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The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money [Hardcover]

Carl Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 3 2012

"It's not that we're dumb. We're wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure and security. It feels right to sell when everyone around us is scared and buy when everyone feels great. It may feel right-but it's not rational."
-From The Behavior Gap

Why do we lose money? It's easy to blame the economy or the financial markets-but the real trouble lies in the decisions we make.

As a financial planner, Carl Richards grew frustrated watching people he cared about make the same mistakes over and over. They were letting emotion get in the way of smart financial decisions. He named this phenomenon-the distance between what we should do and what we actually do-"the behavior gap." Using simple drawings to explain the gap, he found that once people understood it, they started doing much better.

Richards's way with words and images has attracted a loyal following to his blog posts for The New York Times, appearances on National Public Radio, and his columns and lectures. His book will teach you how to rethink all kinds of situations where your perfectly natural instincts (for safety or success) can cost you money and peace of mind.

He'll help you to:

  • avoid the tendency to buy high and sell low;
  • avoid the pitfalls of generic financial advice;
  • invest all of your assets-time and energy as well as savings-more wisely;
  • quit spending money and time on things that don't matter;
  • identify your real financial goals;
  • start meaningful conversations about money;
  • simplify your financial life;
  • stop losing money!

    It's never too late to make a fresh financial start. As Richards writes: "We've all made mistakes, but now it's time to give yourself permission to review those mistakes, identify your personal behavior gaps, and make a plan to avoid them in the future. The goal isn't to make the 'perfect' decision about money every time, but to do the best we can and move forward. Most of the time, that's enough."


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Review

"Carl has a wicked way with a Sharpie."
(-Barry Ritholtz)

"Carl Richards is the anti-Jim Cramer. He doesn't pick stocks, and he doesn't shout. In wise, calm style, The Behavior Gap teaches us how to rein in the emotional saboteur within us-the voice that leads us to double-down when the market is peaking and to make a panicky exit when stocks are a bargain. Richards shows us that, when it comes to our financial security, slow and steady wins the race."
(-Dan Heath, coauthor of Made to Stick and Switch)

"Ah, clarity! Carl Richards can see the mistakes that humans-being human- make again and again with money. Then with humor and an I've-been-there nudge he sets them on the right course."
(-Jean Chatzky, author of Pay It Down)

"The Behavior Gap throws light on an important question: How can we think more clearly about money and its role in a happy life? Carl Richards shows how to shape our behavior to invest, save, and spend to foster greater happiness."
(-Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project)

"Who says common sense is common? Smart, tactical, practical advice for anyone who has done dumb things with their money."
(-Seth Godin, author of We Are All Weird)

"Carl Richards's deceptively simple sketches in The Behavior Gap will make you laugh, change your relationship with money, and leave you the wealthier for it. This one is bound to be a classic!"
(-William Bernstein, author of A Splendid Exchange and The Investor's)

"Carl has a knack for showing-gently and with charts!-that when it comes to money, most of us are idiots. Carl prods us to master money, rather than letting it master us."
(-Laura Vanderkam, author of All the Money in the World)

"A brilliant guide to the ways we often trick ourselves into staying poor. Read this before you make your next financial decision."
(-Zac Bissonnette, author of Debt-Free U)

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, Carl's sketches could change a life! He captures the essence of life and money."
(-Marty Kurtz, president of the Financial Planning Association)

About the Author

Carl Richards is a certified financial planner and founder of Prasada Capital Management, a portfolio design firm. He contributes to the Bucks blog at The New York Times and is a columnist for Morningstar Advisor. Richards appears regularly on National Public Radio's Marketplace Money, and is a frequent keynote speaker at financial planning conferences and visual learning events. You can find more of his work at behaviorgap.com. He lives in Park City, Utah, with his family.

Visit www.behaviorgap.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First book that should be read before investing Nov. 21 2012
By Marcin
Format:Hardcover
I had the pleasure to see Carl on his tour in Toronto. Behaviour is the most important factor in trading. Even though, buy low sell high seems simple enough, yet majority of us let our emotions take over which lead to bad decision making.

Carl brings very simple approach to explain how human behavior works and steps to correct it, in addition he provides excellent drawings that summarizes the message(s). I refer to them before my trade or when I`m starting to go off track.
I think it`s a must read before you start trading / investing on your own or with a qualified investor, Carl gives you a guideline what to look for in an advisor.

