Firstly, you need to get past the title. Although I WIll Teach You to Be Rich is a book about finance, being rich in Ramit Sethi’s world is about far more than having a lot of money. Rich means designing your lifestyle so that you can spend time and resources on the things that are important to you.
Summary of main ideas
That’s a worthy goal. To get there, you need to take control of your financial life. If you don’t know much, or anything, about personal finance. This book is the place to start.
Sethi lays out a six-week gameplan. In reality, you don’t need to follow each step in succession, but each stage builds on the previous one to take you on a journey from free-spending financial illiterate to disciplined (and relaxed) investor on the path to building wealth while enjoying life along the way.
Among other things, you will learn how to do the following (and why)
- Optimize Your Credit Cards - While many people get into financial trouble because of costly late payment fees, credit cards can actually be put to work in your favour to build up your credit score and earn points towards travel.
- Adopt a Conscious Spending Plan - Sethi argues that trying to stick to a budget is unrealistic for most people, who may start with good intentions but will eventually give up. He proposes an approach where you automatically deduct fixed costs and savings and then use the remainder for guilt-free spending.
- Automate Everything - An important concept that runs throughout the book: The less you actually have to do to manage your finances, the more chance that your finances will be managed!
- Start Investing - For anybody who hasn’t heard of Compound Interest or the concept of managed vs non-managed investment funds, this section is essential reading. Or, more simply: “Spend extravagantly on the things you love. Cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”
While many people get into financial trouble because of costly late payment fees, credit cards can actually be put to work in your favour to build up your credit score and earn points towards travel.
How this book can help you
There are many great books about personal finance but I Will Teach You to be Rich is the one I wish I could go back in time and force my teenage self to read. It changed my financial life as an early thirty-something, mainly because it revolutionised my understanding of money.
Early on in my adult life, I saw money as a means of paying bills and buying stuff with anything left over. I hated talking (or being talked to) about money, it felt like a hugely complicated subject, especially as my bank account had a magical ability to stay at a similar level for years on end. I was squeamish about negotiating salaries and I assumed buying property would be a great idea, if only I could somehow afford it (I’m not saying it isn’t, but it depends).
Sethi made me realise money is simply a resource that can enable you to spend time doing what you love. With that perspective, time can be considered just as - if not more - valuable, and money’s greatest value is often that it buys you time. He also made me understand that the basics to getting your finances under control are really quite simple.
I will always be grateful to this book for pushing me to automate as much of my financial life as possible, helping me understand the importance of getting paid fairly, and introducing me to the concepts of compound interest and index fund investing. Less specifically, I think I can attribute some credit to I Will Teach You to Be Rich to helping me develop a Growth Mindset, although there are many books that have helped with that particular journey!
Some good further reading/watching/listening
Where to get it
About the author
Ramit Sethi started a personal finance blog called I Will Teach You To Be Rich while still an undergraduate at Stanford University in the early 2000s. He first published Will Teach You to Be Rich in 2009, with an updated version released in 2019. He is also the founder of GrowthLab.com and owner and a co-founder of PBworks, a commercial wiki website.
Penguin Random House LLC
March 23, 2009
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