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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

4th book of 2021: The Psychology of Money, by Morgan Housel

Rishabh Katiyar asked me to read this book and I'm glad he did. Cheers to him! :)

The subtitle of the cover read "Timeless lessons on wealth, greed and happiness". I was intrigued. My approach towards money has been quite crazy: Risk on the back of frugality, pushed to the extreme. I started earning right out of school, giving tuitions. Physics. Moving forward, I started teaching Guitar as well. All that helped me manage my expenses and also invest (a little) in some music equipment. Extraordinarily low expenses (frugality), allowed me to invest in books and musical instruments (risk).

This trend exacerbated when my first company - The Testament - developed itself as a high growth startup right out of college. I (along with my co-founders) drew very little salary and reinvested all our profits into "ambitious" tech products. Once again, it was risk backed by frugality, pushed to the extreme. The result was that we flushed close to 40 Lakh Rupees down the toilet within a few years, as all those tech ventures failed. The risk didn't work out (at all), and the situation made me laugh. But I still somehow managed to save money from my meagre salary to trade in Bitcoin (and stocks). Funny, my appetite for risk.

Now I'm 28 and building SpotHealth (another "ambitious" venture), while my erstwhile co-founders are working jobs/gone overseas. I continually read books and compare them with my experience to understand what I've done right (and wrong), and perhaps what could be done better. Learning machines are winning machines. 'The Psychology of Money' seemed like the right step in that direction, and so I picked it up.

The book begins with a chapter on "No one's crazy" followed by "Luck & risk". These two points focused on the importance of 'context' in shaping one's worldview (and destiny). For example, Bill Gates is extraordinary, in part because he was born in extraordinary circumstances. He went to one of the only high schools in the entire world that had a damn computer. Less than 500 children on planet earth had access to that miracle at the time, two of them were Bill Gates & Paul Allen. Third was Kent Evans, Bill's best friend and another computer genius, but he died in a mountaineering accident. You never know what happens. Life's like rolling a dice.

Naturally, I loved the beginning. The first half of this book seemed heavily inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, while the latter sounded like Nassim Taleb. Since both of them are my heroes, I was mostly chuckling and nodding in agreement throughout the book. But did the writer have anything original to say?

Yes. This book is focused on money and how regular folks could better manage it. It's plush with really nice anecdotes and uncommon 'common sense'. But where it truly shines is towards the end when it explains the herd mentality driven consumption of modern society, and why it's not such a great idea anymore.

"The highest form of wealth is the ability to wake up every morning and say, ‘I can do whatever I want today." says the author. Really nice book, overall. Low effort, high reward.

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One of my favourite reviews from you so far! :)

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