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Personal Finance MLM FI

No! I Will Not Join Your MLM (So Stop Asking!)

October 16, 2017

This article may contain affiliate links. Read our Disclosure Policy.

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Wow! I have got a story for you guys today.

Last week I was contacted by one of my Facebook friends via Messenger. I knew she’d been reading my blog for a while because I happened to notice when she joined my email list. (I’m not a stalker, I swear! In fact, if you decide to join my email list too, I promise not to call you out on it. ;))

When she messaged me, she told me how impactful and helpful my blog had been for her family. They were working hard to improve their finances.

So flattering, right?!

She went on to say that she really wanted to connect me with a friend of hers who also runs a personal finance business. She thought we could work together to help even more people.

“Great!” I said. “When can we meet?”

“How about now?” she said.

Red flag. It’s 9:45 pm and she wanted me to join them on a Zoom meeting. (If you haven’t heard of Zoom, it’s kind of like Skype.)

After telling her no, because I was literally in my pajamas in bed, we set a meeting for the next day.

An actual screenshot of part of our conversation.

How I Almost Got Sucked into a Personal Finance MLM

(Side Note: In case you’re wondering what in the heck an MLM is, it’s a multi-level marketing company. These are the companies famous for having “home parties”, “classes”, etc. in order to sell you products or get you to join in by having your own “small business”.)

I’ll admit it. Since I’m still in the throes of working hard to make a pivot toward growing my own blog and community without giving up too much of my client work, I have way more work to do than hours in the day. So, I probably should have said no to begin with, before I even found out they were trying to suck me into their personal finance MLM.

But I didn’t.

Yes, I should’ve done my homework and researched him more before getting on the call. Then I might have found out it was an MLM sales call before it wasted an entire hour of my day.

But I didn’t.

So, I got on the call at 2:30 and hoped that it wouldn’t take more than half an hour for my friend to connect me with this guy.

It seemed legit at first. Until he decided to share his screen with me and it was clearly a sales pitch slideshow.

If they were merely trying to sell me a product that would “change my life” that would be one thing. But, the fact that there is now a personal finance MLM out there made me furious.

Why MLMs are Bad News

Any company presented as a Direct Selling or Multi-level Marketing company is a scam in my opinion.

According to the FTC, an MLM may or may not be a pyramid scheme depending on how their salespeople earn money.

If the money earned is based on sales, it’s a legit MLM. But, if the money earned is based on the people recruited to join your team, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme.

However, the legit MLMs are still almost always bad news for your personal finances, even though they are usually presented as a way to get ahead financially.

Sure, there are rare examples of people who make tons of money from selling MLM products (and recruiting new people to join their team). But, the majority of people actually lose money if they participate in these “opportunities”.

For example, my friend and fellow blogger, Lauren Greutman, talks all about this in her book, The Recovering Spender.

She lost tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, she had her car repossessed by the MLM, because she wasn’t selling or recruiting enough to keep it.

Why a Personal Finance MLM is Worse News

The Financial Fitness program. AKA “The Green Box”.

The fact that the Financial Fitness program is being sold to people as a way for them to learn about money, get out of debt, etc. is what makes me the most angry.

Their target customer is someone who is already bad with money. They are desperate to change their finances. This desperation makes them extra vulnerable to the company’s marketing pitch.

Before they know it, they’ll have signed up not only for the 47 step program to fix their finances, but also to “join the team” and “easily earn thousands each month”.

(Seriously, a 47 step program?? Even a money nerd PF blogger wouldn’t read a 47 step program. Who has time for that?!)

How the Financial Fitness Program Works

Unlike many MLMs, the Financial Fitness Program is offered as a one-time purchase for $120. For that price, you get a book, workbook, audio lessons, and a super fancy Financial Fitness decal to display that you were taken advantage of by this company. (Eye roll!)

You can choose to receive this program with physical or digital copies. Or if you pay $180, you can get both.

Looking at their website, they also offer several add-on products too.

