Don’t Listen To Your Parents About Money

Don’t Listen To Your Parents About Money

Fellow millennials, this is a PSA: When it comes to career and money advice, parents have an untold number of opinions, mostly based on what they have done or would like their friends to know you are doing. I’m here to say don’t listen to them.

I’m sure they’re well-meaning and super smart, but chances are their views on housing, investing, university and saving just won’t be applicable to your life now (unless they’re, say, a CPA — then you should take their advice).

Look at the economic state we’re living through because of Boomers: Stagnant wages! $54 billion in student loan debt! A housing shortage because God forbid that much-needed affordable apartment complex block a 50-something’s view!

But beyond those generational shortcomings, your parents’ advice is also limited to their experiences and knowledge (and in some cases, their political affiliations). They could be too conservative with their investments, pay unneeded and egregious fees, or have outdated expectations of the way careers and finances work in 2018.

Someone who was able to buy a house for $194,000 in 1990, see a 14.9 per cent rate on a term deposit, and didn’t grapple with $50,000 in student loan debt at graduation is not someone who has the answers to help guide you now.

Instead, you can get better advice online, in books from financial professionals, or even online platforms such as Raiz.

More importantly, you need to do what’s right for you, in your current money situation. If you’re living in a city where rent eats up more than half of your take home pay, buying a house at age 25 likely isn’t an option as it was for some people in an earlier generation.

That doesn’t make it wrong or irresponsible to rent – it’s a byproduct of the current financial framework we’re living in. We need to be truthful with ourselves about this framework when we’re establishing goals and working toward a better future.

This is all to say, parents mean well, but what worked for them will not work for you now. Tell them you appreciate their advice, but at the end of the day you need to make your own financial decisions.


  • If your parents were successful with 18-19% mortgage rates they might have some sage advice about depending on 4% mortgage rates being the norm, they are not. Actually knowing who to listen to is difficult if you don’t understand what they are talking about. So instead of looking for one-liners like buy a house don’t rent, plug it all into a spreadsheet and see where you would be in 5-10 years. (There’s the fun bit making a realistic assessment of what interest rates and wage inflation will be in 5 years, but have a stab at it and see what the best and worst cases might be.) If you are not confident to do that talk to someone who is, and ask someone else to check it and explain it to you. If that person who has knowledge and your trust is one of your parents don’t shy away from asking them because a Millennial journalist said they don’t understand you. Good financial advice is based on facts.

    Maybe you plan on starting a business first instead of buying a dwelling. Talk to an accountant and a tax planner. If one of your parents is a tax planner, start with them. Again, make sure you understand the reasoning behind the advice, don’t fall for simple advice like “it reduces your tax” which is bad advice if it doesn’t at some stage increase your bank account. (I am thinking about people who are talked into novated leases.)

    Do not listen to people who advise ignoring people based on their age, sex etc. Choose your advisers by their knowledge, understanding of your circumstances, willingness to explain the advice so that you can act on it appropriately. That is pretty hard and it takes time. If you have a friend or family member who is knowledgeable take advantage of that chance to learn. Professional advice that you do not understand can be dodgy and inappropriate as well as very expensive. But if you go with appropriate knowledge you will be able to recognise rubbish advice. Professional advisers are well worth it when you find a good one but you need to understand the basics first.

    • Well said. When I see a lot of these articles, millennial journalism often boils down to Don’t Trust Adults. Ignoring that they have zero life experience themselves to prove their viewpoint. it all seems to be based on generalisations, which is nothing new. The only thing that’s changed is that the internet lets them spread their gospel wider.

      Advice is made from experience, and the lessons learned. If someone chooses to ignore those lessons, they’re doomed to repeat the mistakes that made them lessons in the first place. Good advice doesn’t go out of date, its just fine detail that changes.

  • That’s TERRIBLE advice. Rather than listen to someone who you’ve watched directly for your entire life, and probably learned most of your habits from, you suggest they go to Professor Google, and trust those results?

    Heres some advice from a Gen X who did it by themselves. Walk into a mortgage broker, and ask them what you need to do to own. That’s all.

    You may find you’re closer than you realise.

    You dont need to have 20% deposit, you dont need to spend $1m to live in Sydney. Hell, you dont need to buy in Sydney. But there are always options if you just want to own a property. Any excuses are just that – excuses.

    I’m looking at a property right this second that anyone on a full time wage could be paying off at $410 a week. In Sydney, maybe 10 minutes walk to the nearest station. They ARE out there, people usually just dont want to live in those suburbs.

    Trust online advice though, and they’ll have you believe that everything is $1,000,000 or more, and that you need $200,000 or more just to ask the question. They aren’t and you dont, and that’s advice from someone this author suggests you ignore.

  • I think alot of this comes down to “Trust but Verify”

    Treat your parent’s as you would any other advisor. do your due dilliegence on their numbers and don’t make investment decisions without understanding

    yes almost anyone in the country can afford their own house at today’s price but its different to how it was then. (i’m a millennial as well)

    • Are you saying I should THINK before I act on someone else’s advice?? What a ridiculous idea…

      • Not only that, think before you regurgitate, argue it or internalize it as a true statement!

        shocking i know.

  • Only about half this is right (the bit about doing your own research). The rest is mostly rubbish, with a few selected facts thrown in, and many key facts left out. A house may have cost $ 200,000 in 1990, but that does not make it cheaper than today – inflation, anyone?

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