foundation of a joyfully penny-pinching, DIY-oriented, and ultimately deeply creative outlook on life. See my full review on Goodreads.

Gentle Companion on The Long Road of Everyday Frugality Blog

The Simple Dollar

This website has a bunch of personal finance articles written by different authors, but the only one I follow is the original author of the blog, Trent Hamm. He has a gentle, nonjudgmental voice and a down-to-earth attitude about frugality and living well that resonates with me. He's been writing on these topics for years and because most of his advice comes from the same basic set of tenets--spend less than you earn, find frugal methods of entertainment--you won't find a lot of mind-blowingly new material. But sometimes that's what you want: an everyday reminder of basic, solid pillars of the frugal mindset.

Decluttering Book

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This bestselling, almost cultishly beloved guide to decluttering and tidying up your home is totally inspiring and at times batshit insane, but only in the most endearing and entertaining way. The basic idea is that you should consider each item you own, hold it in your hands, and decide if it sparks joy. This is a personal decision you make in consultation with your heard. If it does not spark joy, you get rid of it. The book lays out a process for considering each item in your home, category by category. The other tenet of Kondo's philosophy is that things have feelings, that they are happiest when being used and stored properly (so you should pass on anything you don't honor well enough), and that you should thank them for their service when you pass them on. It's kooky, but it totally works for me. See my full review of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up on Goodreads.

Eco-Living Book

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I reference this one a lot. This is basically the zero waste movement bible. Bea Johnson shows how you can live a basically normal life while generating almost no trash through methods like bulk shopping, making your own cleaning supplies, replacing disposables with reusable items, and foregoing unnecessary products. See my full review on Goodreads.

Pop Culture

These are just for fun: entertainment that, for whatever reason, puts me in a positive, frugal mindset.

Calvin & Hobbes
The classic 1990s comic strip by Bill Waterson about a boy and his anthropomorphic stuffed tiger often touches on philosophical ideas. Waterson clearly had a minimalist, simple-living outlook on life and that influences the comic in a big way.

The Good Life
This British sitcom from the 1970s depicts the humorous misadventures of a couple who want to get "back to basics" and quit their jobs to start a farm on their suburban plot.