It’s frustrating to see so many guarantees of financial success with little to no effort. It’s even more frustrating to see so many people consume these promises with little regard for rational thought. Yes, if you buy into the lottery, you are a victim.
Sometimes the sales pitch is blatant rubbish. I pulled enough all-nighters in college to remember the wide range of infomercials promising fortunes. All you needed to do was buy the definitive book, take the ultimate course, or take out a subscription to the industry’s leading publication. Maybe you’re more pious than I’ll ever be, but chances are high that if I stumbled upon a quick shortcut to infinite wealth, we would not be having this discussion, you would not be seeing this site, and I would be living far from here in a grand old house in a cooler climate.
But, it’s the more subtle gimmicks that wrangle my nerves. I’m talking about the scams disguised as worthy opportunities whose only real objective is to separate you from your hard-earned money.
Recently I began receiving daily e-mails from a freelance writer celebrating the benefits of quitting one’s day job. He claims to have started off earning $40,000 a year working only two to three hours a day. Now he says he can put in fifteen minutes a day and charge $500 an hour. You too can learn how to make a killing with freelance writing by enrolling in his online course.
It’s one thing to want to be your own boss. Read my post on becoming your own boss before you take the plunge, but it’s quite another to want to go into business for yourself because someone says you can build a fortune from working fifteen minutes a day. Is it possible? Perhaps. Let us in on the secret in the comments, but it’s more likely that you’ll have to dedicate years to get to that level. Or, let’s be real. It’s more likely you’ll keep the secret to yourself.
Let me give you a more specific example. A few years ago I picked up the first in the Rich Dad Poor Dad series. Robert Kiyosaki does an excellent job of describing the difference between assets and liabilities, the values of financial literacy, as well as the importance of investing and entrepreneurship. On the whole, the book makes some really good points about breaking the mold and becoming self-sufficient; however, Kiyosaki went on to build a small empire on the eagerness of people wanting to learn how to become rich. To gather the complete set of skills, you had to buy one book, then another, then a board game, then attend a seminar, etc.
I’m all for free enterprise. Within legal parameters, entrepreneurs have the right to sell whatever they want and charge whatever the market can bear. The capitalist in me says a swindler has the right to pave his own road to hell. Put simply, if there were no demand, there would be no supply, right?
I hope we can all be a little more conscious about how we spend our money. Please take a moment to think through the lofty promises services and products are making before you throw down cash or credit in hopes of becoming wealthy.
Are there exceptions? Of course! There are freelance writers who have made an adequate living with their craft. There are financial gurus who know their stuff and are passionate about helping others succeed.
In fact, I would recommend you buy the first book in the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, milk the book for all its decent nuggets and general motivation to think different, and then walk away from the rest of the propaganda. Later I’ll post the top five financial books that really motivated me to be financially responsible.
In the meantime, do your research, shrug off the pressure tactics, and exercise a little common sense. More often than not, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.