Monday, August 21, 2006

Principle #12 - Be Vigilant

Many people have an interest in your money. More specifically, many people have an interest in getting their hands on some of your hard earned money. In contrast, only one person has exclusively your own financial interests at heart - yourself.

The people who want to get their hands on your money can be broken down into three categories:

1. people selling a product or service: brokers, agents, bankers, financial planners, fund sales people, accountants, lawyers etc. These people can be useful (some are essential) but you do need to think hard about whether you actually need what they are selling and, if you do, both the cost and the quality of the product or service being offered;

2. people who think they are entitled to a share of yor money: tax collectors, ex-spouses and the like. Sometimes they are legally or morally (the two are not the same) entitled to a share of your hard earned money - but sometimes a little bit of advance planning can reduce the damage these people cause;

3. the outright dishonest: con artists ranging from people like Charles Ponzi to the authors of the the all too common advance fee letters and phishing e-mails purporting to come from banks. Sometimes the people who fall into this category present themselves as financial planners, seminar presenters, property developers and the like. Some are very clumsy and obvious. Others are very slick. They are all crooks.

The best defences against these attempts to separate you from your money are education, clear thinking and vigilance.

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