I think it goes without saying that we should always be mindful of who is paying the money to get their message in our ears or eyeballs, and online personal finance is no exception.
Recently I read a post on a major corporate-owned personal finance blog written by a CFP who calls himself a retirement expert.
Except he’s a retirement expert that says “retirement is too risky” and that he never plans to retire.
That’s like being a member of a church your entire life and having the priest tell you on your deathbed, “I was just joking about that God stuff. It’s not real.”
It’s not hard to figure out why many retirement planners constantly talk in doom-and-gloom scenarios. They want to scare you to sell you things.
In the post, the author hints that the goal of work is wealth building. For me, the goal of work is retirement. I don’t want to work a day longer than I have to.
The corporate blogger said that retirement is dangerous for your wealth.
In one of my more popular posts on the Early Retirement Extreme movement, I imagine becoming an “Early Retirement Planner,” someone who works not on commission, but on their success in helping you retire early. This would be in contrast to those retirement advisors who tell you that “70 is the new 60!” as they speed off in their sports car you bought them.
Remember: It’s in their best interest that you work as long as possible and save for retirement as long as possible, even if you die with hundreds of thousands of dollars in a brokerage account, money you never even needed in the first place.
If you want to leave a large chunk of money to your heirs, that’s fine, but it’s okay to ease up and not work yourself to death in the process. Leave a little bit and enjoy your life while you are young.
I left a comment on the above-mentioned post expressing my sadness about the tone of the post, and of retirement planners in general. Someone responded to my comment by saying that studies are showing more people are accepting the fact that they will work in retirement. I replied that I wasn’t surprised that people are changing their attitudes about work, given that Wall Street and multinational corporations have been working to do just that for decades.
If you read the comments on most retirement-themed posts, there are plenty of ambitious worker bees who always express sentiments like “I don’t ever plan to retire!” and “I just can’t see myself ever not working!”
Like I’ve said in the past, I don’t judge people who define themselves by their work. I can’t relate to them, but I’m not mad at them. Some people have found their true callings through work, and I’m glad for those people.
Be Wary of Corporate Personal Finance Advice
As the years go by, more and more of the blogs and personal sites you visit are being sold to larger advertising companies beholden to even bigger companies – sometimes unbeknownst to the readers. That makes it easier to reinforce the cultural ideas that are already taking hold: work hard, borrow big, spend it all, what vacation?
Even when they aren't selling things, they are selling ideas and new cultural norms, and they have nothing but time to wait until they take hold and become reality.