You’ll Never Get Rich With That Attitude

By Richard Reis

Hello dear,

Phew… This past week was eventful.

Many great things happened. Chief among them is the good people at Quartz republishing our 6th letter. For which I’m incredibly grateful.

But, with great exposure comes great controversy. And boy did we have some of that.

Of course, it didn’t help that Quartz decided to post our letter on Facebook using the title “Wealthy people have one thing in common”. It led to silly answers like “wealthy parents” or “lots of money”, from people who clearly didn’t read the letter.

But no, this isn’t a criticism of “headline readers”.

And of course, this is nowhere near a criticism of Quartz. I totally understand what they did. In this day and age ‘ya gotta go what ya gotta do’. Get those clicks, Quartz. I’m grateful to them more than anything.

But today dear, you and I are going up against a powerful enemy; pessimism.

I planned on releasing this letter March 10th to close our “Setting the Stage” phase. However, these recent events and our faster-than-expected growth proves now is the right time for this letter. Like bad weeds, we must kill all pessimism before it grows.

So let’s get going.

Why positivity?

You may say “positivity? I thought this series was about money!” and a few years ago, I would have agreed with you.

But if you look at most financial bloggers (if not all) you’ll see they talk about positivity in one way or another. This proves how much of a big deal this is, especially when talking about money.

It makes sense after all, financial independence is mostly a mental game.

No, I’m not being woo-woo. Think about it. If it was so simple, all it would take is one letter with a few mathematical calculations and voila! Follow these steps and you’ll retire in X amount of years.

But do you think that’s enough? Was it enough for you?

Probably not.

Why? Because that’s when the fun begins and most complaints pop out:

  • “It’s impossible to live on 25% of my income”
  • “Buy a $4k car? That’s not a good look at work!”
  • “I want to ‘enjoy life’! I want to spend $10 on drinks and buy fancy clothes.”

And so on, endlessly.

Why is this wrong? Because, if you use those excuses, you are being your own enemy! You haven’t tried. You won’t try. You’ll keep doing the same thing waiting for a miracle ignoring the fact that was your miracle right there!

Note: I want to address everyone who says spending $10 on drinks and buying fancy stuff means you get to ‘enjoy life’ despite being in debt. This is probably the most common argument I’ve seen.
Picture this, to me that’s the equivalent of a morbidly obese person plunked on a couch telling you “But I don’t want to exercise! I want my burgers and chocolate milkshakes, it makes me ‘enjoy life’ ” despite needing to mount a 3-wheel scooter at every Walmart trip.
Don’t fall for that! Trust me, you will regret hurting your future only so you can enjoy your present.

As with anything worth doing, the road to financial independence is paved with challenges (which we’ll learn to overcome). Don’t let yourself be one.

That’s why this letter may be the most important one. Before anything else, you need positivity.

Is positivity all you need?

You already know the answer; of course not. Otherwise, everyone who read Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” would be rich.

As much as I love positivity, it’s not enough. But it is a requirement!

Remember, being positive doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win, but being pessimistic definitely means you’ll lose.

The main thing positivity will bring you is the ability to take action. If you don’t think that doing something will work, you won’t do it. It’s that simple.

Of course, some intelligence must be applied here. No matter how positive you are, buying a Powerball lottery ticket still gives you a 1 in 292 million chance of winning. Those are not good odds! And there’s nothing your positivity will do.

A good second step is learning to use probability to your advantage.

It’s always easy to see what could go wrong, and someone who’s mildly clever enjoys pointing out the obvious.

For example, whenever I tell someone not to be pessimistic the answer I almost always get is “I’m not pessimistic, I’m just a realist”. Coincidentally, I’ve never met a person who told me she’s pessimistic.

Realize, outside conditions rarely shape your future. Your decisions do. And if you’re pessimistic, you’ll never make a decision.

How to be more positive?

Here are the three most common steps I’ve seen financial independence bloggers talk about:

1. Stop watching the news

I’ve always recommended avoiding the news. They’ll just put you in a bad mood.

If you need to “stay informed throughout the week”, use more positive sites like or

If you really want to know global events. The best you can do is read The Economist once a week. You get a new edition sent to your iPad every Friday, their articles are more thought-out, and because their writers are anonymous there’s no journalistic ego fighting for clicks (Besides, it’s pretty cool knowing it’s the only publication commonly recommended by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Charlie Munger).

But stay away from the crazy daily headlines!

