10 Best Personal Finance Books You Should Read in College

by Jalen & Sarah Bromley

In a world where we have instant access to podcasts, videos, and every other type of content imaginable, it’s never been easier to find information about personal finance. Yet it’s unclear that this access is creating a more financially educated population, with over a third of Americans found to not be financially literate in one poll. To really clue yourself up, books may be a better solution.

With hundreds of books about personal finance and money published every year, it can be tough to know which one you should choose. Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed down the best personal finance books for college students to help your search.

Our evaluation criteria

We could just give you a list of books and expect you to trust our picks. But first, let’s quickly explain our thought process behind the selection.


When you’re making the effort to sit down and read a book instead of doing the usual Google search, you’d hope that you’re accessing information you can’t get from a search engine. 

We’ve focused on books written by subject-matter experts who break down complex topics and approach them in new ways.


Books are often seen as more highbrow and intellectual than other forms of media. But realistically, there’s a lot of repetition between personal finance books.

We’ve done our best to pick books that cover different topics or have their own unique perspectives.


Even if a book has accurate research and invaluable information, it won’t be useful to you unless the author makes it enjoyable enough for you to finish reading. Entertainment matters too!

Ease of understanding

If you’re a college student, you probably have enough to study and read without adding dozens of books to your reading list. We know you don’t have endless hours each day to commit to reading, so we’ve focused on books that are quick and easy to get through.

Best personal finance books for college students

Without further ado, let’s dig into our picks.

  1. “The Price You Pay for College” by Ron Lieber

Best for: Understanding college loans

With its somewhat ominous title, “The Price You Pay for College” is dedicated to explaining how student loans work and helping prospective students make the right decisions. Although it’s primarily aimed at students about to head to college for the first time, it’s also useful for explaining fundamental concepts related to student finances, including the history of colleges and where your money is going.

It was first published in 2021, meaning the core information is up to date (though it’s worth reading about the government’s most recent policies after). However, bear in mind the book has almost 400 pages and takes a deeper dive into college than some other options on this list.

  1. “Financial Literacy for Young Adults Simplified” by Raman Keane

Best for: Covering the basics

If you’re looking for a book that goes through pretty much everything you need to know about finances from the very beginning, “Financial Literacy for Young Adults Simplified” is the perfect book. It has just 150 pages but covers a vast array of topics, including student-specific topics like loans and more general issues such as taxes and what to do if you win the lottery.

Published in July 2023, the information is up to date, and it also covers modern topics like cryptocurrencies. 

  1. “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

Best for: Getting into the finer details

Ready to really dive into your financial life and work toward financial independence? “Your Money or Your Life” has been a classic since it was first published in 1992 (although it was updated in 2018). 

Unlike some of the vague guides to personal finance, this book goes into the nitty-gritty details of managing your finances across its 368 pages, such as investing in index funds. It also outlines the principles of living frugally to improve your quality of life, which we can approve of here at Frugal Student!

  1. “Your Money Life: Your 20s” by Peter Dunn

Best for: Financial advice for young people

This book might have a similar title to our third entry on this list, but the “Your Money” series consists of shorter books specific to different life stages (there are also versions tailored for your 30s, 50s, 50s, and 60s).

It has just over 200 pages, and the information is quick and easy to sift through. It covers all the basics, including credit management and paying off student loans.

  1. “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason

Best for: A quick read

This book by George S. Clason is the shortest on the list, with just over 100 pages. Unlike the other books on the list, it contains a parable rather than being a nonfiction book.

But it’s still being talked about almost a century after it was first published for a reason — it’s an enjoyable read that teaches a crucial lesson about personal finance. The lesson in question? How compound interest can make your money work for you. But with the book being possible to read in a single sitting, we recommend reading it for yourself and not just taking our word for it.

  1. “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel

Best for: Psychology 

You may have heard of Morgan Housel’s “The Psychology of Money,” with the book frequently topping Amazon’s bestsellers list. While the book isn’t necessarily a step-by-step guide for financial management, it gives an entertaining and enjoyable broad view of how we think about money.

If you’re looking for a lighter bedtime read or something to motivate you to start some of the heavier titles on the list, this is a great option.

  1. “You Need a Budget” by Jesse Mecham

Best for: Budgeting 

Budgeting might not be the most exciting or glamorous financial topic, but it’s hard to think of something more fundamental. And this book is written by none other than the founder of market-leading budgeting app YNAB (which has the same name as the title), so the author knows what he’s talking about. 

  1. “How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?” by Todd Tresidder

Best for: Retirement planning

Retirement might seem a long way away if you’re still in college, but the earlier you start thinking about it, the better your chance of enjoying your golden years comfortably. And this frankly titled book will teach exactly why, along with various strategies and tips to help.

It’s part of a six-part series on financial education you can check out if you enjoy the book, though we think the topics of the other books are well-covered by other entries in this list.

  1. “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham

“The Intelligent Investor” is known for receiving a recommendation from none other than Warren Buffet, who said it was “By far the best book on investing ever written.” If that’s not going to convince you to read it, we’re not sure what will!

A word of warning: “The Intelligent Investor” is a bit denser than other books in this list, as you’d expect for a book written by an economist in the 1940s. But it’s worth powering through for an in-depth understanding of investment.

  1. “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman

Best for: Entrepreneurship

Not every student wants to be an entrepreneur, but if this is an avenue you’re considering, “The Personal MBA” is the perfect primer. Designed to be an alternative to a traditional MBA that will give you better value for money and more to-the-point information, this book covers the basics.

Whether you’re thinking of starting a simple hustle, you’re considering a business role in the future, or you want to start your own empire, this book is a great option. At almost 500 pages, it’s one of the longer books on the list, but well worth it and fairly accessible throughout.

One step closer to money mastery

When you’re still a student, it’s the perfect time to swot up on financial matters and get yourself ahead for the future. The books outlined here can be your guiding light, whether you’re looking for a detailed guide on a specific topic or a more general overview. 

While books are an invaluable resource, don’t forget about short-form content! At Frugal Student, we share tips especially for college students, so don’t miss out.

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