Am I an elitist pig?

Ramit Sethi

I was in New York for a few days, so back to regular posting.

I ran across this blog entry yesterday, which is pretty thought-provoking:

Ramit Sethi’s otherwise-great site I Will Teach You to Be Rich is a classic example of rich-person thinking; he assumes that people in their 20s can afford to take risks in their investments, because if worst comes to worst, we can just move in with our parents. Can all of us who have studiously avoided burdening our parents for the last 5-10 years laugh uproariously together?

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The whole article has more thinking: “on becoming a capitalist pig.”

She’s right, I do think that. But is that wrong?

What do you think?

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  1. Jennifer

    I think you’re elitist in the sense that you assume:

    a). Everyone has a good relationship with their mature mentally and financially stable parents.

    b). Twenty-somethings don’t have anything holding them back: no kids, no health issues, no addictions, no past

    c). Every one who went to school is educated

  2. Bryan Covington

    I can certainly say that once I managed to move out it was a very serious pride issue to not move back in. I think I would have lived in some pretty rough conditions before I moved back home.

    The earlier poster also make an excellent point. Many people’s parents are relying on THEM for support, not the other way around. Several of my friends in college sent money home to help out.

    We all speak from our own point of view, but I think if you’re giving advice to folks you might want to consider those folks outside the 75% center.

  3. Michael

    IMHO it’s also a basic characteristic of entrepreneurs that we don’t focus on the negative results, but only the positive. If you fall, you just get up again.

    And honestly even if you don’t have the parents to fall back on its still a simple matter to have a backup buffer of cash or get a menial labor job to support yourself. To achieve success a certain amount of risk needs to be taken.

  4. asterisk

    Holy goodness, someone found my site! Ramit, I love your site and I’m not trying to insult you. I had just always thought I’d be more comfortable taking risks as I got older, rather than risking the little I have at the moment, so your advice really surprised me. I think Jennifer’s #2 sums up the rest.

  5. JC

    If you don’t take risks with your investments, you’re not investing at all! Without risk there is no reward! However, I would be surprised if Ramit is suggesting that 20-somethings get involved in rank speculation with their meager savings.

    As far as the parents thing goes, I think I’d rather have root-canal without anesthesia than move back in with the family unit… But if some people feel comfortable doing so, more power to them.


  6. jim

    People like it when everyone acts in the herd. They don’t like to know the guy who takes risks and swings for the fences… because what if they hit a home run?

    I run a personal finance blog, it’s simple, it generates some extra cash, but my friends ridiculed me on my “nice website, haha, what a waste of time!” Then I flashed a Google Adsense check and they’ve since shut up.

    I’d rather be an elitist pig, taking risks, than a cubicle mole working the 9-to-5 for the rest of my life.

  7. Sam

    I moved back in with my parents at 20 when my start-up went into a “low revenue phase” 😉

    My parents are middle-class but not especially wealthy; and at that level I think that your relationship with your parents is a more significant factor in deciding factor in whether you can rely on them for serious support.

  8. derek_

    I think making a generalization about anyone because of their age is ignorant. I honestly think it’s on par with stereotyping someone because of their race. There’s too many variables in people’s lives. So far I have really enjoyed this site but since you asked, I thought I’d share.

  9. Miss Barnes

    Well I dont think its elitist at all…

    I am in my very early 20s, done with college, and in grad school to pay the bills while I try out many rather risky ventures…

    there is one problem though. my family is more broke than I have ever been. Moving back in with parents would mean not knowing where my next meal would come from…

    So maybe my risks are more “risky” if you will, But I figure if I screw up I’ll just get a regular job later. lol.

    I do admit at getting annoyed when people assume I have the cusion of my parents money to support me when thats not even close to the case. But thats my own issues haha.

  10. Jennifer

    Sorry, Ramit. Didn’t mean to start a bash fest. We all have our assumptions about how the world works. You and my freshmen have poked some holes in mine, which were:

    a). All psych majors nickel and dime it for the ‘greater good,’ not for lack of empowerment

    b). People who have fun are paying 20% APR or still getting an allowance from daddy.

    c). I need to get married because I will never be able to afford property on my own outside of Fargo, MN and owning property is the first step towards any kind of freedom

    d). If people from the ghetto don’t know something, then it is the fault of the educational system and we all need to slow down because being on the same page is ideal

    e). Rich people are middle class people who just got lucky. They were in the right place at the right time and, bam, some money just fell into their lap.

  11. Jacq

    To me, it seems more like Ramit is holding his readers to higher standard than they do for themselves. Steve Pavlina addressed this very topic yesterday.

    When we are faced with someone expecting us to be better than we are, we can do two things.

    • We can turn on the victim mentality and accuse people of being elitist, or
    • We can take a moment to evaluate what they’ve said and consider the possibility that they might be on to something.
  12. Denny

    Is money going to make a person happy?

