4 Massive Financial Scams Sold to Americans on an Everyday Basis

by | BiggerPockets.com

If you really want to be financially free and wealthy, you may want to question the status quo and reevaluate these heavily marketed ways of living life.

Billions of dollars are invested in confusing us and keeping us trapped in the rat race. Don’t fall for it. Be careful of making these blunders—and focus on getting ahead instead.

4 Financial Scams Sold to Americans on an Everyday Basis

1. Buying a House

Buying their “dream home” is one of the biggest traps people can fall into. Most people stretch their limits, get into massive debt, and get stuck paying the bank for the rest of their lives, while working 2 or 3 jobs to pay the mortgage. That novelty of a new home can wear off fast. Owning your own house can be great. But you’ve got to do it wisely and in the right order of things. The true costs of owning and maintaining a home can be far higher than most realize. Many also find they get financially stuck in that home, and that can begin affecting all other areas of life, from careers to relationships. Check out this debate on whether owning the house you live in is really a wise financial decision or not.


Related: Grant Cardone is Right: Owning a Primary Residence Usually ISN’T Smart

2. Avoiding All Debt

Focusing on getting out of debt, avoiding all borrowing, and putting off investing became a popular trend in the wake of 2008. It made authors like Dave Ramsey very popular. It’s understandable. However, the most successful and wealthy are not those who have no debt. They are those who know how to leverage wisely. They are ironically often those with millions and even billions in loans. Like Grant Cardone says, “Rich people use debt to leverage investments and grow cash flows. Poor people use debt to buy things that make rich people richer.”

3. Going to College

Many of the smartest and most established individuals are those who dropped out. That includes Sean Combs, Bill Gates, Oprah, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, and more. Many are also big real estate buyers. Many top minds now say that college and the education system in America is one of the biggest scams of all. I personally struggled with this decision. I wouldn’t change the way I did things. Find out how I navigated this giant scam in this article.


Related: Dave Ramsey is Wrong: You DON’T Need to Be Debt-Free to Hit Financial Freedom

4. Save, Save, Save

Don’t get me wrong—saving is necessary at times. Everyone should have some emergency capital saved. But you aren’t going to successfully save your way to a comfortable retirement. Even if bank savings rates go up to 4% again, that just doesn’t provide the necessary juice to get and stay ahead financially. Don’t even expect it to keep you in the middle class, if there is even such a thing anymore.


It takes a high level of awareness to know what is really going on out there. Avoid the herd mentality, and start to think for yourself. If the masses are going one way, then by going the opposite route, it is highly likely that you will find success. I truly believe this.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer members.]

What would you add to this list? Would you agree that these constitute financial scams?

Let me know your thoughts with a comment.

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. Chris Soignier

    Your blog has some good content, but your credibility IMO is diminished by sensationalist claims which can’t be backed. Most people work 2 to 3 jobs to pay their mortgage? Where did you get that “alternate fact”?

    Going to college admittedly isn’t for everyone, but it’s far from a scam. Try being a doctor, nurse, lawyer, or engineer without getting a degree. My MBA has produced a huge ROI, even though it’s not necessary in my post-corporate career. Not everyone has the talent, drive, or desire to be a successful entrepreneur, and college is a door opener for many. It’s also noteworthy that many college dropouts established some very valuable connections while at college. Would Facebook or Google have happened without them? Doubtful.

    I agree w/ points #2 and 4, though. Dave Ramsey is great for getting people out of debt, but not for building wealth.

    • Sterling White

      I completely understand your viewpoint. I do believe college is a necessity for the occupations that you mentioned above, but for everyone else I personally believe it shouldn’t be pushed as a must do.

      The point regarding the mortgage is from research and what I’ve witnessed in the market.

      • I also have to push back on the 2-3 job claim. I live in Washington DC, probably in the top 10 markets for expensive housing and I know very few people that have 2-3 jobs…let alone to pay a mortgage.

        Maybe the issue is “dream house”. My dream house is a $2.5million home, but in DC I can only afford something a quarter of that price. So, I have a very nice home that I pay with one job, but not my dream house. On that note, my dream car is $120,000, but I drive a Ford so I also paid for that with one job.

        The evidence I have seen is most people do not have 2-3 jobs, especially not to pay for a mortgage.

      • Joshua D.

        I was in the second grade classroom at our local elimetary school a while back and the kids do a responsive chat every morning. The final line is that they are all “collage bound”.
        Kinda freaks me out that the goal of our education programs are to get %100 of kids to collage.

        I would agree with you, collage is not for everyone. Who is going to be making them dollars as a welder, or running that atimotive repair biz? The person with the 50k in student loan debt and a art degree.

        Sounds like a scam to me.

        • Hey don’t knock collages? They are fun. JK, I agree. When I was taking undergrads, I didn’t know what I was going to do for a career. A friend of mine told me she graduated with $80k in debt. It made me question “why am I doing this?” Nobody I knew has a career in the major they studied anymore. I ended up leaving college but that did not stop my education. I see the value in college but only if you are clear on your career path and are able to get through with minimal debt.

        • Svetlana Ostrovskaya

          JASON if college does not give you direction in life, what the point of getting the degree if you do not know what to do with it? It does not make sense to me to take lots of college courses for high price, instead you can read books in library and get the same information for free. My friend had to take music education coarse and listened to bunch of composers just to make up hours of his bachelors in computer science. Guess what, he could listen to those composers at home for free. This is nonsense, lots of courses that make no sense, just to suck money out of students to have certain amount of hours to get a degree. I got my BS in Technical management, bunch of courses to talk about business and nothing useful, luckily I got goverment program to pay for it, I would not pay a penny for any of this education if it came out of my pocket.

    • Leslie Newman

      I believe the author was making the point that many people fall for the scam of “get the biggest house you can afford.” As a realtor I would have to agree. It’s amazing what buyers are told they “qualify” for based on their income(s). When they do fall for the concept that they need this expensive house, nine times out of ten, it takes both incomes in the family to afford it. And if one of they should lose their job, it’s a very tenuous situation.

      Regarding the college “scam,” I don’t think the author meant that doctors, nurses and engineers don’t need to go to college. For a young person to go into $50K – $100K of debt to graduate with a liberal arts degree is I believe a scam, as in today’s economy, they will never see a return on that investment.

    • I completely agree with Chris. To suggest that college is a scam is nonsense at best. Simply a means for people to justify poor decisions and/or lack of ability. As an investor you should recognize the value of investing in ones personal growth. The statistics are overwhelming that degreed individuals far exceed earnings over those without a degree. Especially STEM degrees. You have done a disservice to BP readers with this post.

