Book Notes | How to be Rich

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How to be Rich: It’s not What You Have. It’s What you do With What You Have by Andy Stanley is not your average financial or giving book.

It makes the point that if you live in America, you are rich. You part of the top 4% earners on the planet. The problem is that our culture has no idea “how to be rich.” We don’t know what to do with what we have. Stanley writes to a “bunch of have’s who live like have not’s.”

The problem he says is:

Examples we read or hear don’t really prove you’re rich, they only serve to convince you that you’re not poor. My hunch is you’re a lot richer than you realize. It just doesn’t feel like it. So let me give you a few more scenarios to consider. If I told you I was offering you a job with a salary of $37,000 a year, would you feel rich? Probably not. Chances are, you wouldn’t even be interested. A salary of $37,000 would represent a pay cut for most Americans. But for 96 percent of the world’s population, $37,000 a year would be a significant increase. Maybe there was a time when that sounded like a lot of money to you. And it should. In fact, if you earn more than $37,000 a year, you are in the top 4 percent of wage earners in the world! Congratulations! You are in the 4 percent club. You are rich! Yet I’m guessing this startling realization didn’t cause you to leave the comfort of your couch to dance around the room. But you should have. On the world’s scale, you should have no problems at all, other than a handful of rich-person problems. Problems that the majority of folks on this planet would love to have. Bad cell phone coverage? That’s a rich-people problem. Can’t decide where to go on vacation? Rich-people problem. Computer crashed? Slow Internet? Car trouble? Flight delays? Amazon doesn’t have your size? All rich-people problems. Next time there’s a watering ban in your neighborhood, just remember that many people, mostly women, carry jugs on their heads for hundreds of yards just so they can have water for cooking and drinking. They can’t imagine a place where there’s so much extra water that house after house just sprays it all over the ground. Feeling guilty? I hope not. That’s not my purpose. On the contrary, I’m hoping our time together leaves you feeling grateful.

This book is a great resource for that.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • We always had enough. But rich is about having more than enough. We had what we needed. But rich is about having more than you need. Rich is about having extra. Isn’t it?
  • Rich is the other guy. Rich is that other family. Rich isn’t just having extra. Rich is having as much extra as the person who has more extra than you do. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that’s the case, you can be rich and not know it. You can be rich and not feel it. You can be rich and not act like it. And that is a problem.
  • Most rich people aren’t all that good at being rich.
  • The richer you get, however, the more your priorities begin to separate from actual needs. When all of our basic requirements are met, our appetites for progress don’t turn off. We simply turn from the things we need to the things we want. And that’s when we enter the world of the subjective. Wants are harder to define. And easier to confuse.
  • We’re so absorbed in the effort to get rich, we no longer recognize when we are rich.
  • In our Western culture today, we observe a five-day workweek. Think about what that means. Most people have to work only five days in order to have seven days’ worth of food and shelter and clothing and health care. We take it for granted. But that’s unique to our little window in history. And it’s still not the case everywhere. What’s more, there are households of three, four, or more people that send only one person out into the workplace to earn money. And with that one person’s earnings, the entire family can amass enough money in five days to give them food and shelter for seven days. In many cultures, that’s inconceivable. Outside of work, that leaves at least fifty hours per week for nothing but leisure.
  • “Rich” is a moving target. No matter how much money we have or make, we will probably never consider ourselves rich. The biggest challenge facing rich people is that they’ve lost their ability to recognize that they’re rich.
  • People who are good at being rich are the ones who are willing to admit they are, in fact, rich. Until you relax into the reality that you are rich, you will never become intentional about getting good at it.
  • Simply possessing wealth doesn’t make you good at managing it.
  • Being good at being rich is not just a matter of deciding what to do with your money. You must also concern yourself with what your money is doing with you — or, more accurately, to you.
  • Money has an effect on its owners. And that effect, in turn, alters the way they see and handle not just money, but everything else as well. Everything. And while we’re at it — everybody.
  • The key, as the old saying goes, is to possess money without it possessing you.
  • Wealth has its own gravitational pull. It will always draw those who have it in the direction of those two things. It is in this way that wealth eventually possesses its possessors.
  • The problem with a word like generosity is that it’s as hard to define as the word rich. In fact, just as nobody thinks he’s rich, everybody thinks he’s generous.
  • When you make giving a priority, something happens inside of you. Especially when it’s financially challenging to do so.
  • Without a plan, giving is sporadic at best.

I was really challenged by this book and how I look at what I have. Good heart work for me.

To see other book notes, click here.

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