How to cure the wealth virus

Actor Hill Harper.

Image of The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place
Author: Hill Harper
Publisher: Gotham (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 288 pages

Here's a decision for you, imagine you're a Hollywood star, and presumably rather well compensated. With your downtime, you could take a fancy vacation, maybe work on a film or a play. Hill Harper takes a different path. He's a star of the TV crime show "CSI New York." But in his off-hours, he's written four books, including one on personal finance called "The Wealth Cure."

Hill Harper's book goes through the ways he reexamined his life after he got a diagnosis for thyroid cancer. He takes a cross-country Amtrak trip (L.A. to Chicago) to clear his mind and re-access what is most important in his life. His book is structured using a medical analogy (Part 1: Diagnosis, 2: Treatment Options, 3: Sticking with a Treatment Plan, 4: Maintaining your health and wealth 5: Masterminding Thrive and Survive), comparing those different stages to dealing with money (the "Wealth Cure").

"Money occupies this huge space in many of our lives, most of our lives," Hill Harper said. "Yet many of us have an unhealthy relationship to money, and I really wanted to explore that -- and I include myself in that. t's not that I'm the expert. What I am is the explorer, hopefully with the reader, exploring this unhealthy relationship to money and wealth."

Hill Harper discusses what money really is, what saving really means and what smart and dumb dollars are. Take a listen to an extended interview with Hill Harper above.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
Image of The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place
Author: Hill Harper
Publisher: Gotham (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 288 pages
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susankyla, you did everything to criticize my post except to rebut its primary thesis. Please respond to the paradox I pointed out in the interviewee's own quoted words: accruing wealth is a "viral addiction", but it's also an "exercise in courage to save money".

I trust that my inability to "understand Mr. Harper's highly sophisticated argument" does not translate into an inability to type words directly from his mouth onto a keyboard.

P.S. Notice how I wrote a reply to you without assuming your gender.

There is no paradox here. His point of Viral addiction is the adverse behavorial notion of Keeping up with the Jones. Wealth Accumulation is a misnomer if it is working inversely to your Net Worth. (this was the direct cause of the Housing bubble collapse) whereas living a balanced life and taking calculated risks while saving to achieve manageable goals is a slower but more rewarding endeavour. Every dollar borrowed today is a days income stolen from your future.

PS I spent 20yrs in financial planning working with families of all incomes and I can personally say that the "yuppies" and country club set were/are further in debt for appearances alone than any millionaire or low income client I ever worked with and the latter two were much more appreciative of having educated advisors.

This was an incredibly timely piece. It amazes me that with all the apps, i(whatevers), laptops and information at our fingertips, the 99%, as they call themselves, continue to serve the herd mentality of instant gratification and scream the motto WIIFM (aka What's in it for me?)

Turn to a coworker or friend and ask them the last time they balanced a checkbook, opened a savings account, or purchased a US Gov't EE Savings Bond at their local bank (oops the Gov't stopped issuing these as of Jan 1, 2012 but people won't know that) In the past 20yrs, the average American has spent more on fast food and Starbucks per month than they have had deposited into a retirement savings. For a world super power, we are spoiled lemmings doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Less is more.

Here is a novel suggestion. Try fixing rather than replacing, restoring and recycling or take one day a week, turn off all electronics and visit your local (tax payer provided) repository of knowledge called a LIBRARY before it too becomes extinct.

Here are a few topics and terms that every person who has ever earned a paycheck needs to know:
(I won't define them here. Go look them up)

1) Rule of 72
2) Prudent Man Rule
3) Real Rate of Return
4) Leverage vs Debt
5) Laissez-Faire
6) Usury Laws (then look at your credit card statement or the percentage it costs YOU when you go to an ATM)

I disagree with the previous reviewer and believe he did not understand Mr. Harper's highly sophisticated argument for reframing how we look at money. I enjoyed and learned a lot from his interview and could not agree with Hill Harper more.

The idea that societal forces are "encouraging us to hoard money" was never brought up in the interview by Mr. Harper or Tess Vigeland, so I'm not sure what the prior reviewer is referring to. Instead, Mr. Hill's argument is that people should not live their lives thinking they should take whatever job will give them the most money even though they might hate that job. Because that leads people to give into temptations to buy and spend, since they're so unhappy. Instead, they should live the life and find the work they find the most fulfilling, using money as a tool to do that, not to fill the

Rather than believing Mr. Hill hadn't graduated high school, as the prior reviewer noted he felt, I think Mr. Hill's new book is just too revolutionary and innovative for the prior reviewer to understand.

The question from Tess Vigeland, "why should we believe you, with all this Hollywood money, when you give money advice?" was a loaded one and I didn't like. But as a designer who works as a crew member on film shoots, I have observed that actors are damned smart people, not just about their lines and scripts but about money. Why on money? Because to get to where they are now, they had to scrounge around and make the most of the limited funds they had in the beginning, before getting their break, before being guaranteed a certain rate. Yes, actors still live their lives and enjoy things like food, clothes, sometimes some discretionary items, but they are disciplined practitioners of resourcefulness, making money last, and really good bargain shopping. They seem to continue to practice this discipline of being good with money even after hitting it big in the same way a committed athlete will still run and workout every day.

Anyway, I thought this is the best interview in the bunch and am excited about a money book that's not like a diet book!

Huh????? First he says we've "been taught that money is a result", but that's "false" and leads to the "viral addiction" of accruing wealth. Then in the very next sentence he says it's an "exercise in courage to save money" because it means "you're not buying into societal forces" to "run up debt".

Well which is it? How can he blame "societal forces" for BOTH (a) encouraging us to hoard money AND (b) encouraging us to spend recklessly? Moreover, how is accruing wealth bad if it's ALSO courageous to save money?

No wonder he has to start interviews by saying that he went to Brown and Harvard. If all you had to go on was his arguments, you'd think he hadn't even graduated high school.

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