05 MayThe Only Money Advice You’ll Actually Listen To
Financial advice is not a one-size-fits all thing. Certain money tips — even those you read on this site — just won’t apply to you. Don’t get disheartened if this is the case. The trick is finding advice that you can directly implement in your own unique life circumstances. That’s the advice you’ll listen to, use, and benefit from the most.
How do you go about finding this best advice?
Advice that suits your lifestyle
Whatever financial advice you take has to align with your priorities, interests, and how you want to live. Otherwise, it probably won’t work.
If you’re a die-hard foodie, for example, trying to follow money advice that says you should cut out all food indulgences probably feels like torture. Or, how often do you hear money pros advise you to eliminate your morning latte? If you’re a coffee lover, that often-touted tip is probably a total turnoff.
That’s not an excuse to completely disregard anything you don’t want to hear — you may be able to sacrifice more of those splurges than you realize at first. But you’ll need to tailor the advice to fit in at least some of those things most important to you, or you won’t follow it at all.
The same thing applies to your general lifestyle, too. For instance, there are a number of financial gurus out there who advocate a cash budget system. My husband and I have read all of this. We understand why cash works, how you’re likely to spend less if you have to hand over paper, and how the system has saved people’s financial lives.
But the advice just doesn’t work for us. We don’t have easy access to a fee-free ATM or a bank branch. We don’t like carrying cash or having it around the house. We choose our credit cards consciously, based on benefits.
So, we don’t take that advice. We know it won’t work for us, so we don’t waste our time trying to force it. On the other hand, we always use our credit cards responsibly and pay them off each month, because that does work for the life we live.
Advice from a person you can respect
It doesn’t matter how sound the advice is. If you can’t respect the person giving it, you won’t follow it.
When you’re looking for someone to listen to about money, don’t just look at what they say — look at who they are. At the very least, make sure the person seems to have integrity, that they practice what they preach, and that they are well respected within their community.
Your best friend may be a great person, but if she’s always in debt, she’s probably not the best person to give you savings suggestions. Relatives may have their own agendas and biases that make their advice unsound for you.
Although professionals aren’t infallible, they are disinterested parties that can usually give you objective advice. If it’s a professional whose advice you read or hear about in the media, make sure they’ve got adequate credentials — either they’ve had personal experience in the subject they’re talking about, or better yet, they have certifications that show they’ve studied the subject intensively.
If it’s a professional you pay, those certifications are even more important. And be sure to understand how they’re being compensated (are they fee-only, or commission-based?) so you know whether they are being financially swayed by anything other than your best interest.
Advice in the right media format
Financial advice is available in almost every medium, so choose the one that’s easiest for you to digest. After all, you have to understand and implement the advice in order for it to be valuable.
Some people like their financial advice in bite-sized snippets. If this is you, read a blog or website that features easy-to-read articles about money. If you prefer reading longer arguments and counterarguments, find a personal finance book.
Maybe you don’t like to read at all, but would instead rather watch or listen. No problem: Check out a podcast or browse YouTube. Trust me, what you need is out there, you just have to search for it.
Advice that’s memorable
Financial advice doesn’t just need to be a good fit for you — it also has to be something you can easily remember and use on the fly. If it doesn’t stick in your brain, it’s not going to help you with your finances. You’ll forget you ever read or heard it, and go right back to your old money ways.
What makes advice memorable depends on — you guessed it — you. Do you like humor? Find some advice that’s doled out with wit. Prefer deep thought? Find a financial philosopher. Like facts and figures? There are analysts and advisers who will run those numbers for you.