It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny promises of get-rich-quick schemes. After all, who doesn’t want to become a millionaire overnight?
But the truth is there’s really no fast track that will do all the work for you. If you truly wish to take control of your financial life and live free, you should stick to slow, “boring” solutions instead.
In today’s episode, Dylan talks about get-rich-quick schemes and their veneer of success, the merit of taking on a systematic approach to your finances, and more.
- [04:42] On the attractive “solutions” that the media tries to sell us
- [09:03] The FOMO trap of get-rich-quick schemes
- [14:10] Why get-rich-quick schemes are not the long game
- [20:26] The merit of boring but actionable solutions
- [24:55] Why a systematic approach will always win in the end
[00:00:00] Intro: Forget the civilized path. It’s time to break the chains of debt and dependency, take control of our financial lives, and live free. This is the Fiscally Savage Podcast.
[00:00:15] Dylan Bain: Hello and welcome to Fiscally Savage. I’m your host, Dylan Bain. And today, I wanna start with a tale of heartbreak. When I was 19 years old, I had just broken up with my girlfriend and it was messy. It was a hard breakup. And I found myself walking along the shores of Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I found this bench that was sitting there, looking out over the lake. And I sat down on one end of the bench and looked across at the water and the horizon and the clouds in the sky when this old man comes and sits down on the other edge of the bench and looks at me and says, “Looks like you’re having a hard day.” And I looked right back at him and I told him I just recently broke up with my girlfriend. And he let out a little bit of a chuckle and that’s when he asked me if I would be willing to do him a favor by allowing him to give some advice to me from an old man to a young man as he did not have any sons. And I didn’t quite know what to say by this offer, so I told him sure. Go ahead. And he begins to tell me a story of his wife who was recently departed and he tells me about how they met and, you know, all their courtship and, you know, their bringing their four daughters into the world. And then, he tells me, “You know, son? It’s not the candlelit dinners that actually matter. It’s the everything else we crave.” And I said, “Well, hold on a second. I thought that’s what we all wanted.” And he laughs and he says, “No. You see, the candlelight dinners are something that Hollywood puts out. They’re sexy. They’re the thing that we all see but they’re actually the end product. We don’t want the candlelit dinners. We don’t want the montage of sexy people doing sexy things.” He says it’s the boring we long for. We want the everything else because the candlelight dinner — without all the moments of comfortable silence, the hugs after a long day, the moments where you see and appreciate each other — that’s what makes the candlelit dinner what we think it’s supposed to be. And without all those other things, you’ll never have it. And he looked me right in the eye and he said, “Son, the only thing that matters ultimately is how you play the long game.”
[00:02:43] Now, ladies and gentlemen, I tell that story because that was nearly 20 years ago and it’s a day that haunts my heels like a wraith through the forest and I think about that all the time. The only thing that matters, son, ultimately is the long game. This man was trying to tell me at the time — and I heard his words but they didn’t make their way from my head and into my heart until many, many years later — was that what we look at is what we see are the ends of a process. And those ends are really sexy and exciting and amazing and we want in on them. We look at them and say, “Yes! That is the thing that I want.” But we avoid looking at the methodology that actually produces that thing. In my own life, I found that he was right. Candlelit dinners and romance is only as romantic as you are interested in the person because if you’re not interested in the person, it’s just creepy. And so, what we miss is that it’s the day-to-day activities that make the romance actually happen. And what we find ourselves competing in this world is we are awash with being able to see success and that success is sexy and we like it and we all wanna be there. When we think of our health, we see healthy fit people doing healthy fit people things. We see a friend of mine running a hundred miles in a ultra marathon this weekend. We see people doing parkour and it’s amazing and we’re jealous of it. We see families that are connected where they laugh and they love together, where they’re just comfortable; children that can truly open up and discuss their lives with their parents. In finances, we see people who seem to have it all together and they’re stable and they’re growing their wealth and they’re relaxed into it.
