Does Taking Advice From An Expert Relieve You Of Responsibility?

Ever since I wrote My Beef With Rich Dad Poor Dad Author Robert Kiyosaki, I’ve been thinking. When it comes to taking advice from anyone, even if they are considered to be an expert, should we just do what they suggest without doing our own homework?

I believe that we are still responsible for making sure that any advice that we follow is sound advice. Doctor’s are considered experts and you still hear people say “Did you get a second opinion?”.

Being an expert doesn’t mean that you always have the right answers, it simply means that you should be more knowledgeable in your field than most people. Experts make mistakes, have different motives, and can have a vastly different opinion about something than the next expert in the same field.

Who is ultimately responsible for what they sign their name too?

I believe it is the person that is getting the loan. It doesn’t matter what scheming or misleading information the bank perpetrated, when the final say has been said, you still signed the dotted line. Sure the banks took advantage of Washington forcing them to give more loans to people who shouldn’t have been getting them. Sure they probably got greedy along the way and milked it for everything it was worth. Sure they probably even took advantage of little ole’ you. BUT…are they the reason you defaulted on your mortgage?

I do not believe that anyone defaulted on their loan because the bank knowingly sold them a bad product. I do not believe that we are absolved of responsibility when it comes to the financial decisions we make in life, just because an expert gave us bad advice. Even if we consider bankers to be experts, we shouldn’t expect them to be perfect. Aside from greed, a banker can mess up just like the rest of us, and since a bank is selling us a product (debt), they may be more inclined to try and make the most off of the deal. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that it’s how it goes. For the record I am NOT a fan of the banks! I just feel that too many people are riding the blame train instead of holding themselves responsible for the decisions they made.

If your bank told you that you were getting something that you weren’t—in other words they flat out lied to you about the product completely—then you may not be responsible. You thought you were getting something that you weren’t. That is not the same thing as buying a house for $200,000 even though you could only afford $125,000, simply because the bank approved you for that much.

Is it the banks fault that you got way too much house? If I approve you for $1,000,000 does that mean you can afford it? NO! You know what you can afford more than the banker does. The banker is going off of statistics and data to base his decision on, he has no idea how much of your income you blow each month. The bank took most of the risk because they were the ones that would lose out if you defaulted, but you’re still responsible for taking on too much house.

Is it the banks fault that you do not have an emergency fund? Is the bank responsible for making sure you have a savings account in place in case the economy goes to crap? NO! It’s your responsibility and it should be taken seriously. The fact that it’s not is no one’s fault but your own. You signed the dotted line and perhaps you didn’t consider other important factors before making the decision. Just because you can afford the payment doesn’t mean you can afford the house.

Is it the banks responsibility to make sure you understand the loan? NO! That’s actually the Realtor and your lawyers responsibility, and I would still say that it is more your responsibility than theirs. The truth is you should never sign anything you do not understand.

Is it the banks fault that you are living paycheck to paycheck? NO! It’s yours because you have not deemed your financial situation to be important enough to actually prepare for the future. That’s no one’s fault but your own.

Is it the banks fault that you lost your job? NO! That is not even your fault, but it’s one of the things that should have been considered before signing the dotted line. That’s all I am saying. I believe that when we hold ourselves accountable for anything that happens to us, whether it was our fault or not, we are stronger because of it.

Here are 6 questions you can ask yourself the next tie you are about to sign the dotted line. There will always be plenty of blame to go around, but did you do everything in your power to make sure you made the right decision? Hold yourself accountable and stop blaming everyone else!

  • Does the expert get a commission if you buy?
  • Do you receive the advice only after you pay for it? (Get rich quick seminars)
  • Do you understand why the advice was given?
  • Have you done your own research about the advice?
  • Have you received a second opinion?
  • Are you willing to take responsibility for your decision to follow it?

You should never just take someone’s word for it without doing your homework. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way, and so should you. You are responsible for you. Even when the expert has committed a crime against you, he should be punished, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not your fault for ignoring the risks on your end of things.

If you don’t take responsibility for your own actions you will be a victim your entire life. Victims do not make very much progress in life because they are more worried about who they can blame rather than how they can resolve the situation.

It’s something to think about right?

