We are all vulnerable when we are ignorant. History if filled with stories of people who suffered because of their ignorance. Slaves in the United States were purposely kept uneducated by their owners. Products are sold to people with marketing techniques that are purposely used to manipulate.
Let’s face reality, it is impossible to be an expert in everything.
Personally, I would not consider myself to be an expert in many things, but education and experience has made all of us experts in something. There are a few things that I consider myself well versed in: Debt, financial planning, and baseball. In this blog, I am going to focus on two of them: Debt and financial planning because they work hand in hand. Both of these, I have learned more about through personal experience and education.
First, let’s look at financial planning. In 1999, I moved from SC to Kansas and began my financial planning career. It wasn’t a career that I sought, but the opportunity was presented to me and I accepted. From October 1999 until September 30, 2017, I learned things that I know can help people when they need it the most. Helping young couples when they are first married. Those same young couples as they start a family. People who have received an inheritance after the death of a loved one. Others who have lost a job and have retirement money that they need help with. Older couples as they were approaching retirement, and a host of other reasons why someone would seek a financial planner.
This world of finance can be a confusing world and it is ripe for those that prey on ignorance. In truth, most people that work in that industry are honest, hardworking people that want to help others. The problem is knowing who is and who’s not. To make it more confusing, there are celebrities that have made a living bashing the industry as a whole, and while speaking, they give generic information that sometimes can be harmful while lining their own pockets. Most often, people become “victims” because of their own ignorance.
In September of 2017, when I left the industry, I didn’t leave because I hated all of it. In fact, helping people is something I love, and I could see where help was needed but my income was dependent on selling investment products.
One question I began to ask myself was, “Why do people hand over a lifetime of savings to an adviser or broker and have no idea what they are investing in?” They are given a large book that describes what they are being sold and never read it. The interesting part is, the person selling the investment often times has not read the whole thing themselves. Think about it, you are 65 years old, you have almost a million dollars in a retirement account that has to last you for the rest of your life.
Would you buy a house for $500,000 without seeing it or having it inspected? Yet, people go into financial planning offices every day, hand over money, and never seek advice from someone that isn’t getting paid to sell the product. Some people are true victims of fraud while most are victims of their own ignorance and often their own laziness.
Eighteen years in the industry has given me knowledge that can save people thousands of dollars in fees that they don’t know they are paying because they chose not to read the prospectus or they didn’t know where to turn when they read it and didn’t understand what they were reading. Some of the most important advice I can give is, do not invest with anyone until you know what you’re investing in and how much you are paying for that investment. Not what the adviser is making! What you are paying! The two are different.
For younger couples, what should you focus on? The answer differs from couple to couple. What products to be aware of because they can be your first sign of a planner to stay away from if you know what to look for.
This is knowledge that I hope to share with anyone seeking help. Information that can prevent you from being a victim of ignorance.
Now to debt.
For 23 years, debt has been a part of my life. Ours came from a failed business. For others it could be from student loans, auto loans, mortgages, medical bills, or credit cards. Going back to the young couple and even those younger. STAY AWAY from debt at all costs. Debt is an area where not only do I have experience, but I absolutely hate it. By working in the financial industry, I saw just how devastating debt can be. The fact is, if you were alive and an adult in 2008 during the financial crisis, you have seen just how destructive debt is but you may not know how or why. Financial giants disappeared; Lehman Brothers. And others, should have.
Have you ever wondered why those that were underwater in their mortgages were not bailed out, but those that loaned the money were?
Our everyday lives in America and around most of the globe are impacted by debt, even when we personally do not have debt ourselves. The prices of houses. The cost of cars. Especially the cost of college.
Many have offered classes to help people get out of debt. They’ve sold books, video and CD’s. None of which are bad, but we still have millions that are in debt. What I hope to start is not another class. Rather, I hope to start a debt revolution. And, my dream is a debt free body of Christ. Maybe one day, thousands of churches will join hand-in-hand to fight this beast and together we can slay it.
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance leads to slavery.