I hate secrets, but I have one

Ramit Sethi · February 9th, 2007

I hate it when personal-finance people say they have “5 SECRETS TO GETTING RICH!!!” and other crap like that. As I wrote before, I don’t have any secrets about getting rich.

But I do have one trick I’ve learned about getting great deals on big-ticket items like a car and an apartment. Now if you’re looking for some shiny secret that will amaze your friends, this probably isn’t for you. This isn’t sexy. It just works.

I’ll write about it in my newsletter, which I’m sending out Monday, 2/12, at 10am PST.

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  1. I don’t see the point to make me register to a newsletter, I get the rss feed, it should be enough. I won’t go the extra mile.

  2. Newsletter is so 1998. What the hell… i mean yes, you tricked me into signing up, but come on.

  3. Yesterday itself I was thinking of emailing you to ask what exactly is the purpose of sending newsletters and not posting the ‘secret’ information on the blog. And now since you wrote about it, I have to know now.

    Why having ‘newsletter subscribers’ important? Why ‘feed subscribers’ are not given the information that is in the newsletter?

    If I sound offensive then I am sorry. That’s not my intention. It’s just that I am ignorant and still learning about blogging stuff.

    And no, I have not yet signed up. 🙂

  4. I really like your writings.. but I agree with the goons above – mass mailings are old hat. I just don’t see the benefit on either side.

  5. Ramit Sethi

    Guys, not everyone is technical and uses RSS feeds. Most people don’t, and opt-in email is really useful for reminding people to check out the site.

    If you don’t want to subscribe, that’s cool and I understand. But email newsletter are actually really valuable and I use them intentionally.

  6. cheesiest line ever!!

  7. “Guys, not everyone is technical and uses RSS feeds”

    Ramit, so ‘technical’ people don’t get to read what ‘non-technical’ people get to read?

    I am still trying to understand why few things are ‘exclusively’ for newsletter?

    I think we ‘goons’ are taking it too far.

    You don’t need to give explanation if there is none :).

    Keep the good stuff coming..

  8. I signed up for the newsletter right now but it said my e-mail address was already on file. Would you mind telling me when the last one was sent so I can know if it was blocked?

  9. Ramit: do you have a privacy policy posted somewhere? I’d like to read your newsletter but no way in hell I’m signing up just to have my email address sold to the penis-enlargement folks.

  10. Ramit Sethi

    The last email newsletter was sent about 2 months ago.

    I don’t have a private policy posted, but here it is: I won’t ever resell or redistribute your email addresses to anyone, ever.

  11. unsubscribed from your rss feed. Between the 6 part stories and this email newsletter crap you severely devalue your blog. if wanted to put up with traffic/click gathering gimmicks there are 100s of other sites I can get that from.

  12. Graham Kaplan

    Laaame. I just finished unsubscribing to all the newsletters I got because I never read them!

  13. Graham Kaplan

    …and yet I’m still going to sign up for your newsletter. What? I’m curious
    what the secret is!

  14. I hate how the internet, like motor vehicles, seemingly gives people some pseudo-courage through anonymity that cause them to act like the world revolves around them. It’s a free blog, free newsletter, if you don’t like something, why even bother to complain?

  15. Unsubscribing

    same as 11

  16. That is so cheap! Ramit, I can’t believe you are doing this to your readers. Well, I guess you never can have enough and don’t the road all tricks are good. I just hope it won’t happen to me.

  17. I haven’t got a clue how to do this RSS thing and yes I like e-mail newsletters. But then I am 42 years old 🙂

  18. listen to your constituents, the blog isn’t what it used to be. disappointing to be sure.

  19. Relax guys, it’s just a newlsetter, don’t sign up if you don’t want to.

  20. Well I subscribed, but if the secret sucks, I’m unsubscribing.

    You’re giving out valuable information, you are certainly entitled to do it on your own terms. If you want newsletter subscribers, or if you want ads all over the place, be my guess. As long as the information is worth it, touche!

  21. I echo every one. Really lame! Did you go to some “internet marketing” seminar where they told you how to give newsletters away for free, and then eventually get people to pay for them?

    Your brand image just fell down the shaft for me! Good bye!

  22. Bo Williams

    I don’t know, Ramit… call me paranoid but it feels like the first step down the road that led to the ruin of Motley Fool. When are you starting the hot stock tips newsletter?

