There are bucket loads of places to get information on money. Websites and books galore, newspapers, magazines, finance professionals and, of course, family and friends. But how do you know where to find the right information for you?
With apologies to anyone reading this from overseas, the best information for us Aussies is homegrown. Admittedly, there is plenty of good stuff in books and websites written overseas, but it will inevitably be surrounded by info specific to the country the author is based in. I haven’t got a clue what Britain’s tax system is like, how the yank’s 401K plans operate or what the go is with NZ’s student loans. Read sources from overseas and you’ll be reading a lot of irrelevant stuff that will just confuse you.
That’s not to say that all stuff sourced overseas is gonna turn your head to mush, or that everything written by Aussie authors is good. There are a number of good books that look at the generalities of money without going into things specifically for readers in the country it was written in, and plenty of homegrown crap.
With any source, be it website, magazine of face-to-face advice, you need to know if there are any conflicts of interest or biases. Anything that comes from someone with something to sell, be it shares from a stockbroker, property from a real estate agent or loans from a bank, is not going to be conflict free. And if the source receives their income from advertising revenue you have to be assured that the advertisers are not tainting them.
Turning to family and friends for advice means you must remember that they will be swayed by their own experiences, good and bad. Unless the person giving you that guidance is knowledgeable across all areas of money, they will steer you towards the places that made them successful and away from things that burnt them. And when it comes to going halves with a friend on an investment property, for the thing to work you want to ensure that you are both the same age, earn the same income, have the same number of kids who are the same age, share the same tolerance to investment risk, have the same health and life expectancy and the share the same timeframe you want to hold the property for. Yeah, right. Once you throw a few differences into the mix you risk ending up in the situation where one person is needing to sell to access their money and the other person is not wanting to or not in a position to be able to.
So, where to go for the right info. Any federal government websites (.gov.au) will be free of bias and generally contain really good stuff. Books written by guys like Paul Clitheroe, Noel Whittaker and Scott Pape are great – Pape’s Barefoot Investor is a ripper, I’m not a big a fan of his website though. And, of course, I reckon my website ticks all the right boxes, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I!