13 votes

The personal finance and investment advice fallacy

12 comments

  1. [4]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    Conversely there are some very simple 'tips' on what to do with personal finances if you ask a financial advisor. The idea that you can outperform the market with any sort of regularity is...

    Conversely there are some very simple 'tips' on what to do with personal finances if you ask a financial advisor. The idea that you can outperform the market with any sort of regularity is predicated on the belief that either you have more knowledge than a multibillion dollar industry which regularly employs some of the smartest and most educated individuals or a fundamental misunderstanding of how statistics works.

    Invest broadly, such as index funds or ETFs. Put away as much as you can as early as you can. Put as much into your 401k that you can to reduce your taxable income. Utilize employer 401 matching. There's really not much to it.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      streblo
      Link Parent
      Very true, but also is starting to have some unintended consequences as people begin to internalize this. I posted this a little ways back.

      The idea that you can outperform the market with any sort of regularity is predicated on the belief that either you have more knowledge than a multibillion dollar industry which regularly employs some of the smartest and most educated individuals or a fundamental misunderstanding of how statistics works.

      Invest broadly, such as index funds or ETFs. Put away as much as you can as early as you can. Put as much into your 401k that you can to reduce your taxable income. Utilize employer 401 matching. There's really not much to it.

      Very true, but also is starting to have some unintended consequences as people begin to internalize this. I posted this a little ways back.

      2 votes
      1. Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        Absolutely but this is well outside the scope of someone looking for personal finance advice 😂. Honestly the problem of concentrated wealth is not just restricted to a side-effect of this, as...

        Absolutely but this is well outside the scope of someone looking for personal finance advice 😂. Honestly the problem of concentrated wealth is not just restricted to a side-effect of this, as modern money making schemes perpetrated by the disgustingly wealthy are starting to proliferate in many unintended ways. Many large tech companies such as Uber have large interests held by one or very few individuals and seek to generate wealth by redistributing it from governmental hands (by shifting financial burden of employment away from the employer to the government through means of reclassifying workers) and the subsequent revenue generation being funneled back through investors. Then you also have weird one-offs like Tesla outperforming every other company with a similar product despite not really making any money and some sort of weird likely insider trading going on because musk is buddies with many extremely wealthy individuals (honestly I'm just shooting in the wind at this point because having a p/e ratio so ridiculously high for such a long time defies everything we know about the market and there's close to no reason why this stock shouldn't be corrected through shorting).

        3 votes
    2. Nmg
      Link Parent
      The existence of indexes at all is an underappreciated fact. The best analogy I can think of is like this: Imagine that you had 100 dollars to put in the bank. You could try and figure out which...

      The existence of indexes at all is an underappreciated fact.

      The best analogy I can think of is like this:

      Imagine that you had 100 dollars to put in the bank. You could try and figure out which bank gave the best interest, or offered the best sign up bonus. But instead, you put a slice of your 100 dollars in every bank savings account weighted by how much money other people have put in a given bank's savings accounts. Essentially, you rely on other people's evaluation of the performance of their own bank's savings account to influence your own decision.

      And the true beauty here is how automated and self-cleansing this is. Let's say a given bank had a 5 percent promotion on their interest and many folks moved their accounts over to that bank. Now your slice of that bank increases and you get the same promotion. Say the same bank gets rid of the promotion and then subsequently many people move their savings accounts out-- now you continue to optimize, but haven't lifted a finger.

      When you have an index, you do zero work and pay almost nothing for the privilege of having among the best long term rates.

      1 vote
  2. [8]
    NaraVara
    Link
    From the author's Twitter:

    From the author's Twitter:

    I wrote a piece that I did not originally intend to be so angry - about personal finance scumbags like Gary V and David Ramsey, and how most personal finance gurus are giving advice that they know helps nobody.

    4 votes
    1. [8]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [7]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        It's point is that most of this advice isn't "financial sense." What there that is even potentially useable would basically require you to have enough disposable income to where it would be...

        It's point is that most of this advice isn't "financial sense." What there that is even potentially useable would basically require you to have enough disposable income to where it would be considered weird or even somewhat unseemly to be nickel-and-diming your way through life. If the "financial advice" is not enough money to help you make ends meet if you're poor and also probably more work than is worth your time if you're rich then who is it for?

