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The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money Hardcover – January 3, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 the director of investor education at BAM Advisor Services, a community of
independent advisors. 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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chuck Rylant on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 2:21 Mins
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.
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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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is written in a conversational style which is quite easy to understand, while delivering much sound advice related to investing and financial planning. The advice is of a general nature and focused on overcoming our inherent psychological tendencies which can cause us to make poor decisions, so I can recommend the book to all investors, ranging from novice to veterans.

Here are my notes from the book:

1. Cycles and other factors do cause markets to go to ‘inefficient’ high and low extremes.

2. Stocks should be treated as potentially useful, but also dangerous. And increased potential upside does generally come with increased risks (but the converse isn't true: higher risk doesn't always mean increased potential upside).

3. In the long run, the vast majority of people who attempt market timing do worse than the markets, and we shouldn’t fall prey to the hope that we can rely on others to make such predictions. So it’s best to formulate an approach which will likely work well long-term regardless of how markets fluctuate in the short and intermediate terms, since the long-term trend is up; but this does assume that the future will repeat the past in the long-term, whereas there have been bear markets of more than a year in the past, so 'riding out' long bear markets can be a painful process which wouldn't be a good situation for people nearing retirement or already retired.

4. The most effective investors are moderate and humble rather than overconfident, and recognize their inability to reliably make accurate predictions. In fact, people with the highest proportion of accurate extreme forecasts tend to do worse overall.
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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...
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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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