In the corner of the room there was a small, round man, with Coke bottle glasses, beckoning me to sit next to him. If not for the red plaid vest and Santa cap he wore so proudly, he could have passed for a wise old owl. I saw my great-uncle rarely –- usually only at holiday gatherings like this one -– and I as I made my way over I knew I was in store for a slice of his worldly wisdom.


“Brian,” he began. “You will be graduating soon and making choices about your future. I want to give you some advice. Unless you are planning on being a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer -– professions where you have to follow a specific path –- chances are your life will take many twists and turns before you settle on your ultimate career, so just take them in stride.”

It was good advice, the type that you rarely come across and are grateful for when you do. The dynamic is the same when it comes to financial matters — everybody wants to give you advice, but most of it isn’t good for you — even if it would be for somebody else. Consider these seven situations.

It’s often assumed that when you walk into the office of a professional money management company, the person behind the desk is always going to have your best interest at heart. If only that were the case.

If you are dealing with salespeople who work on commission, their top objective may be selling you on the investment that yields them the biggest compensation. Instead of putting you into the most appropriate low-fee or no-load mutual fund, following their advice might land you might in an annuity that benefits them more than you, with a big back-end bonus, and marginal returns.