Personal Finance Success Stories: Before You Feel Envy, Read Between the Lines

Yesterday there was a story on Yahoo, “I Had No Savings at 40 But Retired by 60,” and there were well over 5,000 comments. I love reading these stories AND the comments because you can learn a lot (and laugh a lot) when you put them together. Reading “success” stories is sort of like “Facebook Envy.” Reading about other people’s personal finance success stories (“I am debt-free!!!!!”) can leave you frustrated and burned out–just like the feeling you get when you read about your Facebook friends’ fabulous vacations, parties, homes, kids/families, careers, personal fitness, etc., etc, etc. 

money issues
Read between the lines when it comes to personal finance success stories. (

I will share a quick story about Facebook. There was this one “friend” who would constantly post fabulous things about this “fabulous” life. I hated those posts so I hid them so I wouldn’t see them. Later I found out it was all a complete lie, and this person is now divorced, and it wasn’t a “fabulous” divorce.

I’m telling you this so you can also take all these super-success stories about getting out of debt with a huge grain of salt. Not everything is as it seems! (That’s the big life lesson I’m trying to impart to my kids….it took me till I was in my 40s to learn that gem.)

Take that particular Yahoo story. After reading it you may think wow, what a great story. But…there are lots of little red flags in this writer’s story. Sure it’s a contributed article which means it’s not edited. It sure wasn’t edited! The writer talks about how his wife’s “spendthrift abilities we were able to pay off all of our credit card debts.” Hmmmm. If he married a spendthrift, he certainly wouldn’t be out of debt. And there are other little red flags, as well….just read the comments…

I remember when I watched Suze Orman’s show and she would have guests on that were down on their luck….then the next guest would be the opposite: some girl in her 20s who owned her own house free and clear and who already had a million bucks in her 401K. Seriously? Suze had a ton of those types of young guests on all the time and it seriously made me frustrated and mad. I would question how these guests were so young and established. I just don’t believe it. I stopped watching Suze Orman’s show (we don’t get CNBC anymore anyhow now that we cut down our cable package).

My ramblings above are simply to help you think twice before feeling so envious of other people’s financial success stories. Not everything is as it seems. Be inspired by them, for sure, but don’t live and die by them and think you are an utter failure just because you didn’t own a house free and clear when you were 25 years old.

~Marilyn, TFF


One thought on “Personal Finance Success Stories: Before You Feel Envy, Read Between the Lines

  1. I have to agree with you that financial success stories are done overnight and not all out smile all the time. There are stories and red flags involve in every success story. They may say the rest was history but there were so many struggles behind it so we need not to be jealous about it.

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