Going Against The Crowd

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Written By Robert Leonard

Going against the crowd can be done in nearly an infinite number of ways.

You can go against the crowd with your career choice, vacation destination, hair color, personal finance choices, investing decisions, your car, the food you eat, and a million other things.

Going against the crowd is simply when you make a decision that is different from what “most people” would do. It’s going against the status quo.

Since we cover all things money and investing here at Money Office Hours, those are the aspects of going against the crowd that we’ll cover here.

Personal Finances

This might sound a bit crazy to someone (you) reading a website dedicated to all things money and investing, but you can go against the crowd by simply having a budget in the first place.

It’s widely agreed upon by most people that they should have a budget. In reality, most people don’t. So, by definition, simply by having a budget, you’re going against the crowd.

I admit that’s not earth-shattering, or even all the exciting.

Rather than comparing ourselves to everyone else, let’s only look at those who are budgeting.

Many personal finance gurus will make you feel bad about spending money on coffee or lattes every morning. They say something like, “that $5 spent at Starbucks every day is worth $150,000 30 years in the future if you invested it.”

They’re not necessarily “wrong” per se, but that also doesn’t mean it’s right for you. It doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. You have the option of going against the crowd.

For me, that was bad advice. It wasn’t right for me, and truthfully, I didn’t believe in it.

Sure, what they said is mathematically correct, but they’re forgetting a massive component of that concept – human psychology.

The reality is that most people would not invest the money they’d be saving if they stopped drinking coffee. Instead, they’d spend it on something else.

Going against the crowd led me to Ramit Sethi’s way of thinking about money. To be clear, I do not agree with everything Ramit says or believes, but I do like a lot of what he teaches about money and how to think about money.

Ramit commonly says to ask and think about $30,000 questions, not $3 questions.

$3 questions are things that don’t really move the needle. $30,000 questions are things that will have a serious impact on your financial future.

$100 per month ($5 per day times 5 days per week times 4 weeks per month) is not going to have a real impact on your financial future. Tackling large budget items like your living and transportation costs will. Focus on those.

Another $30,000 question is viewing your health as an investment, not an expense.

It’s okay to learn various different personal finance strategies. Once you do that, however, it’s important to decide what’s right for you, even if that means going against the crowd.

Maybe Dave Ramsey’s approach is right for you, maybe Ramit’s is. Maybe it’s a combination of the two or something completely different.

Find something that you believe in and that works for you, even if that means going against the crowd.

My Going Against The Crowd Story

I want to tell you a short story about how going against the crowd worked for me.

Buying rental properties often requires 20-30% down as a down payment. 

(Yes, I know there are creative ways around this, but the traditional way requires a 20-30% down payment.)

Where I live, that meant I would need at least $100,000 for just the down payment – not including any closing costs or other fees.

I was 22 when I wanted to start buying rental property. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t have $100,000 lying around. I also didn’t have a rich uncle who would lend it to me.

What’d I do? I found a solution by going against the crowd.

Rather than simply investing in the most popular affordable real estate markets where turnkey providers already operated, I wanted to take a different path.

It didn’t make sense to me to go into a market where there were a lot of turnkey real estate companies operating because that would mean significantly more competition. And talented competition at that.

So, I hired a freelance programmer off Upwork to scrape six demographic data points for roughly 7,000 cities across the US and input that data into an Excel spreadsheet.

Once I had this data in Excel, I created a weighted average formula for each city based on the six demographic data points and I ranked each one from #1 to #7,000.

I looked at the top 25 cities and crossed off any that didn’t have high-quality real estate professionals or the type of properties I was looking to acquire.

That left me with about 10-15 cities. I started making offers. I told myself whichever city I got a deal in first, I would continue to invest in.

And I did. It’s worked wonderfully for me for the past three years.

The most important part of that little story isn’t how I actually found the real estate markets or even which markets they were (but I am happy to share that data if you’re interested). Instead, the most important part is seeing that I went against the crowd.

You don’t need to always go against the crowd, but in some cases, going against the crowd is your best option.

Going Against The Crowd Quotes

I personally love quotes. They’re super motivating to me. Here are a few of my favorite going against the crowd quotes:

”It is better to walk alone than to walk in a crowd going in the wrong direction.”

”Those at the top never got there by following the crowd.”

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.“ —Robert Frost