Will people buy idiotic junk that they think will help them lose weight/attract a man/make money/get government money? You don’t have to spend much time flipping channels to see the answer to that. People want a quick answer. Want to talk to someone about boring old saving for the future, or buy the latest get-rich-now book at Barnes and Noble? Want to get coaching from a stuffy old CPA, or a “life coach” who doesn’t have a college education but claims to be a millionaire (what are the odds you’ll get a bank statement to review)? I think we know the answer there. Just look at politicians and pop culture and you’ll see what sells – NO PAIN WEIGHT LOSS. No money down real estate investing. Etc.
Everyone who’s fat knows deep down that “eat less, exercise more” is all they need to know. Everyone who’s poor knows that spend less, make more is all they need to know. Do you need Dave Ramsey to tell you to quit putting your cable TV bill on your 19% interest rate credit card every month? Apparently. Do you need Dr. Oz to tell you that carrots are healthier than chips? Do you need some talking head on a “business channel” on TV to tell you that getting rich is possible – but not guaranteed – for everyone? I would submit that deep down someone who stopped reading books after they finished college (or high school), watches 5 hours of TV a night and complains about the fat cats in Washington stealing their tax dollars knows that the problem is that they won’t get off the couch to get more education, start a business, etc. They’d rather hope that someone can sell them a “get rich now” package and zip right past the annoying hard work.
Everyone wants to know that they can eat chocolate AND lose weight – or spend a lot, work a little and be rich. Everyone wants to find the chocolate diet.
All that having been said, who’s getting richer? Robert Kiyosaki, selling his rehashing of the same 5 or 6 principles in 85 different formats? Or Larry Q. CPA, advising people to take their money out of the Super Power Mutual Fund and putting it into boring Vanguard index funds?
The answer is obvious. Everyone wants to learn about the chocolate diet. It’s the same with money – people would rather waste money hearing that they too can be Donald Trump, rather than having it pointed out to them that Donald Trump was already the son of a millionaire when he began his first day of work, and that their best bet is to quit buying Wii games, eat some bag lunches and pay off their Visa balance.
I know it’s difficult to hear. I’ve hoped to find a secret formula for years – both for weight loss and personal finance – but the answer is always simple: hard work and sacrifice lead to success. Sure, some trucker in West Virginia might win the lotto, and some dude eats Subway sandwiches every day for a year and loses 100 pounds. Fine. Exceptions prove the rule: even the luckiest rich people and the genetically-gifted pretty people make sacrifices and work at what they do.
I always remember a quote, although I can’t remember the source. I think it was a talk show, and someone was complaining about never having time to work out. The host said something like “did you watch Seinfeld this week? Well, then you had time to jog in place for 30 minutes.” The point is simple: I complain about not having enough time to get to everything I’d like to, but then again I can debate the small points of Mad Men with you – I haven’t missed an episode yet, and I have a Netflix subscription that is being used. Success isn’t born watching cable TV, just as weight loss doesn’t begin while snacking on chocolate. Saying it is easy. Living it is hard.