  2. Kevin Yeats

    I disagree with your lumping going to college as a scam.

    I agree with Chris Soignier above. Do you want a doctor (especially), dentist, nurse, attorney, … (this list is endless), assisting your, operating on you or a loved one, who has NOT completed college?

    More that just competency, attending college and completing a degree demonstrates focus and ability to work towards a long term goal. College teaches more than just book learning such as developing social skills. College provides the opportunity to become exposed to other disciplines other than one chosen field of study.

    You listed 5 people who became rich and successful without completing a college degree. Four of those individuals attended college. There are far more successful college graduates than college drop outs.

    What matters is what the individual does with their life — with or without a college degree.

    • Sterling White

      I completely agree with your viewpoint. As stated above there are occupations such as the ones you listed that require this path. If my doctor or dentist didn’t have a degree I would move onto another one.

      My point is college shouldn’t be pushed as a must have in order to accomplish anything in the real world. In addition to that from my personal experience college did not provide me with the necessary tools to thrive in the real world. I did accomplish accumulating quite a bit of bad debt for skills and knowledge I have yet to apply.

      It’s not for everyone.

    • Tim Puffer

      College is a scam in regards to the price of it. There is no reason it should cost as much as it does. I have gained more value doing things in the real world than I ever had in college.

      In regards to doctors, dentists, and the like – would you rather have a relatively fresh college grad perform a task on/for you, or someone who has performed that task 5,000 times successfully but has no college degree? Just a corollary to your question.

      People do have a choice as to what they accomplish. Most however do not take control and I think that is the key thing that separates the successful from the masses.

  3. steve portock

    Normally I let arguments like this go after reading stuff like this with a nice chuckle. Tonight I will chime in. Picture us sitting at a bar drinking some delicious adult beverages busting each others chops on this, so take my remarks in that vein with little dose of condescending mocking.

    1. Buying a house is a huge drain and never makes any money, once you get realtors involved forget it, any money you made on it is gone. Only if you bought super cheap and fixed up could make any real money. Given today’s dollar and the lack of value is has as things go, even if your home’s value is more than you purchased it for, unless you factor in the loss of purchasing power to that new value from what it was when you purchased, you in almost all cases lost money. That’s just how it is.

    2. College is without any question a scam and has been one for a long time. 80k avg cost of a lame state school and upwards of 150k or more for the more “prestigious” schools. Sorry but there is no roi on that given the jobs today, and the scams companies pull, as well as cheap imported labor, and other games being played today. Real wages have gone no where since the 70’s, thats been proven its not even an argument at this point. The platitudes about accomplishing something and other sorts of nonsense can be done a whole number of other ways. Using doctors, lawyers, and engineers as a justification for this does not hold any water. All of those professions could be trained in a much better way if that was really what was desired. They are now all cartelized forcing those who wish to pursue them to take on huge debts just to get a “permit” to participate. If any of you are over the age of 40, you know this never used to be how it was long ago. Lawyers needing degrees is a joke if you know anything about just exactly what they do. I do believe Abe Lincoln did not have a degree and became what was considered an accomplished jurist. Given they have to take a test to prove their competency, why should one have to attend college for that? If I can pass the bar on my own, how does that make me any better or worse than one who went thru law school? Law school does not train one to be an effective lawyer. We just had a “community organizer lawyer” as president who spent 2 million to hide his academic background, I will take my chances on non lawyers as politicians all day long. Does anyone really want to argue he knew his [email protected]@ from his elbow about much of anything? If you are naive enough to believe face book and google were just a couple of college guys who had great ideas I have a nice bridge to sell you. Look at what they are, what they do, and what power they have today, that was no accident or lucky break. Someone or some group was funding things, those servers to give us “free” use cost big dollars, that money came from somewhere when they first started out.

    3. While we are at it, lets throw 401k’s in there as another scam pitched every day. As well as retirement planning. Given what’s happened to the value of the dollar over time, its mathematically impossible for any of that to work as advertised. Go ask your grand parents if things are much cheaper for them today than they were a long time ago. Even the contribution amounts are a joke given the loss of purchasing power over time from when these were conceived.

    I look forward to the responses back, after my slam, I will buy you all a figurative drink for sitting thru it.

    Chris, our paths may cross one day, I too am an eXp realtor now, I embrace the future of the real estate industry thru this company and look forward to seeing the agents that don’t get things go by the wayside lol.

    For the record I did not go to college. I am a realtor and independent software developer, all college would have done is get in my way, force useless knowledge on me, and would have held me back from what i have done so far. No one needs college to accomplish things today, and frankly most people should not be there, degrees have become meaningless given how things are done today, if you are really honest about it.

    • Steve, I like what you say about buying a home is a big drain and never makes any money. I think most people should just rent and pay their landlords on time every month. Paying the rent on time is a good way to show one is responsible. It also helps the landlord pay his mortgage to the bank. Paying the mortgage on time to the bank is important for one to have an excellent credit score to get loans to buy more house to rent to others that are to smart to get stuck buying a home.

      • steve portock

        I appreciate your lame attempt to make fun, but really c’mon you can do better. Stop paying your property taxes and see what you “own”, then get back to me on this. Owning a house here in this country is an illusion at best. Whether you pay rent to a landlord of a bank, its just a matter of distinction. Owning always costs more than renting pretty much every time when all factors are considered. Rent may go up a lot in years, but there is a ceiling, and it does go down just as fast depending. The one think most here who post seem to not get, is not that the cost went up, your purchasing power went down, and continues to on a daily basis. If we had a sound money system in place, there would be a different argument to make. Houses never ever go up in value, your purchasing power goes down, nothing magic about a house. So while I appreciate your sarcasm, try again, lets come back with a real argument that has some substance.

        • Marcus Auerbach

          What a bunch of nonsense. Owning costs more than renting is probably your highlight. How come I make money as a landlord? If you call others out you better get your own point straight first.

        • steve portock

          Nonsense?? Are you seriously trying to deny that the purchasing power of the dollar has not gone down significantly? I don’t think its me who needs to get his own point straight. Refute what I posted with facts, if you can.

    • Chris Soignier

      Steve, welcome to eXp, great choice! 🙂 But I still disagree w/ you.

