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10 financial literacy books for college students to add to their reading list

Published March 14, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Let’s face it: college already comes with a fair amount of assigned reading depending on your major, so the thought of adding additional reading to your list probably seems daunting. However, financial literacy is a topic you may never study in school. But it’s a life skill that may become increasingly important as you progress through college and approach graduation, and you may need to bulk up your knowledge on the topic on your own.

    Even if you don’t have an income, it’s not too early to learn more about personal finance and financial literacy.

    Below is a list of books that can help you navigate your money life and aid you in setting yourself up for financial success.

    This is by no means a comprehensive list of every financial literacy book out there, but it’s a starting point to build up knowledge and tools to build a secure financial future.

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

    Personal finance expert Peter Dunn offers readers in their twenties practical tips and strategies for paying off student loans, avoiding unnecessary debt, and creating effective budgeting. Dunn also provides guidance on determining how much to spend on groceries, transportation, and housing.

    2. “Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need” by Grant Sabatier

    Grant Sabatier provides students with tips and a step-by-step process to build wealth. He covers various topics, including how to increase your income with side hustles that can eventually form into small businesses, how to reduce your expenses, how to negotiate higher pay from your employer, and how to invest smartly to achieve financial independence.

    3. “Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

    This book caters to college students looking to learn more about personal finance, with the ethos that you can incorporate good money habits without utilizing strict budgeting methods.

    Some of the topics include:

    • How to get out of debt and develop savings
    • How to save money through mindfulness and good habits rather than strict budgeting
    • How to declutter your life and live well for less
    • How to invest your savings and begin creating wealth
    • How to save the planet while saving money

    4. “You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life” by Jason Vitug

    Jason Vitug, a financial expert, helps college students and young adults set achievable financial goals and guides them on how to achieve those goals in this book. Students can learn how to budget, take control of their money, and how to set themselves up for a debt-free future.

    Readers can expect:

    • A step-by-step process to assess and improve their spending habits
    • Exercises to help identify financial goals to create a customized savings strategy
    • A framework for increasing income and spending money to materialize long-term goals

    5. “Financial Literacy for Young Adults Simplified: Discover How to Manage, Save, and Invest Money to Build a Secure & Independent Future” by Raman Keane

    Young adults and college students may be more financially vulnerable than other age group. This book explains how adopting the right money mindset can help individuals take control of their finances instead of being controlled by them.

    A few things readers will discover in this book are:

    • Discovering how to develop strong financial habits that can help lead to financial security without sacrificing your favorite things
    • How to create a custom budget and build wealth
    • Principles for investing
    • Mistakes to avoid when investing

    This book might be beneficial to college students with a part-time job or individuals with a full-time job saving for a down payment on their first house.

    6. “Graduate Debt Free: Escaping the Student Loan Matrix” by David Shutler

    Some students deciding whether to pursue higher education struggle with whether attending college is the right financial decision, how important selecting a major is, and other conundrums.

    Author David Shutler explores these questions and analyzes misconceptions about attending college. In addition, he delves into scholarships and additional funding sources to help students navigate student debt and take charge of paying for college.

    7. “Broke Millennial Takes on Investing: A Beginner’s Guide to Leveling Up Your Money” by Erin Lowry

    Erin Lowry’s book is for college students and young adults who are interested in investing but don’t know where to start. The book provides guidance on common issues such as deciding whether or not to focus on paying off student loans, how to invest in a socially responsible manner, and whether low-cost investing apps are worth using. The author's goal is to help readers gain knowledge and confidence in investing.

    8. “Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security” by Jean Chatzky

    Jean Chatzky aims to make the complicated money world easy for her readers to understand. She teaches straightforward but essential approaches to spending, saving, investing, increasing income, and building wealth and financial stability. This book may be helpful for students as it aims to simplify concepts that some may find confusing.

    9. “The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money” by Chelsea Fagan

    "The Financial Diet” gives readers tools to make a budget, understand investments, and deal with credit. It also digs deeper into money and how people spend money, including encouraging readers to look at the clothes in their closets and the food in their kitchens when thinking about their money life.

    The book aims to teach readers:

    • How to get better with money in a year
    • Essential ingredients for a budget-friendly kitchen
    • How to discuss uncomfortable financial topics with friends
    • The most effective method for creating and sticking to a budget
    • Tips for maintaining a household like a responsible adult
    • Understanding the concept of investing and how to get started

    10. “How to Adult: Personal Finance in the Real World” by Jake Cousineau

    Jake Cousineau taught personal finance to high school students, and he’s bringing that experience, as well as his life experiences as a young professional, to this book for high school graduates, college students, and young adults who need to prepare for the financial realities that come with adulthood. Students can learn about various topics, ranging from compound interest to mutual funds to Roth IRAs and insurance deductibles.

    Cousineau breaks down these topics by providing straightforward explanations, practical examples, anecdotes, and hands-on tools that will help students start their financial journey.

    Final thoughts

    It's important to start building your knowledge on financial topics that may not be covered in school, and the earlier you begin, the better.