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Advice and pro tips on just about every topic imaginable are available in just a few clicks or swipes on a pocket-sized device today. The best financial advice is no exception. Based upon the wealth of information available to everyone with a mobile device, there are increasingly fewer and fewer reasons for the lack of wisdom and overall financial mismanagement which are common today.
Ironically, we just may be living in a period of the worst personal financial mismanagement of all-time, despite access to information having reached an all-time high.
Recently, I read a Yahoo Finance article about Derek Sall, the owner of Life and My Finances, who impressively paid off over $116,000 of debt before turning 30. In the article, Sall shared his best financial advice.
“The best tip I can give is just live your own life,” he said. “The best way to just live simply and be content is just to turn it all of and hardly pay attention to it at all. Because that’s what gets people in the most trouble.”
As I read this, I nodded my head in agreement with Sall. It’s very good advice from someone who has earned the right to talk the talk by walking the walk, so to speak.
Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments section – the place where mis-informed and overconfident readers typically congregate to spread poor ideas on large sites like Yahoo.
Apparently, Sall’s advice struck a nerve with the internet trolls. Here is a selection of some of the comments:
- “Fake news”
- “Thanks for the useless ad for [Derek’s] blog.”
- “How much did you get paid for this useless tip?”
- “So the tip is to just ‘live your life’?”
- But folks . . . Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, BUT . . . If everyone did that, only buying what they need, just think how many people would be out of manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, mortgage jobs, etc. Also how much sales tax would the government be missing out on?”
- “nothing new here”
- “Bet this guy makes $100,000,000 on suckers who buy his book. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that is legal. BEWARE.”
- “That’s awesome that this guy is out of debt. But it seems like he missed out on doing a bunch of stuff while in the prime of his life. I go to work to make money. The point of having some money is so I can do things that I want to do, as well as save some of it.”
- “Let me guess, he cancelled his cable and quit getting a morning latte at Starbucks, it works every time.”
- “The tip is don’t spend money, okay got it.”
After reading through all of the comments, the exact reason why so many people manage their money poorly occurred to me:
The best financial advice is not sophisticated.
Complicating the Uncomplicated
More and more, it seems that people want to reject any kind of advice which is simple at its core. We are prone to rejecting basic ideas in favor of the more complex, as if complicated advice is somehow better by default.
Based upon the comments above, many readers assumed that there was no way Derek achieved debt freedom simply by living his own life on his own terms. In their minds, the secret to financial success had to be more complicated.
This attitude is all wrong.
The truth is that achieving financial success isn’t complicated and the best financial advice out there is not sophisticated.
The Best Financial Advice is Simple
The main reason I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance is because money is simple. It doesn’t have a mind or life of its own, and it does exactly what I tell it to do. It’s like every dollar I possess becomes a tiny employee who exists to answer to my every bidding.
And at the end of the day the total value of my money is largely dependent upon the actions of one person: me. My choices determine whether my financial net worth grows or dwindles.
If I use my basic arithmetic skills and reconcile my earnings and expenses properly, I can be sure that I stay in command of my choices and my money. And if I plan ahead a bit, I may even save money!
Many people can’t bring themselves to accept that money management is really this easy and simple. They insist that such a basic approach – keeping a budget, spending less than what is earned, and saving the rest – is only for unsophisticated simpletons.
The truth is that there is a tremendous degree of sophistication in simplicity. And realizing and embracing this truth is not only one of the keys to overall financial well-being; it’s one of the keys to happiness in general.
The problem is that we live in a society which has completely rejected simplicity. Take a walk through your local grocery store with open eyes and you’ll see what I mean – dozens of varieties of toothpaste, entire rows devoted to snack foods, and more flavors of ice cream than Dairy Queen.
Variety makes life interesting, to be certain, but there is a breaking point in which complexity leads to analysis paralysis. This is true of grocery shopping, and it is true of personal finance.
Some things in life, including money, are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. It’s time for all of us, the internet trolls included, to accept this truth, embrace it, and live happily.