I’m an avid reader. I read every night before bed and listen to audiobooks when I walk to work, talk the dog out or clean the house, and there’s not much better than curling up with a good book on a Sunday afternoon. I’ll read just about anything (except fantasy, not my thing) but I have a particular interest in keeping up to date with books on money; especially Canadian personal finance books. I love finding something that tackles the topic of money in a fresh way and isn’t just a regurgitation of the same old advice.
The one problem I have with books on money is that they are so often focused on the US. I get it. It’s a way bigger market. But it also means us Canadians can have a hard time seeking out books that don’t talk about 401k’s. Sure, most of the advice can cross borders, but I’ll always give bonus points to Canadian authors doling out good advice for Canadians.
Since it can be challenging to find resources listing the best Canadian personal finance books I thought I’d create my own. Here you’ll find a mix of old and new favourites that have all taught me something new about money. And I promise, no Dave Ramsey preaching here!
THE WEALTHY BARBER RETURNS by David Chilton
The original Wealthy Barber was the first personal finance book I ever read. My parents bought it for me when I was still in high school. At that time, I thought they were crazy and had zero interest in reading it. A few years later when I was in University and money was becoming a real factor in my life, I picked it up and learnt so much. Personal finance books often get a reputation for being dull. This one’s not. It’s full of personal stories, funny dad jokes and lots of solid advice. You won’t even realize how much knowledge you are gaining as it reads like a fiction book.
The Wealthy Barber Returns is the updated version of the original, and I’d suggest you skip right to it. There’s no need to go back and read the original at this point. Both provide beginners with all the advice you need to set yourself up to succeed with your finances.
HAPPY GO MONEY by Melissa Leong
This book is the new kid on the block. It was just published earlier this year by well-known personality Melissa Leong. It’s her first book on personal finance, but she’s been writing and talking about personal finance for years.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s very beginner friendly but not in a boring way. Melissa is funny, and the mix of psychology and real money advice worked for me. Her personal anecdotes are entertaining but also drive her point across, and make the book a quick and easy read. She also includes specific action points at the end of each chapter so you can get a plan in place. If you are new to personal finance or need a refresher, then I would recommend Melissa’s book. You’ll be inspired to get on track and not left falling asleep!
DEBT FREE FOREVER: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY AND YOUR LIFE by Gail Vaz-Oxlade
You may not have read any of Gail’s books, but you likely know her and her cash envelope system from Til Debt Do Us Part. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had binged through a weekend marathon of that show! Love her or hate her, Gail is one of the most prominent figures when it comes to Canadian personal finance. And for good reason. Her tough, no-nonsense approach works.
If you are struggling with debt, then this is the book for you. Gail will give you step by step advice on how to tackle your debt and stay on the right track even when you are paid up in full.
WEALTHING LIKE RABBITS by Robert R. Brown
I’m not sure if it’s just my preferences or if Canadian personal finance writers are just a funny group, but here’s another one that mixes money with a good dose of humour. Robert R. Brown will teach you everything from saving for retirement to getting a mortgage to paying off debt, and he’ll do it through pop culture analogies. Ever wondered how zombies or Mario and Luigi relate to personal finance? This book will you that and then some.
I know most twenty-year-olds will scoff at the idea of reading a personal finance book, but if you can get them to crack this one, then they might be hooked.
THE YEAR OF LESS by Cait Flanders
While not specifically about personal finance, Cait’s journey will change the way you think about money and what you consume. Here she chronicles how she got out from under $30k of debt and unhealthy relationships with shopping, alcohol, and food through a year-long shopping ban. Whether you’ve had similar struggles or not, developing awareness to consumerism is so crucial in this day and age of fast fashion, fast food, and waste. This book is part memoir, part advice, and part self-help but the combination makes it less preachy and far more relatable.
Cait is also just a wonderful human being, and her mission to slow life down is something all of us should take to heart.
MILLIONAIRE TEACHER by Andrew Hallam
While this book isn’t overly complicated, it’s not the one I’d recommend for beginners. In Millionaire Teacher, Andrew Hallam focuses on investing. I’ll be honest. It took me a while to pick this up. Investing is never the area of personal finance I’m most interested in, and it sounded kind of boring. However, it was recommended to me enough times that I finally gave in. And I’m glad I did. Unlike some of the others on the list, it’s not exactly funny. It falls squarely in the ‘useful’ category. That’s not a negative though.
If there is one area of money that people are the least familiar with I would argue that it’s investing. Most people understand why debt is bad and that we’re supposed to save money, but investing scares a lot of people off. Andrew will give you a good breakdown on what to look for in an investment and why fees matter. His advice? Invest in low-cost index funds. It’s what he did and how he achieved success and reached millionaire status on a middle-income.
STOP OVER-THINKING YOUR MONEY by Preet Banerjee
This is the most common sense book of the bunch. It’s beginner friendly but not as entertaining as the Wealthy Barber Returns or Wealthing Like Rabbits. Preet argues that you really only need to understand 20% of personal finance and puts forward five rules you need follow to get a handle on your money.
There’s nothing wrong with his advice, but there isn’t a lot of new information. If you’ve read any of the above beginner-friendly books, then you’ll already have most of the knowledge. Stop Over-Thinking Your Money is a quick read though, so if you need a refresher or are looking for motivation, then it’s a good option.
WORRY-FREE MONEY: THE GUILT-FREE APPROACH TO MANAGING YOUR MONEY AND YOUR LIFE by Shannon Lee Simmons
Clearly I have a thing for personal finance books that go beyond the numbers. This book takes a hard look at why we spend money and how to break the cycle of guilt (#FOMO) that too often goes hand in hand with spending.
You’ll come away with practical advice for managing your money but also a better understanding of what money means to you and how that affects your ability to save, spend and budget. Personal finance beginners will learn a lot from Shannon’s approach, but it’s not just for beginners. Even those you consider themselves old pros will get new insight into their habits and how they can tweak things.
THE VALUE OF SIMPLE by John Robertson
Another entry for investing that is written specifically for Canadians. Like Millionaire Teacher, The Value of Simple argues in favour of investing in low-cost index funds. I appreciated how John Robertson talks about the Canadian tax system and what that means for investing. This is a practical book if you want the facts without the filler. You’re not going to find much in the way of personal stories and jokes in this one. It looks like a textbook (a short one), and it reads that way too. Don’t let that scare you off though. It’s not a challenging read, and if you want to learn about investing in Canada, then you should absolutely give it a read.
There are so many personal finance books out there, but it’s not always easy to find Canadian versions. This list includes all my favourite reads that are Canada specific, so you know you’re getting the best advice based on our financial system. I’d love to hear if you have any other recommendations that I may have missed? Share your favourites in the comments!