Why Opinions Don’t Pay the Bills

Think of someone you know, maybe an uncle or friend, who loves to tell everyone what they should do or openly gives their opinion.

Got the picture of the person in your head?

Now, analyze whether or not if half of what they say is even remotely how they live. Chances are if you're thinking of the same type of person I am right now, they are the type of person who knows everything, but really does nothing.

Let's be honest. We have all heard opinions from people in our lives on just about every subject.

From where to go to college, to what you should eat at a restaurant, opinions can guide and influence our decision making process. And that is not necessarily a bad thing… or a good thing.

Sometimes opinions can be very beneficial. In fact, most of the time people offer their opinions because they truly care. However, most of the time, an opinion is often based on two things:

  1. Their own personal experience
  2. A persons sphere of influence

So while some people might offer their opinions with intent of truly meaning well, they also might be clueless with regards to some things.

And while a bad movie recommendation won't ruin your month, a poor financial opinion is something to tread lightly with. Because ultimately:

Opinions don't pay your bills!

I recently came across a  Facebook post that was discussing the subject of student loans someone tagged me in and I had to laugh out loud.

Long story short, the girl said something along the lines of how her student loans suck, she is out of her deferment period and she didn't know what to do… and then opinions came flying in:

  • Oh you should look to refinance!
  • You should consolidate! It's cheaper
  • Just pay the minimums and look into Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • Don't worry about them, they will most likely take care of them self

And the list of comments went on as they populated my phone screen. I am not, nor do I want to, come across as a know it all (I still have plenty to learn in all facets of life), but I do know a thing or two about student loans.

Gauging from what I was reading on Facebook- people were just freely offering their opinions, regurgitating something they had probably been told, heard or read somewhere with no consideration for the context of the individuals situation. 

See Also, How to Stop Comparing Yourself

I quickly realized that all this varying advice was coming from people who were just giving their opinion on what they thought was the right thing to do, no harm intended, but for the most part they had no clue what they were talking about.

What if the girl from the FB post consolidated her student loans and her payment terms skyrocketed because of her friends comment?

In other words, don't value every opinion you hear as worthy – because opinions don't pay your bills or help you live a happy life!

Don't let any old opinion in your head.

We all make choices in our life, for good or for worse, that we have to ultimately live with. Each day we are faced with choices.

Choices like should I…

  1. Pay off my student loans faster or should I pay the minimum?
  2. Take out auto debt or just settle with the paid off used car?
  3. Buy the house that might over extend my monthly budget, or should I keep saving?
  4. Have a wedding I can afford or should I have a wedding I'll be paying for 5 years later?
  5. Take out consumer debt to keep up with friends or just say no to the next trip or night out?

And so on… And so on.

While these notions might typically be reserved for the gen-y's and the gen-x's of the world, that is just far from the truth.

These are not just “Millennial” issues.

Poor financial opinions and daily financial descions are issues I think every adult is faced with at some point or another.

Money isn't going anywhere. For the most part the only thing separating the younger generations form the old when it comes to poor money decisions is social media where comparison runs rampant.

Wise older people would always say things like, “Don't keep up with the Jones's.”

Instead of the Jones's, now it is just don't keep up with the 1,345 Insta, Snap Chat and Facebook friends. And while learning not to compare is huge, it might be important to consider when I am about to say below.

Do not take every opinion as fact, and do not take every piece of advice as good. Always make proper, educated and unemotional decisions.

Don't Compare Financially & Choose Wisely my friend.

I can't help but think of the Dos Equis guy when I say “My Friend.”

However, two of the most important articles I have ever written, happen to deal with financial comparison and money advice (Actually one got picked up my Market Watch).

Don't Compare Yourself Financially

Who do you listen to about money?

I once read that the average person will see or hear, on average, over 2,000 advertisements or marketing messages per day (When I first read that I didn't believe it).

However, sorta like all the mixed marketing messages, I also think we here lots of clutter in the personal finance space.

With all the marketing messages like refinancing student loans, buying homes, and buying new cars, sometimes it can be hard to decipher what is good and what isn't.

The same can be said when it comes to financial advice.

Some bloggers completely disagree with my debt stance and believe in investing. Some will say both. But really it always boils down to your goals and reasons.

But something can and should be said for listening to opinions.

Most of the time opinions are just that – opinions. And sometimes financial opinions can be the worst pieces of advice.

Here are some financial opinions I have heard recently:

  • Don't worry about paying off student loans, just pay the minimums and apply for forgiveness. 
  • You only live once, there is no point in having a financial game plan.
  • Invest in Bitcoin and Litcoin (82% drop since January)
  • You can have kids whenever, the money will take care of itself. 
  • Get a credit card and max it out so you can build your credit. 
  • A budget is when you write something you spent down. 

The list might be endless, but here is my point…

DO NOT THINK EVERYTHING YOU READ OR HEAR IS THE GOSPEL.

If you want to learn about personal finance or money, go be a student and educate yourself to the fullest. You don't need to be expert level and start a personal finance blog, but be educated!

Don't throw your questions out on social media to get bombarded with 60 careless answers.

Don't refinance student loans because you will save $45 a month on the payment, not knowing you just consolidated 3 loans into one and now the interest is higher.

Don't put off the credit card bill because that is what credit is for.

The reason why countless people have gotten ahead financially – they always look to people who have what they want.

Naturally, we can convince ourselves of anything. So just take opinions lightly, do your due diligence, and stay wise my friend!

Q: What is the worst financial advice you have ever gotten? Comment below!