When we you are young and inexperienced parents are your first source of information and advice about relationships, friends, family, studies, careers, money and basically all aspects of life. Some of those insights could be very useful and some could come across as truly absurd nowadays.
Although parents surely have the best intentions when they are trying to inspire, protect or instruct their children, there are many reasons why their recommendations could be inaccurate and sometimes even harm your future.
One of the main reasons is that the world is moving at a completely different pace right now and things are changing dramatically, the rules that suited their generations might not be relevant anymore.
Another possible reason is that parenting means protecting, everyone wants the best for his or her offspring, so there’s no surprise that most of this guidance is related to playing safe and avoiding risks, even though when it comes to business profits are always associated with some sort of risk.
Also, if your predecessors had a though relationship with their financial management, their bad paradigms and habits could influence your behavior, we learn more by example than by word, so many of our parent’s core believes passes down to us just by watching them or hearing their common phrases on a daily basis.
So this is a list with the worst advice that most parents give, directly or indirectly, to their children.
“Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees”
This phrase is actually not teaching anything useful, it has been mostly used by parents as an excuse to avoid giving something to their children, but, why not explaining them about the importance of having a budget and priorities instead?
Maybe, someone might be suggesting that money is something that must be earned and is not easily acquired to incentivize hard work, and that’s fine. But it also implies a mentality of fear and lack, which focuses on restrictions instead of gains.
“That costs an Arm and a Leg”
The funniest part of this one is that the human limb market is not even that profitable (Kidneys, Livers and Hearts sell better). While this idiom means that something is extremely expensive or costly, it suggests that it is impossible to get by hard work and financial strategic planning.
If it costs money, basically you just have to earn enough of it and it will be yours right? Why not focusing on teaching how to earn more then? Why not saying that it could be possible to get but now is not the time?
“Curiosity Killed the Cat”
It is natural to be curious as a child; curiosity is the best natural fuel your mind can get to motivate learning and awareness, in order to discover the new answers, trends and deep hidden business secrets the big players are using one must be an active learner and of course, very curios.
Also, curiosity makes you see learning as something fun instead of a burden, it fills you up with excitement as you naturally want to dig deeper and deeper into your area of expertise.
Curiosity can be one of your best personal assets, but as you’re growing up your passion for exploration and discovery turns off a little bit every time people (not only your parents) warn you to mind your own business and stop asking questions because somehow that could lead to harm.
“Never Count Your Chickens before They Hatch”
Ok, this one is actually not that bad, but maybe is a little bit inaccurate for this era, maybe hundreds of years before when nothing was statistically measured and science could not predict everything.
Now everything is different. No business could ever survive in this XXI century without doing some Projections about the future, whether you want it or not, estimating and forecasting is essential.
In fact, the modern Poultry sector does very accurate calculations about their production; they have everything measured, so yes, they do count the chicken before they hatch.
This phrase should be updated to: “do not rely on something that’s not backed up with some serious science and previous experiences”.
“That’s too risky”
Some of the worst (and funniest) pieces of advice that can be found online involve this expression. “Don’t buy Apple stock. It’s too risky.” –(back in May 2005). “Don’t invest on anything but real state, it’s too risky” (back in 2006 right before the United States housing bubble exploded).
When it comes to risk management, this saying is extremely related to the previous one, the best way to handle uncertainty is by having the right information at the right time, that’s the only way to come up unscratched out of risky situations and crises, being scared and not doing anything at all could be far worse.
“Money is the source of all evil”
This one is the worst, Based on First Epistle to Timothy in the New Testament (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV) “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” This message has been misunderstood for more than two thousand years, generating feelings of guilt and fear about being wealthy.
This message could be completely true in its time when riches were much more exclusively related to tyranny, oppression, war and slavery. But nowadays anyone can become rich by helping others and even creating a better world.
Many modern Christians and Catholics recognize that money is neither good nor bad, and there’s a lot of great info about this written by the biggest religious authorities. Some even argue that the way that each country’s dominant religion relates to money has been influencing its richness historically.
“What goes up must come down” and “The bigger they are the harder they fall”
Don’t go scientific on this one! These idioms have been always more related to envy than they are to gravitational laws!
Chances are that deep in your heart you carry feelings of resentment or fear towards any kind of success if you repeatedly heard your parents saying phrases like these, celebrating that someone successful has failed; or assuming that someone in a superior position will fail.
You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Saying this is like saying “I am old and worthless and I’ll just give up on life, and so will you… someday” It is so terrible!
But let me tell you something, we all should be very grateful to live in this particular Century, our life expectancy is not only higher than it has never been, but also all limiting beliefs and paradigms about age (and lots of other stuff) have been torn apart.
Never is too late to do anything, especially when it comes to learning or money acquisition since these things don’t depend on your body’s condition at all.
“That’s not a good career choice”
Your parents probably just want to protect you they don’t ever want to see you fall; they would want you to be happy forever and never get hurt, but unfortunately the world just does not work that way, life has its ups and downs, it doesn’t matter which career you choose it is something everyone must face.
Besides, in this new world when anybody seems to be able to make a living out of everything on the internet, and the labor market is not restricted by geographical location anymore, is a lot easier to get a job doing whatever it is you want to do.
– No advice at all –
While many people have had a bad counseling, many others could also state that one or both of their parents never were there to help or advise in any way, especially when it comes to money. And it really takes a lot of trial and error to put your life into the right track by yourself.
Sure, mommy and daddy don’t always know best and they certainly don’t have the answers to anything, but in this case just admitting that you don’t know and giving a few encouraging words is enough, because for a youngster, silence is one of the most confusing and hurtful things ever!
Bonus: Some of the best advice some parents give!
Not everything is that bad! As I was writing this article I researched a lot of forums on the subject and I came across many people who shared some excellent financial tips they received from their parents, here are some:
- “A fool and his money are soon parted, so don’t be a fool”
- “Every cloud has a silver lining”
- “Save money”
- “Work hard doing what you love”
- “Don’t spend anything unless you have to’”
- “Don’t throw the towel”
- “Don’t waste your money on depreciating junk. Save your money, invest it in assets.”
- “Don’t get any credit cards until you learn how to use them”
- “Think about how to invest your money so it can make you more money”.
So what about you? What are the worst and the best financial advice your parent’s gave to you?