Guy who retired at 38 shares 3 books every 20-something should read

This Intel computer engineer fast-tracked his retirement and finished...

Joe Udo retired comfortably at age 38, thanks to smart saving and investing habits. While he's happy with how his life ended up, the now 43-year-old would do some things differently if he could go back in time.

He'd start by telling his 20-year-old self to read three specific books. "They would have helped me in various facets of life," he writes on his blog.

Of course, if you're like Udo and don't pick these up until your 30s or 40s, these works can still offer valuable insights. As he writes, "it's never too late to learn."

Joe Udo of Retire by 40
Courtesy of Joe Udo

"Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

This classic changed Udo's money philosophy and his approach to spending. After reading it, he started thinking about how many hours of his life it took to save up the money to buy something, he writes: "An unnecessary pair of shoes might take five hours of work An expensive car might take a whole year of work. It's easier for me to avoid spending money when I look at it this way."

He's not the only early retiree who recommends the read. Chris Reining, 38, who buckled down on his finances in his late 20s and retired at age 37 calls it "the book that changed my life" on his blog.

"How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" by Scott Adams

Adams' book is a "must read for young entrepreneurs," says Udo. "I'm sure you know this concept — it's good to fail because you learn from your mistakes. I agree, but I never liked failing. ... This book gave some great examples of how to fail forward."

It left such an impression that "I purchased one after I finished the copy from the library," he writes. "Now, that's an endorsement from a cheap guy like me!"

"Common Sense on Mutual Funds" by John C. Bogle

"If you invest in the stock market or have any kind of retirement account, you really should read this book," says Udo. After all, Bogle founded the Vanguard Group mutual fund company and is considered the father of index investing.

Udo admits: "Our net worth would be bigger if we just followed his simple investment advice instead of fumbling around."