Last year I was attending a conference where I was discussing with two individuals that I potentially wanted to start my own business. These two individuals were self employed and were unequivocally in agreement that I should get started right away. Go for it. Just get it started. No looking back. Five minutes later, I come to find out they had spouses that were either finishing residency or were physicians already. I was like, “Are you kidding me???” That’s a big detail to leave out. I don’t care what anyone says, but quitting your job to start a new business when your household is not dependent on your income is very different from when it does.
Social Media Influencers
One newer career path that seems to lack transparency is that of the social media influencer. For those not in the know, a social media influencer is a person who has a large following on social media and gets paid by companies to advertise their products or services. The followers of these social media influencers have no idea how much they are being paid to make the post, how much commission they’ll receive going forward, or if the person likes the product or really uses it at all. Basically zero transparency. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth for sure when I see these posts/ads pop up. I believe the influencers are supposed to tag their posts to let the reader know they are an ad, but not everyone follows this rule.
Personal Finance Writers
There has been some push back against certain frugality and personal finance bloggers as of late. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone needs a little frugality in their lives and can always save more. No matter what, a majority of these blogs are net beneficial to their readers. Where the issue comes in is blogging about achieving financial independence through frugality when you are in the top 5% or 3% or 1% of American households without disclosing that information. Can you give the reader general advice about personal finance without disclosing your own financial situation?
A little transparency goes a long way in instilling a sense of trust, especially regarding personal finance bloggers, but it is not appropriate in all situations (e.g., privacy). In the end, we all have to be responsible for our own decisions. We need to do our own math and weigh out pros and cons before making a decision that could potentially have negative (financial) implications on our lives. Never take an internet stranger (like this one) for their word without doing your own homework first.