3 min read
The biggest financial myth most young people believe is the idea that they have to move slow.
They mistakenly believe they have to work slowly and carefully through a career trajectory that lets them achieve peak income in their late 50’s. They think the only way to gain new skills is to take classes offered by their company. They think it takes 40 years to save enough money to be financially free.
Young people today are following a financial pace that society set long before the internet was invented.
Before the internet became widespread, knowledge was gained through experience.
If you wanted to learn how about computer programming you had to attend a college that offered classes or find someone to personally teach you.
If you wanted to understand how a 401(k) works you had to ask your parents, grandparents, or just wait until you had your own at a company.
If you wanted to understand the benefits of meditation you had to attend a retreat or read a book.
Knowledge and skill acquisition was slow. But with the internet, it can be as fast as you want. And yet, most of us still follow a slow pace.
A Self-Taught 18-year-old
I met an 18-year-old who works at my current company as a contractor, getting paid almost as much as me, and he’s a freshman in college.
How? Because he rejected the traditional time scale. He took it upon himself to learn programming skills and take free classes on Coursera to learn about stats and computer science while he was in high school. He didn’t ask for permission from anyone or wait until he was older.
My company pays him because he brings value to the team. They don’t care how old he is. He has the skills and he can help improve the bottom line. That’s all that matters.
The internet has changed everything and most people don’t fully understand this. The internet has broken the classical time scale we used to believe in.
Look Outside the Box
Most of us live in a little glass box listening to some instructor tell us the proper pace to advance through life and the internet is outside the box screaming “YOU DON’T HAVE TO MOVE SLOW ANYMORE. I HAVE ALL THE KNOWLEDGE YOU COULD EVER WANT.”
You could learn how to build your own website completely from scratch in less than two months.
You could learn enough about personal finance in six months to never need a financial advisor again. I’m dead serious.
You could learn how to graduate college with a positive net worth through a combination of frugal living, scholarships, and part-time work.
You could start a side hustle and learn how to make money purely online without leaving your home.
Sometimes I get emails from people asking how I learned so much about personal finance at such a young age. My answer is always the same: literally everything you could want to know about personal finance is on the internet. I just took the time to read and understand it.
My Own Pace
I have started setting my own pace over the past year and my net worth has skyrocketed as a result.
Last year I wasn’t sure if I was “qualifed” to start my own blog and share my thoughts in public. I didn’t know if I had permission from the world. But I built this site and started writing anyway. Now I earn hundreds of dollars each month from it.
In January of this year I didn’t know if I was qualified to be a tutor. I put myself out there anyway and found a way to earn over $1,000 in 30 days in my free time outside of class and work.
This past summer I applied for several jobs. For many of them, I had the credentials but I didn’t feel old enough to deserve the income. I put myself out there anyway and landed a high-paying job.
You Don’t Have to Move Slow
The internet has destroyed the traditional financial pace people used to follow.
You don’t have to wait until 65 to be financially free.
You don’t have to wait until you’re 40 to start making good money.
You don’t have to spend the next 30 years paying off student loans.
You can learn any skill on the internet for free as fast as you want. You can listen to podcasts on 1.5x speed on your way to work every single day and acquire life wisdom from incredibly bright people in a fraction of the time it took your parents to do so. You can acquire an understanding of finances and how money works at breakneck speed if you want.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to gain knowledge and learn new skills, and you certainly don’t have to abide by traditional time scales that society invented before the internet was invented.
You don’t have to move slow anymore.
My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.
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