Anything worth having is not typically quick and easy. This includes financial independence, and wealth.
There are many people out there who prey on those who want quick and easy money, or a promise to quickly get out of a situation that took decades to make. History is filled with all kinds of crazy get-rich quick schemes – like death underpants and international reply coupons (the original Ponzi scheme).
But today, with the internet, get rich quick schemes have taken on a life of their own. It doesn’t help that the media glorifies the idea of making millions easily, with little work. Hence shows like HGTV’s My Lottery Dream House, or making millions uploading slime videos to YouTube.
The media has always glorified outsize, rare successes while ignoring the more boring, but more likely, lives of real people. The slow and steady path to wealth might not make for exciting viewing – more on that later – but it’s much more realistic for most of us.
Remember, whenever someone is pitching something that sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
I’m going to talk about my top five get-rich-quick scheme pet peeves, and give you a sneak peek into my pitch for a brand-new reality TV show, featuring the most common type of wealthy person. Be sure to read to the end so you can help me refine my pitch.
Multi-Level Marketing – or MLM
Ah, multi-level marketing. Starting with things like Tupperware and Mary Kay, and expanding now into leggings, body wraps, and stick-on nail pictures. If you’re not involved in an MLM, you’re probably annoyed by someone who is. When an old friend reaches out to reconnect on Facebook, you know they likely want to sell you something.
MLM’s are full of all sorts of promises. Make easy money from home! Look at this person who makes tens of thousands a month! Parties, seminars, fun, make money quick and easy, with flexible hours!
The truth is much less glamorous.
- Check out this article about how LuLaRoe Leggings are a scam, according to thousands of women
- Seventy eight percent of It Works! distributors make an average of $51 per month. But everyone focuses on the 0.03% that make an average of over $30k per month
- Jamberry scamberry
There is a very, very fine line between a multi-level marketing firm and a pyramid scheme. It’s all about the purpose of the organization. In an MLM, the focus is supposed to be on the product. In a pyramid scheme, it’s all about recruiting distributors.
Most companies will say they’re an MLM, and the distributors are secondary, when in fact the real focus seems *entirely coincidentally!* to be on recruiting.
Why does it need to be a coincidence? Why, because pyramid schemes are illegal.
Preys On: Typically stay at home parents, usually moms, looking for a way they can earn income at home with the unpredictable hours that caring for small children brings.
Real Estate – The Real Deal
I’ve seen many potential real-estate baron failures over the years. Remember that I’ve been saving and investing for decades now – and I’ve owned property since I was 20 years old and bought my first condo. Heck, I made a significant profit on that condo.
But I attribute that entirely to luck, not skill.
Before the real-estate fans come after me, relax. I strongly believe that wise and prudent real estate investing is a very valid and legitimate path to wealth. I’ve thought before about getting into it myself, but given the crazy stage of life we’re in right now (what with the three kids and all), it’s not something I want to deal with. Perhaps in the future, when my own mortgage is gone, and we have more time, but not now.
I think those that use real estate to create wealth have a great idea – as long as they do it wisely. First time real estate investors make all sorts of mistakes. They may underestimate the work, money, and time involved and overestimate their profits. They miss-judge the best kind of investment for them – buy and rent, renovate and flip, residential or commercial, etc. – or do things cheap instead or right.
Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of “real estate gurus” who will be happy to take your money in exchange for showing you the quick and easy path to real estate wealth. Just check out this list by John T. Reed, created and maintained for the past twenty years.
Getting wealthy in real estate is very similar to other paths. It takes time, patience, risk taking (but not recklessness), mistakes, and hard work. Easy and quick millions are not really there for the taking. A lot of people learned this lesson the hard way in 2008, when the money merry-go-round stopped and many people were thrown off, and into foreclosure. Including some of my friends.
Sell Stuff Online!
There are many people who have made plenty of legitimate money selling things online. But the reality is that if you didn’t get in early, don’t have a unique product, and aren’t willing to put in the time and money to make it a legitimate business – you aren’t likely to succeed.
