Imagine the World Without the Financial Media

Checking the financial media

Imagine the world without the financial media for a year. What would it be like? 

I think about this occasionally, and I smile. My gut tells me it would be a better world, but I have no evidence to back it up. 

I merely think about the time, forecasts, and after-the-fact explanations that tie our stock market up in a neat little package with a bow on top. I think about how people take the after-the-fact explanations for before-the-fact forecasts. The financial media often explains something with hindsight and makes it seem as if it was easy to know what would happen beforehand. It’s frustrating. The world does not work that way. 

And yet, people want those explanations. They want to believe it’s easy to say what will happen, but it’s not. It’s nearly impossible. 

I know the financial media is not going anywhere. And, I know that some financial media is helpful in educating investors. But, I still wish there was more education and less prognostication. I wish there was more advice on planning strategies and less entertainment around which stock to buy based on some piece of news that is likely to be irrelevant two months from now. I wish they focused on decades, not on days. 

Let’s imagine a world without the financial media. What would it look like for you? Here’s my vision. 

Beginning of the Year – Financial Media Change

It’s January 1, and the market is closed. Most of the “gurus” and “financial experts” have been replaced on television. There won’t be any buttons to press with entertaining sound effects about which stock to buy tomorrow. Nobody will be forecasting the price of gold and how it will save you from the next crash. The question of “Will the retail sector rebound this quarter?” won’t be asked. 

All of that useless 24/7, fill-the-air junk will be thrown out the window. 

Instead, tomorrow will mark the first day a psychologist and behavioral coach will go on the air and interview real people about what they want to accomplish and change financially this year. They will talk about goal setting and how to make effective changes in one’s life. They will create a plan together using real information from their own lives. People will watch how it is done, and resources will be provided for people to complete their own plan at home. 

It will last an hour or two, and that’s it. There won’t be stock market tickers scrolling across the screen, flashing green and red, with “BREAKING NEWS” every hour. Nobody will know the price of Apple in real-time. It will be akin to the days when people looked up stock market prices the day after in the local newspaper. 

After that hour or two, the channel will go silent. Maybe it will provide a rerun in the evening for those who missed it at the beginning of the day. 

And, that’s it for the week. 

The following week, the news channel will bring the same people back to see what progress they have made towards their goals. They will bring the same psychologist and behavioral coach back, as well as a few others, to weigh in on the progress. More resources will be provided for viewers to mark and measure their own progress. For those who want to join, an online community will be created to provide peer support. After all, public accountability can be a powerful, driving factor. 

And, that’s it for the week. 

The following week, it will be about the same. They will show the failures and successes of the people who volunteered to be on air to improve their financial lives. More people will join the movement and participate in the online community. The only difference this week is they will add another segment focused on sleep and nutrition. They will have experts in these fields talk about ways to improve your sleep and ideas to incorporate better food choices into your busy life. 

Remember the share price of Apple? Yeah, neither does anybody else. It’s been two weeks and the world is still going strong. Nobody has asked about the price of a barrel of oil or what it means for gas prices at the pump this summer. People are starting to think in years and decades, not minutes, days, and weeks.

And, that’s it for the week. 

The following week, the programming content changes a little. It will have the same people from before, but we’ll build on it. There are mini sessions for different types of groups of people and planning around taxes. For example, there is a 30-minute segment for small business owners about retirement plans and how to reduce taxes. There is a 30-minute segment for parents and the tax reduction strategies available to them. There is also a 30-minute program for teenagers about the different types of accounts, such as Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, and brokerage accounts, and what that means for taxes today and in the future. 

More programming will be added to highlight our tax code compared to other countries. We’ll bring on non-partisan experts to share what’s working and what is not working compared to other tax systems. They’ll highlight where inequities exist and make proposals about how to change them, always backed by research free from political and partisan spending. You may be thinking, “How will that exist?” I don’t know – we’re dreaming here. 

And, that it’s for the week. 

The following week, more programming around tax planning. The more people know, the more people will take advantage of every tax planning opportunity or demand change to our tax code. The same people are on from the first week. More people are joining from home to improve their financial lives. There is still programming around sleep and nutrition. This channel is dedicated to wholeness and wellness. This is because one area of life, such as finance, is not siloed – it affects the others. You can’t be financially whole if you are nutritionally deprived. 

People begin to truly forget about Apple or their beloved stock. They stop looking at it in the newspaper and spend a few extra moments with family in the morning. “Life’s better”, they think to themselves. 

And, that’s it for the week. 

Tax Season

With more knowledge and education around taxes, people feel prepared for tax season, except this time around, taxes begin to change. 

People are not only saving time while being less focused on financial forecasts, but they are also understanding their taxes better. Because of this newfound time and understanding, they start to demand tax reform.

They want a simpler tax code with less loopholes and less special interests. Legislation is drafted for tax reform. I don’t know what it looks like, but it’s simpler and fairer. 

With the newfound simplicity, we change to a return-free filing country, similar to Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Most people no longer need to file their taxes. The system is set up to handle it for the vast majority of people. The deadline is also extended to May 31 to give those who need to file more time. 

Throughout tax season, programming emphasis is placed on how taxes are spent, the same people from the original week are brought back to measure their progress, and people are following along at home. They include a new segment for people to call in and ask questions of a financial planner, attorney, and accountant team. These mini sessions help get people started on a better path financially because they include actionable resources without the gimmicks of traditional financial media with cookie-cutter answers. 

And, that’s it for the tax season weeks. 


The summer months are light. People vacation, spend extra time with family, and take time to recharge. 

Programming is based around negotiating raises, understanding benefits packages, life insurance, disability insurance, and health insurance. 

