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Should you be managing your money?

Published: Thursday, May 8 2014 1:55 p.m. MDT

Recent articles have looked at whether people should be managing their own money, especially as economics and personal finance gets more complex.

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So, should you manage your money?

That’s the question posed this week by Lindsay Gellman of The Wall Street Journal, who wrote that the answer is often split. Some analysts recommend that people get a financial adviser, while others say it’s better to learn about managing money so you’re better off in the future.

“Whether you need an adviser depends largely on your financial situation,” Gellman wrote. “Are you nearing retirement, puzzling over when to take Social Security benefits or tap your 401(k)? Call an adviser. Need to beef up your emergency fund? Track your spending with an app or old-fashioned notebook — you'll probably be able to spot on your own instances where you could spend less and save more.”

Advisors aren’t just for the uber-wealthy, so the everyday American could easily hire one to help them, Gellman wrote. And with experts saying that financial situations are going to get more complex, an adviser may make things a little easier, Gellman noted.

But then there’s the flip side. Understanding economics isn’t necessarily hard, and sometimes people won’t take financial advice anyway, according to Gellman. And, on top of that, there are new ways to manage your money — like apps and automation tools — that can help you save money.

These are simple tasks, sure, but not everyone knows them. In fact, most people in the world don’t know how to manage their money at all. A new study by the Journal of Economic Literature found that most people are financially ignorant, which is creating a problem between the uneducated and those who do know a lot about finances.

The Atlantic’s Moises Naim also commented on the study, saying it highlighted a big paradox. “Financial ignorance is widespread even as the world has changed in ways that make such ignorance more dangerous than ever before,” he wrote.

There are global effects, too, Naim noted. It’s not just about people understanding how to manage their money, but also what that could mean for people in the future.

“The heightened danger of financial ignorance underlies all these transactions— and more,” Naim wrote. “The newfound prosperity of millions of families in the developing world could be shattered if they mismanage expenses, acquire large and expensive debts, fail to adequately protect their savings, or don’t know how to identify a tempting but catastrophically risky investment.”

Naim, much like Gellman of The Wall Street Journal, noted that economics and financial situations are going to get a little more complex. And the people of the world will need help to fully understand what’s going to happen next, Naim wrote.

“Practical and accessible education programs should be offered to the millions of people whose economic well-being would improve if they only knew more about managing their incomes and savings, however meager they may be.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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