People always forget that the success stories they see are the tip of the iceberg. They may see the results – huge profits! – but not the many years of work, or failed ideas, that went into creating a successful idea.
Others can teach you the mechanics, but they can’t give you the key that will make or break your business – the idea. Why not? Because if they had that idea, and the expertise to back it up, they would have started that business themselves and sold it for a small fortune.
To be successful selling things online, you need to not only get the mechanics of selling, shipping, etc. online – but you also need to have an idea, do market research, have the money to invest in product, and do marketing. Anyone can put up stuff for sale online. Not just anyone can make money from it.
Blogging – Bluehost Will Set You Free
This is the one that annoys me the most, frankly. Yes, there are a few people who hit it big, quickly, in blogging and go on to make turn it a wonderful career. And good for them! But in many ways it’s similar to hitting the lottery – not something you want to count on for yourself.
Bluehost is simply an example of a type of affiliate marketing. For those that don’t blog, affiliate marketing is where a company pays you money when someone signs up for a product you promote using one of your links. You’ll notice there is no actual link to Bluehost here, which you can take as a sign I don’t have an affiliate relationship with them.
Bluehost is the bane of many a bloggers existence – they’re persuaded to sign up for a blog using them because they see so many people talking about how great they are. Then, later, they find out that the way to make money is to push others to sign up for Bluehost. And they find out why everyone talks nicely about them – because they’re paid to. The same is true of the various “courses” you see people raving about – this course on affiliate marketing, that course on Pinterest, etc. Unless you have a close, personal relationship with the writer and can ask for their frank opinion, you have to know that their gushing writing is at least partly influenced by the almighty dollar.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it! ~ Upton Sinclair
In reality, any industry where there’s a low barrier to entry is difficult to succeed in. Anyone can start a blog in five minutes. Anyone can throw affiliate links on the internet. But very few can do it successfully – because it takes time, patience, investment, and treating it like a business and not like a get-rich quick scheme.
How few? 99% of blogs fail within a year.
Guess how many of them thought they were going to be part of the successful 1%? Hint – all of them.
I Became A Millionaire In Three Years, And So Can You!
I’ve seen. So. Much. Of. This.
And it drives me crazy.
Sure, it’s possible to become a millionaire quickly. It usually requires taking some kind of significant risk, a great idea, and lots of work.
And I love to read a good success story. I’m a sucker for their stories online, and sometimes get some ideas for things I can do myself. But where I draw the line is those folks trying to make money off people. Making large amounts of money in short amounts of time requires risk and luck.
But that doesn’t sell courses, books, newsletters, or coaching. Instead they sell the end dream – lots of money, not a lot of time, easy, etc. – and gloss over the hard bits. They don’t sell nearly as well.
The Pitch – Reaching Financial Freedom The Realistic Way
All right, here’s what you stayed tuned to the end for – my pitch for a TV show centered all around one families journey to financial freedom. It will follow them through their fun times not buying new cars, making dinner at home, wearing their clothes until they wear out, and showing their life in their nice-but not extravagant – home.
For those who have read The Millionaire Next Door series, yes, I
took this idea from was inspired by them.
Scene opens on the kitchen, where the family is sitting down to a homemade breakfast of eggs, toast, and fruit. There’s some fresh coffee being poured into beat-up looking coffee cups that seem to be Christmas themed. Everyone is dressed for the day and eating breakfast at the table on a motley assortment of plates.
Jane, the mother, is dressed for her corporate job. Bob, her husband, is in jeans and a T-shirt, ready to shuttle the kids where they need to be. He works in a flexible job, working remotely for a big company in marketing, so he can get the kids where they need to go. They look to be in their late 30’s or early 40’s. Neil is the oldest, at 13, and Max the younger one at 9.
As Bob gets the kids ready to go, Jane drinks her coffee and talks into the camera. She explains that the table they’re eating at was purchased at a second – hand furniture shop. The coffee? Bought in bulk at Costco. The vehicle shuttling around those kids? A nine year old car with 110k miles on it. They plan to drive it until the oldest is old enough to get a job and buy the car from them.