      1) I’ve banked $140K in capital gains on my last 2 personal homes, tax free. I have about $100K in unrealized equity in my current home, which will be tax-free when I sell. A quarter of a million bucks pays for a lot of maintenance! You mention the loss in the value of the dollar. My real estate has appreciated significantly even adjusted for inflation. My perspective is that the leverage you can get w/ real estate is a great way to short the US dollar. I borrow w/ today’s dollars, and repay my debt w/ dollors that will likely be worth much less in the future.
      2) College isn’t for everyone, and I’m so happy that the Dems’ silly plan to offer free college for everyone didn’t pan out. It’s up to each family to decide what the student wants to do, what the education will cost, and whether the ROI (in financial and personal satisfaction terms). I became a millionaire in my early 30’s in large part due to my college education (BBA UT Austin, MBA University of Houston, both in Finance). Additionally, a college friendship was directly responsible for connecting me w/ a Dell recruiter in ’96, which had a hugely beneficial impact on my wealth and income.
      3) 401K’s are awesome investment vehicles, but the investments in most corporate-sponsored ones aren’t. I’m trustee of my own Solo 401K, and it’s been a great way to invest in whatever I want on a tax-deferred/tax-free basis. I’m in the process of converting my trad. balances to Roth to the extent I can take the tax hit every year, w/ the expectation that my balances w/ be 100% tax-free forever by the time I hit 59 1/2.

      FWIW, I’m not going to push college on my son, but if he wants to go, he has a healthy 529 account so my wife and I can help him go if that’s what he wants to do. I’d love for him to join me in my REI business, but that’s my dream, not his.

      • steve portock

        Chris, thanks I enjoy the good natured chops busting here. Since you are doing so well, you won’t be mad when I hit you up for private money loans in the future for some of my deals lol. I hope our paths cross in person at eXp functions one day, I always love to meet new people especially after a good argument lol.

        • Chris Soignier

          Steve, I s/b at the shareholders’ meeting in April, and eXp Expo in October. Look me up if you go!

          I have been a private lender in the past, and may do more in the future, but only in my local market. Given a choice, I typically prefer to invest in MF over private lending.

        • steve portock

          Chris, thanks! I was kidding on the private lending stuff lol. I will try to make it to the expo, will look you up for sure, promise to buy you a drink when it happens.

    • Candace Majedi

      I love this comment. I went to college, engineering school to be exact, and then got my masters degree in marketing. I make good money, but it’s the same amount of money as the guy/gal sitting next to me who didn’t go to college but learned to program and build something of value. With so many online courses these days, anyone can learn basically anything. I’m in almost 6 figure loan debt, they’re not. I’m saving for my daughter’s college fund, but im hoping she goes to a 2 year community college, buys some real estate, an starts a business instead of going to traditional college.

  4. ChokSheak Lau

    I thought you were going to put stocks, 401k and mutual funds under one or more of these points, but no big deal if you don’t. As with the other comments, I think your points are very controversial, but I am ok with it because it goes well in some people’s situations but not everyone’s. The huge one I think is bad advice is “Buying a house” – i.e. I believe it is far better to buy than to rent. It is very very bad advice to ask people to rent instead of buying in a steadily appreciating market. It makes good sense to rent if you know the market is going to decline steadily for the next 20 years, which probably has never happened in American history. Seattle real estate is going crazy and almost everyone I know who did not buy a house 2 to 3 years back has regretted that bad. They ended up paying about 100-300k more for the same house they could have gotten a few years back.

  5. Jerry W.

    Sorry Sterling and Steve,
    Not buying any of it. A lot of college degrees are a waste. I have never figured out how womens studies provides a way to make a living. An art critic major? Anyone can criticize. College for a real degree can help, but even for a dumb degree can help. Maybe it was my childhood, as I came from a tiny farm towns for the most part, but college forced my mind open. There was a LOT of useless things taught to us in high school. Even history was sugar coated so much it was barely real. College started me questioning a lot of things, but more importantly taught me how to learn.
    Trade schools would help a lot of folks, but you have to decide early what you want there and most folks take about 2 years to figure out what they want from college. Nearly all white collar jobs require a lot of college. You don’t want doctors or engineers being self trained. You night be able to pass the bar exam if you had a lot of coaching, but you would not be a competent lawyer. Law school doesn’t teach you the law, they teach how to understand it and the theories.
    Most of the folks you mentioned went to college and got what they needed quicker than most do. Besides no offense, but not everyone has an IQ of 180 like Bill Gates.
    I learned as much from the electives as I did from my major. Economics, business, accounting, sociology, etc were more useful than most of my degree classes. How to read effectively, how to write, and speak, etc. As to folks who made it, they appreciate college. Look at the children of those who really made it. Ask Grant Cardone whether or not his kids went through college.
    Ok if owning your own home is dumb then so is buying and investing in real estate. Same principal, it is just applied to yourself. My mortgage payment was cheaper then rent including adding in taxes and insurance. Maintenance can add up but so does appreciation. Besides I own a house after making my payment instead of a landlord owning it.
    Well 2 out of 4 ain’t bad. I appreciate your taking the time to write the blog. It is always easier to criticize then write your own. Keep up the good work Bud, and thanks again for making folks think.

  6. Wow even on this forum the negativity is firce more people need to take a look at their choice of perspective both sides exists and most people choose to only recognize the negative side of things no matter how much money they earn or save their life will still suck because that’s all they see

  7. Carly Nino

    I basically agree – I am a lawyer that went to a top school and in a bunch of debt and constantly trying to justify that is was “worth it”. Ehh, not so much for me and many others I know personally.

    Owning a house is very expensive and I do agree that the vast majority of people over -buy and sacrifice a lot of freedoms to pay for the cost of maintaining. People love only focusing on the monthly payment for things, which is not the true cost, and certainly not the true ownership cost. I think home ownership makes plenty of sense if you truly know your budget and keep the total cost reasonable. In a similar vain, the true cost of home ownership is also the (one of the reasons??) reason govt backed low-cost mortgages are total crap. You see people making literally $24,000 a year gross, with multiple children, who are able to get low-payment USDA rural home mortgages on $150,000 houses. (I do closings and yes have seen this !) OK, so maybe that person can afford the subsidized mortgage payment of $500 a month , but house maintenance and upkeep, are you kidding me? Not to mention utilities,too. Unless that person has a change of circumstances ( which is supposed to lead to subsidy payback) or family that is helping , or outright lied about their income – this house is going to be a delapidated property that one of us here in BP is going to be buying as a foreclosure in some years. The American dream of home ownership is nice, but it is couched in unrealistic expectations that are marketed by banks and the govt and consumers with eyes for walk – in closets much much bigger than their wallets can truly fill.

