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Review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

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    As far as personal finance blogs go, Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich can’t help but stand out. Most of the personal finance blogs out there stick to calm explanations of what the writers are doing to improve their own finances, along with some tips meant to get readers interested in doing things the same way. In contrast, Sethi’s blog is loud, full of concrete examples on how to do things and aggressively effective. It makes Sethi stand out among the rest of the personal finance bloggers out there — and it’s made for a very interesting book. Sethi’s book, also titled I Will Teach You to Be Rich, came out yesterday and it’s already making some waves.

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    A Targeted Guide

    Sethi know his audience. I Will Teach You to Be Rich is aimed at 20-to-35 year olds, and it’s essentially a guide to getting your finances on track. The book covers a six-week program that automates saving and jump-starts investing — with more than a little information on banking, budgeting and entrepreneurship along the way. The information is very targeted: heavy hitting chapters on banking, for instance, are aimed towards readers who aren’t quite up to speed on all the ways banks make money off of account holders. That may seem to guarantee that the book will only offer introductory level material on personal finance, but I was surprised to see that it actually goes pretty in-depth. On the topic of banking, for instance, Sethi dives into the complexities of overdraft fees to the extent of providing guides to negotiating your way out of that first overdraft fee.

    I won’t claim that it’s an exhaustive volume — at just over 250 pages there just isn’t room for even half the material Sethi has covered on his blog. But I Will Teach You to Be Rich will definitely give the average twenty-something the tools necessary to get his or her financial house in order, along with some ideas on why to bother. The introduction asks, “Would you rather be sexy or rich?” With that question, Sethi embarks on an analogy that can’t help but make sense: money is like food. Most of us have stressed over our weight at some point or another and tried at least one ridiculous diet. But the fact of the matter is that the only thing we really need to know about food is that we should eat less and exercise more. Sethi makes the argument that the same level of simplicity is all it takes to keep our finances under control. It’s not a sexy approach — but it is an approach that can make you rich in the long run.

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    The language, anecdotes and overall style does make it very clear that you’re reading a book for the college-to-mid-thirties crowd. There are a few colorful metaphors, accompanied by shout-outs to Sethi’s mom. I Will Teach You to Be Rich is certainly one of the funnest books I’ve read on personal finance, and you shouldn’t think for a moment that the style detracts from the quality of information that Sethi shares. But it does certainly make it an easier read than most ‘must-read’ personal finance guides.

    The Emphasis on Entrepreneurship

    Where I think Sethi knocks it out of the park, both in his blog and in his book, is his emphasis on entrepreneurship. While most personal finance resources talk about topics like automating your finances or long-term investment strategies (albeit with less style), surprisingly few really promote entrepreneurship. In I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Sethi doesn’t go overboard with entrepreneurial concepts — after all, the book is first and foremost about achieving financial independence. But there are little discussions, here and there, that make it clear that Sethi doesn’t really expect anyone who has their finances taken care of to stick with an employer for the long-term.

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    It’s easy to attribute Sethi’s support for entrepreneurship as a part of personal finance to his own life: Sethi co-founded PBwiki and has turned his personal finance blog into a site with over 200,000 readers each month. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think that entrepreneurship is becoming more important, especially as people feel less secure in their jobs and have more options.

    Sethi tackles it from the point of view that most personal finance bloggers are focused on frugality — which seems like a pretty fair statement. In contrast, Sethi has focused on making money, whether through asking for a raise, investing and starting a money-making enterprise of one’s own. Don’t get me wrong — Sethi has devoted entire months to saving money. He just goes for the big savings, rather than frugal tips like making your own soap. But overall, Sethi focuses on helping readers to figure out how they can grow their earnings over time — and that is an approach that will really pay off. It makes both Sethi’s book and blog worth reading in my mind.

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    The Book

    If you’re interested in picking up a copy of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Amazon lists it as in stock on March 27. I did see copies on the shelf of my local major bookseller last night, however, so they are out there. I’m interested in seeing what you think of the book — personally, this is one book I think I’ll be referring back to.

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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