Consider two artists: MC Hammer and Chamillionaire. Most people know the former because he famously went broke in the 90s despite earning millions of dollars. It’s a good case of money fallacy that many people who earn well often ignore.
MC Hammer made 37 million dollars. But he spent 50. And when he declared bankruptcy in 1996, he had 13 million dollars of debt.
Now, look at Chamillionaire, who just like Hammer, was popular for a few years. When I was in college, he had a famous song called Ridin Dirty. I was never a fan and never heard about Chamillionaire again until a few years ago.
I read that used the money he made during those few years he was popular to invest. Now, he’s worth at least 50 million dollars.
Enter: The extrapolation bias
In the world of behavioral science and finance, there’s a concept called “overextrapolation” or “extrapolation bias” which refers to the assumption that past returns equal returns (the terms are used interchangeably).
According to one paper by Purdue scientists, Cassella and Gulen, “An extrapolative investor believes that recent high returns are more likely to be followed by high returns, and similarly, recent low returns are more likely to be followed by low returns.”
We tend to make the same mistake when it comes to personal finance. This is something that almost every person falls for, whether it’s a writer, investor, artist, knowledge worker, health care worker, and so forth.
When we earn well for a short amount of time, we expect that the checks will keep coming. To me, this is the biggest money fallacy of our careers.
MC Hammer spent more than he earned. Why would a person do that? When they expect they will keep making money so they can pay for it later.
But what if the money stops coming in?
My experience with Medium earnings
The publishing platform Medium distributes the income they receive from members to their writers. I never paid attention to how they do it, I just focused on writing articles for readers.