        2 votes
        1. [7]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. [6]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            The thing is the personal finance influencer set IS trying to sell you on "hustle and you'll be a billionaire." If the advice did revolve around knowing how to use debt and manage interest that...

            Maybe some of it? But how much of it derives from the strawman argument of "No matter how hard you work you'll never be a billionaire"?

            The thing is the personal finance influencer set IS trying to sell you on "hustle and you'll be a billionaire." If the advice did revolve around knowing how to use debt and manage interest that would be one thing, but it more often revolves around suspicion of debt, in general as a concept. Not just credit cards or car loans, but ALL DEBT. Going so far as to say your credit score doesn't matter and you shouldn't have credit cards at all, which is bad advice. They aren't actual financial planners or professionals, they're just selling bootstraps mentality that only works for people with trust funds.

            4 votes
            1. wycy
              Link Parent
              Perfectly said. Gary V pops up on TikTok all the time preaching the hustle, always essentially suggesting "just offer to work for some guy for free for a year and then use the connections you...

              Perfectly said. Gary V pops up on TikTok all the time preaching the hustle, always essentially suggesting "just offer to work for some guy for free for a year and then use the connections you build in that job to make millions yourself." As if (a) anyone can really afford to do that, and (b) even if anyone could, that truly meaningful (leverageable $-wise) connections are likely to be made by you as some unpaid sidekick. The comments are awash in people praising his shrewd business advice. It's a sham.

              3 votes
            2. stu2b50
              Link Parent
              Ramsay's advice is good for the people for whom it's good advice. I knew people who genuinely thought credit cards were free money, which blew my mind. I cannot personally thathom how you could...

              Ramsay's advice is good for the people for whom it's good advice. I knew people who genuinely thought credit cards were free money, which blew my mind. I cannot personally thathom how you could get that understanding - this is after the Obama era regulations and the cultural understanding that "hey credit card debt is bad".

              Some people seriously just can't handle financial instruments above cold hard cash. Snowball is mathematically worse than avalanche, but it keeps the person from giving up then it's superior. Financial strategy is a human matter, not just a mathematical one.

              2 votes
            3. streblo
              Link Parent
              Definitely 'bad' advice if that's the case but for some people who don't have the tools to differentiate the types and levels of debt it may be the 'right' advice.

              but it more often revolves around suspicion of debt, in general as a concept

              Definitely 'bad' advice if that's the case but for some people who don't have the tools to differentiate the types and levels of debt it may be the 'right' advice.

            4. [2]
              Micycle_the_Bichael
              Link Parent
              (please mark this as off-topic because this is unrelated to the main point of the thread) I know this is completely unrelated to the point you are making but FUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK credit scores and...

              (please mark this as off-topic because this is unrelated to the main point of the thread)

              I know this is completely unrelated to the point you are making but FUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK credit scores and the whole "debt is good actually" of our economy. I understand your argument about the quality of the advice given the system we are in, and I agree with you! But holy cow do I fucking hate the system.

              4 votes
              1. NaraVara
                Link Parent
                Sorry I don't agree with this haha. I think it's a reflective of sort of internalized "debt-phobia." The phobia is totally understandable because of how normalized usury is, but it's important to...

                Sorry I don't agree with this haha. I think it's a reflective of sort of internalized "debt-phobia." The phobia is totally understandable because of how normalized usury is, but it's important to remember that, technically, all money is a form of debt.

                Before there was currency, people essentially traded in favors. I grow wheat and I give you some. You make it into beer or bread and give me back some as a gift in thanks for the wheat you originally gave. A whole village economy essentially operates on the basis of gifts, favors, and good reputation. So Bob might make candles and not need anything directly from me, the farmer. But we're all friends and part of the same social group so we're fine to help each other trusting that it all goes back-and-forth within our community. Bob eats bread and recognizes the value I provide to breadmaking after all.

                What currency does is allows you to extend this form of social credit beyond the size of a community you can police through group norms and favors. So instead of needing to trade in bread and wheat based on favors we just give out generalized IOUs. The money is, functionally, a promise to pay-it-forward elsewhere at my job. What credit does is allows you to extend this even further across time.

                Where it gets problematic is the power dynamics between debtors and creditors. Creditors hold too many of the cards, which enables them to engage in usury and predatory lending practices. But a big part of being able to function in any commercial society is being able to understand how much debt you can handle and knowing how to make credit work for you.

                2 votes