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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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