3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take My Advice

you shouldn't take my advice

you shouldn't take my adviceI know, that’s kind of a weird thing to say for someone who finds lots of joy in writing his opinions about money all day. But the really are some good reasons why you shouldn’t take my advice, or anyone else’s for that matter.

1. Personal finance is personal

My absolute favorite thing about being part of a community of personal finance bloggers is that, while we’re all working toward the same goal of achieving financial independence ourselves and educating others along the way, we’re all doing it differently.

One example I can think of is paying off debt. You should do it. That you can take my advice on. But how you do it is up to you. I read an article the other day where one blogger opined that people with low-interest debt should invest discretionary income rather than pile the extra money on the debt to pay it off, simply because you get a higher return from the stock market than you’re paying on your debt. But another blogger wrote a few months ago that you should pay off low-interest debt as fast as possible because that ongoing payment pinches your cash flow, which kills your options and makes it harder on you if your income decreases suddenly.

Who’s right? They both are, depending on who’s reading.

2. I’m just another schlub with ten fingers and a laptop

As much as I like to think I’m right about everything (just ask my wife), the reality is that I’m just another dude out of the 3+ billion out there. I still imagine that everything I write here is valuable to someone, which is why I keep doing it. But not everyone agrees with me about my thoughts on women in the workforce and what not to buy for baby. And that’s simply because we all come from different backgrounds, and we have different goals and expectations. It’s cool.

That’s why I’m not the biggest fan of Dave Ramsey, because his idea is that there’s one way to do it right and that way happens to be his way (oh, and that’ll be $199, kthanks). Don’t get me wrong, Dave’s “Total Money Makeover” is what first sparked my passion for personal finance, and I certainly don’t discount the fact that his program has helped thousands of people get their financial lives back on track.

But in my opinion, there’s only one area of my life where there’s one “the way, the truth, and the life,” and money certainly isn’t it. My suggestion? Read #3.

3. You should educate yourself

Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I know, it’s easy to just listen to someone else because you think they’re smarter than you are (thanks by the way :)), but the best way for you to reach your own version of financial independence is to do it your way.

That’s why I love reading other personal finance blogs so much. There are so many thoughts out there about how to budget, how to save for retirement, how to invest, how to pay off debt, etc. etc. etc. I love to entertain new ideas about how I can reach my goals. Sometimes I accept it and sometimes I simply just say, “Not for me.” That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it’s just not for me.

So yes, I still want you to read my blog. And if what I have to say clicks with you, do it. But I also want you to read other blogs and find other ways to educate yourself on how to become financially independent. Because in the end, it’s my way or the highway. You can take either and get to where you want to go. Because as they say, all roads lead to Rome (except for the ones paved with good intentions).

Educate yourself. Entertain new thoughts of doing things differently. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. But if it does, you’re going to be better off. In the eternal words of Lloyd Christmas, Out with the bad, in with the good.

How do you feel about personal finance being personal? Are there areas where you can better educate yourself?

(photo cred)


19 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take My Advice

  1. I think it’s important to listen, but with critical thinking skills applied. I’m reading Tony Robbins’ book now and I think there are good points, but I think it would be disastrous for someone who accepted every word without critical thought.

    1. Critical thinking is something that was taught in school. I mean, kids are supposed to learn it along the way in certain studies. I don’t know if it’s just laziness or too much dependence on others, but I feel like critical thinking is definitely lacking in this world.

      How is that book, by the way? I mean, comparatively to the hundreds of other personal finance books out there.

  2. Personal finance is personal, but there are some principles that should apply to everyone. For example, avoiding debt, not spending beyond their means, saving for the future – all of these things are important for people at every income level.

  3. I tell people this all of the time. I can tell you what has worked for me and what hasn’t but I can’t tell you what will work for you. I am simply here to educate. The more you learn and educate yourself, the better you can figure things out and make the best choice that works for you.

