Success stories (and the people who hate them)

I spent last week in St. Louis for the third-annual Financial Blogger Conference. In two short years, Fincon has grown into more than just a gathering of bloggers. The place was packed with 500 bloggers, authors, journalists, sponsores, and financial professionals.

Naturally, the workshops and main-stage speakers were outstanding. Our keynote speakers included Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC's Today show, and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. Many of your favorite finance bloggers shared their knowledge in smaller groups, with talks like “How I Made $300,000 in Two Years with an Autoresponder”, “How to Use WordPress Like a Ninja”, and “How to Connect with Extremely Successful People”.

This year, I didn't have a main-stage talk. Instead, I participated in a panel on making money from your blog. I joined Luke Landes from Consumerism Commentary, Toni Anderson from The Happy Housewife, and Andrea Deckard from Savings Lifestyle for a one-hour discussion of ads and affiliates and ebook sales. (I learned far more than I shared; I'm four years out-of-date on blog monetization!)

My main gig, though, was as emcee for the event. In July, I decided I was done with feeling scared when I spoke in public. I wanted practice. I contacted Fincon organizer Philip Taylor (from PT Money) to ask if he needed help. Could I act as moderator? “You bet!” he said. It was a win-win situation, taking pressure off of him and giving me a chance to improve my speaking abilities. I'm glad I did it.

Success Stories

As you can probably imagine, when you bring 500 finance nuts together for almost an entire week, there's a lot of talk about money.

This year, I conducted about a dozen interviews. I'm writing an ebook about what it takes to achieve Financial Independence (especially the early retirement variety), so I pulled aside anyone I knew who had already done so. I asked them to tell me their stories. Though the details differed, the overall themes of each story were remarkably similar. Let me tell you my favorite.

One morning, I met an attendee for breakfast. For our purposes, let's call him Bob. (I'm giving him an alias for reasons that will become apparent shortly.)

For the better part of an hour, Bob and I had a routine conversation about saving and investing. For a while, we became bag nerds, discussing our favorite backpacks and carry-on luggage. He and I are both obsessed with finding the ideal bag. (Have a favorite? Let me know! I'm always looking for a better one.)

After a while, Bob asked me about my current project. I told him I was writing an ebook about Financial Independence, and gently pried into his own situation. “Are you FI?” I asked. Bob paused for a moment.

“I guess it depends on how you define it,” he said.

“Right,” I said. “There are different degrees of financial independence. There's the independence you get when you're no longer a slave to debt. You achieve more freedom when you reach occupational independence. But what I'm really talking about is the type of financial freedom that would allow you to retire. You're about 45, like me. Could you retire right now?”

Bob thought about it some more. “Well,” he said. “I suppose I could, but it would mean giving up a little of my current lifestyle. I'm not willing to do that right now.”

“That's the situation I'm in,” I said. “I could retire if I wanted to scale back. I don't want to scale back. So, I'm semi-retired. I still work, but I do it on my terms, and I don't make a lot, which is fine. I don't need to make a lot. Just enough so that I don't draw on my savings.”

“Yeah,” said Bob. “Me too.”

Then he changed the subject. “How are you going to publish your ebook?” he asked.

“I have a friend who publishes and promotes these things,” I said. “Why? Have you published an ebook?”

Bob blushed a little, which I thought was odd. “Yeah,” he said. “I've published a lot of them. I do it through Amazon.”

“Is it profitable?” I asked.

Bob blushed a little more. “Uh, very,” he said. “But part of that is because of what I write about.”

“What do you write about?” I asked, but I already knew.

Bob, deep red by now, spilled the beans. “I write…certain stories for ladies,” he said. “They run maybe 6000 words and I charge $2.99 each on Amazon. I sell a lot of them. A lot of them. Whenever I want to buy something, I write another one. It takes me a night or two to write, and then I let my wife edit it. I publish it on Amazon under an assumed name, a woman's name.”

By this time, I was laughing at poor Bob. “That's awesome,” I said. “I'm always preaching that people need to make more money in order to better achieve their financial goals. Few people listen. You've found a fun way to do it.”

“Yeah,” he said. “It's helped me pay off my mortgage. It helps to pay for vacations. And if I keep at it, it'll help me retire early.”

Everyone Hates a Winner

I learned a lot at Fincon.

For instance, Mrs. Moneyseed told me about a curious phenomenon. It turns out that folks don't like to read about people who achieve early retirement. “A lot of people have a mindset that retirement means you turn 65, move to Florida, and play golf all day,” she told me. “When we talk about early retirement on the blog, they get defensive.”

Later, in a conversation with Derek (Free at 33) and Mandy Knight (Lemonade CEO), they said the same thing. Derek was homeless at eighteen and hooked on drugs. By 28, he was married, clean, and mortgage-free. In a few years, he'll have saved enough to retire.

“People don't like to hear that I've been successful,” Derek confided. “People want to hear how they can get rich, but they're resentful of others who have done it.” Mandy told me how they'd been profiled in a newspaper and received mostly negative responses — and over something that, objectively, would seem to be only positive.

Throughout the conference I heard similar stories.

Eventually it occurred to me that my colleagues and I love gathering together once every year largely because, if only for a few days, we're able to spend time with like-minded people who don't condemn us for scrimping and saving so we can retire before 50 (or 40 or 30).

Perhaps nobody takes more heat than my friend Pete, better known as Mr. Money Mustache. I wrote about the MMM philosophy last month after spending a week with Pete in Ecuador. Just as he does at his own site, Pete got raked over the coals in the comments at Get Rich Slowly. “I don't get it,” I told him last week. “I agree with everything you say. If people would listen, they'd get rich.” He just shrugged. He's used to the criticism by now.

