Book Review – The Psychology of Wealth

Psychology is always a tricky matter. Everyone’s mind is different, and trying to make sweeping generalizations about how people think is tough, to say the least. Trying to figure out common thought trends for any group is tricky, particularly if you are looking at such a broad and varied group as the wealthy in our country.

The Psychology of Wealth attempts to do just that, looking at the perspectives that the wealthy take on money and success. The author, in between his work as a clinical psychologist, claims to help you ‘understand your relationship with money and achieve prosperity’. Does he succeed in his work, or does the book still leave you confused and not at all prosperous? Let’s read on and find out!

Summary

The Psychology of Wealth opens with comment from how the author about how he wanted to investigate what personality traits and mental aspects lead some people to have a ‘wealth psychology’, a mental outlook that enables them to build up their financial standing and achieve monetary success. The first chapter looks at how we define wealth, examining both successful people and those who have had trouble managing money (the example given is a man who won the lottery and ended up losing it all). It encourages the reader to take a closer look at their own relationship with money.

Chapter two covers the evolution of wealth, discussing how the standards of what was considered monetary success have changed through American history. In particular, it notes that even a modest lifestyle in today’s society would be considered extraordinarily extravagant by the standards set just half a century ago. Chapter three looks at methods of finding your dream, looking at what you seek in life and how you can move toward that goal.

The fourth chapter looks at self-esteem and its link to wealth. It stresses the fact that money cannot solve your personal problems, and ends with a table listing traits of high and low self-esteem. Chapter five stresses the fact that for every situation, there are a number of ways in which we can choose to react, and looks at how the role of credit has changed over the years, particularly recently.

Chapter six covers the concept of value, describing some of the different ways to borrow money that exist, and stressing the importance of paying such loans back. Chapter seven looks at the different types of debts that people take on, both conscious debt that they enter into to meet their goals and unconscious debt that people take on without thinking it through. The need to be conscious of your debt (and your financial situation in general) is heavily stressed.

Chapter eight looks at giving to others, discussing the importance of being willing to give to others with no thought of getting anything in return. Numerous stories are included of how giving without expecting to get anything back can end up benefiting you anyway, and a few stories of non-generous people and the problems they experience are also shared. The ninth chapter looks at the phases we go through in life. It also discusses the importance of doing something you enjoy doing with your life if you hope to be successful.

Chapter ten shares the importance of finding your own path to prosperity. A major portion of the chapter shares the story of Dennis Gardin, who suffered serious burns as a teenager and used that experience to help and encourage other burn victims. It encourages people to find what will bring them fulfillment in life, and pursue that path. The final chapter of the book, chapter eleven, talks about where to plant your feet, stressing the importance of getting started towards meeting your goals even if it takes a while to get there. The book ends with a final note to step back and try to see the bigger picture when it comes to wealth.

Pros

The Psychology of Wealth has lots of interesting stories of various people who have managed to achieve success. It provides a rather interesting perspective on how to view wealth, mainly from a psychological stand point. There are quite a interesting facts that are included throughout the book, from historic points to current financial standings in the wake of the recent financial downturn.

Cons

The book is a bit sparse on helpful information for the reader to apply to their own lives. It also jumps around quite a bit, going from one area to another without much discernible flow. The descriptions of some of the people mentioned in the book seem overly complimentary, particularly with regards to wealthy individuals like Donald Trump. (That several of the people referenced also provided complimentary comments quoted by the book, including Mr. Trump, doesn’t help matters much.)

Overall

The Psychology of Wealth is a thought-provoking read, providing an interesting psychological perspective on how we view wealth (both now and in the past) than most books. It is not be the easiest book to apply to your own life, focusing as it does on those people who have already achieved wealth. It does provide some definite food for thought, though, as you work towards building up wealth for yourself in life.

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