7 Times Our Parents Completely Lied to Us About Money

Updated March 23, 2017
by Susan Shain
Lies parents tell their kids

“Dad, how fast can elephants run?”

“Oh, about 45 miles per hour.”

That’s an actual conversation I once heard at the zoo.

I was 22 years old, and only just beginning to realize everything my parents told me wasn’t necessarily true.

Overhearing the exchange about elephants’ running abilities — which overshot their actual speed by about 300% — made me realize there were probably more of these lies, er, mistruths than I’d previously thought.

If you’re a millennial who frequently sought your parents’ advice, you might still believe a lot of these money myths, too…

1. You Should Stay at One Job Forever

Back in our parents’ days, staying loyal to one company meant raises and promotions, gold watches and paperweights, sometimes even a pension.

So it made sense.

Today, though, 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.

2. Insurance is More Expensive for Red Cars

I 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.

“The cost of insurance is dependent on the make and model of your car, the body type, the engine size, as well as your age, driving record and credit history,” explains car insurance comparison website Compare.com.

For more crazy car insurance myths you probably still believe, click here.

3. Credit Cards are Evil

I’m always surprised when my peers don’t have a credit card.

When I ask them why, many say something to the effect of “credit cards are evil” — a wariness I suspect was passed on by their parents.

Used responsibly, though, credit cards are far from evil — they’re a helpful financial tool.

They build your credit and simplify budget tracking, and many also offer cash-back or travel rewards.

That being said, they’re not for everyone. If you can’t use a credit card responsibly — and only charge what you can pay off each month — then your parents were right: You should avoid credit cards for now.

4. 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.

So be sure to explore alternatives — like apprenticeships, trade schools and coding bootcamps — before going into debt for a college education.

5. 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 digital nomad-ing didn’t exist.

Because the technology making them possible didn’t either.

So I kinda get why our parents think people who work from home don’t really work. As a millennial, though, you have no excuse.

We do everything online — from dating to paying bills to ordering food. So why should working be any different?

More and more people are starting to work remotely. It’s time to recognize and embrace it.

6. Only Rich and/or Lazy People Need Accountants

My parents always did their own taxes.

Since they never outright told me so, I assumed accountants were reserved for the rich and/or lazy.

Even after I started my own freelance business, I powered through (and probably made a lot of mistakes).

This year, I finally looked into getting an accountant — and was shocked by how affordable and easy it was. Plus, when you’re a business owner, the cost of tax preparation is even tax-deductible.

If your return is simple, then yes, you’re probably better served by free tax preparation software.

But if you have a business, or have recently undergone a major life change, getting professional tax help could actually save you money.

7. You Should Get an Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles

Yup, this car myth isn’t true either.

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?

Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Compare.com for working with us to bring you this content. It’s rare that we have the opportunity to share something so awesome and get paid for it!

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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