  23. We love Ramit. That’s why complaining.

    Otherwise won’t even bother. 🙂

  24. The Financial Ladder

    I have a wonderful secret too. All of you will have to click on my sites link to see it though…

  25. For all the witty saints whining about Ramit’s decision to release this only to email subscribers:

    Ramit wrote some stuff here that I can’t value in dollars, so in return for the value he injects into my mind, I understand he’d want at least something in return.

    No, I’m not going to subscribe to the newsletter and will probably miss “the secret”, but you know what? as long as Ramit continues to provide the value to your lazy-ass brains, he’s got the right to promote his interests as well.


  26. “I hate it when personal-finance people say they have “5 SECRETS TO GETTING RICH!!!””

    Funny. Me either. You just lost another RSS reader. (After being subscribed for about 2 weeks)

  27. People sure do get upset when you offer to send them a newsletter, which proves a little something about the Internet that I call “John’s Law:” – People on the Internet will whine about anything, anytime, and should usually just be ignored.

  28. Jennifer Lynn

    My, my, aren’t we a whiny bunch this morning.

    First of all, not everyone knows what the hell a RSS feed is, unless they’re specifically involved in the blogging community. I just started blogging a little over two months ago and I still have no idea how RSS feeds work (ya, ya, I’m working on it).

    For organic traffic, ‘newsletters’ and ’email signups for updates’ are a godsend. They are something almost *everyone* understands. You might believe it’s all part of the stone age but hey, it takes all of two seconds to sign up for his newsletter. I simply don’t understand how it warrants this amount of bitching though.

    Cripes people, this information is free. Ramit offers a free service to anyone who takes time and initiative to actually dig through the archives to find a plethora of FREE and invaluable personal financing info here.

    Anyone who is dismissing Ramit’s site over this is doing themselves a disservice, in my opinion. But hey, everyone picks their own poison.

    I’ll continue to be a reader and bring my friends (the majority of who, by the way, are not techie fiends and will appreciate the option of a newsletter greatly – because it’s something they can relate to and understand).

    I don’t mean to go on a rant but it really frosts my cookies when peeps can’t appreciate what’s slapping them in the face. Ah well.


  29. Nickolas Means

    There’s plenty of services out there that’ll take an RSS feed and distribute it as email.’s probably the most popular. Why not do that instead of making me, already an RSS subscriber, sign up to something else to get the “secret”. If anything, I should get something extra for being an RSS subscriber!

    If you don’t want to use feedburner, I’m sure your blog guru could whip something like this up for you in nothing flat. If he doesn’t want to, I know I could! Ping me if you’re interested.

  30. Whoa! Outta control!

    First: losing a 2 week subscriber… errr… was that supposed to be really hurtful? That’s not quite like losing family.

    I don’t like all of the hating, but I have to say that the post felt gimmicky. I’m curious how many people subscribe as a result (or unsubsribe RSS). Is the secret: manipulate people by promising them a secret?

    NOT unsubscribing to RSS. Not subscribing to newsletter.

    Ramit, you have a place in my aggregator, not my inbox.

  31. I’m gonna start handing out tranquilizers.

  32. Here is a secret. Buy MSFT and keep it for 30 years. Bound to go up!

  33. Here is another secret for a really big ticket item.

    If ur buying a home:
    Go to Upromise, see the realtor they recommend in ur area. You can get up to $3000 back in commissions coz Upromise will charge the realtor a 20% fee.

    My realtor hates upromise so much coz they charge him 20% of the commission that he made a side deal with me to bypass Upromise;)

  34. Damien Ward

    I read one post and liked it – then I saw this one! Now I’m not gonna read any more. It makes you look like a cheap scammer. Something new for you to learn here, hopefully. 😉

  35. Um, why are some people being so hostile? Because Ramit is advertising for his free newsletter on his free website where he gives free financial advice? I read this blog not only because the topics are interesting, but because Ramit is funny and sarcastic and sounds like one of my friends, not stuffy and inaccessible like a lot of the other financial blogs out there. I’m sure there are other people who agree, and don’t think the content has gone “downhill.” If you don’t like it, go elsewhere and stop criticizing. Geez.

  36. I agree with Sara. It’s free, people, so stop complaining. Yes, I can see how it’s “inconvenient” to sign up for a newsletter, but wasn’t it more inconvenient to type out a comment complaining about it? 🙂

  37. I haven’t see this stupid way time age to subscribe to foolish newsletter. I protest against it

  38. I don’t like it one bit that you are requiring subscriptions to your newsletter to access this content. I use RSS so that I can AVOID overwhelming my inbox with email newsletters. Please reconsider.