[00:04:42] And we see all this and we want it for ourselves. And it gets our attention because the success is sexy. We’re drawn to it. And the danger here is is that the media has an agenda and that agenda, of course, is always to make money. And ladies and gentlemen, I’ve talked about this before. I don’t want to sit here and say, well, the media supports one party or the media supports another party or blah, blah, blah, blah because that’s actually not true in my estimation. What I see is media companies that are in it for the money and nothing sells like outrage and fear. They sell us solutions so that we can have these things that they’ve shown us with health, with family, with wealth. And it’s always interesting to me because those solutions never work. I mean, how many times have we been in a situation where we’ve seen, “Just follow this four-step process and you’ll lose 20 pounds?” How many times have we heard advice about family, about how to talk to your kids? “Well, just go to them and sit ’em down and tell ’em how you feel.” Like that’s terrible advice. That doesn’t work. It sounds like it should work. It’s exciting. We can do it once. But just like with the candlelit dinner, if you sit your kids down and you haven’t made the day-to-day investment in their safety and their security and their attachment to show them that you are somebody who is safe and interested in seeing them succeed, opening up to them means nothing because they don’t trust you. And so, what we find is a lot of different things in this world — these solutions that are given to us with the idea that if you just do this, it’s gonna be fine. You’re gonna get the 30-day beach bod. That’s not physically possible but they’re gonna sell it to us because they’re showing us the end, which is very attractive. And now, they’re trying to sell us a solution that have methods that are equally as attractive. What they’re doing is they’re positioning themselves as the purveyors of secret knowledge. And if anybody knows anything about like male archetypes, we know that there’s one male archetype called the magician and their job is they’re the holders of knowledge to help people transition from one state to another. This is something that’s been part of human culture — every human culture across the entirety of written history. And what the media is doing is they’re positioning themselves as a magician-like person, selling you a solution. But it’s false because what they’re selling you won’t work. Ladies and gentlemen, it is so important for us to be aware of any solutions that are easy, exciting, and engaging. Or to put it in a more cliche way, beware the sexy. And this is one of these things where in the world that I play in, I see all the time; where people want to take big swings with their finances but the reality is they don’t need big swings. They need something else. And they want to take big swings because it’s what they’ve seen on YouTube or they’ve heard on their podcasts or they’ve seen on some advertisement.
[00:08:00] And I’m gonna make a little side note here, ladies and gentlemen. Part of the reason you see this is that one of the biggest pieces of business advice that gets thrown around is — and I’m quoting — find a problem that people have and offer them a solution. Now, this is actually terrible advice for a number of reasons. Number one: what they said was “find a problem that people have and offer them a solution,” not “offer them a solution that actually works.” You see, the point was to make the sale, not to actually create a solution. The other reason why this is terrible advice is that it encourages us to find a solution to the problem and then to fail to ask why we have this problem in the first place. And I’m gonna talk more about this next week. But in brief, getting rescued is great. Doing rescuing is grace. But not needing the rescue at all is even better. It’s just going to eliminate customers when you’re trying to sell them a solution. Alright. End of the side note.
[00:09:03] So, if what we want is the end that’s so attractive, whether it’s with our health or our family or our finances, the key here is to start seeing what isn’t shown to us directly. Now, what are we being shown? Well, we’re being shown a lot of wealth schemes. Now, if you spend any time on YouTube looking at personal finance channels, a lot of times what you’re gonna see is a ton of schemes, and I’m not gonna say scams because I don’t really want to get into whether they’re scams or not but they’re typically these schemes of how you could make tons of money and it’s gonna be really easy and it’s guaranteed. Why are you not doing this? Oh, you’re a fool. Now, if you remember from last Friday when we talked about Ponzi schemes, one of the ways to know when something isn’t right is when they’re trying to generate a sense of FOMO within you. That is the fear of missing out. And we see this all over the place. The current examples that you see a lot are crypto and like, let’s just be real. Like everybody’s abuzz about crypto. Bro, if you’re not in it, we gotta get in and huddle and it’s gonna go to the moon, baby. Why wouldn’t you wanna do this? Well, there’s a lot of very technical reasons why I wouldn’t wanna do this and there’s a lot of financial reasons why I wouldn’t want to do this. And the next one that we see a lot is the Airbnb strategy. Oh, we’re gonna buy up a bunch of billions. We’re in Airbnb and it’s gonna be great. Now, I’m from Kenosha, Wisconsin. That’s where I grew up. And so, when people are like, “Yeah, I’m gonna Airbnb in Kenosha, Wisconsin,” well, for starters, there’s like three of them in the entire county for a reason. People don’t go to vacation in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Now, are there some that are actually there making money? Sure. Are they going to be yours? Probably not. And the third one we see a lot is MLMs or multi-level marketing. They’re these people who come in and they say, “Well, hey. We can sell this product. Be your own boss. It’s like a sure thing.” And all three of these — and there’s a lot more — they’re get-rich-quick schemes with the idea that with minimal effort, you can just take a big swing and you’re gonna hit it out of the park and the only thing that’s missing is you being willing to just pony up and do it.
[00:11:10] And I’ve been around the block for a while at this particular point in time just given how many different jobs that I’ve had throughout my life and different things that I’ve done. I’ve seen a lot of late night television and spent a lot of time surfing around on the internet. And it kind of reminds me of when I was in college, all the ads for Forex trading and how you can make money overnight with just really small movements in the Japanese yen. Well, that sounds a lot like the current crypto fever that’s going on because when Forex trading — and that’s foreign currency exchanges, by the way, where I take US dollars and I buy Japanese yen and then the price of the yen versus the dollar would move and then I can cash out and make a ton of money or so they would say. What they don’t tell you is the vast majority of Forex trades are a.) Not successful in terms of making money; b.) The money they do make is absorbed by the fees that are charged; and c.) This is an extremely risky thing and that’s the part they never actually talk about. The other ones that I’ve seen are the mystery shopper. Get paid to buy your groceries. Somebody will be there to pay you tons of money just to go buy a couple of cans of soup. And then, of course, there’s the idea of trading timeshares, which is there’s this house in Florida and you have purchased this slot — maybe just call it the month of June — and then you’re gonna trade them out for high rent times and you’re gonna make a ton of money. This all feels very similar to me. And what they’re doing is they’re saying, well, hey, people have made money on this and it’s — they made a lot of money on it. And a lot of times it’s in the form of, well, I made a ton of money and it was great. And now, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna show you how to do it, too.
[00:12:53] Now, I’m gonna ask you a question and this is really important to understand and it might seem like a non sequitur but just stay with me here for a second ’cause we’re gonna come back around to it. But what are the odds that someone is going to win the lottery? And just take all the time you need. Maybe pause the podcast and think about that. But what are the odds that someone will win the lottery? The answer is 100%. Someone’s going to win. And this is really important because a lot of you, the majority of you, probably thought, well, it’s astronomically small, which, of course, if you take that one step further, if we all know it’s astronomically small, then why would you buy the lottery ticket in the first place because you’re basically just throwing money out the window? And the answers to these wealth schemes are basically in that question because the real question is what are you focused on? Well, you’re focused on this idea that money could be made. And is there people who made money playing the lotto? Well, yeah. But what are the odds it’s going to be you? Astronomically small. And we as humans are actually really bad at this game. We’re bad at risk assessment and we’re bad at probability. Quite literally, our brains are not wired to intuitively understand it.
[00:14:10] And so, as a result, they can throw a bunch of knowledge about crypto or Airbnbs or Forex or mystery shoppers or MLMs and they can show you the success — the end result of one very specific sample — and you go, “Wow! I gotta get me some of that.” That’s that FOMO. And what these things are ignoring is the influence of chance because every business venture, every investment has risk and because it has risk, there’s an element of chance. They’re rolling the dice. And whether they were in the right time and the right place by sheer dumb luck, those two things — chance and time and place — are more often than not completely discounted when they’re trying to present to you these wealth schemes. And the people who were successful in them, well, they rolled the dice and won. But because they won on a dice roll, they can’t leverage it again. Like for example, how many Bitcoin millionaires have you seen go out and then repeat that same process? Most of them can’t do it unless they create their own protocol, in which case then they’re now playing a different game. But they’re not actually predicting anything. They don’t have a methodology for figuring out the right crypto. And you can also see this in all these people who called, quote unquote, called a market, right? We see this all over the news right now with all the people, like “the man who predicted the crash has a new terrifying prediction.” Well, okay. Let’s just examine that. It’s a sexy headline. It’s easy to wrap your head around. It’s exciting. It’s engaging. And it’s this one guy who made one call. Well, like, on a long enough timeline, if you just go negative, negative, negative, you’re eventually gonna be right. At some point, the market’s gonna go down. So, if I’ve been a Cassandra this entire time, eventually, I’m going to be correct and then I can go, “Aha! I was right.” And we — everyone’s gonna look at me and be like, “What else does he know?” and that’s more or less is what is happening with these things. Can you make a lot of money in crypto, Airbnbs, and MLMs? Yeah. There’s people who do. What’s the chance it’s gonna be you? Really small. And that’s where we’re going with this because every single one of those is a get-rich-quick type of idea. They’re not the long game, though.
