Review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

A few years ago, I saw Ramit Sethi on The Daily Show promoting his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It sounded very helpful and like a book I should probably read. I filed it away on my Amazon Wishlist and forgot about it for a while. Since I recently got a job with actual income, I decided to buy the book and see what it was all about.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit SethiI’ll start by saying that this book blew me away. Since I’m busy studying medicine, I had not put much effort into learning about finance. I am still pretty young (ahem!), and I thought the topic was too complicated and something I could put off worrying about until later. In essence, Sethi wrote this book for people like me. It’s meant for people in their 20’s, and he points out a number of ways that you’re an idiot if you put off starting to save until it’s too late. While I assumed that “starting early helps,” I had no idea how much. He demonstrates with a nice chart that a person who invests $100/month for only 10 years starting at age 25 will have a lot more money at retirement than a person who invests $100/month for 30 years starting at age 35. That’s right. You have to save for 3 times as long if you delay starting for 10 years, and you still end up with less money!

The book is broken down into a 6-week program. You’re given tasks to complete each week. Tasks cover budgeting; tackling credit card debt and improving your credit history; setting up a no-fee, high-interest savings account; opening a 401(k) and an IRA; and learning to invest appropriately.

Besides just giving plain, old “good advice,” there are a lot of reasons that this book succeeds. First, he addresses perfection. Most people know they should do this stuff but don’t want to get started because the topic is overwhelming and they’re afraid they’ll do something wrong. They say, “I don’t want to make a mistake. I’ll just worry about it later.” Sethi advocates the 85% approach, wherein doing something 85% right is still a lot better than doing nothing, which equates to 0%. When addressing your budget, he doesn’t advocate being an all-around cheap penny-pincher. He proposes “conscious spending.” After socking away an appropriate percentage of your paycheck to savings and paying your bills, he tells you to consciously spend what’s left on things you love and avoid spending on things you don’t. He provides an example of a friend who spends $21,000/year on going out to bars. Granted this friend has a 6-figure salary, but Sethi makes his point. As long as you’re putting enough into long-term and short-term savings, it doesn’t really matter what you spend the rest on. He also breaks down overwhelming topics into digestible chunks and gives you timed, task-oriented directions. Importantly, he tackles a lot of common misconceptions around finances. For example, investing is not about picking stocks! He demonstrates thorough evidence that, aside from a very elite few, no person is able to consistently predict the stock market. Instead of losing thousands of dollars per year on fees to investment companies, he shows you how to create a portfolio that will return 8% on your investments long-term. This has been the average return for the last 80 years on the stock market, and you won’t do any better unless your name is Warren Buffett.

The best part about Sethi’s program is that he advocates for minimal effort. The last thing I wanted to read was a book telling me how I need to spend hours a week pouring over my finances, checking stocks, and doing financial research. In fact, it’s just the opposite. He teaches you how to make things happen automatically, so that after working through his 6 week schedule, everything is done. You’re making money without even thinking about it, doing things that you actually like, such as being with friends and family. He teaches you how to automatically direct money from every paycheck into savings so that you don’t even miss it. He teaches you how to automate investing so that you only have to think about your investments for about an hour per year (if that!).

I can’t speak highly enough of this book, and I can’t wait to put the rest of it into action. I need actual income for parts of it :). I know I’m being weird, but I want to convince almost everyone I know to read it: Sadie, my sister, my cousins, my friends. While it’s geared towards young people, I think middle-aged people could get a lot of benefit from reading this book too, especially on understanding investing and changing investments as you get closer to retirement. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Go out and buy a copy right now. Once you’re financially secure, you can start making decisions about life and your career based on what is in your best interest, not what will make you the most money to pay the bills. Define what “rich” means to you and make it happen!

5/5

January Books Read

In honor of my finishing a personal record 6 books in the month of January and in homage to Sadie-Jean:

January Books Read

Total Books Read: 6

Favorite Book: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Least Favorite Book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Hunger Games was a close second. Also, I feel like I should point out that two of the books that I “read” were audio books. I downloaded them (for free!) from Librivox and listened to them while I drove. Sadie says this still counts, but I’m tempted to be less generous about it. Still, hooray for reading!

