“I said goodbye to almost all my things and to my surprise, I found I had also changed myself in the process.” – Fumio Saski
One thing that I learnt from this book was that clutter reflected an indecisive mind. For example, everyday items that are neither indispensable nor in surplus are just “kept for another day”.
This is how clutter begins.
Over the long term, these items can overwhelm our lives. When each item becomes an essential one, the cleanup process is immediate, we can’t move on to the next activity before completing this one.
Take cooking for example, we use so many kitchenware during cooking that it becomes a nightmare to cleanup. What if we only had one bowl? If we had used it to whisk an egg, we would have to clean it up on the spot to be able to serve food again. The process forces us to focus on the immediate task and not procrastinate. If cooking is such a small process of daily living, can you imagine how our lives look like?
The modern world has taught us to hate the repetitive and eschew the inefficient. It was through this book, that I understood why my elderly neighbor sweeps the leaf strewn corridor of her flat daily, when the leaves would fall again tomorrow. It wasn’t that she was sweeping away the detritus, she was sweeping away her laziness.
The book is basically profiles of the typical millionaire household in America, what they do, think and how they accumulated their wealth. According to the book, the majority of millionaires did not inherit their wealth, but grew them within their lifetime.
While the book focuses on American millionaire households, I think there are also many parallels that we can draw in Singapore.
1. Our excessive approach to education as the primary means to getting rich. According to the book, higher educational attainment actually impedes people from getting rich as top professions commensurate with higher spending levels. Self made millionaires are more likely to run their own businesses and look like their employees, than hold an advanced degree and play golf.
2. Lifestyle inflation means people are more likely to maximize their realized income rather than unrealized income. It also states how realized income increases taxes paid and produces low portfolio value as compared to unrealized income.
3. “Money is the most renewable resource” – this quote underlines the essence of the book. For most working people with high incomes, the belief in this is the leading cause of their consumption habits. Thus so long as you are working, everything seems fine, however when time runs out, the illusion disappears and the fact that you were in fact trading “time for money” rears its ugly head.
The E-book is available on the NLB app
I think this book should be on the must read list of everyone who aims to be financially free. The step-by-step unraveling of how the rich behave and what they do would bring a new perspective towards your wealth building journey.
Lastly, this book should also be on the reading list of parents who want to raise financially literate children. The key issues behind why children born into rich households are unlikely to do as well as their parents are also written here. Unsurprisingly, it has more to do with the parents than the children.
Anyone who believes in the Chinese saying “富不过三代” or that “wealth does not last beyond the third generation” would definitely find something useful here.