Week #24 – Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money

This week’s blurb breakdown is Morgan Housel’s, The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness

Published in March 2020, at the time of writing it was number 16 in Amazon UK charts.

Here’s a screenshot of the Amazon sales page…

Here’s the Amazon link for a better look.

Let’s break it down…

Opening hook:

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller.

Over 4 million copies sold around the world.

The original book from Morgan Housel, the New York Times bestselling author of Same As Ever. 

Here, they’ve stacked different types of social proof to build desire. Leading with status, then sales volume and global success, then adding credibility and more status. This type of opening gives a sense of authority—which is what you’d shoot for in a book of this nature.

Next line:

Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people.

The first sentence is a good open loop, one that challenges a current belief. It then quickly closes the loop, giving us the answer. But, we don’t like to be made to feel bad so the next line because it lets us off the hook in terms of responsibility and doesn’t make us feel like dunces.

Main paragraph:

Money investing, personal finance, and business decisions is typically taught as a math-based field, where data and formulas tell us exactly what to do. But in the real world people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your own unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together. 

This paragraph is about shifting our beliefs. It starts with a broadly accepted truth and challenges it. Then you start agreeing with the argument. I found myself nodding and thinking, ‘yeah, they do.’

Now they’ve got us readers in an agreeable mindset, they move on…

In The Psychology of Money, award-winning author Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.

There’s a repetition of the title—to help it sink into your memory—layered with a bit more social proof, then on to a bit more context about what’s in the book. ’19 short stories’ would be pretty bland on its own, but see how they’ve used words like ‘explore’, and ‘strange ways’, this sounds more inviting and also makes you curious about the strange ways people think about money.

The ending is a solid. It’s almost a call to action framed as benefit. The last few words, ‘one of life’s most important topics’, is an agreeable statement, and lingers in your mind. If you are the target audience, you’d be hard pressed not to take the next step in the buying journey.

Could it be better?

Now, I might be tempted to add a little more social proof at the end, but that might dilute the impact of final few words. I checked out the next step in the buying journey – clicked the look inside – to see how the book opens. It opens with the standard format, contents, copyright notice etc. They could strengthen that with a bunch of review quotes praising the work. 

What do you think? Would you change anything?