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  • Ananya Ak

What I Learnt From Automatic Wealth for Grads

I’m actually quite excited to talk about this book. It’s the first money-related book I’ve read! (I did start reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad a few times, but it was so boring that I DNFed it every time…

I know, I know. It’s an important book and a handy guide to managing finances. But finances are seriously not as boring as Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) makes them out to be! No offence to Kiyosaki…he’s a very knowledgeable man. Just…not an engaging writer.

Anyway…funny story, how I came across Automatic Wealth for Grads by Michael Masterson (a.k.a. Mark Ford)…

I had attended a fun online meetup with Marcella Allison, founder of Titanides – a private online community of female entrepreneurs, copywriters and marketers. If you belong in one of those categories and have a steady income, you’ve got to check it out…they’re all super supportive. If you don’t, you can always join their free Facebook group – those ladies are amazing.

Anyway…the meetup was about money and our relationship with it, and I mentioned that I was a college student and there’s not much info available on how we can make and manage our money. What I said resonated with a lot of the ladies in the meeting (which surprised me…all of them were older than me) and Marcella, the amazing woman, remembered it!

A couple of days after the meeting, I get an email from her saying she’s gifting me the book! I’m really thankful to her for giving it to me…I probably wouldn’t have read it for a long while if she hadn’t.

Anyway…the book was a gift and I’m very grateful to Marcella Allison of Titanides for giving it to me.

As the name suggests, it talks about how young people, college graduates to be precise, can make more money, and how we can invest over long periods to get wealthy by the time we retire. Michael Masterson gives specific formulas on what to do if we want to get rich, and he talks about both ways: becoming wealthy in less than 10 years or doing it over a long-term period.

Before I begin telling you what I learnt from the book, I do want to mention a few things:

First, this book is geared towards a certain population. It’s definitely not for everyone, though there are some amazing learnings for every single person.

Here are the assumptions the author has operated under (according to me):

  • The reader is a young college graduate (understandable, given the title of the book).

  • The reader wants to work in the corporate world (not really understandable…a majority of people don’t. But the author says this is the only way to get wealthy, which is not comforting)

  • The reader is an American or lives in the US or wants to settle in the US (this is also understandable because the author is American and because the book is more readily available in the US. But it’s disappointing because the most valuable lessons he teaches in the book are not applicable to anyone else)

So, if you hate the thought of a corporate job and/or you’re not living or planning to live in the US, this book would probably not be very useful for you. Instead, read the lessons I learnt from the book and you’ll get all you need to know without reading the book!

A couple more things before I talk about the most important lessons in the book:

  • The biggest chapter in there is about real estate and how to invest in it. I’ve noticed so many wealthy Americans raving about this as the best option to make money quickly, and I’m sure that’s true – in America! If you’re not an American and still decide to read this book, I recommend that you consider the context of where you live and how real estate works there. As far as I know, it’s not really a good investment option in India…and anyway, the home loans and mortgage and all that stuff work very differently here, so I skipped the chapter.

  • Also, the author dedicates three entire chapters to the process of choosing and getting ahead in the ideal job that’ll make you rich. He talks mostly about how to provide value at your job and how to learn the skills to join a specific set of jobs. These jobs may not be what you want to do with your life. Also, the methods he mentions might not work if you don’t live in the US. In India, for example, you need very specific college degrees to get specific jobs, and just going somewhere and asking for an internship (which the author tells you to do) simply doesn’t work in the rigid set up here. So again, depending on where you live, take this advice with a pinch of salt as well.

Okay, now to the good part – the lessons.

Lesson #1: The fastest way to becoming poor is to spend more as you earn more

Most people who earn a lot, spend a lot. They get bigger houses, more flashy cars, more expensive clothes, etc. etc. This is not how you get rich. In fact, this puts you on the fast-track to being a poor person when you retire. The key, according to Michael Masterson, is that as your income increases, rather than increasing your expenditure, increase the amount of money you save (or invest). This doesn’t mean, of course, that you don’t spend on nice stuff at all. What he says is:

“$150,000 is enough to live like a billionaire.”

By this, he means an income of $150,000 per year. And obviously, this is meant for people living in the US. Substitute this amount with whatever is considered an above-average salary in your own country.

Lesson #2: Wealth is not about how much you make. It’s about how much you have to spend in the future.

This relates loosely to lesson 1. People think that being rich or wealthy is about making more money. But that’s not the case. Wealth is actually about how much money you’ll have when you can no longer make money. Being wealthy means that if you stop earning right this instant, you’ll have enough money coming in to keep you living comfortably for the rest of your life.

This is a very valuable lesson – one that applies to everyone, everywhere in the world.

Lesson #3: When you do become wealthy, you need to be able to enjoy all the money you have

In the very last chapter, the author talks about how you can live like a billionaire on an above-average salary. He gives some very specific instructions, like what kinds of clothes to wear, what kind of food to eat and stuff.

But the message is simple:

Don’t go around chasing increasingly expensive, meaningless experiences.

Take pleasure in the simple things and make sure you’re not too busy to enjoy the good things in life when you’re still able to.

Lesson #4: Save and invest consistently

You need to be consistent in saving and investing a certain amount of money every month. And just putting the money in a bank isn’t enough. You need to find and pick decent (or great) investment opportunities over the long term and have a diverse investment portfolio (meaning invest in a variety of things) so that your risk is spread out properly.

The author gives advice on where to find the best investment opportunities and stuff, but again…that’s all very specific to the US, so I found zero use in it. But if you’re an American, seriously. You need to read this book.

Anyway…I think the most valuable lesson I learnt reading this book is that if I want to live comfortably even when I can’t work anymore, I need to start saving and investing immediately. And more importantly, when I start to make more money, rather than thinking of all the things I can buy with it, I need to think of all the ways I can invest it.

That’s the only way my life will be sorted.

Bottom line, I recommend this book only to young people either living in the US or planning a future in that country.

This is a valuable read even if you’re not interested in the corporate life…but only for people who’ll find all the advice relevant. If you’re an Indian like me or if the way things work in your country is different from how they work in the US, all the information you need is in this review!

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