There are countless books, videos, and podcasts full of money management tips promising to tell you the best ways to save and make money.
But unfortunately, everyone claims to be an “expert” in the industry, and it’s sometimes hard to see through all the information to figure out what is accurate information and what is a myth.
Keep reading to help you weed through the mountains of bad money advice out there. Then, we will expose the top 10 myths about money so you can avoid them and get on the road to financial success.
1. The Best Place to Put Your Money Is in a Savings Account
Traditional money advice recommends you put all your hard-earned money in a savings account and forget about it. Most people feel this is the safest and best thing to do with their money, but that advice has become outdated.
The average savings account only earns you a measly 0.1% interest on your money. At the current inflation rate in the United States (around 2% when this is written), you are losing money on the cash sitting in your savings account.
This approach isn’t as smart as we’re led to believe.
The money you don’t plan to touch for a long time is better suited to high-yield savings or investment accounts. Although the rates on these accounts are variable and not as favorable as in years past, they are still a better place to put your money to work for you.
2. You Need To be Rich to Invest
Investing intimidates many people. The concept of the stock market feels complicated to understand. Investment advisors feel like something only rich people have. The investing books seem too dry to read, cover to cover. Have you ever felt this way?
If you can get past the feelings of intimidation and frustration, investing is something to educate yourself about sooner rather than later. Putting your money to work for you can do nothing but help you achieve your financial goals for your and your family’s future.
You can start investing with as little as $50. There is a very low barrier to entry, and most companies have free advisors or tools that can help you choose the most suitable investment for your specific situation.
Even if you only have a small amount of money to contribute to an investment account, that is a great way to learn and get comfortable with the concept. Then, over time, as you earn more money, consider contributing more.
3. All Credit Is Bad
Credit is a slippery slope. It has a bad rap because many people abuse it and have gone on to destroy their financial future with just a few credit slip-ups. But, if you use credit responsibly, it can be a great tool to have in your financial toolbox for specific situations.
Using credit cards to pay for things you can’t afford is never a good choice. It encourages you to live beyond your means and can create an unrealistic understanding of your ability to spend. Even just a year or two of irresponsible credit card use can haunt you and your credit score for years to come.
There are situations where using credit is unavoidable and may not always be a bad thing.
If you are young and have a little credit history, responsible credit card use over time can help build your credit score. For example, use your credit card to pay for essentials like gas and groceries, but pay your balance off every month to avoid accruing interest.
Using your credit card to pay for things is also the safest way to do transactions, especially if you typically shop online. This is because credit card companies protect your purchases and make it easy to dispute fraud, whereas debit cards are much harder to protect from fraudsters trying to get access to your actual money.
4. You Don’t Need an Emergency Fund If You Make a Lot of Money
Many high earners feel a sense of complacency with their income. If you make a significant income that more than covers your expenses, you might not think you need an emergency fund. With a stable job and no money concerns, it’s easy to assume it will always be that way.
However, there is an excellent argument that if you are a high earner, there is even more reason to build a substantial emergency fund than if you don’t make as much.
It’s wise to have a minimum of three-six months of living expenses saved regardless of your income level. However, if you have a lot of expenses and a high income, you may want to save even more to feel comfortable.
You might have an expensive cost of living even if you live below your means, so an emergency fund is essential. In addition, emergency funds protect you from a significant disruption to your lifestyle should your income decrease or disappear.
5. Owning a Home is Smarter than Renting
Purchasing a home is often considered a rite of passage for adults. Graduating from “throwing money away” in rent each month is not just encouraged but celebrated. Getting handed the keys to your home that you own (kind of) is a big step towards feeling like you’ve “made it.”
Although homeownership is still a worthwhile pursuit for many, it is not the only option.
Depending on your lifestyle, income, goals, and where you live, renting might be smarter than owning. Renting gives you the flexibility to move when you need to, whether you get transferred for work or want to move from the city to the suburbs.
