finance

'I've helped hundreds fix their finances. Here's the worst money advice I've ever seen.'

One of the hardest parts about getting on top of your finances?

Figuring out the right information to follow. 

Today we have so much information. But do we have more clarity? With all the endless information at our disposal we also have that much more confusion and overwhelm. 

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It can leave you running in circles trying to make sense of all the conflicting information, feeling overwhelmed with all this advice that doesn’t seem to work. 

I see this a lot in my line of work. 

A few years ago, I started a financial education platform to help people get on top of their finances. Today, hundreds of our students have done a complete 180 on their financial lives through SkilledSmart’s Mastering Money program. 

An important part of the process is helping our students unlearn myths about money. So today, I’m sharing three bits of financial advice that can do more harm than good. 

1. “You need to get a ‘good job’ to be financially successful.”

Guess what? You don’t need a 'good job' to be financially successful. 

In fact, plenty of people with a ‘good job’ and a six-figure salary are not even close to being financially successful. They’re not even in the same book, let alone page, of financial success. 

Sure, it might look like they are from the outside, with their fancy holidays and nice cars…

But when you peel back the curtain, they’re struggling to keep afloat. They’re in constant financial stress. They can’t see a way out of the expensive lifestyle they must now maintain. 

How can this be true? 

Well, most people make a really fundamental mistake…

Most people think the only thing you need for financial success is a high income. And they think that pursuing one of those ‘good jobs’ will give you that. So if you get that… you’re set, right?

Wrong. 

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There are three crucial steps to creating financial success. You need to earn, save and invest. That’s it. That’s the recipe. 

Now it sounds simple but most people stop at the first part. They think that earning more will fix all their problems, so they spend their whole lives chasing a higher and higher income. 

A high income can make a big difference but not if you don't know how to save and invest it. (Feel free to look up the lottery winners and millionaire celebrities who have gone bankrupt). 

If you really want to be financially successful, you have to learn all three parts of the process: earning, saving and investing. This is the real game-changer. 

So many of our students have completely transformed their financial lives without changing their job or income, by learning how to better save and invest their existing income. 

(And no, they weren’t already high-income earners. In fact, many of our students earn less than $100,000 and are still able to learn how to save and invest tens of thousands of dollars). 

So it’s not as much about how much you earn, as it is what you do with what you earn. 

2. “Investing (in shares) is like gambling.”

People who say this often fall into one of two categories. 

Either they are beginners who don’t understand how investing works, and they are making that statement based on all the horror stories they've heard…

Or they are in a horror story themselves. They attempted to invest but it went wrong, they lost money, and now they are scarred.

The reality is that investing is only like gambling if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re just guessing, or copying what someone else is doing, then yes… you are ‘speculating’. 

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Think about it like driving a car. 

Driving is inherently risky. But there’s a big difference in the risk involved depending on who is driving. Is it a teenager driving for the first time? Or someone with 15 years of experience? 

So yes, there are risks involved in investing. But the more experienced and educated you become as an investor, the more you develop the skills to manage the risks involved. 

Investing is not as random as pulling a number out of a hat. It is a skill set that can be learned and developed with some practice and study. 

3. “Buying a property will give you financial security.”

“I just want to buy a property. Then I’ll feel secure. Then I’ll feel like I’ve made it.” 

There is so much pressure on buying a property as though it’s the be-all-end-all, as though it’s the one thing that will make you financially successful. 

And that’s simply not true.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who have a property but live in mortgage-stress. They can only just barely afford their property. 

This thing that was meant to give them freedom and security ended up becoming a financial ball-and-chain. Now all their life decisions revolve around the need to afford their mortgage. 

I’m not trying to be all doom-and-gloom. 

But I am trying to show you the ‘lie’ that you’ve been sold into. The lie is that buying a property is the hallmark of financial security and success (it’s not). 

This is actually really good news! It means that there are other options! It means you don’t have to feel defeated about not being able to afford a property. 

In fact, many people now prefer investments into shares and ETFs because you can get started with less than $100 and there’s a lot less maintenance and overhead costs involved. 

So, if there’s one thing I can leave you with, it’s this:

A lot of people think poor money decisions are a result of not knowing what to do. But an equally large cause is not a lack of knowledge but operating off the wrong knowledge. 

If that sounds a bit scary and makes you question what misconceptions you might have bought into, then great. That’s the whole point. 

Paridhi Jain is the founder of SkilledSmart, an independent financial education platform helping adults learn to save and invest their money. For more money tips, you can grab a free e-book on “5 Money Mistakes Costing You Thousands” via their  website, and follow them on Instagram.

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