John Eringman, @johnefinance on TikTok, is a social media influencer who has over 1 million followers. He began his journey as a personal finance influencer after noticing that young people were not taught financial literacy. His mission is to help others develop healthy financial habits.
Here, Eringman shares his expertise on what insurance policies to avoid and increasing financial literacy as a Top Money Expert for GOBankingRates.
What’s been your most popular video and why do you think it has resonated with so many viewers?
My most popular video was this one here which got over 12 million views. I think it resonated with people because it was for beginners wanting to invest. Investing can be very overwhelming, and beginners might not understand what an index fund or exchange-traded fund is. This skit made it simple for them to understand that instead of buying one stock, you can buy all the stocks!
You’re passionate about increasing financial literacy. What topic do you wish people were more informed about and why is it so important to have an understanding of this topic?
I wish people were more informed about creating a strong financial foundation before beginning to invest. A lot of people want to dive headfirst into investing in stocks, real estate or crypto. Yet, they have large student loans, car loans or credit card debt. They’re investing with a weak financial foundation and if the investment goes wrong, they will be further behind. Start with the basics first, get your budget together, build an emergency fund and then you can invest from a position of strength.
There’s a lot of great financial advice on TikTok — but also a lot of not-so-great advice. How can viewers determine what advice they should and shouldn’t follow?
There’s plenty of great financial advice and terrible financial advice on every platform. If you see something that piques your interest, get second opinions from both sides of the argument. For example, if someone is recommending you buy a certain stock, ask your friends and family what they think. Find someone who doesn’t like that stock and try to understand their position. Never dive headfirst into an investment without understanding both sides and follow creators who have a long track record of honesty and transparency.
What’s the worst financial advice you’ve seen being given (on TikTok or elsewhere) and why is this bad advice?
The worst advice that I consistently see is people recommending you buy a whole life insurance or universal life insurance policy. This is bad advice especially for Gen Z and millennials for two reasons:
1) Life insurance is meant to provide income for your dependents. For example, if you have a kid or spouse that depends on your income, you would buy life insurance so that if something happens to you, your kid or spouse would receive money as the beneficiary. However, if no one is dependent on your income, you don’t need life insurance. The majority of Gen Z and millennials have zero dependents. It makes no sense why they would need life insurance.
2) These whole life and universal life insurance products are riddled with exorbitant fees — and the people selling these products get a high commission because of it. The reason they’re pushing life insurance so hard is that it’s very lucrative to sell these products. However, it’s a predatory product, in my opinion. Anyone who recommends whole life insurance is likely receiving a commission from it. Avoid whole life and universal life insurance at all costs.
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Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.