  8. Chris Field

    If your a real estate investor you should be able to buy a house properly and take advantage of the IRS capital gains exemption if you live in it for two years.

    Oh wait that doesn’t get blog views. Because it actually takes time, effort, and knowledge. It’s like telling people to lose weight by simply eating less and moving more.

    Let me clickblog it up!! Borrow lots of money forget about education kid just throw it in real estate in a trendy market! MASSIVE profits sure to follow, it’s super easy!

  9. Ed L.

    I don’t believe Sterling is trying to insinuate that buying a house or going to college is always a bad idea. He’s seemingly stating that the conventional isn’t always applicable and for young people in particular to assess their situation and avoid buying a $500,000 1940’s bungalow while working on their masters in gender studies.

    Some markets renting makes sense and others it doesn’t. Some degrees make financial sense and others are a complete waste of funds.

    Don’t just assume that college and buying a home is always a good idea. Think about your goals and how the decision you make is going to get you where you want to be in life.

    Buying a house was one of the best decisions I ever made. Renting a comparable home would cost $500 per month more than my 15 year mortgage. And that’s a big “if” I could find a comparable hole for rent.

    Purely in economic terms it’s a huge
    win. Just as important are the harder to ascertain value in not having to ask a landlord before I paint the dining room. Or having to hide my cat. Or having to worry about the landlord selling and having to uproot my family.

  10. Lots of interesting diverse opinions above. Sterling, your “4 scams” topics above could all be reversed, re-titled “Four Ways to get Rich”, and be just as well supported, which is to say the ideas are good for some, and terrible for others. The four responses are way too simplistic to cover the diverse readers best courses. Are you in a stable secure job: government?, 20% of the readers are; starting a family? and plan to stay in-place for 20 years of career growth? Then buying an affordable (fixer?) house may be the best, most economic course. Same idea goes for the other three themes. So take all four recommendations as possibilities from a dozen different directions you could go. Beware bad advice! Study your own interests and goals very carefully. Knowing thyself is half the answer.

  11. Gregory Scott

    Many of these items you listed are opinions not backed by fact:

    #1: If buying a house is such a scam, then why is the average homeowner’s net worth 31-46x a renter’s net worth?

    #3: Perhaps college is not right for everyone, but that does not mean it’s a scam. If you’re solely judging the success of college based on income earning potential, then you’re statement is flat out incorrect. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a person with a professional degree will outearn someone with no college by nearly 3x. A bachelor’s degree will double earnings. Yes, there are some uber successful people who didn’t go to college. These should be considered massive outliers. There are also people who have run marathons with zero training. That doesn’t mean that if the average person is going to run a marathon, they shouldn’t train, just because there was one person who was able to do it.

    #4: Saving money is a scam? This is the most shocking to me. Yes, interest rates are low. But that does not mean that saving money is a scam. Perhaps you meant to say that putting your money solely in a savings account and not investing will make it difficult to retire on an average income. I don’t know how else to parse this statement. You obviously can’t retire without saving money. In fact, if you can save 75% of your income, you can retire incredibly quickly whether or not you have < 4% return or not.

    Finally, and not to get pedantic, but Holdfolio is not a crowd funding platform. A platform would imply that has a two-sided marketplace or distribution mechanism to it, which as far as I know, it does not. It's Sched D, which is not the same thing. Not to say that a crowdfunding platform couldn't have a Sched D component to it, but labeling it as platform is misleading and incorrect.

    #1: http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2014/09/08/net-worth-of-homeowners-vs-renters/
    #3: https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
    #4: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

    • steve portock

      Scott, many of those things were true a long while ago, not anymore. Phantom equity does not count as real wealth. You will always spend more to own a house than I will renting, pretty much every time. College is a scam, there is no other way to describe it. Maybe “high priced” work permit scheme might be nicer? Any idiot can go to college today, how much do you want to pay for it? It costs thousands to teach calculus? Your blindness and other’s who try to justify it are why this college scam crap still goes on today. There is no reason for college to cost anywhere near what it does today, other than the cartelization of it, along with lots of other scams certain groups are allowed to pull today. I am old enough to remember when you could work part time at a pizza place an put yourself thru college. What goes on today should be criminalized.

      • Gregory Scott

        I don’t disagree that college costs a tremendous amount, but the evidence I’ve found (listed above) shows the vastly improved earning potential of various degrees from a reputable source (BLS).

        While equity may not be liquid like stocks, a homeowner will still have 36-41x the net worth of a renter. My source for this evidence is also listed above.

        If you have facts from reputable sources that suggest otherwise, please present them.

        • steve portock

          Greg, bls numbers are no rosetta stone of truth there. In fact show us once in history where the govt is not lying. House prices only went up due to rates going down so you could borrow more on the same payment, no magic there, but incredibly dangerous as one day those rates will have to go back up. Once that happens watch your house prices sink like a stone if we don’t go bankrupt first. Real wages have not gone anywhere since the 70’s. I see the same rates of pay today from when I started programming about 20 yrs ago, and in many cases they went down. Actuarily we are hosed at this point. Unless something is done about the scams in place now, the medical system, college debt, etc.. we will be lucky to make 10 yrs from today without a major hit to everyone’s wealth, if you want to call your percentage phantom gains that. Its math, and no amount of arguing will change that.