Two years ago, I wrote about America's love-hate relationship with wealth:

Almost everyone who achieves financial success believes they've done so through justifiable means. They believe they've earned their money (or deserve it), and they don't feel guilty for having it. Too, we're generally supportive and appreciative of our friends who make it big. (I can think of a handful of folks I know who have managed to acquire wealth, and I'm proud of each of them.) But when it comes to strangers who are rich? Then our attitudes seem to change.

There's an underlying distrust of the rich in mainstream American society, which seems odd. Isn't that what most of us aspire to? We all want to be rich, yet we resent it when other people manage to achieve their financial goals. We complain that they had advantages that we didn't, or that they cheated, or that they don't deserve the money. But what if the same thing happened to us? What if we became rich? How would we feel about such judgment and criticism?

Two years later, I still don't understand it. Why tear down people who have achieved success? Why not learn from them? Instead of looking for the reasons their stories and methods wouldn't work for you, why not look for the elements that do apply to your life? One response is constructive; the other is destructive, both to you and another person.

Back to Work

I had a great time in St. Louis chatting with old friends and new. But I didn't get nearly enough sleep. (Only today, after four nights at home, am I starting to feel normal again.) I'll return next year, of course; I hope to land the emcee gig again!

In the meantime, it's back to work, writing about money. For the past month, I've been locked in my office, hard at work on my ebook about Financial Independence. I'm something like 30,000 words in (it's tough to know since the project is scattered across many documents) with my deadline fast approaching. It needs to be turned in by Halloween.

This book may be the best thing I've ever created. What started out as a straight money manual has morphed into something more. It's now a treatise on personal and financial freedom. This feels like the culmination of everything I've been reading and writing about for the past decade. It's my life work, my legacy project. I love it. I hope you will too. (But you'll have to wait until January to see it!)

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Frugal Sage
Frugal Sage
6 years ago

Sounds like a great event.

I guess that’s what the great thing about FI blogs are. The ‘like minded people’ are already seeking out others who think the same, and will find you. Thus they all create their own community.

In the end, we can only solve things in our area of concern. The rest… well it doesn’t really matter. If someone gets jealous, or defensive, it says more about them then it does about you/us.

Robb
Robb
6 years ago

I’m frequently amused/dismayed at the backlash directed towards people who achieve their goals. Who better to learn from than the people who are doing it? We all have the ability to be awesome and achieve greatness, you just have to take that step through the fear to acknowledge that you deserve it.

Congrats on the book, I’m looking forward to reading it!

Jackie
Jackie
6 years ago
Reply to  Robb

In Australia we call it the Tall Poppy Syndrome – “people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised”
Poppys have always been my favourite flower since childhood & the nick name my Mother gave me

Grow tall & be colourful I say!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago

Glad to see J.D. tackle this topic. I’m getting a little weary of people who see a great reader story and pick it apart because so-and-so had this or that advantage that they didn’t. (And I’ll cop to feeling like that sometimes myself!)

I think we all have a success story in us. Regardless of our circumstances, it’s up to us to stop making excuses and go make it happen.

Micro
Micro
6 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I think a large part of that is a defensive mechanism. We need to find somethign that the individual had that we didn’t. Some little item to differentiate ourselves from them. This lets us say, “Of course they could, they had xyz”. If they were exactly like us, we would have to take a hard look in the mirror because there is only one conclussion why we aren’t FI like them. We made mistakes they didn’t. That is a very hard thing for anybody to admit to.

Mrs EconoWiser
Mrs EconoWiser
6 years ago

Seriously? I really thought that people who made it were very much respected and looked up to in the U.S.?! I thought the Dutch were the only whiners here. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down seems to be the motto of a lot of fellow Dutch people when it comes to having a shitload of money.
I’m looking forward to reading your book.
Is fincon also accessible for bloggers from abroad?

Matt @ Your Living Body
Matt @ Your Living Body
6 years ago
Reply to  Mrs EconoWiser

No…you just get taxed more and suddenly you’re the cause of all of the the “injustices” and problems. Hopefully we don’t become like France.

maria
maria
6 years ago

@Matt,

I wish I could ‘like’ your comment a thousand times. It is the absolute naked truth.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago

Oh, spare me. Every part of society gets blamed by another part.

Shall we talk about the “welfare queens” and the “43% are takers” and all the people who are poor because they’re lazy? Even when they’re working three jobs and raising a family? Yup, their laziness is bankrupting this country.

So you have to pay taxes. Cry me a river. If you don’t care about the kind of society you live in, move to Afghanistan and pay no taxes.

Stephanie
Stephanie
6 years ago

I just want to say to keep on keeping on to all of you. I agree, there is no one in my personal life that I could talk to about wanting to retire early – they don’t get it. I don’t have a single family or friend who even ‘gets’ why I’d want to do such a thing. My husband is even skeptical that we can but at least doesn’t undermine my efforts to get it done. I think in a few more years he’ll start drinking the koolaid when he sees how close we are by then. For my… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

“drink the koolaid”? No matter how positive you want your message to be you can’t use a phrase that carries such a negative connotation and expect to be taken seriously.

Melissa
Melissa
6 years ago

I really love my Kelty Redwing backpack. It’s great for quick 1-3 day soccer trips, but I’ve done 3weeks in Europe in the dead of winter with it too. It’s front loading, which I prefer. Lots of exterior and interior pockets for organization and comfortable shoulder straps and waist belt. I have the 2009 version, but a friend has the latest model and it’s pretty glorious.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
6 years ago
Reply to  Melissa

Ooh. Tantalizing! I’ll have to find a store that carries it so I can test it out.