They also offer:

  • Financial Fitness Bullion Reserve – A monthly subscription service encouraging you to invest in gold. The minimum monthly cost for one unit is $52.75.
  • Wealth Habits – A 12 month audio program. You can pay monthly for $12, or pay $120 up-front.
  • Beyond Financial Fitness – Includes a book, workbook, audio lessons, two DVDs, a bookmark AND a decal. Again this is $120 for digital or physical, or $180 for both.
  • Financial Fitness Services – An app to help protect your identity, provide legal services (?), track spending, gain financial literacy, and save money. The monthly subscription is $60.
  • Financial Fitness Master Class – Includes 6 hours of video content, 15 audio lessons, a workbook, and a decal. Again this is $120 for digital or physical, or $180 for both.

Plus, all of the Financial Fitness programs and products are owned by LIFE Leadership. This company also offers lots of other “personal development” programs and products, too.

My bet is, once you buy the first product, the basic $120 Financial Fitness program, they won’t stop hounding you to join the team, or buy more products, especially the monthly subscription services, like the app.

The app alone will cost you $720 a year! Compare that several other tools you can use to do the same thing for FREE, like Mint, or Personal Capital. Obviously the Financial Fitness program and products are designed to make them money, not to actually help you improve your finances or they wouldn’t cost $720 a year.

**All of this information is from their website. But, I’m not going to give them the SEO benefit of a link from my website. Plus, I 100% do NOT recommend this product, so I don’t want to link to it!

Why Was I Targeted by This MLM?

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I was targeted as someone who might be interested in this program and “business opportunity”.

Yes, I am still in debt. But, I already have the tools I need to get out of it. If I didn’t, would my business be earning over $10,000 per month sharing my knowledge and skills in personal finance with others? Would I be making $2,400 worth of financial progress each month by saving and paying off debt? Hell no!

I almost had to chuckle when I was being pitched. It was clear that I know more about business AND personal finance than they do! But of course, they just wanted me to combine this wonderful product with the things I’m already doing to spread financial literacy. Ha!

Perhaps it’s because I’ve already been sucked into an MLM (or two) before. I readily admit that I used to sell cosmetics as a side hustle for one of the oldest, most well-known MLMs out there. I still use their products today and I am technically an “active consultant” for more than one MLM.

However, I don’t actually use these MLMs to make money anymore. I quickly realized it was a waste of my time and money. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable being a pushy sales person to all of my friends and family. I didn’t want to be always asking them to buy my products or join my team.

3 Reasons an MLM Is Not a Real Business

This has already been percolating in my head for a while. Every time I get on Facebook, I’m bombarded by friends who have joined the flavor of the month MLM and are sharing it LOUDLY on social media. Is it just me or is it god damned annoying?

I get that these people want to make money on their own terms. They want to work from home and have flexibility to be there for their families while still earning an income. But, nine times out of ten, an MLM is not the way to do it.

Mostly this is because being in an MLM is not the same has running your own business. Here are 3 reasons why an MLM is not a real business, no matter which one you’re in.

1. You Have No Control Over Business Decisions

Guess what? When you sign up for an MLM, you sign a contract. The contract you sign has specific rules that you must follow if you want to be a salesperson for that particular company.

If you violate these rules, you can be kicked out. They set the rules for how you can market and sell products, what products are introduced, which are discontinued, how you can recruit new members for your team, and more.

If you have a real business, you get to control these things.

2. You Have No Control Over Pricing

An MLM may tell it’s salespeople that they can individually decide if and when they want to offer sales and discounts to their customers. But because of the high wholesale cost of the products, and the low markup to get to the suggested retail price, most salespeople are backed into a corner.

You can’t offer much of a sale to your customers if the markup is only 25%. If you give any kind of discount, you’ll be barely breaking even.

Plus, the marketing materials printed by the company for you to use have the retail price plastered all over them. So, you can’t increase the markup very easily either. Even if you tried sell the products for more money, customers could always find the product cheaper elsewhere due to #3. This gives them no good reason to buy from you.

3. The Law of Supply and Demand Isn’t Followed

Have you ever thought it was strange that MLMs encourage you to recruit as many of your customers as possible to try and turn them into team members? Before long you won’t have any paying customers left to buy your products!