      • Viviana Rueda

        From marketing POV congratulations! Your headline garnered some serious visceral reactions! Not here to slam your point of view as I agree, somewhat with a few points. It’s the use of the word “scam” that doesn’t jive for me. From a technical point-of-view it implies there is fraud going on and I don’t think any of these concepts are fraudulent. But for sure they are controversial in their value. The way the American Dream was sold in decades past has changed. I don’t disagree that owning a home is not for all, much less many due to the risks that ownership poses for individuals and families with precarious finances. Which is supposed to be what loan controls (which as we all know as investors and real estate professionals have actually tightened since 2008) help address. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t due to some factors that loan controls can’t account for (that’s another conversation AND a great blog post). Sure, there are some people over buying and thanks to a healthy real estate machine this may not always be addressed. But as a few people have pointed out, real estate ownership does work well, very well, especially for long-term financial planning but it does have to happen in certain types of environments to work. Scam? I don’t think so but certainly not for all.
        Education. Sigh this is so frustrating. I agree the educational system has gotten out of control in terms of cost and it’s nuts to see what the cost of some degrees are as compared to the potential upside of said degree. I think the key here is to examine the potential upside just like with any financial investment. And I do believe that anyone who is not self-motivated, with the ability to self teach is going to seriously suffer in this world economy without some sort of degree or accreditation. I have personally watched it with family members. Those who chose higher degrees (strategically chosen) are exponentially more wealthy than those who passed on a college degree. B/c in today’s job market a degree is required in a great many jobs. Please note I’m saying a great many jobs not all. As our workforce ages, savings and retirement rates are not keeping up, so that means many more older people in the workforce. Many of the jobs that pay well when you are young and that are more trade-related work (rather than office) are not jobs that you can work at as an older person (by older I mean 50-70). So when your employer lays you off in a recession (b/c trades usually get hit pretty hard in those times), you spend a few years unemployed, aging as you look for work and guess who you are competing with? younger people with degrees and you can’t go back to the heavy manual work. Anyways this a longer conversation. My point is this. There is a greater system at play here where schools, and businesses are intricately intertwined. In general, if you want to work at job where you climb a corporate ladder, have benefits including a steady stream of savings into a long-term retirement such as a 401k, where you can easily apply for loans (for example for real estate investing), and where a large portion of your income doesn’t go to paying individually-funded healthcare insurance then you will have to have a degree. It’s next to impossible to find a job without one. Particularly after the last recession when many people went back to become more educated. It’s a being competitive thing. Net-net, not all university degrees are not created equal; not everyone carefully studies their choice of a degree as it relates to the potential financial upside, but can we say it’s a scam? I just don’t think going to college as being a fraud being committed on consumers.

  12. Svetlana Ostrovskaya on

    College is good if education if it is free. I went to ukrainian university back at soviet union and do not regret I got degree in applied math and computers, from Ukraine, it was given to me for free. I made my living as a software engineer with this degree for many years living in the USA. Noone asked me for proof of education when I was looking for jobs in the USA but university classes helped me to learn computer programming. House is good, if it is reasonable price paying monthly less than what you otherwise pay if renting. Saving is good, if you do not buy stuff that does not bring too much value in your life, like expensive cars. Saving on starbucks coffee will not make you much richer. Working while drinking starbucks coffee can help you to figure out ways how to make more money, so it is ok to spend money on it from time to time. Spending money to have a massage once a week can help too. After all you can get unhappy if you save money and do not enjoy your life. Debt is good if used for businesses to generate more profit. Most ukrainians have no debt, and they are poor. All americans are in debt and have everything they need in life. Debt is good. Be happy if someone wants to borrow you money, but do not spend it on stupid stuff.
    Overall I liked this article, something to think about.

  13. Michael Baum

    My 2 cents, an interesting article. Personally I think Sterling wrote the article as a general rather than hard and fast rule. I think Steve feels it is hard set of rules. College is ALWAYS as scam for ANYONE, EVERY TIME etc.

    I think it is all situational. For me personally, buying homes has made me wealthier that if I had rented in my market. My education has paid for itself many times over so that is a win for me as well.

    I manage my own 401k and see a decent average return of about 13% per year. Not great, but not terrible and it is my retirement above and beyond what I am trying to do with real estate. Even though I have a ton common sense, I could still screw up big time and lose it all!

    I agree that the comments could be right on the money for some folks, and a terrible idea for others.

    I also think that Steve makes good points, but these are not hard rules. It is all dependent on each individual’s situation, location, etc etc. Lots of variables.

    Also, I found it funny that the CNN article is listed under opinions 🙂

    • Svetlana Ostrovskaya on

      Michael, 13% of return in 401k is unsecured, if stock market crashes, you can loose your money at any time. I have known people who delayed their retirement because of stock market crash in their retirement plan. You can not rely on luck. Put 401k into self directed 401k, you can buy real estate with it, of course you need to be smart about how to buy and where, but your retirement will be backed up with collateral, which is real estate and not wall street. If some lady in senat that if she wears skirt of different color on some days, stock market reacts to it. Would you care who is that lady and why she wears red scirt on some days instead of blue. You do not but stock market does. Also there is a lot of insider trading that boost prices for individual stocks up and down for someone inside company to get rich and you do not have access to this insider information. Sometimes market is irrational and it makes no sense why it goes up or down, and you can not control the situation. I would not rely on stock market for your retirement. Another vehicle is your life insurance with cash accumulation, or whole life policies, which gives steady return on your money. I have gotten life insurance license to learn the subject in depth to take advantage of life insurance policies (not term one, this is cheapest but can not be used for retirement and most people only aware of term life policies, I am talking about whole life or properly structured universal life policies, you can even buy real estate with it once you have cash accumulated in your whole life policy). Anything else but putting retirment in stocks. I would put it as another scam that is sold to americans. I do not see it in the list, but it would be nice to have one there

      • steve portock

        Svetlana, bravo, you see things very well. Unfortunately most Americans are pretty clueless, few have ever left the country to see how others live. I spent time living in an eastern european country and got to see first hand how things can get. People here have no real idea how good they have it, and what they are able to do.

      • Steve Vaughan

        Svetlana, I appreciate your comment about people’s lack of debt In the Ukraine, yet a large % are still poor. Interesting.
        A ‘free’ education is far from free. Check out the tax rates of countries that offer ‘free’ college. Taxes are our largest lifetime expense, even here. Be much worse at 40%.
        You whole life insurance recommendation is a joke. Overpay (10-20x term rates) for years to build ‘cash value’ that the insurance company keeps when you die? No wonder commissions are so high when you sell that garbage. The only people who recommend whole or universal life are the ones that pedddle it. Learn about your product already.

        • steve portock

          Steve she is right, you are not only wrong but dead wrong. You can use those policies to achieve some real serious wealth. Learn a little bit about what they are being used for today, its called infinite banking. Once you understand what that is, you will see why they get bashed by competing interests. Financial planners are not here to help you no matter what they say. Soon ai will be replacing every last one of them and will produce much better results. “Buy term and invest the difference” was put out by people who were certainly doing others no favors. Please educate yourself about how money actually works rather than just slam someone on your ignorance.