In the first week, human resource professionals are brought on to highlight national and regional salaries in different fields. They explain how to look up salaries in your area based on your work history, and then explain how to negotiate pay raises. They include an extra hour after the two-hour programming block to randomly assign you to another participant in another part of the country to practice negotiating the pay raises. They include scripts and coaches to provide feedback. 

They include special emphasis for the original people who signed up at the beginning of the year to highlight their financial lives. Those people attempt to negotiate a raise and the following week explain how they did it and the result. 

And, that’s it for the week. 

The following week they work through major corporations benefit packages. There are numerous benefit package consultants available to answer questions similar to the mini financial planning sessions from before. They highlight tuition reimbursement, health insurance coverage, average pay, and more. By going through the benefit packages, they teach those watching how to do it themselves. By starting in the summer, they can start formulating questions for open enrollment in the fall. 

And, that’s it for the week. 

The next few weeks are all about insurance: life, disability, and health insurance. The original people from the start explain their coverages, an analysis is done on air, and recommendations are formulated. People can see the gaps if someone died, became disabled, or sick. They give examples, such as cancer, and how much the emergency savings might cover before a disability insurance policy would pay, and the maximum out-of-pocket they would need to pay. 

Worksheets are provided to do your own life insurance analysis at home. Key terms are covered in disability insurance policies and if group coverage is not provided, resources are given to explore ways to obtain coverage through a professional association or individually. 

Stories are shared about health insurance. People explain what they pay, coverage that has been denied, and struggles within the healthcare system. Hospital administrators and patient advocates are brought on to explain how to work the system, learn about pricing, and how to get better care. 

Policy wonks are brought on to explain how health care could be changed. Steps are taken to educate people, who then demand more from their representatives. A movement is built. Slowly, change starts to happen. Legislative wins lead to better care and less healthcare dollars going to administrative insurance costs. Less battles are fought between providers, insurance companies, and patients. 

Nobody talks about how well Apple did during the summer months. People have been too busy creating meaningful change in their own lives and others. 

And, that’s it for those weeks.


There will be refresher episodes from the summer and new content as people go through open enrollment and select their benefits for work. 

After digesting the flashing lights and speculative stories about which sector or individual stock will do well out of everyone’s system, content can be shown about investing. 

The fall is dedicated to becoming better investors, but not like the current financial media does it. Emphasis will be placed on behavioral finance. People will be taught and shown stories about how our minds trick us into poor financial decisions. 

The miracle of compounding will be on display with stories from “everyday investors”, people in their 60s and 70s who spent less than they made and had high savings rates. They talk about the sacrifices they made early on and how that set them up for success later. They show how in the early years, the compounding did not feel like it was working, and it’s not until recently that it really has started to take off. 

They include stories about people who tried to hit it big and did, but they also include others who lost it all. The people who hit it big are not glorified into spectacular investors because their stories are balanced with plenty who took risks and wish they would have followed the simpler path. 

Index funds and mutual funds are explained. Costs are highlighted, but not the bottom line focus of everything because they are balanced against diversification, tax-efficiency, and individual investor values. 

Annuities are explained – truly explained – without deceptive advertising. Financial professionals explain how they can be good in some circumstances, but aren’t right for everybody. 

Investment professionals explain how they analyze individual stocks. Economists talk about their forecasting, but always with a disclaimer that much of the time they get it wrong. After all, it’s still entertaining and fun to guess. 

There are no magic trading strategies shown. In fact, newsletters are audited to build past performance and show how one wrong call can ultimately destroy good long-term returns. Investment gurus are not given space on the air for getting one right call. If enough people spout random ideas, one is bound to be right eventually. Even a dead clock is right twice a day. 

The fall is dedicated to making better long-term investors. If people want speculative, short-term trading strategies, they can “upgrade” to the “professional” version of the new financial media. I’m kidding – they can’t. No downgrades here. There is no Lite, Ultimate, and Professional version. Only high-quality, actionable, and helpful tips. 

And, that’s it for those weeks. 


As we wrap up the year, people are feeling less stressed. The flashing ticker tape, nonsensical guessing about where the market is headed, and short-term mindsets have shifted. People are focusing on what matters most in their financial lives. They are taking steps towards improving their long-term future. 

The year wraps up with a few more weeks hearing from the people at the beginning of the year. Progress is measured. Experts throughout the year are brought back to help answer remaining questions. 

The final learning content is around gifting and charities. Philanthropy experts are brought on to talk about how to evaluate a charity, why unrestricted funds are usually better than restricted funds, and how to design your own, individualized giving plan. 

Accountants talk about why cash is usually a very inefficient form of giving and instead, show you how giving appreciated stock outright to a charity or to a Donor-Advised fund can optimize your taxes. 

Executive Directors and non-profit staff also are brought on to talk about it from the charities’ perspective. They talk about how they prefer receiving donations, how they choose to spend funds, and ways to get involved with their organizations. 

And, that’s it not only for those weeks, but for the year. 

Final Thoughts

A year without the traditional financial media. It’s odd to think about. I’ve laid out a foundation above. I know I’m missing great ideas. What would you include? The odds are low this ever happens, but it’s enjoyable to think about. 

It’s enjoyable to think about a year with more meaningful content, more experts from a variety of different fields that intersect financial wellness, and a shift to thinking about how actions today impact people 10 years from now – not 10 days from now. 

I have no idea how it is created, but it’s fun to dream. 

And, then, if everybody wants flashing lights and up-to-the minute analysis that is no better than a monkey throwing darts at a board, they can have it back the following year. 

Disclaimer: This article is for general information and educational purposes only and should not be considered investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. It is not a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security or investment advisory services. Please consult your own legal, financial, and other professionals to determine what may be appropriate for you. Opinions expressed are as of the date of publication, and such opinions are subject to change. Click for Full Disclaimer