What Do “They” Know Anyway?

What do 'they' know anyway?

“They”, “them”, and “everybody” are some of the biggest advice-givers out there — especially when it comes to money. You’ll hear that they say it’s good to do this or that, and that everybody knows that’s it’s best to do the other thing.

But what do “they” know anyway? Sometimes, not much.

Don’t believe everything you hear

As humans, we tend to repeat and believe what we’ve heard — especially if we’ve heard it from multiple sources. In other words, we read or hear stuff, and assume that “they” are telling us the truth. (You might be surprised at this list of common misconceptions.)

It’s natural to believe the things we hear all the time, but acting on those things without doing any real investigating can cause us to do things that are…not so smart. So if you’re doing things with your money because “everyone” knows they are a good idea, think again.

Money misconceptions

When it comes to money, you’ll hear statements like “real estate is a good investment”, “it’s important to build credit”, and “you’ve got to go to college if you want to get a good job”.

Statements like that are often accepted with blind faith because they’re made so often. But while they may be true in some cases, they’re also patently untrue in others.

For example:

  • Buying a house for $124,500 one year and selling it for $107,500 the next is not a good investment. Neither is buying a house when you’re in poor or risky shape financially, and getting foreclosed on.

  • You don’t need to go out and “build credit” if you’re not going to borrow money, or if you’ve already proven that you’re bad at repaying what you owe.

  • There are people with high school diplomas working with computers who make more than I do with my computer-related graduate degree. Also, not everyone who goes to college gets a good job or even graduates.

Don’t argue; think

The point isn’t to argue about whether or not something is a good idea, or to defend a position. The point is that you can’t count on what “they” tell you. When it comes to money (and anything else for that matter) you know your life best. And you are the one who will have to live with the decisions you make, so make sure those decisions are appropriate for your life and plans.

Don’t act on blind faith. Before you make a decision that could impact your money, be certain that you’ve got the actual facts straight. This means finding primary sources, when possible. (A primary source is the actual origin of the information.)

For example, if you’re thinking of buying a home using an FHA loan and you want to find out how much money you must have for a down payment, the primary source would be the FHA. (Not your Realtor or a blog on the internet.) Your Realtor or a blog absolutely could be giving you information that’s 100% accurate, but it’s best to check for sure.

And if you’re confused about something, ask questions and do research until you understand. That’s the sign of a smart person.

More options

The flip side of not automatically believing what “everyone” tells you is that you’ll have more options.

Maybe you can pay cash for a car, or become completely debt free. Maybe you don’t have to spend a small fortune on Christmas gifts for people you barely know just because “everyone” does it. Maybe you can make enough money in your side business to quit your job & strike out on your own.

Maybe you can live the life you want. So get the facts straight, see how they apply to your situation and where the potential pitfalls might be, and then do what’s best for your life.


  • I like this advice. As a contrarian investor I always have to shut out all the noise of “experts” and think about the situation rationally. I always tell people this when it comes to investing. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing then you’re average at best!

  • There are plenty of people who speak confidently about their “knowledge” of money, yet they have no idea what they’re talking about. I agree – “they” don’t always know what the best moves are.

  • THIS THIS THIS!! There’s so much “advice” out there and some of it so useless when you hold it up to the light of day.

    No, a home isn’t an investment if you can’t sell it.
    No, you don’t need credit history if credit is not your thing.

    Thank you for giving others who want to make their own rules around money PERMISSION to do so. :)

  • Good post. You have to take everything you hear or read with a huge grain of salt. Consider where it’s coming from and make a decision on your own. Ultimately, there’s not excuse for not doing the research yourself and arriving at your own decision on whether what you are contemplating is a good financial move or not!

  • I’d say it is okay to listen to other people’s advice, but not necessarily follow them all. We have to weigh things first because the situations varies.