[00:16:28] And if you go and you talk to somebody who’s wealthy — go talk to some of the most wealthy people. Warren Buffett comes to mind. Carl Icahn comes to mind. These guys — who have been investors for years and years and years, who are really good at what they do. Or look at the Koch Brothers or pick any of the millionaires next door that live out in our neighborhoods — people who have what you want, whether it’s the body that you want, whether it’s the family that you want, whether it’s the wealth that you want. Go ask them: how did you do what you did? If you go talk to ’em, they’re going to explain a system to you that is boring as hell. Your eyes are gonna glaze over and you’re gonna stop listening to them because they’re gonna start telling you about, well, I make sure that I sleep well every night. And that’s not exciting. That’s not engaging. That’s not — certainly not easy. It’s simple but it’s not easy. And so, you’re gonna start going, well, no. That can’t possibly be the thing because it’s not a crypto strategy or the Airbnb strategy or blah, blah, blah. But that’s the point. The person’s telling you about a system that works over the long term. And it’s inevitable. It’s natural. And at that point, it’s well deserved. That’s what you’re seeing when you look at somebody who has an amazing body and is really fit. That’s what you’re seeing when you see a family that’s truly connected. That’s what you’re seeing when you see somebody who is comfortable in their finances. You’re seeing the end result of a well-functioning underlying system that is both boring and invisible but that’s what truly makes them the money.
[00:18:06] Don’t believe me? That’s fine. Let me give you some examples. How many times have you gone to the kitchen sink and turned on the water and went, “Wow! That’s amazing?” But if you stop and think about it, the fact that you could live in a place like Phoenix, Arizona and turn on your kitchen sink and water reliably comes out of it and you can drink it is a miracle of modern engineering. But if you try to explain to somebody how the water system works, they’re gonna go to sleep. And there are other systems like this that are completely core to literally everything we do that actually backstops these other things that are really cool and amazing and sexy, like cryptocurrency and Airbnbs and multilevel marketing programs. And, you know, I used the waterworks as an example but the electric grid? Ladies and gentlemen, if you know me personally, you know I know an unreasonable amount about electric grids and power production economics. And I’m a systems thinker, so this is like catnip to me. Like I can’t not research stuff like that because it’s just amazing. But that also falls into the Dylan reads things, so you don’t have to category and Bitcoin doesn’t work without it. But the electric grid and how we generate electricity, transport electricity, and consume electricity is boring to look at. And yet it’s what makes computing possible. It’s what makes Bitcoin possible. It’s what makes you being able to get out of bed in the morning and turn on the lights. That power switch that you use that turns on your bedroom light, if you trace the line back far enough, it dead-ends into an actual power plant. Think about it for a second. That’s pretty amazing and it’s also a snoozer. Telecommunications is another great example. Flying in an airplane, the grocery store. Like the fact that I can sit in Colorado and in January get a bunch of bananas is a bananas concept. Like it’s crazy talk. And yet we do it because there’s an entire global logistical supply chain that underpins that grocery store. And it’s boring as hell to talk about and it commands a multitrillion-dollar sector of the economy.
[00:20:26] Now, when you look at that or you look at the power utilities or you look at the telecoms or all of the money and time and effort that goes into the waterworks, things like Bitcoin and Airbnb and MLMs aren’t even close. They’re not even close just even on the core parts of the business, never mind although the things that they influence. The boring and the mundane is where the actual money is made and perhaps more importantly for you, dear listener, is where the highest probability of you being successful lies. That’s a hard pill to swallow. That is one of the things that makes certain YouTube channels, despite the fact them giving out amazingly good information, are not nearly as successful as other ones that are far more sensational. My podcast is a great example of this. I know that I might be interesting to listen to and dear God, I hope that I’m interesting to listen to, but I’m not gonna be sensational because I’m always dedicated to giving you good information that’s actionable that you can use. But it’s not going to be sexy and exciting. It’s going to be boring and mundane.
[00:21:32] And let me ask you this way. Let me give you another example so we can try to ground this into something a little more real. Imagine for the moment that you’re a baseball manager. And I give you two options because I’m a magic genie. I would love to be a magic genie maybe, but let’s just pretend that that’s the case. And I say, “Here are two different baseball teams. You can pick one. The first baseball team — they’re gonna only be capable of hitting singles and every time they’re at bat, they have a 90% chance they’re gonna hit a single. Versus there is this other team and there is — they’re only gonna hit home runs but they’re only gonna hit home runs 25% of the time. Now, which one do you want? The one that hits nothing but singles pretty damn reliably, or the one who hits the home runs every fourth at bat? Just take all the time you need with that. Because the question becomes do you want the excitement or do you want the win? Because if you had the team that hit singles 90% of the time, you’re undefeated for the whole year. There’s no way any team anywhere could possibly stand up to you because your team, it’s gonna be so boring to watch them win constantly. But every time they’re at bat, it’s a single and then another single and then another single. Whereas the team that’s gonna hit the home run will be much more exciting to look at. So, do you wanna win or do you wish to be entertained? And if you don’t believe me that this type of thing happens, you’ve probably heard of Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball or have seen the movie. What were they talking about? They were looking at statistical analysis of baseball players to say, well, hold on a second. What actually makes a good baseball player? Because what they were doing before was trusting the guts of the scouts they sent to go look at the potential players and were just going, “Yeah, it looks about right” without ever considering of whether or not it was right. And what happened was the teams became really good and then other teams started copying them. And what we ended up with is we now have baseball teams that are optimized to try to win using the Moneyball system, but they’re not much fun to watch. Like I remember before Moneyball watching baseball and it was super exciting.
