Just over half of Americans who set New Year's resolutions want to improve their finances in 2020.
If you count yourself among those who plan to save more money, pay off debts, or buy a new house in the coming year, good intentions may only get you so far. Experts say that it helps to develop skills and habits related to your goal to keep you on track.
Grow reached out to certified financial planners to find out the best books they've read on saving, investing, and behavioral finance. Here are the books they say can give you the strategies and tools to help you keep your money resolutions.
Learning about why gender disparities in finance persist may be the first step for women who want to save and earn more. In "Women with Money: The Judgment-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less-Stressed, Purposeful (and, Yes, Rich) Life You Deserve," author and Hermoney.com CEO Jean Chatzky explores the relationship women have with money. Chatzky offers tactical solutions to help women get paid what they deserve, invest for tomorrow, and take charge of their finances.
"I would recommend this book to women who are intimidated by personal finances and want to take an initial step to learn more," says Patti B. Black, certified financial planner and partner at Bridgeworth LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.
Video by Courtney Stith
Nearly 60% of couples cite financial problems as playing "somewhat" of a role in their divorce, according to a 2017 study from Experian. In "The Art of Money," financial therapist Bari Tessler examines money through the lens of relationships, helping readers see the connection between their beliefs around saving, spending, and investing, and their confidence and self-worth.
"I love the overall tone of the book and the framing of financial practices as a form of self-care," says Ed Coambs, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Carolinas Couples Counseling in Matthews, North Carolina.
Saving money can be challenging, and in some cases that's because mental traps cause us to act against our best financial interests. Experts say that our patterns of thinking, or cognitive biases, can prevent us from making the smartest money decisions.
But developing awareness about those decisions can change how you think, which in turn change how you save, spend and invest. In "Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich," Jason Zweig explores what happens inside our brains when we make decisions about money. Zweig, a veteran journalist and personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal, offers insights about why we may misunderstand risks or feel overconfident about investments.
"It was a great read about human psychology and being aware of some of the biases we have that prevent us from making good money decisions," says Tess Zigo, certified financial planner and partner at Emerge Wealth Strategies in Lisle, Illinois. "Being aware is very helpful and important on our journey to improving saving and investing habits."
Video by Courtney Stith
In recent years, index funds have become a popular investment vehicle, offering investors a relatively low-fee way to diversify their assets.
Index funds also don't require a lot of expertise to invest in, but learning the basics is nonetheless a wise first step for novice investors. In his classic, best-selling investment guide, John C. Bogle — the founder of Vanguard Group, who is credited with creating the first index fund — argues that the simplest investment strategy for building long-term wealth is to stick with a mutual fund that tracks a broad stock market index such as the S&P 500.
"[It's] a good primer on asset allocation, investing and — importantly — understanding the fee structure of investment products," says Erika Safran, a certified financial planner and the founder of Safran Wealth Advisors in New York City.
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