Today we continue reviewing information from my first 100 millionaire interviews.
We’re going to add to these by discussing books that have had the most impact on millionaires.
To reiterate from past posts, this is NOT a scientific survey of what millionaires read and I’m not pretending it is. It’s a summary from millionaires I’ve interviewed.
Millionaires Read a Lot
It’s no surprise that millionaires read a lot. If our own interviews were not enough to confirm this, a quick trip around the web confirms it.
Here’s a smattering of what I’ve found on the topic…
From the Huffington Post:
Want to know one habit ultra-successful people have in common? They read. A lot.
“Reading dramatically correlates with higher education and income, as well as overall happiness,” writes Bell. “Those who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent more likely to be millionaires as opposed to those who never read or only read one to three [books].”
From Dave Ramsey:
President Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” One of the reasons millionaires become millionaires is because of their constant desire to learn. To them, leadership books and biographies are much more important than the latest reality show or who got kicked off the island. When they have free time, they use it wisely—by reading.
From Success magazine:
Among wealthy people, 88 percent read 30 minutes or more every day.
From the book Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals which lists reading as a vital part of habit #3: “I will engage in self-improvement every day”:
Successful people read for self-improvement. They are perpetual students. Each day they devote blocks of time to better themselves by studying subject matter that will improve them in some way and better enable them to perform their jobs.
From The Next Millionaire Next Door which hints at reading being vital to investing success saying:
Millionaire investors spend time building knowledge and expertise in managing investments. They spend on average 10.5 hours per month studying and planning for future investments.
I could go on but I think you get the point. One common trait wealthy people have is that they read.
Since reading seems to be a (vital?) part of their success, wouldn’t it be great to know the money books they like best?
I certainly think so.
Missing a Key Question
There’s only one problem: I didn’t ask my first 100 millionaires what books they love (something I’m rectifying in future interviews). I know. Ugh.
That said, starting with interview #38 I inserted the following question that did generate some book mentions:
How did you learn about finances and at what age did it ‘click’? Was it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?
In addition, many millionaires volunteered books they liked as they told their stories.
But this was still not enough information. So what did I do? I sent the millionaires the following email:
Hey! I hope this message finds you well!
I’m sending you this email because you were one of the first 100 millionaire interviews I did on ESI Money.
While doing a summary of the first 100, I wanted to do a post on the books that influenced your finances the most.
But duh, I forgot to ask that question!!!
Now some of you did tell be your favorites, but not enough to really make a post out of.
So I would greatly appreciate it if you would take 10 minutes and simply tell me:
- What are the top three money books that made the most difference in your life?
- Why/how did they make a difference?
Of course, perhaps there were none. If that’s so, please let me know that as well.
Thanks for your help!
And I received a lot of great responses!
So between the emails and the original interviews, I now have a wealth of information (pun intended) on what millionaires read.
Books Read by Millionaires
Before we get into the books themselves, let me state that there were many comments like “I read Dave Ramsey books” or “I like books from the Rich Dad series.”
Unless a book was mentioned by name, I did not count these in the results below. They were just too vague. I only included responses where a specific book was named.
I also want to note that while I might simply say “books” below, we are talking about money books specifically. I’m not really interested if they read Jane Eyre or Batman novels.
Here are the findings…
1. Millionaires have wide-ranging tastes in what they read.
Overall, there were 56 different books mentioned by the group.
The grand total mentions was 114 (not all responded, but those who did often mentioned several books, many of which over-lapped.)
It’s no surprise that they read broadly and have various interests. Their stories illustrate different paths to a million dollars. The same diversity is realized in their favorite money books.
2. Millionaires love certain books disproportionately.
While there’s a wide range of books listed, seven of the books received over half the mentions.
Here are the top seven books listed in order, along with my thoughts and quotes from millionaires:
Is this a surprise to anyone?
Millionaires like it as much as I do.
While their votes demonstrate this, their comments add even more love.
Here’s one that summarizes many others I received:
Like many others, the Millionaire Next Door would be by far number 1 and have re-read it multiple times throughout the years. It reinforced that there were multiple ways to accumulate wealth, to always live below your means, that you didn’t necessarily have make a high income to be a millionaire and that many millionaires were “hidden” living middle class lifestyles. I think your blog is the current version on the Millionaire Next Door and one of the reasons I was open to sharing my family’s story.
How kind. It’s hard to imagine being put in the same group with such a book.