    For me, I had a hard time years ago with budgeting. I just couldn’t do it. Instead of giving up, I read a ton on budgeting. I realized that some of the techniques were not going to work for me, so I kept pushing on. Eventually, I found a method that worked for me. In the years since, I’ve tweaked it as my life has changed.

    As long as you read and learn, you will figure out what works for you. That is the key to being successful with your finances.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jon. It comes off as extremely arrogant for any of us to say, “This is how I did it and that is exactly how you should do it too.” It’s not just finances. I feel the same way about just about everything else too. I genuinely value other peoples’ experiences, but as soon as they start trying to tell me how I should do it, game over.

  4. Personal finance is kind of like a resume in that if you’re always asking people for feedback on it, everyone will tell you something different. Ultimately you just have to decide for yourself what works best for you.

    1. Dude that’s a perfect comparison! I remember doing resume workshops in college and it was so frustrating to hear all these “experts” and hiring managers come in and give me different opinions. The only sucky part about that is that other people are judging you based on your resume. Get a hiring manager or recruiter who doesn’t like your formatting or style, and you’re out.

  5. This is totally true – we all have different income levels, different expenses, different things that are important to us, different hobbies, different family sizes, different goals, etc. There really is no one size fits all. Some people may want millions in the bank to retire on whereas others may be happy with significantly less, to each his own! I think as long as you are content with your financial situation and striving to do the best you can, you’re good 🙂

    Great post, thanks!!

    1. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the comparison game sometimes, especially with friends who seem to be more well off than we are. But in the end, you really don’t know whether they’re more well off or if they’re just up to their eyeballs in debt. So just keep doing your own thing and you’ll be happy.

  6. Love this! I try to take nuggets of what everyone has to say and apply them to my life as necessary. Granted, if 10 out of 10 people on my blog comment, “for the love of tortilla chips, do NOT buy a brand new 30k car,” then I’ll probably listen to them, For the record, I was not planning on buying a 30k car. 🙂 I like that quote because it’s a really good way of putting it. There is no one out there just like you, and no one has walked in your exact shoes. Maybe the same brand of shoes, but not the same model. 🙂

    1. That quote’s perfect, because I LOVE tortilla chips 🙂 I actually have a co-worker who went out and bought a brand new car a couple of weeks ago. She’s pretty young so I gave her the low down on the opportunity costs, depreciation, and all that stuff. She ended up going with a new car anyway, but at least it was a semi-educated decision.

  7. I always say people have different things they want to spend money on that are worth it to them. While spending money on consumer debt interest is always a bad idea, deciding to live frugally but budget for an “extra” like travel OR hosting OR private school (or whatever else) is a personal decision. People get into trouble when everything seems worth it so they end up spending too much. B

    1. I saw an interesting comment Mr. Money Mustache made in reply to someone on his most recent article:

      “Yeah, I’ve been enjoying Ramit’s year of MORE so far. He and I are not as different as it seems on the surface. I read his posts and think, ‘Yeah, I am very pleased that I could afford all those amenities too these days. But I’m even more pleased that I don’t actually want them. Still, it is very nice to have options.'”

      If a diehard minimalist like MMM can look at the luxury spending of Ramit Sethi and, rather than skewering him, say, “I can do that, I just don’t want to,” I think we can all agree that it’s OK to want something different and to get there on a different path.

  8. People cruising personal finance blogs, thinking that they can use them for financial advice are in for a rude shock. You’re so right Ben, PF blogs are PERSONAL! Things that you or I do don’t necessarily meet the needs of readers.

    I do think there is value in seeking professional advice (a financial planner/adviser) for more specific needs. I’ve used one myself and it was invaluable. It’s really helped me keep on track for my $10m goal!

    1. A $10 million goal sounds like a nice challenge 🙂 Yes, I do think there is some valuable advice to be had if you can spend the time researching it. I also agree that most people should seek professional advice–not necessarily to manage their finances or investments, but at least to have a relationship with someone who can give you objective advice.

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