Updated on 06.17.13

Reading This Article Won’t Make You Rich

Trent Hamm

UFPJ 'Take Action: Topple the Pillars of War and Empire!' Posters (Takoma Park, DC) by takomabibelot on Flickr!I’ve read (literally) thousands of personal finance articles that say just the opposite of the title of this one. They all offer some great path to being rich, one that they claim is foolproof and that anyone can do. They brag about the huge rates of return and the magnificent success they’ve had with the plan.

And then, with just a mouse click or a page flip, you’re on to the next one. Another plan, another article, another day, another dollar.

But here’s the truth of the matter: none of those articles mean anything at all if you’re not taking action in your own life.

You can be extremely well-versed in managing your own money, but if you’re still spending more than you earn, it means nothing.

You can know the ins and outs of investing wisely, but if you’re still spending that money on unnecessary stuff, it means nothing.

You can read all about various ways of starting your own business, but if you go home at night and watch three hours of television instead, it means nothing.

Reading this article won’t make you rich. Nor will reading any other article. If you want to improve your financial situation, there’s only one way to do it. Take action.

Improve your standing at your current job – or search for a better one. If you’re reading this article at work, finish the article, close the window, and spend the next hour or two really polishing up the project you’re working on. Put some real pride into it. Make that presentation shine. Add a lot of comments to your code so others can know what you did. Go through that correspondence that you keep putting off. Shoot some emails to the people you met at that conference last month. Polish up your resume. And when you go home tonight, feel good about having done it.

Do some “one time” money saving improvements at home. Tonight, instead of crashing after work, do some things that will gradually save you money over time. Air up the tires in your car. Install some new light bulbs. Put in a programmable thermostat. Put your home entertainment center on a SmartStrip. Air seal your home. Then, figure up how much you’ll save each month from your small changes ($20-30 or so) and set up an automatic savings plan to sock away that much for a rainy day.

Do some of the things you’ve been putting off. Assemble that will. Shop around for better car and homeowners’ or renter’s insurance. Update your 401(k) contributions – or sign up for it if you haven’t done it. Take advantage of open enrollment and get a better health insurance plan. Turn in receipts for your flexible spending account.

Get educated. Learn more about financial topics that interest you, for starters. Don’t just dream about going back to school – look into evening classes and see how you can go about it. Take the tests you need to go back to school. Figure out your talents and where they intersect with your passions, and chase that vision as hard as you can.

If you take away nothing else from this article, take these two words: take action. Reading and learning is fine, but if you don’t step up to the plate and make an actual change, all the reading in the world about turning your financial life around won’t make a difference.

Take action.

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  1. SavingFreak says:

    Great post Trent. People spend so much time trying to learn what to do they many times forget that just doing will help further your goals.

    A duck doesn’t look like he is doing much on top of the water but under neath his legs are just paddling away. Eventually he gets where he is going. We can all learn a lot from the duck.

  2. Matt says:

    I’ve installed GnuCash today and am just exploring it now :)

  3. onaclov says:

    I’ve been thinking about installing GnuCash but haven’t gotten around to it, let me know how it works out,

    I just got done reading a blog about “I can make you rich” (I think that’s actually the sites name too), He’s running a “save $1000 in 30 days” set of blogs recently, the first was to start brownbagging it, the second was to lower your thermostat, and the third was to try to sell something on ebay, even if it only brings in $10 save it and keep slowly working your way up.
    interesting this article came up around the same day I read it….Thanks for the insight

  4. Sean says:

    Great post, Trent. You’ve inspired me to stop messing around reading PF blogs and get back to work!

  5. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy says:

    That’s the trap of blogs and the internet in general. SO MUCH useful informaiton is out there, but there’s no amount of articles that can make someone take action on anything. If you’re readin all this stuff and not applying it, then you might as well not be reading it all.

  6. Kevin says:

    Good post Trent, although I’ll take exception with one small detail – “polishing your resume” at work isn’t a great idea nor something you should feel good about. Do it at home. Your employer isn’t paying you so you can spend your time at work looking for another job. That said, the basic point of the post is rock solid.

  7. Loaded Piggy says:

    Great Post Trent, ive been reading the simple dollar for a long time now, its by far one of my favourite blogs.

    Procrastination stops alot of great people from doing great things.

    Only Action creats a Re-action!!

  8. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Great post, Trent. You’ve inspired me to stop messing around reading PF blogs and get back to work!”

    The point of this blog isn’t to suck down your time. The point of this blog is to relate my own stories of how I’m changing my life for the positive and encourage you to do the same.

