Recommended reading

Note:  This is the old version of the Recommended reading list, preserved in the archive in case Amazon’s website goes down.  

To read the new & improved v2.0, please use this link to the new Amazon bookstore of the Recommended reading list.  Thanks!


This list was compiled from the recommendations of dozens of veterans and their families.  I’ve personally read or used all of them and I was not paid, compensated, or otherwise bribed to recommend them.  Many of them are free through a website or local library.  The products are all worth their price, but more value can be extracted by working through the free resources before spending money.

What books or research papers or websites have brought value to your life? Post them here and I’ll add them to the next edition of the book!

Military books:

“Armed Forces Guide to Personal Financial Planning” by Margaret Belknap and Michael Marty. One of the best decision-making guides for military issues.

“The Military Advantage” by Chris Michel of Best benefits book.  Ever.  Later editions revised by other authors.

“The $avvy $ailor” and “The $avvy Officer” by Ralph Nelson. Step-by-step explanations of avoiding debt, starting a savings system, and planning for a career of earnings and investments.

Retirement books:

“Work Less, Live More” by Bob Clyatt. The latest and best on early retirement and semi-retirement. Includes CD of spreadsheets and other analysis tools.

“The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement” by Billy & Akaisha Kaderli. The latest and best on perpetual travel. Download from

“Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35″ by Paul Terhorst. One of the first early-retirement books. Timeless retirement lifestyle advice.

“Get A Life, You Don’t Need A Million to Retire Well” by Ralph Warner. Retirement lifestyle advice from the co-founder of Nolo.

“How To Retire Early and Live Well” by Gillette Edmunds. Another classic manual.

“Rags to Retirement” by Alan Lavine. Extreme frugality, expatriate living, perpetual travel, and other creative ideas.

“What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement” by Richard Bolles & John Nelson. Thorough advice on self-assessment and retirement lifestyle planning.

“The Joy of Not Working” and “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” by Ernie Zelinski. “Get-a-Life Tree” and other planning tools.

“Prime Time” and “Encore” by Marc Freedman. “Bridge careers” and a lifetime of service.  This is what most of us were thinking about when we retired from the military, but it doesn’t always have to be this way.

“Retiring as a Career: Making the Most of Your Retirement” by Betsy Kyte Newman. Planning your retirement lifestyle and thinking through the issues.

“The Boglehead’s Guide to Retirement Planning” by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Richard Ferri, and Laura F. Dogu. Bogle’s index-fund advocates on saving and spending during retirement.


Frugality and saving books:

“Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez. The classic work that inspired the simple-living movement.

“The Complete Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn. Complete and detailed frugal advice from a veteran’s spouse.

“The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The demographics and mindsets of millionaires applied to savings and business.

“The Ultimate Cheapskate” by Jeff Yeager. “Focus on the big lifestyle decisions, not the $3 cup of coffee.”


Investing books:

“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham. The bible of value investing since 1949. Multiple editions and updates.

“The Four Pillars of Investing” and “The Intelligent Asset Allocator” by William Bernstein. Asset allocation clearly explained with examples of real-life investment portfolios.  Read “Four Pillars” first and go back to IAA for a second helping of details. Bernstein has also written fascinating books on global trade and economics.

“Triumph of the Optimists” by Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton. Pragmatic review of over a century of investment returns among 16 countries.

“Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes” by Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich. Vital investor psychology guide for self-assessment.

“The Retirement Savings Time Bomb” and “Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune” by Ed Slott. How to fund, maintain, convert, and withdraw from IRAs.

“Are You a Stock or a Bond?” by Moshe Milevsky. Applies novel concept of “human capital” to investing and asset allocation.

“A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton Malkiel. Classic analysis of efficient market hypothesis and index-fund investing.

“All About Asset Allocation” by Rick Ferri. Explains the basics of asset allocation and starting an investment portfolio.

“The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need” by Larry Swedroe. Clear and basic advice on starting and maintaining an investment portfolio.

“Stocks for the Long Run” by Jeremy J. Siegel. Advocates benefits of buy-and-hold investing.

“The Coffeehouse Investor” by Bill Schultheis. Low-maintenance portfolios for the deployed (or lazy) investor.

“The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing” by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf. Leading advocates of Bogle’s invention of index-fund investing.

“Common Sense on Mutual Funds” and “The Little Book of Common Sense” by John Bogle. Founder of the first modern index fund and Vanguard.

“J.K. Lasser’s Your Winning Retirement Plan” by Henry “Bud” Hebeler. Innovative and very conservative “negative feedback” approach to investment planning and adjusting retirement spending to investment returns. Extremely detailed analysis of when to take Social Security benefits. See other tools at his website “Analyze Now!”

“The Informed Investor” by Frank Armstrong III. A Vietnam veteran and financial adviser on commonsense investing.

“Investing in Real Estate”, 4th edition or later, by Andrew McLean & Gary W. Eldred. Common-sense advice and hype-free guide to analyzing and buying investment property.

“Landlording” by Leigh Robinson (7th edition or later). The best modern guide on managing rental real estate. Not for the lazy or faint of heart.

“The 10 Commandments of Money” by Liz Weston.  A personal financial guide for this generation!


Military research papers:

“A Comparative Study of the Life Satisfaction of Early Retirement Military Officers”, doctoral dissertation by Russ T. Graves, professor at Texas A&M College, 2005. Available online at Texas A&M University research archives. Analysis of survey data indicating that the vast majority of officers immediately begin civilian careers after military retirement. (Their server may limit access so search the archives for “Graves Russ”.)

“America’s Military Population” by David R. and Mady Wechsler Segal, excerpted from the December 2004 issue of the Population Reference Bureau’s Population Bulletin, Vol 59, No 4. Eye-opening demographics and statistics on veterans and the services.

“DoD Statistical Report on the Military Retirement System”: Detailed summary of military retirees by age, rank, service, location, and other factors.


Continue Reading: 1 | 2 | Single Page

  1. […] Related articles: Reserves and National Guard Mobilizing with the Reserves and National Guard The “Military Articles” section of the Recommended reading tab […]

  2. […] Recommended reading […]

  3. […] Recommended reading […]

  4. […] Recommended reading […]

  5. […] Recommended reading […]

Comment? Question? What's on your mind?