These 4 Finance Gurus Will Change the Way You Think About Money

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  • Following financial gurus who make sense to you can help build knowledge and wealth.
  • Some gurus (like Suze Orman) believe in watching every penny, while others (like Ramit Sethi) are all about the bigger picture.
  • Erin Lowry has accessible advice on everything from financial planning to talking to your partner about money.

No matter your financial question, you'll likely find a guru with an opinion. Unfortunately, getting financial advice online verges on asking everybody in your local 7-Eleven what you should do with your money. Experts with years of experience rub shoulders with snake oil sellers and everybody in between.

All the same, if you're not sure about how to manage your money, there's a wealth of information out there as well as savvy pundits with useful advice. Whether you start with physical books, money podcasts, blogs, or a course at your local library, the more you understand, the stronger the financial foundations you'll be able to build. The trick is to find knowledgeable gurus who speak your language. 

Here are four with some powerful messages that can change the way you think about money.

1. Suze Orman

Best-selling author and host of the Women & Money podcast, Suze Orman isn't afraid to tell her fans they need to make sacrifices so they can live within their means. If you're carrying credit card debt and/or don't have any savings, Orman's tough love approach means making drastic spending cuts or taking on extra work to improve your financial situation.

One of the great things about Orman is that she understands the connection between emotions and money, and the way that our fears and insecurities can cause us to spend on things we don't need. That said, Orman is from the don't-waste-money-on-store-coffee school of personal finance. She's militant about prioritizing needs rather than wants, especially if you're living paycheck to paycheck. 

My biggest takeaway: Emergency funds matter

An emergency fund is like a big fluffy emotional comforter that you can turn to when things get tough. Whether it's a job loss, a medical issue, or another of life's curveballs, if you have money put aside, you'll be better placed to deal with it. 

Orman advises her fans to aim to have a years' worth of living expenses in their emergency fund. She's even co-founded a company called SecureSave, which partners with employers to help their staff build emergency savings. If 12 months' worth of money sounds like an impossible goal, start smaller. Think about what you can realistically save each month and put that into an accessible savings account. After a few months, you might be able to contribute more. Even if you can't increase the amount, those regular savings will add up over time.

2. Ramit Sethi

Unlike Orman, Sethi doesn't think you'll get rich by giving up your daily latte. Frugality is all very well, but Sethi says there's only so much you can cut but there's no limit on how much you can earn. For example, he gives plenty of advice on maximizing your income, whether that's by getting a raise, starting a business, or investing.  

Rather than getting bogged down in the details, Sethi's approach is to put your energy into the big decisions that will make a significant difference to your financial situation. As he puts it, "Ask $30,000 questions, not $3 ones." Part of looking at the bigger picture means understanding how to invest. 

He advocates investing in a low cost index fund and starting as early as possible. He's a big fan of making automatic transfers to your brokerage account so you don't have to spend time thinking about it. If you're new to investing, check out our list of top online brokers for beginners.

My biggest takeaway: Say yes to spending on things that matter to you

The host of Netflix's How to Get Rich series champions ways to build a rich life. That means identifying the things you love and finding ways to spend more on those things. So, if you love travel, you might cut costs in other parts of your life so you can travel more. 

When you see money as something that enables you to live the life you want, managing it becomes less of a chore. Your savings and investments are a tool to help you spend more time on the things you enjoy.

3. Warren Buffett

Buffett isn't a guru in the sense of publishing blogs or recording podcasts, but that doesn't mean he's not a financial guru. He's one of the most successful investors around, and there are plenty of lessons we can learn from the Oracle of Omaha. 

Buffett is a poster boy for frugality -- he may be a billionaire but he currently drives a 2014 Cadillac, according to New Trader U. He isn't afraid to swim against the tide, and doesn't make investment decisions based on what the media or other investors are doing. You won't catch Buffett acting out of FOMO.

My biggest takeaway: Only invest in what you understand

If you're new to investing, it's tempting to buy all kinds of stocks and assets because you've read about them online or an expert says it's going to generate excellent returns. (I'm talking to you, Bitcoin.) Instead, Buffett advocates buying only a few assets that you understand deeply. Before he buys a company's stock, he'll read every annual report he can get his hands on and research the strategy and business in detail. And when he buys, it's because he plans to hold onto it long term. 

4. Erin Lowry

Broke Millennial grew from a popular blog into a series of books and other resources that aim to help millennials (and other generations) to manage their money. Lowry's "I've been there too" tone goes a long way to making money less scary. She includes that, plus plenty of hashtags and a good dose of humor. Indeed, Broke Millennial has a whole chapter on getting financially naked with your partner, which is both steamy and practical.

Her view on the all-important takeaway latte? It's OK to treat yourself, but work it into your budget. Lowry used to budget for a couple of lattes a week. She recently started making more coffee at home because she says the pleasure-value ratio was out of whack. Lowry's not a fan of mindless consumption, but if lattes are your thing, the trick is to figure out how you'll pay for them.

My biggest takeaway: Get into the habit of saving 

When you're living paycheck to paycheck or putting every extra cent you have toward paying down debt, the idea of saving or investing can seem impossible. Lowry's view is that if you wait until you're in a good place financially, you'll never save a dime. 

"Starting the process gradually reduces the pinch and makes it easier to keep saving," she writes in the Broke Millennial book. If all you can save is $5 a month, she thinks you should do so. Once you're in the habit of saving, you can start to gradually increase the amount you put aside. Plus, when you start to earn more, that cash is less likely to get eaten up by lifestyle creep. 

Bottom line

A 2020 Mind Over Money survey by Capital One and The Decision Lab showed that 77% of us feel anxious about our money. Sadly, that stress makes us less able to manage our finances and more impulsive in our spending. If you can relate to this, perhaps some of these financial gurus can make money less scary. That, in turn, might make it easier to set financial goals and meet them.

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