Read: I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Stars: Three and a half
I actually found Sethi’s book to be incredibly helpful, but his condescending attitude makes it a bit difficult to read. If you read his blog, you know that he already thinks he is the only, and best, personal finance genius. His motto is “focus on the big wins.” How do you get to those big wins? By buying his book and taking his expensive class to learn to earn $1,000 more each month. I got his book from the library, and found that much of the information it contained is already easily available on his blog.
That’s not to say, however, that the book is not worth reading. The “big wins” focus, as well as Sethi’s automated finances strategy are both solid financial advice. He advocates automating all recurring expenses (bills, rent, debt payments, 401(k), savings) and earning more money rather than cutting expenses as many personal finance experts advise. He claims that no one has the willpower to keep a budget or cut lattes (or other small expenses that add up over time). These are both really great techniques – I had already automated most of my regular expenses, so I automated the rest of them while I was at it – but it is unrealistic to repeat that most people can’t make or stick to a budget. Obviously plenty of people have, otherwise it wouldn’t be such prevalent advice! However, I agree that once the spending/income ratio is under control, a rigid budget is much less necessary. On the other hand, once I’ve automated bills and savings, I’m not going to go out and blow thousands of dollars on eating out or shoes, like some of his friends do. I am going to follow the Mustachian way of consuming only what I need and enjoying life, and for me, Sethi’s examples are not the way for me. He claims he is teaching the reader to be rich – yet most monetarily rich people are fairly frugal (see The Millionaire Next Door)
A final point: I love that Sethi includes charitable giving of either money or time (or both) as an important part of being rich. And while his tone is aggravating and some of his presumptions a bit silly, this is a good starting point for the personal finance novice who doesn’t want to spend time sifting through the blog. But seriously – get it from the library.