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Our parents are basically a fountain of knowledge for all our debt and saving questions. But while they may be well-intentioned, they don’t always get *everything* right. And that can, unfortunately, wind up costing us in the long run.

CBC Television / Via giphy.com

Some of these tips might’ve been true when they were growing up, but the times have changed! They may also be passing down what *they* learned about money when growing up — and it can be hard to shake something you’ve been taught your whole life. Bottom line: They’re trying their best to teach but they may make a few mistakes here and there.

So we recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share a money mistake they learned from their parents (so you can learn from their experiences). Here’s what they had to say:


“My mom said that since so much money goes to waste on interest in payment plans for large purchases (like a car), it’s better to just buy things outright.”

Oprah Winfrey Network / Via giphy.com

I’ve since realized that this is fine advice if you can afford it, but most people don’t have access to that kind of money. My mom was able to rely on her parents for money for many years, while my experience of starting adulthood didn’t come with nearly as much in the way of financial assistance.

I didn’t know about things like how much money to have for a down payment or interest rates or pretty much…anything. I’m still so embarrassed about the time I went to a car dealership using only information that I had gleaned from their commercials and realized just how clueless I was.”



“Don’t take out college loans and avoid using a credit card in college. I didn’t realize that having those loans/debt, though, would help in the long run.”

“I was exceptionally fortunate to have half of my college tuition paid by scholarships and the other half by my parents. This left me able to pay for personal expenses in college with my money from summer jobs. After I graduated college and got married, we went to buy a car. Here I was with zero debt and a $50k/year job while she was a full-time grad student with $20k in undergraduate loans and, at one point, had over $5k in credit card debt (which she had paid off). And SHE had to be the primary on the car loan because she had the great credit score. Mine wasn’t bad; it was just not great because I’d never had debt before. I learned debt isn’t a bad thing. NOT PAYING off debt debt in time is.”



“My parents told me that I should never, EVER use a credit card, and that they were bad and would put you in unimaginable debt. They told me that I should just use a debit card, but now I know that credit cards aren’t evil, lol!”

Annapurna Pictures / Via giphy.com


“My mum said the same thing and it came back to bite me when I wanted to apply for a mortgage but had never had credit before.”


“My parents said the same too! Unfortunately, I was in college pre–mobile banking and would overspend on my debit card and paid countless $15 overdraft fees when I could have avoided the whole mess by using credit and paying it off in full on payday — all while earning cash rewards and building credit.”



“My father-in-law told my husband to only buy things if you can buy in full. That’s great theoretically, but cut to when we were trying to apply for a mortgage and he didn’t have any credit to his name… Financing things is okay; just don’t live outside of your means.”



“They said putting money into a standard savings account will earn you money. By money, they should have said pennies!”

PBS / Via giphy.com


“My dad was terrible with his money, so basically I’m doing the opposite of what he did and doing really well. I am frugal like my mom and mainly only shop sales racks.”



“My dad taught me that pay raises were dangerous if they put you into a new tax bracket. He was wrong.”

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

“Getting a raise that bumps you into a higher tax bracket does NOT mean that you could possibly make less money, since only the amount over the boundary line gets taxed at a higher rate. The only time that making more money can be a bad thing is if it disqualifies you from things like student loans and grants, or state or federal aid that you need.”



“My grandad instilled in us that we should only buy what we have money for and can afford. This is great but that means, living in the age we do with high living costs and no savings, I would never be able to have/replace anything.”

“For example, a new car. Although this means I’m debt-free (excluding mortgage and student debt), I also drive a crap car, have nothing ‘nice’ and never go on holiday. I am a teacher so [I] am earning a good salary and still cannot afford to have nice things!”



“My father-in-law taught my husband and his siblings to not invest in a 401(k) or use a traditional savings account. Instead, he had them put their money in a weird, long-term trust account.”

Jars of money

Jgi / Getty Images

He just found out he’s paying $10 a year in fees for an account accruing 10 cents (losing $9.90 a year). He’s lost about half the savings and can’t terminate/ transfer the funds as it’s a fixed account. On the contrary, my folks had us open a savings account at a credit union when we were young to save up birthday and holiday money. The interest is low but the account is completely free! They ‘gave’ us the money I had saved up in that account when we got married. It was such a treat to finally see that money I had completely forgotten about since I was 8!”



“If your parents expect you to ‘share’ what you earn when you are a legal adult, you are not required to.”

“Do not tell them how much you make; start your own private savings account and do your own taxes. At the end of the day, when things get rough, you are on your own.”



“Do not ever put your student loan ‘living expenses’ reimbursement into a joint account WITH ANYONE. That money is yours and it is also your responsibility.”

NBC / Via giphy.com

“If your parents ‘borrow’ some or ‘didn’t realize’ it was not shared funds, you will never see that money again and good luck paying your rent toward the end of the semester when things get tight.”



“My parents never really talked about money and kind of pretended we did not have that much.”

“Cut to years later, living on my own and studying in Amsterdam (I’m Dutch): I noticed that I was waaaaay more privileged than others. Our house turned out to be pretty big, my parents were able to pay for the university education of their six (!) children, and we all had more than one hobby. That must have cost a FORTUNE. I would rather have known so I could be more grateful, but mostly it would be better to feel more comfortable talking about money. We never really did and now I don’t really know how to manage it all that well…”



“My parents said you shouldn’t have different bank accounts because the fees will eat you up.”

FOX / Via giphy.com

“The reality is if I don’t have separate accounts, it’s impossible to put aside for a rainy day, holidays, savings, etc. You don’t have a clear view of it otherwise. And lo and behold, my parents’ finances are in tatters and they constantly need to borrow money from us.”



“My wife’s parents told her that buying a timeshare was the smartest and most cost-effective way to do vacation planning. When we looked into it a little more and ran the numbers, I was stunned; they’re a borderline scam.”



“Saving money but not spending it wisely… My folks said to save every penny you get and not spend a dime. I had heaps of money saved up but because I wasn’t taught how to spend money responsibly, I blew through my savings very quickly!”

Person showing money in their wallet

Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

“I’m good at spending money now but I’d be in a much better position financially had my parents taught me to spend money alongside saving it.”



Lastly, “They said to spend money when you have it because you don’t know when someone is going to take it or ask to ‘borrow’ it.”

“It took me 20+ years to realize I could just say no and refuse to give money to those who asked (mostly family members). And it’s taken many more years to build up the courage to say no. I’m just now starting to work on feeling comfortable saying no to anyone who asks for money. And I’m almost 40!”


Do you have a money “tip” you thought was true but you’ve since learned isn’t? Share it below!

And if this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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