Budgeting books can give you a different perspective on your finances and help you make plans for your money.
The five books below come recommended by certified financial planners. These professionals have taken loads of financial-planning coursework, passed a brutal exam, logged thousands of hours in experience and committed to acting as a fiduciary.
Who better to recommend a budgeting book?
(These CFPs responded by email, and a few answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
‘The One-Page Financial Plan’ by Carl Richards
“This book makes you think about what’s important to you and how you can align your money with your values. It’s also written in plain English, with little to no industry jargon. Because of that, I think it’s helpful for people of all ages.”
— Serina Shyu, an Atlanta-based CFP who serves on the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of Georgia
‘Live Richer Challenge’ by Tiffany Aliche
“This is a great and quick read for those looking to build their financial foundation — including how to budget. The author, Tiffany ‘The Budgetnista’ Aliche, takes a back-to-the-basics approach to budgeting and savings, debt and credit, insurance and investing.
“Those just starting their financial journey will get the most out of this book because it’s an easy read that touches on the key elements of building a solid financial foundation.”
— Brent Weiss, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based CFP and co-founder of Facet Wealth
‘Land of the Fee’ by Devin Fergus
“If you’ve ever wondered why closing costs on a mortgage are so high, or why you get charged twice to pull money from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, or why you get charged an origination fee when you take out a personal loan, read this book.
“Deregulation of the banking systems in the 1980s led to lower consumer protections and gave the financial industry the ability to charge arbitrary fees on their products and services. We tend to get so laser-focused on our own personal finances without questioning how the system has been structured to work against us.
“If it ever feels like your personal finances are always taking one step forward and 10 steps back, learning about how the financial industry is run can help you navigate it and advocate for yourself.”
— Pamela Capalad, a New York-based CFP and founder of Brunch & Budget
Before you build a budget
Track all your spending at a glance to understand your trends and spot opportunities to save money.
‘Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom’ by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox
“Lynnette speaks to the reader from a life-lived experience point of view, and she offers practical steps to help people implement their debt-elimination strategy literally from day one. Lynnette’s story about how she was able to eliminate debt is inspiring to anyone who might feel overwhelmed by debt and need help.
“Even though Lynnette’s book has debt elimination in the title, having that serve as the goal and financial freedom as the why helps people understand the rationale for establishing a budget in the first place.
“Her book is for individuals who are just starting and want to avoid getting in over their heads. It’s also for individuals who find it difficult to plan or break their spending habits.”
— Frank Paré, an Oakland, California-based CFP and founder of PF Wealth Management Group
‘What to Do With Your Money When Crisis Hits’ by Michelle Singletary
“I had the opportunity to tune in for [Singletary’s] book talk and in fact listened to the book with my daughter. I love her clear, concise, actionable advice. It not only helps anyone prepare for a financial crisis, but also develop a plan for a brighter and stronger financial future.”
— Marguerita Cheng, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based CFP and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth