Last week, I wrote about bullshit money advice. I recalled some of the nastiest money advice I have ever heard, and it was one of the easiest articles I’ve ever written. Bad money advice is everywhere. It permeates our culture. Permeates is a big word, so it must be true.
Then, I asked the good folks over on the Rockstar Finance forums to weigh in on this topic, but the question was framed differently. Instead of bad money advice, I asked what advice they wish they heard as a young person – think teenager or drunk college student.
I also added a small caveat to the question. Your answer can only include advice that you honestly believe that you would have followed. Meaning, the “save more money!” advice is tried and true, but let’s face it – the majority of us probably got that advice, but not many of us followed it. I wanted something a little more “real” than that stuff.
BTW: Check out Jim’s post about high-interest savings accounts if you’re lookin’ for a little intel.
What money advice would you have followed?
The responses I got were fascinating, and also very personal. One of my favorites was from Felicity:
Put your money where your mouth is. Is travel important to you? Great! Why are you spending $400/mo on Chipotle when that money could go towards an awesome vacation?
Boom! Pointed, yet something that I think most of us can probably relate to. Put up or shut up, you exceptionally smart college kid who probably isn’t majoring in something like finance or accounting. Frame life’s important questions better. Start with: “What’s important to you?”
Check out this gem from Vicki, who runs MakeSmarterDecisions.com:
Those financial advisers you meet after you fill out the paperwork at HR in your first real job are really nice! But who do you think pays their salaries? YOU DO…
Damn. And, this advice goes for life in general: Be extra careful who you’re taking your advice from. Pay attention to how that advice benefits you…and them. “Learn about fees and how to avoid them or they will be taking awesome vacations on your money,” she added.
Michelle from MakingSenseOfCents.com added this nugget:
You don’t need all of those clothes.
I never had that problem, but I can imagine. Now, it’s a badge of honor to see how many days I can go wearing the same stuff. “I bought a clothing item nearly every single day when I was younger, and sometimes bags of it every single day.” Moral of the story? Definitely, wear clothes. But, not necessarily something new every day.
Oh, and here’s a solid point from HighIncomeParents.com:
I wish someone would have set me down and showed my 90%+ of professional fund managers don’t beat the market over an investing career and that low cost index funds put you way ahead of almost everyone else.
What money advice would I have followed?
“Stop spending so much damn money” – my dad uttered those words (for the possible exception of the “damn” part) to me as a kid. The problem? I had a budget, and it lulled me into a false sense of security. I studiously filled all of my budget categories with my Safeway paychecks, but I then proceeded to spend the entire remainder of my paycheck. After all, I was saving. I did put money into my other budget categories like a good little budgeter. I thought I was good. So, why not spend the rest? My dad’s advice hit home.
I wish I heard “Building equity isn’t automatic”. After nearly a decade of renting apartments, I was ready to branch out and buy my own place. I did – in February of 2007, the exact month that real estate prices peaked. I had no business buying a home, but I did. I liked the idea of “building equity”, even though I didn’t really know what that meant. A decade or so later, I sold the house and lost around $100k altogether. Real estate isn’t for me. I hate the stuff.
“How many cars do you really need?” Working a full-time job, I had three different vehicles at one point…a Cadillac STS that had been in the family for years, a Corvette convertible I bought immediately after college graduation and a Yamaha R1 sportbike. Won’t lie, I had fun. Stupid fun. But, I funded that fun with years of retirement-killing wealth.
Tell me: What money advice do you wish I heard as a youngster…that you honestly believe that you would have followed?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.