In the digital age, we’re exposed to more information than ever. In a study put forth by the New York Times a decade ago, it was suggested that Americans consume 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words each day. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re reading those words, but we’re seeing them.
To put that in perspective, the article gave the example that Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is 460,000 words long. In just a single workweek, you’ve seen enough words to account for that massive tome.
Now that we’re ten years further down the line, with faster Internet connections and more forms of social media to consume, it’s likely that we’re exposed to even more content daily. To sort through that information to find what is valuable is difficult.
The statistics about the Internet are mind-blowing. There were some 4.6 billion websites online as of early 2016. Tens of thousands of web searches happen every second. To put it lightly, there is a lot of information on the web, and not all of that information is of a high-caliber.
So for real estate investors who need to seek out and access quality information on investing and finance, how do you wade through all of the fluff to find truly useful advice online? Here are our top tips.
5 Foolproof Tips for Finding Quality Financial Advice Online
Cross-check the articles.
One of the easiest things you can do when looking at material online is to cross-check it with other sources. Reputable sources of information will oftentimes include hyperlinks to show the sources of hard data or facts (as with the statistics presented in the opening of this article). This makes it easy for you as a reader to identify the sources that information is coming from.
Note that the presence of a hyperlink or sources alone is not enough—these sources need to be respected and peer-reviewed. Are the journals, newspapers, or scholarly articles? Do they come from writers or experts in the field? Or are they from a company or person you’ve never heard of and can’t find any information on?
When cross-checking information, be sure that it is coming from a reputable source.
Verify the source.
Secondly, verify your source. This differs from cross-checking, and it has more to do with the entity publishing the information being presented. For example, if you are reading our blog, you should probably read our “About” page and learn about Memphis Invest, who we are, and what we do. By understanding the credentials that back up a source, you can better understand the experience and education that informs the information you are receiving.
In our case, for example, it is over fifteen years of experience in real estate investment shared across a tight-knit team and multiple investment markets.
In the case of another company, you may find there is not much to go on in terms of information or experience—if there is information available at all. In this era of information, be wary of a company or entity that does not provide things like basic information, means of contact, or a business address.
Corroborate the claims.
So far, we have looked at instances where the information is already in front of you. But there are times when you must do independent research to verify the validity of the information being presented to you. We live in an age where “fake news” isn’t just a part of the actual news cycle. Fabrications are a part of marketing and content generation as a means to gain customers, generate web traffic, and revenue.
For us, that means that before we jump on a new investment method, investing app, money management service, or any financial advice, it’s important to corroborate the advice, strategies, and methods therein with other reputable sources.
This is where you look up reviews from unbiased, trusted references. You look for statistics and data that prove the claims. When the information presented is leading you to make a big decision with your money, you want to be sure everything is on the up-and-up.
Investigate the author.
A fourth place to turn to verify the quality of information from an online source is the author themselves. You will find online that, in many cases, the internet is an aggregate of information and many authors offer no substantial credibility behind their words. Whereas an author, industry professional, properly educated or accredited writer will have more authority in their advice and writings than another might.
The thing to remember about the Internet is that it enables virtually anyone to get their opinion out there—and they can make it look professional and credible with a little know-how.
It is critical to know who has authored the content we consume. Where do they fit within the source itself, and where do they stand among their peers in terms of experience, influence, and education?
Lastly, we urge critical thinking in all matters. No matter what financial advice, investment know-how, or money management tips you find while online, you must think critically about all of it. The information you consume must fall in line with a broader context—things like the inherent bias that may exist in the author and in the source.
While this does not negate the value that you might be able to glean from the content, being aware of bias helps you grow into a smarter consumer of information, able to discern and pick out the objective content.
Critical thinking also helps you synthesize a lot of data into a cohesive package, making it far easier to develop a plan of action for your finances.
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