Q&A: Ramit Sethi is back after 10 years with advice for entrepreneurs

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[August 29, 2017]  By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK(Reuters) - Known for his bracing, no-bull personal finance advice aimed at Generation Y and beyond, Ramit Sethi is also patient.

After hitting the scene in 2007 with the bestseller "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," he has waited 10 years to release another book, focusing instead on building his brand into a financial education company.

The new book, "Your Move: The Underdog's Guide to Building Your Business," doles out the important rules he learned along the way, such as getting paid for the value you create.

Sethi, now 35, spoke with Reuters to talk about his new book, and how entrepreneurs can navigate an increasingly unpredictable world - and still come out on top.

Q: Your last book was a big success in personal finance circles, so why 10 years until your next one?

A: There are a lot of authors I respect who write a new book every year. But thatís just not me. I spent years writing my last book so it could stand the test of time. I wanted to wait until I really had something to say with the next one.

Q: The world has changed a lot in that time. What have you learned since then?

A: In "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," I focused on automating your personal finances, which is one of the most important foundational items of a rich life. But since then, Iíve gone much deeper on increasing your income, freelancing, and starting a business. Thereís a huge trend of people starting something small on the side, and we help them turn that into something big. We share all their stories at GrowthLab (http://www.growthlab.com).

Q: What entrepreneurial tips would you highlight?

A: Focus on the profitable, not the sexy. There are way too many entrepreneurs focused on the number of Instagram followers they have (and other worthless vanity metrics). We spend way, way more time on customer research than on Instagram. I guess it shows, too. My Instagram account sucks.

Q: Among your unconventional wisdom, you question homebuying as a typical road to wealth. Why is that?

A: A lot of people hate me for saying this, but itís true. People think The American Dream always includes buying a house. They also think if youíre renting, youíre ďthrowing money away on rent.Ē Most of these people have no idea what theyíre talking about.

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A sale sign points to a home in Dallas, Texas September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

If you actually run the numbers and take all the phantom costs into account - taxes, maintenance, interest, and more - youíll discover that real estate is not the best investment of all. In fact, real estate is often a terrible investment.

Q: Where do most personal-finance experts go wrong?

A: It's tiresome to read yet another financial expert lecturing people about spending money on lattes. Why do so many experts tell you all the things you can't do with your money? Iíd rather show you what you can do. Oh, you want to take an amazing trip to Bora Bora next year? Great, Iíll show you how to save and earn so you can do it.

Look, I know a lot of these experts. Most of them donít even follow their own advice. More importantly, even if you save $3 a day, youíre not even saving that much.

Iíd prefer people focus on the 5-10 'Big Wins' in life, like automating their finances, finding a dream job, negotiating their salary, and possibly starting a business. You do that and youíll never have to worry about coffee, or appetizers, ever again.

Q: You are famous for in-your-face advice, so what harsh financial truths do you have for people reading this?

A: Iím actually a big teddy bear. But here are three truths that have helped me:

1: Nobody is coming to save you. People love to complain about the government and millennials, but your personal finances are your responsibility. You can automate your finances in about a week using this system (http://bit.ly/2waXHQk).

2: You decide what a 'Rich Life' is. If you want to buy a $1,000 coat, or you want to pay for your parentsí retirement, great. Donít let anyone tell you what a Rich Life is. Decide for yourself.

3: Itís not that hard. The internet has made it popular to complain and commiserate about how hard life is. Thatís nonsense. We have amazing opportunities that didnít exist even 10 years ago. You can get an incredible amount done in 30 days if you decide itís a priority. You can change your life in a month.

(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Steve Orlofsky)

[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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