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If you’ve ever wished you could get into the head of a psychiatrist and find out what they’re thinking, this book may surprise you. It turns out, they may be thinking about money — your money. Dr. Mark Tobak, an Board-certified adult psychiatrist, wrote “Anyone Can be Rich: A Psychiatrist Provides the Mental Tools to Build Your Wealth” after listening to his patients discuss their financial woes. While he’s not a professional financial advisor — and doesn’t pretend to be — he is a savvy and knowledgeable investor who follows the credo of the greats: seek wealth honestly, carefully, and gradually. The book was endorsed by none other than Warren Buffett himself.
Tobak gathered the best intel he could find and then added helpful anecdotes, many of which come from the classic movies of the 20th century, like It’s a Wonderful Life. He reaches into the archives of cinema and literature and pulls out revealing stories that also serve to remind us that money is an age-old concern. But this is anything but a superficial read. With hefty sections on such topics as why people are so irrational about money, how to hold onto what we have, lessons from the world’s best investors, and finally, what it takes to prosper in the stock market, it’s a thorough and helpful read.
It’s not surprising that a psychiatrist would be the one to uncover the mental and emotional quirks in human nature that prevent us from saving money. As the doctor points out, we’re hard-wired to dump it all when we’re panicked, he says. We tend to cut our losses and run at the very worst times. We hate to lose — it terrifies us, Tobak explains. He recounts the 2008 financial crisis, in which loads of stocks were dumped by spooked investors. Those with a steady head swooped them all up, and they’re still reaping the returns.
Tobak shows how we’re also blinded by the myth that a savings account is actually saving money. Inflation rates are presently higher than the returns on most savings accounts – so unless we’re actually investing our money, we’re losing it. There’s a great story about finding an old cache of gold in the wall that illustrates this point: it’s not quite the treasure the finder thinks, anymore. And the American myth of the rugged individual works against us as well: we tend to see stocks as individual entities, rather than look at the market itself for what it is. The stock market’s a fluid, everchanging, fickle, and relentless ecosystem, as Tobak reminds us. It rises and falls as it will. That makes it a tricky foe if you’re in it for the short term. It’s staying in for the long term that results in genuine gains.
Tobak explains many investment terms in plain language, demystifying the concept of what it takes to be an investor, and talking us down off the ledge when it comes to taking on too much risk. There’s a huge difference between a sensible and a risky investment, he notes — and risk is hardly ever a good idea. He is all for moderation, consideration, balance, and an overall sober approach to investing. Frankly, that’s what most of us are capable of. There are few Buffetts in the world.
When it comes to building our own nest egg, no matter how big or small, we tend to make the worst decisions there are. We plunk money into a savings account while accruing high interest credit card fees. We spend too much. We invest too little. But still, what Tobak’s not for is not investing. There’s no reason not to pursue that dream, no matter how small the investment. There’s no reason to set aside just a little money and then let it ride and ride. Indeed, the way our economy is structured, it’s the only way to come out ahead, land on our feet, and enjoy a calm retirement. That’s a key takeaway from this extremely useful and entertaining book. As this psychiatrist points out, making money is a mindset just as losing money is. And, as he points out, it’s far better to be rich. Smart, short and sweet, this is a guidebook that can certainly help.
For more about Dr. Mark Tobak, visit www.marktobakmd.org.