On my way to reading 1,000 books before I turn 30, this was number 384.
I take notes on everything I read, with my notes organized by book and by year. I also have a single word document containing my most important notes from each book, and I use these to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, the international human rights and disaster relief organization.
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If you think about something all day every day, then you just have to write about it. That’s how I feel about books and literature, so here are some of my notes and thoughts on the book, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”, by Ramit Sethi. Enjoy!
“Thinking that we need to do everything perfectly leads to not doing anything at all” – “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”
At last, for a generation that’s materially ambitious yet financially clueless comes I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi’s 6-week personal finance program for 20-to-35-year-olds. A completely practical approach delivered with a nonjudgmental style that makes readers want to do what Sethi says, it is based around the four pillars of personal finance- banking, saving, budgeting, and investing-and the wealth-building ideas of personal entrepreneurship.
Ramit Sethi is one of those people who contributed to my changes of thinking with respect to money.
To set the scene, nearly forty percent of humanity lives on less than $2 a day, and I drive to work every night in a drop-top sports car.
My fridge is stocked full of food, and there’s no group of crazy motherf***ers coming over the next hill that want to chop me into little pieces.
My life is so perfect in almost every way imaginable that the thought of wanting more money has always left guilt feelings within me. I shouldn’t want to make more money, when I’ve seen children with my own eyes, dangerously underweight, crawling on the ground, weak from hunger.
Worse, I thought that somehow I was some sort of righteous example of a wise man who has spurned wealth and rejected the pursuit of more.
You can see how this discussion is quite nuanced, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there need not be any guilt feelings with respect to money. You have to get your own finances first before you can help anyone else, and the more money you make, the more good you can do.
Ramit Sethi understands this, and this immensely practical book is a good read for anyone who thinks there’s more to life than living paycheck to paycheck, and making excuses for not making the kind of impact they want to make on the world.
“Don’t debate the details, just get started”
The idea of getting your finances in order can seem like a scary proposition, but getting started is the hardest part. When you finally take action, you will find yourself among a very select group of people who have actually done so.
There is an almost endless array of things you COULD do in order to get started, from making a budget to meeting with a financial planner, to reading dozens more books.
But details are just going to distract you from the most important thing, which is simply getting started in the first place. Battle your inertia, and your financial world will start to come together.
“The single most important part of becoming rich is to start early”
It’s completely true that every dollar you invest today is going to be worth much, much more later. Compound interest is so powerful that you’re missing out on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or MORE if you don’t start investing today.
Some Quick Tips From Ramit:
*A high credit score can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime
*Investing is the single most effective way to get rich
*Buy-and-hold investing wins over the long term, every time
*Bank fees can end up being more important than interest rates
*Every dollar you invest now is worth much, much more later
*Over the long run, the overall stock market has consistently returned about 8 percent
*An emergency fund is a critical piece of being financially secure
“Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the stuff you don’t”
Sethi doesn’t advise people to stop buying $3 lattes. IF you like lattes. For myself, I love books and coffee, and I have an unlimited budget for both. I simply don’t care how much my books and coffee cost me. I’ll spend and spend and spend on those two things.
But clothes? I haven’t bought new clothes (except for work) in, um…let’s see…I actually have no idea when. It’s been that long. At least over a year, that’s for sure.
I love books and coffee, and I don’t really care about clothes. So I cut costs mercilessly on what I don’t care about (new clothes every season), and I go all-out on what I DO care about, which is coffee and Tolstoy.
“Money is just a small part of being rich”
Clearly, money as an end in itself doesn’t work. Our society is collapsing under a harmful commercial hero-system that rewards greed, envy, and ruthless ambition. This isn’t working. People are stressed out, unhappy, and hurting.
People who are REALLY rich, and I mean truly and honestly rich, not only in money, have more going for them than just the respect of slack-jawed idiots. They have time to enjoy the things they care about, they have great friends in their life, they have peace, and some of them even have money too.
If we’re ever going to become rich, we need to define for ourselves what constitutes a rich life and how we are going to set about achieving it.
“Get the solution 85% right and then fine-tune it later if necessary”
This is a theme that Sethi repeats over and over again in his book and on his fantastic website. An 85% solution is going to be good enough to get us started. We don’t need to, and can’t possibly, get everything perfect before we begin the real work. Get a minimum viable solution going, iterate, and keep fine-tuning as you learn new and better ways to do what you’ve always done.
“Start small now so that when you do have a lot of money, you’ll know what to do with it”
This goes with what we were talking about above. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter whether you have millions under management or you’re investing a few hundred dollars a year. Get started, learn the rules of the game, and then when you do have more money, you’ll know exactly how the game is played.
The first time that I put money in my savings account, I started with $50. And the next few times, I didn’t move much more than that into my savings account. That was all I could afford at the time, but I was learning how to do it, learning how to make and keep the habit of saving, and I prepared myself for further on down the road.
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“When someone goes from one behavior extreme to the other, the changes are rarely permanent”
Massive, sweeping changes in our lives aren’t usually possible or desirable. The person who cuts their expenses by 75% in the first month is going to have a hard time sticking to that.
But if you start with cutting expenses by 5% in the first month, 10% in the second month etc, then maybe you’ll have a chance. Make it easy for yourself to succeed, and let psychology work in your favor. Too many people are making things far too difficult by just heaping unrealistic expectations on themselves from the very beginning. No one expects you to have it all figured out right away.
I swallowed my fiscal pride and read a personal finance book. And you know what? I don’t regret it.
I needed the push, and Ramit Sethi really clarified a lot of murky financial concepts for me that I never really took the time to understand.
But it’s always good to be reminded that money only exists to let you do what you want to do.
You can take control of it today, without sacrificing your freedom and happiness today. You can spend money on the things that make you happy, and still save money for the future. But living only for tomorrow is no way to live.
Having money doesn’t require that you spend it, but having money will make a lot more possible for you and for all of us.
So, as a great street advertisement in The Simpsons once said, Let’s get fiscal!
All the best,
THE GODLIKE DISCIPLINE HANDBOOK
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May your discipline become godlike.
Matt Karamazov is a human rights activist, boxer, and writer who reads at least 100 books every year and throws 300 punches per minute. His website, Godlike Discipline, is dedicated to raising money for causes like Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch, among others. It’s also dedicated to helping people tackle their biggest willpower challenges. He also like death metal, and so, consequently doesn’t get many second dates. Here he is on a horse.