If you’re looking for a hand’s off approach to building wealth, this I Will Teach You To Be Rich summary, exploring this personal finance book by Ramit Sethi, is the place to start.
The book review covers the book’s key lessons, including how to automate accounts and optimize investments to live a rich life.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich Summary
- Only you are responsible for your financial problems or success.
- Know how much comes in so you can automate barriers around how much goes out.
- Spend on what you love and ruthlessly cut what doesn’t add value to your life.
- There’s a limit on how much you can cut but not on how much you can earn.
- Knowing the perfect answer is less important than taking action.
Who is Ramit Sethi?
Ramit Sethi is a graduate of Stanford University, Founder and CEO of Growthlab. His financial expertise is featured on ABC News, CNN, WSJ, and more.
His book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works, is a New York Times Bestseller, with over 1 million copies sold.
How long is I Will Teach You To Be Rich?
The book is roughly 350 pages long, or about a 10-hour read.
6 Important Takeaways from I Will Teach You to Be Rich
I Will Teach You To Be Rich encompasses the author’s 6-week money program, enabling readers to achieve financial literacy (link) in actionable small steps
To give you a taste of what you can expect, I’ve compiled the I Will Teach You To Be Rich summary to highlight what I found to be the 6 most valuable pieces of information extracted from the book.
1. Step up to the plate
You can blame your parents and the education system for not teaching you how to manage your money, employers for not paying you enough, or an economic downturn for leaving you strapped for cash.
But while those factors certainly can play a role in how you got to where you are today, only you can determine what happens next.
In the words of Taylor Swift, “I’m the problem; it’s me.”
So if you’re hoping for improved financial performance and security, the first step is stepping up to the plate and committing to do the work yourself, for yourself.
And don’t let this feel like he’s asking you to carry the world on your shoulders. He’s not. He’s asking you to empower yourself to make the changes you need to make to reach your goals, whatever that entails.
2. Make your bank accounts work for you, not against you
You don’t need complicated spreadsheets or an expensive software program to manage your cash effectively. But you do need bank accounts. And preferably ones that don’t cost you money to use.
The first thing you should look for is banks that don’t charge a fee just for keeping your cash in their vaults. Today, you’ll likely want to stick with online banking (Ramit suggests Ally and Capital One), as brick-and-mortar banks have more fees due to higher costs.
Similarly, and in particular, for those that travel often, you’ll want a bank that does not charge foreign transaction fees when you purchase something in a currency that differs from the currency of your account.
Finally, if you like having hard cash around, but your bank doesn’t have actual branches, be sure that your bank does not charge ATM withdrawal fees.
3. Credit card commandments
Credit cards can be useful, but they can also prove disastrous.
Ramit offers the following tips to help you responsibly capitalize on the benefits of credit cards:
- Pay off your card (in full!) regularly. Or, at a minimum, put at least $50 extra toward your balance to help keep accrued interest low.
- Save money by calling the credit card company and asking if they can waive the annual membership fee.
- Try negotiating for a lower APR.
- If you don’t carry a balance on your card, ask to Increase your credit limit. This will improve your credit utilization ratio and, thus, your credit score.
- Ask your bank to send you a list of all the perks you get for using their card–and then use the perks!
And if you do have some credit card debt, don’t panic. Ramit offers a plan:
- Freeze your credit cards.
- Pay the minimum monthly payment on all. A
- Aggressively pay down the card with the highest interest or highest balance.
If you stick with the plan, you’ll be out of debt sooner than you think.
4. Delegate to a robot
If what’s holding you back from taking control of your finances is the excuse that it takes too much time, Ramit is here to wipe that excuse clean off the map with his “Conscious Spending Plan.’
With Conscious Spending, make it impossible to spend the money you’ve promised for savings and bills by automatically splitting your paychecks into different, unlinked bank accounts. You can do this either through the banks or by asking your employer.
To support this method, you’ll want 2 checking accounts (fixed costs and guilt-free spending) and 2 savings accounts (emergencies and goals).
And to make managing your money even more effortless, Ramits recommends setting up the following automation:
- Work with your creditor, utility provider, landlord, etc., to get all your bills issued on the 1st of the month.
- On the 5th, have your bank automatically transfer money to a savings account or investment account.
- On the 7th, have your bank automatically pay the bills that came in on the 1st.
Tip: If your income is inconsistent, set a reminder on the 4th to check that your bank account has enough cash to fulfill your savings and bill transfers.
5. The market is your friend
Don’t let the stock market scare you away from being rich.
The beauty of investments is that thanks to compound interest, if you take a long term approach, you’ll almost always get more out than you put in. So you’re essentially getting free money. Who wants to miss out on that?
For example, let’s say you invest $1,000 for 10 years. Assuming a 10% annual return, the value of your investment will have grown to about $2,600. Your cash more than doubled!
Intrigued but need help figuring out how to start or where to invest first? Try Ramit’s waterfall approach:
- Invest enough of your paycheck in your employer’s 401(k) to enjoy their full match (more free money!)
- Pay off credit cards and other debt with interest rates above 10%
- Max out a Roth IRA
- Max out your 401(k) or another retirement account
- If you have one, put money in your Health Savings Account
- Put any remaining funds in a non-retirement brokerage account or mutual funds, like Vanguard, or lifecycle funds.
Tip: There’s no such thing as “too late to start now.” Forget the what-ifs. Just start now. Even if you only have $5 to spare.
6. Budgeting with a twist
Budgeting is a staple of personal finance. So, of course, Ramit covers the topic in I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
But if you’re rolling your eyes and happy to read anything other than another article on budgeting, Ramit’s budget system may be your perfect fit.
- 50-60% to fixed costs (rent, mortgage, groceries, utilities, car)
- 10% to investments
- 5-10% to saving
- 20-35% to guilt-free spending
His intent with this method is simple: If you’ve paid your bills and your future…enjoy your life! If new jeans bring you unmatched joy. Buy the damn jeans. Suppose you want a $350 plant. Then, by all means, get it.
Tip: Check out a related post for more tips on budgeting.
- 11 Secrets to Budgeting & Money Management With Confidence
- Understand Need vs. Want For An Accurate (& Honest) Budget
- Methods of Budgeting: 5 Sexy Money Systems for Ease & Security
What people are saying about I Will Teach You To Be Rich
If you’re like me and have more books on your “to-read” list than you’ll ever have time for, you probably diligently check the reviews before reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
So let me save you some time.
- Doesn’t ask you to give up all enjoyment.
- Easily digested, practical advice
- The writing style isn’t for everyone (very informal)
- A very light touch on student loans, which is surprising given the target audience is in their 20-30s
Final Thoughts: I Will Teach You To Be Rich Summary
If you’re at the beginning of your finance journey or want to get out of a rut – this book will do it for you.
I recommend it to those just starting on their financial journey to those well on their way and looking for a refresher on the ins and outs of personal finance.
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