Here’s another one:
I didn’t read The Millionaire Next Door until I was solidly on the path to financial independence. However, before I read this, I considered us to be the cheap people in our neighborhood. This book helped me to understand that the folks who are buying all the fancy stuff are usually the folks that really don’t have any money. The wealthy are generally the folks living frugally and not worrying about trying to keep up with the Joneses and just show off their material crap. It actually gave me comfort to understand that we’re on the right path and doing things the right way.
And a similar comment:
The Millionaire Next Door is a very fundamentally important book. It displaces so many untrue but commonly held beliefs that surround how wealth is created. I think it’s message is incredibly empowering. It shows you that mostly everyone can achieve significant wealth if you are willing to make basis, smart decisions. I have actually read this cover to cover twice about 15 years apart.
Finally, here’s a thought about the book being the granddaddy of the financial independence movement:
The Millionaire Next Door This is a classic. I read it when I was in high school and it really opened my eyes. It is not about how much you spent but how much you saved. This book set me on the “FI” path before I knew what FI was.
This was my personal experience as well. I read it when the book first came out and tell people, “I did what it advises and I became wealthy as a result.” Pretty simple really.
Another of my top five books and contender for starter of the FIRE movement.
Here’s a representative comment:
Your Money or Your Life takes frugality to the next level. I learned from this book that a penny saved is worth a lot more than a penny earned. You pay taxes on the penny earned. You need transportation in order to earn the penny. Earning the penny can be stressful, etc.
This one offers a bit more detail:
The fundamental message in this book is so profound. Some of the sections come across a bit “hippy” but the message is so deep. Whether you realize it or not, you are trading your life energy every day. You need to do so mindfully or you will get to the end of this wonderful life disappointed.
I loved the mindset change this book gave me. The idea that my time was too precious to waste on anything but things that made me feel happy and uplifted, was liberating. It helped me focus more on what I was running to vs. what I was running from.
It gave me a great perspective on how to measure success in my life, and not just net worth.
You get the point. The book does an awesome job of relating time and money and showing that you spend your life (time) on so many worthless things. It’s a great perspective-builder!
This one was a surprise for me.
I’ve read it (of course) but it didn’t really do much for me (and thus didn’t make my top five list).
In addition, there’s been a lot of less-than-positive chatter from money bloggers about the book — is it a real story or made up, is the author legitimate or just a great salesman, etc.
One millionaire addressed these issues head on:
You can put down Robert Kiyosaki and say that he’s a fraud or that he makes more money from his seminars than his real estate. However, this was the book that was the light bulb for me. This was the book that made me realize that it’s possible for the everyday person to attain wealth. Although this was more of a motivational book than a step-by-step guide, it became the inspiration for me to get off my butt and try different things to get out of the rat race like real estate and starting my own businesses.
There’s no doubt this book has more of a focus on the accumulation of assets than many other money books. One millionaire noted this:
This book really taught me the importance of accumulating income producing assets. I never did get into real estate but I did get into the stock market. In my mind a stock paying a dividend is a lot less work than an apartment paying dividend. I read this in high school as well. Because of this book in addition to others I opened a Roth IRA at the ripe old age of 16.
Here’s one with a different takeaway:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad was one of the 1st books that I read when I started to get really serious about personal finance. I think that fundamental message that I took away from this work is how important it is to work smarter than harder. Working hard is important and fundamental but if you do not work wisely you are making it very challenging to succeed. You need to make sacrifices so that your money can work hard for you. It the 1st personal finance book that I had my oldest son read while in college.
Again, a surprise for me but there’s no doubt this book has had a major impact on millionaires.
#4 (tie): The Automatic Millionaire
This book didn’t make my top five list but made the honorable mentions.
My main issue with this one is that it can be summarized in one sentence — so why do we need a whole book?
But millionaires disagreed and found tons of value — many loving it’s simple yet powerful message.
Here’s a comment that encapsulates the general sentiment:
I loved David Bach’s simplicity on how to build wealth. The good news is that I was automating our savings at this time. However, I loved this book so much, I gave my copy away to a friend trying to get on the right track and have been recommending it to others as well. This is the perfect “starter” book for everyone struggling to get their finances moving in the right direction.
#4 (tie): The Richest Man in Babylon
Another one from my list and actually the book I recommend most these days.
