Most Financial Advice Is Terrible and Here’s Why
As this blog has grown you may have noticed that my tone has changed. What started out as straightforward financial thoughts (never advice because I’m not licensed to give it) on relatively simple things like how to check your credit score and which should you pay down a car loan or credit card first has moved more towards people’s higher level relationship with money.
Money is complicated.
It’s an emotional piece of paper that we have all accepted has value and is highly political.
As I said, it’s complicated.
And when you add in over 7 billion people on this planet, 350 million in the US alone you get a giant twisted political and emotional mess. For this reason, anyone that gives financial advice to the masses and says “this is the best and only way” is a fraud and they suck. Also, they are probably trying to sell you a junk product from which you’ll get little to no value.
I’ve taken a considerable step back online from a couple of years ago. Not only on the more complicated side of things like posting blogs, and YouTube videos but also the simpler things like Tweeting. This is due to a couple of things like burnout and lack of interest like I’ve talked about but also to just being annoyed with awful takes getting spread around to the masses.
- A Million dollars isn’t much anymore.
- If you don’t earn six figures a year, you are poor and a failure.
- Everyone should invest in real estate and if you rent you’ll always stay poor.
- If you work in the trades then you are an idiot.
- If you have to wait until you’re 65 to retire then you are a failure.
As I would see these I would just brush them off but as time went on I started noticing they were getting more and more attention in the form of engagement from rather large accounts. These large accounts that should be calling out this bullshit were promoting it. Why? Well, it’s simple and it circles back to money.
Clickbait takes = engagement = more money for them
I know these people understand how insanely stupid and irresponsible it is to post these things but they are looking out for their best interest and ways to accumulate more money. Because these takes aren’t reality. What is real is this:
- The median net worth of the average American doesn’t exceed $250,000 OVER THEIR LIFETIME.
- The median income for an American is $55,000.
- Buying real estate is an awful decision for some people.
- If you believe trades workers are idiots then you are not saveable.
- Most people never have enough money to retire.
Financial advice that works for everyone just isn’t a thing that’s possible. Do I think that opening a Wealthfront account and investing money is a good idea? Yes, I do. But to do that you need to have extra money to invest every month, you need to have a bank account to transfer from, and you need to have access to the internet.
Even having access to the internet isn’t possible for some people, even in the United States.
One of my favorite things I have read about understanding how people view money and why they make the decisions they do is from Morgan Housel’s book The Psychology Of Money. It’s a fantastic book and I would highly recommend everyone read it but in the book he talks about lottery tickets and why people buy them.
Now the *smart person* would say that lottery tickets are a waste of money and anyone that buys them doesn’t understand money. But I buy lottery tickets and I do understand money slightly more than most.
Why do I buy them?
Well, it’s a cheap way for me to have a day or two to daydream about what I would do if I won the $1 Billion jackpot. A chance to talk to my wife about the ridiculous things we’d spend money on and how we’d not let ourselves go broke as most lottery winners do. So when I was reading Morgan’s take on this it made sense to me.
The chances of me winning the US Powerball lottery are just under 1 in 300 million.
What it comes down to is perspective and people’s perspectives of what is reality is highly distorted. This has been referred to as the Instagram effect. Where we see the highlight reel but not what is going on behind the scenes. This same thing can be transferred to the financial media you see on any social media platform. It’s easy for me to tweet “JUST BROKE ONE MILLION DOLLARS NET WORTH AT 14 WHAT’S STOPPING YOU FROM WORKING SO HARD?!”. But what isn’t known is the huge inheritance that person was given by a family member dying.
The tweet below is a video going over climate change (not here to debate that one today) but it shines a light on perspective and why people make the decisions they do. Give it a watch and all I ask is that you think about the reasoning someone may be using in the future on a decision you don’t fully agree with.
This post may have come off a little harsh but it’s something I want people to think deeply about. Have I given some extremely broad financial takes to the masses? Absolutely. Have I sold courses and book that I thought could help people? Yes. Are there dozens of clickbait thumbnails on YouTube that I made? You betcha. I stand behind anything and everything I’ve put out. But one thing is for sure I will not make anyone feel bad about the financial choices they make.
At the end of the day, it’s their money, their life, and while I may not agree with it I don’t know the full details of their situation and you don’t either.
Think about that.