My Best Financial Advice: Steve Pavlina

The Consumerist asked popular personal development blogger Steve Pavlina to give his single best piece of financial advice. Here’s how he responded:

How often do you ignore your common sense and succumb to traps like wishful thinking, with its promise of fast and easy results; trolling, with its lure of intelligent debate; and penny pinching, with its prideful certainty that saving five dollars is better than earning five hundred? If the financial advice you’ve been getting hasn’t proven itself effective, then toss it out and rebuild your financial beliefs from ground zero. If you want to become a millionaire in 10 years or less, you can’t subscribe to the 40-year skimp-and-save approach. Sure you can save your way to a million in 40 years, but you can earn your way there a lot faster.

For more details, see 5 Wealth Lessons From 20 Percent of a Millionaire.

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  1. Archteryx says:

    There’s a certain fatalism with the idea that if you spend like a millionaire (routine $50 meals, yay!) that people will start suddenly throwing money at you.

    It’s also completely foolhardy for most middle class people. I know that if *I* started doing that my stipend wouldn’t increase one iota, but I’d quickly find myself bankrupt.

    Just another self-actualization guru peddling pure nonsense.

  2. floofy says:

    That article taught me nothing. I don’t think of $100, $1000 or $10,000 as ‘just pennies’.

  3. SJActress says:

    What utter crap. I just wasted 5 minutes of my life. I wanna call that guy and ask to be reimbursed for my time.

  4. wring says:

    that site just annoyed me. thanks consumerist for bringing traffic to his site and apparently make him richer :P

  5. zolielo says:

    Yes, not good at all.

  6. RogerDucky says:

    I think what the post is saying regarding the “think of yourself as a millionaire already” is NOT to encourage spending irresponsibly — the idea is to free yourself of the constraints that makes you avoid being “penny-wise, pound foolish.” That is to say, avoid a particular thing just because it’s more expensive, rather than the inherent value of the things involved.

    Also, if the author was one who used to agonize about every single expense he incurred, then yes, it’s absolutely true that changing his mindset would allow him to take certain calculated risks rather than be frozen by the fact that doing so would incur a relatively “large” expense. The new mindset would allow him to weigh the risks of the activity against the rewards involved, and make him jump on the money-making opportunities. If you’re already a calculated risk-taker, then yeah, his way would not help you earn more at all.

  7. zolielo says:

    @RogerDucky: Your post is better, more profound, than Steve Pavlina.

  8. atarisuicide says:

    This kind of “wisdom” is why people in this country continue a slow march to financial ruin. Example:

    “Hell, I know I can’t really afford this house, but it is so much better than this other one. So much more upside too. Well, if I ever want to get rich, I’ve got to take some risks somewhere! What’s that about an interest only loan you say? Great!!”

    That oh-so-terrible “skimp-and-save” approach can make ANYONE rich, or at least very comfortable, by their retirement. Ever wonder why most rich people are the biggest penny pinchers in the world?

    I have a nice piece of financial wisdom too: Consider your sources. This guy has a $200k net worth, which considering his age is really not very good at all. The only reason he has any money at all is because he’s managed to strike it lucky by having a popular website. Think he’d be spewing the same crap if his website never got any traffic?

    “Thirdly, I realized that to a millionaire, any sum below $100 or so is essentially irrelevant. If you’re already a millionaire, a few dollars here and there just don’t matter. Worrying about those kinds of sums is like fussing over pennies. I started telling myself that there’s no financial difference whatsoever between a $20 dinner and a $50 dinner. Going to a $9 movie is nearly identical to seeing a $90 show on the Las Vegas Strip. Those amounts are just pennies anyway.”

    I think my head just blew up reading that paragraph. This guy is going to end up with nothing, it’s a virtual lock. Listen to this crap at your own risk.

  9. Old No.7 says:

    @RogerDucky: It’s call R.O.I. – Return on Investment. If I spend x amount of dollars on my business expenditures, and I can show y amount of net increase, then it’s a good business decision.

    It’s correctly computing the net increase to justify the x dollars that gets people.

  10. SOhp101 says:

    Here’s the 5 points for those who don’t want to read a nearly pointless article:
    1. It’s damned hard to earn a million dollars from scratch.
    2. Self-interest is insufficient motivation.
    3. Focus on providing value to others, and the money will follow.
    4. Becoming a millionaire requires a significant identity shift.
    5. Financial trolls must be shown no mercy.

    Here’s what the tips actually mean:
    1. It takes money to make money.
    2/3. (virtually the same) Your goal shouldn’t be to earn millions.
    4. If you think you’re a millionaire, it will help you become one.
    5. Don’t listen to people who insult you for being rich.

    As for step 4, it was poorly written. RogerDucky did a better job of explaining what he meant. While I’m sure the author meant well, he seems to disregard the fact that “counting pennies” is pretty much how Wal-Mart became such a huge force in the retail market. Focusing on the big picture is more important but there’s no need to let your wallet hemorrhage it all away.

  11. chrispiss says:

    Steve Pavlina is a joke, just like the rest of the “make millions” salesmen.

