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How to Go From College to an Extraordinary Life (and Bank Account)

March 24th, 2009 · 23 comments

Meet RamitRamit Sethi

My friend Ramit Sethi lives an extraordinary life. Like me, he graduated college in 2004. While a student he consulted for big companies, and then, after graduating, co-founded a hot technology start-up and launched a writing career. Today, his full time job is running the web site I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which offers no-bullshit personal finance advice for young people.

His path is a great example of lifestyle-centric planning. He knew what he wanted his life to be like — flexible, financially sound, engaging, based in a big city — and then started making moves to make it happen.

Learn From the Master

I’m telling you about Ramit for two reasons. First, his new book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, was just published. I review it later in this post, but let me give you a spoiler: buy this book if you want to save a lot of stress in your life over the next 10 years.

Second, Ramit and I recorded an hour-long podcast about his story and his advice for students looking to go from college to an extraordinary life. Among other topics, we cover a simple trick for guaranteeing admission to graduate school, cultivating great mentors, picking work that matters, and dominating your peers.

Here’s our offer: if you buy Ramit’s new book within the next 48 hours and forward your Amazon receipt to studyhacks@iwillteachyoutoberich.com, he’ll send you a link for downloading this interview.

My full review of his book continues below…


Book Review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Here is why I endorse Ramit’s book: The content is targeted like a laser beam and solves a real problem. Specifically, it describes a six-week program to help young people get their finances in order. Ramit doesn’t get bogged down in caveats and asides; he simply gives specific clear advice for constructing a solid financial life with a minimum of hassle.

Let’s get specific. Here’s what the six weeks in his program cover…

  • Week 1: Get the right type (and number) of credit cards. Learn your credit history.
  • Week 2: Setup the right bank accounts; including a no-fee, no-minimum checking account and a high interest online savings account like ING Direct.
  • Week 3: Open the right investment accounts. For a young person, this probably means pay into your 401(k) up to your employer’s match — if available — and then put the rest of your investment money into a Roth IRA.
  • Week 4: Adopt a conscious spending plan. Forgetting budgeting or guilt about buying a latte, Ramit’s approach is simple: as long as you’re clear about how you’re going to spend your money, you can spend it however the hell you want.
  • Week 5: Use clever hacks to automate your entire finance system so it requires minimal effort from you to keep running.
  • Week 6: Choose the right investments for the percentage of your income that you invest.

Financial anxiety is by far the biggest source of stress encountered by young adults. If you buy this book and follow the plan inside you will eliminate this stress from your life. In other words, the ratio of reward to effort is high.

I’m not trying to cheerlead. There are no miracle cures in this book. Ramit is stuck with his somewhat hyperbolic title due to the success of his longtime blog which boasts the same name. As one Amazon reviewer suggested, a better title might be: “I will teach you how to have common sense about your finances.” Or, as I suggested to Ramit as he was writing the manuscript: “I will teach how not to be an idiot about your money.” These are probably more accurate titles, as this is what the book teaches — not some super secret investment strategy. But let’s be frank, even if it’s not sexy, it’s a lesson that most of us young types need.

Here’s the bottom line: if not being an idiot about your money is on your post-grad to-do list, spending $14 on this book is probably the easiest path between here and checking off that task. You could find the same information trolling through blog archives or picking the relevant chapters out of more general finance advice guides, but seriously guys, we’re talking $14, don’t waste the time.

Thus endedth my sermon…

23 thoughts on “How to Go From College to an Extraordinary Life (and Bank Account)

  1. This book must be something! This is the fifth book review of it that I have seen today!

    – Nate

  2. David says:

    Doesn’t a budget set it up to where you can spend your money on whatever is most important to you? Including lattes? This actually does look like a great book; however, what does this add that something like The Richest Man in Babylon doesn’t? That is out of curiosity rather than out of criticism…

  3. Randy says:

    This is crazy, yours and Ramit’s are the two blogs I visit everyday! In fact, I just stopped here after checking out Ramit’s blog (sorry Cal).

    I bought the book yesterday and read the first chapter. So far, it’s awesome. I can’t wait to implement the advice.

  4. I also purchased the book yesterday, and I echo the strong recommendation here (especially for pending or recent college graduates).

  5. Annie says:

    Just bought the book based on your good review. I’m about to graduate in 2 months and I am definitely in a financial crunch right now so I am really hoping that this book helps.

  6. Study Hacks says:

    Just bought the book based on your good review. I’m about to graduate in 2 months and I am definitely in a financial crunch right now so I am really hoping that this book helps.

    I think it will. I’m about one week into the six week program right now.

    Doesn’t a budget set it up to where you can spend your money on whatever is most important to you?

    A lot of people use budgeting to restrict themselves from spending a lot on anything.

  7. Melody says:

    I don’t know, I would have to read the book, but I think Dave Ramsey’s plan sounds a little bit better, get out of debt, avoid credit like the plague, and then invest.

  8. Mary says:

    I’m another BTDT who agrees that Dave Ramsey rocks. Credit cards are evil; we believed the “they’re okay as long as we pay off the balance each month” but in real life, you wind up spending a lot more than you planned. And that’s when those balances get away from you.

  9. Daniel says:

    Sorry, this seems to be a “shill” game here. This is a good site. Don’t water it down with this sort of advertising and fluff.

  10. Study Hacks says:

    Sorry, this seems to be a “shill” game here.

    Just a good book, a good friend, and a good review that’s richly deserved.

  11. RT Wolf says:

    This podcast, when will it be up and where?

  12. RT Wolf says:

    Also, usually, the first time I hit “submit comment” I go to a wordpress error page that says I have ot enable javascript and cookies. After I hit back and hit Submit again, it goes through fine.

  13. Study Hacks says:

    This podcast, when will it be up and where?

    The podcast is a bonus for buying Ramit’s book. You send the receipt to the e-mail address I listed above and he sends you the link to download it.

    Also, usually, the first time I hit “submit comment” I go to a wordpress error page that says I have ot enable javascript and cookies

    Javascript is required because it’s used by one of my anti-spam plug-ins. Not sure why it works the second time? But glad it does!

  14. Dennis says:

    Apologies if I’m being pedantic, but is the podcast link sent immediately? I still haven’t received it yet. Anyone else?

  15. Study Hacks says:

    but is the podcast link sent immediately? I still haven’t received it yet. Anyone else?

    That was my understanding. (Ramit setup the system on his side.) E-mail me if you had any trouble receiving the link. I just sent a note to Ramit double-checking if there are any problems. Worst-case scenario I’ll just send a copy manually to anyone who had trouble.

  16. Andrés says:

    Is it still possible to get the podcast if you buy the book now and send the receipt to the address you mentioned in the post?

  17. Study Hacks says:

    Is it still possible to get the podcast if you buy the book now and send the receipt to the address you mentioned in the post?

    It should be. But I’m checking on this. I’ll post my answer here once I get through to Ramit.

  18. Matthew says:

    Hi, I’m a new reader to this blog as I just found this site today. I was reading through the posts when I found this one and I was wondering whether or not the podcast offer was still available (I know I’m waaaay past the 48 hour deadline).

  19. Robert says:

    Thanks for the recommendation Cal. I will check out Mr. Sethi’s book. Like a couple commenters, I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey, and I highly recommend anybody and everybody check out his materials as well. His is also a no BS, really quite simple approach to getting your financial world in order. However, Dave would say a budget is mandatory (and it’s really not that painful), and credit cards are entirely unnecessary. Not at all to say that age/experience trumps all in every situation, but Ramsey’s organization has been doing this for a lot of years and has changed many, many lives. They are in fact, ‘so good they can’t be ignored’!

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