    There are many poor people all around the world who often times don’t have enough to eat, yet they are very happy, close-knit units.

    On the other hand, there are many rich people who are absolutely miserable. The husband cheats on the wife, the wife treats the husband like a money machine, the kids are treated as burdens, and so on.

    For instance, I have a friend who babysits for a couple in DC. The kids get no attention from the parents whatsoever. They’re always running around doing a billion things to keep the money flowing.

    Recently, the wife miscarried. The husband shows up without the wife saying, “I had some work to do.” And the wife calls saying something about how lucky she was to have her laptop computer around to pass the time.


    What good are big, beautiful houses to such broken families? Children becoming commodities and liabilities, possessions and pocketbook drainers. No more dancing parents. It’s all become financial. A big business deal.


    No wonder children are thinking less and less about the precious gift of life. Contraception and so-called “safe sex” are running rampant in the streets. Abortions of convenience are becoming the norm. Morning after pill after morning after pill!

    Why must an innocent suffer so that we can get what we want? Who is more innocent than an unborn child? A potential life?

    Yet we don’t think in these terms. We have used our oh-so-big brains to explain away anything that stands in the way of personal gratification. The idea of money as happiness leads to such ridiculous behavior.

    There is no end to pleasure seeking. There is always going to be more. There is always going to be somebody better than you. And then you are going to die. Then what?

    If you haven’t loved anything other than your own comfort level all your life then your funeral is going to be a very cold one indeed. Your money isn’t going to love you back.

    Money is impersonal. Duh?! It has no personality. It doesn’t care if you are a prostitute, a drug dealer, a hitman, a banker, or a preacher. It is all the same to money.

    But to your mother, your brother, your sister, your son, your daughter… you relate to them on a personal level. Your unique aspects are taken into consideration. We affect one another in a profound way each and every moment of our lives.

    Sometimes all it takes to transform a miserable person is a single moment of attention. I worked with a woman not too long ago that was looking sad, so we sat down and talked about mundane things. Months later I found that she was on her way up to jump off the roof.

    Mundane things. But that is not what was important. If I had been chasing the dollars, what would’ve become of this woman?

    You may not think one person is important in the grand scheme of things. Hundreds die in a moment you might say. That is true, but why should one die feeling abandoned? Leaping off a 12 story building? And for what?!

    How many of us pass by that person on the street that is crying? How many pass by the drunk and call him a low-life, loser, unworthy of attention? Untouchable?

    We have an unofficial caste system here, and it is almost ENTIRELY accepted. You probably haven’t even stopped to think about it — that you are also mistreating people on a daily basis.

    You are so caught up in your own trivial pursuits that you fail to realize how many people around you are doing 1000% worse. You fail to encourage when you have the opportunity. You fail to listen when the other person is in desperate need of being heard.

    Then again, passing by an elephant man, most of us would pity him. He is ugly after all. He is a repulsive creature. Poor chap must be very depressed. Yet you are the one walking to happy hour!

    That man is quietly singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and you’re heading off to get wasted.

    But “Poor guy, miserable soul…” Words that are spoken only to please ourselves in some sick twisted fashion. We’re not happy, so we project this on the innocent elephant man. Who are we trying to convince? How is it being compassionate to label every character we meet in some way or another?

    Maybe he’s not an elephant man. He’s just a bald guy, a fat dude. Maybe it’s a woman with a big mole. A dirty person. Somebody who kinda stinks. What? What do we really know about them? We haven’t taken any time to talk to them. We’re just following the herd. Copying the behaviors of everybody else.

    What will so-and-so think of me if I stop to give this man a quarter? What if I stop and try to speak with this person on an individual level, as if they were an actual human being???

    But who is to be blamed? After all, what choice do we have? We were brought up in a “civilized world.” We have fancy sciences, fancy clothes, fancy foods, fancy cars, fancy words, fancy everything!

    We even think that the more money we have, the happier we are going to be. Yet where does that road end? When are we ever going to have enough? When will we feel secure?

    If you found out tomorrow that you only had 24 hours to live, would you still think money is important? No, it is going to be revealed for what it is — a distraction!

    You are going to see that those things you paid the least attention to were actually the most important. You are going to see this, but by then it’s going to be too late. No time machines for sale.

    In fact, what we have now is all that is important. After all, when do you ever have anything aside from right now? You never have anything yesterday and you never have anything tomorrow.

    Whenever you have something, it is right now. Not a moment before, not a moment after. Yesterday and tomorrow are just projections of the mind. Absolute fiction.

    The most fundamental things are life and love. Without these two, what do we have? We have nothing.

    So why would we want to rob anybody of these? If they are important to us, imagine how valuable they are to others, especially those who are yet to be born! (Some people say that life in potential is not life, yet, oddly enough, the same would not deny that potential energy is still energy.)

