Today is Skeptics Day, so American Consumer Credit Counseling is going through some financial advice that you should be skeptical of! Of course, any time you read financial advice – or any type of advice – it is important to think about it critically. Even good financial advice may not be right for you depending on your own personal situation. For example, you may have a lot of consumer debt, while the person giving the advice does not. However, some financial advice out there is just plain wrong. Here are some examples of bad financial advice:
1. Carry a credit card balance.
This is a common piece of incorrect financial advice. If you are able to pay off your credit card in full each month, then you absolutely should. Carrying a credit card balance does not help your credit score. In fact, it could hurt your score depending on how high of a balance you keep on your card. Your credit utilization rate is an important factor in how your credit score is calculated, and ideally you should keep it below 30%.
2. Wait to save for retirement until you’ve paid off all your debt.
Don’t follow this financial advice at all! Anyone who tells you to do this is not taking into account the fact that most people are already under-prepared for retirement, and waiting to save means you miss out on years of compounding interest. You can pay off your debt and save for retirement at the same time. While you’re paying off debt, you might not be able to contribute as much to your retirement plan as you would like to, but that does not mean you shouldn’t contribute at all. Nonprofit credit counseling can help you figure out a plan for repaying debt, and a debt management program can help you get out of debt faster.
3. Buying a home is always a smarter financial move than renting.
While this financial advice might not exactly be “wrong,” this is an example of financial advice that is not true for everyone all the time. It is true that houses can be a good investment for some people, and that houses do tend to increase in value, but the initial costs of buying a home are undeniably expensive. Most experts recommend saving up to have a 20% down payment, which does not even include closing costs.
Besides the initial cost of the house, when you own a home, you are responsible for the cost of repairs when things around the house need to be fixed. When you rent, your landlord usually covers these costs himself/herself. Additionally, the monthly rent payments are cheaper on average than a mortgage payment. Whether you choose to buy or rent at different life stages should be an educated decision you make based on your own personal financial situation at the time!
4. College is always worth the student loan debt.
Again, choosing to go to college and take on student loans is not a “bad” thing. However, student loan debt should not be taken lightly. Some college majors will go on to make a good salary after a few years, and their student loan debt can be paid off relatively quickly. For others, their major may not be in demand, so the jobs they end up with do not pay as much, which means it takes them longer to pay off their student loans and more interest accumulates.
To avoid student loan debt (or at least some of it), students can start off at a community college. Attending a community college for two years is generally cheaper than going all four years at a regular university.
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today!