11 People On The “Good Money Advice” That Turned Out To Be Bullsh*t


I have pretty consistently been given good money advice in my life. My bad money habits, (which have always been less about being a frivolous over-spender, and more about being so cautious with money that I’m basically dead inside, with the occasional purchase of something completely stupid and unnecessary), have always come from deep within my own crazy self. My parents both have always handled their money well, and although they’ve made a few mistakes along the way, they were always very up-front about them with my brother and I, and did everything they could to educate us and ensure we would not go on to make the same mistakes. However, I know that there’s a lot of money advice circulating out there, and I also know that some of it isn’t as “good” as your mother (or your Google search) is leading you to believe. In fact, some of it is downright shitty.

I asked around to find out what a few people consider to be the worst “good money advice” they ever got, and why.

1. “I was told to open up the credit card you need to start building your own credit at 18 years old, but along with no real instructions on how to use cards properly, interest rates, how much you should be spending/paying on them each month, etc. Its been a few years and I still don’t really get it — getting a credit card is useless if you don’t understand it.” – Kayla

2. “Buying in bulk is a good way to save money. I have always been told this, and I read it everywhere when searching for personal finance tips. When I very first moved out and started living on my own, I thought I was so fucking smart to get a BJ’s membership and I was like ‘Ha! I’ll buy in bulk! My friends and peers are so silly not to do this magical money-saving trick!’ But basically every time I grocery shop I end up with like, rotten fruit and expired meat because buying in bulk is just unrealistic for someone who lives alone and doesn’t even cook that much. I feel like I’ve wasted money on the membership, and wasted money in groceries every single time I’ve ever gone shopping. Now I know that only certain (read: non-perishable) things should really be bought in bulk.” – Josh

3. “The worst money advice I’ve ever gotten was to invest in quality clothing rather than cheap mall clothes. But the thing is, that is not only unrealistic with my budget, but it is also not practical for me. I’m an art teacher by day and a bartender by night, and both of those jobs pose a certain risk to my clothing. I like to look cute at night, and professional in the day (obviously), so I have a pretty extensive wardrobe. But it is all pretty low-quality, cheap stuff, because I never know when I’m going to get paint splattered on my blouse or a drink spilled on my pants. I bought a few high-quality, investment pieces that I totally regret because I either a) ruined it within weeks of buying it, or b) never wear it because I’m so terrified I’ll ruin it.” – Caitlin

4. “I hate being told to spend on experiences. I get that, but I have two issues with that sentiment. One of the issues is that I truly can’t afford to spend on either of those things right now. I’m in that ‘bare-necessities’ phase of my 20s. But even if I did have money to spend freely, what if I like stuff? Why do I have to be judged or treated like I’m missing some sort of enlightened piece of me that would prefer to spend on a music festival or a South American vacation? What if I just want a cute throw blanket for my couch and a pair of boots? I don’t know, it messes me up.” – Sarah

5. “The worst advice I ever received about money was more about getting a job at a company that I didn’t have a passion for (like a temp agency) and dealing with the monotony of it all. Because it wouldn’t have excited me, I wouldn’t have had any motivation to actually do the work. I’d feel like I’m selling out.” – Ben

6. “Well, I was told to automate bill payments so they would never be late and I’d avoid paying any interest or late fees or anything like that. This is really good advice in theory, but the part that is really important before making that decision is deciding if you’re the type of person who can keep track of all the dates when money gets taken from the account, and making sure that there’s always enough money. I think doing it all manually, for me, makes it easier to remember because I don’t get too relaxed by the idea that the computer will do it for me that I forget all about it and don’t check on my accounts to make sure I don’t mess up.” – Sean

7. “This is funny but I actually tried to do that ‘envelope’ thing where you basically get all of your money in cash and keep it in designated envelopes for each category of your budget. The idea is that when you run out of money, you have to be done spending in that category. But like, they’re envelopes. And they’re mine, and the money is mine. So obviously it was super easy for me to just cheat and add more money to a certain envelope or whatever! I didn’t have the desire or willpower. Give me a money-saving method that is more of a lifestyle change. Keeping your money in labeled envelopes is kind of a silly idea.” – Liz

