Proof of concept is important because accountability is a tenuous thing. One can pretty much say whatever they want on the internet. They can boast. Spin half-truths. Tell a tale. The most deadly of these are the ones that are just a slight variation of reality. Personal finance is no different. Net worth projections, budgets, the acumen of a business venture or online course, it’s all taken at face value. We like to congratulate ourselves with blog posts, podcasts, or YouTube videos. But I sometimes wonder if we offer our readers a false easy button.
Maybe to convince ourselves of our success or safety. Maybe to sell a particular product or lifestyle. Although the reasoning may vary, the result is often the same. We are recommending a lifestyle and saying it is attainable.
Is it really?
I have been just as guilty as the next. While I do genuinely believe there is a simple path to wealth, I speak from a privileged viewpoint. I grew up in an educated, middle class, family with all the benefits of being a white male. Success was never a foregone conclusion, but I certainly had a head start.
I do not doubt that I speak from true authenticity. That doesn’t mean that I have the experiential knowledge to back up my beliefs. I can only speak to my unique history. A history radically different from some of those who might be reading my blog.
I don’t have a debt story. Nor am I an immigrant. I didn’t fight poverty as a child. I am not embarrassed by this reality but must take it into account when trumpeting the benefits of this lifestyle.
Am I providing a false easy button that is out of the average person’s grasp?
We love to talk in this community about starting businesses. I have often postulated on the business asset class, and its place in the modern portfolio. It is a major milestone on the path to wealth. Simple. Easy.
Just start a business.
Most new ventures, however, fail. After five years an abysmally small portion of new businesses survive. In the meantime, countless person hours and even dollars have been spent upholding this illusory dream.
I have tried to enumerate in past blog posts my significant failures in this venue, and yet still attach pithy concepts like failing forward that make it sound better. But the idea of building a business could also be a false easy button.
Many go bankrupt.
We had a whole podcast on this. Real estate takes capital, energy, and a good deal of luck. Even the most successful of investors have fallen on their face multiple times. There are, by far, more people in the poor house from busted real estate deals than almost any other venture.
This certainly could be a false easy button. Creating revenue streams through investment properties carries risk just like any other investment. Expect to put in the hours and deal with the inconveniences.
I sometimes worry that we in this community are preaching to the choir. We have self-selected a small percentage of the population with the exact right amount of luck, privilege, intelligence, and skills to be where we are.
The rest of the world may not have the same toolsets that we have. By proclaiming the rightness of this path, we may be creating a false easy button that in no way reflects the reality of our population as a whole.
They keep pressing and pressing but never quite get the results we promise them.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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