Mindless Money Advice

It’s shocking to me how inane many personal finance articles are. I understand that handling one’s finances can be a complex topic, but so many articles are just simplistic click-bait.

This recent article from The Motley Fool is a perfect example. The headline teases ‘Three Secrets To Retire Rich”. That sounds like a pretty compelling article, but when you click on it you find it is a mindless puff piece.

Here is their advice: 1) “Start saving as early as possible”; 2) “Determine how much money you need”; and, 3) “Take advantage of employer-matched 401k funds”.

That’s it. Amazingly insightful, huh?

Arguably, you could do all 3 of these things and never retire rich. There is no guidance how much to save, what assets you might want to invest in, or any advice on controlling spending. How the author or any editor thought any of these tactics could be headlined as a “secret” is an absolute joke.

Perhaps it’s no wonder so few people pay attention to personal finance media. When insipid articles like this are commonplace, why bother?

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 thoughts on “Mindless Money Advice

  1. I absolutely agree with your comments and I have found Motley Fool to be the worst of the bunch for clickbait headlines and useless articles which have the sole purpose of trying to lure people to their site and products. When I see an article pop up that is from them, I skip right over it.


    1. Yes – Motley Fool is especially bad. When they first came out in the late 1990s, I really thought they were smart. Now they are just click bait.


  2. Well, Chief, the first giveaway is their name, The Motley Fool. Don’t expect much there! Second, their “table-stakes” three are true. Third, few people do all three. Many folks do none. So their ad vice may start off those who seek knowledge from a Fool. Maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In addition to Motley Fool, I see a lot of fluff pieces from MarketWatch, CNBC, and Forbes. They all have the same formulaic, click-bait headlines, too.


  3. ‘Money’ magazine struck me as equally insipid — perhaps part of the reason they’re no longer publishing. I DO like print journalism and have been on the lookout for worthwhile finance-related periodicals. “Kiplinger’s Personal Finance” hits a nice middle ground for me — not too simplistic, not too technical. Any other thoughts /ideas out there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to get Money Magazine and I didn’t realize that they had gone out of print. I heard that the same thing happened to SmartMoney. I’ve always liked Kiplinger – I don’t subscribe to their magazine, but see there articles online.


  4. It’s funny. Admittedly, I click on a ton of such articles. I can’t resist the temptation to see if such articles are really garbage advice or not. I’ve learned, over time, that it’s all about marketing and not investing. It makes me think back on my own evolution in investing. For many years, I read such articles thinking I was making financial progress by following their crappy advice. I really wasn’t, and the damaging thing for most is, they aren’t making progress by reading them either. I used to travel a lot in my career, and I’d always rush pick up the latest financial magazine/journal at whatever airport I had a layover in. Looking back, 99% of the advice in those magazines was garbage. It was mostly bad info ultimately aimed at marketing and consumerism. But it’s all I knew, and the only “financial” advice I could get my hands on. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good mentor to give me better advice during those early years.) It wasn’t until much later in my investing evolution that I finally figured out a better financial approach to building wealth. It’s really sad, but this “garbage investing advice” is what most people learn. It’s a big reason that we have the current society driven by massive consumerism influences and disregard for building true individual wealth. Consumerism and spending drives the massive societal machine! IMO, our poor financial education is destroying our society. I’m not quite sure how best to address it, but I hope our FI movement eventually brings it to light before the utter destruction of ou beautiful country. Here’s hoping the FI movement helps in the long run!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree. A friend posted a meme on Facebook yesterday suggesting we drop Algebra II as a required class in high school and put in a class on Personal Finance. I’d be all for that. My son was in Scouts and I was the advisor for the Personal Management merit badge. I was always surprised how little high school students knew about money basics.


  5. I agree that much of what one sees in financial magazines and online is garbage for the astute personal finance reader. I’m a daily reader of both the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal along with what Raymond James provides online to their customer for research. I first learned to read sitting on Dad’s lap looking for the “the’s” in the WSJ, thus I am a long-standing reader. In college I went to the library daily to read the Journal, the local paper and the Christian Science Monitor. A well read person on current events both political, economic, and worldly is a much better prepared investor.
    I will retire in three weeks, presently burning vacation 20 hours per week to help with transition, but three weeks ago I assisted with jury selection on a case we won. One question asked of potential jurors, “how do you get your news?”, no one read newsprint. I’m the first to admit that I have Dinosaur tendencies, but I find that when I am out of town and read the online newspapers to which I subscribe (true subscriptions not the free stuff) I still miss a great amount of content that I see in the print editions.
    Another waste of time was going to retirement planning workshops at work. I knew more than the presenters, except for the person explaining how to sign up for Medicare which for me is still many years out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love newspapers, but my print reading habits have declined quite a bit in favor of online. Unfortunately, most online ‘news’ is more superficial than having a whole paper. I looked through the WSJ on Friday and was reminded of how nice it was to have the ‘whole’ thing.


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