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Kate & Owen’s top 10 personal finance books in 2021

This article provides 10 different book recommendations to level up your personal finances and general wellbeing in 2021 and beyond.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love getting new book recommendations (even though I certainly don’t have time to read them all). Despite the proliferation of videos, podcasts and articles, sometimes it’s good to go back to a solid read to help you really understand a subject.

So without further ado, here are Owen and my favourite books at the moment, that are all aimed at helping you level up your money and life during 2021.


Future Fit – Andrea Clarke

Andrea’s book was exactly what I needed this year to give me some hope and perspective about the future of work. The future can be scary, but we are in the position right now to build a truly remarkable career that we’re proud of, if only we take the time to build it with intention. 

At various points, perhaps even at numerous points, in your working life you will have to reinvent yourself or at the very least change the basis upon which you earn a living. It is unrealistic to rail against the forces of change. You need to get comfortable with change. You need to see how others have managed this process and to extract learnings and lessons.

How To Decide – Annie Duke

Annie’s book provides a fantastic ground in improving your decision making skills, which are critical when managing your own finances. 

One of my favourite ideas from her book was on the issue of resulting. Resulting happens when we evaluate the quality of our decisions based on the outcome. This is a widespread occurrence, however, the issue is we often learn the wrong lessons by using this method to evaluate our decisions. 

Some financial decisions we make will be among the most important decisions we make in our lifetime, so it’s critical to focus on ways to make those decisions as effectively as possible. 

Even if you outsource your finances to financial advisers, accountants and lawyers, you’re still going to have to pick your professionals, answer questions regarding strategy and ultimately authorise the execution of anything proposed. 

So whichever way you look at it, you don’t get to escape making decisions regarding your finances.

Banking Bad – Adele Ferguson

I listened to the audiobook version during lockdown last year, which covered the Banking Royal Commission. Adele also provided a solid background into our Australian banking system and the role that the regulators have played to date. 

Maybe not the sexiest pick of all time, but it provides solid context for some of the major issues in our financial ecosystem.

How I Invest My Money – Joshua Brown & Brian Portnoy

Money is personal, and it’s helpful to understand the reasons why people make the financial decisions they do. No one is going to manage their finances the exact same way…the complexity of life and our emotions make sure of that. 

That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. It gives you a look behind the curtains at how 25 different financial experts manage their own money and deal with a myriad of different financial situations.

Shareplicity – Danielle Ecuyer

Shareplicity is one of the few books that are just about learning the basics of share investing (no ETFs, paying off debt, saving tips, etc.) in Australia. The book goes into a lot of depth on macro and micro-economic trends that can affect the future of the share market, and some key red flags to look out for as a new investor.

Danielle also has a new book about investing in US shares coming out very soon.

A popular expression in the industry is ‘share prices take the stairs up and the elevator down’. This means that share prices go up gradually, but they can crash quickly when going down in value.

Share markets are not perfect. Like the companies and people that run them, nothing is certain, so we use fundamental analysis and financial ratios to improve our decision-making.

Red flags for share investors are as important as the great money-making ideas. Profit downgrades, falling earnings and rising debt can all erode the share price. It’s always about the cash flow, and when not enough is being generated to cover all the costs then you, the shareholder, will suffer.

The Psychology of Money – Morgan Housel

Quite possibly, one of Owen and my favourite book and author of all time, and we were ecstatic to have the opportunity to speak to him earlier this year on The Australian Finance Podcast.

The Psychology of Money provides a perfect complement to something like The Barefoot Investor, because it talks about the stories and ideas behind money and investing, giving you new ways to think about your relationship and history with money.

Psychology for Busy People – Joel Levy

Psychology For Busy People summarises all the key principles around psychology in terms of how our brain makes decisions, how we’re wired, and why we’re pretty much just monkeys at the end of the day. The book even talks about some of the big psychological institutions, how they were formed and their track record in history. 

One of the things that I’ll call out is the importance of focus and controlling your environment. You should be controlling your iPhone and using it as a tool, not letting it control you and dictate your day. 

Factfulness – Hans Rosling

Do you view the world with optimism? Factfulness is a wonderful book, and if there’s one book you read in your life, Owen feels like it should be this one. The reason for that is that it sets you up to live your life with optimism. No matter what happens, you will view the world in a better frame of mind if you read this book. 

This is one of those books that is so profound that you come across it again and again. It’s easy to read and it tests your assumptions about the world as you go.

Budgets Don’t Work – Mel Browne

Another recent guest of the podcast, Mel provides a book that stands apart from its peers. This book is less about the numbers and more about working out who you are and how that’s impacting your current relationship with money.

I’d highly recommend taking the Money Type quiz she includes in her book to better understand your own strengths, weaknesses and money stress points.

The Barefoot Investor – Scott Pape

What a book to end with! One can’t go past the book that changed everything for so many Aussie families. It’s a perfect starting point on your personal finance journey, and is a great conversation starter with your friends and family. 

Bonus: Rask’s Money & Budgeting Guide

And of course, if you want something that’s a) not a book and b) free, take our Money & Budgeting course. It covers everything in the way we budget and manage money, and our students really enjoy it. 

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