Lawrence’s inspiration for the book was twofold. First, the Funderburkes son, Eli, was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder (SID) at the age of six. This condition, a disconnect between the brain and the body, is debilitating. Eli’s gait, balance, coordination, stamina, olfaction, hearing and auditory processes, speech, emotional filter, vision, and taste buds were malfunctioning. He hated sports, couldn’t concentrate or sit still in class, and reacted violently when things didn’t go his way. He was sick on a regular basis and would miss days of school each month like clockwork. He was even taken to the emergency room and admitted to intensive care after a near fatal bout with allergy-induced asthma. Through prayer and a targeted game plan, Lawrence and Monya had a different son two years later. Nutritional deficits were corrected. Muscle imbalances went away. Emotional outbursts were contained. Eli’s brain and body are now operating as an integrated unit. (SID is common in children who have autism-spectrum disorders.)
Second, Lawrence is passionate about bridging the growing wealth gap in America. The disparity is glaringly obvious between the mega affluent and everyone else. As wealth management advisor Danny Levitt shares in the book, “The wealth playbook is the same for all of us. Unfortunately, most people refuse to read it.” Sociopsychonomics could very well be a critical first step in bridging the wealth gap in America one person or family or community at a time.
Lifestyle comforts, educational proclivities, annual income, and net worth may provide the foundation of one’s socioeconomic status, but they don’t explain how an individual or family assimilates mentally into a class or embedded subset.
Sociopsychonomics merges sociology, psychology, and economics to explain shared mindsets or predispositions from a monetary perspective. You can even throw in human ecology, etymology, and anthropology into the mix as well. Group norms are a powerful force in how Americans think, act, and behave when financial decisions (or indecisions) are analyzed microscopically. The number one takeaway lesson from the book: It’s possible to upgrade your Sociopsychonomic filter, or how you process financial information and make economic decisions. (Lawrence points out that social class mindsets are not set in stone. For example, an individual may live a comfortable blue-collar lifestyle, and yet, display a white-collar, wealth-building mentality at the same time.)
Sociopsychonomics separates social classes into three distinct categories: generational, situational, and functional. These distinctions are based on identifying traits and habits that are fairly common among social class subsets. People very often aren’t even aware of displaying these qualities.
Semantic references for each socioeconomic group are used interchangeably throughout the book. Poverty-stricken Americans, welfare recipients, and the working poor are characterized as economically distressed Americans, or EDAs. The middle class, blue-collar workers, and middle America are described as income-stability Americans, or ISAs. The mega wealthy, high-net-worth individuals and families, the super rich, and the top 1 percent are called affluent-positioned Americans, or APAs.
Ingrained mindsets are common in generational subsets, which are largely attributable to customs, traditions, and norms that are passed down to offspring. Situational subsets move up or down a class due to a triggering event –– divorce, illness, death, and lack of planning on the negative side, and a bounce of good fortune on the positive side, such as the monetization of a skill-set, owning (or selling) a business, or capitalizing on an educational accomplishment or career advancement opportunity. Functional subsets assimilate within a socioeconomic class based on an affinity or manufactured connection (which isn’t a bad thing in every case).
It will help readers across the socioeconomic spectrum diagnose and address personal and financial deficits, and develop a game plan to upgrade (or revamp) their frame of reference, mindset, and subsequent behaviors around money. They’ll also be armed with the knowledge to develop strategic goals to achieve growth and success –– financial stability and wealth creation and legacy continuity –– instead of being guided by self-sabotaging emotions and faulty hypothetical assumptions.
Teachers, social agencies, and nonprofit organizations who assist disadvantaged populations will be given additional tools to inform and, more importantly, empower those living in economic distress. Terms such as academic vertigo, faux orientation, time insensitivity, learned hopelessness, and personal brokenness are highlighted in the book to explain and combat perplexing behavior norms that disproportionately affect the poor.
This book is far-reaching, although the primary market is focused on middle-class families and decision-makers. Investment clubs, human resource departments, churches and other nonprofit organizations, service professionals (financial advisors, insurance representatives, accountants, attorneys, etc.), and educational providers are target market subsets. In short, though, people who are interested in financial liberation would be well-served in reading this book, as well as those who are worried about their wealth (and heritage capital) being mismanaged by beneficiaries. For the situationally and generationally affluent, it’s incumbent upon them to pass on appropriate attitudes, values, principles, practices, and behaviors that are critical for legacy continuity, which are more important than financial assets. Children and grandchildren from mega-affluent backgrounds must take and pass the stewardship test before the initial wealth creator’s demise.
For the entrenched poor, Lawrence’s goal is to help them obtain financial stability, a key step in the scaffolding process of wealth creation and legacy continuity. This includes improving baseline deficits (reading, writing, computing, and communicating), securing reliable transportation and a safe living environment, finding stable employment and earning a dignified wage, cultivating family unity, modulating emotions, and creating a life plan (setting goals, assessing values, etc.). For the traditional middle class, empowering them to take the initiative for their own financial well-being is another goal. This process must be holistic: life planning, credit and debt management, asset accumulation, wealth protection and long-term care, and end-of-life planning. Sociopsychonomics will provide the informed wealthy –– the situationally and generationally affluent –– with a behind-the-scenes look into the struggles of poverty and middle America, and provide them with an assist in their legacy and philanthropic footprint. (Did you know that only 10 percent of assets generated by the initial wealth creators survive to the fourth generation? Twenty percent of wealth is squandered by second-generation beneficiaries, and a staggering 90 percent by third-generation beneficiaries.)
Nearly four dozen people –– blue-collar workers and white-collar professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, educators, certified nutritionists, financial advisors, self-made millionaires, entrepreneurs, insurance representatives, marketing experts, and real estate tycoons –– contributed their insights to the book.
Although the book’s 500 pages in length, it is palatable and easily digestible for readers across the socioeconomic spectrum. It takes between 15 to 20 hours to read it and will serve as an ongoing resource for years to come. Lawrence’s upbringing, storytelling ability, scholarly and anecdotal insights, sports references, and semantic gift keep readers engaged in the subject matter. Personal finance can be intimidating for most people, but Lawrence does a masterful job of blending humor with his life experiences to educate readers on the value and necessity of comprehensive financial planning.