        • Svetlana Ostrovskaya

          I have 3 kids (ages 8,9 and 16), so having life insurance is necessary for me to have. However whole life ends until end of your life, whatever it is it is not 20 years term that ends when you need it most. Also it depends on your age. Earlier you get it cheaper it is. I got it in my 42 years old, it is still not late, but i wish I would know about these policies in my 30s or 20 years old. In 50s you still can get it but premiums are much higher. You can accumulate cash within your policy, no need to keep cash in the bank when you can keep it in policy with life insurance attached to your money. One of my policies with Nationwide (universal with fixed premium leveled up after age 62, so I do not overpay for insurance and it pays for itself), other with New York Life (whole life, gives dividents since policy owners are co owners of the company), both are great policies, both have long term care attached at fraction of the cost that if you bought it separately. I am not selling insurance, just got my license to figure out best policies for myself, but recommend everyone to talk to life insurance agents in your area to explore your options. We have the course on life insurance policies at renatur real estate investment group (www.myrenatus.com), lots of real estate investors becoming aware to have life insurance policies as additional way to leave legacy for kids and protect their own real estate investments.

        • Steve Vaughan

          Thank you for sharing your little opinion, Steve. I’m actually not that ignorant about ‘infinite banking’, but whatever. Svetlana only mentioned that ‘investing’ in whole life is a good idea. What about them keeping your cash value when you die then? You ok with that, too?
          I only replied because what you said fits perfectly into the title of this blog: 4 Massive Financial Scams:
          Whole Life. Universal Life, Renatus, and now we can add
          Infinite Banking. LOL

        • Svetlana Ostrovskaya

          Cash value is added to death benefit, when you die. So if you have accumulated 50k in whole permanent life policy and your death benefit was initially 200k it will grow with your cash, so your kids/family will get 250k. If you keep 50k in bank account, would better to keep those money in life insurance? The good thing – you do not need to die to get cash out, you can get this money while you alive, and invest in real estate for example. Take money while keeping death benefit would it be good? Better than keeping in bank account.

        • Svetlana Ostrovskaya

          So, cash value is added to death benefit, when you die. So if you have accumulated 50k in whole permanent life policy and your death benefit was initially 200k it will grow with your cash, so your kids/family will get 250k. If you keep 50k in bank account, would better to keep those money in life insurance? The good thing – you do not need to die to get cash out, you can get this money while you alive, and invest in real estate for example. Take money while keeping death benefit would it be good? Better than keeping in bank account.

      • Michael Baum

        Hey Svetlana, I do agree with what you are saying, but I am not just leaving it in there and hoping for the best.

        I have had that 401k for along time and never lost money on it, even during the downturn. Yes, my returns did go down, but never negative. I was really paying attention at that time as I do all the time. I make adjustments and keep a very broad portfolio. I could probably increase my yields to 17% but overall I am not doing daily changes.

        So I guess I am out of the norm on that, but I don’t feel like changing my plan as it is working just fine for me.

        I know that there are things I cannot control, but the stock market is not a complete mystery. There are a lot of resources to help with learning how things work.

        Actually, you could say much the same about the real estate market if you think about it. Real Estate markets can be influenced by things far out of our control or knowledge as well. It is easy to lose everything in the real estate game.

        • Svetlana Ostrovskaya

          I did a day trading and lost a lot of money in it. After this I do only real estate. I also like to provide housing to people, so serving people while making money from real estate is best investment strategy for me, where buying stocks is more like speculation for me and I feel I have. I agree though that if you buy some ETF funds you may get some good returns on investments, it all require knowledge what you buy, it is just I personally prefer real estate over different other strategies, since I feel like more in control of my investments that if I bought stocks with my money. I learned while day trading that once you loose your money it is difficult to recover or impossible where there are more ways to safeguard your investments while buying real estate

        • Viviana Rueda

          13% to 17% return on your 401k is pretty awesome. You’re obviously staying on top of your investments, which few people do (either due to interest, time, lack of knowledge or fear). They save and sock away and hope for the best and I think that may be the nuance that some people miss. IF one has access to well-structured 401k particularly one that matches and you make enough money to max it every year. It’s just another strategy to a multi-prong strategy wealth-building approach (which should also probably include insurance products like variable universal etc. and real estate). I wish I’d been able to have a steady 30 years of socking money away into a matching fund.

  14. I find it interesting that I did exactly what this article said not to do and it made me a multi-millionaire by 40. Weird.

    I bought a house. Didn\’t make me rich, especially the first two times when I bought them at a time I wouldn\’t be staying for a long time. But this one? Sure. Nearly paid off and worth $700K.

    I didn\’t avoid debt completely, but I certainly minimized its effect on my life and never became comfortable with it. Bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business, no student loans, no credit card or car loans etc. Just a few mortgages and paid extra on those.

    Not only did I go to college, but I went to medical school. And residency. And now I can go trade my time for money for $400K a year if I choose to do so. Can\’t get rich on an income of $400K? You have a savings problem, not an earning problem.

    Saving? Yea, I saved. From 5% a year to 67% a year, always saved. Weird how that creates wealth isn\’t it? Pair a high income with a decent savings rate and a reasonable investing plan and all of a sudden you become wealthy. Can\’t invest until you save.

  15. Senthil N.

    Like many others have commented I have to disagree. Especially for folks who visit biggerpockets.com, this is entertaining at best. The audience at BP are savy investors who understand the value of investments. Few of the BP audiences will be throwing away money at an expensive house for example. We all strive to buy under market value and sell over and hopefully without Realtor commission or at least half commission! We understand the value of saving, the risk & return of leveraging and also perhaps the real value of a college education. Like anything else, there are ways to do things right and then there are ways to do them wrong. This is a good post if the audience were not savy investors. To this post just add considerations as (1) if there is value in the investment to buy, (2) speculation in the investment to sell, (3) true cost of debt or (4) best time to save. Then help the audience understand how to determine value of the investment, money and savings.

  16. Mike Dymski

    Thanks for taking the time to write an article. You and many of the BP membership are not the standard Americans. Most people do not want to start a business or landlord. They want a day job with a steady paycheck and benefits and be able to leave work at 5:00 with no responsibilities. They want a nice home where they spend most of their time and raise their families. Going to college, saving money, buying a home and paying down debt are the steps to achieve those goals. Contrary to popular belief, people do what they want to do and wishes are not wants. There are investors and there are consumers. One is not better than the other…to each their own. It can be difficult for investors or consumers to relate to one another…we all think the other is crazy and we are likely both right.

  17. Steve Vaughan

    A few other wealth-sucking ‘scams’ promoted in our culture every day I can think of:
    Be like Matthew M and own a brand new luxury car!
    Get a gold card to buy, buy, buy and earn1% cash back! Really?
    All clothes, phones, game systems and gadget commercials. I can turn off my own lights and don’t need a $600 phone, thank you.
    All of these drop in value to nothing over time!
    I know what you meant with the fancy house and college education ‘scams’, Sterling, but am less familiar with popular scams recommending we all reduce debt or save too much outside DR. Our consumption culture needs to hear more of that, IMO.
    Thanks for the heated discussion! Really got some of is going 😉

  18. Davit Gharibyan

    Awesome article. The rich look at saving, money and debt totally differently. The average college graduate has no clue about these things. They have been brainwashed to work till they retire, save every penny, payoff all the debt. This whole thing is just dumb. Don’t be dumb, do your homework and learn to use the tools properly.

