It’s a good problem to have.
Several months ago, I found out that a couple of my friends at work didn’t understand how our 401k matching works. Even worse, our automatic contribution is at 3%, so those who had never messed with that were missing out on about $520 in matching (plus earnings) per year.
I sent my friend a breakdown of the system, and he passed it around. Oddly enough, a very sweet coworker (whom I barely knew) decided this made me some kind of guru.
Now, I do love personal finance, so I feel that I can offer certain nuggets of wisdom. But my co-worker (let’s call her Anna) wanted more. She offered me the opportunity to manage her money. What’s more, she offered me the opportunity to manage her spouse’s money. She promised that it would be a great opportunity for me, and that I could get a cut of the earnings.
This was a very flattering moment. I knew that there was no way on earth I was going to touch that money. I’d love to do it for free, but I just don’t have the training (or legal standing) to shoulder that risk. Though I tried to explain to my coworker that she could easily pay someone with 30+ years of experience to manage her money, she said that she trusted me.
It was a great illustration of why people, both men and women, get ripped off when it comes to financial services. There’s just so much information out there that it feels easiest to trust your money to a friendly person, even if said person doesn’t necessarily have your best interests at heart. It was also an illustration of why our workplace is not doing enough in terms of financial literacy. Sure, we have a great 401k, but what use is it if nobody from HR bothers to explain the darn thing?
I thought up some responses:
1) Go see a financial planner. Feel free to share their work with me. If I feel like they’re ripping you off, I’ll tell you.*
2) Are you planning on investing more than the limit for our 401k? No? Ok, well, you don’t need me.
3) Please buy me a yacht. It’s a good investment.
#1 didn’t work, though I do think it’s the best answer, so I ended up going with #2. Our 401k has target date funds that are going to do way better than anything I could come up with. If my coworker wants to do anything besides sock money away there, she really does need the assistance of someone more experienced than I.
*Yes, the singular “they” is going to be a thing on this blog. Sorry mom.