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Psych Yourself Rich Book Review and Farnoosh Torabi Interview

By Lainie Petersen

psych yourself rich book coverHow much personal finance information do people really need? After all, the Internet is chock full of free personal finance advice, ranging from suggestions on consumer rights and how to avoid scams from the Federal Trade Commission, to targeted investment advice over at the The Motley Fool. For many, the problem isn’t ignorance of smart money management, it’s actually taking the initiative to put that knowledge into practice. For example, many people understand that credit card balances need to stay below 30% of the limit to achieve a decent credit score, but they still manage to max out the cards anyway.

So if people know about good money management, why is it that they continue making the same mistakes? Why do they keep themselves in financial chaos?

Financial journalist Farnoosh Torabi tackles this question in her book, Psych Yourself Rich. She’s figured out that financially distressed people don’t need more information about money, but a different way of thinking about it. Here is a summary of her theory, and how it can be put into practice.

Adjust Your Financial Attitude

farnoosh torabi headshotFarnoosh Torabi asserts that by changing your attitude toward money, savings, credit, and spending, you can put what you know about it to good use. Until that change in thinking happens, however, the same old behaviors will continue. As the book’s title suggests, the ability to manage money is driven by psychological factors, which are largely the product of life experiences and relationships with others, rather than what is gleaned from seeking out expert advice. The biggest factor affecting modern attitudes about money is the tendency to avoid the topic altogether.

Breaking the Money Taboo

Middle-class America’s discomfort with talking about money hasn’t done society any favors. While I’m all for not being crass by discussing salaries and large purchases in polite company, considering money a more taboo topic than sex fosters an unhealthy relationship between ourselves and our pocketbooks.

In fact, this behavior teaches you to mentally sequester your wealth (or lack of it), from the way you make everyday decisions that directly affect your finances. The disconnect is why people choose to enjoy an expensive restaurant meal, even though they know deep down that paying for it will mean they won’t be able to make rent at the end of the month.

Regret over the pricey dinner may hit later, but why wasn’t the pain of the financial blow considered before the meal was even ordered? Could it be that we are so divorced from our finances that we need the imminent threat of disaster (e.g. eviction for tenants) to make us feel our financial blunders?

Torabi recognizes this discomfort with money and urges readers to work past it. Once you begin to integrate how you think about money into how you think about your daily life choices, you can catch yourself before digging a deeper financial hole. (Heck, eventually, you may even begin to make choices that will make you money).

Each chapter of Psych Yourself Rich focuses on a different step in challenging yourself to really consider your attitudes toward money and your ability to effectively manage your finances. Farnoosh Torabi helps readers to recognize obligations and develop financial goals (while not confusing the two). Torabi then provides the skills to start putting these new perspectives to work.

The Importance of Self Advocacy

My favorite chapter in the book is Chapter 6, “Be Your Biggest Advocate.” Here Torabi shows how to be a financial self-advocate, and actively manage and control your financial situation, rather than letting circumstances (including the amount of money you earn) dictate your behavior. She combines some real life stories of self advocacy with pointers to resources you can use to help get your own financial life in order. Even if you don’t get through the whole book, if you are serious about getting it together financially, read this chapter.

Final Word

Psych Yourself Rich teaches that you are ultimately responsible for making your own financial decisions, but also recognizes that your choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Unless you are willing to address the many factors that shape the way you think about money, you will neither spend, nor save, in a way that makes sense. By offering a road map to financial self analysis, Farnoosh Torabi offers real hope, and real help, to those who want to start using their money effectively.

What are your thoughts on the link between attitudes and actions when it comes to money? Have you tried “psyching yourself rich?” Share your reviews of Farnoosh Torabi’s personal finance book in the comments below.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Farnoosh some questions about her book and her insights into personal finance. Check out the video below.

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen holds master's degrees in Library and Information Science, Theological Studies, and Divinity, and spent five years working in regulatory compliance for a major education publisher. A lifetime Chicagoian, she recently spent almost a year living in the woods of Southern Oregon before deciding to head back home to her family and friends.

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Comments

  • Stephanie Lester

    I’ve noticed among our friends that some people are so afraid of what others will think if they say “no” to going to an expensive restaurant that they will blow their budget for the whole month just so they don’t have to be the one to say “no.” I’ve found others who pressure (yes, adult peer pressure) others to buy or do for their children. For example, oh, come on let your kid “Build a Bear” or the bear has to have shoes, you can’t let your kid have a bear with no shoes. It goes on and on anything from bears to equipment for sports. Most things in life can be borrowed for the occasion or shared. As a society, we need to learn when to purchase and when to share.

  • dorothy

    sounds like a good book I always believed it is not how much money you have but how well you spend
    con5459(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Adrienne Gordon

    I never believed in financial gurus and advisors, this book has a better angle.

  • http://kremerdesign.com Ben

    This sounds like a really good book to get ideas on how to think about finances, and how they can be affected by your own healthy attitudes. It’s the kind of book I’d read, then pass on to friends or family whom I think could use some consideration about their own attitudes concerning finances.

  • Amber

    How do you feel about unpaid internships? Do you think they are just taking advantage of college students and recent grads who are having trouble finding work? Or have you seen some that have been really valuable learning experiences as well?

