A financial expert and bestselling author says the best money advice he can give isn’t a mystery or magic — it’s just math

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Ramit Sethi 2018

Almost anyone can learn to be good with money, according to financial expert Ramit Sethi.

“It’s not that hard. It’s not a mystery. It’s not magic. It’s just math. It’s totally, totally understandable,” he told Business Insider.

Everyone battles their own “invisible money scripts,” Sethi writes in the latest edition of his bestselling book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” These are messages we tell ourselves about money, often based on ideas or perceptions we picked up from our parents or peers as children.

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Some of the most common money scripts include “money changes people”; “credit cards are a scam”; or “the stock market is gambling.” In order to manage money effectively, we have to “rewrite” our scripts, Sethi said.

“You might think ‘Well, I’m not the kind of person who’s good at money,’ but you can actually become very good at money — and the bar is so low,” he told Business Insider. “All you need to do is just have your money automatically going where it needs to go — it’s not that hard. You can do it and you can become very good at it.”

Sethi, like many financial experts, encourages automating as much of your finances as possible — this is where the math comes in (the good news is, you really only have to do it once). First and foremost, he said, decide what percentage of your salary you’re going to contribute to your 401(k) or other retirement contribution plan. That money will be taken out before it hits your bank account, so you’ll learn to live without it.

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The remainder of your paycheck should be deposited in your checking account — it’s like an email inbox for your money: Everything goes there before it’s filtered into the right place, Sethi writes. From your checking account, set up automatic transfers to, A) pay your credit-card bill and any fixed monthly costs that can’t be paid for by credit card, and B) fund other investment and savings accounts outside of your salary deferral plan at work. Whatever money is left over is yours to spend.

Sethi says setting up automatic funding and bill pay helps you create a unique and profitable system that requires little to no work to maintain.

“Not only are your bills paid automatically and on time, but you’re actually saving and investing money each month,” he wrote. “The beauty of this system is that it works without your involvement and it’s flexible enough to add or remove accounts at any time. You’re accumulating money by default.” 

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