Birthday List Love Day 2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Confession: I am a personal finance geek and devour personal finance books for fun. I like Gail Vaz-Oxlade's books so much that she gets her own list.

Gail has a no-nonsense, practical approach to personal finances that appeals to me. Using terms like “money moron” or “downright dumb” to describe questionable money choices, she doesn't mince words and isn’t afraid of calling the reader’s bluff. I don’t take it personally.

I find her writing sobering and direct, but accessible with a clear path to solutions. Plus she's Canadian which means her books refer to Canadian laws and resources, a piece that's usually missing in books written by US authors.

Below are three books she's written that I've enjoyed over the past few months. The subject matter is the same, but each offers its own insights.


Money Rules: Rule Your Money, Or Your Money Will Rule You

Though the information is plentiful, this book was an easy read. The two hundred and sixty-one money rules offered range from the basic (#8 Everyone Needs an Emergency Fund) to the philosophical (#57 Learn From Your Mistakes), to the more obscure that might not be widely known (#63 Make Spousal RRSP Contributions by December). Everything is laid out in practical, bite-sized pieces that are easy take in. Some of the rules I already knew or was familiar with, but others made me go “Huh!” Some of them surprised D., my husband, and became fodder for financial discussion. Wide in its coverage of money matters, it's a useful resource.

Never Too Late: Take Control of Your Retirement and Your Future

With a focus on retirement this book includes information about RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) and TFSAs (Tax Free Savings Accounts), among other things, that helped me better understand my options as I move forward. I am in my forties and retirement will come soon enough. The book brings a clear message that it really never is too late to start saving, and will guide the reader through some options to do so. So no excuses!

It’s Your Money: Becoming a Woman of Independent Means

This book is geared towards women, but in Gail's words, from her Money Rules book: “It's Your Money was written for women, but if you're a guy, it won't make your penis fall off.”

The first few sections cover basics like saving, credit identity, insurance, etc., and touch on the intangibles of money, as in how do you feel about it? But I found the last few sections most insightful: Adapt Your Plan as Your Life Changes and Just in Case. In these sections Gail walks us through different life scenarios such as partnering up, having children, losing a job, becoming disabled or caring for aging parents, and outlines how each one might impact our financial plan and choices. Some of the stats presented were eye-openers for me and prompted action, which is probably exactly what she hoped for when she included them.


Each of these books has helped deepen my personal finance journey in one way or another. They are well laid out, clear, and cover many of the facets involved in creating intentional finances, making them excellent resources for one's financial toolkit.


If you want a taste of Gail and her approach, you can check out this interview about her latest book called Money Talks (which I haven’t read yet, ergo is not on my list):


Did you miss Birthday List Love Day 1? Here it is. Stay tuned for Day 3...