So…. Remember our ol’ pal Anton who we featured here last month for hitting a million dollars before 27? And then it went viral on social media and other finance blogs, eventually landing him on the home page of Yahoo! Finance?
Yeah, apparently he duped us. While he is a legitimate millionaire, it seems the route he got there was anything but “self-made.” Here’s what Yahoo originally posted on their site:
Ivanov claimed he was a self-made millionaire who began investing at age 18 after watching his parents mismanage their finances. On Monday, Ivanov admitted to Yahoo Finance that 75-80% of his wealth consists of an inheritance that was left to him by his parents, who died several years ago. He would not specify the dollar amount, but he also said that one of the two properties he owns, which he said is valued at more than $600,000, is also part of the inheritance from his parents….
In response to queries made by Yahoo Finance on Monday, Ivanov shut down his blog, Financessful. He had already deleted Twitter and Facebook accounts affiliated with the blog.
And then here’s the newly updated story with full details: The truth about the 27-year-old “self-made millionaire”
Dayuuuuum. According to this he lied to millions of people in his Yahoo interview (which turned out to be one of the biggest of the year, btw), which means he also lied to thousands of people here on this blog too. And for what? A little exposure? Lame… How you think you could get away with it on one of the biggest sites in the world is beyond me, not to mention the flaw in character.
As pissed as I was to learn this, however, I reached out to Anton personally to give him a chance to respond, but sadly I received no comment… And not “no comment” like journalists get, but literally no message back to me despite being what I thought was friends for over a year and a half. But who am I but a lowly blogger, eh?
Here’s the biggest shame of it all though: his tips were legit!
Everything he shared in both of his articles on this site (What I learned about money growing up in former USSR and 10 Habits That Made Me a Millionaire at 27) were not only spot on, but highly encouraging. Take a look at these wealth-growing habits – would would disagree??
- Setting detailed and actionable goals
- Religiously tracking net worth
- Having the discipline to save 60% of your income
- Avoiding expensive things
- Always paying yourself First
- Completely avoiding consumer debt
- Actually having an emergency fund
- Saving ahead for large expenses
- Investing money no matter what happens
- Investing when others panic
So while it’s unfortunate to hear this guy tried to pull a fast one on us, at least he was peddling good lessons. Which we can now add to the list: Liar liar, pants on fire – you’ll always get caught in the end!
In a strange way, this also loosely relates to our post from Monday too – on my financial blogger friend being in trouble with money despite giving advice to people on how to be good with money. Completely different situation here – and one that I side with my friend B. on 100% because he’s not purposely trying to defraud anyone (he’s just in a crappy phase) – but it still elicited some raised eyebrows from fellow commenters as well.
Here was one of them (shortened a little):
“This post really highlights the fact that you have to be careful who you’re taking advice from and who you’re getting help from (esp. in the blog world)… I would be really struggling to write about finance if I didn’t take control of my own personal finances. It would be like going to a hair stylist who had really bad hair – I just wouldn’t do it! I’m reminded of T. Harv Eker’s book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, where he says to someone who wants to help him with his finances “send me your income reports first”. The point is – if you’re going to help me with money, I expect you to have your finances together.”
And here was part of another:
“This article really got my thinking and kinda-ticked off to be honest. Really… how can you buddy be a finance blogger and “expert” as you call him/her if they are an avid money-spender, was completely clueless about there 401k match, and in $20,000 of debt???”
Valid points, right? And it’s true. You always need to consider the source of the information you’re getting before taking action on anything – whether financially, or in life in general. You can usually spot a few of the smoke blowers from the get go (*ahem* politicians), but every now and then we get caught with our pants down low like with Mr. Ivanov here. We’ll never be able to vet everyone, but we can surely try. (And admittedly I took him for his word because, well, why wouldn’t I? I know plenty of millionaires online that have reached these goals through dedication and hard work, and we’d been friends for a while now. Plus, again, his tips were spot on.)
This also brings us back to the same notion we touched on above:
If someone doesn’t follow their own advice, does it make the advice wrong?
Let’s look at the hair stylist example mentioned. Can someone with bad hair still give a kick-ass cut? Of course. They may not get as many clients because they don’t come off as a trustworthy source, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the two are connected. They mainly have a marketing problem (also – do hair stylists really cut their own hair anyways?? Haha… Isn’t that hard???)
Here’s another I like to use in friendly debates like this – The overweight/smoker doctor. If you went in with a sickness and the doctor gave you advice, would you not listen because he/she doesn’t take it him/herself? Perhaps… But it’s not like their years and years of medical training has anything to do with their personal decisions they make with their own body.
And the same can be said for people in the finance industry too (the non-defrauders, at least). I have a different friend whose job it is to travel to businesses and help their HR departments set up 401(k) plans for their employees. He preaches to everyone on how important it is to invest in retirement, but to this day – half a dozen years later since starting the gig – he has yet to contribute a single percentage point of his own. Does that mean we shouldn’t invest in our 401(k)s?
If it seems like I’m trying to back up these non-advice takers, I’m not. I just find it rather fascinating and want to open it up to discussion today :) And “non-advice takers” are completely different fyi from those who purposely defraud people – ain’t nobody got time for that.
Would I go out of my way to seek financial or life advice from someone not following their own? Most times not. I’d be biased from the start and wouldn’t be able to overcome it quick enough to listen to the advice coming out from them even if I wanted. But to me it doesn’t necessarily mean the info they’re giving is incorrect. It’s just a poor match up between the two (and in some cases REALLY poor!).
So, all this to say there’s good information out there and there’s bad information out there, just as there are trustworthy and non-trustworthy givers of it. In a perfect world the great info would come from the great preachers so everyone can live happily ever after, but sadly the universe we’re in is full of greedy shysters so you have to always watch your own back. If something doesn’t feel right, walk or click away.
At the end of the day, the whole Anton situation is a shame, and I apologize to anyone who’s been affected. I’m all for transparency and being for real in life despite having a pseudonym (which ironically let’s me be more transparent with money on this site), and I think the best thing that will come from this is the reminder for all of us to be conscious of who we’re following, and why.
The last thing I wanted to do was bring any negativity to your lives, and I’m sorry this wasn’t caught earlier. It’s disappointing to learn someone I liked and trusted turned out to be something else…
Again, you can find the full story now over at Yahoo Finance if you’d like to learn more.
We’ll be back to our usual peppy selves on Friday with a fun “Would You Rather” question I’ve been dying to ask you :) No in-depth thinking required.
[Photo cred: aisletwentytwo]
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