Book Review: Taming the Pound: Making Money Your Servant, Not Your Master by Kim Stephenson
Beware, this fascinating book is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and will educate you in ways you didn’t expect!
Whilst it is first and foremost about our relationship (or not) with money, it also sneaks in a lot about the whole discipline of psychology. What Kim does very effectively is make the complicated and complex (well for me at least) world of finance less complex and more easily understandable.
Not only will you put this book down much wiser about your attitude and approach to money you will also understand why and how you have that mind-set (and what you can and can’t do to tame the beast and have a more appropriate and healthy relationship with your money).
Kim argues that our approach to money is that we are risk- averse and regret-averse and that money fulfils one of four needs - Power, Security, Love and/or Freedom. He also explains how we place more value on what we already have than on what we actually want (thereby explaining why I struggle to throw anything away!).
Our journey to taming the pound takes in various psychological as well as fiscal themes. For example we take a trip down Motivation road and understand how our internal and external drives interact with our financial belief system. We also examine gratification, parenting styles (or how you “teach your children”), the "Gorilla effect" and the difficulty we have in spotting the unexpected especially if we are focused on something else.
This “Cooks” (or should I say "Bankers") tour of psychology also includes evolutionary psychology, the butterfly effect and Chaos theory, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and cognitive psychology.
The book ends with a “help” section that deconstructs what help there is and isn’t available, how to access it and how to avoid it.
One of the more scary findings is that the so-called expert is no better than you or I at financial planning and Kim gives a detailed explanation of why we all make the same, flawed, or dubious, decisions and then look for reasons to justify our choice (good old Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory take a bow).
The structure of the book itself is highly personalised and is focused on your own unique view of money. Kim helps you understand your attitude towards money by helping you understand about your own drivers, beliefs and attitudes rather than about "money" itself.
It is a book that you can either dip into as you want or read straight through. There are a variety of self-assessment questions, exercises, "case studies", key points and further reading identified to help you navigate your personal journey to taming your pound.
We learn how to set CHEAP SMART GOALS (Controllable, Happy, Exciting, Aligned, Positive, SMART, Plan it, Little steps, Action based and Noted) and a better way to approach events using the Activating event, Beliefs, Consequences (plus Dispute beliefs and Effective outlook) as well a couple of investment acronyms (in this instance the 3R’s stand for Return, Risk and Read).
As a constructivist I’m more than comfortable with the underlying concept of this book that we are all unique and must identify our own way for ultimate success.
All in all, this book is a veritable cornucopia of psychology and anyone will find something of interest to them as well as helping them tame their pound!