If catchy headlines have you itching to read “How I achieved FI in X amount of steps (X being less than 10)” in hopes that you can replicate those same exact steps, STOP, chances are you’re not going to copy someone else’s path to financial independence. Watching Creed – or Creed II, won’t turn you into Mike Tyson any more than watching The Founder will teach you how to franchise or flip burgers. However, there’s something about FI articles which attracts internet vitriol. I get it, you’re reading an engaging story just to find out half way through the article the person’s spouse still works a $ix-figure job with solid health insurance benefits, BAM! Maybe it’s reading the steps and realizing that they lack detail (“education is the key”) or require blackswan-type events which are disguised as frugality (“I bought Apple stock in 1996, sold in 2018, but I don’t buy lattes”). Without access to the Speed force or a DeLorean this “hot stock advice” is pretty useless. The real article we want to read is “How I achieved FI in 10 years with massive student loan debt with no help from anyone whatsoever in a high cost of living city on a $35,000 salary. Here are 9 detailed steps you can do TODAY” but good luck with that one.
Results May Vary
The next time you see an article headlined by some bold and audacious claim, take it as entertainment. Remember the story is unique and based on many, many factors, some out of our control – location, career, marital status, genetic lottery, access to the “good ol’ boys club”, privilege, market timing, etc. I have previously discussed the idea of the unfair advantage, to summarize: YES, people have advantages that you don’t and it may not be “fair” but this is how it is, no use daydreaming on how it might be. Little use will come from hitting CAPS LOCK and going to town on the comments section as to why these “tips” won’t work for you. Why? Your own situation will be different, this is the ‘personal’ in personal finance AND these stories were never really intended to show you a path.
Think about it: is it really that “difficult” to live on an income that’s in the top 5%? If “mo’ money, mo’ problems” why haven’t the elite become paupers?
Careful with articles written to garner a reaction, go viral, and line the publisher’s pockets through advertising. Ignore it, or read it with a pound of salt, but when you are done, go back to working YOUR plan. If there’s something which you can apply to your situation, implement it, if not keep it moving. But just in case you can access the Speed force or have a DeLorean, avoid the Time Wraiths and drive at 88 miles per hour, respectively.