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions is the story of Dwayne Hoover, a car dealer obsessed with the writings of a science fiction author named Kilgore Trout. Hoover has requested that Trout be invited to speak at his town’s art festival. As Trout travels to the city, Hoover undergoes some sort of mental breakdown.

The story is definitely odd, and it’s sprinkled with lots of Vonnegut’s artwork. Unfortunately, the story kind of lost me. Not that I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the plot, but rather that I wasn’t entirely sure of its point. It was definitely funny at times and insightful once or twice, but mainly it just left me wondering if I was missing something. Vonnegut has done that to me before, but usually there’s some other nugget of humor or insight that I can take out of his work. This one was a little tougher to grasp.

So, for Vonnegut, not his best work. For a book in general, it’s not bad, especially if you like humor and goofy illustrations. It’s definitely a quick read. I think I finished in 3 days. If you haven’t checked out some of his other stuff that I’ve reviewed, you may want to start there. According to his Wikipedia entry, in his book Palm Sunday he grades his performance on each of his novels. He gave Breakfast of Champions a “C”. I really enjoyed the work that he graded highly, so maybe I should listen to his reviews and pick up God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Mother Night the next time I’m in a Vonnegut mood.

2.5/5

Side note: A reader pointed out that the movie 2081, based on Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron, was released on DVD this month. Thanks!

The Lost Symbol

I spent the first week of my holiday break reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. This novel follows a similar format to Brown’s previous Robert Langdon stories, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. I enjoyed both of those stories a lot, which made reading this latest installment a no-brainer. In fact, I like Brown’s writing style quite a bit. I think it’s the short chapters that keep me saying, “I’ve got time for one more.” I also like that they tend to have a lot of puzzles, mystery, and suspense. Plus, I end up learning a lot about history by the end of the story.

As for this particular novel, it follows Robert Langdon as he is swept up in a tale surrounding the Ancient Mysteries when his close friend and leader of the Freemasons is captured by a madman. The story takes place almost entirely in Washington D.C., which was also interesting. As Sadie pointed out in her review, we traveled to D.C. a few years ago, so it was fun to picture some of the scenes.

So how does this novel compare with Brown’s other novels? I thought it was pretty good. I still think The Da Vinci Code is my favorite, but maybe that’s because it was also the first Dan Brown I’d ever read. I think I liked Angels & Demons a little bit more than The Lost Symbol, simply because I found the background of the Catholic Church a little bit more interesting than the Freemasons. I think I liked it as much as Digital Fortress and more than Deception Point. So, how’s that for a breakdown? My only real complaint about The Lost Symbol is that I guessed a few of the plot twists too early. It’s probably just because I’ve read too many of Brown’s stories before, though. Don’t forget to go vote for your favorite Brown novel over at Sadie’s blog if you haven’t already.

Overall, it’s not the best Langdon book, but definitely a must-read for any fans of Brown’s work. If you’ve never read a Langdon book before, you may be better off starting with The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons. And if there is anyone out there who has only seen the movies and not read the books, please do yourself a favor and read the books. You won’t be disappointed!

4/5

Strange Diseases, Oh My!

We were learning about a few strange diseases in Microbiology today. Sadie loves to read books on weird diseases like the ones we were talking about. Most of them are nonfiction, and they all sound pretty bizarre. I’ll add a short list of books she has read or reviewed and their corresponding diseases.

Before you ask, yes, my girlfriend is a huge nerd when it comes to books like this 😛 Practically every time we’re at borders she’s got something like this in her hand with a more “normal sounding” fiction book. I don’t think some of those books could keep my attention long enough, but if you’re interested, check them out. I stick to to her fiction recommendations!

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Here’s my turn to be Sadie for a minute. I finally finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Overall, it was pretty good. I liked John Berendt‘s writing style and the laid back atmosphere of Savannah was relaxing to read about. It wasn’t the most intense or exciting book I’ve ever read, but the characters were quirky and the story rounded out nicely in the end. I think I might have liked it more had I not dragged out reading it over the course of 2 month due to school. Overall 3.5/5