I need to do a post about my obsession with bags and backpacks at jdroth.com. (Also, the quest for the perfect jacket. Here in Oregon, most of us own a variety of jackets because we have such a wide range of weather.) It’ll have to wait, though, until I’m finished with the ebook. 😉

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

I don’t think people hate “winners” (whatever that means, really, it’s an odd concept)–only the preachy/self-proclaimed/self-righteous ones and their mutual admiration societies. That happens to me with all manner of militant proselytizers, from the ones who tell me I’m a chicken murderer to the ones who tell me I’m going to hell unless I take their flier. You’re tolerant with me, I’m tolerant with you. You try to impose your moral superiority unto me, I’ll punch you in the teeth (metaphorically, of course). So if someone comes to tell me “hey, look at me, I’m a winner, do as I… Read more »

Katie
Katie
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Yeah, I’m with you, El Nerdo. My problem with a lot of the early retirement crowd is not that they retired early (or reached financial independence or however you want to hear it). It’s that they assume that that should be my priority too; if I don’t make it my priority, they’ve assumed I’ve failed; am a “complainypants”; or am bitter about their success. But I’m not . . . it’s just not how I, personally, want to live my life. I think personal finance bloggers run into another problem, which is that their job is something that is relevant… Read more »

Luke
Luke
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

El Nerdo nailed it. In my experience, people (in general, though trolls will be trolls) do not hate success. People can be repulsed by successful people whose pride in that success is interpreted as smugness, those for whom success seems to have resulted in a “my way is the best way” style of communication. And you get a lot of that at conferences… and from those who use their success as an entry to teaching others to succeed. It makes sense — teach what you know — but so many of these successful creatures are poor communicators who can no… Read more »

sarah
sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I was thinking the same thing. It’s like someone who lost 300 pounds and now eats nothing but chicken and spinach and works out 7 hours a day to have 6 pack abs. Good for them and all but I’m not interested in that life and don’t want to be preached to about how it’s The Way.

A lot of early retirement folks talk about it like it’s a moral thing and the only sensible choice and that’s what’s really annoying.

Shari
Shari
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Exactly! I don’t mind people who are financially independent (I plan to be one someday!) but I do mind when they have a superiority complex about it and act like people who aren’t as rich as them are only poor because they’re stupid. Also, people who are so wealthy they have no idea how the average person lives really can’t be giving out advice. Like telling college students, “Just borrow $20,000 from your parents and start your own business!” If I had $20,000 to give away, I would be starting my own business with it.

Edward
Edward
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Why the heck would all you guys read blogs about financial independence if it’s not your goal? …Or weight loss stories for that matter? Somebody comes across as smug, I usually click the ‘Back’ button and get outta there before I get all indignant about it and leave a snide comment. This reminds me of the recent Maria Kang story about the mom that’s a fitness trainer and everybody got all angry about her poster. Sure, it’s a bit over-the-top for many people, but the level of indignant yelling about it (and social media bullying of her) went beyond any… Read more »

Katie
Katie
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

This isn’t a financial independence blog . . . .

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago
Reply to  Katie

Thank you! I was going to post the same thing. Lots of people want to get out of debt, save money and retire while they’re young enough to enjoy it. That doesn’t mean we all want to become entrepreneurs or financial bloggers! Nor would society sustain that many of us.

Ryan
Ryan
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

Totally agree with you here, Edward. To quote George Lucas, there are two types of people out there, Creators and Destroyers. It is usually far easier to destroy something, someone, or some idea, than it is to actually create anything yourself. To put in the time, energy, thought, effort, etc to make it. These destroyers are everywhere. Films, music, art, blogs, politics, etc, etc. Hell, even look at any Youtube video’s comments. If you put yourself out there as a blogger, youtuber, celebrity, or religious/vegetarian proselytizer, somebody will be there to bash you. There is always somebody trying to knock… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

One is either a creator or a destroyer? What ever happened to shades of grey? Hopefully these days they apply to more than just erotic fiction. Such thinking might work in a science fiction movie, but when applied to real life, it breaks down pretty easily. In my opinion, this kind of dualistic thinking is rather destructive and facile.

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

I saw some of the “hot mama” drama unfold on another site I read. My first thought was, “she looks great!” And, I wasn’t too uptight about it anyways since I’m still holding up pretty well after having two kids.

At the same time, I also realize that she’s a fitness instructor. If working out is your job, you really should look like that.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago

Thanks for the laugh! I just shake my head at ads which are meant to get people upset. The best thing people can do is ignore them. Instead, they get international media attention…

Jacq
Jacq
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Me too on the Amazon stuff El Nerdo! We could join up, write it together – our first one could be called “50 Shades of Red” – and our main love interest named Bob. I’m not sure how long ago it is now that I had a reader story in here on semi-retirement. Everyone was incredibly nice in the comments. The only negative was the frustration that some felt that they couldn’t do the same due to health care which is totally understandable. I’ve been a single parent throughout my adult life and I used to feel a bit of… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Funny that Ryan mentions comedians. I was thinking about them earlier today, especially in opposition to gurus. Comedians are always pointing out what’s wrong about us. So do gurus. But unlike gurus, who need to appear infallible so that the converts don’t abandon them, comedians can (and do) make fun of themselves– all the time. This is the reason why some of my favorite contemporary thinkers are comedians– from George Carlin to Louis C.K., comedians make the best social critics. Gurus, on the other hand, tend to irk me– even gurus that have useful stuff like the Ayatollah Ramsey or… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Oh my god, best comment ever!

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Don’t forget the YMoYL team! No hatred for them either. Great El Nerdo comments as always. I agree 100%. And one side comment: I’ve never noticed that the people who are always trying to find themselves by hanging with these gurus are any happier than the rest of us. Actually the reverse. Sure, there’s manic points like during the Domination summit, but those are balanced by emptiness. Early retirement doesn’t make everybody happier. Being rich doesn’t make everybody happier. Selling the next big lifestyle thing doesn’t bring happiness. Why would I want to listen to someone who says I have… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I agree, but you have to understand a lot of what these “gurus” do is personal branding. MMM is very good at it. He’s kind of like the shock jock of the PF blogosphere. Like him or hate him, everyone knows who he is and talks about him. It’s marketing gold. I hate to say it, but personality and personal branding are a lot of what helps PF bloggers gain a following. J.D. entered the PF blogosphere at a time when there weren’t many people doing what he did — now everyone and their dog has a personal finance blog!… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Thanks, El Nerdo – you nailed it in your comments!

