“Seriously, you should write about this. People need to know what you did,” he said.
We were sitting in the downtown office of one Garth Turner, best-selling author and creator of the ultra-popular blog Greater Fool. He reached over, picking up the bottle of champagne on the conference table and motioning towards our empty glasses. I forget the year, but I remembered the name on the bottle. Victoire. Very fitting.
My wife stifled a chuckle. “And have your Blog Dogs jump down our throats like last time? Yeah, thanks but no thanks.”
The year was 2012. Miley Cyrus was still a wholesome family-friendly entertainer, Jon Stewart was the most trusted newscaster in America, and we were collectively laughing at the US presidential race about that one time Mitt Romney made a sexist remark by referring to “binders of women” on national TV (Good GOD, was that a simpler time).
We wrote into Garth’s blog about how we were frustrated with the housing market, how we had saved $500,000 and how we were trying to figure out if there was something more interesting we could do with that money rather than just blow it on a house like everyone else. As a result, we caused a minor riot among his readers (whom he affectionally calls the Blog Dogs for some reason). Within hours, over 200 entries had clogged his comment section. Some were supportive, some were curious, but most were attacking us. A Millennial? With MONEY? There was NO way that could happen, so we must have been filthy stinking liars.
We ended up meeting in person soon afterwards, a unique club whose members have all been accused of being “FULL OF SH*T” by the Internet. Little did we know, that meeting would end up fitting an important piece of our money puzzle together.
Like most naïve Millennials, we had assumed that the best thing to do to become financially responsible adults was to walk into a bank and find someone to invest our retirement accounts for us. What we found just made us throw up. One after another, the big banks just paraded out Gordon Gekko clones, with their slick-backed hair, thousand-dollar suits, and absolutely ZERO knowledge. Not one of them could withstand even basic questioning.
- How are you getting paid?
- How do I know you’re working in my best interest?
- Why do you think you can beat the market?
All we got was bullshit, bullshit, BULLSHIT. Not one of their answers could stand up to even a basic Google search. And these are the people we’re expected to hand over our life savings to?
Garth was different. Turns out he’s not only a blogger and best-selling author, he was also a financial advisor. And he was the only one who could invest in a way that Millennials like us could trust. No individual stocks that were picked by a proprietary system they couldn’t explain. No crazy options strategies that treated the stock market like a casino. Just a simple, easy-to-understand portfolio of low-cost ETFs that doesn’t try to beat the market, but just match the indexes. No attempts to day-trade and make a quick buck, just buy-and-hold, with periodic rebalancing that removed emotion from the equation. And he understood and even embraced our demand that we don’t own anything whose complexity can’t be explained to a six year old.
Fast forward to 2015. Three years later, we were 31, sipping champagne in his office and our portfolio balance was projecting in big, bold letters on the wall. We were millionaires.
“So,” the Great Bearded One said. “You two are now 1%-ers. How does it feel?”
We both shuddered at the thought. 1%-ers? Us? Everyone HATES 1%-ers.
Garth chuckled, sensing our discomfort. “I hope you reconsider, though. You know, about writing about what you accomplished. I can lecture people on my blog, but you two could do something way better. You’re inspiring.”
Inspiring? Us? Yeah, whatever.
So we thanked him, left his office, and promptly handed in resignation letters to our respective workplaces. A few months after that, we had sold our belongings, handed our keys to our landlord, and boarded a plane. In our back pockets were tickets to LA, New York, Boston, London, Amsterdam, and about a dozen more cities across the globe. A trip around the world to celebrate our newfound freedom.
And then something strange happened. In our travels, we met so many people. Millennials, just like us, who were confused by the conflicting voices pulling them in opposite directions. Don’t rent! Renting is for losers! Yet housing is no longer affordable. Be loyal to your company? Why should we when they have no intention of being loyal to us?
And the Mainstream Media isn’t helping. In fact, quite the opposite.
And here’s a recent email to Garth’s blog from a fellow Millennial with no fucking clue of what to do:
In less than 5 months prices have skyrocketed off the charts. We are at peak insanity. We aren’t even that close to Vancouver (almost 1 hour drive downtown with traffic, maybe 40 minutes if you are lucky). What is going on… can you please let me know.. something is not right.
And that’s when I realized the problem. Our generation, the Millennials, are naturally distrustful. We’ve been lied to too many times. A university degree will guarantee you a good job. Houses always go up. Company loyalty always pays off. What bullshit.
So when one of us actually finds a path to riches and freedom, we hide. Because we’re afraid of being hated. Millennials with Money is simply not a popular club to be in.
But here’s what we realized: If we don’t speak up, if we don’t talk about how we managed to pull off what we pulled off, then our generation is screwed. The Millennials will be left spinning, aimless, and the only voices left will be from the people telling us we suck. The ones that yell at us while providing no solution.
So when we flew back to Toronto, we met up with the Great Bearded One.
“Garth, you were right,” we told him.
His response: “Thanks, but about what?”
“We need to talk about what we did. And if we get haters, we get haters. This is bigger than us.”
Because if we don’t tell people what we did, and teach people how to do it themselves, then our generaton will continue to wander aimlessly, while the Boomers will continue to call us “greedy, self-absorbed and wasteful little shits.”
Because we are NOT greedy, self-absorbed, or wasteful. We Millennials are educated, socially-conscious, and environmentally-friendly little shits and don’t you god-damned forget it.
But I would like to say one thing. To any Blog Dogs that are reading this: we are sorry. Three years ago, when you hammered us with questions on how we did what we did, we withdrew and hid. We’re not proud of it, and if we could do it again, we would have done it differently.
So here’s our chance to make amends.
Blog Dogs, if you’re reading this, let us have it in the comments. Don’t hold back. It’ll be like old times.
Only this time, we won’t shy away. We won’t hide. Quite the opposite, actually. We want to start a movement. Because this is bigger than us.
Ask us anything. This time, on this blog, we will answer every question you throw at us.
So let us have it.