The Psychology of Money By Morgan Housel

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The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness By Morgan Housel

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Book/Novel Author: Morgan Housel

Book/Novel Title: The Psychology of Money

 

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Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people.Money—investing, personal finance, and business decisions—is typically taught as a math-based field, where data and formulas tell us exactly what to do. But in the real world people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your own unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together.In The Psychology of Money, award-winning author Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.
Two topics impact everyone, whether you are interested in them or not: health and money.
The health care industry is a triumph of modern science, with rising life expectancy across the world. Scientific discoveries have replaced doctors’ old ideas about how the human body works, and virtually everyone is healthier because of it.
The money industry—investing, personal finance, business planning—is another story.
Finance has scooped up the smartest minds coming from top universities over the last two decades. Financial Engineering was the most popular major in Princeton’s School of Engineering a decade ago. Is there any evidence it has made us better investors?
I have seen none.
Through collective trial and error over the years we learned how to become better farmers, skilled plumbers, and advanced chemists. But has trial and error taught us to become better with our personal finances? Are we less likely to bury ourselves in debt? More likely to save for a rainy day? Prepare for retirement? Have realistic views about what money does, and doesn’t do, to our happiness?
I’ve seen no compelling evidence.
Most of the reason why, I believe, is that we think about and are taught about money in ways that are too much like physics (with rules and laws) and not enough like psychology (with emotions and nuance).
And that, to me, is as fascinating as it is important.
Money is everywhere, it affects all of us, and confuses most of us. Everyone thinks about it a little differently. It offers lessons on things that apply to many areas of life, like risk, confidence, and happiness. Few topics offer a more powerful magnifying glass that helps explain why people behave the way they do than money. It is one of the greatest shows on Earth.
My own appreciation for the psychology of money is shaped by more than a decade of writing on the topic.
I began writing about finance in early 2008. It was the dawn of a financial crisis and the worst recession in 80 years.
To write about what was happening, I wanted to figure out what was happening. But the first thing I learned after the financial crisis was that no one could accurately explain what happened, or why it happened, let alone what should be done about it. For every good explanation there was an equally convincing rebuttal.
Engineers can determine the cause of a bridge collapse because there’s agreement that if a certain amount of force is applied to a certain area, that area will break.
Physics isn’t controversial. It’s guided by laws. Finance is different. It’s guided by people’s behaviors. And how I behave might make sense to me but look crazy to you.
The more I studied and wrote about the financial crisis, the more I realized that you could understand it better through the lenses of psychology and history, not finance.
To grasp why people bury themselves in debt you don’t need to study interest rates; you need to study the history of greed, insecurity, and optimism. To get why investors sell out at the bottom of a bear market you don’t need to study the math of expected future returns; you need to think about the agony of looking at your family and wondering if your investments are imperiling their future.
I love Voltaire’s observation that “History never repeats itself; man always does.” It applies so well to how we behave with money.
In 2018, I wrote a report outlining 20 of the most important flaws, biases, and causes of bad behavior I’ve seen affect people when dealing with money. It was called The Psychology of Money, and over one million people have read it. This book is a deeper dive into the topic. Some short passages from the report appear unaltered in this book.
What you’re holding is 20 chapters, each describing what I consider to be the most important and often counterintuitive features of the psychology of money. The chapters revolve around a common theme, but exist on their own and can be read independently.
It’s not a long book. You’re welcome. Most readers don’t finish the books they begin because most single topics don’t require 300 pages of explanation. I’d rather make 20 short points you finish than one long one you give up on.
On we go.

 

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