Jane explains that her fancy-looking outfit, shoes, and purse were all purchased secondhand – from consignment shops, tag sales, and thrift stores. Their kitchen is nice, but there’s no granite or stainless steel fridge. This pattern is repeated throughout the house – it’s nice, but not fancy. As Jane takes the camera on a tour, she explains how each item was acquired. There’s a pattern here – they’re all invariably handed down or bought used.
Jane goes back into the kitchen and pours herself a thermos of coffee, grabbing her packed lunch from the fridge. Eating food and getting coffee from home saves quite a bit – she has co-workers that pay $5-$10 or more each day on food and coffee at work.
When asked about their summer vacation plans, Jane excitedly talks about their plans for a road trip, and camping. What about a summer home? She laughs. “I’d rather send my kids to college,” she says.
The narrator asks how they handle their money. Jane talks about their 401k, IRA, mortgage, and 529 plans excitedly. The camera cuts to a view of their budget software, where they create their monthly and annual budgets and track all their spending. It then cuts to a visualization of their net worth increase for the day…dramatic music…and you can see the graph slowly ticking up and down a tiny amount.
Why are they living like this, when they could live so much “better”? Jane explains that they have big dreams. They would like to not only help pay for their own kids to go to college, but also fund college scholarships for other kids. They want to take a 50-state roadtrip with the kids before they turn 18, and be able to retire well before the age of 70. They want to be able to pay for excellent care in their old age, so their kids can focus on spending time with them rather than worrying about their sub-standard care on Medicaid. They’re also hoping to be able to leave substantial amounts to their favorite charities.
By now, the producers have decided this is going to make a boring show and it will never air. What will they show – Jane drinking her homemade coffee on her way to work, with dramatic music as she zoooooms past Starbucks? The family eating dinner at home, in their modest kitchen? Bob doing the laundry and hanging it out on the line to save money versus popping it in the dryer? Saturday tag saleing? Setting aside another 401k contribution? Booooring.
Instead they decide to film “Real Housewives Of Omaha,” where a bunch of wealthy Nebraskan women drive fancy cars, live in opulent houses, and fight like cats.
Let me know your “get rich quick” pet peeves – and your pilot suggestions – in the comments.
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12 thoughts on “People Are Preying On Your Dreams – Beware “Get FI Quick” Schemes”
This has to be one of my all-time favorites you have written. So, so true! Keep up the good work and keep speaking the truth! Love your blog.
The MLM stuff bothers me the most. My wife can no longer say she’s and entrepreneur or has a business because people just assume Mary Kay. She says contractor now but it’s not an adequate description. It speaks volumes to how insidious they have become.
Yeah that’s annoying. There are other businesses! MLMs aren’t really entrepreneurial anyway, they’re more of a franchise model. But worse
Thank you so much Ms. CMO. Thank you for affirming that boring lunches from home, saving pennies, coupon clipping, researching before purchasing, budgeting, compromising, long term planning is the path to financial freedom
My husband did confirm for me it would make the most boring reality show ever though!
So true. The “it was so easy for me, why haven’t you done it yet” stories annoy me.
And I must say, I love that the Mom was the one discussing the financial plan in your story 😉 That shouldn’t stand out to me as unusual, but here’s to making it more mainstream!
Ha that’s what’s normal in our house!
The MLMs make me want to hurl. Mostly because of how badly they treat their sales force, as well as the spammy tactics that they tell people to use to sell. :/
I think everyone has to find their own way.
Right? I have so many Facebook friends who got sucked into that stuff. Several are no longer friends. I hear they’re told to sell to people they know.
I always remember….”if you don’t know what the product is….YOU are the product”.
I am chagrined at how many times I have been conned over the years. The only bright spot is that now I recognize many of them early on….
MLMs… They are everywhere. And honestly destroys relationships.