Here in the offices of Black Enterprise, it’s hard to manufacture excitement about April’s federal designation as Financial Literacy Month. Promoting financial education and good fiscal fitness, after all, is at the very core of what BE has done for nearly 40 years. Financial literacy is literally our business. But in honor of the national awareness efforts, I asked my colleagues to help me recommend a collection of books that have helped them become more financially savvy. What we’ve managed to compile here is a list of 20 books that offer valuable and timely lessons on all things related to money. My own recent favorites include, The Random Walk Guide to Investing: Ten Rules for Financial Successby Burton G. Malkiel (W. W. Norton & Company, $16). Malkiel authored the famous 1974 investing bible, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. In this book, he distills and updates his earlier guidance for today’s beginning investors.
Recommended by Editorial Director John Simons: Personal Finance for Dummiesby Eric Tyson (For Dummies, $22). Never mind the belittling title, this is a one-stop guide that covers everything from balancing a checkbook, and handling debt, to saving for retirement.
Recommended by Editorial Director John Simons: The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of The World by Niall Ferguson (Penguin, $16). Wise investors know their history. This book chronicles centuries of financial booms and busts—and the people who caused them—in dramatic style.
>Recommended by Editorial Director John Simons: Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing In An Insane World by James J. Cramer (Simon & Schuster, $16). Forget the loopy, bearded madman you see on TV. As a writer, Cramer can actually lay out a calm, rational explanation of financial markets. Most important: He gives detailed advice on how to research and identify a good investment.
Recommended by Editorial Director John Simons:101 Things Everyone Should Know About Economics by Peter Sander (Adams Media, $14). Sander divides each of his 101 topics into two parts: “what you should know” and “why you should care.” Anyone who can crystallize credit default swaps in 500 words (which Sander does on page 161) earns my respect.
Recommended by Editorial Director John Simons: Show Me The Money by Alvin Hall (DK Publishing, $16). If there’s anyone in your family younger than 12 or so, Hall’s book offers a visual and engaging way to introduce them to concepts like compound interest and “the rule of 72.
A Purse of Your Own: An Easy Guide to Financial Security by Deborah Owens (Fireside, $15) made an impression on Consumer Affairs Editor Sheiresa Ngo. “The book talks specifically to women about the power of saving and investing,” Ngo notes. “It’s written in plain English—although it’s not dumbed down. The tone is conversational, yet very informative.”
Another favorite of BlackEnterprise.com Managing Editor Sonja Mack: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing by Virginia B. Morris and Kenneth M. Morris (McGraw-Hill). “Investing can be confusing and intimidating,” Mack says. “It has to be taught; it’s not something you can just observe and pick up. And you often don’t know where to start. Both these books are excellent jumping off points — whether your weekly allowance is $5 or your weekly discretionary income is $500.”
One of our fabulous young staff writers, Renita Burns, recommends The Money Book for the Young, Broke & Fabulousby Suze Orman (Riverhead Trade, $16). “This book walked me through many financial firsts, from learning the difference between billing methods when applying for my first credit card, to understanding when it’s right to pay off debt instead of put the extra money towards savings,” Burns says. “As a young person looking to get an understanding of my financial landscape (i.e. student loan debt, intern housing expenses, investing) this book held my hand through it all.”
“The financial book I’ve found most helpful is The Wealthy Barber: Everyone’s Commonsense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent,” says Black Enterprise Copy Editor Robin White-Goode. “It’s written in a narrative, novel-like style, and the abundant humor is pretty corny, which may turn off some readers, but it’s clear and accessible to even the financially challenged. I recommend it highly, and actually I read it because it was highly recommended to me.”
For Interactive Media Editorial Director Deborah Creighton Skinner, Patricia A. Stallworth’s 27 Savvy Financial Strategies for Women (Minding Your Money Publications) stands out as an easy to understand instruction manual on investing. Have you read any of the books on our list? What did you think? Are we missing out on one of your favorites? Let us know. And, of course, don’t forget to carve out some time to keep reading Black Enterprise.