By this point in your life, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ve heard every bit of financial “wisdom” out there, maybe tried to follow some of it, and likely failed to do so successfully. There are plenty of reasons that financial advice falls short in your personal life, not least of which is that for the most part, financial advice is garbage. it’s useless to 99% of the population because it’s trying to distill into snippets an overall theme of personal money management that just doesn’t take into account the very specific details of your personal financial situation. You might think it’s going a bit overboard to say that financial advice these days is garbage, but hear me out. When was the last time you took financial advice and always stuck with it? Right. Probably been a while.
First up is one of the biggest offenders going. It’s catchy, and sounds great, but simply doesn’t work for most people. For this reason alone, it has to die. This advice is to “Pay yourself first.” See? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it overlooks a bit of a life complication all together. Most people these days are up to their ears in debt, mired down in bills, and scraping to get by every month. In fact, about 76% of Americans today are living paycheck-to-paycheck, stuck with student loans, credit debt, and overpriced mortgages and car payments. With all this outstanding debt, if you pay yourself first, you’ll have collections agencies beating down your door in no time at all. Instead, try this out: Get your debts paid first. Pay what you owe, and pay it on time. Once your loans are paid, then start paying yourself first when you’re dealing with normal bills like utilities and insurance. That way, you’ll actually have money after you’ve paid yourself to pay your bills.
Next, we have to address the new car/ used car debate. Some people swear by new, others used. Either way, it’s garbage. There’s only one thing that should be taken into account when you’re buying a new or used car, and that’s mileage. A great deal on a used car doesn’t mean you’re getting a great car if it’s got 100,000 miles on it. Sure, it may have been taken care of, but it’s unlikely that it will get another 100,000 miles before it really starts costing you some serious money. Today’s cars a re chock-full of complicated electronics and sensors that are EXTREMELY expensive and cannot be serviced. Many times, units that used to be replaceable are built in such a way that they must be replaced along with other components. Take fuel pumps for example. As late as the early 2000s, fuel pumps were replaceable by themselves, and weren’t very expensive. Now, though, a fuel pump is often a unit along with the fuel filter, fuel level sensor, and other fuel line components, and must be replaced together, costing hundreds of dollars.
A new car, though, while more likely to last 250,000 miles if you take care of it and do the regular maintenance, seems an expensive proposition until you take this later repair cost into account. The truth is that it may cost you less per mile these days to buy a new car than a used car.
Clearly, these two examples aren’t the end-all of the garbage that financial professionals pass your way, but they can be pretty troublesome given that so many people believe them to be true. All you can really do, then, is do your best to figure out what’s best for you, and stick to what works.