We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.
For decades, experts have bemoaned the low level of financial literacy in the United States. Teaching the basics of personal finance has become more common in kindergarten through 12th grade education, yet even today, only 23 states require that students complete such coursework to graduate from high school, according to the Council for Economic Education. Of those 23 states, just nine require a stand-alone course in personal finance, while 14 allow for personal finance to be integrated into another course. That leaves 27 states plus the District of Columbia with neither requirement.
Fortunately, for teens who want to know more about money matters—or parents eager to see them learn—there are numerous books on the subject. After sorting through piles of contenders, Investopedia winnowed the list to seven books that we consider among the best of the best. Any one of them will help fill in the gaps in a teenager’s knowledge and set them on a solid footing for whatever financial challenges or opportunities lie ahead of them in life. As a bonus, most of these books are even fun to read.
If you would like to know more about our methodology, please see the “Why Trust Investopedia?” section at the bottom of this article.
Note that most of these books are also available in ebook formats.
Best Overall: How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance
Best-selling author and frequent TV guest Jean Chatzky teamed up with Kathryn Tuggle, the HerMoney team, and illustrator Nina Cosford for this colorful and inviting personal finance compendium, published in May 2022. (HerMoney.com is Chatzky’s website.)
How to Money covers all the basics, such as budgeting, credit, investing, and taxes, with a refreshingly engaging tone. While the book is billed as being for readers age 12 to 18, some young teens might find it a little intimidating, if only because of its ample text and 256-page length. However, even those who aren’t inclined to read it from beginning to end should find it a useful reference to dip into when they have questions about a particular financial topic. That could go for adults, too.
Chatzky is also the author of Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Your Own Money, published in 2010 and aimed at readers ages 10 to 14.
Best for Reluctant Readers: I Want More Pizza
Perhaps the most digestible personal finance book for teens, Steve Burkholder’s I Want More Pizza packs a lot into its 108 pages. Widely used in schools, the 2015 book is cut into four “slices:”
- You (goals, priorities, etc.)
- Saving (why and how to save)
- Growing Your Savings (including investing)
- Debt (including credit cards and paying for college)
Many young readers, and more than a few parents, will identify with Burkholder, who shares his personal story of saving up $5,000 by mowing lawns and working at McDonald’s in high school, only to lose every last penny of it in the stock market before he was out of college. It was a costly lesson, but one that helped fuel his interest in better understanding personal finance and explaining it to others.
Best for Inspiration: Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens
This 2004 entry in Robert T. Kiyosaki’s mega-selling Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, co-authored with Sharon L. Lechter, CPA, was cited by several members of Investopedia’s Financial Review Board as a best book for teens.
Lea D. Uradu said, “The author provides commonsense steps that anyone, even a teenager, can follow to empower themselves financially.”
Eric Estevez recommended it for providing “really useful information for a generation on the brink of making important financial decisions,” adding that, “Robert has a track record of breaking down complex financial concepts into simple explanations.”
In Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens, those concepts include managing assets, managing debt, and moneymaking opportunities for young people. While some online reviewers have faulted the book as overly simplistic, other readers may find Kiyosaki’s upbeat approach to making and managing money inspiring.
In addition to his umpteen Rich Dad Poor Dad titles, Kiyosaki is also co-author of the 2008 book Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men, One Message with former President Donald Trump.
Best for College-Bound Teens: Paying for College, 2023: Everything You Need to Maximize Financial Aid and Afford College
It’s no secret that a college education is one of the biggest and most daunting expenses that many teens (and their parents) will ever face. This annually updated guide by Kalman Chany, a longtime expert in the field, covers the most important sources of financial aid, including scholarships and grants (which never have to be repaid) and federal and private student loans (which usually have to be paid back at some point). You’ll also find tips on maximizing aid and negotiating a better package after a college has offered one.
The book also includes useful worksheets and sample financial aid forms. Because the financial aid rules and tax laws change frequently, college-bound teens will want to make sure they have the latest available advice when they’re ready to start applying. The 2023 edition of Paying for College was published on Sept. 20, 2022.
Best for Understanding Credit and Debt: Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together
Erin Lowry’s popular 2017 book covers saving, budgeting, investing, and the usual topics. However, it is especially focused on debt, including student loans, credit cards, and other financial burdens that can hit young people especially hard.
While noting that today’s teens were born too late to qualify as millennials, financial writer Erin Gobler told us that the book is her “go-to recommendation for people who are dipping their toes into personal finance for the first time, including teens. The author distills information in a way that’s easy for someone to understand. She doesn’t go overboard on the jargon, meaning someone who’s just getting started can easily understand it.”
Lowry’s book has already inspired at least one sequel: Broke Millennial Takes on Investing: A Beginner’s Guide to Leveling up Your Money (2019).
Best for Older Teens: Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties
Beth Kobliner’s best-selling book—now in a revised fourth edition, issued in 2017—is nominally for readers in their 20s and up, but its accessible style should appeal to older teens as well. Kobliner covers such topics as goal setting, handing credit, investing, and even saving for retirement (and why it’s never too early).
A specialist in financial advice for young people—she once appeared on Sesame Street to explain saving, spending, and sharing to Elmo—Kobliner also developed the “Money as You Grow” initiative, a series of articles and activities available on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website.
Her other books include one for parents, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23, published in 2017. (Full disclosure: Kobliner and I both worked for personal finance columnist Sylvia Porter in the late 1980s, although on unrelated projects.)
Best for More Financially Advanced Teens: I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich, released in 2019, isn’t specifically for teens. However, two of our reviewers recommended it in that category, with one of them naming it their pick for best overall book on personal finance as well. Writer Eric Rosenberg, who cited it as a best book for teens, noted that “Ramit makes personal finance fun and accessible with his no-apologies look at how to make yourself rich.”
Sethi’s book covers the usual topics—credit cards, banking, investing, etc.—but with an irreverent emphasis on actually enjoying money. Sample headline: “How to spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t—without making an annoying budget.”
I Will Teach You to Be Rich is a little sophisticated for young teens, but it could be a solid choice for older or more precocious ones.
For a comprehensive overview of personal finance, How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance by Jean Chatzky and her co-authors would be hard to beat. Steve Burkholder’s I Want More Pizza might be the best choice for teens who want (or need) to know the basics but cringe at the idea of anything resembling homework. Books on more specialized aspects of personal finance are also worth exploring, with Kalman Chany’s Paying for College being a good example.
Why Trust Investopedia?
Reviewer Greg Daugherty has covered personal finance topics for more than 30 years, including stints as a senior-level editor at Money magazine and Consumer Reports. He is also the author or co-author of two books on personal finance for adults. In addition, he’s the proud father of two financially literate kids, now in their 20s.
Daugherty credits his own early interest in personal finance to a long-ago gift from his father: a copy of Sylvia Porter’s Money Book, a 1970s bestseller that’s now out of print.
To compile our list, Daugherty and his Investopedia colleagues combed the bookstores, both online and off, checked out libraries, consulted publisher websites, and surveyed experts, including members of Investopedia’s Financial Review Board. We based our final judgments on the authors’ credentials, the quality of advice that the books had to offer, and how suitable they would be for teens of various ages and levels of sophistication.
We also paid particular attention to how current the information in each book was. Because tax laws, financial products, and the overall economy can change so frequently, few books go out of date faster than those on money-related topics.