One pitfall of being savvy about personal finance is getting requests from friends and readers to advise them on their financial situation. On a blog, it’s easy enough to say whatever we want and cover it with a disclaimer that we’re not professionals and this shouldn’t be construed as professional advice, etc.
Yet if we’re approached by a good friend or relative and if it seems we could help them, then it’s hard to say no.
For instance, several of my aunts read my blog. One approached me about her retirement plan. She asked me to look at a fund of funds she was considering. It was Canadian, but similar to those US target retirement funds which are a mixture of stock and bond funds.
Because it’s her retirement, I worried about saying the wrong thing and having her end up with something which turned out to be a bust. At the same time, I’ve been reading up so that I can make these informed decisions for myself—so why not give my aunt my opinion.
As it was, the fund was pretty good. It followed good indexes and the management fee wasn’t outrageous. The allocation percentages looked right for this time in her life and she could switch to a more conservative version in maybe 10 years. It was also with a very reputable company.
I told her that things looked right to me and that this was the type of retirement fund that I’d be looking for.
Whether you write a personal finance blog or you read them (and if you’re here, you probably do the latter at least), there may come times when you are asked to give your opinion or advice. How far are you willing to go? Do you feel up to evaluating retirement plans? Maybe you’re more comfortable explaining principles like the debt snowball/snowflake or why paying off credit card debt promptly is probably a better move than investing instead.
P.S. To my aunt, don’t worry you didn’t stress me out or anything. I hope that my take was useful and that you’ll have a happy retirement someday.