Years ago when I first started out on my own, I had no idea who to turn to for financial advice. So I read ads in the newspapers, watched infomercials on TV, and ended up seeing some of the same names over and over again. These were the "experts".
So I started to listen to them. And buy their books. And even went to one of their seminars, by a guy named Charles Givens.
It was so good I even bought "the system" he was selling for true financial independence. It only cost a couple hundred dollars, so it wasn't too expensive. At least at first. Then I would get letters and phone calls offering me the "advanced system". Which cost a few thousand dollars.
And that's when I made the decision to stop.
After all, the books gave out a lot of helpful, proven advice. And the first system taught a few more details.
And this guy was a financial expert. Made his fortune using the same techniques he was teaching (note - keep reading).
Stuff about "buy term insurance and invest the difference". Sounded good. So I followed the advice. And most of it was pretty good. I learned about life insurance and mutual funds. And started saving regularly by having money taken out of my paycheck. All good advice. Debatable, as there are other opinions out there. But still good advice. Especially for a guy in his early 20's with no knowledge of saving or investing or insurance (of course, I made some real bad decisions not related to this advice and ended up with mountains of debt, but that's a story for another day).
Then a few years later I read how he was sued. By people who paid thousands of dollars for his system. Who found out that he actually DID NOT make his fortune using these techniques. He actually made his fortune selling these techniques!
Not to say the techniques were all bad.
In fact, they do work to a degree (espcially the basics found in his initial books. It's the much more expensive stuff he tried selling you later that are questionable, like real estate tactics). But he sold you on his story. About how these techniques were proven, and made him a fortune. Which was false.
So why is this important?
Because every time I read a story about Dave Ramsey or Suzy Orman or one of the other financial "gurus", I wonder.
- I wonder if they use the advice they teach.
- I wonder if they really know what it is like to be in debt.
- I wonder if they really know what it is like to struggle financially.
- I wonder if their techniques are solid financial advice.
And I wonder if they'll be the next Charles Givens. Or the next Kevin Trudeau (similar story to Given's).
Not that I doubt that much of their advice is good. But every time I see someone talk about Ramsey like he is some sort of financial GOD, I'm skeptical.
Have you ever used any of the debt reduction or personal finance techniques taught by Ramsey or Orman? And did they work for you?
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