The 5 Most Valuable Lessons from I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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I never wanted to be rich.

To be rich brings up a lot of negative associations for me and is one of my money limiting beliefs.

So I admit that the title itself – I Will Teach You To Be Rich – turned me off for a long time.

But through the internet, I am aware of Ramit’s philoshophy of “Spending extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t” and it has always resonated with me.

So finally, I decide to read I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Specifically I read the second edition, UK version.

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I loved it.

Even though the book is aimed at the youngsters – 20 to 35 year olds.

It’s a 6 week personal finance program – step by step guide on how to use credit cards, set up automation of savings, investments and retirement accounts, setting up a Conscious Spending Plan (no budget here … another of Ramit’s philosophy that resonates a lot with me, haha) and so on.

There is a ton of advice – how to talk to your partner about money; negotiating a raise; how to save for a wedding; should you pay off your student loans or invest; rent or buy a house and so much more.

I also enjoyed references to his Indian heritage as I relate to a lot of it. My Chinese heritage is not dissimilar ie parents wanting good grades, tertiary education a MUST for progressing in life and of course, marriage and kids (big fail here – which my Dad always reminds me every Christmas and Chinese New Year)

So, what lessons did I, a late starter, learn from I Will Teach You To Be Rich?

Lesson 1 - What does your Rich Life look like?

Ramit asks this question early in the book – What does your rich life look like?

I love, love this question!

Because without knowing the answer, it seems pointless to be saving, automating investments and salary sacrificing into retirement accounts.

After all, what is the money for?

It’s easy to think that I am saving for my retirement, that I want to be secure and that saving will give me options later. But options to do what, exactly?

I have been pondering a version of this question for most of the year. And will likely do so for the next 5 years as I transition to retirement at 55.

Questions such as – What do I really want to do once I fully retire? What will be my purpose? Will I still be productive? And useful? How will I use my free time? What will my lifestyle look like? And endless more ..

But Ramit challenges you to be SPECIFIC.

He wants you to have a vision for what to do with your money. To have that vision front and centre will motivate you when you make decisions to pay down debt, save and invest.

If you know what you value and what you don’t, it is much easier to “spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”

And this is where I found it quite hard. I have never really wanted to dream or ask for specific things because I never want to be disappointed if I don’t get them.

Gosh, that is such flawed thinking, isn’t it?

So what does MY Rich Life look like?

This is my attempt to be more specific about what my rich life looks like. I look forward to expanding on this initial list as I learn not to be so afraid to have specific dreams.

In no particular order, my rich life looks like this.

  • Eat well – I can afford to use quality ingredients when cooking at home and be able to indulge in fine dining while on holidays. When I eat out, I always want to be able to afford desserts at the end of the meal. I want to eat what I feel like eating and not be concerned about the prices of the meals. I can eat all the cheese I want – not stopped by cost but by health reasons 🙂
  • Travel – I can afford to travel overseas at least once a year and enjoy experiences unique to the destination. I want to slow travel, staying put in a place for weeks or months instead of days and really getting to know the local culture, food and lifestyle.
  • Read – I have all the time in the world to read. Additionally, I am not restricted by what my local library has in stock. If I want to read a specific book that my library doesn’t have, I can buy it.
  • Continuous learning – I can afford to attend workshops and buy courses, cooking lessons and gardening classes.
  • Unfettered time to spend with family and friends here and overseas. If a family member needs my help overseas, I can drop everything and be there for them.
  • Wake up whenever I like, without an alarm clock – this would be HEAVENLY for me
  • Cook for others, whether that is having friends and family over or volunteering in a soup kitchen. Be adventurous and experiment with new recipes and ingredients
  • Visit museums and art galleries, attend plays, musicals and concerts – in my own city and not just while I’m on holidays elsewhere
  • Be healthy enough to do all the physical activities I want such as walking and hiking
  • Write in some form
  • Pursue any project or hobby without time or cost constraints
  • Not having to work to support my lifestyle ie I have sufficient passive income or a big enough investment portfolio that I can draw down ie working for money becomes optional
  • The ability to do my chores on weekdays instead of cramming everything into the weekends
 
While some of these activities require money, a lot don’t.
 
Writing this list has shown me that I am living some version of my rich life already, yay!
 
