You’ve probably seen products or advice from various financial ” gurus ” on TV, the internet, or on the bookshelf at your local bookstore.
Financial advice is available everywhere. You can even get it (usually unsolicited) from your nutty uncle Jimbo who’s never had two nickels to rub together, but is adamant about giving you instructions on how to invest your money and get rich with his latest scheme (Ping pong balls, the market is HUGE in China!).
Financial Gurus Do Big Business
Uncle Jimbo aside, most all of us have sought at least a little financial knowledge from someone well known who is touting their latest book, course, or seminar.
Financial advice can be a big business, and the biggest financial gurus out there are making a lot of money.
But are they all that they’re cracked up to be?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell.
So I thought I would shoot a little info your way and provide you with some guidelines on how to tell if your financial guru is all he (or she) is cracked up to be.
First, let’s come into agreement that the first requirement for an effective financial guru is that they should be teaching your how to use your money in the best way possible to ensure that you prosper financially over the long term.
Some Financial Gurus are Inconsistent
Now let’s talk about some of the biggest problems that I see when it comes to some of these gurus.
The biggest problem that I see with many of them is that they talk out of both sides of their mouth.
They give advice on one side by telling you it’s wise to get out of debt. Then, they use the other side of their oral cavity to tell you that you need to keep a credit card or two for emergencies and to maintain a good credit score. Some even say that there are such things as good debt and bad debt.
Some will even recommend that you to save a portion of your paycheck every month to invest for the future, yet teach you how to waste money on interest and fees by learning to “manage” your debt instead of getting rid of it for good.
Why do they do this?
There may be several reasons:
- They Are Just Plain Dumb- They just don’t realize they are giving conflicting or bad advice.
- They Think You Are Dumb- They think you don’t realize they are giving conflicting advice.
- They Don’t Care- Their main objective is not necessarily to help you, so much as it is to keep their advertisers happy and keep the lucrative ad money rolling in from credit card companies, big banks, etc.
- They Really Believe That Being in Debt is the Best Use of Your Money- See #1 above.
- They Want to Be Popular, so they tell you what you want to hear, instead of telling you the total truth.
Anybody that resembles those characteristics should be immediately discounted.
You can find better advice than that (here, for instance).
What Should You Look For?
So when you need solid personal finance teaching/advice, what questions should you be asking? What should you look for in a personal finance guru?
Here are a few things to get you started:
- How Do They Make Their Money?- TV shows, books, courses, and seminars are a great way to make money. However, if their show, website, or seminars are taking ad dollars from credit card companies, loan companies, or others pushing credit, you should be wary.
- Are They Using Common Sense?- Most personal finance is just good old fashioned common sense. Anyone telling you to get into debt and leverage that to become rich, or to lease your cars so you can get a tax break, is not using common sense. You should run from these people as fast as you can.
- Do They Encourage You to Live Debt Free?- This goes along with common sense. Living without debt is the best use of your money. If they give debt freedom short shrift in favor of managing your debt and credit score, you will never learn to truly succeed. The best teachers teach you to change your habits to become debt free. If their #1 priority is something other than leading you into complete debt freedom, then kick them to the curb.
- Do They Have Integrity?- Does what they do line up with their message and how they live their life? Are they teaching debt freedom while allowing credit cards and payday loan outlets to advertise on their site? Do they talk about only driving used cars but star in ads for new ones? Keep an eye out for inconsistencies between their message and their life.
How I Roll
As for me, I don’t really like the term ” guru ” in describing my role as a teacher and writer about all things personal finance. However, as someone who is teaching personal finance according to biblical and common sense principles, I will tell you that my philosophy (if you didn’t know already) is to lead people to debt freedom, as many as are willing.
I do it using integrity (I practice what I preach) and I do not take money from credit card companies or other businesses that recommend financial products that keep you in debt.
If this is the kind of information you’ve been looking for when it comes to your money, then you may want to subscribe to get an update every time I post a new article.
If you’re interested in a great course that will teach you every step to getting out of debt using all the principles I talked about above, my CFF get out of debt course is now available in a new online format. Join this list to get a free email mini-course to get a feel for what the online course is all about.
Have you ever seen a financial guru give stupid advice? Let me know by leaving a comment.