“Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins Book Review

Title: Money: Master the Game (7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom)

Author: Tony Robbins

Category: Money, Business

Rating: 2/5

10-word summary: Invest money and avoid taxes to secure your financial freedom.

About Money: Master the Game

Reading this book was a very interesting experience for me and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s pretty long and it took me several weeks to read it. If you are interested in reading this book, I would strongly advise you to read this book review first!

Before writing about what I think about this book, I’d like to share a bit about my background. I have to admit that I am a bit biased against Tony Robbins. I know that he is very famous and praised as a “peak-performance coach” who helped millions of people. But I was always skeptical of him for many good reasons.

First of all, I cannot find information about his study or training in the field or psychology, therapy or coaching. I tend to think that if you want to truly help people – especially people who dealt with trauma and attempted suicide – you need to be prepared and qualified. Otherwise, you may do more harm than good even though you have good intentions. He is charismatic, a good public speaker and salesman, but I’m not so sure if he is a good coach or therapist.

I am very interested in personal development, psychology and positive psychology. But I recently started to shift from the world of personal development (which is inspiring but much too often not based on anything true or scientific) to the world of positive psychology (the study of happiness and human behaviour based on rigorous studies and decades of teaching and research). And believe me, there is a very big difference between these two! I think that Tony Robbins comes from the world of personal development.

Secondly, I was also a bit puzzle by the fact that Tony Robbins, a coach and public speaker would write a book about making money. After all, being good at providing a service that makes you rich does not necessarily mean you are good at investing. But as I read in the book, it seems that he did research and interviewed many successful investors. From my opinion, if you are not very knowledgeable about a field, you should rely on resources and the works of those that are good at that. And it seems he did just that. But we should still take the information in his book with a pinch of salt.

That being said, let me tell you what I think about the book and why. As with any book, there are things I like and things I don’t. Read my opinion to get one perspective on this book. But feel free to read the book yourself and form your own opinion of it!

What I like about Money: Master the Game

1. Easy to read

Since this book is pretty long (616 pages plus acknowledgements and index), I was happy that it was quite easy to read. The book has many chapters and subchapters so it’s easy to read even 15-20 pages a day if you are busy.

It also has quotes and different sections with extra information that breaks up the chapters, making it easy to skip some parts if you want to.

Even though this book is about making money and investments, the language is pretty simple. Tony mentioned that he wanted to write a book that the average person can read and understand and I think he mostly succeeded at this. I seldom needed to look up words or acronyms online.

2. His motivation seems sincere

Tony wrote that he wanted to write this book to help the average American earn more money and gain financial freedom. He saw how devastating the 2008 economic crisis was and how many people lost their fortunes. His aim was to provide people with good information they can use to invest their money so that they will be able to retire when they want or need to and still live a good life with no worries.

His motivation seems sincere and that made me appreciate him and the book a bit more. It’s easy to write a book just to make money. And it’s great when someone writes a book to help people live better lives and make some money.

3. Interviews with successful investors

The thing that I liked most about the book is that it features interviews with some very successful investors like Ray Dalio, David Swensen, Carl Icahn and so on. The information and advice that these investors provide makes the book much more valuable and reliable. After all, if you want to learn about investing, the best way to do it is by learning from the most successful investors out there.

I loved that he used information from Ray Dalio. From what I have read about him, he seems to be a great investor and accurate thinker. The advice Ray gives is also very practical and useful if you want to start investing. The part where he talks about Ray’s advice is probably my favourite one!

4. Money and value

Even though this is a book about money, Tony adds that money should not be the ultimate or only goal in life. He states that you make money when you provide value to other people, so that is what you should focus on. He also talks about enjoying life and donating money to have a positive impact. However, I would have liked to read about his perspective earlier in the book, not just in the last chapter.

What I don’t like about Money: Master the Game

1. It’s less about money and more about investing

This is probably my biggest disappointment with this book. It is advertised and presented as a book that teaches you how to make money and achieve financial independence. But the book only talks about how to invest money, pay less in taxes and cut down on some costs.

I am aware that investing is one of the best ways to earn a lot of money and many successful people invest. However, in order to invest enough money to truly matter, you must first have a steady income that exceeds your expenses. You must be able to put aside money and to invest it and sometimes to afford to lose some or all the money you invested.

