/ The Personal Blog of Basil Labib / blog

Notes: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

June 15, 2021

Sethi’s book, at it’s core, is a set of rules and tricks that can be applied by an aware and motivated individual to ensure a life of abundance relative to their current financial standings. Motivated to become rich himself (and hailing from India) at a young age, Sethi learnt from his blunders and noted his successes. He started blogging about his wins which eventually evolved into this book. Needless to say, his advice are well-researched, practical and tested. Do they work? It seems to.

This is my attempt to summarize the essential ideas presented in the book which is bore out of personal necessity as I am sure I will forget half of them (Speaking from past experience) in due course and will procrastinate till the universe cools down to open the book and reread it. Ergo.

Two caveats before we begin:

  1. The book is dated. Use it as guiding rather than definitive. Research is key. Use the rather scant Terms section to look up artificially confusing financial terms.
  2. The book is centered on the average American citizen. Find appropriate / equivalent schemes for your country of residence.

How to get rich in one line: Clear all debts. Choose the right accounts. Spend consciously. Automate money flow. Invest early and aggressively. Improvise and take action.

Rich or Sexy?

  1. Getting started is more important than becoming an expert.

  2. Ordinary actions get ordinary results.

  3. Why do you want to be rich? (Hint: Because it sucks being poor).

Credit Cards

  1. Two components: credit report and credit / CIBIL / FICO score.

  2. Pay your credit bills on time. It’s free short-term loan. Get a no-fee card.

  3. Rewards are important. Two or three cards are fine. Keep them active for long. Get more credit. Offers excellent consumer protection.

  4. Small wins waste time.

  5. Debt: Pay off the highest interest-incurring cards first. Negotiate lower APR. Setup aggressive automatic transfers to pay off.

Bank Accounts

  1. Online savings account (NIYO, RazorPayX, Open) > Traditional savings account > Traditional current / checking account

  2. Savings account: save up for longer-term goals. Less transactions. Current account: for frequent withdrawals.

  3. Credit Unions: like local banks, not-for-profit, owned by customers.

  4. Downside online savings acc: Few days for transactions to clear.

  5. Talk to rep. Effective and important.

Setup investing

  1. Open up 401(k), Roth IRA and an investment account with a discount brokerage firm (Or whatever is your equivalent in your country).

  2. Setup automatic payments. Match 100% with your employee on 401(k). Go to Roth, then come back to 401 if still left.

Spending

  1. Allocate spending money in “buckets”.

  2. Rule of thumb: 60% expenses, 10-20% investing, 10% savings (or debt), 10% leisure (or debt).

  3. Don’t just save - Save for a goal. Track spending weekly.

  4. Increase revenue flow: Invest aggressively in yourself (health, education). Negotiate raise. Switch to higher-paying job. Do freelancing.

Automate

This provision…should target
PaycheckInvestment acc; Direct deposit to checking account
Checking accountInvestment acc 2; Savings acc; Credit card; Fixed costs (like rent); Unexpected
Credit cardFixed costs; Leisure spending

Investing

  1. Financial magazines, pundits, portfolio managers, advisers are nuisance. Cannot predict market 75% of the time. Manage yourself.

  2. Preference: (Lifecycle funds) > Index funds > Mutual funds > Stocks, bonds

  3. Major predictor of portfolio volatility: your mix of stocks and bonds. Your investment plan is more important than your actual investments.

  4. Index funds: low-management fee (expense ratio). Rebalance allocation every 12-18 months.

  5. Asset allocation: Check Swensen model

  6. W. Buffett - “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”. That is, “Buy low, sell high”.

  7. Ignore the noise.

Terms

  1. credit score / CIBIL / FICO - number between 300 and 850; represents credit risk to lender; higher is better.

  2. APR - Annual Percentage Rate. Interest rate to credit card companies.

  3. Credit utilization rate - how much you owe divided by your available credit.

  4. Life cycle funds or Target date retirement funds - “funds of funds”. managed. assets allocated based only on your age.

  5. Stocks: Large-cap, Mid-cap, Small, cap, International, Growth, Value. Bonds: Government, Corporate, Short term, Long term, Municipal, Inflation-protected (TIPS). REITs.

  6. REITs - Real Estate Investment Trust. Different than stocks or bonds.

Downsides

Okay, this might be a personal rant but the language of the book could have been more terse. This may be a demand my brain concocted from reading classics but formal language never hurts. Foregoing first-person addressing, frequent (and sometimes, redundant) jokes might have helped deliver the ideas in a more concise book thereby boosting the number of prospective readers who otherwise will shy away simply at the page count. As Cicero said, “When you wish to instruct, be brief”.

Maybe, just maybe, I would have been better off reading a classic.

Financial blogs

  1. Get Rich Slowly - interesting
  2. /r/IndiaInvestments wiki - great resource for Indian investors. Check “Recommended Reading” page (Another great collection of resources).
  3. Zerodha Varsity - resource for investors. Newbie friendly.

Basil | @itbwtsh

Tech, Science, Design, Economics, Finance, and Books.
Basil blogs about complex topics in simple words.
This blog is his passion project.