After reading his books, since July untill about now (December) I haven`t lost any of my capital and my gains outperform the market and most advisors.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  141 reviews
38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Thinking in Personal Finance Jan. 3 2012
By Chuck Rylant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been in the financial planning business for a quite some time and read just about everything in the industry, and The Behavior Gap is truly original thinking. Most of the books in the field are advice driven whereas this book is more about challenging your thinking about money. This forces you to think about challenging questions about how you deal with your finances.

This is a good book for both the consumer and the financial planner. I think a lot of financial advisors tend to get caught up in the nuances of financial planning such as getting a higher interest rate or saving the maximum amount on taxes, but it is really behavior that challenges most people with their money.

People usually know what to do with their money, but they don't always do it. This book addresses those topics and is an important contribution to both the public and the financial planning community.

In full disclosure, I received an advance copy, but I did not know the author prior to reading the book. I highly recommend it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great advice...but repetitive Oct. 28 2012
By jplusw79 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I ordered a copy of the Kindle version and listened to it on my way to and from work. I must say, I really enjoyed listening to the first 3-4 chapters, but after that, although the author had different stories and comments, it seemed that his advice became somewhat repetitive. There's only so many ways to tell someone not to lean to heavily on their feelings and not follow the herd...

Also, while I did not expect to receive actual financial advice (where to put money, how much, etc), I felt that the author could have used more examples of what he typically recommends to his clients in specific areas (not just, "move out of stocks" or "invest in bonds") for those of us who are new to the process of saving.

Overall, a good book for the thought concepts that one can appreciate when it comes to finances.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice, "lite" presentation May 7 2012
By Robert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book for helping casual and novice investors become aware of the psychological issues that negatively affect investment performance.

The book is written breezily, almost humorously, yet clearly. I did find it to be rather repetetive, but perhaps that helps make the advice sink in.

However, mass and individual investor psychology has been a hot research topic in recent years, and deservedly so. I would have preferred to see more discussion of recent learning and a bit more detail.

4.5 stars for inexperienced investors
3 stars for those who are already somewhat familiar with the issues.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why we keep buying high and selling low... May 28 2013
By Joseph J. Serwach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Carl Richards shows how and why investors keep buying high and selling low when they need to buy low and sell high. The problem? We keep chasing the latest "hot tips" rather than sticking to the basics. Richards notes: 1. Experiences and relationships matter more than objects - yet we keep chasing after the latest "shiny toy" rather than investing in what matters most. 2. Ever try doing ANYTHING when you're anxious? Whether you're trying to use a golf club or investing, don't try it when you're filled with anxiety or, chances are, you'll screw it up big time. Calm is always better.3. Researchers have found that whatever we continually think about can actually change the structure of our brain and those thoughts turn into habits. 4. Gain some perspective: if you look at any given year, you could have lost 40 percent or gained 60 percent but if you look over a 20 year period, the worst average annual performance was a 3 percent gain while the best was a 15 percent gain and over 30 years those numbers average out even more. Ive met Jim Cramer and like him: Carl Richards is called the anti-Cramer and I like him too. The difference? Cramer looks at the shorter and Richards looks at the long term...
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIFE IS TOUGH AND IF YOUR STUPID IT'S EVEN TOUGHER --- John Wayne Aug. 19 2013
By My Opinion - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The author of The Behavior Gap has an entertaining way of articulating common sense when it comes to avoiding dumb things with money. I am sure many readers will say this book offers nothing new and that it is too fundamental, and I agree. So, if it is so fundamental, why do we all continue to lose focus and do dumb things with our money?

When my golf game goes astray, I visit my local pro to seek advice. Guess what? He doesn't suggest new expensive clubs or improved golf balls, no! he checks my fundamentals...stance, grip, muscle tension, etc. All very basic fundamentals! It is no different in managing your money. Just the basics and keep it simple.

Managing your financial affairs is nothing more than using common sense and the avoidance of emotional decisions. After living nearly 75 years, I have to say that I practice most of what Carl Richards has to say. However, many of his suggestions I have had to learn the hard way and sometimes these lessons were very expensive. The 2000 stock bubble was a very expensive lesson for me. On the other hand, the 2011 stock market dip of nearly 19% was very profitable, because of the lesson I learned in 2000.

I recommend this book to anyone who thinks they can do a better job in managing their money. I think it will be especially beneficial for young people just starting to bear the responsibilities of managing their own financial affairs. Perhaps some expensive mistakes can be avoided.

The only negatives I have about the book are that I think it is a bit pricey (I always seek value) considering that it is a compilation of the author's past New York Times articles in the Your Money Section. I also think that some of the napkin sketches don't make any sense relative to the point the author tries to make, however I don't consider this a major flaw. I would consider giving a copy of this book to family members as a Christmas gift if it wasn't so expensive.
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