Had I known that this book was about investing, I would not have bought it and read it now. If you want to read a book that helps you find ways to earn money, this is not the book for you. If you want to learn how to invest money, this book can definitely help!

I can’t help but think that this book was marketed in a misleading way on purpose. Let’s face it, far fewer people would buy this book if they knew it was only about investments.

2. This book was written for Americans

Throughout this book, he often talks about things that apply only to the American society such as 401(k)s, Roth IRA, fiduciaries and so on. And the entire book seems to be written for Americans.

For example, I’m from Romania, Eastern Europe. Even though our country has been making progress economically speaking, we do not have the culture of investing that Americans do. In my whole life, I have only heard about or met 1 person who invested money in our country. I am sure that there are more, but the percentage of the population who are somewhat familiar with this field is much smaller in Romania than in the USA. And this is probably the case for many countries around the world.

Besides this, he often talks about using services or options that might only be possible or legal in the United States. Yes, there are many things that are general and that are probably the same everywhere. But I’ve read a book that I felt was not written for me and this was a bit frustrating.

Right now I think that the title of this book should have been “How to invest to make money in America”. At least people would know what to expect.

3. A lot of unnecessary information

To be honest, I think that most books are longer than they need to be. And this one is no exception. Some parts of the book seemed longer than they needed to be – either because they had a bit too much technical information or none at all.

In some sections of the book, Tony just keeps telling us about what we will read in the following sections of the book – totally unimportant and uninteresting. I think that those sections were just a waste of space. I often felt that Tony just kept repeating the things he previously said or he was beating about the bush.

I’m aware that this may not bother you as much as it bothered me. I prefer to read non-fiction books that have facts and information – without the “motivational fluff” or topics that seem out of place.

4. Big fancy words

Tony sometimes uses big, fancy, catchy words…that mean absolutely nothing. This may be his personal style. And it’s often a staple of the personal development world. But I find it to be a tacky and annoying way to catch people’s attention. Here are a few examples from this book:

  • “invincible, unsinkable, unconquerable”
  • “the force that unleashes human genius”
  • “I’ve spent my entire life as a hunter of human excellence.”
  • “Unleash your hunger and desire and awaken laser-like focus.”

You get the point. If you are a seminar junkie or if you are just discovering the world of personal development, you might like this kind of talk. But if you have moved past that, are more rational, analytical and you tend to analyze things accurately and look for evidence, these words seem to be empty and meaningless. They are just attention-grabbers that add no actual value to the text.

5. Questionable information

One of my biggest problems with this book is that I often did not know what to believe. I love learning from people who know more than I do – if  I know that I can trust them and they are reliable. Tony often says things that are important, frank or even controversial – without mentioning his sources.

If you are a respectable scientist who did research in that field, that’s perfectly acceptable. We know that you often speak from first-hand experience. But if you are a coach/entertainer with questionable credentials who makes claims about a field he did not study or work in, I tend to often ask myself “How does he know this?” and “Is this true or not?”.

If I see a footnote that references a study or a good book to back up that claim, I’ll accept it as reliable and probably true. But if there is no reference and the author’s understanding seems to be shallow and superficial, I will doubt what I’ve read.

Let me give you a few examples:

“Over the course of our lives, the average American pays more than half of his or her income to an assortment of taxes: income tax, property tax, sales tax, tax at the pump, and so on. (According to what many experts estimate, currently, that’s 54.25 cents per dollar.)”

He argues that for every dollar a person makes, they only get to keep 38 cents. I don’t know about you, but I found this to be shocking. Even more so, since he did not list any sources to back his claims. Who are those “many experts” and why can’t he name at least one in this paragraph?
If you are going to quote statistics that are so important and controversial, I think you need to mention sources. Otherwise you’re just mixing facts with opinions and assumptions.

“…according to Dr. Stephen Badylak from the University of Pittsburgh, if a newborn loses a finger, another one can grow in its place up to the age of two”

This seemed unbelievable, so I wanted to check if it was true. It only took 2 minutes and a Google search to learn that it is not entirely true. Here’s what dr. Badylak said:
“If a 2-year-old child loses the end of his finger, he’s got a reasonable chance it will grow back.” 1

Another article mentioned this: “But back in the 1970s, scientists showed that children can sometimes regrow the tip of an amputated finger, as long as there’s a bit of nail left over and the wound isn’t stitched up.”2

This may not seem much to some of you, but there is a difference between being able to regrow an entire finger or the tip of a finger. And if Tony could not tell the difference in this case, I wonder if there are other things he misunderstood but expressed as certainties in this book.