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

THANK YOU. Besides, this article is ridiculous. People don’t hate success. We worship it. We only want to listen to people who have been successful. We give them instant authority, instant respect. I’m sure rich people get some push back when they tell their stories. Guess what? So do poor people. And middle class people. It’s called life – not everyone will respond to you the same way. My guess is that the negative reactions just stick more in these people’s memories. Unless they’re bringing it on themselves – like MMM. It is so unbelievably disingenuous to say that we… Read more »

Jacq
Jacq
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

El Nerdo – I think you would truly love Joshua Kennon’s blog, he’s a bit more entrepreneurial and although there’s a personality there (how can there not be?), it’s self-effacing. He even has a blog category entitled “mental models”. I thought I died and went to PF heaven when I found his site.

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

1000 times in agreement with 7 & 51/El Nerdo, 12/Katie, 14/Luke, 16/Sarah, and 29/Shari (and love 44/Jacq’s suggestion of “50 Shades of Red,” LOL!). I can’t add a single better word to what you’ve all said. I just want to let you know I’m jumping up and down screaming, “YES! YES! YES!”

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@El Nerdo, I wish what you said were true. However, recently someone posted a reader’s story about how she and her spouse paid their enormous school debt and their mortgage (something like that), but felt weird about telling their friends. There were a lot of negative comments on this blog about they could only do it because they had a high income, etc., then a lot of posts about how others couldn’t do that because they didn’t make as much and would never make enough. The poster wasn’t being smug or saying anyone should be behave like her–it was just… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

Pawprint, I can’t remember that article so I can’t tell how things went. But with what i wrote here I’m not denying the existence of resentment, which is a powerful force in human life, and is a huge subject on its own.

But just because resentment is real and some people will hate successful people just because of their success, it doesn’t follow that all criticism or opposition to PF bloggers is motivated by resentment. That’s both a narcissistic and delusional stance–a kind of “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” blanket defense and a tyrannical demand for validation.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

Agreed. There are some reader stories that come across as self-righteous and out of touch, but it seems any success story is fodder for complaints about how the poster was “lucky” somehow.

We’re all lucky somehow, and I’d wager we all have our fair share of challenges too!

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

Pawprint – I imagine you’re talking about “Our lightbulb moment”? I see your point, but I don’t agree. First off, the criticisms were mostly directly at the vagueness of the story. Secondly, it IS hard for the average American to understand how someone can pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in such a short amount of time. My guess is that this couple made at least three or four times more than the average American salary. You are asking a lot of people to just respond with “Rock on!” instead of pointing out the discrepancy between the… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

It feels like JD is still missing the point: MMM wasn’t getting ripped on because of his success, he was getting ripped on because of his arrogance. The way it comes through in his writing, the disdainful way he treats dissenting comments, the way that he considers only his methods to be “the way” and that if you don’t follow them then you’re beneath him.

Kaylee
Kaylee
6 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

I think a lot of the “hatred” toward MMM and those who have achieved financial independence is in MMM’s own head. Read this straight from his own website:

“Mr. Money Mustache is a family man living in the United States who retired from work, relatively wealthy, at about age 30. After several years of retirement, he noticed that his still-working peers were envious of his lifestyle. They were making more money than he ever had, yet they were somehow still broke. So he decided to write this blog to educate the world on how it is done.”

Bob
Bob
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I would love to go there too someday

Brian
Brian
6 years ago

Sounds like I need to get to a Fincon event sometime. I believe there is backlash against people who have achieved success because those people are frustrated with there own situations and don’t know how to do anything about it. I was a little bit that way until I got my financial act in order.

Anansa
Anansa
6 years ago

Ah, so your friend Bob is the author of all those dinosaur-themed “special interest” e-books we’ve been hearing about lately!

Rena
Rena
6 years ago
Reply to  Anansa

Oh man, I came to the comments to call that out too. I’m glad I’m not the only one guessing it!

Marie
Marie
6 years ago
Reply to  Anansa

I am equal parts intrigued and horrified by this. How did I miss such a major paleontological event?

FI Pilgrim
FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

I can understand that mindset. My whole blog is dedicated to financial independence but it’s tough taking advice from other FIers still. We all have our own ideas about the topic.

And if you haven’t read Your Money or Your Life, that’s some of the best info on FI I’ve read. Not just the pursuit of it, but creating a sustainable lifestyle. Good stuff!

smirktastic
smirktastic
6 years ago

Looking for something new to read, can you provide a link to one of the $2.99 stories?

Esther
Esther
6 years ago

JD, sounds like an awesome event. looking forward to reading the book. Haters will remain haters. Sometimes, they could accomplish the same FI as the next guy, but they don’t want to do the work. Their time is spent at criticizing the guy who is proactively working toward FI. I am know people who barely have a constant income and their life style is so much more luxurious that mine o and i can save 40% of my income. Let them hate while the rest of us who wants to achieve FI work. Our hard work will pay off and… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Esther

I know this will never happen, but can we please retire the term “hater”? My eyes pretty much glaze over any time I see someone use who uses that term. It is so juvenile and has become an online catch phrase for pretty much anyone who doesn’t fall all over themselves in admiration or for commenters who dare to challenge the author’s views. It is dismissive, imprecise and overall just plain annoying. I think in general J.D. is collapsing people who engage in nuanced criticism with trolls. The two are very different things. I rarely notice much trolling on GRS,… Read more »

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
6 years ago

One of the things that helps early retirees Iv’e found is to just say we are unemployed or a consultant. It helps deflect envy and might even gain sympathy.