    If this post made you log off and do something positive with your life, having never met you, I’ve succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

  9. Excellent post, Trent. I remember several years ago when Robert Kiyosaki came out with a great deal of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” material. A lot of my friends said he got them jacked up to make some huge profits…but never gave them an exact formula on how to do it. I told them I think we are supposed to muddle along and just keep taking steps, since that is how he learned.

    They never did get anything off the ground. I have tried to talk with them about Internet marketing, but they just want a website they can switch on and checks come rolling in.

    Life doesn’t work that way. You have to start taking steps. You illustrated it perfectly. Nice job.

  10. Brad says:

    I am not into religion, however a lot of people I know are. And if you are part of a large church group sometimes they offer financial planning classes. ATTEND ONE. They are magnificent and they are all about helping the people (the more expendable income they have the more they can give to the church is how it boils down) but never mind their motives – what you need to do is consider your reward. They can help a lot of people who struggle to understand the BASICS of finances.

    Want to know how I started? I cut out the morning bagel.

    As for the socking money away on savings what people need to remember is there is an upfront cost in doing things. What you need to do is take the average yearly bill on every utility – add in the cost of upgrading the bulbs and strips. Then the next bill you get take the difference and PUT IT IN SAVINGS. A lot of people just assume they will save money with changing a bulb. You might find it takes 2-3 months or more to play catch up.

  11. Susy says:

    This is really what separates the haves from the have nots.

    I spent my evening out watering all my plants with water from my rain barrels that we spent our evenings buildling this summer. Saves us money on water and saves the environment. It’s also better for my plants. I’ve been spending most of my evenings gardening, growing food for us. I also spend my evenings canning & preservingl. We’re saving money and building great skills for the future (not to mention eating locally and more healthfully).

  12. We are bombarded with redundant information on a daily basis and when such happens we give up taking action. Learning how to overcome Information overload will make us take actions based on what our brain perceives.
    A Dawn Journal

  13. kevinf says:

    That pic of the Take Action flyer was taken in my neighborhood of Takoma, DC.

    Dear fellow reader curious about gnucash…I love it. You have to learn some of the basics of double entry accounting (a blog post topic, Trent?), but it’s worth your while to fully understand your finances. And it’s free. Free as in beer and Free as in Freedom.

  14. the girl @ love God, not money says:

    Tonight I found myself talking with my dad about CDs, IRAs, etc. I would never have known anything about those a few months ago, and now I’m learning how to spend and save wisely. God has used PF blogs so much in this endeavor. Thanks for all your writing!

  15. Sean says:

    Well of course you’re not trying to suck down our time… but it happens anyway. Inevitable result of writing copious amounts of good content.

  16. Nick says:

    The hardest part is getting started. It’s all a lot easier when you see more green in your life, just getting to that point is the hard part for many.

  17. Leo says:

    Trent, this is one of the best piece of advice you gave, ever, although you give lots of good advice (I have those 5 cards on my wallet, as a reminder!), but you were able to “make me” act in the past also: for instance, instead of spending hours watching tv, I’m learning German online. I also started that Emergeny Fund you speak so much about. I got a card for public library… In fact, I think the best advice you give is through your example. That’s the best way to teach children something, and I think it makes a good effect on adults, too! Keep the good work!

  18. Deborah Johnson says:


    Thank you for an inspiring post.

  19. Dano says:

    This idea could not be more pertinent to me where I am in my life. It’s time to take action and make something happen versus sitting on the sidelines. Thank you!

  20. Penelope says:

    Trent, Thank you for posting valuable content. I don’t follow many blogs, except the ones that will improve the quality of my life. Thank you for being one of them. I’m a sponge for information, but it doesn’t matter how much information I have. It’s taking that first step and then the next step and so on.

  21. A very valuable and inspirational article! Sometimes it is hard to optimize your time all the time, but articles like these do the trick and refocus me to be the best I can and do as much as I can to improve myself.


  22. Shannon says:

    Thank you for posting this article!! There are too many articles out there promising you the world if you read the article. You’re right nothing happens unless you make it happen. Thanks again!

  23. Mule Skinner says:

    I always wonder why make-a-million books exist. If the author really knows how to do that, why is he bothering to sell books? Perhaps the only real way to make your own quick million is to sell others on buying your book.

  24. Matt says:

    There are tons of people out there claiming to have the “secret” to financial independence. But most of these plans are missing one key ingredient.

    The most important part of your path to financial freedom is to….


    This is a great post.

  25. joanie says:

    It’s like losing weight! You can read all the books, but if you don’t start eating right and exercising, it will just make you more “in the know” about diet formulas.

  26. Carrie says:

    Such a simple concept yet so many of us, including myself, just keep on reading and don’t apply what we have learned. I have done most of the “one time” money savers like installing a thermostat and the light bulbs but fail to keep up with the day to day tasks that could save a ton! Thanks for the inspiration.

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