I don't think it is quite correct to say this forum is financially conservative. At the very least, it is more complicated than a simple "conservative" or "not conservative" label conveys.
As other posters have noted, Bogleheads invest in stocks (albeit generally via index funds) which is definitely not "conservative" relative to most people. The Federal Reserve claims that only 13.8% of US households
own stocks. Other surveys aren't quite as low but most find that fewer than 50% of people have any stocks. In part, that's because they don't have enough money. But the surveys also always find high levels of fear, uncertainty, and distrust as reasons why people don't invest in equities.One recent study
asked people what was the best investment for money they wouldn't need for a few years:
- 27% said real estate
- 23% said cash (!!!)
- 17% said stocks
That's a start contrast to Bogleheads who, almost universally, accept that stocks are the best investment overall (albeit with downsides such as volatility and crashes that warrant the inclusion of other assets in a portfolio to provide moderation).
Another area where Bogleheads are often "not conservative" is when you look at their career. It is by no means as majority but my general impression is Bogleheads has more than its fair share of people who have taken large risks in their career. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, business owners, high-level executives, and others earning well into the six-figures post here fairly often. People rarely get to positions like that without taking on a fair amount of career risk.
Even something "safe" like becoming a doctor means taking on staggering amounts of debt (with no real guarantee that you'll actually enjoy being a working doctor), which is definitely a kind of risk.
So I don't think it is clear cut that Bogleheads are financially conservative. If I had to boil it down to one thing (and to characterise an entire forum with broad brushes), I'd say that Bogleheads are extremely future-focused. Thinking about the future so much means they are risky in some ways (investing in equities that (usually) win out after decades) and conservative in other ways (fears about "what if I get laid off when I'm 50 and never find work again?")
ThankYouJack wrote:Who has taken a chance and how did it work out?
To directly answer this question: sometimes yes, sometimes not really, sometimes unclear.
I bought a house once -- which was a chance, given that I was new to the area and to the job. I ended up not liking the area or the job after two or three years but stuck around much longer, in part because of the house. When I went to sell the house it was right around the housing crash of 2007-2009 and it took ~9 months to sell. I ended up selling it for exactly the same price I had bought it for years before. When you factor in Realtor fees, taxes, home improvements (landscaping, hardwood floors, etc) I'm certain I was down tens of thousands of dollars.
So that taking that risk didn't really pay off.
I sold nearly every worldly possession I had and moved to a new country where I didn't have a job lined up. I figured things would work out somehow. It did.
So that was a risk that paid off.
I quit that job, which was a risk. When I quit the CEO called me up and asked if I was really sure I wanted to walk away from over a million dollars in unvested RSUs. I left and started my own company which....didn't make me as much as those RSUs would have...but still did okay enough that I wasn't in a position to complain. And you have to balance out the "easy to count" stuff like money against the "harder to count stuff" like fewer 5am conference calls with corporate HQ.
So that was a risk that was unclear.