Can Any Personal Finance Pundit Be Trusted?

by Jason Unger

The recent look inside Robert Kiyosaki’s wealth seminars generated an interesting discussion in the comments about personal finance pundits and whether they ever have your best interests at heart.

It’s a great question, since most pundits made their money telling people how to get rich — reason enough to raise an eyebrow and wonder if their advice really works for you and me.

So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names in personal finance and see if they can really be trusted.

While there are a ton of commentators and money gurus on TV and radio, let’s discuss a few of them: Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Jim Cramer and Robert Kiyosaki.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that each one of these pundits believes that they have your best interests at heart.

Meaning, they shell out personal finance advice that they believe works for everyone who is listening — not just what worked for them or their “great idea” about making money.

While I doubt that this is true in every case, it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt.

But one crucial thing to remember is that all of these pundits are also storytellers — meaning, through their books, TV shows and radio shows, they need to create a compelling, interesting story that keeps people reading, listening, and buying books and other products.

That’s why phrases like “in this economy” permeate the media — the storyline needs to be established so you, the consumer, understand why you need to do what you need to do.

But at the end of the day, each of these pundits is also in sales; without selling you on their products or their sponsor’s products, they wouldn’t be on the air.

I want to open this up for discussion. Can you really trust any personal finance pundit? Does their need to stay on the air and sell books make their advice less trustworthy?

Tell me what you think in the comments.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Investor Junkie March 16, 2010 at 9:10 am

All of them have a bit of truth to what they say. What might be appropriate to them may not to others. As I also state on my “Rules of Wisdom” page I also look at any personal finance guru (including what I say!) as color commentary. No different than what you see in sports.

http://investorjunkie.com/rules-of-wisdom

It’s opinion. Not all size fits all. Also as you try to predict the future, no one is 100% correct.

The Personal Finance Blog March 18, 2010 at 2:10 am

I agree with Investor Junkie, all of them have SOME truth to what they say. I mostly read them (and especially Robert Kiyosaki) for “motivation”, it that makes any sense. What I mean is that I read them and get into the “I can be financially successful if I put my mind to it” mindset. And then when it comes time to put together a sensible plan, I turn to the strategies used by people who actually DID what I want to do: books about the investing strategies of the Warren Buffetts and Peter Lynches of this world, and books about famous entrepreneurs and how they built their empires.

I wouldn’t implement any “technique” suggested by any of them. Odds are, that’s not what made them money in the first place.

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