Sifting through the Internet for financial advice is an activity that you undertake at your own risk. In fact, many professional financial advisors recommend that you ignore most — if not all — of the financial chatter you find online.
But the fact of the matter is that you’re already online and sometimes, you’re going to come across blogs or headlines that you can’t resist. Today we’re going to look at some ways that you can protect your mindset when browsing financial insights and advice online, as well as provide practical options for seeking professional financial advice outside of the blogosphere.
Double Check the Author’s Credentials
The ease at which hobbyists and untrained financial enthusiasts can share their insights is astonishing. A slick blog or loyal social media following can give individuals with no formal training in finance leverage to share uninformed opinions as fact.
You want to vet any online financial advice you find by checking the credentials of the authors or bloggers whose sites you visit. Credible financial voices should share their credentials in their author bios below or beside their posts. At the very least, you should be able to find this information if you check out the site’s “About” section.
If you can’t find information about an author’s credentials, assume that they don’t have them and disregard the information you find on their site. Even if you do find credentials, take your research a little farther and visit the official sites of the organization(s) that the author claims to be affiliated with.
For example, if a financial blogger has the CFP® mark after their name, visit the official CFP Board website to search for their name and verify that they have actually received this designation. Sometimes, individuals intentionally misuse credentials to lead readers to believe that they are trustworthy financial voices. But an extra step to double check an author’s credentials can help you to determine whether an online financial voice is one worth taking seriously.
Avoid Emotional Click Bait
Let’s face it, sometimes writing and reading about financial information can be a little dry. Financial voices — particularly ones associated with major news outlets or well-ranked financial websites — know this and try to tap your interest by sensationalizing financial information or current events.
You’ve probably seen headlines like “Do This One Thing with Your Retirement Account and Retire in Luxury” and similar ones that promise the article you’ll read will give you some amazing advice you wouldn’t get elsewhere. It’s tempting to allow emotionality, even the curious “what if…” take you down a rabbit hole of terrible financial advice.
It’s important to ignore financial sites and articles that are written to appeal to your emotions. After all, your emotions should already be in the backseat when it comes to your financial wellbeing and investment activities. If the articles you’re reading cause you to have new fear or optimism, you should probably take a step back and question whether this “advice” is worth your time.
Close Your Laptop
At the end of the day, the best place to get financial advice and information is offline. Go ahead, close your laptop and contact a financial professional who knows (or will get to know) you personally and can provide personalized financial advice. If you’re looking for answers to your financial questions, reach out to learn how customized financial planning services can help you get a fresh perspective on your financial situation and future!