Last year I was at a neighborhood barbecue and I overheard someone give a friend of mine some terrible financial advice. At first, I thought he was kidding but I soon realized that he was completely serious and my friend was buying into it.
Although I began listening with amusement as he bragged about his financial skills and results, I became concerned when I saw my friend taking it to heart. I then gently clarified and explained why this financial advice wasn't quite applicable and could actually end up costing him his retirement.
When it comes to investing our money, sometimes we all need help and advice. However, it is very important that we are careful about the source of the advice we are given. Too often we rely on water cooler advice that, if taken, can make a mess of our financial future. Water cooler advice is the advice you get from someone who has a great story but really doesn't know what they are talking about. It is often based on bravado or a need to have their ego stroked.
Whether it is laziness or misplaced trust, instead of going to a knowledgeable source for our financial advice, we often take our advice from someone because they have a compelling story or they're a friend, co-worker, or fellow church member.
Taking financial advice from family can be particularly risky. Family members are rarely able to give an objective point of view and if you are given poor advice you may not have any recourse other than to accept the loss and move on with your life. You also run the risk of hurt or severed relationships based on the outcome of the advice taken.
When it comes to getting advice, some people feel that you can't go wrong getting that advice from someone at your church or another trusted organization you belong to. You may have faith in their spirituality or trust them because you share a common belief. Unfortunately, affinity fraud, scams that exploit the trust of an identifiable group such as a religious group, is all too common as people prey on those with whom they pray. We accept poor financial advice as God-approved when it is simply poor financial advice or even worse, fraud.
Go ahead and take their spiritual advice but don't take financial advice from someone just because you share a religious belief. If you do, you may find both your faith and your finances shaken.
Remember, there are professionals available who can offer well-researched advice that is custom tailored to your particular situation. Take advantage of a good financial professional's years of training and experience to benefit your financial situation.
So the next time you're at a party or at church, or a family reunion, and someone is spouting off all their tricks and tips to making money overnight, just smile and ask them to pass the ketchup.
Paul Anderson is an investment advisor and partner at Moneywise Wealth Management. He is also a host of the Moneywise Guys radio program on KERN 1180 weekdays 10 a.m. to noon. His email is Paul@moneywiseguys.com and website is www.MoneywiseGuys.com. Advisory Services offered through: SCF Investment Advisors, Inc. Corporate Office: 155 E. Shaw Ave. #102 Fresno, CA. 93710 800-955-2517. These are Anderson's opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian or SCF.