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Four Money Myths That Can Hold You Back

Written by Miranda Marquit on April 10, 2014 in Credit  |   4 comments

Financial advice is not one-size-fits-all. Don’t make financial decisions—such as buying a home or canceling a credit card—just because you think you should. Instead, stop and consider whether these money moves are actually in the best interest of your finances.

canceling a credit cardYou’ve probably been told that it is very important to have a good job and that the real American Dream is still homeownership. However, a lot of these supposed money truths are actually myths.

Here are some of the money myths that might be holding you back:

Myth 1. The key to success is a good job.

While a good job can certainly provide you with a decent paycheck and a greater feeling of security, it’s important to understand that relying too heavily on a job can lead to financial disaster. As many Americans learned during the last recession, anyone can lose his or her job.

If you lose your job—or even if you keep your job but your hours are dramatically cut—you could find yourself in financial difficulty. A job is not a guarantee that your income will always be the same or worse, be discontinued. In fact, no matter how good it may be, a job still leaves you at the mercy of someone else.

You don’t have to quit your job and start a business to break free, but it is a good idea to look for ways to diversify your income so that you aren’t completely dependent on a regular job for your financial wellbeing. Look into side income (if it is not against your employer’s policy or a conflict of interest), investment income, or some other resource so that you have something to help you through the difficult times if your job falls through.

Myth 2. Buying a home is better than renting.

As with all things personal finance, the reality depends on your individual situation and goals. However, it’s a bad idea to assume that buying a home is always better than renting. The myth of homeownership is that it is an investment that pays off over time, but if the collapse of the housing market proved anything, it’s that the value of your home may not be there when you need to cash in on it. By the time you pay all of the maintenance and repair costs and the interest on your mortgage—even if you take a tax deduction—you might be lucky to break even.

The fact is that some people are actually better off renting and investing their money elsewhere. Renters have more flexibility in terms of moving, and if they can pay lower rent costs, they can invest what they save to make a higher return over time.

Myth 3. I can’t invest unless I have a large lump sum.

Too many people limit themselves because they believe they need a lot of money to invest. The good news is that this myth is easily overcome. If you have $25, you can open an account at most online discount brokerages, and you can often invest as little as $50 a month.

If you start with a low-cost index fund that doesn’t require you to pick individual stocks, you can take advantage of dollar cost averaging. Over time, you can do fairly well by consistently investing what you can in index funds and buying the maximum number of shares possible with each purchase. Investing is one of the best ways to build wealth over time, so it makes sense to start as early as possible, no matter how little you think you have.

Myth 4. Canceling a credit card will boost my credit score.

A common belief is that if you pay off a credit card and you are trying to get rid of debt, canceling the card will boost your score.

This is a myth. Instead, canceling your credit card could potentially damage your score because this action can impact your credit utilization as well as the overall length of your credit history. Unless you can’t stop yourself from spending, it may be better to leave your credit card alone after you pay it off.

It’s important to remember that each credit reporting agency has its own model for evaluating your information and assigning your credit score, so your score will vary between each agency.

Once you understand your finances better and identify money myths, you’ll be able to make better decisions and improve your ability to manage your money.

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.

4 comments

  1. John Schneider of Debt Free Guys says:

    I love the first point. So often we assume that the next job or a better job will make us achieve financial success. It’s simply not true. Financial success is often, not always, driven by internal factors. Diversifying income streams will be critical in the future.

  2. EFX Moderator_KB says:

    John, glad you enjoyed the read. Thank you for posting.

  3. Prudence Debtfree says:

    I just cut my credit card, and I have a problem with your 4th point. People cancel their credit cards because they don’t want to stop the practice of using debt as a tool. A credit score isn’t necessary for people who plan to live out of debt.

    • Rick says:

      Actually it is important for things other than credit now. Your insurance premiums on everthincluding home and auto are impacted. Some employers utilize and background checks will include in many cases. I have paid the price on this and it kinda sucks but is the way it is now.


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