Why Are Some of the Smartest People So Poor?



Aug 8, 2020
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I once attended a trade school for a few years where the instructor, on the very first day, attempted to proclaim how wonderful and high paying the field of construction electricity is and can be. He said, "You guys have no idea of the success you are in for. The income in this field is limitless! I have friends who are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year! If you stick with it and launch your own company, you could be making millions!" He was jumping around in an overly excited state. He continued and went on and on. I understood what he was trying to do; motivate and inspire a bunch of near drop-out kids who ended up in trade school as opposed to English class. It was only when he calmed down did someone nearby ask the instructor, "If you can make so much money as an electrician, why aren't you out there making it? Why are you in here teaching us?" "Uh...umm...well, you see, I have such a love for construction electricity that I feel the need to teach you the art." he replied. Yeah, sure. Whatever.

To this day, I don't know why our instructor wasn't doing what he claimed he loved to do so much. My hunch is that being an electrician isn't so great after all. It's probably a lot easier being a teacher, so that's what he decided to do.

A few years later, I worked at a health club where we held events each weekend. During one of these events, a member, who was also a local psychiatrist, set up a booth to advertise her counseling and mental health services. Since I was only a clean-up boy (a young janitor), I didn't get involved with the actual event too much. I merely cleaned up people's messes as they made them. Throughout the day, I began noticing something strange about the psychiatrist. As she discussed people's problems on a couch set off to the side, she became more and more intimate with each person. At one point, I noticed her flat out hitting on another member. She did this with almost every man who stopped by to talk to her. I couldn't believe my eyes. By the time the day had ended, I had concluded that she was absolutely nuts. I didn't come to this conclusion only because of how she treated the men, but because of a few other weird things she did. She was an odd duck.

From that point on, I kept my eye on psychiatrists. Whenever I'd see one in person, I'd closely watch how they acted. What I began noticing is that many people who call themselves psychiatrists and psychologists have some serious issues. I'm not sure if they'd be classified as real-life mental illnesses or not, but some of them certainly hike off the beaten path. And after I attended a university where I took a few psychology classes, I again noticed a trend. This time, it was among the students who took the classes with me. I witnessed a very strange string of occurrences. Let's just say that at one point, our professor had to make an announcement telling us that she would, in no way, accept any meeting with any student who wanted to discuss their perceived mental illnesses. She said that every semester she's inundated with requests for advisement and counseling and that if a student felt as though they truly had an issue, they should seek professional help. There I was, sitting by myself, looking around at the world's future medical professionals - many of whom were off kilter themselves.

I was watching a financial video yesterday where the man in the video was discussing how he turned zero dollars into $255,000 over ten years. He told his story and gave some very simple advice. I liked the guy because of his straightforwardness and resistance to getting into the nuts and bolts of investing. As it happens, investing these days isn't difficult at all. What you need to do is buy one fund and continue to throw any extra money you have in it. That's it. And that's pretty much what he said to do.

As I was reading through the comments like I normally do, I noticed one that asked the following question:

"Everybody here always say 'start investing,' but nobody ever explains how. It's like the doctor telling you 'you have cancer, you need to start removing it now.' How? Some people aren't afraid. They just need some info on where and how."

I thought that was a decent comment, given the content of the video. I'm sure there was a follow up video that this commenter had yet to watch. What really struck me though was the sheer volume of replies to his comment. There were over 132 of them. After I clicked the link to read more, I fully expected to see one that said:

"Open a free brokerage account at Charles Schwab. Buy an ETF called VYM. There will be no commission fees to purchase this fund. Put any money you have into it. Continue to do this forever. That's it."

After all, that would have been my advice. Did I see this sort of thing? Oh hell no. Here's an example of what I actually saw:

"Are you seeking ways to invest in bitcoin or trade on the FX market? Do you wish to learn basic FX trading strategies and risk management from professionals and also earn from the market as you learn, practically? This platform offers you 90% accuracy in trading signals from professional traders worldwide, one on one interaction with your mentor and with a precise understanding of the basic risk management in FX. Add me as a contact on WhatsApp to get you started on a two weeks course that will change and enhance your trading experience in a short period of time."

For those of you who aren't familiar, FX stands for foreign exchange. But seriously? Foreign exchange and Bitcoin trading for someone who has absolutely no experience? Obviously, this was a sales related comment from a trading hustler, but what a jerk. And the best he could do is troll YouTube comments to pitch his services? Yeah, I'm sure he's the one to trust as far as investing and making money goes. I dig the WhatsApp contact as well. From my own personal experience, dudes from Asia and Africa love to use this as a method of communicating and from my own personal experience, 100% of these people are internet scammers.

So here it is...

What's the moral of these stories? I'll tell you. Some people have no business giving others advice. Especially those who claim to be experts, but who are actually hacks. Have you ever noticed how many people on earth love to tell others "how to do it," but are lousy at doing it themselves? It's like asking the guy down at the welfare office for financial advice. Or the guy at the obesity clinic for diet advice. Or the guy who's getting CPR on the beach how to swim. It makes no difference if someone is good or bad at something; apparently they still just love telling people what to do.

The reason all this comes to mind is because I was just reading a section of Dave Ramsey's book titled The Complete Money Makeover. He was discussing all the hate mail he's received through the years about his methods. Folks out there have said that he's overly simplistic and that he's a one-trick pony. He's actually received emails from broke finance professors telling him that he's doing it all wrong. His best comeback went something like this: "If you've got a better solution, let's hear it. I've become a millionaire twice, so I think I like the way I make money more than the way you don't." I loved that. It was brilliant.

Why do people feel the need to spout what they know nothing about? Why is it the people who have the least feel the impulse to tell the rest of us how to gain the most? Through the years, I've made it a habit of only watching how people act as opposed to listening to what they say. I could care less about what you have to say. If I see you're a success, I watch your actions. You may be a liar or a terrible communicator. But if you're a billionaire, I've got you covered.

What have your experiences been with people regarding financial advice? Do you experience the same thing I do? Have you come across the types of people I've described above? I'd love to hear about it.

This post is part of a series: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey


Aug 1, 2020
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Dave Ramsey says that medical doctors, by far, are the worst with money. He says he's been helping people with their finances for over 30 years and he's constantly surprised at how bad they are with their money. He says that since they're doctors and hold that title, they feel obligated to play golf at country clubs and live in nice neighborhoods. Since they don't actually make the money everything thinks they make, or they pretend they make, they end up in massive debt. I think a lot of people end up like this. It's the ego thing. Apparently, it's also because doctors perceive themselves as being highly intelligent, which, apparently, they're not when it comes to personal finance.
Why Are Some of the Smartest People So Poor? was posted on 06-04-2021 by Phoenix1 in the Finance Forum forum.

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