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3 Pieces of Financial Advice It Pays to Ignore – The Motley Fool

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You shouldn’t believe everything you hear about personal finance.


Key points

  • It’s good to seek out financial advice, but be mindful of its source.
  • Following bad advice could hurt you financially rather than help.
  • One example of this is if someone tells you that credit cards will lead to debt.

You may have plenty of people in your life who are quick to overload you with financial advice. Or maybe you’re the type who likes to peruse financial blogs in the hopes of boosting your money management skills.

Either way, there’s a world of great financial advice out there — but there are also some really bad pointers you might come across. Here are three examples you really should ignore.

1. Credit cards will lead you into debt

Credit cards could lead you into debt — if you don’t use them carefully. But if you’re mindful of your spending, credit cards could actually do a number of good things for your finances.

First, credit cards commonly offer rewards or cash back for the purchases you make. That could put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket each year, especially if you’re able to capitalize on sign-up bonuses without spending more than you normally would.

Plus, credit cards can help you build credit if you pay your bills on time and in full consistently. And the higher your credit score is, the easier it becomes to borrow money affordably when you need to do things like buy a home or take out an auto loan.

2. The bank is the safest place for your money

Any money you have earmarked for your emergency fund should sit in a savings account. But that doesn’t mean you should keep all of your money in the bank.

The great thing about bank accounts is that your principal deposits are protected (up to $250,000 per depositor, provided your bank is FDIC-insured). But you won’t have much of an opportunity to grow your money if you keep it all in the bank. Not only have interest rates for savings accounts and CDs been abysmal in recent years, but even in better years, they can pale in comparison to the returns you might get by investing money you’re socking away for the future.

In fact, there’s actually a risk in keeping too much cash in the bank: not growing your money in a manner that will keep up with or outpace inflation. And that could leave you with inadequate savings by the time your retirement rolls around.

That’s why you’re better off putting your non-emergency savings into a dedicated retirement plan, like an IRA or 401(k), or into a brokerage account, and investing it. If you go the former route and open an IRA or 401(k), you’ll also enjoy a host of tax breaks.

3. A home is always a good investment

A home can be a good investment, since property values do tend to rise over time. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good investment for you.

If you buy a home that ends up needing lots of repairs and maintenance through the years, it could limit your ability to save and invest elsewhere. And while homeownership can lead to financial stability, it’s more than possible to achieve that goal as a renter, too.

If you have the desire to own a home, you should know it’s not necessarily a poor financial choice. But don’t buy into the idea you’ll automatically come out ahead financially by owning a home rather than renting one.

Seeking out financial advice could make you a savvier consumer and saver. But don’t buy into these specific pointers, because they have the potential to really lead you astray.

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