About a month ago, I was on YouTube and ran into a 25-minute interview featuring Ramit Sethi, a personal finance advisor. I remember seeing the length of the video and having serious doubts about my attention span lasting but then decided to watch it, knowing that I could turn it off at any time. Yeah, I never turned off the video, and by the end, I was shocked that it felt like no time had passed and I actually wanted to hear more, so I downloaded the audio version of Ramit Sethi’s book called I Can Teach You How to Be Rich.
I am not financially savvy at all, but somehow, I always manage to have money. I started working at the age of 18 with an uncle who dealt with wealth management, so one would think that I would have developed better money habits. I am afraid the money values impressed upon me was about spending on what I wanted now and worrying about it later. My parents never talked about money and only did so to convey how broke they were, but West Indian parents say they are ‘broke’ even with one million in their bank accounts. While schools taught us to work hard so we can get a job that paid well but said nothing about managing all the money we might make.
While Ramit’s interview served up many of the straightforward answers I needed, my primary interest in money started months earlier with two vloggers called The Mustards. Yes, I said the M word, good old Jenny did another video about her minimalist lifestyle and her journey in the land of fashion and veganism. I can’t remember the title of the video, but in it, she spoke briefly about her finance and how she enjoyed withholding and not letting objects get the best of her. What I gathered from this was she loved having power over her finance and fighting the good fight with temptation and not allowing random spending to rule her life. When I heard that I was like, “wow, I wish I could be like that!” I want to be the kind of person to log into Amazon Prime and only watch a movie and not be tempted to order something I really don’t need. I really wanted to be like Jenny Mustard, but during the time of seeing her video and hearing Ramit’s interview, irresponsible me had not started saving a dime.
When I listened to Ramit’s book, the first thing I had to applaud him for was inserting the idea that being rich for me was not necessarily the same for another person. The first few hours into the book, I started to think about what my ideal “rich” life would be. Do I want to travel more, do I want to save up for a lovely house in the south of France, retire at age 60, or do I want to do it all? So far, I have not concluded what a rich life would look like for me, but he got me thinking about it. For now, I settled on my rich life as saving enough for emergencies, travel, and at least two years’ worth of savings put away in case I run out of luck or decide it’s time to finish that master’s degree in Norway or Croatia. Then I wanted to focus on retirement and investments.
For a lazy saver like me, I truly enjoyed Ramit’s book not because he said I don’t have to give up lattes. I enjoyed it because he made the journey to becoming debt-free seem more obtainable, he explained 401Ks, Roth IRAs, and investments in a way that even a West Indian immigrant like me who think American laws about money and taxes are absurd can understand.
After listening to the audiobook, I put some of Ramit’s advice into action. I logged into my Merrill Lynch account and doubled my 401k contributions and opened a brokerage account. I opened a Capital One 360 savings account because I already had a credit card with them, and now have funds transferred every week automatically. Then I opened a high yielding saving account with American Express for my travels. I also opened another savings account with the goal of having more in savings for emergencies, investing, and 2 years’ worth of income. While doing all of this is good, I still feel like I should be doing more; I have wasted all those years spending and to be honest, I still have a spending habit that I need to kick.
Its been a month since I read the book and yes, I have ordered some pointless things between then and now, but I have also saved more than I have spent. Let’s see how long I can keep this up, and in a year I hope to have more to report.