Praise & Op-Eds for The Thin Green Line


It’s fascinating and annoying to read about rich folks. Rather than function as wealth porn, this book looks at how people with lots of money exercise self-control. Just as you bore of their piousness, it switches focus to those who love to spend. Fun! Download PDF »

— Bloomberg Businessweek

There is a world of difference between being rich and being wealthy, according to Paul Sullivan, the “Wealth Matters” columnist for The New York Times. In his new book, “The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy,” Mr. Sullivan visualizes the thin green line as a classic S&P 500 stock chart over the last 50 years, starting low and rising higher over the decades. Read on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website »

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Would you rather be rich or wealthy?

If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the difference?”

Turns out it has less to do with your assets and more to do with your mind-set, claims New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan, author of “The Thin Green Line: Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy.” Read on the Forbes website »


Want to get rich? Stay in school and save your money. New York Times financial columnist Sullivan (Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t, 2010) has a deeper, more sophisticated take on money management than all that, but the point remains: Most wealthy people place a premium on education, have voted on that with their wallets, and have learned the fine art of deferring gratification with an eye to building a portfolio. Read on the KIRKUS website »

— KIRKUS Book Reviews

This book’s message can be summed up in the title of its epilogue: “It’s Better to Be Wealthy than Rich, Even If You’re Poor.” The titular green line is the author’s useful conceit for describing this desirable state of being. A financial journalist, Sullivan consults with experts from the “one percent” to prescribe a set of strategies for achieving financial stability, such as investing in education for one’s children rather than spending time and energy on avoiding taxes. Most important, in his opinion, is understanding how your feelings about earning, saving, and spending motivate financial decisions. Read on the Publisher’s Weekly website »

— Publisher’s Weekly

Sullivan’s point is that people aren’t rational when it comes to money. We buy too much and save too little, because the average person doesn’t think about money fully rationally, like an economist might. Read on the Business Insider website »

— Business Insider

It’s a great book about how to think about money, and how wealthy people do it differently than others. Read on The Motley Fool website »

— The Motley Fool

Using Sullivan’s thinking, your focus on investing should involve how you can best put yourself in a position to have the money that you want to spend when you want to spend it. Read on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website»

— Minneapolis Star Tribune

Sullivan’s story illustrates the power of good advice… This is a superb, and very useful, read. Read on the Morningstar website »

— Morningstar

He draws a distinction between being “rich” – connoting those with a large number on a financial statement – and “wealthy,” where they know they have enough for wants and needs. Many of the rich are riddled with anxiety they will go bust. The wealthy, in Sullivan’s parlance, may have nowhere near the assets of the rich, but harbor the lighthearted self-assurance they will be fine. Read on The Macon Telegraph website »

— The Macon Telegraph

In this book, New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan explains the concept of the thin green line, a simple metric people can use to measure their financial stability. He explains how the amount of money you earn is not as important as the side of the line your financial life falls on. Above the line are the wealthy, whose financial goals are being met and they aren’t struggling. Below the line are people living beyond their means. He shows how to get on the right side of the line by outlining three ways to save, how to enjoy life without going broke, giving to charity and how to make savvy financial decisions. Read on the Metro website »

— Metro

There is a fine line between who is rich and who is wealthy, and according to New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan in his new book, “The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy,” being wealthy is better and earns you a place above that line.

What is the thin green line? It is that distinction between rich and wealthy. “Above the green line, no matter where on the chart’s progression, were people who were wealthy,from pensioners to billionaires,” Sullivan writes. “They were living in financial comfort regardless of the balance in their brokerage accounts. Below the line were people, rich or not, who did not have the security of true wealth. They may have had a lot of money in the bank, but their lifestyles were so extravagant that their finances were fragile, at best.’
Read part one on the Millionaire Corner website »
Read part two on the Millionaire Corner website »

— Millionaire Corner

Ask someone whether they want to be rich, and they’re probably going to say yes. Wrong answer, says New York Times “Wealth Matters” columnist Paul Sullivan. For true financial success, our ultimate financial goal should be to become truly wealthy. Download PDF »

— BetterInvesting Magazine

This book by The New York Times wealth columnist Paul Sullivan offers key advice on how to build and grow your wealth. Read on The Cheat Sheet website »

— The Cheat Sheet

[I]f you’re looking for a “get rich quick” manual, this book isn’t for you. What The Thin Green Line offers is far more interesting. As far as Sullivan is concerned, “wealth” isn’t about how much money you have, but whether you’re financially secure and able to achieve the things that matter to you. Read on the YourWealth Website »


