- “I’ll Teach You How to Be Rich” has helped me get out of debt, repair my credit, and save money.
- I learned to stop making excuses, automate my finances, and prioritize my debts.
- I also learned the impact of fees over time, and that being a boring investor is a good thing.
Just over a year ago I was in deep debt and my credit score was in the 400s. I couldn’t get approved for any type of loan, and when retail stores asked me if I wanted to ask for their store credit card, my running joke was, “If you used my credit, it would break your machine.”
Finally, after a lifetime of financial irresponsibility, I decided I wanted to turn things around. I’ve read dozens of books, but “I’ll Teach You How to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi, is the one that changed my life.
Before reading this book, I thought all hope was lost for my financial future. I thought I would just be one of those people who never had good credit, a savings account, a retirement account, or any kind of investments. Not only did I have no money in savings, but I had five or six bills outstanding and owed about $8,000 in taxes.
Fortunately, Ramit’s book gave me the kick in the ass and the motivation I needed to get out of this situation. The book provided me with an incredible amount of value, but it was the five lessons that stood out to me the most and set me on the right path.
1. Assume your responsibilities
All my life I have been filled with excuses as to why my financial situation was a mess. I blamed my parents for not being good with money and used that as a crutch to never educate myself. I also justified not paying the bills because these companies didn’t need my money.
Ramit’s book hit me with some much needed tough love and made me realize that I was only hurting myself. I wasn’t doing any kind of activism to change the world by “sticking to the man”. Basically, I needed to grow up and be a responsible adult.
2. Prioritize debt first
I wanted to skip a lot of steps and dive straight into saving and investing, but the book told me how debt was actually costing me money. My debt was the reason for my low credit rating, which meant I was paying higher deposits, higher down payments, and higher interest rates. Not only that, but even trying to rent an apartment with my girlfriend or turn on the utilities was a pain.
I had no idea you could settle debts for less than the full amount until I read this book. He taught me the tactics of negotiating with creditors by explaining how financial institutions and collection agencies make their money. Some of my collections were years old, so they were happy to take anything I offered.
Also, the book taught me the importance of getting payment for removal letters to ensure collections were removed from my credit report, which I ended up needing for one of debts that I have repaid.
3. Automate your system
I’m a psychology nerd, so this made sense to me. Humans aren’t very good at willpower and self-discipline by design, which is why automation is so useful. Ramit taught me how to set up my accounts and automate my system to never miss payments, save responsibly and invest.
For example, my checking account goes through my stock brokerage site and I get paid by direct deposit twice a month. I also have a separate high yield savings account with another bank (another thing I learned from the book), and my credit card also goes through that bank. About two or three days after paydays, part of my money pays off my credit card balance, part goes into my savings account, and part buys stocks.
Above all, this is probably the most important lesson, and I always help friends set up a similar system.
4. Fees and interest rates are important
Like so many people, I think of monthly payments rather than the overall cost. This book explained to me why it’s the wrong thing to do. Interest adds up, and that’s how banks and other creditors make their money.
To put it into perspective, a $20,000 car loan for 72 months at 10% interest will cost you an additional $6,677.21 in interest. Improve your credit score or haggle the interest rate down to 6%, and the interest is only $3,864. That’s nearly $3,000 saved!
Now I’m obsessed with interest calculators, and it’s the main thing I look at when I take out loans or get a new credit card.
Your balance after 5 years
5. Be a boring investor
Finally, when it comes to investing, Ramit taught me that the best thing to do is to be a boring investor. He really put that in my head, and I’m grateful to him. I started investing during the bull market of 2021 when everyone was trying to find the next big stock or crypto.
Ramit convinced me to invest in low-risk index funds, and if I really wanted to play, only do it with a small percentage of my wallet. With ongoing inflation issues and a potential recession, it probably saved me thousands of dollars.
Until about a month ago I didn’t realize how much this book had helped me until I gave it another read. Today, I have no outstanding collections, I owe the IRS nothing, and I actually got a refund, and I have money in savings. As a result, in just over a year my credit score is now over 660. I have great interest rates on my credit cards and even negotiated an amazing deal when refinancing my car.
Ramit Sethi’s “I’ll Teach You How to Be Rich” lessons have changed my life, and I can’t recommend it enough. Not only am I teaching the strategies to my friends, but I can also help my son avoid the financial mistakes I’ve made in the past.