  39. Rita Bradley

    Chill guys

  40. The whole argument of tech savvy rss readers vs. non-tech savvy newsletter readers is bogus. If the goal was to disseminate to the greatest number of people, then one should send the newsletter and post it on the blog.

    Since this is not done, I can only conclude that there is some ulterior motive of tracking, scams, email address selling, or whatever that requires email addresses instead of blog readers.

  41. I wish people would stop saying that because this site is free, no one has the right to complain. That’s a bull**** attitude. First of all, it’s not as if Ramit isn’t earning something from this website. Second of all, I would hate to see that principle applied elsewhere in life. (i.e.: you don’t pay to read the ‘Metro’! Don’t complain when we publish ads for the KKK.) Money is not the end-all, be-all, folks.

    I signed up for the newsletter, because I like Ramit’s advice, and I say the more of it, the better. But I definitely understand others’ annoyance–why be forced into subscribing for something we’ve been getting without commitment? It’s natural to resent something that is slightly manipulative.

  42. Er…what’s a newsletter?

    Ok, now, seriously, I hope the one-trick is not something known as “common sense” or something that we all know but fail to put into practice. I mean, come on, what’s out there that we don’t already know and that we should do, but don’t do?

  43. I’m going to have to agree with Jeff above…I just don’t see any benign reason for making people sign up for the newsletter.

    If I got a clear answer as to why Ramit is insisting on this, then I might sign-up and add more clutter to my inbox. Is it to have another way to gauge the number of repeat readers? Are there ads in the newsletter that you’ll be getting money from? Or, as has been suggested, are you considering having a “premium” newsletter where people must pay a subscription fee?

    And finally, I too have been somewhat disappointed with the content lately. And everyone else, give me a break, of COURSE we have a right to complain and voice our opinion. Isn’t that part of the point of having a blog where you allow comments? I know I can stop reading at any time…and if it doesn’t improve, I might very well do that. But, perhaps it would be helpful to Ramit to actually hear what people are thinking in case he feels like rectifying the situation.

  44. Does The Rich Know Something That The Poor Don’t? I Don’t Think So! » Investments + Editorials: Dissecting the good, the bad, and the ugly of investment / financial media!

    […] creeps who exploit this. Even venerable bloggers such as Free Money Finance (update: or Ramit Sethi)can stoop to an eye-grabbing headline once in a while. For argument’s sake, we’ll […]

  45. I forsee an angry RSS reader posting the entire newsletter in the comments section.

  46. i read your newsletters and your site via RSS. i don’t know why people are bitching. it’s like their trust in people hangs by a thread.

  47. i register for your newletter, i hope can learn something new.

  48. I second the comments made in 30.

    Also, it’s not a big deal to create a free email address that you don’t care about so that you can give it out in cases where you are not sure if you really want to be giving one out.

    Also, to comment 41, it’s not manipulation if you see right throught it, right? Ramit, is asking for your subscription, but promising interesting content in return. Just because you’re curious about the tip and you want to see it, doesn’t mean Ramit is being mean/manipulative by making you curious.

    Be an adult. Cover your bases when it comes to email and potential spam. Take responsibility for your own curiosity. Evaluate the newsletter on it’s own merits and on the promise Ramit made about what it would contain. Don’t complain when no one has even done anything to you yet.

  49. Iwillteachyoutobeatool

    Unsubscribe. You blow chunks.

  50. I’ve been a reader for some time now and have been subscribed to your newsletter almost as long.

    I think the newsletter does add another dimension to your site, I like getting it and hope you will continue sending it out.

  51. bye-bye. I used to love this blog. But now I decide to leave.

    1, You spend less and less time on this blog.
    2, No value. I skipped all your 6-part-buying-car story.
    3, There are many better blogs I am interested in. For example, thesimpledollar is the best personal finance blog I have ever seen. 6 articles every day. It covers different aspects of our lives.

    I do not want to waste my time to read you blog.

  52. Ummm… why can’t you do both? Email the newsletter and post the article online. That would solve both problems. Plus you wouldn’t have pissed off people on either spectrum.

  53. I’m in. Just signed up for the newsletter with my brand new email address. So if I start getting “increase your manhood” spam, I know where to point the finger. Thanks, Ramit, for your enthusiasm, insight and humor.

