Books remain my favorite medium of learning. With my shift to 2-post-a-week blog schedule, I realized the one piece that I have missed out writing on has been Book Club! The good thing is that now the learnings from Personal Finance books will be interspersed with those from Self Development. It is only fitting then that today’s’ book, How Rich People Think by Steve Siebold, falls neatly in the center of this intersection.
Originally published in 2010, the book is neatly divided into 100 short chapters that compare the “world class” and the “middle class”. To me, world-class essentially stood for people who are or have the potential to become rich. While the title mentions only how rich people “think”, some of the chapters mention how they act as well.
This best part? The chapters are short, make their point and are then followed by an action step, a quote and a resource for further understanding (mostly books). I was so fascinated by the book that while reading it, I ended up making an excel sheet with all the chapter takeaways.
Here, I will talk about the top 11 lessons I took from the book and add some of the books recommended by Siebold.
1. Middle class focusses on saving… World class focusses on earning
There has been a phase in life where I could be called a penny pincher and ultra-focused on saving. While I am still not a spendthrift, I think this is a vital difference. One can become rich in 2 ways – save more or earn more. Saving and earning are two very different mentalities and finally saving more can happen only to an extent.
In some ways, that’s one of the reasons why frugality blogs have never held much of an appeal for me. Would I make a soap for myself at home or rather use that time to work on enhancing my skills and earning ability for the future? I would always pick the 2nd.
Suggested Book – The Rich: A New Study of The Species by William Davis
2. Middle class worries about money… World class dreams about money
Money, as I have discovered, brings to the surface a lot of emotions for us. There are two types of people – one, with ever growing needs which makes them always worry where the money will come from and second, those who have their feet on the ground and head in the clouds, dreaming of the day that they would be earning more money.
When money is scarce, it is easy to fall into the habit of worrying about money. But, in my experience, dreaming about money and the days that it will be so much more is a far better motivation than worrying about its’ scarcity.
3. Middle class thinks about spending… World class thinks about investing
With money, sometimes the easiest thing to do is splurge especially on flashy things or even “experiences”. However, the best job that you could give your money is that of growing.
I have heard from so many people by now that they do not earn enough to invest, and these people are generally earning quite well. If even half the people tracked their expenses, they would be able to see many more opportunities for diverting funds to invest. The gap here is prioritization – very few people are able to wait for the gratification that investing brings with it.
Suggested Book – How to Build Wealth by Peter Suchy
4. Middle class has a lottery mentality… World class has an action mentality
To me, this was an important difference. Most of us wait for our savior. One of the biggest reasons the current government came to power was the promise of Rs. 15 Lakh in every account with the dream of coming down heavily on black money.
However, most people who actually become rich are the ones who know they need to take action to achieve anything in life. This is something that we have learned in other subjects too, right? “There’s no free lunch in the world” as per economics and Newton gave us the memorable theorem “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.
So, you need to take action rather than wait in vain for the stars to align and a jackpot with your name.
Suggested Reading – Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
5. Middle class believes money changes people… World class believes money reveals people
The other day I was discussing one of the recent banking scams with a colleague where the CEO is now on an extended leave on moral grounds. My colleague exclaimed how money changes people and the greed for it makes them do all kinds of things. My counterpoint (which I have probably picked up from this book) was that money merely intensifies the character of the person.
If you already have loose morals, money gives you an opportunity to up the game. However, if you are a person with a strong set of value systems and beliefs in place, you would use the money to do good in the world rather than be in the mission of hoarding it.
Suggested Book – Mind Over Money by Brad Klontz & Ted Klontz
6. Middle class denies the importance of money… World class knows money is a critical component of life
Yet another mindset shift that I worked on, for myself over the years. We Indians, especially since we have seen scarcity till as recently as a generation or two back, have been fond of telling ourselves money is not important.
Giving less importance to money was probably a defense mechanism when opportunities were much lesser in India. Today, however, it is more of an excuse and we need to know when to let go of it.
Does this mean money is everything? No. Is it important to lead a good and comfortable life? Absolutely.
Suggested Book – Benjamin Graham on Investing. Edited by Rodney Klein
7. Middle class believes money is about status… World class believes money is about freedom
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is one of the most self-defeating uses that you can put your money to. If you are running after money just to be able to get the biggest flashiest car or put up photographs of numerous holidays, then you are in the wrong game.
Money can set you free. The knowledge of knowing that you have the ability to earn, make your way in this world even if you are knocked down is what you get in an honest quest for it.
Suggested Book – The Perfect Portfolio by Leland Hevner
8. Middle class believes people are out to get them… World class believes the universe is conspiring to help them
Even with the limited money, a lot of people are always fearful of being cheated, duped or separated from their money by the other people – be it the government with their ever-increasing taxation or any premium service provider.
The rich, on the other hand, have realized and also been helped by a lot of people on their journey to success. They have built relationships, identified mentors and used their positivity to reach where they did. In some ways, it’s about knowing your goal, making an action plan and powering through it. The route finds the keen traveler.
Suggested Book – Warren Buffet Wealth by Robert Miles
9. Middle class dreams of having enough money to retire… World class dreams of having enough money to impact the world
I think this is where I fundamentally disagree with the FIRE blogs which promote extreme savings for a few years to retire early. For me, the dream is to engage with people and help them sort through their money and create a rich life for them.
Suggested Book – Money Management for Those Who Don’t Have Any by James L. Paris
10. Middle class believes they must choose between a great family and being rich… World class knows you can have it all
Another gripe I have heard from people around me – I don’t want to be ambitious as I want to have a family. I have come to realize that these two aspects are not mutually exclusive. It depends on remembering your priorities and working keeping them in mind.
As Siebold puts it in another lesson, it’s all about working smart.
11. Middle class doesn’t believe in personal development or self-help… World class believes they are the secret to getting rich
I have, for a long time, turned away from any personal development sections in libraries or bookshops. For the last few years, I have now been reading one fiction and one non-fiction book simultaneously and benefited from them tremendously. I have been consciously working on my mindset, thinking about the actions I can take and learning new things like becoming a Certified Financial Planner. The one thing I now want to be is a continuous learner.
These 11 lessons are just a small glimpse into this enriching book. It is a short read with long-term lessons and action steps to be followed.
Have you read the book? What was your biggest lesson from the book? Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org