Keith Jones

Apr 21 2014

Hills Bank Employees’ Favorite Books for Financial Advice

Financial Books and Resources for Good Financial Advice

There are so many financial advice books available, it can be overwhelming to sort through and find the best ones. Wonder what books people in the financial services industry are reading and would recommend? Our employees at Hills Bank are a great source of knowledge, so we’ve asked a few of them what their favorite books of financial advice are – and here are the responses.

Molly Brown, Commercial Banking Officer
“I like Suze Orman’s Action Plan: New Rules for New Times. It’s a good book that helps you strategize for retirement, manage debt, maintain good credit, and educate children about saving. She doesn’t mince words and she makes a lot of sense!”

Brian Bergquist, Trust Investment Analyst
A Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel is one of the best financial books I have read. It was assigned through a wealth management course I took at the University of Iowa. It covers many areas surrounding your financial success. It covers topics such as saving now and not later, keeping a steady course (maintaining your contributions), the importance of an emergency fund, diversification in your investment accounts, and several other important areas to retire comfortably. It is a great tool to remind yourself the importance of maintaining a healthy financial lifestyle.”

Dale Farland, Vice President, Trust Officer
“My favorite book for financial advice is The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. It’s a collection of stories from real individuals. I read this book a long time ago, but it really resonated with me. At the time, I was working for a large, regional bank in the Detroit area and some of my clients were in the upper management of the automotive industry. I was living in the Detroit area when the industry went through one of its upheavals, and I watched as these executives and others associated with the industry were faced with financial issues. They worried about not being able to support their lifestyles.

The message throughout The Millionaire Next Door is three-part. First, financially successful people live among us but you would never know it. Second, they are hard-working and take care of their family and friends. Finally, they live below their means and are not flashy or have extravagant lifestyles. They are the backbone of America. These qualities of being hard-working, caring about others, and living within their means certainly sounds a lot like Hills Bank and Trust Company and our customers. Those same qualities are why I enjoy working with my clients.”

Erin Grabe, Trust Officer
“When I graduated law school, my Dad gave me a copy of Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. I thought, gee thanks Dad, this must be your way of saying now that I’m employable, good luck paying back your student loans, you’re on your own!! But after reading it, I cannot tell you how much it has helped me pay down debt, budget, and save for the future. Whether or not you agree with all of Dave Ramsey’s advice, he really does have some outstanding thoughts on how to manage your finances on a day-to-day basis. For example, I learned how to create a comprehensive budget using this book. I know exactly where each and every dollar that I earn is going before I get it. That way, I don’t get stuck with the feeling that I burned through my paycheck and have no idea where the money went (which happened all too often in my college years!) I have also learned to control my spending by paying for most things in cash, and paid off my credit card debt in 10 months using the ‘debt snowball’ (you’ll have to read the book to find out about that gem!) While I still have a long way to go to ‘financial freedom’ this book really helped me utilize some common sense tools to avoid mistakes in my early years of building wealth.”

Angie Greiner, Marketing Communications, Online
“The book I’ve actively made the most applicable to my life is Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money by Lois Frankel, PhD. My entire education I struggled with math, and avoided it at all costs. Because of that, I never balanced a checkbook or had enough patience to set a budget (which is a little awkward now that I work at a bank, don’t tell my co-workers.) This book proved to be a practical toolkit for me, sharing how some of the same characteristics that make women feminine are often times the same behaviors that keep us from being financially independent. It shed some insight as to behaviors that were keeping me from knowing where my money was going and not saving as I should. It took the subject of finances, which I thought was dry, and quite-frankly I dreaded and provided real-life stories that were relatable. It’s a pretty swift read and at times a bit humorous too!”

Chuck Hippee, Vice President, Retirement Plans
“I’d recommend The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach. He encourages you to pay yourself first. It’s applicable for people of all income levels. In fact, the book begins with a story about a couple whose joint income does not exceed $55,000 per year.”

Josh Holst, Vice President, Information Systems
“I’d recommend Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. It’s a practical resource on how to budget your income, save money, eliminate debt, and invest smart. There is so much temptation to live beyond your means, get a loan, or put everything on credit. His message is good and is a great resource for living within your means and saving for your future, so you can enjoy life when you’re retired.”

Amy McClure, Vice President, Sales & Service
“I have two young daughters, and my favorite go-to for financial tips and advice is A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money: How to Make It, Save It, and Spend It by Nancy Holyoke from the American Girl Series. Why is it such a winner in my book? The American Girl brand makes what could be perceived as a dry subject appealing. The level is appropriate for the audience, which are girls approximately 9-12 years old. It frames topics in a way that is interesting, but has very usable tips – it’s not dumbed-down. A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money covers a good range of topics, focusing on handling a budget, smart spending, and the value of saving in the first half of the book. In the second half of the book, it gives young girls ideas about how to earn money, ranging from simple, every-day kinds of activities to more complex, entrepreneurial endeavors, like starting a business of their own.

I’ve enjoyed seeing my girls use some of the ideas in A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money to earn and manage money.”

Chris Moen, Credit Officer
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf is fantastic!  It’s written by a group of financial experts who have coined themselves ‘Bogleheads’ because they follow the investing principles of John Bogle. John is the founder of Vanguard, a respected mutual fund company credited with making popular the low-cost, index mutual fund. The book is appropriate for both beginning and experienced investors and is a fun read if you’re interested in smart investing.”

Tim Smith, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking
“A good book I’d recommend to any of my customers is Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James Collins and Jerry Porras. It examines qualities all exceptionally successful companies have and shares their common practices. I’ve tried adapting those practices to learn how we can use them at the bank.”

Have you read any of these books? What books for financial advice would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

Keith Jones

About Keith Jones

Keith Jones is Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Team Leader at Hills Bank’s Coralville location. He has been at Hills Bank since 1984 working with both personal and business customers to help them achieve their financial goals. Keith is proud to have spent his 40+ year banking career in the Coralville community and continues to enjoy many community involvement experiences. Keith can be reached at

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