Is a "rich life" at the end of I Will Teach You to Be Rich?

My seven-year-old son once said, “I want to be famous but not rich because rich people can’t know God.”

He learned this from the biblical story known as The Rich Young Ruler, where Jesus famously tells a rich man to sell all he owns and give it to the poor.

The irony of my son’s remark is that he wants to be YouTube famous someday—and the Bible has a few things to say about pride too.

That said, I still appreciate that my son is at least learning the broad strokes of biblical thinking.

What I thought about money

For a long time, I agreed with my son’s simplistic take. I didn’t really think about money because I feared what accumulating it might do to me.

Actually, that’s a spiritual veneer for the reality: I didn’t think about money because I didn’t want to.

Managing my finances was too much work. I rationalized my laziness by telling myself, “I’m not a numbers guy.” I allowed my ignorance to buoy my laziness.

Consequently, I effectively lived paycheck to paycheck, knowing (hoping) that enough money would be in my account to get me to the next month.

Gratefully, I was never truly paycheck to paycheck, but neither did I ever get ahead. I had just enough income, just enough debt, just enough to put away.

Then I read and devoured two financial planning books in late 2022: I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi and The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel. (They’re a great pairing of the abstract and the practical, the why and the how.)

I desperately wish I would have read both in college.

I’m old enough to have working financial knowledge, but I’ve never felt financially literate. And I’ve definitely never felt financially excited. But thanks to Sethi and Housel, I feel secure in my financial knowledge and I’m excited about our plan for the coming year.

On the positive side, Sethi discussed much that I already knew about, but seeing a bigger picture of what we could actually do with our finances motivated me to actually (finally) take meaningful action.

The only drawback is that the conversations I’ve had with my wife in the last few months are ones we should have had ten years ago when we married.

But, as Sethi reminds us, the best time to start is now.

Who should read I Will Teach You to Be Rich?

  • Twenty-year-olds with little to no financial knowledge
  • Thirty-year-olds with no long-term financial plans
  • Forty-plus-year-olds (like me) who should know better by now

Three choice quotes from I Will Teach You to Be Rich

  • “Most of us fall into one of two camps regarding our money: We either ignore it and feel guilty, or we obsess over financial details by arguing interest rates and geopolitical risks without taking action. Both options yield the same results—none” (p. 7).
  • “Sustainable change is central to personal finance” (p. 152).
  • “It’s important to maintain your automated financial system. Every year, I spend a few hours re-reviewing my system and making any changes necessary” (p. 274: The Annual Financial Checklist on that page is excellent).

In conclusion

I Will Teach You to Be Rich is an essential introduction to managing your money. If it were an assigned text for all college freshmen, the country would be a richer place in more ways than one.

And as for rich people knowing God, I believe they can.

But it’s what they do with those riches that ultimately matters.

This review originally appeared at GoodReads and contains Amazon Associate affiliate links.

Featured image: Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash