What to Watch Out for with Personal Finance Influencers Online


While there’s lots of good advice out there, shady influencers earn bucks by drawing attention with sensational posts that may not offer the best advice. How to spot red flags and avoid questionable moves.

Is the influencer really a financial expert?

We live in an online environment widely populated by so-called “influencers.” They make their living by showing the rest of us “the way.”

We have to consider how much of “an expert” this influencer is. There are always people in life who can talk a really good game, even a game they have never actually played.

Not too much to worry about in the realm of, say, fashion. You can’t ruin your life for years by choosing the wrong jacket.

But where it becomes particularly precarious, where decisions can impact your life and future for years to come, is the realm of personal finance and investing.

There are several sayings about money everyone needs to remember online to avoid being taken advantage of:

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

“It is easy to get money from foolish people.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Many, if not most, personal finance influencers may genuinely have your best interest in mind. But there are some that much in the way some people use hyperbole to create “clickbait” headlines. Some unscrupulous influencers may be using similar techniques. They may know little at all and earn money from traffic. They might steer you towards investments and/or products they get a fee from even more shady.

How to spot personal influencer red flags

Here is a list of red flags to watch for, according to Lifehacker.

  1. It sounds too good to be true

The well-known axiom to this is: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  1. Focuses on short-term investments

Investing really is a long game. So you should always be wary of investments that promise quick returns, especially high and fast returns. Most investors will tell you that building wealth is a slow and steady process.

  1. Boasting

You should be wary of claims made by an influencer before you verify them. Don’t follow any advice from the influencer without first researching their claims about how something performed for them or how they made their wealth. Their money may be coming from their social media channel and that only.

  1. Secret tips

People that want to sell you secrets in a book, video, or course should always be suspicious. Why would someone want to sell a secret that could increase competition for them and reduce their income? Sometimes, when people start selling secret “hacks,” it could mean that, although the “trick” is legit, the method worked at one time, but that particular avenue has already played out. Lastly, they could also be selling new information you could get for free with some effort online.

  1. Are they following their own advice?

Do you ever wonder why specific influencers, who seem to be putting so much effort into their social media channels, are online so much rather than actually doing what it is they are advising as a way to make money? How do they have the time to make YouTube videos if they are getting so rich from flipping houses or whatever? Sure, it could be an ego boost thing. But you have to wonder why you would spend time online when you could do more of the thing that is making you rich.