Do you think that you need to follow some simple guide written by a “self-made millionaire” in order to get rich?
Think again – or better yet, turn that question around and ask it this way: How many of those self-made millionaires do you think got rich by reading some other dude’s “simple guide”?
How many people who read guides about bodybuilding become professional, 260-pound chiseled to the bone sponsored IFBB professionals or fitness models?
How many successful business owners turned their idea into a [multi]million dollar company by blindly following the steps outlined in a free guide on how to start a business?
Yeah, not many.
Our world tends to reward those who want to succeed the most. Very often, this means trying and failing (a lot), making friends and building a network of smart and dedicated people, engaging in uncomfortable conversations and getting out of our comfort zones.
Getting rich, like any endeavor in life, takes time for most of us. Time to realize the situation that our past spending has put us in, and time to correct the problem by making better decisions with our money. Making these decisions, consistently, are critical to building wealth.
But, guides don’t make decisions for you. More importantly, guides can’t make you WANT IT, and want it bad. You gotta want it bad enough to try, and guides won’t get your butt up from off of the couch to start making things happen. That responsibility falls on us.
Much of success is psychological
Let’s say that you stumbled upon a free guide to building a $10,000 a month business by selling on eBay. Clever titles draw us in and tickle our interests – even if we weren’t specifically looking for this material, who doesn’t want to earn another $10k by selling stuff on eBay?
And so we download (or buy) it, thinking that if we follow the steps outlined in the book, we’ll build our own $10k/month business. It might not all be easy, but at least we have the instructions.
The problem? If it were that easy to make $10k a month on eBay, everybody would be doing it. And if the information were so invaluable that somebody put it in a free guide, why wouldn’t this business idea be taking our country by storm? Earn $120k a year by following a simple guide? Wow!
Human nature forbids us from giving away lucrative formulas for pennies on the dollar. In other words, let’s say you had a REAL formula for generating $10 grand a month. Like, it’s a real thing. It works every time.
Would you give that secret up in a simple guide for $9.95 a pop?
Let’s get real. The information might be spot on accurate. The insights may also be truly profound. The knowledge contained within the covers of the guide could be so useful that $10,000 a month may only scratch the surface of what is possible. The book may truly be a valuable resource.
But in life, blindly following steps outlined in a book only works in a purely academic setting – and even then, following steps may not produce the desired result.
Building a successful business takes motivation and desire to achieve, big time. To make $10,000 a month on eBay, we must WANT an eBay business, not $10,000 a month.
Our minds need to be focused on building the business, not swimming in piles of cash.
Many times, it takes sacrifice. It means saying no to guy’s night, or passing on that dinner invitation and spending your weekends maintaining and growing your business instead of nights on the town.
In other words, stuff that no guide can ever teach.
That said, free guides are not all bad. The best guidebooks provide us with “actionable motivation“, or enough information and/or enthusiasm to make us want to start moving, get excited or otherwise more knowledgeable about a subject that you’re currently pursuing – something that you can apply to your life, today.
Where simple guides can help
I would be a damn fool if I didn’t recognize the good that these free money-making guides can provide. While many are pure advertisements disguised as legitimate content, others do contain valuable information.
Guides can help you to get started – If you truly want a better financial life for you and your family, but you have no idea where to start, a guide can point you in the right direction.
Guides can build a foundation – Though these guides often contain fairly generic “beginner”-level information, that is often all we need to set the wheels turning in our heads for further effort.
Specific guides can be a great value – For example, “How to start investing in index funds” will certainly offer more detailed information on building true wealth than, say, “How to make $50 a week by selling yarn”, or “How to make an easy $1m in a year”.
Like I said above, many guides do contain valuable information while others don’t. How can we properly evaluate whether a guide is worth our time?
Look through the web site – If the site reads like nothing but a cheap “get rich quick” advertisement to you, then it may not be worth your time reading.
Check out the author – Use Google to research the author a bit. Forum posts are often a great source for helpful feedback about the writer of the guide. The more positive the feedback, the greater the likelihood that you will take something useful from the guide.
Is the guidebook on Amazon? If so, browse through the reviews for a quick and dirty determination of whether or not the material is worth the effort.
Or, just read through the first chapter, then decide. This will take a little time, and you might have to cough up your email address and get spammed incessantly because of it, but giving the guide’s first chapter a quick read is another way to determine its usefulness for you.
Remember, anybody can write a guidebook, and Amazon’s publishing system makes it incredibly easy to publish books with very little effort or, quite frankly, knowledge on the guide’s subject.
Remember, guides can’t make you want it
It will never matter how much material that we read – if we don’t want something bad enough, then no guidebook on the face of the planet is going to change that. They can get us started. They might even motivate us initially. But unless we make the decision to GO FOR IT, we won’t reach our goals.
I would like to hear from you. Are there any free financial guidebooks that you have read and found to be useful? I remember reading the Motley Fool’s guidebook when I was a kid (note this guide was not free, but cheap). It was high level, but still very approachable and easy to understand.
Are you currently reading a guidebook (of any subject)? Has the book provided you with actionable motivation?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.