2 books to read if you want to be debt-free by 30

By the time he had turned 30, Derek Sall had paid off more than $100,000 worth of debt.

Sall, who chronicles his financial journey on his blog Life and My Finances, first realized he needed to take his debt seriously when he and his then-wife realized they were starting out their post-college lives underwater. They resolved to get out of debt as quickly as possible and paid off $20,000 in 14 months.

Derek Sall
Derek Sall
Derek Sall

When the couple divorced a few years later, Sall found himself in debt again. Because he wanted to keep the house, he owed his ex $21,000, plus the $60,000 left on the mortgage. Again, Sall buckled down and paid off everything within a few years. He became debt-free just shy of his 30th birthday.

His ability to pay off his debt wasn't made possible by a high-profile job or a windfall. Rather, he focused on earning as much, and spending as little, as possible.

In addition to working full-time as a financial analyst, Sall also honed his personal finance knowledge with the help of a few useful books. Here are his top two.

"The Richest Man in Babylon" by George Samuel Clason

Originally published in 1926, this tome has become a personal finance classic. In it, Clason divulges financial wisdom through a series of parables set in ancient Babylon.

It was one of the first books Sall picked up, and it made a significant impact on him. "It basically gets you to realize that if you live on just 80 percent or 90 percent of your income and you save between 10 and 20 percent and invest it, what a difference it can make," Sall says.

It also serves as an easy-to-follow road-map for the amateur investor. "It guides you along saving, investing in what you know and taking those more guaranteed returns," Sall says.

"The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" by Dave Ramsey

In this book, Ramsey coaches readers through the basics of personal finance, from paying off debt to building an emergency fund, providing "the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits," as Amazon describes it.

"[This] one's great just to give you the step-by-step," Sall says. "Some people get really hung up in the details of, 'What do I do first and what do I do second, and what about this circumstance that I'm in.' And he does a great job walking people through what he calls the 'baby steps.'"

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