Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rule #34 Find Yourself a Money Mentor.

"Try never to be the smartest person in the room. 
And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … 
or find a different room." - Michael Dell.

I never had a Money Mentor.  I've had a handful of technical and career mentors throughout my working career, some of whom have given me financial advice, but I've never had a formal mentor specifically for money.  By Money Mentor I mean someone who has been through the trials and tribulations of money management, specifically saving and investing, who can give a biased opinion of what to do with your money.  Unbiased opinions are nice, but biased opinions usually indicate experience and perhaps some specialization.  Their specialization usually comes from experience, training and real world dedication to a specific topic.  These people are the ones I want to learn from.  I wish I had had a Money Mentor early in my investing phase, about 15 years ago, to avoid the smacking I took during the "Dot Com Meltdown".  Someone who focused on slow steady cash-flow growth and not the buying and selling of in-fashion stocks or mutual funds.  It probably would have helped me not lose two thirds of our money in the 2000 big tech meltdown, assuming I would have listened of course.  While I feel like I've learned a ton by personal experience, someone there to point me in the right direction and help me cut through the bullshit would have been a huge asset.  I have mentored a couple of people in the last 7 years on the topic of money, pointing them towards specific investing styles and regularly discussing stocks, sectors and ways to invest their money efficiently.  Ultimately though, they have to own their own financial decisions.

My experience has been that most people like to talk about what they do.  Money may be a bit of a taboo subject at dinner parties, but I've found that one-on-one, people who understand money principles are usually generous in sharing what they know, especially if they know you are serious and you have done a bit of homework before approaching them.  Good mentors of any sort won't hold your hand or give you solid "must-do" recommendations.  They will help you sift through good and bad options but they wont tell you what to do.  Taking personal ownership over your finances is very important and a good mentor will emphasize this.  The mentor is there to bounce ideas off and he or she will lay out the pros and cons of such decisions, but ultimately you need to own the financial decisions you make.

My advice to young adults, or even older ones starting to invest, is to look around your network (both friends and professional) and even your parents network and identify people who have their shit together with regards to money.  Are they a savvy Real Estate investor? Stock investor? Trader? An Entrepreneur? Do any of those appeal to your interests?  Have they been doing it for awhile and have they experienced a downturn in the market?  The Downturn in the market thing is huge.  This is where the Experience is a very big asset.  Its relatively easy to make money in an upwardly trending market, but its what we do in downturns that make the difference in the long run.  Its where the opportunities are and where people tend either lose the most or make the most.  A sober second opinion can really make the difference.

Find yourself a mentor.  You'll be glad you did.

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