How the Top Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth Manage Their Own Money

by Marc Diana

How the Top Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth Manage Their Own Money
August 19, 2014

Does a mailman go for a walk on his day off? Maybe not, but money experts still have to manage their own assets when they are done giving financial advice for the day. These pros have more incentive than the rest of us to do a good job; it is not good for business when a financial author or TV personality has to declare bankruptcy.

We recently compiled a list of the top 50 Social Influencers in Personal Finance and Wealth. We wanted to know how people like Rich Dad Poor Dad author Richard Kiyosaki and Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary invest their own hard-earned dollars. You can see the results in the attached infographic.

Surprisingly, two-thirds of the respondents spent only an hour or less per month managing their investment portfolio. That means that there is no excuse for not putting in the time to manage your own money.

Even though many of these influencers are professionals, 60% relied on other professionals for their investment decisions. As April Rudin, head of The Rudin Group, puts it, “Managing your finances is not a sprint but a marathon. And, it's not smart to DIY -- seek an advisor who can understand you and your goals!”

Adds Ebong Eka, CPA, author of Start me Up!, “It's important to find licensed professionals to help with your finances and retirement accounts. Too many people try to do this themselves which leads to financial ruin!”

But Sam Dogen disagrees, devoting one-to-five hours per month making his own investment decisions. “There is an endless amount of money out there. It's up to each of us to go ahead and grab it!” exhorts the founder of FinancialSamurai.com. His advice? “Solid personal finance habits like maxing out your 401k really add up over time. Nobody cares more about our money than ourselves. And nobody is going to save us either, but ourselves!”

Another surprise is that these experts had less than half (44%) of their portfolio in stocks. Although the average respondent had 12% of their asset allocation in start-up equity, the individual amounts varied widely from zero for many of these top influencers to 70% for Jeff Rose, Creator of GoodFinancialCents.com, and a whopping 75% for Greg Skidmore. The latter, President of Belpointe Wealth Management Group, explains, “I have most of my assets in start-up equity for the simple reason some of the firms I have helped start have risen in value. My original allocation was 20%.” Hmm… might it be time for a little rebalancing?

Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary owns stocks, bonds as well as cash holdings. Although she would not divulge her specific asset allocation, she did share, “My financial philosophy has been to live below my means so that I could save as much as I could for retirement and my children’s college fund. I don’t see debt as a tool but as slavery. Yes, it’s necessary for most to use debt to buy a home or even a car, but the goal for all of us should be to become as debt-free as possible.”

IRA Expert Ed Slott brought up another key point: people have to “…make a distinction as to whether the asset allocation is in a retirement account that is subject to ordinary income taxation, a non-retirement investment account that might be subject to capital gains tax rates and/or a Roth IRA that is tax-free. That can play a BIG part in how much money you really have ... after taxes. In other words, the key part of an investment allocation strategy is taxes (how much you get to keep when you want to withdraw those funds). That is a BIG deal if you might only be keeping, say 60% or less of those funds because tax planning was ignored.”

One final surprise from these top influencers, including Retirement Planning Educator Ed Slott: half of them do not intend to ever retire! They must really enjoy doing what they do.

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