  54. Jumped the shark

    Ramit, admit it, this is a cheap short term tactic to get newsletter subscriptions up. Nothing in your responses (5, 10) suggest otherwise. There is no reason apart from collecting email addresses (let me guess, for marketing. monetization purposes) to not post your secret in both newsletter and rss/blog.

    I’m sure it is working, but you’ve lost hard earnt credibility in the eyes of most of your readership. Was it worth it?

  55. I think the main problem here is the lack of an apparent reason. It takes little extra effort to post things on the site, so why would ramit intentially not post them here?

    I could understand and respect it if he told us it was for advertising revenue or some other explanation. It’s a little baffling however why he would make all rss users have to go out of their way for the content without supplying any reason beyond essentially “just because”.

    The biggest and most popular bloggers generally have very open policies when it comes to decisions with their blogs for good reason.

  56. The tip is this: don’t fall for gimmicks lest you suffer longterm aggravation.

  57. To those who are complaining about the complainers:

    Most of these people aren’t complaining for their own sake. It’s very easy to leave the site and never come back. They are complaining because they care about the site and want to offer constructive criticism when it veers off the path, so Ramit can steer it back on track.

  58. Blair Christopher

    Wow. A lot of unwarranted hate towards the use of email newsletters. I had no idea. I guess it all boils down to choice, guys. If you don’t want to receive a newsletter via email, then don’t signup, unsubscribe and most of all, quit whining. Yeah, it may be “old hat” compared to RSS, etc. I find the advice priceless. IWTYTBR will continue to be the only email list I am subscribed to. Send away Ramit. I’m waiting.

  59. I agree with most everyone here. This is lame, bye.

  60. Here’s the RSS feed for his email newsletters:

  61. Of course everyone has a right to complain, but a lot of the complaints here aren’t constructive. (Hilarious – Iwillteachyoutobeatool? But not constructive). There’s a big differene between, “Hey Ramit, I hate newsletters and would much rather you post all your content on the blog,” and “This blog sucks! The content is lame and all other blogs are better! I’ve only been here 2 weeks and I’m gone! Bye!” Other bloggers besides Ramit have pointed out how valuable subscription newsletters are for gathering info on readers (and not necessarily for selling), so that’s probably his “ulterior motive.”

  62. Subscribing to a newsletter is fine, however, why not send it out a newletter (for the non-RSSers) as well as posting on your blog? What is your reason if they are both free?

  63. The “You don’t have to subscribe if you don’t want to” folks have it all wrong when Ramit starts using the front page of the site to advertise the newsletter. There was no content in this post. It was just one big ad.

    I’ve been an RSS subscriber for about four months now, but I’m getting tired of Ramit’s narcissism and use of 11-o-clock news teaser tactics. Stay tuned for more posts! Whatever. There are 10000 good personal finance blogs out there. I’ll find another.


  64. I have to agree with some, while I’ll continue reading, the content of the posts of late have been lacking.

  65. I’m going to say the following:

    1) I think this ‘newsletter only content’ thing is just not a good thing. Why would you want to do that?

    2) I’m not going to stop reading this blog. Why? Because it’s a damn habit, it just happens when I go to do ‘the rounds’ at lunch. I tried an RSS reader… it just wasn’t the same.

    3) Please don’t comment in a blog that you’re going elsewhere like it’s a threat. “I hate your site, I’m gonna unsubscribe!”. Do you really need to say that? Are you really going to stop visiting the site, or are you going to ‘wait and see’ if anything comes of it? Just because you think someone (ramit in this case, I guess) is playing games with you doesn’t mean you should play them right back.

  66. Damn, The Great Newsletter Backlash of 2007 has begun. You can include in your next newsletter secret how to drive away RSS subscribers by making them sign up for a Newsletter.

    I love you Ramit

  67. Ben Cruikshank

    Well, the promise of a secret is something that I’ve never been able to resist, so you got a new signup. Now let’s just hope it’s a good’n 😉


  68. Dave Ellis

    I signed up at 12:15 PM PST! Will I still get the newsletter?

  69. noah kagan

    This reminds me of how Yahoo is recently making people sign into Flickr with their Yahoo id,

    Honestly. Stop and think about what you are complaining. Ramit takes HOURS out of his life to give you great things to improve your finance.

    How many people who are reading my comment have benefited from something they read on this site?

    EVERYONE, trust me I know!

    What have you done in return? What has he asked in return?


    I am not trying to be mean but this is a simple thing.

    Ramit has the right to do what he wants and if you don’t like it stop reading.

