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This week, a pastor from a local church contacted me to learn more about the Reaching FIRE course that I have developed. To say that I was excited was an understatement. Any chance to share my course with others is thrilling.
The pastor mentioned to me that his church was not currently offering any financial education to members of the congregation. With so much disinformation out there, it’s nice to see churches eager to fulfill the need surrounding personal finance.
In the beginning of Reaching FIRE, I ask people how they learn about personal finance. Not surprisingly, most people learn about finances through their parents or by personal experiences. Rarely do I hear that someone gained financial knowledge through school or a financial mentor along the way, which is unfortunate.
Recently, I came across a survey from TD Bank Love and Money Survey 2017 about who/what people turn to for financial advice. I thought it’d be fun to explore the various ways people acquire advice and provide some running commentary along the way.
I Don’t Turn to Anyone (44%)
Right off the bat, 44% of people figure it out on their own. I have a feeling this explains why so many people struggle financially today. There is so much information, along with misinformation, out there that you would really be foolish not to seek outside advice.
To be honest, this one frustrated me the most.
I think Charlie Munger said it best: “I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”
I am definitely not the smartest guy, but I have an insatiable appetite for personal finance. Although it’s my passion, I realize that it may not be everyone else’s. Either way, everybody should take their finances seriously and seek our reputable sources to gain more knowledge.
Experts (i.e. Professional Advisors) (20%)
1 out of 5 people consults with professionals. That is great. Although I do worry about the professionals who do not have fiduciary responsibilities.
Between those three websites, you can acquire a complete financial picture of your finances, your budget and your investments. Still, there is something to be said for meeting with an actual human being to discuss finances, perfectly tailored to you.
Moms are great, aren’t they?
Growing up, my Mom handled the day-to-day finances in our household. Meanwhile, my Dad handled the investments. So personally, I sought my Dad’s investment advice more often than my Mom’s. It’d be really interesting to hear from the readers on whom they turned to more often- Mom or Dad.
I wonder if our kiddos will probably turn to me for financial advice before my wife, simply because it I also focus more on investments, while my wife takes care of the day-to-day. That’s not to disparage my wife’s contribution to our finances. We both work to our strengths!
Professional Articles or Blogs (8%)
Although I majored in Finance in college, I really learned about personal finance through the Internet. It really doesn’t surprise me that this is #4 on the list.
I am a huge personal finance geek and try to soak up as much information as possible. You know you are true geek when you read through various financial books that you already know backwards and forwards with the hopes of gleaning just one additional nugget of information. Personal finance is the one area where the more I know, the more I realize how much I really don’t know. Certain areas seem to be constantly changing.
I will probably continue to read about personal finance for the rest of my life.
As I stated above, my Dad is the one that I usually bounce my investment decisions off of. While I always discuss with my wife about my investment ideas, my Dad is a great sounding board to provide another perspective.
It can be easy to have blinders on, so talking to my Dad is always helpful. Whether it’s running my Wealthfront experiment by him or hearing his thoughts as I move away from picking stocks to passive index funds, I’m thankful for his input.
Although it would be nice to have more friends to talk about this stuff with, I really don’t have many who love to talk about nitty gritty financial things.
Other Family Member (6%)
My friend has a proverbial rich uncle on whom he seeks investment counsel. His uncle does all sorts of exotic trades and covered calls. He boasts about all the money he makes on a regular basis.
I have offered multiple times to fly my friend and myself out to California so that both of us can sit down with his uncle to learn his ways. His uncle has quite a few investment tips and tricks that he has learned over the years. Whether or not I’d use them, I am still curious. I want to learn as much as I can when it comes to finance, including unique investment strategies. Alas, my friend is always super busy at work, and his uncle has never been available when we have been. So it hasn’t quite worked out yet. Although, I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time.
It also doesn’t help that we have 4 children, 3 years old and younger, between us. So leaving our families while we have fun in California for a week doesn’t sound very exciting to our spouses.
This is both good and bad, in my opinion. Study after study has shown that you are most like the 5 closest friends that you have. For awhile, I had some friends who were lousy at personal finance. They definitely pulled me onto some financial paths that they were on.
Over the years, I have had to pare back on some friends with poor financial acumen. The positive take-away from those negative financial experiences is that sometimes the best lessons result from being burned. Thankfully, I didn’t get too burned on any deals, but I did see some of those friends get torched along the way.
I probably talk to colleagues about finances much more than other people do. Most times, it results in me sharing the plethora of financial information that I have garnered over the years.
I’m sure I’ve annoyed a couple of colleagues at some point or another, but I can’t help but share my passion with others. Plus, if they don’t like it, than can easily avoid me. 🙂
Celebrity or TV Personality (0%)
I am so thankful that most people don’t receive financial advice from the talking heads on TV anymore. They remind me of the squawking that goes back and forth on ESPN these days. I rarely see any analysis on ESPN now. It seems like it has just turned into a bunch of people yelling over each other about their opinions.
I’m just glad to see this category ranking at 0%.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways that most people receive financial information today. While my preference is to see a solid curriculum taught in schools, I am also a big proponent of finding a financial mentor to help guide you along the way. If we can find mentors at work, doesn’t it only make sense to have financial mentors in life?