  12. crnk says:

    I love how he talks about this as something that can easily be done in 10 years instead of “saving for 40″……
    sorry people, I have no clue what everyone earns, but the only way I’d have any chance at making a million dollars in 10 years is with the lottery.
    The article was complete and utter BS….maybe everyone he has ever met makes a cool 200-800k a year, but by far, the vast majority of people don’t. I’ll save a significant portion of my income and have my million dollars in 40 years, since I’m not pulling in the 200k anytime soon

  13. lizzybee says:

    Does Steve Pavlina buy space on Lifehacker and Consumerist?

    Just curious– his stuff has never had any value to me.

  14. Most of the comments I read on consumerist generally aren’t this vitriolic, is there something about these types of posts (that they’re “best advice” types of posts instead of “Delta/Comcast/etc sucks!” types of posts?) that brings out the strongly opinionated?

  15. Dweezil says:

    Steve Pavlina has a wife that’s a new-age “psychic” and he’s lied in the past about how much his blog makes (what did he say his blog was making in his about page before he edited it? $30,000 a month?).

    The large majority of his advice is basically stuff you can get elsewhere in greater detail (there is nothing to differentiate him from other ‘motivational’ bloggers except for the psychic & paranormal discussion on his forum) plus the ‘intention manifestation’ model of self-help.

    Most damning, he’s a vegan. Never trust someone who refuses to eat anything even remotely related to animals. They’re hiding something.

  16. atarisuicide says:

    @PFBlueprint: I think it is because the “best advice” given in this column in particular is such a huge crock of shit that people are angry that it gets presented with any kind of authority.

    I’ll say it again, if you are taking dubious-at-best financial advice from a guy with $200k net worth, well…good luck and god speed.

  17. enm4r says:

    I was particularly amused by this line:

    It might seem counterintuitive that this method works, but it just does.

    Anyone who’s pitching a methodology and says “it just does!” isn’t worth the time it takes to listen. It’s fairly easy to gather what he meant as rogerducky points out, but he did a horrible job of explaining his point.

    He does bring up a point that is lost very often, however. It is often easier to earn money than save pennies, but most people rule out the earning aspect before they give it a chance. We’re not all going to earn $40k a month from a website providing useless advice, but it seems like in a week I could make an additional extra $X before you could save X, accounting for all other variables. The questions is whether or not the work is worth it…

  18. j-o-h-n says:

    The only thing of value in this 99% pointless article was what went unsaid: If you want to be wealthy, the best way is to own a small business and work your ass off.

    For far more valuable advice see the book _The Millionaire Next Door_

  19. RogerDucky says:

    In Steve’s defense — from the way his articles looks, he seems to be a relatively earnest person who’s not really very introspective. So, he writes down his experiences in earning money and tries to explain what worked for himself, but isn’t able to explain why it works for him.

    Does this make his advise bad? Not really. Just means you need to read between the lines more often than not.

  20. atarisuicide says:

    @RogerDucky: No, I’m sorry, the following advice is terrible.

    “Thirdly, I realized that to a millionaire, any sum below $100 or so is essentially irrelevant. If you’re already a millionaire, a few dollars here and there just don’t matter. Worrying about those kinds of sums is like fussing over pennies. I started telling myself that there’s no financial difference whatsoever between a $20 dinner and a $50 dinner. Going to a $9 movie is nearly identical to seeing a $90 show on the Las Vegas Strip. Those amounts are just pennies anyway.”

  21. chrispiss says:

    @RogerDucky: I was under that impression too. Except that his writing is where he makes money. Supposedly $40k a month from his blog is quite a bit of money. If he doesn’t keep shelling out the crap, his blog will go down and he’ll have to do something else.

    On another note, I found his advice to be particularly bad in the section where he talks about transforming your personality to that of a millionaire, or whatever. Like carrying around $500 in your wallet, convincing yourself that a $90 play is the same as a $9 movie, etc. Totally worthless and unnecessary writing. Changing your attitude towards stupid things like that won’t suddenly put you on the path to money.

  22. SOhp101 says:

    I should also add this is a formal request to Consumerist to no longer link to Steve Palina’s articles. I think this one alone shows how bs his advice articles really are.

  23. nearsite says:

    Alot of his ideas come from a self help book I’ve read entitled ‘Life 101′.

  24. MikeWas says:

    “This guy has a $200k net worth, which considering his age is really not very good at all.”

    Considering that he claims to have an annualized income of $480,000 off his blog alone, that’s worse than “not very good.” It means that he and his wife must be living completely high on the hog and saving nearly nothing.

    If he’s really earning that much money, and really want to be a millionaire, there’s no reason he couldn’t get there in four years or less if he invests with anything close to reasonable prudence.

  25. Dweezil says:

    @Nearsite

    I guarantee you that if you take several hours (it’s a pretty short book) out of your life to read Think and Grow Rich and another few hours to read beginner articles on Investopedia.com you will basically find everything in his articles minus the ‘rich people don’t know the difference between $10 and $100′ shtick.