About Brad Chaffee

19 Responses to “Does Taking Advice From An Expert Relieve You Of Responsibility?”

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  1. Donna says:

    Very true words, however, many people do believe that the bank is basing its pre-approval for a mortgage on what they can afford. I know that makes no sense to those of us reading this blog but, many people believe it. I don’t blame the banks I blame ourselves. We collectively have taken the “experts” opinion as gospel and followed it blindly. This really needs to stop and we need to keep educating ourselves, stop the blind trust and, as you stated, think for ourselves! We all saw how most of the experts foresaw the housing bubble and recent financial crumble. For me, I will collect various opinions and then form one for myself. In that way, if I am wrong, I only have myself to blame. That is the way it should be. Great, great post today. Thanks.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree with you Donna. The pre-approval process has made us think less, but I find it hard to believe that someone that’s about to sign for a house doesn’t have that feeling that tells them they are getting too much. I have been in that seat a few times and stupidly still signed the papers.

      We were pre-approved for $200,000 mortgage even with ZERO down. We knew we couldn’t afford a $200,000 house. We have to stop relying on bankers, who’s job is to sell us their product.

  2. Young Mogul says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. As a society, we are becoming less and less responsible for our own actions. No matter who one blames, we still have to own the consequences that are a result of our actions. So what is the point in placing blame? In any situation, we should get all of the facts, make an informed decision, be prepared if the decision turns out to not be beneficial, then rectify the mistake, if need be.

  3. Penny says:

    I can’t agree with you more. We built our dream home at the very peak of the good times. Our house was finished and we were moved in and we still had money we were “approved” for. We fought for 2 months to get them to close the construction portion of our mortgage. The only thing that convinced them was threatening legal action if they didn’t. They had several ideas as for how we could spend the extra money including taking it as cash. (Imagine possibly paying interest on a cash loan for 30 years.) My favorite example, however is that the bank thought we should use the money to put in a really nice pool. Sounds like a great idea and it is part of our dream plan for our property. We knew that with a pool comes maintenance costs and higher homeowners insurance, however, so we stood our ground even though we really wanted a pool. With all that has happened since we moved in with the economy, I’m so thankful we stood our ground and didn’t get sucked into dreams bigger than we could afford. Most of the other dream homes our contractor built during that time are up for sale or in forclosure. I feel for those people who are faced with losing there dream, but I also wonder what they were thinking. One day we will get our pool, but for now, we are safe and fairly financially secure living in our wonderful home mowing the grass where our pool will one day go. Those who got sucked in, lived the dream for a short while, but now have to face reality. All that has transpired for us makes us trust bankers as much as one would trust a used car salesperson. As you said, they are selling debt as their product!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Bravo Penny!! I love it! “We knew that with a pool comes maintenance costs and higher homeowners insurance, however, so we stood our ground even though we really wanted a pool.”

      This is the kind of thinking process that should happen with EVERY purchase we make, especially the big ones though. It’s no good to blindly follow the salesman who benefits from you taking the advice that he gives.

      Great comment!

  4. Chad says:

    Unfortunately personal responsibility seems to be a fading concept. Thanks for the excellent post!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      A fading concept indeed. People just want to blame others as if that makes their situation any better. Taking responsibility for your decisions makes it easier to create solutions because you aren’t waiting for “someone else” to fix it.

  5. Peter says:

    I think too often we don’t want to take responsibility for learning about our finances ourself, and default to taking the advice of others without making sure it’s actually good advice.

    What’s the old saying, “Trust but verify”?

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Peter. I think it is also convenient for us because it allows us to get what we want while justifying it because an “expert” was involved.

      I like it: Trust but verify!

      Thanks for stopping by Peter!

  6. Jeff Kosola says:

    I don’t see any experts out in the world anymore. I would call most of them knowledgable, but not experts. Most of these experts just read the same things that we do, and have access to the same things that we do. So why would we blindly listen to them? I don’t know either but my guess is it that people are much more lazy these days and love to NOT take responsablity. We are a culture of blamers anymore. It’s always somebody else who is to blame. I agree with all the points Brad. There are a few things in life I just don’t like. 1) People who chew with their mouths open. 2) Whiners!! 3) People who can’t take responsablity for their actions. 4) DEBT other than that I love everyone ๐Ÿ™‚ Except the left.

    Learning to do your homework is the best way to say out of trouble.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Jeff! Society has become lazy and clueless—a dangerous combination. I believe the biggest reason for that is the Government. Too many people walk around feeling entitled and seem to expect to be bailed out when they make stupid decisions. Suing McDonalds for having hot coffee is one of the best examples of that.