The theme on my site is to be wealth but blend in. There’s also no point to look rich in the government’s eyes. That just invites more taxes and more scrutiny!

Budget and the Beach
Budget and the Beach
6 years ago

It was great to meet you at fincon J.D.! I think it’s the misery loves company thing. Those that struggle want to read about others who struggle so they don’t feel so alone. Instead of reading success stories and using that as inspiration, they feel jealous. Hey I occasionally feel that way. That’s a great story about Bob. It just goes to show you with some creativity and hard work, there are a million ways to make money!

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
6 years ago

I had so much fun at FinCon, and I was so happy to have met you. I have a fear of public speaking as well, but you seemed so natural as an emcee! That does seem like a good way to prepare for public speaking. I am really looking forward to your book. We want financial independence and are working hard to achieve it. We sort of feel like we have achieved it by starting our own businesses, and this first taste of it has been great so far. When we tell people about our plans and what we are… Read more »

Kathi
Kathi
6 years ago

I am also in search of the perfect bag. I’d love it if you would write a post on More Than Money about what you are currently using and why, and maybe any lessons learned…

retireby40
retireby40
6 years ago

Sounds like a great book. I don’t know why there are so many haters. I’m pretty lucky with my readers. Most have positive response and I can’t complain. Anytime I get public exposure, there are a lot of negativity though. I guess the general public likes to spout negative comments anonymously.

Matt @ Your Living Body
Matt @ Your Living Body
6 years ago

As a fellow blogger….I would love to see a future blog topic on here about creating an eBook. Seems like it would be a whole lot easier to make money by releasing one based off of an audience as large as this blog vs. a smaller one.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

I think part of the issue is the current socio-political atmosphere in this country where the rich are vilified for having so much and that their wealth must be taxed to provide for the rest of society. It sounds like socialism to me, and socialism does not work in the long run. Eventually people will get lazy, stop working, and expect the government to provide for them. Of course if everybody did this, nobody would make any money to be taxed to pay for the freeloaders.

Katie
Katie
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Oh, Jesus.

Jenne
Jenne
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul

The current line of complaining about socialism is, yes, probably part of the problem. But not the way people complaining about socialism tend to think, I expect. I think it takes only a few negative experiences with people who either tell others how they should live or complain bitterly about services to others who haven’t experienced financial independence to tar the whole movement with the same brush; when you add to that the guilt people fell internally for not being financially independent, they tend to get cranky. Right now, there’s also a certain amount of resentment for people who live… Read more »

BD
BD
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Paul is exactly right. And the trouble is that most people are like Katie and the 45 people who gave her a thumbs up: Snarky, and condescending. I hear more people griping on the internet griping about how “evil” the 1% is, and how they should be taxed into oblivion, without even considering that those 1% might be hardworking people who are trying to give back to the economy by investing, starting companies, and hiring people who are poor, such as myself. Our nation is full of people now who want to not only bite the hand that feeds them,… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago
Reply to  BD
Great Video, Not
Great Video, Not
6 years ago

My favorite line was, “I’m sure that many of these wealthy people have worked very hard for their money, but do you really believe that the CEO is working 380x than his average employee?” Who cares what you believe? Go work harder/smarter and get what you want out of life. How does anyone else’s success or failure have anything to do with your own? No one is holding you down, unless you become successful, then you become the enemy 1%? I think it’s funny that the narrator starts by quoting a survey of what a small sample of people thought/think/believe.… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago

@115
“How does anyone else’s success or failure have anything to do with your own?”
There is a strong correlation between nation’s “happiness” (health, satisfaction with life, life expectancy of the population) and distribution of wealth. Greater inequality leads to negative consequences for the nation as a whole, and, among other things, kills entrepreneurial spirit and social mobility – the very things you seem to be advocating as road to “you own” success.

Great Video, Not
Great Video, Not
6 years ago

Student Loans Worked Out, my views come from my personal experiences and if I am wrong, I’d like to know why so I can correct my internal compass. I hope you don’t take any of my arguments personally as they aren’t meant to be. That said, you aren’t addressing anyone’s arguments. Not Paul’s/BD’s, “the rich are vilified for having so much.” Nor my argument, that the presence of financially successful people has no bearing on your own financial success. This blog, for example, is all about pulling yourself into financial independence/success. I was interested when you said, “Greater inequality… among… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago

@117 It is laudable that you consider correcting your “internal” compass, but it is not my intention to engage in long educational posts, so I hope you’ll forgive the brevity of my reply. I do think that my remark about inequality and social mobility is relevant to this discussion, and in particular the comment about “hand that feeds them”. As for the discussion and data about the connection between social mobility and income inequality (for example), why not google it? The search engine brings up plethora of data for your perusal. Again – forgive me if I do not want… Read more »

Great Video, Not
Great Video, Not
6 years ago

Please read BD’s post carefully. He was talking about the top 1% but you’re specifically talking about the top 0.00001%. Top 1% are households with incomes above $394k before taxes in 2012. That’s easily within the reach of a family lawyers, doctors, small business owners, or Google employees. While the owners of Walmart are by definition in the top 1%, to group them with small business owners and doctors is unfair. You bring up “social mobility and income inequality,” but from everything that I’ve found on the google*, the solution involves, “improved access to education, better childhood nutrition and financial… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago

@119 Yes, I will not engage in a long discussion, although it may help clear misunderstandings etc, but I do not feel it’s worth it. Let me just point out that the phrase you took an issue with in your comment “I’m sure that many of these wealthy people have worked very hard for their money, but do you really believe that the CEO is working 380x than his average employee?” clearly did not pertain to people earning 394k a year. Also observe that BD started his post by endorsing Paul’s post (which was an anti-socialism rant, and had not… Read more »