  19. Ginny Nelson

    She has it almost right…

    1) There are some professions that yes higher education is required such as a doctor lawyer etc. but an office administrator no they don’t need a degree. First the College/University piece is about some few select high wealth individuals fueling the craze for higher education to get more money from the average person. Look it that – schools are funded by the wealthy so the wealthy implement programs to get their money & some back.

    In other words for those who wish to be in an occupation that requires special skills higher education is a must.

    BUT…and I can’t stress this enough many times employers are looking for people with a degree because of basic essential skills – reading, writing, math & comprehension. We can blame that on technology allowing children not to exercise their brain. Oh wait is that those few wealthy people out there making more money by abusing technology….Yep

    2) Buying a House is not a scam but buying a home you can’t afford is. There is a line of distinction there. Remember real estate agents make commissions off what they sell. Rental is putting your hard earned money into someone’s pocket and probably paying their mortgage. It is the best solution for any individual to use their money to hold an ‘asset’ versus paying for an ‘asset’ belonging to someone else. I’m here in Canada and most of our real estate is owned by foreigners. I’m not racist either but they buy our real estate and are paid Canadian dollars. They don’t live here so the Canadian money is going offshore which hurts the economy. Then because of a weak economy the government borrows money. If it’s borrowed from foreigners we again are sending Canadian money offshore and increasing our debt. There are interest charges and any money leaving our shores is not put back into our economy.

    It doesn’t matter if you say Canada, US, Britain etc. As soon as your country’s currency leaves your country you are in actually using your country’s currency to increase your country’s debt. It is very possible that the money is going into the hands of terrorists. Not saying it does saying it’s a possibility.

    Fact is always follow the money trail. If someone is making $$$ off you, ask yourself if it’s really a good thing to pay that price or find an alternative. ALWAYS FEED YOURSELF FIRST – money is an evil necessity in life. Don’t give it away freely.

    3) Going into debt isn’t the issue – the issue is going into debt that exceeds your income. When you do that you need to work multiple jobs.

    This is part and parcel of #2 – FOLLOW THE MONEY and don’t buy something just because it’s marketed as a ‘I have to have it’….Ask yourself this when you see a commercial on tv etc…is it a necessity or is it a luxury? If it’s a luxury buy it after you saved for it but only buy something that the price is equal to the value it brings.

    4) Saving is the right thing to do. Yes you can’t take it with you when you die and we all will at some point. But dying for most isn’t happening tomorrow so save in case there is an emergency and there always is. Or save and when you see that luxury item – you have the money saved already and can treat yourself.

    5) Remember there is only 2% of the population with all the money. Greed & gluttony is very prevalent today. Anyone who is a media whore is solely out to gain $$$. It is increasing harder to find individuals who are doing something that doesn’t benefit them.

    Ask yourself a question whatever the issue is about…Ask what is the motivation for the individual to tell you this/buy this etc? In other words think before you act.

    Charity is a prime example of this. Companies will promote this charity and ask the average person to donate. Here in Canada and I believe the tax laws are the same in the US but guess who gets that nice big tax break from the money donated by the average person. I assume in the US that your tax dollars are like ours, it comes from consumers & corporations. If corporations aren’t paying their share – guess who gets to make up the shortfall.

    6) Technology is a wonderful thing when used for the right purposes. It’s owned by those few select big business owners because their goal is to get all the money. When technology can track every movement you do (smartphones, apps), makes it so you don’t have to think for yourself (self driving cars), can’t communicate with others without a device (social media) than you have opened the door for fraud and criminal activity plus made the ultra rich richer.

    Transferring funds from 1 individual to another exposes your banking information (money in the account, personal information) over the internet. Hacking is very easy.

    If your movement is trackable because you carry a smartphone does that not make it easier for things like kidnapping for human trafficking etc. Yes this is the severe one but that is what happens.

    When you have to have a car do the job of driving, what if the sensors aren’t working well – there is a possibility you could hit another individual. Sensors are only as good as the business who manufacturers them. Owners of businesses want to make unrealistic salaries so they try to keep costs down. Do the math – that means it is possible those sensors are not the best quality and can lead to many issues. Let’s not forget about the weather etc.

    Long story short – yes manipulation and propaganda is rapid out there. The greed & gluttony has gone to far all leading to everyone being very stressful which is turning to anger.

    Old school ways – basics that make sense. Use common sense. Have morals and boundaries. Plan for the future where you as an individual prosper. Technology when it makes sense (dishwashers, garage door openers, computers etc.) but not tracking our every movement & key stroke.

    My agenda…I’m a really pissed off Canadian tired of ‘Stupid’ not seeing the bigger picture. Fraud and criminal activity is the norm today. The western world is being destroyed and we need to speak up, band together and put a stop to it.

  20. Chris Soignier

    Why is it that so many things like buying a big house, a luxury car, going to college, etc. are considered a scam? I concur they may not be a wise purchase, but what ever happened to personal accountability? Nobody is forcing you to buy those things, so don’t call them a scam or blame others. The blame game and people not taking responsibility for their own actions is an epidemic in this country which has created so many problems. Bought too expensive a house? Too pricey a car? Over your head w/ credit card debt? Own the situation, and get to work rectifying it instead of blaming others, which gets you nowhere.

  21. Karen Schimpf

    Actually, I agree with almost everything but your comment “Save Save Save.” I think this article was to get people to respond to this post. Ok, don’t save and you will not get ahead in life and you won’t be able to handle emergencies. Lets face it, life will always hit us with emergencies.

    The reason people become investors is to get better returns than 4% a year. If an investor is looking to purchase an investment property and they do not have the liquid cash for the bare minimum of the down payment, reserves and closing cost, they will not be able to qualify for a loan…it’s that simple.

    There is no way to get to a HIGHER LEVEL if you do not save!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Saving is a like a muscle. The more you practice saving, the easier it becomes a habit.