    We should treat others as we would like to be treated, whether it is a life in potential or a life lying in the gutter covered in its own vomit.

    WHATEVER YOU DO, PLEASE PUT MONEY IN ITS PLACE. Money was made for man, not man for money.

    There is a great danger in money. Money and sex. They have there place, but they can put us in places we really don’t want to be in.

    Moderation and balance are key. However, as some wise man said, there is no excess in love and charity.

    Best wishes,

  13. Ramit Sethi

    The point of this site is not just to make money. It’s to be rich. There is a difference, and I’ve written about it before: Why Do You Want To Be Rich?

  14. Denny

    I’m not criticizing your site, Ramit. I think it’s wonderful that you’re sharing
    your knowledge with people. Undoubtedly, many people will benefit from this

    However, like you have mentioned elsewhere, many times we fool ourselves into
    thinking we understand something, if only because it brings with it a certain
    amount of comfort.

    I’m simply emphasizing that we should give considerable thought to that question:

    It should be primary. We have the weight of the whole society pushing us along
    like the current in a river. We have to elect whether it is right to swim with it
    or against it. Why is everybody swimming that way? Do I want to swim that way
    too? What is over there? Etc.

    Our society obviously does not give this enough thought, because families are
    collapsing left and right. 50% divorce rate or something like that. It is terrible.

    Think of dating. It is coming out of the consumer mindset. "Try before
    you buy."

    It makes a mockery out of marriage really, because marriage is primarily about
    sacrifice and compromise, isn’t it? It is about giving oneself to another, but
    here in America, we go into the whole thing thinking "Well, who is going
    to SATISFY ME? Who will meet MY CRITERIA?"

    Well, who in the HELL are you? Did you just fall out of some cloud in the sky?
    Are you some raindrop from heaven? Perfect on all sides?

    We always try to pin our shortcomings on other people. In our society,
    we make this very easy, very convenient.

    People are not only NOT told that waiting to get married before having sex
    is your best bet, but we are actually ENCOURAGED to try out multiple partners
    prior to getting married from a very early age.

    Thie hidden message is that marriage is all about sex and nothing more. It is all about gratification.

    This undermines the principles of marriage directly. And we wonder why they
    don’t last.

    Besides, the fact remains that one doesn’t have to be rich in order to be happy.

    Many people who live in mansions are actually homeless people. They don’t live
    in their immediate surroundings, but in the streets of worry, fear, and desire.
    This is clearly very sad.

    But if you’re comfortable in your own skin, you have a home no matter where
    you go. Even if all of your assets are wiped out in a natural disaster, you
    are going to remain happy.

    Even when death comes for you, you will be happy still, because you are not
    holding onto anything, it can’t take anything away.

    So, you may have the least, you may have the most, but so long as you are attached
    you are poor, and so long as you are unattached, you are rich.

    For all intents and purposes, the world could blow up tomorrow. Even if not,
    you are going to die one day. So on the individual level, money is ultimately

    You come into the world naked, you go out just the same. I’m merely emphasizing
    this point. It’s good to keep it in mind is all. It keeps things in their proper

  15. karishma

    I don’t think it’s elitist to expect young people who read a personal finance blog to be able to find some means of supporting themselves if their first (2ns, 3rd,…) entrepreneurial venture fails. Moving back in with Mom and Dad might not be an option for you, but finding a friend who will let you sublet a room, and flipping burgers to make the rent might be. Keeping in mind that it’s a temporary situation until you’re in a position to try your next business venture. The point is that when you’re in your twenties you don’t have a lot to lose, first of all, and starting over from scratch isn’t as much of a fall as it would be if you were older and richer.

  16. .vince

    its not wrong

  17. Bryan

    With great risk comes great reward. If you’re unwilling to take that risk, expect what you get in return.

    Also, don’t be a person who constantly thinks, “I can’t do this”. You’re setting yourself up for failure before you even start. I come from a financially unstable background, and my family was poor growing up, but i’m not letting that stop me.

  18. Alex Boutet

    Your theory can be wrong on one point.

    My parents are both in their mid-40s, they have a far-from-paid mortgage, lawyer debts, and a very bad opinion of investing. I tried to make them figure out, but my father says: “If I can pay the house before I retire, I’ll see then what I’ll do”.

    If I’d lose everything, my parents couldn’t afford the burden I’d become. This is not the case for everybody, but I can not afford to lose everything.

    Anyway, I won’t 😛

  19. Lorena

    i am not gonna say if you are a pig or not… i just tell a story:

    In the Roman empire, when a successful general returned from the battle, after having won, the whole village received him with plaudits and vitos.

    There was a civil servant whose work was consisting of remaining next to the general… and of saying to him to the ear ” REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE HUMAN ” … sometimes (me included) people believe we are God, and we have to be humble and don’t “¿loose the north?” (i don’t know if this phrasal verb is ok).

    Kisses 😉