U.S. News

Several years ago, New York Times Wealth Matters columnist Paul Sullivan opened up his finances to a group of high-powered, high-net worth investors known as Tiger 21. Members gather regularly to discuss investing strategies and at one meeting, Sullivan asked them to critique his own – relatively meager by their standards – financial life.Read More »

Worth Magazine

Paul Sullivan, a writer who focuses on the 1 percent, argues that having money and being wealthy are not the same thing. Download PDF »

Family Wealth Report

…I figure if I can understand people who have all the choices in the world, well then my hope is that people who have less will be better able to make decisions in their own financial lives. Ideally, my lessons are what upper middle class people can use to make better choices in their own lives. Read More »

Stamford Magazine

Stamford’s Paul Sullivan, who writes the “Wealth Matters” column for the New York Times, recently authored The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy (Simon & Schuster). In the book, he discusses mental accounting, spending and more—particularly “buckets” and “money scripts.” With tax time coming up, we talked about crucial financial do’s and don’ts. Read More »

The Cheat Sheet

Owning a big house and earning a six-figure salary doesn’t necessarily mean you have a secure financial future. What you might not know is there is a difference between being rich and being wealthy. So what’s the difference?

That’s exactly what The Cheat Sheet decided to ask The New York Times wealth columnist Paul Sullivan. According to Sullivan, it’s better to be wealthy. And it will take more than living within your means to get there. In his new book, The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy he explains why and offers tips for how you can turn your riches into wealth. Join us and learn more from our chat. Read More »


Personal finance advice too often consists of prescriptions. Do this, not that and save the difference for a better financial future. That’s a diet, not a plan. And like diets, this kind of financial advice works great in the beginning but fails when reality sets in. Simply put, it’s no fun. Read More »

Business Insider

The best money I’ve ever spent? That’s easy: our current gardener.Now to be clear here, the money we pay him is not the most fun money or even the most rewarding money we’ve ever spent. Read More »


I felt calm as I sat on a blue couch for my close encounter with the nascent field of financial therapy. I watched as Joel Reimer, a fit, 50-something man in a golf shirt, put sensors on my thumb and fingers. I was in the middle of Kansas, in one of the exam rooms at the Financial Therapy Clinic, a counseling and research center run by the Institute of Financial Planning at Kansas State University. Read More »


What separates the truly wealthy from the rich and everyone else in investing? Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who has an appointment to Kansas State University’s personal-financing-planning department, and I undertook a survey in the winter of 2013 to find out what was different about the One Percent. When it came to investing, almost all of them had a financial adviser, over 80% had an accountant, and two-thirds of them had a lawyer they consulted regularly. They would seem to be set. Read More (PDF) »


The book might be described as a blueprint for a “get rich slow” scheme, one that prizes planning ahead, cultivating good spending habits, and interrogating and adjusting one’s matrix of needs, wants, and expectations, in order to achieve that bliss that is, in the book’s schema, true wealth. To cross “the thin green line” is to ascend to a rarefied plane of calm where you no longer worry about money. As Sullivan demonstrates, you can be filthy rich and still fall short of that goal.

You can be wealthy, even if you’re not rich. That’s the takeaway from Paul Sullivan’s The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy. His book is a peek behind the curtain that separates the much-discussed, much-loathed “1 percent” from the rest of us. Sullivan, who writes the “Wealth Matters” column for The New York Times, describes this world with both the insight of an insider and the freewheeling zest and fascination of a gatecrasher.

So the book could just as easily be described, perhaps a tad bombastically, as a guidebook for living, for understanding the choices we have and the choices we make, and finding value in places other than a bank balance. Read More »


I came to writing about money by accident. After graduating from Trinity College, I went into a PhD program at the University of Chicago to study with the greatest Irish historian of his generation. With his training and mentorship, I thought I was going to become a famous historian, though I would focus on transatlantic immigration. Looking back, I cringe. I knew nothing about fame, the academic job market, or the role of historians in America today. A few weeks into the program, I wised up and realized my aspiration would, at best, land me at a small college somewhere I wouldn’t want to live after spending my twenties in one library or another. I knew then that I didn’t have the love for my subject to pursue it regardless of the out­come. If someone had told me I could return to my alma mater and be a professor there, I would have kept at it. But that would never have happened. By the latter half of the 1990s, historians of the Irish diaspora were not in great demand. So after getting my master’s de­gree, I moved to New York, where most of my friends from college lived. Read More »

Business Insider

In “The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super-Wealthy,” author Paul Sullivan makes a distinction between being rich and being wealthy.

Rich people, he says, have a lot of money. Wealthy people have the security that comes with knowing how to manage however much money they do have so that they’ll still have money tomorrow. Read More »

Financial Planning

Entertaining, informative and applicable to everyone, not just those who wish to be super wealthy. Summer Reading List: Top Advisor Picks »