Really Awful Financial Advice ~ Personal Finance Blog

We love our family and friends, right? I mean....they want to see us succeed. They want to see us do well with money and not end up broke and homeless.

So what's with all the crap advice? 

Amirite? 

No, for real....they mean well...they really do. But if you have friends or family that have mouths and can speak....they've probably handed you some really awful financial advice at some point. 

Here are some of my personal favorites.....and what to do instead. 

1. Everyone Has a Car Payment, It's a Fact of Life

I've gotten this one. It may be that a LOT of people always have a car payment, but it's kind of crappy advice to say that it's a fact of life we need to just accept. Maybe some of us need to accept that we don't NEED brand new, fancy cars.....that paying cash for a usable vehicle IS do-able. It's not a unicorn fantasy. 

2. There is "Good Debt"

Things like your house.....because you can write off the interest. 
Student loans....because it can lead to a better paying career (um....sometimes.)

But this is false false false. The only "good debt" is no debt. Investing the money you WOULD have paid on a mortgage is going to give you far better returns than a paltry interest write off, right? 

So make having a paid-for house your goal. Not acquiring "good debt".

3. Enjoy Life in Your Twenties, Don't Worry About Saving Until You "Settle Down"

There was an article that came out, I think a few years ago, written by a twenty-something who said something to this effect. That worrying about saving and investing was for "old people".....you know, those of us in our ancient thirties. Your twenties were for spending and partying and being stupid with money. When else were you going to have so much fun? (As if being stupid with money equates to fun, I suppose). 

This is dumb. 

If you start even a nominal investment at the age of 20, you're going to likely be a millionaire by retirement time. 

Read up on compounding interest one night instead of hittin' the clubs. It'll do ya some good. 

4. Borrow Against Your House to Follow Your Dreams

I saw this on "Outdaughtered" uttered from a "Financial Advisor" (I'm gonna go ahead and use that term loosely here). 

This is also dumb.

Don't leverage your house to take a gigantic, costly business risk or do something equally misguided as buy a yacht or something.

Save. Start slow. Pay cash. SLOW. DOWN.

5. If You Can Afford the Payments, You Can Afford the Item

Um. No. Just NO. Dude, this is how people get looped into leasing BMW's when they make $15/hour. This makes your life about payments.....about debt....about OWING. 

If you can't pay cash, you can't "afford" it. Car salesmen ESPECIALLY like to throw this one at you: "What if I told you that you could be driving a BRAND. NEW. LUXURY VEHICLE. for low low payments?"

Don't do it, dude. Don't do it. You may be able to technically clear $400-$500 a month for a car...but you're living a lie, and we ALL know it. You can't afford that car. You're playing the car salesman's game. Lots of people lose that game. 

6. Shopping is Good "Therapy"

You'll see this a lot on TV or online. "Retail therapy". Feeling down? Go shopping! That'll pick ya right up! Wander the aisles at Target....see all the shiny new stuff. Go without a plan! 

This is a good way to spend yourself silly and come home surrounded by shopping bags wondering what the hell happened.

Shopping is not good therapy. It's a lot like drinking....you may feel really awesome in the moment, but you're gonna feel like absolute shit later. Trust me.

7. Hey Teenage Daughter or Son, You Shouldn't Work in High School....you Should Have Fun and Concentrate on Homework

This is probably personal opinion, but teenagers who have never held down even the most menial of jobs become adults with crappy work ethics. I've interviewed these adults. I've hired SOME....and regretted it. I've seens their resumes and I've talked to them about their thoughts on work.

Even if it's a few days a week or just over the summer, they have to WORK.....they have to get their hands dirty. It's not to get rich, it's to LEARN. You owe them an opportunity for that experience. Trust me. I started working at 12 (hello paper route and regular babysitting gigs). I've always said it was the best thing I ever did. I learned a TON over the myriad of jobs I held through high school.

Namely that I have to work for myself or perish. :) 

8. You Have to Get a Credit Card ASAP and "Build Your Credit"

This is exactly how people get into trouble in the first place. Especially in college. No one is sitting you down teaching you how to responsibly manage money. I mean, I'm 36....I never once got a "personal finance class" offered to me in high school OR college. 

But hell, let's hand these newbie adults $5000 to $10,000 on a card and let them go nuts. 

Good idea. 

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Deciphering the good from the bad when it comes to advice given comes with time and practice (and lots of following bad advice and seeing how bad it is).

Your best bet? Don't listen to broke people. Don't listen to people who hold tight to old ideas of money management that are proven false. Don't listen to people who are up to their eyeballs in consumer debt (and, well, given the newest numbers that list that in the TRILLIONS for Americans, that's pretty much everyone).

Listen to your gut feeling....and what's best for your family's legacy. That'll always lead you in the right direction.