Why I Wrote A New Personal Finance Book: Buy This, Not That

After two and a half years of brainstorming, writing and editing during the pandemic, my book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom is now available!

The book is a Wall Street Journal bestseller and can be purchased on Amazon, B&N, and in bookstores everywhere. Buy This, Not That also became a #1 bestseller on Amazon in Retirement Planning. Hooray!

I’ve spent a combined 30+ years working in finance, studying finance, and writing about finance. As a result, I firmly believe Buy This, Not That (BTNT) is one of the best personal finance books out there. It is the book I’ve always wanted to write to help readers everywhere live better lives on their terms.

During the course of my writing process, I also read over a dozen nonfiction books to understand what makes good books great. I then worked in my ideas with my editors at Portfolio Penguin Random House to make the book shine.

Money is too important to be left up to pontification. Therefore, everything I’ve written in the book is based on firsthand experience from a finance veteran. This way, I can share with you the good and the bad to help you make better decisions.

The secret to stop saying, “If I knew then what I know now,” is to simply learn from someone who has been through what you will go through.

I’ve also set up financial frameworks to help guide you on your path to financial freedom. Think of BTNT as your financial coach who gives you the confidence and the motivation to overcome life’s biggest dilemmas in a smart and practical manner.

Order a hardcover copy of Buy This, Not That by clicking one of the retailers below. My book is your unfair competitive advantage for getting ahead in this brutally competitive world!

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Financial Independence Is Only Part Of The Journey

Once you get your money right, you can start better focusing on things that really matter to you. After all, money is only a means to an end. And for those of you who treat money as the end all be all, I hope my book will help change your philosophy.

Once you achieve a certain level of financial independence, where your passive investment income covers your living expenses, the world opens up.

The ultimate goal is to move money into the background so you can stop obsessing over it and start focusing on doing things that matter.

I show you how in the first half of my book. With actionable advice under a logical framework, I help you move forward with confidence.

Solving Dilemmas We May One Day Encounter

In the second half of my book, I tackle many of life’s dilemmas and how to approach them using my 70/30 decision-making framework.

If you believe there is a 70% probability or greater you will make the correct decision, go for it! At the same time, have the awareness of knowing you may get things wrong 30% of the time. Unless the outcome is death or financial ruin, you will be able to learn from your mistakes, recover, and make better choices over time.

My book encourages you to think in probabilities, not absolutes. If you think in absolutes, you will likely miss out on a lot of great opportunities because you’ll feel you need 100% certainty before moving forward. However, if you start thinking in probabilities, plenty of new possibilities opens up.

Here are some dilemmas the book explores:

  • Pay for private school or public school
  • Join a startup or work for an established company
  • Start a lifestyle business or go for the grand slam
  • Job hop or stay a loyal soldier
  • Live in an expensive coastal city or move to a low-cost area 
  • Invest in real estate or stocks
  • When to invest in tax-advantaged versus taxable accounts
  • Buy a fixer or a fully remodeled home
  • Marry for love or marry for money
  • Have children early or late
  • Return to work or be a stay-at-home-parent
  • Combine your finances or keep separate accounts
  • Get a divorce or stay married
  • Seek fame to boost your wealth or stay low key
  • Support your adult children or let them learn to swim

And so many more topics.

Again, money is just one part of the equation. It’s how we use our money to make better choices that matters most. If any of these topics interest you, Buy This, Not That will help you minimize regret and maximize satisfaction.

Why I Wrote Buy This, Not That

I wasn’t planning on writing a traditionally published book. As a tired father of two young children who also publishes three times a week on Financial Samurai, I already had my hands full. However, when Noah, an editor at Portfolio Penguin approached me on December 2, 2019, about the idea, I was intrigued.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I thought why not! If I was going to be stuck at home anyway for who knew how long, I might as well make the most of a suboptimal situation. This is the Financial Samurai mindset!

Back in 2008, something similar happened. The global financial crisis was starting to deepen and I was losing a boatload of money. However, it was in the summer of 2008 that I finally decided to propose to my girlfriend of nine years. I knew that even if I lost all my money, I didn’t want to lose her.

Now, every time I think back to the global financial crisis, I immediately think about our small beach wedding, not the economic calamity during that time period. By writing Buy This, Not That during a pandemic, I’ll look back and feel good knowing I did something productive to help others.

Here are some more reasons why I wrote my latest book.

1) It Had To Be Written

Buy This Not That Book Best Seller On Amazon

One of the reasons why I started Financial Samurai in 2009 is because I noticed there weren’t any personal finance bloggers with finance backgrounds. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to fill this obvious hole. I thought about money differently and wanted to bring my expertise and perspectives to the world.

When I was approached by Portfolio Penguin Random House with the book idea, I noticed there also weren’t many nonfiction finance books that were written by people with finance backgrounds. Therefore, I figured I might as well fill the hole again!

After being able to escape corporate America at 34 and live the life I want for the past 10 years, I just had to write a book that could help other people potentially do something similar. Once you see how something is done, it’s much easier to believe a similar path is possible for you.

2) The Importance Of Financial Education

There’s a whole world of consumers out there who love to read books and not blogs. Therefore, it was only logical to write Buy This, Not That to try and reach them.

Creating maximum impact in an affordable way is important. I could create $2,000+ e-courses like some peers do. However, I felt packing in all the information in a book that costs $27 or less was a more accessible solution.

After 13 years of writing on Financial Samurai, I’ve also gathered a wealth of different perspectives from over 90 million visitors. These perspectives have helped me make better decisions and be a more empathetic person along the way. Buy This, Not That includes many blindspots I’ve had to potentially help others see things more clearly.