“But hey don’t I need to read what everyone’s reading so I can be a good investor?” Not really. Here’s a simple example, this May 2012 CNN article talks about how much of a ‘disaster’ Facebook’s IPO was, and how some investors are ‘thinking twice about what the stock is really worth’. This was back when Facebook’s stock price was $38. Today it’s $133. Had you ignored the headlines and bought Facebook stock, today you’d have 3.5x your money.

Staying “informed” can cost you a lot of money.

…And it’s depressing.

2. Stop complaining

This is as close to self-destruction as it gets. Remember your decisions affect your future.

There’s a reason there’s such a thing as the placebo effect. Your thoughts shape your destiny! So if I tell you “save 50% of your income” and you reply “But that’s impossible because *insert complaint here*”, guess what? You just built your own reality!

3. Take ownership of your problems

Blaming the economy, the president, or your conditions for your problems is as helpful as blaming McDonalds for your weight.

Unless it’s something you cannot possibly change, the complaints are useless. But people keep doing it:

  • I’ve written about people complaining they “don’t have time”. I love when people say that and spend hours watching House of Cards on Netflix.
  • People complain about their health problems but spend no time in a gym or on a bike.
  • People complain about how hard it is to save money and yet drive a $40k leased car or have a dog.
“If someone goes bankrupt because of $5,000 or $10,000 in medical expenses, it wasn’t the medical expenses that caused the bankruptcy. It was the fact that they didn’t have $5–10k available.. a situation that I would recommend getting out of before even buying the first restaurant meal of your life.” — Mr. Money Mustache

Embrace the Challenge

If you’re going to remember one thing from this letter, make it this; discomfort gets you what you want.

Not only does every hardship bring with it a valuable lesson, everything that’s good can only be achieved through some level of discomfort.

Don’t believe me? Take a look:

  • If you’re in a bad mood, a frigid shower will instantly cheer you up.
  • If you don’t like your body, working out and sweating will put you in shape.
  • If you have bad grades in school, sitting down and studying will improve them.
  • If you have debt, selling stuff and living off of ramen noodles will help you get rid of it.

Anything you want has to be earned.

If it was up to us, we’d end up like the humans in Wall-E.

That is not a goal worth striving for.

“People confuse being happy with being comfortable. Those are not the same thing.” — Dean Karnazes

What about luck?

For our final point, the elephant in the room.

“The only reason someone has a better life than me is because they were luckier”, says the extreme.

I recommend you read the book “The Luck Factor” by Dr. Richard Wiseman, Psychology Professor at the University of Hertfordshire.

He tried to find out if there was such as a thing as luck.

Of course, there is no such thing as luck (there is, however, such a thing as randomness. This is why Michael Phelp’s genes are better than yours for swimming. But if he never found a pool, he’d just be a tall guy with tiny legs. He happened to make the best out of his situation and to the outside world, that looks like luck).

As much as you think Bill Gates is a lucky guy, if he and you threw a dice, I guarantee there’s no reason he’d have more 6’s than you. None.

However, Dr. Wiseman discovered people who think they are lucky tend to find more opportunities than people who think the opposite.

The book is full of fascinating studies that prove this (which are too long to type here, I tried). But I hope you’ll read it and stop wishing you were “luckier” and you’ll see yourself as a lucky person already. It will change your life.

“Lucky people’s expectation of winning [the lottery] were more than twice that of unlucky people.
When it comes to random events like the lottery, such expectations count for little. Someone with a high expectation of winning will do as well as someone with a low expectation.
But life is not like a lottery. Often, our expectations make a difference. They make a difference in whether we try something, how hard we persist in the face of failure, how we interact with others, and how others interact with us.” — Dr. Richard Wiseman

And that’s it for today!

Hopefully, from now on whenever someone has a pessimistic comment, we can simply forward them this letter.

Today we learned that positivity is a requirement for any achievement, excuses are silly, challenges are a good thing, and luck is nonsense.

See you next week (follow the series here to be notified).

Be well.


P.S.: To help you on your road to becoming a richer, more positive person, I want to take this moment to celebrate the life of Hans Rosling. Using a series of TED Talks, Hans showed us the world is actually getting better despite every news channel yelling the opposite. I’d highly recommend you watch this 20min video where he shows the world is better than ever. A great ally in my fight against pessimism. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 weeks ago. RIP Hans Rosling, you are dearly missed.

Thanks for reading! 😊 If you enjoyed it, test how many times can you hit 👏 in 5 seconds. It’s great cardio for your fingers AND will help other people see the story.


Since I write about finance, legal jargon is obligatory (because the guys in suits made me). Before following any of my advice, read this disclaimer.