    Bottom Line: He is really not asking for anything and if you don’t want to do it just continue reading this great FREE content and enjoy.

  70. dennis r.

    I think the newsletter thing actually works, though the term newsletter itself almost completely turns me off. I get flashbacks of early 90’s era clipart from MS Publisher and shudder. This is good info, though i don’t think there’s really a whole lot of “news” going on. Maybe you can call it a “weekly supplement” to, and defiantly release 3 this week and then not again for another two months.

  71. 1. I agree – an explanation for why you aren’t doing a double print (both newsletter and blog) would be nice and I feel is necessary to make complete sense of this move (but then we’d stop arguing – so where’s the fun?)

    2. Do you really not trust Ramit? How many moves has he made in his 2+ years of blogging that would make you think he would do something truly (or even slightly) “unethical” in any way with this “please sign up for my newsletter” request? If you don’t trust him in this move to blatantly ask for sign ups for a freakin’ newsletter, then why have you been trusting him for financial advice for the past 2 years (or 2 weeks *cough*)?

    3. Aside from a seemingly unwarranted lack of trust, I have one word: “barriers”

    4. This is a request to be “inconvenienced” for 10 seconds by Ramit for reasons he, at least at this point, has chosen not to adequately enunciate. Assuming you actually do trust Ramit enough to to implement some of his suggestions with your money – what other reason do you have outside of “I don’t want you to inconvenience my life for 10 seconds” for being upset about his request? Even if he does benefit from this experiment outside of satisfying simple curiosity of how a mass of people would react to it (which is his job at PB wiki btw) he wouldn’t do it to your personal detriment (or at least he has yet to up to this point. And if you honestly think he’s going to start now, I doubt he’d be anything short of glad to see you “unsubscribe” – as well as equally curious as to why you were reading his financial advice in the first place).

    Outside of a selfishness, and/or a feeling of entitlement, I can’t come up with anything to add to the seemingly ridiculous reasons I explained above….but I’m sure there are plenty more pissed off people out there – so either set me straight, or give me the “real” reason – or both.

    …and no, I’m not some die-hard BFF of Ramit that’s been reading his blog since day one. I don’t even read this blog that often. I just figure you either trust a guy or you don’t (especially with money), and you base that trust on a track record of previous actions….right?….and if he’s asking for 10 seconds in return for his 100’s of hours of help – the same trust rule would apply in deciding whether or not to do him this “favor” (that’s assuming you’re also not lazy, selfish, spoiled, etc.)

  72. One word: ungrateful. Ramit holds the content, he doesn’t get to distribute it the way he desires?

  73. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

    One more reason to turn off comments.

  74. Everyone who is griping above is just pissed at how effective your pitch for getting us to sign up was.

    Nice work. You got me. I look forward to getting the newsletters. I bet they’ll be much better than the crappy ones I get today.

  75. Actually maybe the newsletter will be worth something. So far I’m not too impressed with the blog.

    But you know, everyone beneifts from different readings.

    I can tell u my secret for getting good deals on luxury items. Buy from family and friends and give yourself kickbacks.

    Hea. How hard is it to become salesman for a week, get great buys for your friends and quit. LOL

  76. imelda, you’re making a comparison between a free newsletter and the KKK? I think you’re the one with the bull**** logic.

  77. Ramit, you have the most crybabies read your site that I’ve ever seen. I’d hate to see your email box.

    Hmm, I think I’m going to complain about Barnes & Noble. They sent me a 20% off coupon, but they want me to DRIVE TO THEIR STORE to use it. AHHHH! THEY’RE MANIPULATING ME! UNSUBSCRIBE!

  78. Interesting…I subscribed to the newsletter maybe a year ago when I first found the site. I received it periodically and at some point determined there was nothing in it that wasn’t mostly in the blog. So I ignore the newsletters and delete them right away. Then I read this post and determine there was potentially something worthwhile in one of the newsletters. Too late, the valueless expectation had already been set and the newsletter had been deleted. I honestly don’t even remember receiving it. Strategy not working for this particular reader.

  79. Jeff Webb

    I don’t mind the newsletter (nor understand the violent reaction to signing up for one – is this some HUGE personal offense that is unforgivable?). BUT how can I get it if I didn’t sign up by 2/9?

    If you’re going to have a newsletter that’s fine but please allow me to read the archives.

  80. Steven Bao

    Will you have any newsletter archives? I just signed up for the newsletter though I was pretty sure I did earlier.

  81. Jonathan

    Has it been sent yet? I have not received anything.