The world is in need of more financial education. A personal finance course should be mandatory in high school or college, but it is curiously not. I live in this bubble where I studied economics in college, got my MBA, worked in investment banking for 13 years, and have written over 2,500 personal finance articles since 2009.

The things that seem obvious to me or others with finance backgrounds don’t seem as obvious to those without financial backgrounds. Therefore, my goal is to bring more financial education to those who seek to grow their wealth in a risk-appropriate way. It’s our duty to share what we know.

3) Narrow The Growing Inequality Gap

Since the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, the rich have gotten extraordinarily rich compared to the middle class. Meanwhile, those in the top 0.1%, have blown past the top 1% as well. I want to bring their secrets and ways of investing and thinking to the public in order to help more people build wealth.

While writing Buy This, Not That I also had an epiphany as to why so many personal finance authors write mainly only about saving money, budgeting, and index funds. I kept wondering why not also write about more interesting and potentially lucrative topics? After all, you can only save so much. But income and investment returns are unlimited!

After over a year of writing and re-writing my book, I finally understood why. Without a finance background, writing about anything else beyond budgeting and saving is much more difficult. No wonder why so many personal finance books just scratch the surface of so many important topics. Hence, I’ve introduced helpful financial concepts, gone deep with multiple subject matters, while also making them easy to understand. There are two levels of rich, and the highest level didn’t get there through just saving and investing in index funds.

My hope is with the knowledge you will gain from reading Buy This, Not That, you will build way more wealth in your lifetime than you thought possible. And if this happens, your standard of living will go up and the growing inequality gap will ultimately narrow.

Why I Wrote A New Personal Finance Book: Buy This, Not That - net worth levels by class

4) New Perspectives With More Representation

As an Asian person who lived in Asia for 13 years, I used to be part of the majority. Then when I came to Virginia for high school and college, I became part of a minority that made up only six percent of the U.S. population. The juxtaposition was eye-opening.

At times, it was hard to fit in. I got into fistfights, was suspended once, and felt like I was often battling to be given an equal opportunity to participate. Although some of the experiences were harsh, they also gave me tremendous motivation to try harder.

By high school, I clearly realized the world isn’t fair and never will be. Therefore, instead of complaining, I accepted the way things were and focused on what I could control. I bring this fighter’s mindset to the book to give you the motivation to push on through no matter who you are or how difficult your struggles. BTNT is your competitive advantage to getting ahead.

We know people are biased towards people who look, think, and talk like them. It’s why podcast interviewees, award-winners, bestsellers, and families who attend elite schools tend to be quite homogenous.

Therefore, I thought it would be nice to change things up a little and provide new perspectives. Maybe there will be more love and understanding for Asian folks in America if they read a good book by an Asian person who helps them. Perhaps kids who seldom see anybody who look like them will be inspired to write their own book or do something out of the ordinary.

Including People Who Live In High Cost Areas

In addition, a large percentage of every country’s population lives in more expensive urban cities. High cost of living areas presents some unique challenges which I address in the book.

With how bifurcated America is, I’m hoping to create an understanding bridge between those who live on the expensive coasts and those who live inland. Ultimately, we all have the same goals of supporting our country and doing more of what we want.

I’m convinced most conflict in this world is due to a lack of understanding of other people and their personal situations. Let’s spend more time getting to know each other and less time judging people for their choices.

5) Steady Navigation Through Bad Times

As someone who has worked in finance since 1999, I’ve gone through the euphoria and despair of the first Dotcom bubble. Then I went through the investment mania of 2007 and the devastation a few years later with a significant amount of capital.

After each collapse, I’ve learned how to strengthen my finances so that no matter what happens, I’ll most likely be OK. I want to share what I’ve learned to help more people survive downturns without too much harm. Reading Buy This, Not That will help armor your finances and provide security for your household. The book will also give you the courage to do more of what you want.

For so long, it’s only been good times. And you may have read only the perspectives of people who’ve only experienced good times since 2009. This can be very dangerous. Bad times will eventually come, which is when you’ll need financial guidance the most.

It is hard to understand your true risk tolerance and how bad things can get if you don’t go through a prolonged bear market yourself. Although the March 2020 crash was violent, it was also quick to rebound. Now things are once again very uncertain, which is where BTNT readers will outperform.

Buy This, Not That will help you navigate through stormy waters so that no matter how wretched the economy, you will not drown but thrive. Having peace of mind during difficult times is priceless.

Buy This Not That Wall Street Journal Bestseller
BTNT is a WSJ Bestseller

Thank You For Reading Buy This, Not That!

I’m thrilled for y’all to read Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. I actually violated my publisher’s recommendation of keeping the word count to 80,000 words. Instead, I wrote about 111,000 words so I could add as much value as possible given nonfiction books are all about the same price.

It is a big book full of vital information to help you enjoy a better life. There are so many important subjects that I believe you’ll actually be left wanting for a book two!

Buy This, Not That is meant to be read and discussed with friends and loved ones. You’ll have a great time debating my reasonings and making your own cases. I truly believe discussion and listening to the perspectives of others is the best way to learn and grow.

Order a hardcover copy of Buy This, Not That by clicking one of the retailers below.

If you order three or more hard cover copies, I’ll send you a free signed bookplate as well. Please fill out this form after completing your purchase to submit your purchase details and mailing address.

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Virtual Speaking

If you’re interested in doing an author chat, shoot me an e-mail at sales AT financialsamurai DOT com. BTNT is meant to be read with others and discussed. And who better to lead the conversation than the author of the book!

So far I’ve video talks with folks at Google, Yelp, William & Mary, Facebook, and several other organizations. They’ve all been a lot of fun.

To Your Financial Freedom,


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