The Geometry of Wealth – How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning

Brian Portnoy

Every now and then, you read a book that completely captivates you. I read a lot, and it’s rare that I get totally immersed in any book, let alone a book about personal finance! 

Brian Portnoy’s “The Geometry of Wealth: How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning” manages to weave a dry and confusing subject — money — into 235 pages of compelling reading; I couldn’t put it down! 

At long last, a comprehensive guide to making sense of money and finally figuring out what true wealth really is. Reading this book can also help you address the biggest money question of all:

“Are we going to be OK?”

“Money is both analytically complex and emotionally fraught.”

Money is the Lord Voldemort of subjects, ‘feared by many and mentioned by few’.

A research survey found that 73% of people say money is the most stressful factor in their life—more stressful than death, politics, or religion. Sadly, it’s often the primary factor behind marital breakdown and divorce.

“Money is both analytically complex and emotionally fraught.”

Because it’s complicated and emotional, it’s difficult to discuss socially, even with our spouses, families, or close friends. Money and personal finances are often left on the “difficult pile” and ignored or brushed under the rug to discuss another day.

But this book provides you with a clear three-step plan to help you navigate the difficult and dangerous terrain.

1. Purpose

The Geometry of Wealth is explained through a series of shapes (hence the title) and begins with a circle. This circle represents your purpose.

Start by asking yourself, “What are the ingredients of a life well lived?” Is it family, career, community, faith, impact, or legacy? All of them, or something else?

Of course, purpose is different for all of us, but few of us ever slow down long enough to consider this most fundamental of questions. Your relationship with money, now and in the future, begins by asking yourself: “What is my purpose?” What are my values? “What do I want to do with the time I have on this planet?”

It’s a circle because it’s always changing and adapting. Your purpose 10 years ago was different from your purpose today, and it will be different again in the future.

2. Priorities

Next are your priorities, which are represented by a triangle. The triangle’s base covers the two most important aspects: managing risk and your own behaviour.

Then calibrating spending, saving, investing, and matching resources to life goals—best achieved via a well-designed plan—is next. However, only a few people have a financial plan.

A recent survey of 7,000 wealthy investors showed that only 37% of them had a formal plan for their money. Two-thirds are making it up as they go along.

And many of those surveyed work with a financial adviser!  (Not Capital of course!)

The importance of our behaviour in succeeding at the game of life and money can’t be overstated

The human brain is hardwired to make cognitive and emotional errors—selling when markets fall and buying again after they rise.

The thing is, we’re not irrational; we’re just humans. 

3. Tactics

The third shape is a square, representing tactics. The four corners of the square represent.

  1. The growth we hope to achieve
  2. The emotional pain of achieving it
  3. Taking decisions to improve things
  4. Flexibility and discretion

True Wealth defined.

Portnoy sums up true wealth as the ability to underwrite a meaningful life.

Start by defining your purpose, then establishing your priorities, and finally using the correct tactics to maximise your “return on life” as well as your return on investing.

The three shapes—the circle, triangle, and square—offer a helpful framework to help you experience true wealth

On the new season of The Bulletproof Entrepreneur podcast, I discuss the book in more detail with Dr. Portnoy. 

I’d love to hear what you think. Click Here

Alan Smith

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