The Problem with Personal Finance Books

When I was first starting to learn about personal finance, the first book I picked up was George Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon. It was really a great book that taught fundamental truths about handling money well, such as living on less than you make, saving money, and making your money earn money. I just ate up what I read, because it was such good stuff.

The next book I picked up was The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey. It taught a lot of the same principles that The Richest Man in Babylon did, but offered it in a very practical series of “baby steps” for readers to follow to become financially independent. I continued reading, picking up Rich Dad Poor Dad, then the Millionaire Next Door, and then a few others. By the time I was on the Millionaire Next Door, it became quite clear that they were all offering generally the same advice.

There are some different lines of thinking when it comes to personal finance (think Dave Ramsey v. Robert Kiyosaki), however it seems that whenever a new personal finance books comes out, it’s just a rehash of something that we’ve previously read. A great example of this is Loral Langemeier’s The Millionaire Maker. In the book she shows her reads how to have an “extreme money makeover,” clearly borrowing from “The Total Money Makeover.” All the advice in the book has been in numerous other personal finance books before, and it offered very little new unique and insightful advice.

The same is true for a slue of other personal finance books that come out. If you’ve read one of Robert Kiyosaki’s books, you’ve pretty much read them all. All of Dave Ramsey’s financial books pretty much contain the same information and don’t really offer any unique insight compared to any of his other books. When most finance authors write new books, very rarely do they offer a whole lot of new unique insight. The reason for this is simple, it doesn’t take a chapter to explain simple principles such as “You should pay off debt” and “live on less than you make.” The principles are certainly fundamental, but don’t necessarily translate well into 200+ page books. Usually they offer all of the good advice they have to offer in their first book, and after that, they are more than likely just looking for money.

If you’ve read 5 personal finance books by 5 different authors, chances are you’ve read about all of the advice that’s out there for personal finance. These books all have some good advice, but when new finance books come out, there’s rarely ever anything new and unique about it that should make experienced personal finance readers to jump out of their chair and head down to Barnes and Nobel to pick it up.

The moral of this story is that if you’ve already read a few good personal finance books, be sure to read some reviews of the book before going and picking it up. You can’t blame an author for trying to make money, but we need to be a bit more selective in our personal finance reading.