8. “Put 1/3 of your paycheck or whatever amount of your paycheck in savings. I did it and wondered why I was living such a low-quality life. Sometimes you’re just not getting paid enough to focus that heavily on savings.” – Morgan

9. “Career-wise, I was told to find a way to make money doing what I love and profit off of passions, but I don’t see that being the best way for me. I want to just do a job and contribute to society in some way, and focus on what I love purely for fun.” – Jesse

10. “My mom told me that I shouldn’t be so careful with my money and I should enjoy my young years while they lasted. It is a sweet thought, but the second I started to take her advice, I stopped contributing to my savings accounts and stopped feeling really motivated because I hadn’t set goals. I like financial goals and working towards them, I like paying down my debt every month, and I like being frugal and saving and growing a retirement fund. It isn’t traditional 20-something fun but it excites me to think ahead.” – Elle

11. “Worst money advice I ever got was to take out student loans, massive amounts of loans, for a private university. I was convinced it was the best decision, everyone makes that seem totally normal, like it is the right thing to do and everyone does it. I know my education quality would have been probably the same if I paid in-state commuter tuition at a local public university and didn’t take out nearly 100 grand to live on campus two states away from my family. It isn’t a wise choice unless you have tons of disposable income or tons of scholarships, it just doesn’t make sense these days since tuition is so high.” – Sam

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  • Mj D’Arco

    i love this article, except point n 1… do your homework and figure it out?

  • A lot of this advice is actually very good advice but the people who received it were too lazy or willfully ignorant to put it to good use.

    • Justine

      That’s not an entirely fair thing to say. If anything, this article is a prime example of how good advice isn’t “one size fits all.” Most of the people here didn’t actually dismiss as bullshit the advice given to them, so much as they realized such advice didn’t work as well for them as it probably did for the giver.

      Yes, spending more money on higher quality clothes that don’t need to be replaced every season is a good idea. But wearing those clothes to a bar every night is not. Automated payments are amazing, but I can see how manually making payments helps with tracking expense. Plus, when you think about it, automated payments are made for “lazy” people who’d rather not have to worry over when they need to login and pay which bill.

      Also, the best advice should actually come with context. Telling a teenager to build good credit by opening up a credit card is useless without an explanation of how credit actually works. Spending on experiences is really a way of encouraging sometime to invest in what makes them personally feel fulfilled — and sometimes small material things like decorating an apartment are just as effective (and far more budget-friendly) as international vacations.

      • Rose

        I think the issue, or so it appears from reading through to me, is that many of these people are too young or too financially inexperienced to put the advice to good use. Yes, it may not fit them now, but that is in some ways through faults of their own, along with timing.

        • It’s also common sense to actually think about any advice you’re given and consider whether it’s appropriate to apply to you life; and also whether you need to tweak that advice for it to work effectively.

  • heyqueen

    In regards to #2, buying in bulk is cheaper. It just takes some planning as well. You freeze what you can’t use or go shopping with friends and split the food and cost. Also, meal plan and cook in big batches.

    • Anon

      Yeah, I’ll cut that kid some slack. It does take a little trial and error to figure out how much food you can eat in a week. I think the first one is being a little petulant, though. Yes, it’s very sad that no one told you to pay off a credit card in full every month but after a few years it’s on you to figure that out.

  • Jack

    I love my Mum to bits, and I’m not trying to rag on her, but when I was in Uni and would stress about money, she’d say things like “Just buy the dress!! One day you’ll be making tons of money and it’ll be easy to pay off”. And I believed her. Sure I make significantly more money now, but it’s never fun paying off debts for things you bought years ago.

  • Court E. Thompson

    Re: #5 “Because it wouldn’t have excited me, I wouldn’t have had any motivation to actually do the work. I’d feel like I’m selling out.” – I can’t even handle this statement. You’re not selling out by doing work, you’re getting paid and making a living to survive. Not everyone has the privilege of working at a job they love or are excited about. Is that ideal? Sure. But not the reality for a lot of people. SMH

    • Andrea Sease

      LOL you can always tell someones background when they use phrases like this.

      • Court E. Thompson

        Right?! I was like, really????

      • Anon

        I kinda feel like #1 is the worst of the bunch.

    • heyqueen

      The person responsible for #5 sounds so insufferable.

