One of the challenges of writing about money and personal finance online is that you don’t really know who you reached and if what you said helped them in their financial journey.
I’m coming around to the idea that education will only help a small % of ppl
You basically have to rely on intelligent tech/algos to nudge good behavior at this point and that goes against the business model of the trading apps
Basically good defaults are our only hope
— Ben Carlson (@awealthofcs) February 15, 2021
As Ben says, good defaults are key. One good default that has had an outsized impact is target-date funds. By no means are target-date date funds perfect, but few would argue that setting TDFs as 401(k) defaults has likely saved millions of investors from making even worse mistakes.
As for those of us who are writing online maybe we should dial back our expectations on our own influence. Jason Zweig has set the expectations for his (excellent) work at a manageable level. Per his conversation with Jim O’Shaughnessy on the Infinite Loops podcast:
“My goal is to change one person’s mind and I don’t care who it is. I just hope I can get one person to think differently. I would consider that a major victory if once a week I can get one person to sort of reconsider a viewpoint that they’ve been holding to with too much conviction.” – Jason Zweig
Should we stop trying to educate people about their money? Of course not! There are few topics where good advice can compound in value over time. However, like Zweig, maybe we should be modest in our expectations.