The Behavior Gap Book Summary - The Behavior Gap Book explained in key points

The Behavior Gap summary

Carl Richards

Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money

4.2 (94 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards explores how our money decisions are influenced by emotions and how to bridge the gap between our intentions and actual actions. It provides insights on creating a financial plan and overcoming common behavioral biases.

Table of Contents

    The Behavior Gap
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    The behavior gap arises whenever there’s a rift between what we should do and what we actually do.

    Do you ever find yourself doing something that you shouldn’t, like having a third piece of cake even though you want to lose weight?

    This is called the behavior gap: a rift between what we know we should do, and what we actually do.

    This phenomenon is tied to our natural desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure, which leads us to act irrationally.

    One effect is that we often adopt a herd mentality, where we behave exactly like those around us without pausing to make our own decisions. This is because we assume it’s safer to do what everyone else is doing.

    This was seen in the 1990s dot-com boom. It seemed everyone was reaping huge profits on investments, so even ordinary people began borrowing money against their home equity, and ended up investing over $44 billion in stocks. Then when the NASDAQ shed half its value, people lost their investments and found themselves deeply in debt. This kind of reasoning can be found at the root of any market bubble.

    These situations produce a behavior gap: Instead of acting rationally, people get excited and let emotions guide their choices. To close the gap, think beyond today’s trends and remember surprising past events: the dot-com crash, the housing bubble, the 2008 debt crisis.

    All these incidents underscore the importance of investing carefully, without getting caught up in boom-and-bust cycles. Thinking about them will help you close the behavior gap by making the consequences of herd mentality more concrete.

    Also, avoid overconfidence. In the 1990s, Long-Term Capital, a hedge fund run by Nobel Prize winners, learned this lesson. Blinded by its own pedigree, the company’s board of directors was positive the firm could never lose more than $35 million per day. But one day, to their horror, the firm lost $553 million. Eventually, the company had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve.

    We can’t predict the future; we can only control our own behavior.

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    What is The Behavior Gap about?

    These blinks will help you to make better decisions about money. By defining the behavior gap – the rift between what we should do and what we actually do – and explaining how to close it, Richards offers guidelines for making smart financial decisions for life.

    The Behavior Gap Review

    The Behavior Gap (2012) explores the behavior patterns that hinder us from making smart financial decisions and offers practical solutions to bridge the gap. Here's why this book is worth the read:

    • With its unconventional approach and refreshing honesty, it challenges conventional thinking about money, helping readers develop a healthier relationship with their finances.
    • Through vivid stories and relatable examples, the book sheds light on our irrational behavior when it comes to money and offers actionable tips to overcome these pitfalls.
    • By focusing on the psychology behind financial decision-making, it empowers readers to take control of their financial future and make informed choices that align with their goals.

    Best quote from The Behavior Gap

    If we are going to make good financial decisions, we have to make them in the broader context of our lives.

    —Carl Richards
    example alt text

    Who should read The Behavior Gap?

    • Anyone who wants to spend and invest money wisely
    • Anyone interested in self-help and self-improvement
    • Anyone who doesn’t think money is the be-all and end-all of happiness

    About the Author

    Certified financial planner Carl Richards is director of investor education for BAM ALLIANCE, a group of more than 130 independent wealth management advisors. He has contributed to the New York Times and been featured on Marketplace Money, and

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    The Behavior Gap FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Behavior Gap?

    Making better financial decisions by understanding and managing our behavior.

    How long does it take to read The Behavior Gap?

    The reading time for The Behavior Gap varies. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Behavior Gap a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Behavior Gap is worth reading for its practical insights into overcoming behavioral biases and improving our financial decisions.

    Who is the author of The Behavior Gap?

    The author of The Behavior Gap is Carl Richards.