7 Financial Lies You Were Taught Growing Up
The problem when we grow up is that there’s no manual.
There’s simply no handy guide to tell us what we have to do with our money.
The closest thing we have to one is our parents.
And they definitely taught us a few things about money and finances (whether we liked it or not).
There’s just one problem though…
Some of what they taught us is a load of hogwash!
That’s why I want to reveal the financial nonsense our parents taught us growing up so that you don’t get caught…
Let’s break them down!
Bad Lessons Your Parents Taught You About Money
I don’t hold any resentment or anything like that.
That’d just be silly.
It’s not like our parents were trying to financially cripple us whilst making us take out the trash, or picking up the dog mess.
The thing is though, all parents make permanent impressions on their kids.
And not all of those impressions will be good.
Times change, and so do some of the lessons we need to learn.
Which is why I want to debunk these financial lies once and for all!
Financial Lie #1: “Credit Cards Are ONLY For Emergencies”
Not even true in the slightest.
Credit cards are a fantastic way to build credit and earn rewards.
FNB, Woolworths, Discovery and a number of businesses out there offer you great rewards for using their credit facilities.
And if you’re vigilant and consistent, the rewards you get back are great.
And you get to build your credit record in the process too.
If you don’t have a credit card, or simply never use yours, you can limit your ability to borrow money, secure a bond (or even a bond at a favorable rate), or even open utility accounts.
Credit cards aren’t “the devil”, and if you use one properly you can reap the rewards.
Whether it’s a better rate on your bond because you have a good credit score & history (which ultimately effects 20 years of payments!), to things as simple as cellphone contracts…
You want to have a credit card and use it wisely to help you build your credit.
Financial Lie #2: “Investing Is Risky, Keep Your Money In The Bank”
This one drives me crazy!
Sure, investing CAN be risky.
But so can swimming in the pool, or eating a sandwich.
You’re not exactly going to avoid those now are you?
Because you know how to do both.
People get scared of investing because it’s this great unknown for them.
They think it’s this complicated “thing” only professionals and people with PhD’s can attempt.
This is simply not true.
And the problem with keeping your money in the bank is that in doing so you actually end up eroding its value away.
Banks offer relatively low rates for keeping your money with them.
And these rates never beat inflation.
That means as your money is sitting “safely” in an account its only growing by say 4-5%, but inflation is growing at around 7%.
The value of your money is disappearing.
That’s why I’m a big believer in investing.
Look nobody is saying you need to become the next Warren Buffett.
There are plenty of financial advisors and financial options for you to choose from.
What you do need to do is become more active with your money.
Whether its directly (investing yourself, more hands on), or indirectly (going through an advisor but knowing what they are doing).
I’ll leave you with a Warren Buffett quote I quite like:
"Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."
And it’s completely in your power to change that!
Financial Lie #3: “Work Hard For Your Money And It Will Pay Off”
I wish this one were true.
I really do.
But the unfortunate reality is you can’t just keep your head down and never look up once in a while.
You need to work hard AND smart.
Just working hard isn’t exactly going to secure you the retirement you’ve always dreamed of is it?
Working hard AND planning for it will though.
You need to learn how to save and preserve your money AND make it work for you.
A lot of people work hard.
Does that mean they’ll all retire wealthy without any worries?
Of course not.
Most people I come across simply don’t know how to channel that effort into lasting wealth.
It’s not exactly going to do it itself is it now?
By working hard you’re only solving half the equation.
Come up with a plan on what you’re going to do with what you receive from working hard.
Speak to a financial advisor.
Invest in your financial education.
Learn how to invest.
There are too many options available for you to just “work hard and let it pay off”.
Financial Lie #4: “Money Can’t Buy Happiness”
This is a whopper if I’ve ever heard one.
Don’t get me wrong, money can’t directly buy you happiness, and it certainly isn’t everything.
But it sure is a lot of things!
It’s kind of like the financial oxygen we need to breathe and make everything else work properly!
Money itself is meaningless.
Walking around with pictures of dead South African presidents isn’t exactly going to change the cosmos and light my fire.
What will light my fire though is freedom and experiences!
And that’s exactly what money can give you.
It’s the power to get other people and businesses to do things for you that you don’t want to, or can’t do for yourself.
It’s the power to experience things that life has to offer. Food, travel, people, culture – The list is endless!
It’s the power to direct your focus where you choose by freeing up your time.
For something that can’t buy happiness it sure is at the root of a lot of it.
Look, that doesn’t mean everyone with money is happy, or that everyone without money is unhappy.
In some instances, money can end up boxing you in, taking away your freedom and giving you the wrong kinds of experiences.
For these reasons alone you shouldn’t chase money!
And that’s why I think happiness is the wrong measure.
Rather chase freedom and experiences.
And if you’re smart, money is just the tool that’ll help you get closer to both.
Financial Lie #5: “You Have To Choose Your Career Path And Stick To It”
Things aren’t what they used to be when our parents dispensed these...
I read an interesting stat a few years ago where it was said that students who study 4 year degrees, get to their fourth year, and what they learnt in their first year is already out of date.
That in itself tells you that careers are just occupations.
Things change way too fast in-between.
Life is constantly moving.
You should really just keep occupied until you find something that interests you more, pays better, or something you just flat out like better.
Think back to your 20’s and 30’s.
How many jobs did you have, how many occupations did you go through?
Imagine you’d had to stick out the first one, how different would your life be right now?
Like clothes, careers are disposable.
They can temporarily dress us, but they’ll never define who we are.
If you follow “the career path” into a job you hate, just for the money, you’re going to be dreadfully unhappy.
And every Sunday evening when that Carte Blanche theme song plays, you’re going to get that feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Every Monday you’re going to get out of bed and dread going to work.
A lot of parents even push these kinds of career paths and job choices onto us.
Some of them simply aren’t for you and sticking to that path is just irresponsible.
Depth is important, but it is only one factor to consider.
Do you really just want to push paper for the rest of your life?
Is that really the path to proper wealth and happiness?
Find the happy medium, but acknowledge that it could change shape and form over the course of your life, and that the “path” might have a few twists and bends you can’t see.
Financial Lie #6: “You Need To Go To School To Prepare For Your Career”
The world is changing.
If ever there was a time information and education was more accessible than ever before it’s now!
Heck, we live in the information age.
Access to top level information and education is available to ANYONE with an internet connection and a desire.
I’m talking the best of the best here…
In fact, I even saw a few banners the other day whilst on the internet where UCT were offering online courses.
You could become a certified professional and learn skills without ever having to actually go to the UCT campus. You wouldn’t even have to leave your living room!
Now don’t get me wrong.
I’m fully aware that doctors and lawyers aren’t exactly being taught online…
But I think if you extend yourself a little you’ll realize those were the jobs our parents wanted for us, and not all of us were suited to them.
And as times have changed, so have “the good jobs”.
Being a doctor, lawyer or engineer isn’t the only solid career choice in this day and age.
And on another note.
School is certainly not indisputably the best investment, especially for entrepreneurs.
Modern business sometimes requires a self-directed pursuit of knowledge.
One a classroom sometimes cannot teach you.
Which is why you need to take the time to become passionate about the things you simply can’t get a degree for.
One thing is for certain though…
To make a living, and to have a life worth living, doesn’t require the same things.
Formal education will make you a living, but self-education will make you a fortune.
Financial Lie #7: “Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow”
This is definitely one most of us heard growing up!
And whilst in some cases it might ring true, in most it won’t.
What if I loved being a clown?
An actual clown with a big red nose and a squirting sunflower on my chest.
Now there’s nothing wrong with that per say…
But life deals in probabilities, and clowning isn’t exactly expected to pay the bills.
Or the big bills at least…
Finding a comfortable middle ground is the plan of action to take.
Consider a practical career.
Consider the middle ground.
What we love outright won’t always make the best career choice.
Sad but true.
And at the end of the day it’s not to say that’s the ONLY career choice we’d love either!
There are plenty options out there waiting for you to fall in love with them, you just don’t know it yet.
Who’s to say the clown can’t become the chartered accountant and love it?
Stranger things have happened.
How To Build The Right Financial Foundation
Money has a strange way of ruling our lives.
How we earn it, how we spend it, and what it does for us.
Which is why the financial foundations we were given by our parents are incredibly important!
They could ultimately dictate the kind of life we end up living.
Remember, credit cards are not just for emergencies.
Keeping your money in the bank is risky if you ask me!
You need to work hard AND smart - Your money is not going to solve your problems without you directing it.
Money can’t buy happiness, but that’s the wrong barometer anyway. Chase freedom and experiences, money is just a tool and path to both.
A career path is a complicated, windy, and twisty one. It’s not the singular path our parents lead us to believe. Be happy, find something you enjoy, get paid more - These are choices you make.
School isn’t the only place for an education.
Doing what you love and getting paid for it are two different things entirely.
These financial lessons are ones you need to remember in your relationship with money.
Keep them close, and your fortunes will change.
Until then, here’s to good money management.
The Money Lab