Full length of rich woman in elegant dress standing against limousine and private jet
No, this is not what my rich life looks like 🙂

Lesson 2 - Guilt free spending

I am a spender.
 
But after discovering FIRE, I’ve tried to reform my ways 🙂 The result of which is that sometimes I feel guilty spending money.
 
I realised while reading about how to set up a Conscious Spending Plan that I don’t have a splurge account for guilt free spending.
 
When I first found FIRE at 47, there were so many competing priorities for my money.
 
I felt so very behind in my finances – I didn’t have enough saved in my superannuation; my shares portfolio had languished for years; non existent emergency fund.
 
Therefore the last thing on my mind was an account for guilt free spending. Any inexpensive fun stuff was lumped with every day living expenses.
 
I suppose my travel sinking fund can be considered a splurge account. But because it is named as a travel fund, I feel guilty using it for anything else.
 
And lately, I’ve raided it to pay for blogging expenses, courses or memberships (so many skills to learn, lol!) It has been building nicely due to not being able to travel for the last 2 years.
 
I know the money is mine to do as I wish but I feel guilty nonetheless.
 
And of course I’ve reviewed my money allocation in the past. But it was to add more sinking funds – for a future car and home maintenance.
 
But now, my emergency fund has 6 months of expenses; my superannuation is at a point where I can reduce my contribution drastically; I am at Coast FI. More than 3 years down the road to FIRE, my financial situation has improved dramatically.
 
Therefore it is time to review my automated money flow again and make a few changes.
 
Before – a sum would be deducted from my pay and deposited in my investment account. Every 5 weeks, I would transfer it to Pearler, my brokerage platform where I had set up automatic investment.
 
Now – to simplify the process, I’ve set up a weekly transfer to Pearler directly. And when it hits a certain amount, it will automatically invest in my chosen ETF – VAS. I will miss out on miniscule interest to be earned in my bank account but it is much simpler this way.
 
Therefore I have renamed my investment account to “Invest in Myself” account. And automated a weekly deposit of $50 – it’s not a lot but it’s a start.
 
I will use this account primarily for buying courses, books, workshops etc totally guilt free. In addition, if there’s something I particularly want for myself, I’ll use the funds here.

Lesson 3 - Decide ahead of time what you'll do with a windfall or a raise

I never really thought about this before.

Any bonuses I received would go to my investment account. Or I’d use it to pay for upcoming expenses. For example, my tax refund was used to pay for my medical out of pocket expenses earlier in the year.

Ramit suggests you should spend some of it as a reward. So that you’ll always look forward to getting a once off unexpected income.

So  from now on, if I win the lottery or get an unexpected bonus, 50% will go to my Pearler autoinvest account, 40% into my travel fund and 10% into “Invest in Myself” account.

Any overtime payments go into having a one month buffer for everyday living expenses. Once this is funded, any overtime payments can go to my travel fund.

And any cash dividend under $100 will fund “Invest in Myself” account. Any single cash dividend greater than $100 will be transferred to Pearler. The vast majority of my dividends are automatically reinvested via Dividend Reinvestment Plans so cash dividends are minimal.

If I get a raise, I’ll just increase the contribution to my Pearler autoinvest account. The faster I build up my shares portfolio, the faster I can retire. But I don’t want to do this at the expense of my sanity.

Lesson 4 - Set some spending 'framework'

This one is a bit dangerous for  me, being a spender.

Ramit’s example is if he’s thinking of buying a book, he’ll just buy it. Even if he learns one thing from the book, it would have been worth it.

Here are mine – the first revolves around travel.

When travelling, if there’s an expensive experience or activity I want to do or a fine dining restaurant to visit, just do it – I may never return to this place again.

Time is precious – only look for direct flights or one connecting flight if direct flights are not possible.

My second spending framework involves food.

I never ever want invited guests to go home hungry or needing to buy McDonald’s on the way home. So I don’t mind spending a bit more and having more food than absolutely necessary – I love leftovers anyway and nothing is wasted.

I can’t come up with any more spending frameworks at the moment but it has made me think.

 

Discovering local parks in my area - trying to live life outside my spreadsheet

Lesson 5 - Live life outside your spreadsheet

Yes, I needed this reminder.

Lately, I have been charting many metrics related to my FIRE journey. I’m blaming this on seeing many pretty charts on Instagram. And on the current lockdown that seemed to drag on forever.