Great Video, Not
Great Video, Not
6 years ago
Reply to  BD

Please read BD’s post carefully. He was talking about the top 1% but you’re specifically talking about the top 0.00001%. Top 1% are households with incomes above $394k before taxes in 2012. That’s easily within the reach of a family lawyers, doctors, small business owners, or Google employees. While the owners of Walmart are by definition in the top 1%, to group them with small business owners and doctors is unfair. You bring up “social mobility and income inequality,” but from everything that I’ve found on the google*, the solution involves, “improved access to education, better childhood nutrition and financial… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
6 years ago
Reply to  BD

@119:
NB: a million in net worth (“in the bank”) is not the same as income of a million. One could achieve that net worth on much less that top 1% income, given some luck, of course.

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago

Most of the time, success stories are interesting. Some of the time they are inspirational. If I ever have a problem with successful people, it usually has nothing to do with their journey to success. Instead, its generally people using their newfound platform to espouse their own personal ideas on topics unrelated to finance. The eat organic, be a vegetarian, dont watch tv, be ignorant(in the case of MMM, who is an interesting man but says some incredibly strange things sometimes), etc… type of ideas that have nothing to do with financial independence. I dont mind reading those kinds of… Read more »

Heather
Heather
6 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

I don’t think the backlash on this site to MMM had as much to do with his success as the strange cultish vibe surrounding his blog and followers. His (VERY lengthy) blog comments tend to be a disturbing collection of sycophantic back-patting and mustache-speak (not to be a complainy-pants!). I think his ideas are good and he generally means to be helpful, but a little dissent would probably even out his opinions a bit.

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago
Reply to  Heather

I agree. People flood his comments section with “Wow, so insightful!” and other such meaningless drivel within moments of it being posted.

Also, it doesnt help that MMM tends to delete any dissenting voice.

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

Exactly, nobody likes a person who acts like they are above criticism.

Romeo Jeremiah
Romeo Jeremiah
6 years ago

Derek Halpern’s last post was similar to this one. He didn’t necessarily talk about people who “hated on” wealth, but success in general. Being humble and wealthy is much different than being cocky, preachy, and wealthy. So, I guess it’s all in the delivery, which immediately raises people’s defense. If a post reads, “you, too, can be rich by doing [x,y,z],” it doesn’t consider all the other elements in another person’s life that restrains them from doing it. It’s sage advice, I’m sure, BUT the audience is lost once they are offended. For example, not everyone can write 6000 word… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Romeo Jeremiah

I think what you’re saying is that the cookie cutter approach to FI doesn’t work for a lot, if not most people. On most personal finance blogs even sometimes on GRS, the assumption is that you completed your undergraduate degree at 22, graduate degree at 26, obtained a well-paying job right after graduation, married by 30 to another high earner and have given birth to all of your children by 35, (though you’re better off childless, like JD) healthy, have a job that offers full 401K match and so on. Though I don’t fall in any of the above categories… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Totally agree with 50/Carla. I have debated trying a reader’s story that focused on outlining the outliers: what life situations make it easier to obtain FI with a little work vs. which ones impact the ability to reach FI. But I worry people would construe it as making excuses, when instead it should be seen as what makes it easier vs. harder.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I’ve noticed audiences tend to prefer two types of stories: 1) underdogs who made it big despite the challenges they face and 2) redemptive narratives where people dramatically changed their ways and paid off huge amounts of debt, etc. No one really wants to hear from people who had some luck, a lot of preparation and used the benefits they had to their best advantage.

It seems people love to poke holes in stories that aren’t quite so heroic.

Romeo Jeremiah
Romeo Jeremiah
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Yes, Carla. I have a post on my site that shows how I have a 50% savings rate BUT I also start with a disclaimer that it’s easy to have a 50% savings rate when you earn $100k per yer. Some bloggers throw around the idea that everyone can save 50% of their income–this is just not true. Imagine, if my bare expenses were $24,000 per year but I earned $48,000 per year–easy. BUT, if my bare expenses were $24,000 per year but I earned $30,000–Not so easy. I would have to find a way to cut $9,000 of additional… Read more »

Paris
Paris
6 years ago

What I found out is, there are some people that just simply enjoy telling others that they are wrong. Those people are very opinionated and start their phrases with “No” . I personally owe a lot of my life’s happiness to financial bloggers like you. Think about it. You teach us something Free of charge. Due to you guys, we were just fine when we relocated and had many financial ups and downs. Thanks to you guys, we can sleep good at night even if we have o income coming in sometimes. You guys thought us this lifestyle and guess… Read more »

MoneyAhoy
MoneyAhoy
6 years ago

I think people don’t like others that achieve success because it’s kinda a coping mechanism. If they can feel about about someone else’s success, then they won’t have to feel bad about themselves and the poor choices they’ve made.

As Pete tells everyone, just about anyone can get to FI if they’re willing to structure their life differently. Most people aren’t willing to take that leap, so they get angry at others who have!

Katie
Katie
6 years ago
Reply to  MoneyAhoy

This is kind of what I was saying above. Not structuring your life to achieve financial independence at a young age is not, inherently, a poor choice. Sometimes it’s just a choice. Of course people are going to be annoyed if they’re told that they structured their life badly just because their priorities are different than someone else’s.

MoneyAhoy
MoneyAhoy
6 years ago
Reply to  Katie

Katie,

Good point – I like the way you put it better 🙂

Kathleen, Frugal Portland
Kathleen, Frugal Portland
6 years ago

I think the hate comes from people who are unwilling to live the same way that Pete (for example) did in order to achieve financial independence. We are mostly talkers, and we hate the doers, the ones who are our own age (or worse! younger!) who have done something extraordinary. It’s hard to look within to see how you can get better — it’s easy to leave a nasty comment on someone’s blog, telling them that they’re not actually retired unless they qualify for AARP and get a senior discount at Denny’s.

