I was recently complaining loudly in the comments section of a political blog about the contradictory information one will find in different segments of the mainstream media when I began to consider what information sources that I actually trust. For example, the only news source that I generally trust is National Public Radio and even they have a slight liberal tint to their news reporting.
That evening, I was at home reading a personal finance book when I began to wonder the same thing about financial news and advice. What sources do I actually trust when it comes down to it? I decided to make a list.
I trust pieces of information that come from three or more distinct sources. If a claim is made in a personal finance book or magazine that piques my interest or might be the basis of a personal finance choice of mine, I generally don’t immediately trust it; instead, I seek out supporting sources. If I continue to find the same idea expressed from a lot of different sources, I usually trust it.
I trust Consumer Reports. They’re a nonprofit entity whose sole goal is to compare and contrast features of consumer goods. They’ve got a stellar record of doing this and their results are proven again and again to be as reasonably reliable as can be expected given their adherence to quantitative analysis. For product comparisons and ideas, I trust what I read in Consumer Reports, though I don’t consider them the bottom line in qualitative reviews.
I trust The Wall Street Journal. Some complain that their information is too slow for the modern age, but the difference between the WSJ and many internet sites is that the WSJ takes the time to properly investigate matters and write them up in a clear and concise fashion. Though I might find quicker information on the web, it doesn’t have the “trust factor” I get from the WSJ.
That’s basically it. I have sources that I’ll rely upon for strictly numerical data, but in terms of actual meaty content, those are my only truly trusted sources.
The proper question at this point is what sources do you trust for your financial information?