I keep checking my numbers to make sure I’m still on the right track. I’m driving myself nuts.

The truth is I have automated my savings and investments and I am on track.

It is time to live outside my spreadsheet and charts and just trust time to do its thing.

Final thoughts

I Will Teach You To Be Rich is essentially a 6 week step by step guide for managing your personal finances, aimed at 20 to 35 year olds. But it is so much more than that.

I am not the book’s target demographic plus I have already automated my savings, investments and bill paying before reading the book.

But even so, I loved it for the ‘higher level’ thinking it’s provoked in me.

To recap, the 5 most valuable lessons for me are:

– Be specific about what my rich life looks like

– Have an account for guilt free spending

– Decide ahead of time what to do with a windfall or a raise

– Set some spending frameworks

– Live life outside the spreadsheet

Have you read I Will Teach You To Be Rich? What lessons did you learn from it?

How I Transformed My Limiting Beliefs About Money

Book cover of You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

Unfortunately, there isn’t a miraculous strategy to achieving Financial Independence (unless you win the lottery or inherit lots of moolah).

The equation is the same for all, young or old and anyone in between.

Decrease your expenses, increase your income and invest the difference between your income and expenses. Add time … and voila, you will arrive at the destination of financial independence.

I recently wrote that the most important money habit is to spend less than you earn. And that combining this habit with increasing your income is undeniably the best strategy to achieve FI.

In my own journey, I have focused on decreasing my expenses because it is something I can do immediately. And because at heart, I am a spender. So I wanted to build good spending habits first and get my spending under control.

I am now ready to look at the other part of the equation – it is time I focus on increasing my income.

And … that is when I hit the BRICK WALL of limiting beliefs so fast that I am bruised all over and covered in bandages.

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You are a Badass at Making Money

I started reading Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass at Making Money. – Master the Mindset of Wealth.

Her premise is this – if you are ready to make more money, you can.

Seriously, this is her FIRST sentence, in the introduction.

And this is me, incredulously  – yeah, right!

Can you see how much work is ahead of me?

In a nutshell, I don’t believe I can make more money.

I am at that stage of my life where working hard over the years led to burnout. And I eventually transitioned to a role with less responsibilities and overtime and therefore less pay.

So, now I want to earn more money?

My head is screaming – are you nuts? Remember burnout? Do you want to go there again? It’s taken you a while to recover and chill, to love having time to yourself again. You want to give that up?

This is why it took me over two months to read the book. You should have heard the conversations I had with myself … it wasn’t easy confronting my many limiting beliefs about making money.

My limiting beliefs hold me back

I live a privileged life – money has never been an issue, not in my childhood and not as an adult. Even when I did not have a full time job when I graduated from university, I managed to survive with part time and casual jobs. I have always had enough food, clothes and a roof over my head. My parents had enough money to educate me.

And yet, I have so many limiting beliefs about making money and having money in general. I understand that a lot of these money beliefs are from my childhood – observing how my parents handled money and what their beliefs were about money.

Reading this book helps me confront the truths of these beliefs and rewrite them.

Here we go …

Limiting Belief #1 - Money is the root of all evil

I subconsciously believe that if I have a lot of money, I would be an evil person; that having a lot of money may make me do evil things … so it’s best not to have too much.

The truth is that money is a tool. A tool that can be used for good or evil. It is up to us, human beings to choose how we use it. Money, in itself is not evil.

My new truth – I have control – I choose to use money for good, to be generous with it, to help those in need. The more money I have, the more time I can spend volunteering and helping others without worrying about how to support myself.

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Limiting Belief #2 - Money can't buy happiness

This is true.

There are happy people who don’t have money and unhappy people who have a lot of money. The converse is also true.

What makes me happy can cost a lot or nothing.

Veggie gardening makes me happy – seeing my seedlings grow and produce food is so therapeutic. It is my dream to be able to raise seedlings from seeds I save but I am not there yet. So I spend money to buy seedlings and seeds. My worms and composting system are not working to full capacity yet so I have to buy good quality potting mix every now and then.

Another activity that brings me joy is travelling to new destinations, experiencing other cultures, eating other cuisines, meeting local folk. I can do it inexpensively by visiting countries with a lower cost of living than Australia. But it is also my dream to visit Antarctica one day – I even list it as a goal for the decade. Visiting Antarctica is expensive!