Amy
Amy
6 years ago

Wow this is interesting insight. I hadn’t ever considered a PI blogger’s perspective before. I guess if you have reached success, and are using your experience to generate income by telling other people how to do the same in some way, you’d have to run a very fine balance of using your story to sell the idea that you are ‘qualified’ to help others in some way to achieve their FI goals and not just be talking about yourself all the time. I guess it could seem like everyone just wants to know what you can do for them, instead… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Amy

This is an insightful comment. One the one hand, J.D. and others expect their audience to be open to hearing their personal finance stories and be less critical; yet on the other hand, J.D. continues to be obtuse about the well-documented reasons why many people don’t enjoy Mr. Money Mustache. Pssst – it’s not because they don’t want to be rich. Indeed, it is like he didn’t listen at all to the last post on GRS. When authors or bloggers respond ungraciously to criticism or dismiss it as “trolling” or “complaining” they are not so subtly sending the following hypocritical… Read more »

Romeo Jeremiah
Romeo Jeremiah
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane,

I love this comment:

“If you’re not willing to learn from others, why should I listen to you? That’s the beauty of humility — it can make your message all that more powerful.”

Consider it used for my next status update, blog post, or tweet…if you don’t mind. 🙂

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Romeo Jeremiah

:). Glad it resonated, Romeo. Reproduce away!

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Romeo Jeremiah

Agreed. Think about it, would anyone today know the name Dale Carnegie if he had been someone who never listened to others? A large part of the advice in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is about LISTENING to others.

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago

I think sometimes it’s about nuance and presentation rather than just the idea that “everyone hates a winner”. (As a sidenote, this feels like a very pessimistic view of the world – I like to think most people are supportive or at the very least ambivalent toward others.) There’s only so much of a person’s success story that can be presented in a single blog post. 700 – 2000 words is just not enough time to really understand the decades of thought and experience that shaped the author’s (or profile subject’s) story arch. When only part of the story is… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
6 years ago

Is the number of those who disagree or profess to “hate” the FIer’s success actually a large percentage?

I suggest that the percentage of actual “haters” is small and many bloggers, like most people, react strongly to negative comments versus replying to people already agreeing with them and end up trying to further explain their position. Then, because that’s where they spend additional time and energy, it inflates the recalled number and importance of the negative comments.

Shane @ Beating Broke
Shane @ Beating Broke
6 years ago

I don’t think it’s a hate so much as envy rearing it’s ugly head. From personal experience, I can say that I had envy of you, J.D., at first. You’d done a lot of the things with your blog that I wanted to be able to do with mine. You’d achieved that success, and continue to do so. Somewhere along the way, though, I came to the realization that you and others that I was envious of were just regular people like me. Nothing special about you or them, except that they put in hard work and got stuff done.… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
6 years ago

Add the not so subtle assumption threading many of these PF blogs that our choices are just naturally supposed to lead to our passion and happiness, and I can see where people can feel the envy. Many of us make choices we have to live with that may or may not lead to happiness. Maybe an otherwise wonderful spouse isn’t on board with the frugal path you want, divorce? You just got the overseas job offer of a lifetime, the day after you’re parent has been diagnosed with cancer, take it? You’ve come to seek FI later in life and… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago

I think I’m going to get carpal tunnel syndrome from refreshing this comment page throughout the afternoon…

TJ
TJ
6 years ago

Great post as always, J.D. But I’d sure love to know what the books are that “Bob” writes and publishes on Amazon!

Steve
Steve
6 years ago

Thanks for your perspective on FinCon 13 JD. I didn’t go this year but maybe the next one!

I do tend to agree that when it comes to a general audience, most reaction tends to lean negative on successful personal finance stories. More destructive comments full of “I didn’t have those circumstances, etc” rather than like you say, learning from the success of others.

Glen Craig
Glen Craig
6 years ago

I have an Osprey Talon that was great when I used to run/bike to the dojo. It’s got a mesh back so you don’t sweat too much and you can put a hydration bag in it.

It’s strange how some people don’t want to see “real” people who put in the work successful but yet make others famous for their reality TV lives.

Maverick
Maverick
6 years ago

J.D.: Here is the best business travel bag…Red Oxx “Air Boss”, as referenced on onebag.com.

Nancy
Nancy
6 years ago

MMM is brilliant because he makes tens of thousands of dollars a MONTH and preaches frugal lifestyle of $40,000 a year or less to get people in. He’s laughing all the way to the bank and more bloggers should emulate his style of saying one thing but secretly so another.

Joho
Joho
6 years ago

I am certainly not resentful of those who retire early, I am resentful of the 1% who are goifing a living wage from average Americans.
I would love to be able to save enough to retire early on net 18k and a huge student lian debt.
Reading about a kid who oays off his ivy league education with his ivy league job really never helps.
Cheers

Kristen
Kristen
6 years ago

I have never heard the term bag nerd but my dad absolutely was one!! Love it. My dad was a golf pro and passed away almost 20 years. There are two things that I often wonder what he would have thought about them. One is all the amazing wheeled luggage available now and the other is Tiger Woods. One of my favorites from his bag collection is a leather backpack on wheels.

nobody, really
nobody, really
6 years ago

I think the moral of the story *here* is…don’t utter a mention of Pete or MMM at J.D.’s old GRS. What I find interesting is that when a person pursues FI, the theme is “10 reasons I’ve chosen to be rich/FI.” Then once that is accomplished, the PF morphs into “10 reasons why I choose to live like I’m poor.” The funny thing is, they are the same thing. You’re living below your means to get rich/FI, then living below your means because your banked. Well, good for you, I say. It’s all going to your last years of life… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago

