5 Finance Tips I Used to Love, But Now Realize Are V Stupid

The minute you make finance feel like a chore, the less likely someone is to enjoy it.

There are many personal finance tips and tricks available online. Between blogs, news sites, products and celebrity quotes, the number of ways you can budget better, spend more appropriately and afford the lifestyle you want is astronomical. But, do most of these tips actually work? In fact, are any of these tips universal? I used to think so. Now, not so much.

Money is a personal part of everyone's life, and therefore, we all have different goals and challenges to attempt to achieve and overcome. We also all make different decisions about how and when we spend our money, so to go online and hear about some blanket idea that isn't personalized can sometimes feel, what's the word? Oh, right. Annoying.

Don't get me wrong, there is a ton of great financial advice that can be beneficial to many of us, myself included. It's just a matter of finding a site or voice that resonates with you, and that understands your personal situation. 

In the meantime, there are a few pieces of personal finance advice that old me would've probably jumped on board with and said "let's do this," whereas present me would say "let's dissect this garbage." 

Overrated Tip 1: Spend on experiences, not things

Another fellow blogger friend who I absolutely adore, The Luxe Strategist, said it best in her tweet:

What can you do instead?

Nurture a better understanding of what your personal experiences are. If your passions include collectables and clothing, you do not have to cut back on those parts of your life to fuel experiences that don't bring you joy. 

Overrated Tip 2: Pay off your mortgage early

A popular finance tip from people like Dave Ramsey and the FIRE community is to pay down your mortgage early. While I can understand the desire to avoid debt at all costs, sometimes sacrificing every aspect of your financial life isn't the most healthy decision. For one thing, you need to keep some of your savings in liquid form, and shouldn't throw every single dollar you earn towards one aspect of your finances. If you have other debt, don't have an emergency fund, and like to enjoy your life, paying down your mortgage early might not be for you. For me, enjoying my income and spending it on things that I love is essential to me. If I were to throw everything I had towards my mortgage, I'd quickly feel depleted and bored, which is not the way I want my money to make me feel. The minute you make finance feel like a chore, the less likely someone is to enjoy it. 

What can you do instead?

If you have prepayment privileges on your mortgage, you can always put a bit of extra money towards your total to decrease the interest you'll pay long-term. But don't worry about trying to do the impossible and pay off your entire 25-year mortgage in less than five years, unless you plan to live frugally for the rest of your life. Although, that's fine too. Just do what makes you happy and what makes you feel financially secure. For some of us, that means always making payments on time, and saving for the future. For others, that means living off ramen noodles to avoid mortgage debt. 

Overrated Tip 3: Your entertainment budget is the easiest place to cut

While this may be true, the reason this tip frustrates me to my bones is that it's asking you to cut back into your personal spending. Those are the budget lines that you're most excited about. Your entertainment category is how you best enjoy your earnings. For me, asking me to cut back on my Starbucks trips feels like a sick joke. How could I remove the part of my day that makes me smile and gets me out of the house just to save an extra $20 each week? 

What can you do instead?

Instead, I prefer to first attempt to cut my fixed expenses. Any room you can save in your rent, utilities and bills will provide a much more substantial improvement than your daily cup of coffee would. Of course, if you struggle to do that, it might be beneficial to cut out your unnecessary entertainment expenses — but only if necessary.

Overrated Tip 4: Move to a more affordable city

This one makes me cackle. More often than not, you'll find that if you use the cost of living in your city as the reasoning behind why one of your expenses is so high, some financial experts will recommend you live elsewhere. Wow! What a wonderfully unique and effortless way to save money! Not. Asking someone to pick up their life, move away from their family and start over in a new city in their 20s or 30s is honestly just stupid. As someone who did just this to increase household income, I can tell you that the money did not make my mental health improve. Finance isn't just about the numbers, and this tip is a reminder of that.

What can you do instead?

The cost of living can be a difficult feat to overcome. Most companies do offer a small percentage of raise each year to keep up with the cost of living, and this is a great time to do some negotiating at your job. When you are armed with facts and can prove to your employer that you need a specific percentage raise to keep up with your expenses, it's always worth a shot. Check out these tips on how to negotiate a pay raise. 

Overrated Tip 5: Don't take out student loans

This is another hot tip that is easier said than done. If people didn't need to take out student loans, they wouldn't — simple as that. While I can understand the difficulty in convincing someone it's necessary to take out a ton of student loan debt if you're not going to earn more than that straight out of university, it's also challenging to obtain any sort of job without a piece of paper stating you're qualified. 

What can you do instead?

If you can, find an affordable school in an accessible city. Another good idea is to *hopefully* limit the amount of debt you borrow so that your future payments (once you graduate) aren't over 10% of your monthly take-home pay. NerdWallet has an excellent student loan affordability calculator that can help you determine what would be a cost-effective plan.

It's not easy to find solid financial advice, but if you're struggling, I hope I can be that for you. Whether I've achieved that yet or not, I'm not sure. Please feel free to share with me what you need and how you learn, and I'll do my best to educate you on some ways to live your best financial life. If not, it's always a great idea to speak to a financial educator or a fee-based financial planner who has a fiduciary responsibility to put your needs as a consumer over their own professional goals.