I love spoiling my family or friends. It would be nice to do so without worrying about how much experiences or gifts cost. Spending time with them also involve having enough money to slow travel to see some of them overseas.

So the truth is that money supports my happiness. Yes, I can be happy and adjust my wants and expectations accordingly if I didn’t have money. But having more money will not make me unhappy automatically – it is how I earn the money and what I do with the money that matters.

Limiting Belief #3 - I am greedy to want more money

Am I greedy to want more money?

How much is enough?

Am I not grateful to have what I have already?

The truth is I am striving to reach financial independence so I don’t have to depend on anyone, including the government to support me in my old age. Being single, I am my own back up plan; I have no one else to rely on. And it would be a bonus if I can leave my niece something when I pass on.

I don’t want more money for money’s sake.

My FI ‘number’ covers my every day expenses plus the ability to travel overseas. Making more money would enable me to reach FI by 55 – it is a self imposed deadline and I am 100% ok with working part time if I can’t meet this deadline.

I am immensely grateful to be in the position I am in – I am incredibly lucky to be able to pursue financial independence in the first place.

 

Limiting Belief #4 - Wanting to make more money is not a worthy pursuit

I struggle with this. It is closely related to limiting belief #3.

I feel guilty whenever I think about making more money. Am I shallow and unworthy to think about making more money? I should be thinking about how to solve world peace and feed the hungry instead; or something noble like that.

My new truth – I give myself permission to make more money. Once again, I don’t want more money to hoard it. I will use it wisely – first of all, to ensure I don’t need anyone to bail me out financially and secondly, to enable me to donate my time and more money to charities or causes dear to me.

Limiting Belief #5 - Rich people are snobbish and selfish, therefore I don't want to be rich

Um … I seem to have a lot of hang ups about being rich.

I am generally unimpressed by the outwardly rich people, in particular entitled and spoiled celebrities. But there are lots of people who are rich (think Millionaires next door types) but you wouldn’t know it. They are the kind of rich people I aspire to be.

My new truth – I don’t have to be a spoilt brat rich person. I don’t have to change the fundamental me, just because one day, I will have a net worth of a million dollars. I give myself permission to be rich. (As a sign of much work to be done yet … I’m shuddering as I type the last sentence)

Limiting Belief #6 - Money doesn't grow on trees

In other words, money is hard to come by. So don’t squander it, don’t gamble it away. Keep it safe. You don’t know if you will get more and when you will get more.

This was drummed into me from a young age.

That is why I feel guilty when I spend money. And why perversely, I get such a thrill at the same time when I do spend it. It’s me rebelling against parental teaching.

My new truth –  I believe I can make more money. I believe I am able to invest it according to my risk appetite and that my money invested in index funds is safe.

Limiting Belief #7 - I will burn out again

This is a big fear for me.

Having experienced burn out before, I never want to experience it again. Ever.

My fear is that if I start pursuing an increase in income, I will spend more time and energy working on side hustles, leading to less time for relaxation and once again, living a stressful life.

My new truth – I am in control of my life. I get to decide how much time I want to spend increasing my income. And how much time I have to wind down and relax. I can set in non negotiable rest times and guard against burn out. It doesn’t mean that I will automatically be burned out if I explore ways to increase my income.

 

Limiting Belief #8 - If I don't work hard for my money, I don't deserve it

I was brought up to work hard, that success (and therefore money) would follow.

Therefore learning about passive income was mind blowing.

You mean I can earn money from not actively working?

I understood about being paid a dividend from owning shares in a company. But investing upfront with time and work on a digital product and then be paid every time someone buys it? Amazing!

My new truth – it is ok to embrace passive income and work hard at establishing passive income streams.

 

Australian bank notes | Money limiting beliefs
Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

Limiting Belief #9 - I am not smart enough to make a 6 figure income

I have never earned a 6 figure salary. In all my years of working, I can only recall negotiating for a pay rise once, in my early years.My pay has obviously increased over the years, just not by leaps and bounds.

Earning a 6 figure income has always seemed unattainable. But more than that, I don’t believe I am capable of earning a 6 figure income.

My new truth – I can figure out how to earn a 6 figure income if I develop some passive income streams.

