Firstly, please do not take my question is being offensive. It's meant to be funny or, at worst, bemusing. At best we can learn a lot about the community.

This is a Stackoverflow full of people giving each other financial advice. Almost all is well-meaning, and much is backed up with personal experience or other information.

But, something struck me - if I myself was wealthy, so wealthy I could spend all my time doing whatever I wanted, would I be on Personal Finance and Money advising strangers?

I would probably not be, nor would I ever go to work at a job. I'd probably spend all day on my Yacht with my friends drinking chapagne and eating fabrege eggs.

So, what is the case? Is Personal Finance a network of experts helping those who know less, or, valid as well, a network of parallel learners who have none of us succeeded, but are all making progress?

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    ".... drinking chapagne and eating fabrege eggs" You might want to spend some of your vast wealth to buy a spell-checker and perhaps an encyclopedia. Eating Faberge' eggs indeed! – Dilip Sarwate Feb 10 '15 at 22:58
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    I don't see how you made a connection between personal finance and personal wealth. These are unrelated terms. – littleadv Feb 11 '15 at 6:57
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    @littleadv Probably the best case I've ever heard for 'the most expensive advice is free advice' – Code Whisperer Feb 11 '15 at 13:55
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    Most wealthy people don't flash their wealth with yachts or expensive champagne. Echoing what Joe answered, I would also suspect the kind of wealthy people more likely to participate here would be closer to "Millionaire Next Door" types than "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" types. Be careful not to mistake high income and/or obviously high spending for wealth. – Chris W. Rea Feb 12 '15 at 11:45
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    Define wealthy. Plenty of people on here are living comfortably within their means. Plenty more are living either comfortably or within their means. Based on the range of questions, we've got people struggling by on a pittance and others with plenty of cash to spare. – Jon Story Feb 12 '15 at 18:31
  • the real question you need to ask yourself is what will you be doing AFTER you spent all day on the yacht, after you got dehydrated from the champagne and after the doctor said you need to make key lifestyle changes, the answer is probably very similar to what you do right now – CQM Mar 19 '15 at 9:19

The words wealthy and rich are tough to define. There's a level of assets that allow one to not work, but maintain their lifestyle. This probably doesn't include a yacht. There's a few orders of magnitude higher than this. I suspect any members here you'd consider wealthy are more like The Millionaire Next Door than the yacht crowd.

Disclosure - I hit my number and don't need to work. I am retired but still keep busy. I've been a blogger for over 10 years as a hobby. I enjoy the subject and enjoy helping people. I have an MBA with a finance concentration and completed the CFP coursework, but not the final exam, as I didn't plan to practice.

The members are a mix, and I don't know that there's any one typical profile for the group as a whole.

  • Good to know, Joe! Sounds like you have the experience to back up your advice – Code Whisperer Feb 10 '15 at 21:12
  • I think I've hit my number, but haven't yet sat down to do the math. I'm a couple of orders of magnitude away from yacht. I'm not retired, but then I'm in my early 40s. – ChrisInEdmonton Mar 3 '15 at 20:10

What makes you think wealthy people are the experts at personal finance issues? Chances are the "super elite" have a team of financial advisers doing a lot of the work for them. Granted, unless they inherited that wealth they are likely very smart at business and business finance, but that isn't what this site is about.

Contributors on this site include professional CPAs, tax people, finance bloggers, brokers, wealth managers, software developers with specific domain expertise, and successful professionals from other domains—some retired, and some not.

Also, don't discount the layman who just has a nose for finance. Anecdotes, self-study, and book learning can provide useful answers for some types of questions.

  • Probably, if having an elite team of advisors is a good way to get rich, I'd want one. – Code Whisperer Feb 10 '15 at 21:13
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    You can make a small fortune with an elite team of advisers...as long as you start with a large fortune. – JohnFx Feb 10 '15 at 21:19
  • Alas, I am not any of "... professional CPAs, Tax People, Finance bloggers, brokers, or wealth managers" nor am I a layman who just has a nose for finance. – Dilip Sarwate Feb 10 '15 at 23:00
  • Same here Dilip. Although I do work for the world's largest accounting firm, I am not myself a CPA nor do I play one on tv. – JohnFx Feb 11 '15 at 1:14
  • Edited your answer to be more representative. ;) – Chris W. Rea Feb 12 '15 at 11:56

If someone on this site is giving advice as to how to get rich quick*, then yes, I would agree with you that it is reasonable to expect that the person giving the advice should be rich, and, if not, they should not be giving that advice.

However, this site is so much more than just "get rich quick" advice.

There are lots of questions about income taxes, HSAs, insurance, debt reduction, budgeting, and many other topics that you can be an expert on without being "rich." However, an expert in these topics is probably winning with their finances. I would consider someone who is spending less than they make, has very low debt (ideally debt free), and is building wealth toward a comfortable retirement is winning with their finances. Such a person might or might not be considered "rich," depending on your definition. And I'm sure that there are quite a few people on this site, myself included, that are winning.

* The question "How do I get rich quick?" is probably not on topic for this site.

  • I like the 'winning' concept. Wealth is as much a journey as it is a final destination. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Feb 17 '15 at 1:38
  • If you are debt free is chances not good you are homeless? I cant think how people cannot have a car / home mortgage. – Neil Meyer Feb 17 '15 at 9:20
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    @NeilMeyer Not everyone who is debt-free is homeless. There are people who rent a home instead of buy, there are people who have paid off their mortgage, and there are even a few crazy people who paid for their house in cash. In any case, I didn't make being debt-free a requirement for winning. I'm also not the only one in charge of deciding what winning means. You get to decide for yourself if you are winning or not. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '15 at 12:44
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    @NeilMeyer As for a car loan, it is certainly possible, even preferable, to pay cash for a car. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '15 at 12:53
  • @NeilMeyer You can live in a rented apartment and not own a car (most people in most large cities outside North America). You can live in a paid-off house. You can live in a rental and own a paid-off car. I don't see how you equate "debt-free" with "homeless" unless you are referencing this cartoon – Jay Feb 18 '15 at 19:17
  • My point is just that it is perfectly reasonable for a person to be wealthy and have certain 'healthy' debts. – Neil Meyer Feb 19 '15 at 5:35

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