Tony seems to be incredibly optimistic about the future. More than that, he seems certain that whatever situation we will have to deal with, technology and people will always find a way to rise above that challenge. And I disagree.

We live in a world where we are often unaware of the things that are affecting us and our planet until it is often too late to eliminate those effects. Yes, solutions can be found, but sometimes the damage cannot be avoided – only managed or future damage can be prevented. As much as I think we need to look for ways to solve our problems and look towards the future with hope, claiming that we can certainly solve any problem shows a serious problem – overconfidence combined with ignorance (lack of sufficient information). After all, we have yet to find solutions for many of the problems of our world.

“Human ingenuity and technology together have a way of keeping up with our needs.”
“Our problems come in waves, but so do the solutions.”

Tony seems to be incredibly optimistic about the future. More than that, he seems certain that whatever situation we will have to deal with, technology and people will always find a way to rise above that challenge. And I disagree.

We live in a world where we are often unaware of the things that are affecting us and our planet until it is often too late to eliminate those effects. Yes, solutions can be found, but sometimes the damage cannot be avoided – only managed or future damage can be prevented. As much as I think we need to look for ways to solve our problems and look towards the future with hope, claiming that we can certainly solve any problem shows a serious problem – overconfidence combined with ignorance (lack of sufficient information). After all, we have yet to find solutions for many of the problems of our world.

In one part of the book he said that taxes in the state of California (where he lived) increased. What was Tony’s reaction? Here it is in his words: “Along with thousands of others, Sage [his wife] and I realized we were no longer welcome in California”.

When I read this paragraph, I was shocked. I cannot even imagine how and why a tax increase that applies to everyone in the state means that he is persecuted or personally asked to move to a different state. I honestly found his reaction laughable and quite ridiculous.

6. The outline could be improved

The subtitle of the book is “7 simple steps to financial freedom”. And my problem is that I can’t tell you what those simple steps are. I think that the book tackles so many subjects and the theme of each subject is not clear enough. By the end of one chapter you have read about so many things that you fail to say what it was actually about.

It seems to me that the book would have been better and clearer if the 7 steps were presented briefly and more clearly. All the other information can be added after these 7 steps or mark it out as “extra information”. The point is that the structure of the book is not clear enough.

The seventh chapter was probably the biggest disappointment in this book. It’s called “Just do it, enjoy it, and share it!”. Can you guess what it is about? It starts with information about how technological advancements will allow us to live longer and be healthier. Then he talks about how we need to enjoy our lives, use our emotions to our advantage and the importance of donating money. While all these ideas are great and I am very happy he encourages people to donate and use money to help others, this chapter seemed a small collection of random topics. It seemed that these topics were in no way connected or used to make a point or convey a clear message about the 7th step. Had the final chapter been a better one, my opinion of the book might have improved. But Tony failed to write a final chapter that rounds up and clarifies the message of the entire book and leaves you wondering what you have just read.


The book itself includes a collection of quotes and some of them are pretty great! Here are a few that I liked:

“The secret to living is giving.”

“Life is really about creating meaning.”

“Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is pain, ignorance is struggle, ignorance is giving your fortune away to someone who hasn’t earned it.”

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“If you find a way to add more value than anyone else, you can also find a way to prosper personally.”

As I said, this book was something else than I expected. I still have mixed feelings about it. There are a few things I liked about it and there are things that made me want to stop reading it. However, I knew that I could only have an accurate opinion after reading the entire book.

As you are reading this, keep in mind that this was only my opinion. I am aware that we may have different backgrounds, different personalities and enjoy different types of books. If you are like me (a bit obsessed with finding the truth, thinking accurately and cutting to the chase), you may have a very similar opinion about this book.

Obviously, I cannot judge this book and say that it was good or bad. I can only say how I perceived it. You can find more reviews online – some praising the book and some criticizing it. But the best way to know what type of book it is would be to read it yourself and form your own opinion.

And if you have already read it, what did you think of it? I would love to hear your opinion, so feel free to share it!

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