Limiting Belief #10 - Being an entrepreneur is too risky

Both my parents worked for a corporate giant. They expounded the great value of having a stable job and secure income. Having one’s own business was too risky.

I somehow absorbed this thinking too.

Since discovering FIRE blogs & podcasts, I have started to view entrepreneurship as a valid way to earn a living and that a 9-5 job can be risky too.

My new truth – I can be my own boss, establishing those passive income streams, starting with this blog, to supplement my 9-5 job. Baby steps!

 

Busting those limiting beliefs

Obviously, letting go of our limiting beliefs doesn’t happen overnight. They have been our truths for a long time. Changing them to our new truths or new mindset will take time.

I love Sincero’s explanation of how mindset works.

Your beliefs take you where you are going – they drive the bus.

But your thoughts are like the tour guide – they work in conjunction with the bus driver and have the right of veto ie they can change your direction.

Your words are the assistant – they help your thoughts and beliefs to be real, to have a voice.

Your emotions keep you excited and motivated – it is the fuel to keep you going.

And lastly, your actions build the road for your beliefs to travel on but can easily be diverted by thoughts and emotions.

And when all these aspects of mindset work together, you can make things happen.

Are you ready for some woo woo - ness?

According to Sincero, there is a force larger than ourselves at work – she calls it Universal Intelligence or some people call it God or Spirit or the Universe.

Our thoughts influence the energy that is reflected back to us. So if we keep thinking that we can never afford that expensive holiday then Universal Intelligence notes that and we will be stuck at home. But if we imagine it and dream about it and are open to making it happen, then Universal Intelligence will take note and arrange the energy to make it manifest in physical form.

I will be honest – this was where I got stuck – it was a bit woowoo for me. But after the next few chapters, I understand what she means.

Our thoughts are powerful. Our beliefs can hinder us or motivate us to achieve whatever we want to achieve. If we desperately want something, we’ll make it happen. If you tell yourself constantly that you are no good with money, then you will not want to learn how to manage it, how to earn more of it.

So if you want to make more money, you need to be open to making more money. You need to put it out there, to the Universe that you are open to any opportunities it sends your way.

It is our mindset that we need to change. It is the stories we tell ourselves that dictate the paths we follow.

 

And ... umm ... it works!

I will admit that I am utterly shocked that it kinda works.

As I mentioned earlier, visiting Antarctica is one of three goals I want to achieve within this decade. And amazingly, a few weeks ago, Frogdancer Jones wrote a post about wanting to visit Antartica too. So I sent her a DM on Twitter and asked if I could join her. She graciously said yes and that we will be looking at 2022 or 2023 as a realistic timeline due to Covid travel restrictions. And that it will give us time to save for the trip.

So now all of a sudden, there is a target year. And the need to save up just became more real. I have a travel fund that is adding up quite nicely as I haven’t travelled this year. But I also wish to visit family overseas so this travel fund is more or less spoken for.

Therefore I need new income to funnel into my Antarctica fund.

And this is where I practised the woowoo-ness I learned from reading You are a Badass at Making Money. You have no idea how uncomfortable I feel, closing my eyes and saying out loud – I am open to making more money. I want to earn more money.

I am not joking – a day after I did this – out of the blue, two, not one but two people reached out and asked me about an affiliate. Eventually by the end of the week, I had two people use my affiliate link. NO ONE HAD EVER USED MY AFFILIATE LINKS BEFORE. EVER. I am so grateful (you know who you are!) that I am on my way to Antartica!

I also signed up to Octopus Group, an online survey provider in Australia, and has earned nearly $10, answering a few surveys (while watching TV and at my lunch breaks).

I’m not saying I’m raking it in but at least I am making the most of opportunities that come my way. I will continue to manifest opportunities to come my way.

Of course, it could all have been a big coincidence but then again, who am I to go against Universal Intelligence/God/Universe?

Final Thoughts

Reading You are a Badass at Making Money has helped me to debunk my limiting beliefs about money and rewrite new truths.

I am learning how to change my mindset – to be aware of my thoughts and the words I use to frame new beliefs which then generate excitement and desire to fuel my actions.

Despite the woowoo-ness of manifesting my desire to make money, I will continue onwards to see if it leads me all the way to Antarctica and eventually, financial independence 🙂

It is a work in progress.

I am a work in progress.

What are your money limiting beliefs? How will you change your mindset?