Who wants to live a monotonous life void of fun and adventure? Who wants to feel like they wasted their time on this earth working in a cavernous, thirty or forty year career? Um, I’m pretty sure no one.

We can all be sold on a better life and there are plenty of people touting supposedly proven methods to help get us there.

A few months back I read the following message from an acquaintance trying to drum up business for her latest MLM scheme:

If you have had even an inkling that this might be a way for you to create options in your life, I’m telling you, NOW IS THE TIME! This company is on FIRE.

Have you received similar solicitations?

Yes these are the words plastered by a so-called friend urging Facebook users to join her Rodan Fields sales team, but you know when I read that Facebook update I couldn’t shake the thought that those words sounded eerily familiar.

Take out the word company and you’ll find similar mantras on hundreds if not thousands of FI websites and blogs out there. Turn up the volume and listen to any FI or FIRE podcast and you’ll hear the same. The quote above even includes the word FIRE.

Multi-level marketing companies use phrases like these:

  • Live your best life.
  • Find your purpose.
  • Travel the world.
  • Quit the rat race once and for all

But so do FI writers and podcasters.

I listen to financial podcasts while working out on the elliptical machine at my local gym. I spend forty-five minutes pumping my arms and legs back and forth in a strange, running-type motion all the while listening to voices who promise me a better life. The life most, if not all, of us yearn for.

With earphones plugged into my ears I cannot hear anything going on in the real world around me, yet every once in awhile my own voice startles me. Out of nowhere I’ll hear myself say, “That’s so true,” “Oh yeah, ” or “Definitely.” Its hard not to agree with the thoughts and feelings of those marching toward financial independence beside me.

While those MLM phrases may sound the same as those used in the FI community I can assure you they are reached by very different means. To reach FI you don’t need to hawk products on unsuspecting acquaintances.

In fact, I would argue that you aren’t living your best life if you are asking your friends and family to spend money on products they don’t need or cannot afford. If you want to live your best life, find your purpose and quit the rat race you don’t need to be part of a multi-level marketing scheme that depends on putting other people into debt.

Yes the FI movement will help you dream big dreams, but they’ll do so by teaching you that money is not the end goal. You’ll hear bloggers say money should be used to free your time for purpose and passion.

While MLM asks you to promote consumerism FI will teach you to spend less and save more. MLM asks you to pray on desperate friends, while FI encourages you to find like-minded individuals searching for real relationships and camaraderie.

Naysayers will tell me the FI community is all about money. They’ll say you cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that proponents of FI also earn a lot of money by enticing others to read their blogs, listen to their podcasts or pay to see them speak live at conferences.

So one group is selling ideas and the other is selling cosmetics, right?

Well first I would argue that you aren’t required to pay for any FI services. You don’t need to click on any ads, download any special software, pay for podcasts or buy any books. All information related to FI is available entirely for free on the Internet. Feel free to be wary of websites asking you to pay for online courses or media. You don’t need it. Pick up that book from the library or simply read a synopsis from blogs written by those authors.

We all want options in life. We all want to find our purpose. We all desire something better. It’s human nature to reach for more.

The excitement that invites others to join multi-level marketing schemes is similar to the enthusiasm you feel when you learn about FI.

It’s like being asleep and waking from a dream. You envision the movie Groundhog Day. You picture waking up to the same series of events day after day and then someone says it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be different. And you cannot wait to join the movement.

But before you begin your journey think carefully about how you race to achieve your goals. Don’t burn bridges or risk friendships in an attempt to make money.

It may sound hard to believe but financial independence can be accomplished and you don’t have to buy or sell anything to get there. If fact the less you buy the quicker you’ll achieve your goal.

You may have to dig through the podcasts and blogs that are touting FI solely to make a buck, but when you do you’ll find a community ready to share their stories for free.