      DUDE!!! I HATE, HATE, HATE when people chew with their mouths open and smack. It urks me so bad. My wife thinks it’s funny but she does agree that it is annoying. It is one of my major pet peeves. Funny you think the same. LOL

      P.S. Still looking for your Twitter BG file my friend. Look for it over the weekend. ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Thank you! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “But I could afford it as long as everything stayed okay.”

    If that’s the only way you can “afford” something, then you can’t afford it!

    Sorry, this subject hits some buttons for me. My husband and I were preapproved for $190,000 for a mortgage, but we chose to keep our mortgage to about 20% or less of our income in case one of us lost our job. We bought a lovely $114,000 house, put 20% down, and can afford to stay even if we do get laid off since our mortgage is only $740…even my crappy job can cover that and our other necessities.

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. Is it too late to pile on to the “Totally Agree!” bandwagon? I haven’t seen any comments to the contrary! You’re totally right, when the rubber meets the road it’s the borrow that screwed it up. When the real estate bubble was forming people had wild expectations of capital gains on properties. According to a survey in LA in 2006-07 the average yearly expected appreciation of their homes was 20%. TWENTY PERCENT!!! Who wouldn’t take out a zero down loan for that kind of return (other then everyone who else who commented here, heh)?

    It’s a shame the government is (to quote Peter Schiff) desperately trying to restart the music after the party was so rudely interrupted. Things need to change!

  9. Len Penzo says:

    Great post, Brad.

    The pervasive climate of political correctness that has crept into our society over the past 40 years or so has seemingly relieved many people of their duty to be personally responsible in all aspects of their lives.

    When it comes to personal finances, I maintain that 99% of all money troubles are self-inflicted. With that in mind, we all need to stop making excuses and get a reality check.

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

  10. deb h says:

    I definately agree with your opinion concerning self responsibility. But I think the greed of the housing market and banks go a long way in sharing in that responsibility. My scenerio, there is a shortage of shirts you can’t even rent a shirt for less than a $1 a day. You are happily the high bidder for the shirt off my back for $100 (it’s a a really nice shirt I had been saving it, I had bought it back in the sixties and the style recently came back) and my buddy loaned you the $100 (being the nice guy he is) and said don’t worry just pay me a dollar a day in interest until you have the money and if for some reason you can’t pay me I’ll just take the shirt off your back for payment because it is definately worth $100 because I had my wife appraise it and she is an expert on shirts in fact she said it might even be worth $200 in a couple of months. So you buy the much needed shirt and pay the dollar a day interest to wear the shirt. Then you lose your job. What do you do now? You see down the street your neighbor is selling the same shirt for $10 and you see a dirty shirt you can rent for a dime a day and my buddy doesn’t even want to talk to you but he is still taking your dollar a day payment. And the government sees what is happening and decides to help him too!

  11. Yana says:

    I think it’s often foolish to take expert advice on faith, instead of with a good amount of understanding. If you feel a need for an expert, you should work with the expert. Authority and responsibility go together. You are not the author of your own life and have no power if you don’t take responsibility. I think it’s desirable and empowering to embrace personal responsibility, and those who avoid it seem to me to be mentally lazy and out of control. Entrusting your affairs to someone else means you have even less control of an uncertain outcome. I can forgive myself for making a mistake, but have a harder time forgiving myself for letting someone else screw up my business or my life. I’m not one to want to point the finger at someone else or needing someone to blame – the devil did NOT make me do it!

  12. Forest says:

    I totally agree people need to be more accountable… Some things are the fault of the credit cards and the banks but the ultimate decision to be financially responsible is yours and you NEED to research…. Great post.

  13. My very first experience with a financial advisor was a disaster. It was right before the bubble when the market was riding high on the dreams. My advisor suggested splitting my investment across two funds.

    Then the bubble bursted. My index fund fell 30 percent and took 6 years to recover. My tech fund fell 60 percent and never recovered. I had to cash out with a 30 percent loss. I have since recovered and made gains with the proceeds using another fund.

    It was a lesson well learned. My father was there with me and agreed that it was better to not put all my eggs in one basket, and encouraged to try a “middle of the road” fund and “high risk” fund to gain experience.

    I had initially wanted to go with two other funds which as it turned out fared better during the bubble. No complaints here. It was a lesson well learned because I did my research but deferred to an experienced investor and a financial advisor against my guts.

    Sometimes you gotta listen to yourself.

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