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We’ve all heard the stories from our parents, “when I was your age, I had to walk 5 miles to school, uphill both ways”. This includes financial advice.
While the advice they give is to support us and help us to avoid mistakes, it begs the question, is all that old-fashioned wisdom our parents gave us still relevant today?
Let’s look at ten pieces of financial wisdom that have been passed down. It is up to you to decide if any of it still holds weight today.
1. Don’t Job Hop
Back in the day, it was common to get a job in your 20s and work there until you retired at 65. Upon retiring, your employer would give you a gold watch or some other gift as a token of appreciation for all your hard work.
In addition to this gift, however, was your employer taking care of you. They would offer you salary increases and not lay off thousands of workers when tough economic times hit.
But this is no longer the case today. Employers are not loyal to their employees.
In many cases, if an employee tries to be loyal, they will end up worse off financially because of low salary increases and the risk of getting let go at any time.
2. Be Loyal to Companies You Do Business With
In the past, companies always offered discounts and deals for their most loyal customers. While you can still get special coupon codes for following brands on social media, if you don’t shop around, chances are you are overpaying.
Take your cable bill, for example. The monthly price goes higher all the time. Visit the cable provider’s website or watch a commercial on TV, and they promote amazing deals. There is only one catch: the deal is for new subscribers only.
The same applies to insurance companies. You think you are getting a great rate because you have been with them for years, but chances are you can get a much better rate by shopping insurance coverage.
No longer do companies value loyalty. Those that are publicly traded need to meet quarterly earnings goals, which means bringing in more revenue all the time.
The only way to fight back is to negotiate to get lower rates or switch companies constantly.
3. Combine Your Finances When Married
Getting married meant merging all aspects of your life, including finances. You would have a joint bank account from which you would deposit paychecks and pay bills.
While this worked great for the Baby Boomers, Gen Z doesn’t feel this is a smart strategy. It might be because the odds of divorce or financial infidelity are much higher today than in years past.
Or, it could be that people are waiting to marry, and when they do, they have significant assets they don’t want to merge.
No matter the reason, you will find it more likely that couples nowadays have separate and not joint finances.
4. Put 20% Down When Buying a House
Years ago, it was customary to put down 20% when buying a house. Today, more people put down less than this amount. There are many reasons, but the most basic is that homes were much more affordable back then.
Putting 20% down on the average home price of $35,500 in 1973 meant you had to save $7,100. While incomes were much lower than today’s, housing was still more affordable.
The median income in 1973 was a little more than $12,000.
Today the median home price is over $467,000, while the median income is slightly more than $54,000.
5. Renting is a Waste of Money
Homeownership has always been part of the American Dream. It is an asset that appreciates over time, and the equity plays a role in your future wealth.
Renting, on the other hand, does not build wealth. To be fair, it does not create wealth for you but for someone else. Because of this, many Boomers do not favor renting, seeing it as throwing money away every month.
But renting is sometimes a good thing. Renting is a smart move if you relocate to a new city for a job. You need to get a feel for the town before knowing where you want to live long-term.
Also, if you are unsure about your work, you want to avoid committing to a substantial monthly payment for 30 years.
Finally, there is the reality that many people cannot take the step to buy a house because it is so expensive. While renting will not increase your wealth, it is better to rent than to buy a home and be house rich, cash poor.
6. Use Travelers Checks When Overseas
When was the last time you saw a traveler’s check? For anyone under 50 years old, the answer is most likely never. But to the Baby Boomers, these were one of the safest options to pay for things when traveling overseas.
Today, credit cards rule the world. They are very safe, to the point that you are not responsible for paying fraudulent charges on your card. Many even waive foreign transaction fees, making them a cost-effective option.
If you are determined to travel with a travelers check, you can still get them, though it is more challenging than years ago.
7. Keep Spare Change in Your Car Just in Case
Growing up, it was customary to keep an extra $10 in your car, just in case. You may run out of gas or need to run into the store for something. That cash in your car wouldn’t be the end of the world if you forgot your wallet.
Today, you can go just about anywhere and still pay for things without your wallet. This is all thanks to smartwatches. With these watches, you can load your credit cards onto them and tap them on the credit card machine to pay.
You do not need to carry your wallet or purse with you everywhere you go.
8. You Need to Go to College
To get a good-paying job, one needed a college degree. As a result, Boomers made education a top priority for their kids, hoping they get into a top college and earn a good salary.
The world has changed drastically in recent years, and the modern economy is full of opportunities for you to become self-made. Today, attending college is not necessary to earn an impressive salary.
Some of the highest-paid jobs require little to no formal education. From becoming a video game developer to running your own social media management business, the possibilities are endless for achieving success without a college degree.
With creativity and hard work, you can develop skills and knowledge that will equip you with the confidence to stay ahead of the competition, even if that means not attending college.
9. Cell Phones are a Waste of Money
When cell phones debuted, it made little financial sense to buy one. They were a convenience, and this convenience carried with it an added monthly cost.
Today, there are many cases where it is wiser to have a cell phone than to have a landline phone at home.
With a cell phone, you can get unlimited calling, including long-distance, call waiting, caller ID, unlimited text messages, and an allotment of data for $40 a month.
A landline phone with local service, caller ID, and call waiting will run you $75. And this doesn’t include long distance. To make this deal even worse, long distance isn’t calling another state.
It could mean calling someone a few towns over.
10. Savings Accounts are Great for Your Savings
Everyone needs an emergency fund, so they have money in case unexpected expenses arise. In the past, a savings account at your local bank was a great option.
You earned a competitive interest rate, so your savings grew over time. For the past 15 years, however, savings accounts have paid close to nothing in interest.
Even if you went for a high-yield online savings account, you were lucky to earn 1% interest.
While having an emergency fund is essential, you need to think outside the box to earn competitive interest rates. For example, Treasury Bills and Treasury Notes could be things to consider.
Some people even use their Roth IRA as an emergency fund.
If your finances are in good shape, consider keeping a small amount in a savings account and having the rest of your emergency money in a taxable brokerage account.
This will allow you to invest your money and earn a higher return, yet still have quick access to the money should you need it.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.