Whether you’re sitting on an inheritance or you’re stashing a little bit of money from each paycheck, you might be wondering: How do I invest this cash? Thankfully, learning how to invest is more manageable than most folks realize. You don’t need to be an up-at-the-crack-of-dawn day trader or a been-there-seen-it-all veteran of the market to be a successful investor. You don’t need to yell “Buy! Sell!” in a crowded room — ever. In fact, for those new to investing (and even for seasoned investors), it’s probably best to keep your money moves to a minimum.
You’ve probably heard the old saying that the best time to start investing was “yesterday,” and that’s true, but don’t feel rushed into making investments that you don’t fully understand.
We’ve put together a selection of resources for investors, like you, who want a solid base of knowledge to begin their investing journey. While every choice may not be perfect for you, they’re widely considered to be the best of the best when it comes to personal finance and investment primers.
Top books about investing
While not exactly about investing, the book lends incredible insight into the day-to-day finances for people working for minimum wage and below. To fully understand how money works is to understand how it sometimes doesn’t work.
This is a finance must-read and an excellent companion piece to “Nickel and Dimed.” The premise of the book is that individual investors can achieve greater success in working with financial markets instead of against them.
Author Charles Ellis draws on his experience as managing partner of Greenwich Associates to explain the illusion of “short-termism.” The concept of striving to achieve immediately positive performance by stock picking compared to the greater benefits of long-term investment policy is shown to be the key driver of investment success.
Even the newest of investors know that markets rise and fall — it’s understanding when you should call it quits and when you should double down that’s tricky. The answer is never black or white but is often reached through an acute knowledge of the reasons why. The rhythm of the cycles of the market is a mesmerizing art and science. Confidence about where we are in a cycle comes when you learn the patterns that impact economics, markets, and companies. This book also touches on human psychology and the investing behaviors that result from our own biases.
Research-heavy and grounded in realism, this book is a must for any investor looking to maximize their chances of success. “Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments” explores the biggest names and how exactly they’ve failed, and then goes a step further to reveal the lessons learned. These lessons time after time shaped more successful strategies in the future.
This book illustrates the simple but overlooked concept: investing takes effort. Whether you’re managing a few thousand dollars or a few billion, failures and losses are part of the game. Much more than just change-up from the more serious (and often less fun to read books), these stories model the oh so important less of learning from mistakes. Lessons learned through failure carry a power that nothing other than experience can teach. Learn from these professional investors’ mistakes.
In “Big Money Thinks Small,” veteran fund manager Joel Tillinghast shares from his wealth of knowledge with advice that may, at first, come off a bit more Karate Kid than you expected. His mantras are rooted in deep self-awareness and thorough examination of lived experiences.
Setting your intentions before investing may change your outcome more so than after the fact corrections. He guides you toward patience and methodical planning over flashy investments. He also candidly shares examples of his own past mistakes, giving investors the tools to ask the right questions in any situation while thinking objectively about their portfolios.
In “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” psychologist Daniel Kahneman examines how your thought processes can affect your success in investing. This book is a stellar example of applied behavioral economics that offers easy to follow and extremely relatable examples of nebulous concepts.
This book divides our thinking into two systems. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more logical, and methodical. Kahneman touches on our reactive System 1-type biases and how they impact our investing decisions. He argues that to fully embrace System 2 thinking is to completely and objectively make the choices that are best for us.
By locking away biases and preconceptions, one can make investment decisions thinking clearly, rationally and analytically.
Investor and advisor Antti Ilmanen’s “Expected Returns” is a one-stop-shop for estimating the returns of long-term investments — without becoming a CPA or data scientist.
Expected Returns expertly combines financial theory and empirical evidence with useful financial insights. The main takeaway from this page-turner is the ethos that investors should focus more on expected performance using forward-looking tools, instead of the more comfortable calculations of historical figures and trends.
Top publications for market and investing news
Not really into hundreds of pages on investing? No worries, with these publications you can spend a few hours per month and you’ll pick up knowledge at a fast pace. One of these is sure to suit your reading style.
Investor’s Business Daily is a finance magazine for the earnest investor. It’s a well-respected publication offering both market and stock analysis for those who want to pick and choose their own stocks and bonds.
The Wall Street Journal is a desert island money publication. All it takes to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the markets is a quick read of the front cover of The Wall Street Journal each morning. That’s right, you don’t even need to open it up for it to make you smarter.
The Economist describes itself as an “authoritative weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news and opinion.” So while it isn’t a dedicated finance magazine, it houses a wealth of financial information that touches on all facets of the economy, our markets, and business in general.
Top investing podcasts
One of the best, and most modern, ways of getting savvier about money is by listening to investment podcasts. Choose one or all of the following podcasts, and make yourself a better investor.
So Money with Farnoosh Torabi is on the top of everyone’s list, and for good reason: “So Money” focuses on helping you lead a happier, wealthier life. Farnoosh Torabi interviews big names in finance, business, and self-improvement. In every episode, “So Money” makes complex topics and the lessons of billionaires and business moguls accessible to everyone. Storytelling at its finest with hidden investment advice delivered three times a week.
ChooseFI helps listeners understand that becoming financially independent is about a lot more than just investing wisely — though those lessons are included as well. The mission of ChooseFI goes way beyond just the nuts and bolts of personal finance and investing. They encourage you to take a step back, figure out what you want from life, and run toward that life of purpose, connection, and happiness.
The Fairer Cents shines a light on money issues that are unique to women and dissect both the problems and the solutions. There are plenty of podcasts out there that give women tips on how to manage money and invest, and this is one of the great ones, but there’s not a lot of conversation happening about the broader societal and systemic factors that make women’s experience with money so different from men’s — they are changing that.
Money For The Rest Of Us is an investing podcast teaching valuable lessons to even the most seasoned investors. This podcast helps individual investors understand what is going on with the economy and financial markets and how it impacts their individual investment portfolios. One hour per week should make you feel less worried and more in control of your financial lives.
Top influencers in investing and personal finance
Influential creators pour the heart and soul into their content. Daily inspiration, valuable lessons, and expert storytelling to stop you in your scroll.
Mr. Money Mustache is among the most influential personal finance bloggers around. His blog is a hit-you-squarely-in-the-face shot to conventional wisdom with a gruff attitude and often-times filthy delivery. His stories are personal, his advice is great, and his fanbase is rabid.
Choncé Maddox Rhea, a certified financial education instructor (CFEI) and personal finance coach, has overcome many financial challenges. Rhea shares helpful tips to help ambitious millennials regain control of their money and live a life with more possibilities and fewer financial limitations. She uses her experience of paying off over $40,000 of debt to help people break through doubts and setbacks to restore financial confidence.
Clever Girl Finance, started by Bola Sokunbi, is a financial education platform aimed at providing women with financial guidance through easy to digest courses, one-on-one mentorship, and an incredibly supportive community. Bola has created a roadmap to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to handle your money, get out of debt and create a sound financial future for yourself.
To understand something deeply is to be able to explain it simply. If you find yourself failing to explain the stock market, cognitive biases, or what it means to diversify your strategy, then pick up a book, or magazine, or your headphones. Staying on top of the latest news will keep you in the loop, and solid reference materials will empower you to dig a little bit deeper. Public makes learning easy by allowing you to not only follow themes and specific companies but to openly discuss investments with friends and domain experts. Keep the conversation going and share what you’ve just learned.