Sam D. Miller

Marketer and YouTuber based in Atlanta

The dark side of personal finance

There’s a dark side of personal finance that’s killing our society. And it’s everywhere, from Snapchat, Facebook and LinkedIn to anywhere we consume content online. Worst of all, the offenders are often high-profile personal finance blogs like The Penny Hoarder, and Save the Student.

What am I talking about? Plain old bad advice. Horrible advice, for that matter. And there’s a reason this bad advice is being spread – it’s lucrative for publishers in the personal finance world. Think affiliate links, sponsored posts, and hard sells. It seems as though everyone’s out to just make money, rather than help people. And in the personal finance world, and that’s a huge problem.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a ton of shady and suspicious ads popping up in Snapchat. These are ads that have been clearly approved by Snapchat, and the ads are selling get rich quick schemes, extreme fat loss schemes, and social media marketing schemes – to name a few. In Snapchat’s case, it’s clear that the company values the ad revenue versus curating and allowing only high-quality legitimate ads to appear on their platform. And that’s too bad.

One of the ads I kept seeing on Snapchat linked out to an article on The Penny Hoarder. I’ve heard of this site for years, but never quite realized how awful it is. For a full-fledged rant on The Penny Hoarder, read this article. In short, it seems as though every other word in The Penny Hoarder’s articles are affiliate links. I don’t mind an affiliate link thrown in on occasion, but when every article is laced with them and it’s obvious the author couldn’t care less about teaching you (and instead shoves bogus products and offers down your throat) it starts to really annoy me.

If you do a Google search for ‘make money’ or any similar phrase, you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about. The advice is all the same… Take online surveys. Search the web and let a company track your history. Trade stocks. Review websites. Use cash back apps. None of these are worthwhile, and none of these will give Average Joe anything more than a couple bucks in exchange for lots of time or personal information.

There are good personal finance blogs and websites out there. I run across tons of small blogs that are doing things right. But for the most part, once a blog gains a significant following, the owner sacrifices quality and integrity in exchange for an income (or a lump sum, if they get bought out).

Long story short, don’t get sidetracked by get rich quick schemes, don’t waste your time on money making strategies you don’t understand, and understand what it looks like to be “conned” online. I want to read personal finance articles that really have my best interests at heart, and I imagine you want the same thing.

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