Plus, because of the high turnover of these companies, you can almost always find their products for sale on eBay, Amazon, and in Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups. Bargain savvy customers are likely to turn there for cheaper products these days. All it takes is a quick search on your smartphone. As a bonus, buying the products there means they won’t have to deal with a pushy MLM salesperson either.

There are many other reasons why MLMs are not real businesses, but I can’t list them all unless I turn this post into a novel. 🙂 The point is, if you really want to be an entrepreneur, start your own business instead.

Summary

Does the Financial Fitness program actually work? Are the lessons really able to help people get their finances in order? I’ll admit it, I don’t know the answers to those questions.

If the product can truly help people with their money, that’s great! However, there are plenty of other sources of personal finance information available that are far cheaper. Plus, they won’t try to suck you into an MLM that’s going to cause you to go broke instead of helping you achieve financial freedom.

PS – I thought pretty seriously about sending an invoice to my friend for the hour of my time that they wasted, especially since she made a point to say the meeting would be “worthy of my time”. Clearly, it wasn’t!

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24 responses to “No! I Will Not Join Your MLM (So Stop Asking!)

  1. Wow. What a scam and it makes me so angry how they are targeting people desperate for financial help and knowledge and they are making their situation worse. Gross. I would simply feel icky doing that. At least with make-up or normal products, you assume the people buying them are using the products. Here, they are seeking out the vulnerable. You should invoice your friend! She wouldn’t waste your time with any more MLMs.

  2. Thanks very much for the warning, Kayla. I’ve just started trying to sell things through Facebook Garage sales and I’ve been gobsmacked at the number of MLMs being advertised as “work from home” opportunities. They know their target markets and they use every trick in the marketing book.

    Also, your friend probably doesn’t even realise there’s is anything wrong with this. That’s how they work, isn’t it?

    1. Yes, that is certainly something to watch out for. Many people would love to work from home, but MLM’s are not always the best choice to accomplish that.

  3. I was getting a bit frustrated with this article until you finally explained what an MLM is! No, not everyone knows what that is! 🙂

    1. I’m sorry you were frustrated. I hope you were still able to take away some information that could prevent either you or someone else you know from becoming an easy target, which was my goal.

  4. So is your friend reading this post now? 🙂 I would have been pissed too. I hate financial tools that are sold to people who are broke and desperate. That’s also a reason I started blogging about personal finance because I wanted to share what I had learned without people paying for it. That program just sounds so crazy expensive too! I doubt it’s that useful if they are asking people to invest in gold bullion which is a terribke investment

  5. I’ve seen people argue that MLMs are not real businesses . . .
    Then, I see them argue points that also apply to franchises.

    “1. You Have No Control Over Business Decisions
    2. You Have No Control Over Pricing
    3. The Law of Supply and Demand Isn’t Followed”

    “There are many other reasons why MLMs are not real businesses, but I can’t list them all unless I turn this post into a novel.”

    I’d love to see better reasons that exclude franchises.

    “The point is, if you really want to be an entrepreneur, start your own business instead.”

    Of course, you know that the expense and risk of starting a original business is high. Arguably if someone joins and MLM and spends the same money and time they would on a McDonald’s franchise (for example) they can easily be profitable. One reason MLM participants fail so much is due to the low cost of entry . . . and the low cost to exit.

    It seems as though the problem is with the people involved rather than the system itself.
    Even you are still associated with multiple MLMs.

    1. I rather feel as though you are right…and wrong. I think the problem is with the people AND the system both. Yes, I am still associated with more than one MLM, as I pointed out in my post. However, as I also pointed out, I am not using them to make money or to sell stuff to other people in order to “help” them get ahead financially. That is why I was so upset about this particular personal finance MLM. It is supposed to be there to help people but it more than likely will hurt their finances instead. But we are all entitled to our own opinions.

    2. Franchises do follow the laws of supply and demand. When you go into McDonald’s they dont try to get you to open your own McDonald’s.

      They do a lot of research about the demand before they decide to open a store.