  • Andrea Sease

    who started the myth that you should love your job or that work should be fun? that person should be shot. if work was fun, it would be called play.

    generations of people before you weren’t: looking for themselves, trying to find fun, trying to help society or worried about selling out. they worried about not starving to death in the streets. only certain socio economic groups give responses like this.

    • Winterlight

      I agree. if I started doing the things I do for fun as work, they’d stop being fun for me.

    • ErinKwed

      Work doesn’t have to be play, but it also doesn’t have to be miserable. Like I’d take a Saturday over any day of the week but I also don’t dread going to work. There is a happy medium.

  • Anon

    I’m with Sarah on the experience vs. stuff thing. My salad spinner does more for my quality of life than my vacations have. And, truthfully, I can give myself the satisfaction of a nice looking home way cheaper than I can get a vacation. Some throw pillows and thrifted decorative mirrors can punch a space up relatively cheaply but vacation is going to run at least a few hundred.

    • Alexis

      I’m also with Sarah on this. My home is my refuge and sanctuary from the world, where I spend huge amounts of time. Making it a usable and aesthetically-pleasing space for myself and my family is to me a perfectly sensible use of my discretionary income, as is buying a slightly more expensive selection of groceries to cook up a storm once a week and throw a great dinner party with friends.

  • andnowlights

    ” Give me a money-saving method that is more of a lifestyle change. Keeping your money in labeled envelopes is kind of a silly idea.” – Liz”

    It’s a lifestyle change if you develop the willpower to actually use the system properly. Is that not obvious? Lifestyle changes don’t happen by magic.

  • Rochelle Stewart

    Point 2 – he should get a freezer and learn to cook. That’s why you buy food.

  • Jessica

    Regarding #1, it confuses me when I read about people who apply for a credit card, but have zero sense of the responsibility that comes with it. I feel that if a person has any common sense, they would realize that there are obvious stipulations and it is no way free money. If you have zero understanding of how a credit card works, or if you’re too naive to ask someone how a credit card works, you should not apply for one in the first place.

    • I work for a credit union and I can see the issue from both ends. There is so much literature out there regarding credit cards, so there really is no excuse for not understanding how it works after a few years. On the other hand though, what if the banker told them to get the card and said something to the effect of “just pay it on time”. While that is a major factor when it comes to using a credit card the right way, its far from being the only thing you need to know. The bankers are more than willing to sell you something for a commission, but often times there’s not a lot of emphasis on the education side of the transaction.

  • Ann

    I feel like reading alot of these comments to this article is the reason people don’t want to be honest and open about their own ideas of money. Yes, maybe you consider these people lazy and not disciplined, but that is preeeeetty really subjective. From reading this site and developing one’s own ideas about money, it should be obvious that people handle money and life differently. It’s like what’s been said before, how to handle your life is not a “one size fit all”, if your job, experiences, background are different, how can you then treat money all the same? I honestly read this article and thought I’m not alone, everyone makes mistakes and being an adult means you learn to try advice and then find out what works best for you. You don’t grow up and suddenly know how to do everything… Duh.

    • Monica Krause

      Exactly! I’m really bummed by many of these comments and you summed it up perfectly. It’s about trying things out and keeping what works for you. By definition, that means some things won’t work for you! And that is good and normal and not worthy of the accusations of moral failing that are popping up here.

  • Judith

    The title could also be “Money advice that is just too inconveniencing to take so I shall not… cos YOLO and stuff”.
    Sure, good money habits take time to form and you have to be hit on the head by reality a few times till you figure them out. What’s bothering me about some of these answers is the ungroundedness and the disregard for responsibility they just seem to be emitting all over the page.

  • Harsh comment crowd on this one… As the article title points out, this is all technically “good money advice” that didn’t work for one reason or another. It’s always disappointing to read an article where people were unfiltered & honest only to see the comments full of criticism.

  • Monica Krause

    I’m with Liz-the envelope thing really doesn’t work for me. For me, it’s because paying in cash doesn’t feel like spending “real” money. I’m obsessed with tracking the number in my bank account, so having $50 in cash to pay for food this week doesn’t get automatically counted when I spend it, so I don’t feel like my budget is really connected to the purchase. If I have a few bucks, it’s way more easy to buy a frivolous small purchase when I’m not swiping my card and knowing my account balance is now lower.