The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards

The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards

As a financial journalist, one of my goals has always been to take confusing, tricky, overwhelming information and explain it in simple language that even my friends can understand!

No one does this better than Carl Richards, a Certified Financial Planner in Park City, Utah, who’s famous for his Sharpie drawings. They illustrate what he’s coined as “the behavior gap”—the distance between what we should do with our money and what we actually do, thanks to our emotions.

So, naturally, I was psyched when Carl told me he was writing a book, aptly titled The Behavior Gap, which came out this week.

In the book, Carl explains how you might be sabotaging your finances without even knowing it. Some of the hidden dangers to your investments, for example, include falling prey to media overload, taking stock advice from unreliable sources (say, your pushy brother-in-law), and panicking every time the Dow dips. His major point is that once you ignore all that chaos, it’s easy to see that financial planning is really about life planning. What do you need to be happy, and how can your money get you there?

Carl regales readers with lessons from his own financial curveballs, and the mistakes of his clients, who sometimes cave to their emotions despite his best efforts to guide them. And, of course, the best parts of the book are Carl’s famous sketches, which you may have seen before in The New York Times and on Carl’s website, BehaviorGap.com. Below is one of my favorites, illustrating how awkward and uncomfortable money conversations can be:

Image courtesy of Carl Richards, BehaviorGap.com

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