  6. MLM’s infamously make a very few people wealthy while most lost lose out. 99% of the time a person who buys into an MLM will lose what they invested plus more. That’s the facts. You can disagree with them, you can point out that you, yourself, are doing fabulously, but those are the facts. There are numerous hard numbers that prove this. Why support ANY MLM’s? They are all predatory in nature!

    1. I actually have a friend who is doing well and making money in her multi-level marketing company. So, I know they do work for some people. However, for the majority they are not a good way to make money.

  7. I was asked to meet with someone about this product. Despite me asking a million times what the product was I could not find out. Eventually I was told that it was the books and CDs that people don’t use anymore. My paper was beginning to be written up and I was told I was going to pay $260 and when I requested to ask my friends and special people, I was told why ask people who are not financially free.

    I believe in hard work and that will never stop. I am not easily convinced. Did not like the answers. Did not like the presentation being surrounded around 2 people who sounded like Gods. Did not like the push to meet me at my house.. that’s my sanctuary. Don’t do that.I will find financial freedom on my own but it wont be by this unknown product.

  8. In a way this is like saying financial advisors are scam artists because they have to pay upfront for certificaton and i think it costs more than 120$. In today’s day in age people make money from people whether you like it or not. Any good financial program cost money. Unfortunately, a lot of information costs. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t put in the time to do all the research to get great information and would rather pay for the convenience. I know a lot of people in this organization that are not pushy. It sounds unfair to demonize something based on one experience. There are good and bad in every company. There is good and bad things said about this on the net. Some friends of mine just use the program as customers and are not members and have use the program to pay off debt. That sounds like a good thing.

    1. I never said it was a bad thing. In fact, I’ve even used programs as a customer/member just to get the products that I want. My issue is when people push the products down your throat. And I think if you did the research on many MLMs, there is more to the “paying for education” than you think. A lot of the MLMs I’ve researched are scams and don’t really give anything back to the people who sell for them. But to each their own!

      1. At first I wasn’t going to post but decided this rant of frustration has gone on for a very long time. Insite here from someone who has spent time with founders and higher upline than I would be at liberty to inform today. This business is not perfect in any sense of the term. They have made a lot of poor choices and the biggest being lack of a product to make everyone good money. Yes they have made money and most have not, but information and system at work here is unlike any before at least in my opinion. Most of the material is combined Knowledge of literally many lifetimes of studies put together in a way that makes sense to a dummy like me comprehend it. They have done this with finances, health products, etc, and many things. Yes I stopped promoting or being associated with programs long before your exposure. I simply put couldn’t afford it. AGREE most can’t that pisses me off too. I have told them for years if they give the masses the means to afford then give them the knowledge then you will accomplish true goal . You all are hopefully listening to me when I say true goal , changing the world, how is the next question? Always is (Freedom). So answer this for yourself are we all tired of the world, life, problems, stress to pay bills, etc Yes . So what is freedom everyone has a different opinion. It’s coming guys. I wish I was at liberty to excite anyone and everyone. The facts are I don’t know enough yet and it’s not released and in play yet but some awesome possibilities are coming and Life leadership the all mighty information salespeople that were all bad lol in some people’s opinion finally will expose themselves for what the real message is. Yes they made money grew empire and if I know the truth hopefully used this to change the world to put masses in control and not the all powerful elite and level the playing field for all of us struggling individuals in this world. I hope I am right. I hope we all see it in short time frame . If not then I was wrong and you guys were correct but until then god bless all. Just speaking from the heart no gain from this in anyway .

  9. I ran across your blog researching the Financial Fitness program set. I did not realize it was a MLM until further searches, including your blog.

    FYI – people sell the Financial Fitness program set (book, workbook and audio CDs) on eBay for about $20. Much better than the $140 at the website. Used or slightly used, but that is OK.

    IF it is solid info, I definitely do not mind spending $20 for it, but will not risk the $140. Still kicking around the idea. In the meantime, I will subscribe to your blog.

    1. If it works for you, go for it! But I won’t be promoting it or any other MLM that focuses more on profit over financial literacy. Thanks for reading!

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