Review: Affluence Intelligence

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Affluence IntelligenceIn the world of personal finance books, there are basically two types. The first type outlines exactly what you should do, explains why, and includes worksheets to help you get your financial life in order. The second type is a little “softer” and it discusses the mental and psychological aspects of you, your relationship with money, and helps to get your mind right when it comes to money. I think both are important. It’s not much different than the difference between going to a mechanic to get your engine tuned up and going to a defensive driving instructor so you are a safer driver.

Affluence Intelligence by Stephen Golbart, PHD, and Joan Indursky Difuria, MFT is that second type of book written with the approach of the first. It’s designed to help reshape your mind when it comes to money but it does it in a step by step manner that is easy to follow. The book may sound like it’s tackling a “soft” subject but it does it in a very structured and analytic way, which I find is rare in books in that second category.

One of the first things I do when I get a non-fiction book, regardless of the topic, is check out the background of the author or authors. I like reading the opinions of authors with a perspective I don’t share and in this regard the two authors certainly deliver. Both authors are psychologists and have worked with patients with psychological issues. Joan Difuria worked for a program that helped people with schizophrenia and manic depression. Stephen Goldbart codirected a public health program for “severely disturbed adults.” They have hands on experience with people who have trouble with reality. I was eager to read about their experience and guidance for folks who just have a little trouble with money (when you think about it, money is a by-product of our actions and if you can get your mind right with respect to the world, it’s more likely that you’ll be successful financially in that world).

What is affluence intelligence? The authors begin by defining what they call affluence, which is different than wealth. Affluence is about finding balance and happiness in your life, which doesn’t necessarily come with a lot of money. As I wrote about once in how someone could be unhappy with $1,000,000 and Notorious BIG immortalized in music, more money doesn’t necessarily mean a happier life. Affluence is more than that. Affluence is about finding happiness in your life (there are seven key areas) and making it so that you can achieve that level of happiness by way of improving and outlining four key areas – priorities, behaviors, attitudes, and financial effectiveness.

The book is full of anecdotes about their clients and the majority of them involve folks who are doing well financially but doing poorly in their life. They’re making money, more money than the average family, but they’re stressed because they’re either living beyond their means or unfulfilled at work or simply stressed about their job. It’s stunning how common their stories seem once you read them over and over again. I can see how a program like this could be extremely helpful in getting them back on the track.

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