As a personal finance writer, I do appreciate it when people read what I have written. But I am in no way a financial guru, or an investing guru, or anything like a “bona fide” expert. When I first started writing about personal finance, I thought that I could improve my own dubious financial situation by following the advice of knowledgeable gurus. And, in some areas of my financial life, the tips learned from these gurus has been helpful.

Want to learn all about investing? Warren Buffett is the guy to listen to. Get out of debt with Dave Ramsey. Manage your money better with tips from Suze Orman. And, truth to tell, all of these gurus are knowledgeable in their fields, and they all offer good advice much of the time. But, like the rest of us, they are human. They make mistakes and sometimes they are wrong.

Don’t Always Follow Everything a Guru Says

One of the things to remember, too, is that one size doesn’t fit all. Warren Buffett has been wrong about investment decisions in the past, and he has also mis-called some aspects of the economic recovery. And, while some people do extremely well following Dave Ramsey’s anti-credit card advice, there are plenty of others that find that his tactics don’t always work well for their lifestyles. And, of course, it will be quite some time before those of us in the PF blogosphere forget about Suze Orman’s debit card.

Following everything a guru says can make you blind to your financial situation, as well as your own goals. Remember that, in many cases, what a financial guru offers is general advice. Following it is mostly likely going to help you live a life that is like many others’ lives. If you are interested in having a life like someone else’s, then it can make sense to follow more general advice. However, if you are trying to make your own path to financial freedom, simply following general advice isn’t the way to succeed.

One of the most interesting books I have ever read was the The Millionaire Fastlane. The author, MJ DeMarco, takes issue with many financial gurus, and points out that the advice many of them offer actually maintains the status quo. Which means it’s great if you want to be part of the status quo.

Tweaking Financial Advice from Gurus

In many cases, you can personalize the advice you receive from financial gurus. Many of them have great insights that can provide you with a foundation for sound money decisions. However, you should also realize that Clark Howard, Robert Kiyosaki and John Bogle may not be the last word in what works for you. Consider different philosophies and different approaches. Then, put together a plan that works for you.

Consider what you want out of life — not what the neighbor down the street has. Figure out what would make you feel financially successful, and then base your decisions on your own version of success. Get ideas and help from gurus along the way, but don’t invest too much time and energy in following everything they say. Tweak the advice to your own situation, and don’t be afraid to discard advice that you don’t think will work for you. Find your own path to financial freedom.

Do you have a favorite financial guru? Why do you like him or her?



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.