9 Alternative Facts Our Parents Told Us About Money — and the Honest Truth
“Dad, how fast can elephants run?”
“Oh, about 45 miles per hour.”
That’s an actual conversation one of our writers once overheard at the zoo.
That’s about the time she began to realize everything our parents tell us isn’t necessarily true.
This exchange about elephants’ running abilities -- which overshot their actual speed by about 300% -- makes us realize there are probably more of these lies, er, “stretches of the truth” coming from our parents.
If you’re a millennial who frequently sought your parents’ advice, you might still believe a lot of these money myths, too…
1. If You Don’t Have an Office, You Don’t Have a Real Job
When our parents were growing up, concepts like remote working, telecommuting and the gig economy didn’t exist.
The technology that makes them possible didn’t either.
So we understand why our parents think people who work from home don’t really work. But millennials know better.
We do everything online -- from dating and paying bills to ordering food. So why should working be any different?
More and more people are starting to work from home, work for themselves and build their own careers with gig-economy apps like Uber.
As an Uber partner driver, you’re responsible for setting your schedule and motivating yourself to work — no one is keeping tabs on you.
Instead of punching a clock and working on someone else’s terms, you work as much or little as you want. You earn money based on how many rides you take.
Getting paid to drive around the city, listen to podcasts and meet interesting people? We’ve really got our parents beat on that “corner office” thing.
2. Banks Are Evil
You left college and entered the job market just as everything came crashing down. Everyone you knew blamed it on the banks — something about bad loans and Ryan Gosling, maybe?
Big banks gave the whole system a bum rap. If you’re looking for something better, we found a bank with a heart — no kidding.
With Aspiration’s Summit checking account, you’ll do all your banking online, which saves a ton of paper and space — we like when our money is green ;)
Plus, the account pays up to 1% APY, which is about 100 times more than a typical checking account. And you’ll never pay to use an ATM anywhere in the world.
The real heart of this bank, though? It helps you support your favorite cause. It donates 10% of its revenue to charity, and you can easily set up automatic donations from your account to contribute on your own.
If you’re ready to make the switch, here’s the link to sign up to open an Aspiration account.
3. Credit Cards are Evil
Many millennials believe credit cards are evil -- a wariness we suspect was passed on by their parents.
Used responsibly, though, credit cards are far from evil -- they’re a helpful financial tool.
The plastic cards build your credit and simplify budget tracking. Many also offer cash-back or travel rewards.
For example, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® offers 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend, plus a $200 bonus for using the card after you sign up.
That said, we know credit cards aren’t for everyone. If you won’t use a credit card responsibly -- only charging what you can pay off each month -- then your parents were right: You should avoid credit cards for now.
If you’ve been foiled by credit cards in the past, there’s still hope for you.
You can use Credit Sesame to see your credit score and make a plan to pay off credit card debt.
The free app’s “credit report card” makes your credit history easy to understand, and its custom recommendations can help you figure out how to get out of even the worst debt situations.
4. Writing Checks is Safer Than Using Plastic
No one writes checks in public anymore, except your grandmother and — you learned too late — the woman in front of you in line at the grocery store.
When you ask your mom why Grandma won’t put away the checkbook and swipe a debit card, she says, “It keeps her information secure.”
And you’re thinking, “Does she know she’s handing over a piece of paper with her name, address, routing number and checking account number in plain sight?”
The only thing missing is her mother’s maiden name.
On top of that false sense of security, writing checks can give you a false sense of your balance, too.
If you’re writing checks and not keeping immaculate records in your teeny wallet ledger, you can easily miss a transaction or two and overspend. Then you’re hit with a negative bank balance and overdraft fees — or a bounced check.
If you want to keep your finances secure and orderly, don’t be afraid to use plastic. Just protect your information.
A free service like TrueIdentity helps you avoid identity theft by keeping a watchful eye your finances. It sends alerts by email, phone or text if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
Isn’t that better than counting on Jim at the grocery store to keep his prying eyes off your personal info?
5. You Absolutely Must Go to College
The key to a successful life, according to our parents?
But college isn’t always the answer. It costs more than ever, and doesn’t always provide a return on your investment.
Everyone should explore alternatives, like apprenticeships, trade schools and coding bootcamps before going into debt for higher education.
If you’re already battling student loan debt, think about refinancing. You can consolidate your existing loans into one with a more manageable interest rate and monthly payment.
A good resource is Even Financial, which can help you borrow up to $35,000 (with no collateral needed) and compare interest rates from several lenders.
6. You Should Stay at One Job Forever
Back in our parents’ day, staying loyal to one company meant raises and promotions, gold watches and paperweights, sometimes even a pension.
So it made sense.
But today, those perks are few and far between, and hopping jobs is the norm.
You shouldn’t move around too much -- and should probably stay at each position for a year or more -- but it’s perfectly normal to change companies or careers.
Not only will you stave off boredom, you’ll also gain new connections and skills at each company.
7. Insurance is More Expensive for Red Cars
We don’t know where this myth came from, but nearly everyone’s heard it -- and nearly everyone still believes it.
The thing is: It’s total baloney. Your car’s color has no effect on your insurance.
“You may have heard the color of your car is used in calculating car insurance rates, but this is something we don’t even ask for when you get a quote from us,” Progressive Insurance spokesperson Ron Davis told us.
What does affect your rate?
Primarily, it’s based on your driving record, age and driving experience. But there are a few factors that might surprise you — like marital status, sex, your car’s make and model, and more.
8. Only Rich People Need Financial Advice
Your parents always managed their own money and did their own taxes, so you assume accountants are just for rich or lazy people.
But anyone can benefit from a little financial guidance.
We’re not talking about pricy financial advisors — though, depending on your situation, we’re not against them.
Instead, we’re talking about a free app called Clarity Money. It tracks your spending, helps you budget, makes it easy to find and cut unnecessary expenses and automates your savings to help you reach your goals.
Your parents will be proud to see how well you’re managing your money on your own… Clarity Money can be your little secret.
9. You Should Get an Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles
Yup, this is a myth.
It was true back in the day, and still remains true for some old cars. But the majority of cars on the road today can go nearly 10,000 miles without an oil change.
Check your vehicle’s manual to see what’s recommended -- you could end up saving hundreds of dollars on oil changes.
You know how your parents said you can’t believe everything you read?
Well, turns out you can’t believe everything they said, either.
Your Turn: Did you still believe any of these money myths?
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