“The Wealthy Barber Returns” - Book Review

This book is full of excellent advice. The most important of which is to learn to spend in a way that maximizes your happiness today, while increasing your chances of happiness tomorrow.

“The Wealthy Barber Returns” by David Chilton is a book about money, but more importantly it’s a book about being happy with what you have. As he says, “my friends will tell you that I'm one of the happiest guys going. I would argue that my positive disposition is partially because of [my humble lifestyle]. I'm never stressed about keeping up. I truly couldn't care less what others have. I don't need the latest and the greatest.”

We live in a world that basically demands we spend, buy, and upgrade everything. “Nothing is ever enough. We want more. And when we get it, we want more yet again. We want what we see on TV. We want what our friends have. Heck, we want what rich people have. We even want what we already have but in the newer, fancier, bigger models.” Chilton urges us to look at our lives and learn how to spend more efficiently. Using our money on the things that give us the most value for our dollar.

In order to be efficient spenders we have to know where our money is going. One of the ways Chilton encourages doing this is by creating a spending summary each month. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy extras in our lives, but those extra purchases should be splurge-worthy (Chilton’s word). We should be willing to trade-off those splurge worthy items for other things that really aren't that important to us.

We have all experienced that moment of seeing and wanting something. In order to make better decisions we need to learn to “inject time between the stimulus and response”, this gives our higher brain time to get involved in a decision. One way to do this is to make it a hassle to get at your money and credit, Chilton has some funny anecdotes about this, like a person who keeps their credit cards in the freezer in a block of ice. Other ways to do this can be as simple as always going to the grocery store with a shopping list, never buying things the first time you see them, and talking to your spouse, or someone else, before purchasing things.

“Much of what society deems conspicuous consumption is really competitive consumption.” You see your neighbour’s fancy new car and want one too. We spend and don’t take the time to think about what we are giving up. Instead we need to cultivate a feeling of gratitude for what we do have. When we feel content with what we do have we don’t have as much need to spend.

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“In reality, all our stuff weighs us down. And our pursuit of ‘more’ often distracts us from what’s truly important in life. I genuinely believe that our never-ending material quest is not only sabotaging our financial tomorrows, but also negatively impacting our psychological todays.” We have seen first hand how true this is. By simplifying our lives, we have found more time and money, for the things that we really care about.

We, Kelli and Nathan, first read this book about ten years ago. It helped us see some of the places we could improve, but we made a crucial mistake at that point, we didn’t get on the same page. We’ve now learned that if the two of us aren’t on the same page we don’t make progress. For example, since 2017 we have started to review our expenses together at the end of each month, it is amazing how much it has helped us become more efficient spenders. Discuss with your spouse your goals about spending and saving, and about how much stuff you want in your life. Everything doesn’t need to change immediately but when you start making baby steps today you will improve your life tomorrow.

We highly recommend this book. We’ve read it multiple times, and each time it remotivates us to live a better life. A life where we are more grateful for what we have, less concerned about what others have, and more true to what our priorities really are.

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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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