I suggest it often because it’s simple in content, a quick read, and is written as a story which makes it easier to swallow for folks newer to money concepts.)
Interestingly enough, while so many people mentioned it, no one sent me comments.
#6 (tie): The Simple Path to Wealth
This one was a surprise for me as well.
Not because it’s a bad book — it’s a very good book, in fact.
But it’s so new compared to the others. They have had many decades to become well-known and popular while this book was published only a few years ago.
My guess is that this book will become the standard investing book for the FIRE community and replace the popularity of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing one day.
For millionaires, looks like that day has already come.
#6 (tie): Think and Grow Rich
A classic for sure.
It’s been a few decades since I’ve read this book, but millionaires had a lot of great things to say about it.
Think and Grow Rich is a very good read on how one should think about money. The big take away is to have the right “millionaire mindset”, and some how, you will start to attract money, and also the right people will come to help you achieve financial success.
Just positive messages to influence and grow your abilities and riches will come.
I remember it being just what they said — positive and inspirational.
The Next Level
I’m not going to comment on every book millionaires listed (or else this post would be the size of a book!) but I will list them all.
This section includes all the books that were mentioned more than once, but not as many times as the top seven:
- How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? (In my top 5)
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
- The Bible
- The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing (In my top 5)
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
- The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
- Winning the Loser’s Game
Here’s the list of books with one mention (not all strictly personal finance, but books that can influence wealth in one way or another):
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
- Poor Charlie’s Almanac
- Common Sense on Mutual Funds
- Debt-Free Living: Eliminating Debt in a New Economy
- Die Broke
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Series)
- Financial Self-Defense: How to Win the Fight for Financial Freedom
- Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!
- Fooled by Randomness
- How to Make Money in the Stock Market
- How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide
- How To Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio
- How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
- Investment Biker
- Killing Sacred Cows
- Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success
- Payback Time
- Personal Finance For Dummies
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street
- Rich Dad’s Prophecy
- Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant
- Rich is a State of Mind (no link on Amazon)
- Smart Couples Finish Rich
- Stay the Course
- Trump: The Art of the Deal
- The Art Of War
- The Aspirational Investor
- The Complete Guide to Managing Your Money
- The Financial Planning Workbook
- The Magic of Thinking Big
- The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation
- The Options Machine
- The Snowball
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette
- The Wealthy Barber
- Wizards of Wall Street
- Unlimited Power
- When Genius Failed
- Winning through Intimidation
- Work Less, Live More
- You Have More Than You Think – The Foolish Guide to Personal Finance
- Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map
3. Not all millionaires are readers.
When asked what books influenced them, several millionaires said “none.”
In fact, this was the third most popular answer after The Millionaire Next Door and Your Money or Your Life.
Here’s one millionaire’s response:
None. I’ve read a lot of investing books, but none of them really made a difference in my life.
While all of them have had some good information, so many have been either so basic or so technical that I either lose interest or struggle to find applicability to my life. As an example, I’m reading Chris Hogan’s “Retire Inspired” and just finished a section “What is a 401k”.
I think it’s a great book for someone with limited financial exposure, but was looking for something that actually was a little deeper and geared more towards the advanced/expert level.
For me personally, the material that I am reading that is making a difference are blogs from people such as yourself. It’s much easier to read a section, ruminate on what I read, do research and ask questions verses slogging through page after page of entry level topics as I have to do in books. There are always those nuggets found in books, but I can’t trudge through 400 pages looking for it.
Here’s another one — a very interesting perspective:
There were no money books that I found in time. That said, who knows what books the people I learned from read? I bet they were good ones!
Millionaires and Money Books
So, what have we learned in this review? My thoughts:
- Most wealthy people are readers. This reading, in turn, probably helps them learn and grow which then makes them better money mangers. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that the wealthy read a lot. 😉
- They like a wide variety of money books. Much wider than I would have guessed, in fact. I found some books I need to read!
- There are seven books that seem particularly impactful. If you are strapped for time and can only read a few money books, the top seven is probably a great place to begin.
- Millionaires and money bloggers seem to be on the same page. Just look how similar the millionaires were to what money bloggers said were their favorite books.
That’s the list. I’m sure there will be some discussion on which ones are “best”, so let’s get to it!
See any books that made a big impact on your life? Or maybe one that did that’s not listed?
Any there that you’ve never heard of but would like to read? (Like I said, there are some I need to check out!)