  22. Brock Y.

    Good article. I disagree on most accounts but definitely some topics that would target the average American and their thought process. Most people on BP are not your typical Americans. Here are my two pennies:
    1. Buying a House. Could you buy it with 100% cash and would it still be bad? Could you put a nice down payment on it and use it as leverage (HELOC) to fund investment properties? Is a deal a deal if you reside in it?
    2. Avoiding all debt. Of course there is “good debt” and there is “bad debt” but at the end of the day cash is still king. Free and clear beats debt. You ask a sales guy how to grow the business and he says MORE SALES. You ask an operations guy and he says CUT COSTS. You ask a finance guy he says increase assets and decrease liabilities.
    3. Going to college. You note a few anecdotal people who dropped out of college. Why not list the thousands of Ivy League MBA-toting CEOs in America? Investing in yourself is never a bad move. If college is that conduit to generate money so you can put into your own business then so be it. People are always sick of working for someone else. This is the wrong mentality. You are working for yourself. You are putting in time and effort for income. As long as that income gets reinvested in yourself, your business, your assets, etc.
    4. Save, save, save. I agree with this for the most part however diversification is key to survival.

  23. James Barnhart

    When I was in my 20’s, I rented my home after getting out of the Navy. But, then I bought a house with zero down, (VA mortgage). In 2 years, I had $10k in equity. Had I still been renting, I would have no equity.
    So, since we all need a place to live anyway, it seems better to buy than own.
    (In my common sense opinion)

  24. Dan D.

    The issue with house buying isn’t in buying the house. It’s in buying more house than you need.

    When you rent, you might rent a simple 2-3 bedroom apartment. When you buy, you decide you need a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house.

    If people bought the equivalent in housing of what they are renting, home ownership would likely make a lot more sense in the same markets.

    The problem, again, is some people over-saddling themselves with debt beyond their means.

  25. Andrew Syrios

    Many of these things are sometimes good, but oversold and overused today. Going to college, for example, is great for engineers and doctors, but for many majors, not so much. And many people are very poorly served racking up debt to get a mediocre degree only to get a job they get without a degree. Owning your own home is similar. In many markets, it’s cheaper to own than rent, other than the down payment. But if you can get FHA financing and only put a little down, then it really makes sense to own your home. (Obviously it makes sense to invest in real estate.) But in super expensive markets like New York and LA, you’re basically banking on appreciation to make it worthwhile, which is quite risky indeed.

  26. Buying a house is a massive scam? You must be kidding! You should be kicked out of Bigger Puckets. You didn’t back this up with facts.

    You must have heard it on the fake news channel FOX or heard it from alternative facts of Kellyanne Conway. Going to college is also a scam? You are full of it whatever it is you are full of, except wisdom and knowledge.

    Your headline is the massive scam, bait and switch and deceitful.

    Horrendous article. I disagree on ALL two points but definitely some topics that would target the average American redneck and their thought process. Most people on people BP are not your typical redneck Americans.

  27. Sterling, You are incorrect on all points although I only read one. I expected for you to say that the Real Estate Gurus would be in first place as massive scams followed by medical costs and Title company insurance. But no, you attacked the sacredness of the American Dream -the home. Hope you are not in the business of providing a home for the American people or you would be biting the hand that feeds you.

    I don’t like you. You are mean. You are ignorant. You are not my friend.

  28. John Murray

    I have always been amazed by peoples greed. I have always worked hard, leveraged my investments and minimized my tax liability. I learned more about human nature in my military years than all my time sitting in a classroom. To understand the big picture is difficult for most. War, government policy as well as just plain luck has more to do with success than most will ever know. I dumped all my real estate holdings in 2005 except the house I lived in and hunkered down for the rough ride of losing 30% of my stock portfolio. I learned many things that payed off by looking at the big picture than just snapshots of shorts periods of time. Black Mondays and Fridays will come and go, being cash rich in difficult times will always win. Everyone is smart in an uptick economy, when the downturn comes the smart will hunker down and continue with a plan for better times.

  29. Scott Schultz

    While generally agree with the concepts presented, there are exceptions, for example, Prior to the sale to KKR the Mills Family Owned Mills Fleet Farm Stores, valued around $1 Billion was build completely Debt Free, they would not build a store unless they could pay cash for it, Same with John Menard owner of Menard’s (regional home improvement store) he to is Debt free and only pays cash to put up new stores,and remodel old ones, he is currently #68 on the Forbes 400 with a net worth of $11.2 Billion. Debt accelerates the process, but is not necessary to build massive wealth

  30. I hate when people use Bill Gates and Mark Zucherberg to justify dropping out of college. They went to Harvard, not community college or a state school. They both rubbed shoulders with the sons and daughters of the American elite (i.e. they made good connections) on top of their own intelligence and drive.

    If you don’t know what you want to study and can’t afford college, then by all means put it off.

  31. Wave Taylor

    Well, I don’t have a house, I did go to college, I have NO debt and I basically save all of my money. Am I rich, NO. Am I living the life style that I want, NO. Do I have a job, YES. Am I happy where I am today, Hmmm, NOT REALLY. What is wrong with my picture?

  32. The main thing a college degree did for me was open the door for an interview. I’ve owned several properties over the years and always made a decent return on them. At this point I am selling the current one, moving across country to a rental and will start a small business online doing what I should have been doing all my life instead of accounting management.
    Companies often rely heavily on the degree process and so parents tend to feel this process is essential for their children’s success. However, in my case I had the talent to do my job well even though it wasn’t my first choice and my degree wasn’t exactly what was required.
    Then got hooked into the American dream of consumerism, get a job, get married, buy a house & cars, maybe have kids, buy more stuff, etc. Keep buying stuff over and over again.
    Finally get smart, go minimalist and begin the work of helping the less fortunate, one way or another. Cancel idea of a master’s degree, do what I want to do. Am I wealthy? Yes, in more ways than one, it’s not just the money that counts. Being your own person and finding one’s mission in life is the ultimate goal.
    All the rest is fluff but that is what we are programmed to chase, it’s pretty hard not to get sucked into it and those who climb higher and higher are not necessarily happy. I know a multi-millionaire who now lives on a rather modest sailboat in the USVI and spends most of his time worrying about his money.
    Regardless of what we are told, life is not meant to be a competition against the entire world. There will always be someone richer, better looking or happier than we are. Do what you can to be useful and productive in the process of helping others, if we all did that it could be a far better world.

  33. Eric Carr

    Well said, I agree with you here. The details of 2 or 3 jobs aren’t necessarily important, as someone called you out on. What I understood is that people STRETCH for that house and you made a good point.

    I also agree with you about college, it’s not for everyone nor do I believe it’s mandatory to “make it” as we have been conditioned to believe.

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