The other day, I was talking to a group of young adults about personal finance, and one of them mentioned that there was a person from the bank at their school. They talked about how they [the students] would be really smart and cool if they used the bank’s products to become rich! It seems that a lot of students went home and told their parents that they wanted to take advantage so they wouldn’t be left behind. I’ve worked for institutions that would send a sales rep out to the local schools and colleges to drum up business, so I asked what she talked about. Without going into too many details, the students who took up the bank’s paid representative got royally screwed, and that’s really a shame.
This started me thinking about how young people especially are taken advantage of by so-called “experts”. I see this happen a lot, especially when it comes to personal finance. Throughout the blogosphere, there are bloggers out there who have a good story to tell, some who really know how to “spin a yarn”, and others who have real authority in their topics. Unfortunately, you also have some who don’t know what they are talking about, or those who have a basic grasp of some particular gimmick, but can’t flesh out their blogs with any meaningful way of conveying that message to the masses.
Before this becomes a flame war that I would most certainly lose, let me say that there are, by far, many more good bloggers than bad: All of the blogs on my blogroll are good, and there are many, many more that aren’t up there simply because I haven’t had the time to read through all of them before adding them. This is pretty much for one person, who, even though they are little more than a troll, has the colossal brass ones to believe that they speak with any authority! This person’s claim to “fame” is little more than stealing the ideas of others and putting them on (his or) her blog verbatim!!
People with whom I have had personal conversations about this person have suggested that I just out them for who and what they are, and I have rejected this out of hand for a few reasons; First, I really, REALLY hate being THAT GUY. Look, if you get you’re happy-ya-ya’s by doing this kind of thing, have fun. I’m pretty sure you will eventually feel some very large tooth marks on your backside for your troubles. Second, who knows—somebody might stumble upon their site, and learn something despite themselves! If that’s even a remote possibility, I’m not going to be the guy that screws that up. Third, and this is the most important thing, what if I’m wrong?
In this case, I’m not, but what if I was wrong about this person? Do I really want my brand to be associated with tawdry personal attacks and wrong information? Even knowing I’m right here, is that how I want Finance For Youth to be known? Wouldn’t it be better for F4Y to be known for giving accurate information, and not about blog wars?
With all of that being said, all of us at F4Y want you to make sure that you are getting the best information when it comes to personal finance. When someone gives you advice, think about who’s giving the advice, and what “right” do they have to give you advice? This is a very personal question for you. Are you okay with taking advice from someone who may have practical experience even if they lack training or education? Do you need to hear from someone with a lot of letters at the end of their name, regardless of whether they have been in your situation in the last century or so?