Personal finance professionals are happy to dole out advice through television, radio, books, social media, and, of course, websites like MoneyTips. But do they ALWAYS follow their own advice? And would they admit it if they didn’t?
After compiling a list of the Top 50 Influencers in Personal Finance and Wealth and inquiring how they manage their own investments , we asked these money experts to divulge if there was ever a time when they didn’t follow their own personal financial advice. We were quite surprised by their candor.
Philip Taylor, CPA, who founded PT Money, says, “I would probably advise people today to hold off on buying a home until their life is settled (stable job, married, most of your kids). I bought a town home when my wife and I were first married. Five years later, we had a couple of kids and wanted a bigger place, yard, etc. We ended up keeping the place as a rental and it’s doing well, but it limited our choices given the small amount of market appreciation the home had seen in five years. Had we been forced to sell, we would have possibly lost money due to realtor fees.”
Bill Winterberg wasn’t so lucky. The host of FPPAD Bits & Bytes says, “I bought a home when I was 23 and sold it for a loss two years later. That was five moves ago!”
Other top money advisors had trouble buying property too soon. Sam Dogen, the Founder of FinancialSamurai.com, said, “Well, I wasn't giving personal finance advice before 2009, but I did buy a vacation property in Lake Tahoe too early. Unless you have a lot of money to burn, vacation property is generally not a wise investment decision.”
J. Money laughed at the question and admitted he didn’t follow his own advice “many times.” The Founder of Rockstar Finance reveals, “I'm a pretty emotional person, so often times I'll make decisions without appropriately thinking about stuff long enough. For example, when I bought a house on a whim when I meant to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Or when I bought a bottle of water for $40 ‘cause it looked cool.” But J. looks at the bright side, stating that his mistakes “all helped me to be a better manager of my money these days and really pay more attention, but I'm sure my next failure is still right around the corner. Just never again a large one like a house purchase!” he vows.
While our men were not practicing what they preached on property, our women were having issues with their own investment advice. Stephanie Sammons, the CEO & Founder of Wired Advisor says, “I tend to take more risk with my own investments than I would typically advise with stock options and concentrated positions. Sometimes it works out well and sometimes it doesn't in the short run!” Michelle Singletary, Washington Post Personal Finance Columnist, had the opposite problem: “There was a time, in my much younger years, as I was starting out that I didn’t heed the advice that with more time to invest you can be more aggressive. Instead, l listened to the advice of a co-worker who was close to retiring and advised me to play it safe and put my investment in bonds. So mostly invested in bonds in my early 20s…. Big mistake.”
More of our female experts had other investment issues. A red-faced Cathy Curtis, investment advisor and financial planner, admits she “missed the deadline to open a solo 401(k) one year and I could have put more money away for retirement than I could have in a SEP IRA.”
Miranda Marquit of Allbusiness.com made a more embarrassing admission: “I took a long time to get rid of my high-fee IRA account and switch to an account that charged lower fees. I spent years paying 2% fees when I could have been paying 0.35% or less. When I added it up, I realized that the lost opportunity cost me hundreds of dollars. I'd been telling others for years to get low-cost accounts and avoid high-cost investing, and here I was, too lazy to move my IRA.”
Winnie Sun, Managing Director & Founding Partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners, says, “prior to becoming a financial advisor (almost 15+ years ago), I owned a lot of single stock positions in a single sector, namely technology. I was certainly not well diversified. When the NASDAQ performed well, my portfolio jumped, but I never properly harvested gains.”
Charles Rotblut, CFA, Vice President & AAII Journal Editor, American Association of Individual Investors, admits making a costly mistake “during the technology bubble. I owned shares of PMC-Sierra (NASDAQ: PMCS) and had a large unrealized gain in the stock. I remember talking to colleagues about the stock’s high valuation and how I was happy that others were still willing to buy the stock. At that point, I should have sold. I knew the stock was far overvalued, but I got greedy. I eventually did sell the stock at profit, but not for as much as I could have had I been more disciplined. It was a lesson that taught me the importance of having disciplined sell rules to limit the emotional component of my decisions.” Considering the stock once was valued in excess of $245 and is now below $8, we hope Charles didn’t hold it that long!
Jeff Rose, CFP, CEO & Founder, Alliance Wealth Management, reveals, “I've bought some individual stocks based on people's recommendations and each time those stocks have bombed.”
Pamela Yellen can relate. The author of Bank on Yourself regrets “hiring financial planners and investment managers rather than trusting my own intelligence. As a result, my husband and I lost money during the longest-running bull market in history, by following the advice and guidance of three different top money managers.”
But April Rudin, Founder & CEO, The Rudin Group, would not admit to ignoring her own advice for one simple reason: “I never rely on my own advice. I value professional advice!”