Monday, March 28, 2016

Financial Gurus - Help or Hurt


There are thousands are financial experts, advisors, coaches, planners but how do you know which one is right or which you should listen to. You shouldn’t give advice on any issue if you have experienced the issue yourself, i.e. unemployment, divorce, single parent, reduced benefits, death of a spouse, illness, foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.  Just because someone has a degree, license or certification does not make him or her an expert. 

Just because someone has sold millions of book, has their own TV show or radio show or has appeared on national TV does not make them an expert. However, there are experts who have these credentials.  Webster’s dictionary defines an expert as: 

  • a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority
  • possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled (often followed by in or at): an expert driver; to be expert at driving a car.
  • pertaining to, coming from, or characteristic of an expert: expert work; expert advice.

Personal finance gurus’ advice does not apply to everyone. Just like you when have to find the right mechanic who is knowledgeable about your car make and model, you have to right the right personal finance guru that works for you. As with any advice, you have to do your own research and know what works for you. Just because advice worked for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Find out where these gurus put their money and who their financial advisors are.  Experts should follow their own advice.  If not, you probably should not be listening to them.  

Gurus should explain how they recovered from their financial mishaps. Also, beware if a guru is constantly advertising their products because they are more focused on making money than helping people. A guru should be humble and wise enough to state they cannot help everyone and there are some things that they cannot help you with or do not have a solution for. 

Gurus’ advice should be consistent and current. They should state that their advice does not work for all situations and does not work for everyone.

Advice can be hurtful if it does not work for you or makes your situation worse. Advice can be helpful if it does work for you. It may not mean the guru’s advice is bad or good, it means their advice is not right for you. However, if none of the advice from a guru works for you, you might want to reconsider following their advice.  Gurus tend to give advice for the masses, which rarely works, well for individuals. Like the saying goes, “one size does not fit all”.  

I think all some gurus have advice that is helpful but you must be savvy enough to take bits and pieces of advice from each one instead of following advice from one guru religiously. 

Gurus should be able to get you motivated and inspire you to do better. Follow advice from a guru that focuses on your particular problem: you need to pay down debt, save money, plan for retirement, pay for college, buy a home, on the verge of bankruptcy or foreclosure, need to increase your credit score, etc. 

Use common sense first before making a financial decision or spending your money. Ask friends or relatives who are good with spending money what they did to get out of debt or their situation or improve their spending habits.  The best advice for everyday Americans is a book written by an everyday American or someone who previously lived as an everyday American. If all else fails go with you gut.

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