[00:23:50] Let me give you another example of where this is currently happening. I had a — the great pleasure of being in high school in the 1990s and watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls steamroll everybody to not only get one three-peat but a second three-peat as well. It was exciting basketball — to watch how they would work together as a team, charge into the paint. I mean, it was incredible. The problem here is is that Michael Jordan would probably not be successful in today’s basketball arenas. Why? Because they started to moneyball it and they started to realize that the percentage of three-point shots was significantly more important to winning games than the two-point layups. And so, what you started to see is the rise of the sharpshooter teams where you have the power forwards or the shooting guards and all those other stuff. And it’s made for a lot of three-point shots but it’s not nearly as exciting to watch. And so, what the teams have chosen is to win over being super exciting because it turns out trophies are extra sexy.
[00:24:55] It’s important to understand that a systematic approach will always win in the end. Yes, there’s gonna be ups and downs. There’s gonna be setbacks and rough days. But in the end, the systematic approach will win 100% of the time because it’s inevitable. You just need to play for the long game over a long enough period of time. And when it comes to our money — and the reason that this episode is so poignant right now is when I’m looking at my planning, I’m gonna start talking about budgets. And I’m gonna start talking about investing and business meetings with your partner. And half of you, your eyes have glazed over because you’re like, “Man, I just want to have a good Airbnb strategy.” Cool. There’s an entire raft of people making a lot of money in advertisement in YouTube by selling you courses that won’t actually make you any money. And what I’m trying to present to you is a systematic approach that wins in the end when we play the long game. It’s not gonna be the most interesting thing, although, ladies and gentlemen, I will do my absolute damnedest to make it as interesting as humanly possible. And I might even crack a joke or two along the way. We don’t know. So, stay with me on that. But I wanna leave you with this question before we move on and close the episode. And that is: what are your systems? And if you’re looking at it and going, well, I don’t really have any systems, no, no, no. You do because we all know the person who really wants to get in shape. We all know that person who wants to have better relationships with their family. We all know that person who’s, you know, they’re now ready, they wanna get — take control of their financial life at this point but they’re in a particular position because they have a system that brought them there because they were playing the long game to be in the position that they’re in right this second. So, my question to you again is: what is your system? And if you continued playing that system for the long term, where will you end up? Or another exercise that you can do is to look at it and say, “Well, I have my vision” — and if you’ve not gone and listened to my episode on a financial vision, you totally should. That’ll be a great place for you to start — I have my financial vision or I have the perfect body that I want to get in my head or I have the how I would like a Saturday afternoon with my family to go. And my question to you would be: if you wanted to guarantee that you couldn’t have that, what would you do on a day-to-day basis to make sure you could never have that? And then look at the systems in your life that you’re currently employing and ask yourself: how close am I? Are the systems I’m using aligned with my vision? Or more importantly, ladies and gentlemen, are you playing the long game or are you just hoping to take big swings, eventually connect, and hit it rich?
[00:27:44] And I know exactly how it feels to have to — for the first time maybe in your life — confront the systems that you have built into it. Because that day on the shores of Lake Michigan with that unnamed old man haunts me to this day. I think about it all the time when things get hard. And I never saw him again. I went back to that bench many times and never once did I see him. And I’d like to believe that at the end of the day, he got what he was looking for, which was to give advice to a young man, to the son that he told me he never had. And I’d like to believe that his advice was meaningful enough to keep me focused on the long game from then until now. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for listening. If anything I say touches your heart or you’re listening to me and saying, “Man, I really wish my friend would hear this message,” please share the show. Give me a rating and review. Go to my website and sign up for my email list. We’re focused on the long game here. We’re creating systematic approaches that will help you take control of your financial life and live free. I’m honored to be sharing this journey with you, ladies and gentlemen, and I can’t wait to celebrate your success.
[00:29:02] Outro: Thanks for listening. If you like what we do here, please hit that subscribe button. Leave us a rating and review. And share the content with somebody who would benefit from the message. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all @fiscallysavage. And head over to fiscallysavage.com to get our free tools, suggested reading, and everything else you need to take control of your financial life and live free.