The best personal finance books of 2020, according to experts

Myelle Lansat

By

Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

Editor

Myelle Lansat is a personal finance editor at Policygenius. She writes and edits the Easy Money Newsletter.

Published January 21, 2021|4 min read

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2020 was one for the financial history books. The nation experienced pandemic shutdowns, a bear market, historic unemployment, stimulus checks, and a cryptocurrency boom. Some experts turned to books for insight on how to deal with last year’s financial rollercoaster.

We asked some of our favorite experts what books they read in 2020 that made them smarter with money.

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‘The Little Book of Common Sense Investing’ by John Bogle

$22.95 on bookshop.org

2020 was a year in which most of the world saw tremendous suffering. However, one group seemingly prospered and soared to new highs: the top 1%. Billionaires and multi-millionaires saw their wealth increase at record levels, and it simply boiled down to one thing: The majority of their wealth was in the stock market. For that reason, it has become more obvious than ever that to build wealth and not be left behind, we all need to be investing more than ever before. “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” is the holy grail of common sense investing. I would recommend this book to anyone ready to start investing for retirement.

Camilo Maldonado, cofounder & CEO of Finance Twins

‘Narrative Economics’ by Robert Schiller

$18.35 on bookshop.org

I actually got a book called “Narrative Economics” this year by Robert J. Schiller that I’d highly recommend. The book is really interesting, taught me a lot and reinforced some theories I already had on the market and what influences it.

Matt Bachus, stand-up comedian & podcast host

‘Psychology of Money’ by Morgan Housel

$17.47 on bookshop.org

Masterful story-teller that brings finance alive with 19 chapters, each of which is a story that teaches a lesson about money.

Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance

‘Burnout’ by Emily & Amelia Nagoski, ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell & ‘The Psychology of Money’ by Morgan Housel

‘Burnout’ $15.64 on bookshop.org ‘Talking to Stranger’ $27.60 on bookshop.org

When the pandemic hit, I spent a lot more time on mental health and psychology because the way we were thinking about our finances mattered more than the technical implementation. So, most of my books were more on the psychology side.

I read “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know” by Malcolm Gladwell at the end of 2019 and I feel like that was interesting timing as conversations in 2020 were more polarized than ever. In general, whether it is in the office or in your neighborhood, approaching conversations with open minds will lead to deeper interactions.

I have been enjoying “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Nagoski and Nagoski. This year has been a textbook example of stress causing physical symptoms. I know that worry has impacted my health, my sleep cycle and my relationship with my friends and family. Getting better at managing stress is consistently on my self-improvement list. I look forward to implementing suggestions from the book to see if they will significantly impact my life.

Finally, “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel is next on my reading list. Dealing with money, the behavioral finance aspect of finance, is steeped in our brains and emotions. There will always be new techniques, but I think if I can learn and understand more about behavior it will be time well spent.

Jen Grant, certified financial planner and financial advisor at Perryman Financial Advisory in Dallas, Texas

‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss

$29.90 on bookshop.org

This isn't a personal finance book per se, but “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss is one of my most valuable reads of 2020. Negotiation skills can be applied throughout our lives, including in our finances. It could be negotiating a lower interest rate, lower rent or lower cost. It could also mean negotiating a higher salary, consulting fee or asking price — all of which impact finances.

Rich Jones, founder & CEO of Paychecks & Balances

The Great Courses

Cost varies

My guilty pleasure is listening to The Great Courses, a series of audio or video college-level courses. That’s how I gain knowledge. Being in medicine I was stuck taking college courses like organic chemistry, biology or physics. But when you’re out of school, sometimes you’re not sure you’re smarter than a fifth grader on basic stuff. I listen to different topics and really like the economics courses. After experiencing some of the biggest financial crises in history, I might as well learn about money from history — and they don’t teach that stuff in pre-med. There’s a lot you can passively learn over the years listening to it and dive into the next one

Dr. Sudip Bose, emergency room physician, professor and founder of nonprofit The Battle Continues

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko


Myelle Lansat is a personal finance editor at Policygenius. She writes and edits the Easy Money Newsletter.