I’m still thinking about Pawprint’s point about the particular reader story and Elizabeth’s complaint about how the comments to reader stories can be frustrating. It is true that people almost always chime in with complaints and “Yeah, buts”. I can certainly see how this is a problem and could originate in jealousy or resentment. One suggestion I would have to the powers that be is that they strongly encourage specificity in the stories. Like Romeo Jeremiah said, if you are forthright with your higher salary and admit that saving is easier for you, then this will stop a lot of… Read more »

Jasmine
Jasmine
6 years ago

The very same thing is happening in Singapore as well, with the average citizen resenting the rich due to the huge disparity between the rich and the poor. I guess this happens in most developed countries, where people are presented with almost equal opportunities, yet only a handful are successful. It is easier to resent the successful ones than to look inwardly at themselves on what went wrong. I used to have the same kind of mentality and resent the rich. It is until I finanlly learnt to gain control of my financial life that I see accumulating wealth, early… Read more »

VGA
VGA
6 years ago

I think you’ve confused hating success stories with hating the story teller. Take the guy who writes Free Money Finance vs Mr. Money Mustache. Both are unarguably successful. FMF comes across as being an honest and good person. The kind of guy who would pull over and help you change a tire. Or invite the new guy over to his house for Thanksgiving because he knows that he’s lonely. MMM comes across as being arrogant and condescending individual with a ‘my way is the only way’ attitude. From reading his posts I think he would laugh at someone who needed… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  VGA

Thanks for the tip on Free Money Finance; I hadn’t heard of this one and am checking it out. I still occasionally look at MMM but I can’t/don’t want to change my lifestyle to match his so therefore most of his posts really aren’t relevant to me or usable in a constructive way.

I also need to check out El Nerdo’s recommendation of Jacob’s early retirement blog.

GRS does remain my favorite though.

Lila
Lila
6 years ago

There was a very popular minimalist blogger a couple of years ago when the recession just hit. His voice on his blog was cool at first but then as his blog grew, he had an attitude of “I’m better than you” and he started saying he didn’t care if he offended anyone, people could unsubscribe to his blog if they didn’t like it. He just had this very militant attitude, I just got turned off by it. I’ve read other minimalist blogs that aren’t snotty and to them it’s more like “this is what works for me…” I was never… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Lila

Goodness, I remember him. Actually there were several who were like that and it put a bad taste in my mouth.

Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter
6 years ago

I have noticed that from certain commenters on other personal finance blogs and almost blogged about it myself. There are some that will write negative comments saying that of course the blogger could pay off all that debt they live somewhere that cost of living isn’t as expensive. The blogger worked hard to get to where they are at, they didn’t pay off the debt overnight. As someone else commented, we should look to their success as inspiration and guidance in helping us pay off our own debt!

Armand
Armand
6 years ago

Read the column and the replies with a great deal of interest, but there is one point everybody seems to miss. Not everybody has the talent to do this. Seriously. I know that is a blasphemous statement to make in this country, but some people have a definite talent for various things, and other people do not. I am a pretty good musician, but I’ve got a cousin with Grammys on his mantle, so I know the difference. I’ve got a degree in business, and a friend who has a successful business, and I see the difference between the two… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  Armand

Armand, this is an excellent, excellent perspective. Thanks for sharing it! I think you’re giving El Nerdo a run for his money for “best comment ever”. 😀

RB
RB
6 years ago

I wonder if some of the issue is that FI people become a bit “out of touch” with most other folks and struggle to communicate in a way that others can connect with. They experience the world from another perspective simply because their circumstances are different. My husband and I lived like we were poor during the first years of our marriage and paid off our mortgage in just over 5 years. It’s a small house and we don’t drive fancy cars or have kids(yet), so it was achievable for us without a high income. At first I was excited… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

It’s interesting reading this here, with J.D. being the author. It seems from my view that J.D. took a very gradual approach and over the years, has transformed to feel more like MMM. As time has gone on, J.D. has clearly changed his views and doesn’t even enjoy the things he used to treasure–which is fine. We all change and we NEED to change, but it’s human nature to not like dramatic change. Reading many success stories is wonderful, but often, I am reading success stories that if I tried to apply, would mean dramatic changes for me. There was… Read more »

Kevin
Kevin
6 years ago

It seems that PF blogs are either describing how to make your own detergent and tooth paste OR that you need to follow the teachings of a guru and be retired by 30. Very little middle ground. (Or perhaps I just haven’t found those blogs.) If we are going to be honest for a moment, most people (including me) are never going to get rich by starting a blog or writing stories for Amazon. So the “you can do it too!” meme doesn’t really ring true. I’m not really pushing back against the post, just giving my thoughts on why… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

My thoughts exactly.

Rose
Rose
6 years ago

PF blogs are really about feelings. They entertain us on a long road full of mostly boring decisions.

When I was a kid, my teachers explained that a good story needs to have a problem. Characters, setting, and dialog aren’t enough.

Success stories feel like a novel where nothing really bad happens to anybody and everybody works hard until the story finally ends. If the hard work is enough to provide a plot, it becomes a a triumph over adversity story. If author needs to find something within himself to succeed, it is a redemption story.

Jacq
Jacq
6 years ago

Re the book project… If this site was started around 2006, then sold in 2009, whereupon you, JD, were suddenly FI – I would feel that I wouldn’t glean as much knowledge about FI and how to get there as I would from someone who had taken the slower path that I (and most people) have taken or are taking. And with more common factors like children for example and balancing FI with kids is a little complicated but most or many people have them. Let’s face it, it’s a long, long journey for most and sometimes it’s hard to… Read more »

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