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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

23 Secrets Your Financial Adviser Won’t Tell You

Read these before you trust ANYONE with your money.

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Certified financial planners and NAPFA-registered financial advisers take a pledge

They take a pledge to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own, but traditional stockbrokers aren’t held to the same standard, even if they’ve given themselves the title “financial adviser.”

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iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Do some digging

Before you hand me the keys to your future, do some investigating. Use BrokerCheck at to see if I’ve been in trouble. Here are the 13 secrets and IRS agent won’t tell you about filing taxes.

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I work on commission

I typically make money whenever you buy a new product, and I’ve probably got monthly quotas to meet. That’s why I always seem to call with something to purchase at the end of the month.

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I may have other incentives to get you to buy

If I sell to enough people, I could win a trip to the Caribbean, a new laptop, or a big bonus. (The guys behind the product may also have bought my dinner at Morton’s last week and sponsored our corporate golf tournament.) These hilariously bad pieces of advice are the opposite of what you need.

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Look for other options

Before buying a mutual fund with a load, see if there is a better option. For every fund that has one of these sales charges, there’s usually a similar one that doesn’t. Steal these other 17 habits of people who are great at saving money.

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Be careful with annuities

They pay me big commissions, but they’re not a good fit for many clients.

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Stear clear of back-out fees

Stay away from investments that have a fee to get back out. If you get married, get divorced, change jobs, or move, it can come back to bite you. Don’t miss these 16 other money mistakes even financial experts make.

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There have been ten recessions since 1953

I have no clue where the market is going, and neither does anyone else. So if someone promises a certain amount of growth, walk away.

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iStock/Trevor Smith

You’re spending way too much

But I’m not going to be the one to tell you to give up your cleaning lady or your fancy car—or me.

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iStock/Cathy Yeulet

We can give discounts

Some of us can give discounts, but you may not get one if you don’t ask. These are the 19 other personal finance tips you were never taught but need to know.

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Haven’t heard from me in a while?

Not a good sign. I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news.

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Everyone wants no fees

They also want no risk and double-digit returns. I want a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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Don’t get too excited

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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If you ask me, “How are you getting paid?”

And I say, “Don’t worry about that. My company pays me,” that’s not a good sign. These are the 13 things rich people never buy.

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Sure, I can help you buy 100 shares of IBM

But why pay me, when you can do it on E*Trade for less than you’d pay for a large pizza?

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It’s not a do-it-yourself job

You pay a carpenter to redo your kitchen, you pay a plumber to fix your toilet, and a tutor to help your kid get into college. Yet when it comes to the most important area of your life—your financial future—suddenly you think you’re qualified for a do-it-yourself project?

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We’ve all heard it a thousand times: buy low and sell high

But when the stock market was at historic lows, none of you would put your money in.

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I am your inside source

If you’re getting your stock tips from Jim Cramer’s Mad Money and CNBC, you’re waaaay late. Here are 11 ridiculously easy ways to save money without feeling the pinch.

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iStock/Izabela Habur

I am not a marriage counselor

I’d rather not work out some argument you two are having over whether you can afford a 52-inch flat screen.

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You’re paying me for financial advice

Please come to me before you invest a bunch of money in something you don’t understand. I had a client last year who put $80,000 in a currency trading investment that was supposed to pay him $4,000 a month. Of course it was a Ponzi scheme that stopped paying after three months. If he had asked me up front, I could have told him it wasn’t legit.

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Some people say you need at least five times your income

But this will vary depending on how much you earn, your family’s living expenses and other variables. Check out the How Much Life Insurance Do I Need? Calculator at

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Paying off your mortgage may be a great idea

But I’d rather get paid to manage that money for you.

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Despite what you’ve read about Bernie Madoff, I am not going to steal your money

Frankly, you just don’t have enough. If I was going to risk my entire career and life, you’d need to have $100 million, not $500,000. Don’t miss these 26 secrets rich people won’t tell you about their habits and their lives.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest