Key Takeaways






Do you ever wonder whether you have enough money? Or do you wish you were a bit more careful with your spending? We all have an intimate relationship with money, whether we like it or not. This book will help you make it a healthy one.








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2014 - 2015

How to Worry Less about Money is no ordinary self-help book on money. Whereas most books on the subject teach you how to earn more or spend less. Typically, books on money teach you how to get more of it (because more is of course better), or how to get by on less. Most books, therefore, are on our money problems.


But these books miss a vital point: Most people reading those books don’t really have acute money problems. How many people do you know won’t be able to pay their credit card bills at the end of the month, or don’t have anything saved for their retirements?


Sure, there are a couple – but that doesn’t explain why virtually everyone (rich and poor) worries about money, usually on a daily basis.


John Armstrong isn’t about money problems. How to Worry Less about Money is a book on the stress, anxieties, and worries we have regarding money. These are completely different, however. We can generally place money worries in one of four categories:


So far, so good. We use money as a means of exchange and store of value on a daily basis. The problems start, however, when we assign responsibilities to money that it can’t deliver on. We give money a “secret meaning”, as Mr. Armstrong puts it. This is the source of most of our money worries.


Not having money sucks


My life is going to revolve around making just enough to get by, which sucks


Without lots of money I can’t enjoy the good things in life, so my life will suck


I can only make enough money by being evil, which kind of sucks




Money problems, so says Mr Armstrong, are urgent. They require direct action or serious consequences will follow. There are essentially only two ways to deal with money problems: You need to get your hands on more money, or you need to make do without something (your house, your car, your groceries).


Money worries, on the other hand, generally say more about the worrier than about reality. Money worries are created in your head. They have to do with your imagination and your feelings or emotions. The solution to money worries is therefore also within ourselves.


“Will I ever be able to afford that chateau in Bordeaux I’ve been dreaming of?”


“Will the investment I made just before the crisis destroy me financially?”


“Will my wife and children still love me if I lose my job?”


Although these worries might be very real, they say more about your own disposition than about your immediate financial situation. The fact is, we can never get rid of our money worries by getting more money, because they have nothing to do with money. They are to do with us. To ‘solve’ our money worries we first need to solve ourselves. That is what this beautiful book is about.


Here is what Mr. Armstrong has to say.



Early on in the book Mr Armstrong introduces what he calls the “Relationship Model to Money”. According to him, we all have a relationship with money, whether we like it or not. For some people this relationship is healthy, and for others it is quite unhealthy. The goal is therefore to make this relationship a healthy one.


Like every relationship, our relationship with money is a two-way street of give and take. Each party has responsibilities and duties, and each party can expect something in return. Money, in this metaphor, brings you spending power. But that’s the only thing money can bring you. What you do with that spending power is vastly more important.


In order for your relationship with money, and as a result your life in general, to flourish you need to bring imagination, values, ambitions, fears, memories, and attitudes. You don’t need millions of dollars to afford a comfortable, homely house where you can confidently invite friends and family for dinner parties. By spending your money wisely (that is, in a way that reflects your personal values and beliefs), you can have a flourishing life no matter your net worth.


In order to have a better relationship with money, we first need a better understanding of what money is, and especially what money is not. Money has two functions in society:


Money is a useful way of expressing the value of unrelated items, which enables members of society to efficiently exchange them. Whether you like it or not, money is arguably the most important invention ever. Without it, we would have to measure the value of a computer in the number of chickens or litres of milk. With money, we can express both in a third, independent, measure, which makes trading immeasurably easier.


Without money there is no way to secure your net worth. You can buy possessions, but they generally lose value through erosion, ageing, or changing fashions. A euro or dollar, however, will always remain a euro or dollar (although inflation may reduce the buying power of a euro, but that’s got to do with complex macroeconomic reasons). You can safeguard your net worth by exchanging your possessions for money.


Money can’t give you any of the following for instance, although most people wish it could:

o Status

o Security

o Success

o Revenge

o Salvation

o Moral Superiority

o Guilt

o Revenge

You may be able to purchase things that give you a sense of status or security (a penthouse in the centre of London, for instance), but it can never give you status itself. Money, to use a small cliché, won’t keep you warm at night, won’t keep you company when you’re lonely, and it won’t feed you when you’re hungry. You can buy stuff that might, but that depends more on your resourcefulness than on the amount of money you have.


Money is always a means to an end - never an end in itself. We work for money so we can purchase things that will give our lives security, happiness, and meaning. How we earn that money and how we spend it is vastly more important to our happiness than the amount of money you have.


Thus, earning money in a meaningful way (see The Element) is more important than the amount of money you earn. And the value you experience from the things and experiences you purchase is more important than the price you pay for them.


Money cannot make you happy. Although it may seem like having money will solve all your problems, your problems, as we’ve discussed, generally have very little to do with money, but are a result of your personal disposition, fears, and underlying worries.

According to Mr Armstrong, there are two things that will markedly improve your relationship with money: Self-knowledge and Resourcefulness.


Of course, money is an ingredient to happiness. Not having any money is highly detrimental to your happiness. Generally speaking, the relationship between money and happiness goes something like this:


According to Mr Armstrong, there are two things that will markedly improve your relationship with money: Self-knowledge and Resourcefulness.

Earning and spending your money wisely means aligning your work and spending with your values and beliefs. For instance, a certain purchase can be a complete waste of money or a total bargain, depending on who is buying. A virtuoso violinist might be willing to spend thousands of dollars for a new bow, but that same bow would be wasted as a six-year-old’s birthday present.


So, in order to make wise decisions on money we need to first get a clear understanding of our values. Ask yourself questions like:



What things are important to me?


Which of these things am I willing to spend money on?


What possessions and experiences do I need for a fulfilling life, and which are merely desires?


Needs and desires can’t simply be distinguished by their price tag. The virtuoso violinist can genuinely say she needs the expensive bow, even though it will cost her a fortune. And although she might also really want to own a jet-ski, she doesn’t need it to flourish. If she’s honest with herself, she’ll have to admit that that the bow is more important to her well-being than the jet-ski.

As mentioned earlier, you can bring a certain measure of creativity and resourcefulness to the equation, thereby increasing the value you get from the spending power you have.


Some people are simply better at making the most of the money they have. They manage to decorate their houses with cheap furniture without looking cheap, they manage to dress nicely without spending absurd amounts of money, and they manage to cook delicious meals on tight budgets.

They know what is important


They don’t follow fashion


They have good taste


They are creative


Countless books have been written on how to make more money (we’ve discussed some of the better ones), or how to live with less (such as this one). And although these books are useful for solving your money problems, most of your money worries can’t be solved by changing the amount of money on your bank account.


Money worries go deeper than that. Mr Armstrong has written a beautiful and extraordinarily useful guide on overcoming your deep-seated worries regarding money. It’s a refreshingly down-to-earth take on a much-discussed subject.


It’s well worth the read.



Means of Exchange

Store of Value


Let’s be short about this one: No.









There are 4 characteristics of resourceful people: