Money rules are everywhere, but very few apply to everyone all the time. In fact, the best hard and fast finance habits are the ones that work for you and have been personalized to your income and needs. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in all the ways we should be handling our money perfectly. This year, take a different route and empower yourself to ditch these common money myths.
Saving a Small Amount is Not Worth It
What if you can truly only save a small amount? The uncertainty of the last year and all kinds of unpredictability have stressed many of our wallets. In these times, it can seem like savings is an exercise in futility, especially as inflation eats away at our current dollar value. But more important than how much you save is actually building that habit of structuring your money and putting it toward your financial goals.
Automating your savings is the best thing to do here. Even if it’s the smallest amount you can live with paycheck to paycheck, flexing that savings muscle is an important habit. As times improve financially, you can easily adjust the amount, but money habits matter—and every little bit helps!
You Have to Have a Lot of Financial Savvy to Start Investing
Investing has never been more accessible. From robo-advisers who can point you to the products that work for your own individual financial situation to personal wealth managers who can do much more hand holding to help you build a plan, there are a lot of tools available to you to start an investing journey. For many of us, just hopping on the 401(k) savings ladder and exploring some of the financial tools an employer provides are great starts.
If you’re a first-time investor, there are a lot of tools to get started and understand both the risks and opportunities. It’s important to remember that anything you invest is much different from savings and that losing even your initial investment is possible.
I’m So Young, I Don’t Need to Think About Retirement
Are you taking in some income? Then it’s a perfect time to think about retirement! Truly, the sooner you start thinking about your later years, the better. That magic of compound interest means that your money can make even more money over long periods of time. And the more years you give yourself for that retirement sum to grow, the better.
Again, starting small is just fine. Making routine contributions to retirement accounts that fit your personal financial situation can be a great first start to setting future you up for financial success.
I Don’t Need a Will or Insurance
Sometimes, wills or different types of insurance can sit on the fringes of our financial plan. And if we don’t have children or dependents, these things can seem unnecessary. But it’s great financial hygiene to take stock of if these additional financial tools are important for you or your family. This can include seeing if life insurance is important for you or your partner or if you want to pursue more specific insurance offerings that can help you protect certain assets in the event of loss, death, or theft.
For example, you may want to be sure that your home could be paid off if you or your partner passed away. You might also want to know that there is a care plan and some resources set aside for a beloved pet. Establishing these guidelines even earlier on in our lives than we may think is a huge gift of peace of mind to your loved ones.
All Debts Are Bad
Debt is a pretty emotionally charged topic in our culture, and it can be really easy to slip into the mindset that all debt is “bad.” That can make it really easy to internalize that value judgment for ourselves and think that if we have debt, we must be bad with money. Debt is far more nuanced than it is often made out to be. And yes, while you should definitely want to tackle high-interest credit cards and live within your means, there is a time and place for leveraging credit to make the choices and life steps that may be important to meet larger goals.
For example, taking out loans to finance a well-thought-out home purchase or support the goal of going back to school can provide helpful financial resources. Even certain credit cards—if used responsibly and paid off every month—can deliver valuable perks around travel and certain retailers, depending on your lifestyle. Few of us will find ourselves in the position of paying cash for a home, school, or other major purchases that can enable many aspects of our lives. Debt discretion is a much better habit to start to form than debt villainization.
Never Take a Pay Cut
Sometimes, making an important change for our lives or careers can mean taking a pay cut. While common wisdom might tell you that you should never drop down the compensation ladder when making a move, there are plenty of reasons that you should consider being open to making less money.
Have you geared up to make a major career move and enter a new field? That might require abandoning a structured job that paid more. Would you rather work fewer days or hours to have more time for family or passion pursuits? It could be worth rethinking your financial expectations. It’s important to know that first, position compensation is a lot more than just your salary, and there are plenty more important life considerations than just how much your paycheck is.
Buying a Home is Better Than Renting
Home ownership is one of the most glamorized aspects of adulting. But the truth is, it’s a complex decision with a lot of different variables. When you’re considering buying a home, it’s important to think of the full list of costs and commitments that come along with that choice. Going beyond your principle, interest, and insurance payments, you may need a healthy budget for repairs, homeowner fees in some communities, and other maintenance expenses.
Home ownership also anchors your life to an expense and a location that feels very different from renting. If you’re in a life stage where careers and connections feel in flux, a home purchase may complicate your ability to relocate to a new chapter. And, now more than ever, there are a million ways to make a rental feel like your forever place. Buying a place does not have to be synonymous with making a space your home!