  • Lainie Petersen

    Amber:

    I think that unpaid internships really need to “justify their existence” by demonstrating that they provide a significant educational experience for the student. Student interns shouldn’t be fetching coffee for no pay: Instead, employers need to establish a “curriculum” for interns that provides the intern with numerous experiences that can help the intern develop his/her professional skills.

    Both schools and labor departments should develop compliance processes for insuring that any unpaid internship, or internship that pays a stipend that is less than the minimum wage, actually benefits the intern.

  • Cynthia C

    I like the attitude that money matters are personal and decisions have to benefit you.

  • Denise B.

    It is not always very easy or even possible to control the amount of money that comes in, but it is definitely possible to control how much or how little goes out on expenses. It’s a matter of taking advantage of all the resources out there available to everyone that help people spend less for things they need or even get things for free.

    It’s not a matter of psyching oneself rich but rather educating oneself on controlling every aspect of one’s life to make things better.

  • Suzanne K

    I think this is a good book – any new approaches to people taking responsibility for their own situations (especially financial) is good in my mind! It’s just sad, to me, that so very many people in today’s day seem to have a sense of entitlement and don’t think they need to be responsible… that someone will rescue them and that people should give them what they want (without working for it/earning it). Let’s not even go into the boomerang kids/grandkids. I think parents should also be a whole lot more proactive about teaching their kids financial responsibility, as well as practicing it and setting a good example.

  • Karmella

    That’s a really interesting way to look at personal finance – I’m going to go check out the book – and I think that this is probably the toughest way to approach it but probably the one with the biggest upside. It’s easier to read some “expert” advice and think about it than it is to do actual work on yourself and how you think – even harder to put that into action. I say this because as I struggle with this 10 (now 15) pounds it’s a striking parallel to me…

  • http://www.donnafreedman.com Donna Freedman

    For some people, a lack of financial knowledge or an upbringing in a non-U.S. culture that leads them to make mistakes other people deride as “stupid.” For example, I talked to one woman who was having money problems because she kept bailing out siblings — in her culture, if you have money then you have the duty and obligation to help your brothers and sisters. Never mind that she had her own kids to think of, and that she wanted to save for college for them. Her job was to help her sibs.
    In another case, I spoke with a man who grew up with a professional grifter as a parent. The instability of moving from place to place as mom committed financial crimes, and the secrecy inherent in that upbringing (“Don’t tell anybody our business”) meant he had a spotty education and no role models for how to live an everyday life.
    As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Psyching yourself rich might work if you have financial basics in hand already. For some people that’s a big “if.”
    For those who want to change the ways they deal with money, I think that psyching yourself rich is the way to go. You can have all the financial resources in the world but you will keep making the same mistakes until you figure out what’s causing you to make them.

  • LaurenY

    The premise of this book is dead on and reminds me of the von Goethe quote “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

    Like the article says, there’s an abundance of personal finance information available and many of us read much of it. It’s much harder to put that knowledge to work. Yes, we know that we should be saving more but we often aren’t willing to make the tough choices that make that possible.

    As the books seems to suggest, perhaps it’s time that we stop thinking of those tough choices as sacrifices and start thinking about them as opportunties

  • Denise S

    I think you always need a cautious attitude about spending money, because you never know what disaster will strike.

  • http://ymmat83.blogspot.com/ Tammy Darling

    Looks like an interesting book but I think it takes more than that.

  • Katie

    Good premise for a book and it might help some people, but financial smarts are better than being financially psyched and scrimping and saving and telling yourself no can only go so far when gas, electricity, insurance, and mortgage payments go up month after month and my paycheck hasn’t changed in 10 years!

  • michelle robbins

    What are your thoughts about teaching children financial responsibility.

  • ashley

    i believe that positive thoughts and energy can bring positive results. while it hasn’t made me rich yet, it does help get thru these trying times. i did just get a note that they’re raising our rent by 50 a month. perhaps i need to start psyching myself up!

  • barbara wright

    I’m always skeptical of these books. If she could really psych herself rich, then why does she need to write a book?

  • susan smoaks

    this is similar to the secret, believe it to be so and it will be so. i choose to have faith in God and this is my form of this theory.

  • Mary Gardner

    sounds like an interesting read, but i think if one could psyche themselves rich, most of us would be doing just that.

  • vivian blevins

    careful how you spend

  • Joanne Schultz

    Money is a funny thing! Some people live like they have plenty when they are barely making it week to week with their paychecks. Then add lay-offs to that – and what a mess.

    I don’t know that you could really psych yourself rich – psyching doesn’t do a lot if you don’t have any money coming in!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • http://stormsafety.blogspot.com Auriette

    I think Ms. Torabi makes a lot of good points. I’m not sure if people just don’t think ahead or if they really do separate the financial reality of right now with the financial reality of the end of the month.

  • Jacob LaFountaine

    How can we break from the shackles of materialism?

  • Betty C

    From this review it sounds like me being borderline “poor” isn’t such a bad thing. None of my family or friends would ever hesitate to say “I can’t do this because I just can’t afford it”

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