Trust But Verify When Making Financial Decisions

In an ideal world, we could trust everyone to stick by their word and perform obligations like they say they will.

Sadly, everyone knows we don’t live in an ideal world.

Instead, we have to sign multi-page contracts for the silliest of things, like your cable TV or cell phone agreement.

Unfortunately, no one will take your finances as seriously as you do.

To ensure you aren’t taken advantage of, there is one simple rule of thumb to go by when it comes to your finances.

Trust But Verify

Most people in this world are upstanding people, but the few bad apples make this rule a must when it comes to your finances.

Whenever it comes to a big financial decision, it is important that you verify the information you are given even if you trust the person you deal with.

Sometimes, honest mistakes happen while other times people lie to your face to take advantage of you.

The only way you can be sure is to follow up an ensure the information you were given is accurate. Depending on the type of transaction you are completing or the type of professional you are dealing with, there are a few ways you can trust but verify.

Verify Professional Credentials

If you are dealing with someone that claims they are a professional and they are using a professional designation, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Ceritfied Financial Planner (CFP), then you should verify that the person actually holds the credential. You can check CPA licenses on the website of the state board of accountancy where the person is licensed. Similarly, you can check a CFP designation at

If you want to verify another type of professional, simply search for the license or designation issuing agency’s website. They should have a way to verify that an individual is currently licensed or are currently allowed to use the designation they are advertising.

Make Sure To Check Contracts

Many people simply consider contracts a formality and assume that what a salesman told them is in the contract they have been presented word for word. Occasionally you will run across a dishonest salesperson, a simple mistake or a misunderstanding that causes the contract not to line up with what you think was said.

In these cases, the written and signed contract will almost always win over something that may or may not have been said verbally. It is imperative that you read all contracts you sign and understand them in order to verify that what you sign is what you agreed to.

You should especially look out to make sure the scope or amount of the work to be done matches what was agreed to. Similarly, make sure to check the price, timeline of performance, fees and interest rate information in the document. You’ll also want to make sure that there isn’t anything that allows you to be put at a disadvantage.

Verify The Contract Is Being Carried Out

It isn’t just enough to make sure that the contract is correct. You need to ensure that the contract or agreement you come to is carried out as agreed. If someone will be shady when writing a contract, there is a good chance that they’ll be shady when completing the agreed upon actions in that contract.

If you are a landlord, make sure your tenant’s are following your lease. If you’re buying a car, make sure the car you receive is exactly what was described. If you’re hiring a contractor to build your home, make sure they use all of the finishes you agreed to. Be diligent and verify everything that is important to you.

Handshakes used to be the way people did business and people used to stick by those handshakes. Now, handshakes are essentially worthless. That’s why it is so important that you verify the details of every big financial decision. If you don’t, you could regret it and lose thousands or tens of thousands of dollars at the same time.

Photo by: sydneyduhh Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. So true Lance. Important to do your homework and get things in writing. We recently where in the market for a new fence for our home and were surprise at how unprofessional many of the companies were.

  2. I totally agree with you Lance, it’s really important to check their credentials and background. It’s also necessary to review the contract carefully.

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