Also, with the rising cost of homes in the United States, many people are avoiding homeownership like the plague. Countless adults and families with a significant income find that they cannot afford even a tiny home in their preferred city or town, so renting is having a renaissance in many regions.
Head over to Budgets Made Easy’s blog to read more great advice.
6. You Still Have Plenty of Time to Save for Retirement
If you’re in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s, retirement can feel like a long way off. Many young professionals skip out on setting up a retirement account or forget to sign up for an employer-sponsored 401K.
The reasons why young people say that they skip out on retirement saving and planning are usually that they will do it later, at their next job, or simply that they are too young to have to worry about it. But unfortunately, this kind of thinking makes a huge difference when retirement time comes.
Thanks to compound interest, the money you set aside in your 20s and 30s makes arguably the most significant difference in how much you must retire on. Moreover, that money has a chance to multiply and work for you over three to four decades, which will add up.
Even if you can’t contribute a lot to your retirement to start with, every little bit counts. Start small and be consistent, because this is one area you will be glad you paid attention to.
7. Never Take a Job with a Pay Cut
No one ever wants to make less money than they are currently making. Therefore, a typical career trajectory should follow an upward path where you take on jobs of increasing responsibility and are compensated more. This money myth is deeply entrenched in our culture.
While this is always the goal, there are times when a pay cut might be inevitable or, at the very least, might be an intelligent choice.
If you are offered a position with a pay cut, think about the other factors. For example, is the job closer to home? Are the benefits better? Are there more opportunities for advancement if you stay there? These things might make the job with the pay cut a better choice than where you are now.
Weighing your options and seeing how everything balances out might surprise you. For example, if you take a cut in salary, but the new company pays for a larger portion of your healthcare premium or has a competitive 401K matching program, you might make about what you do now or even more.
8. You Don’t Need a budget When Saving Money
Many people have a love-hate relationship with budgets. Some people thrive on seeing all their expenses laid out on paper or in a spreadsheet and keeping track of spending down to the cent. This can be a source of anxiety or feel like a chore for other people.
A common misconception is that budgets are only necessary if you’re trying to achieve a financial goal like saving money or getting out of debt. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Keeping tabs on your expenses and knowing where your money is going every month is essential regardless of your financial goals.
A budget can help you identify areas where you are overspending or things that you pay for that you don’t use. Even if you’re in a good place financially and aren’t actively trying to save money, everyone could use a little extra money in their pocket.
9. Debt Is Unavoidable
Debt can feel like a natural part of life for some people, but it truly doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to do things in your financial life that do not involve taking on debt if that’s not something you want.
Things like student loans and car payments are the most common “acceptable” or “unavoidable” debts that many people have. Although it would be challenging to do these things debt-free depending on your financial circumstances, there are ways to do it.
You can apply for scholarships for student loans, look into community colleges, and consider taking a smaller course load and working while you attend school to pay your tuition.
If you need a new car, consider purchasing a used car that you can pay cash for.
For further reading, check out Go From Broke’s blog about money myths and truths.
10. Only One Person Should Manage Finances
If you’re married or in a committed relationship where you share finances with your significant other, the chances are that one of you is at least more invested in your finances than the other. This is a natural way of dividing up household tasks like paying bills, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.
The difference is that even if your significant other takes on the task of paying the bills and making sure your savings account continues to grow and manages your investments, it’s still imperative to have a basic understanding of your financial life.
Failing to keep your finger on the pulse of your money situation could have disastrous consequences. For example, if you ever suddenly become responsible for paying the bills or need to separate from your significant other, it’s essential to know who and what you pay each month and how to do it.
Start by setting up a money date with your significant other once a month. Sit down together after dinner and review your monthly expenses, bills, and income. Then, make it fun by pouring a glass of wine or your favorite beer. Please don’t shy away from meaningful conversations like this; make it a fun, regular part of your life so that neither one of you is in the dark.
Photo by [Watchara Ritjan] via [Shutterstock.com].