The beauty of getting financial advice from regular people bloggers is that you get such a breadth of experience and advice. The downside is that no one is policing these people from saying really terrible and stupid things and giving the worst personal financial advice I’ve ever seen.
Look, I’ve done some stupid things to save money, but I don’t recommend those tips to anyone else. I’ve seen a lot of the advice below on different blogs and I think, hey, no one follow these, ok? Let’s not be jerks. Let’s not condone bad, stupid advice. Also, let’s try to include perspectives and advice that average people can use. We don’t all have assets we can liquidate on command, or necessarily any assets period.
1. Rent out an extra room.
Who are these people that have extraneous rooms to rent out but are low on money? In any case, even if you are one of these mythical people, this is bad advice because you might not be able to find suitable people to rent out your extra room, and it might be against your lease or condo agreement to rent out on Airbnb. If you are low on money, perhaps the easiest to thing to do is rent someplace smaller instead of figuring out how to rent out extra rooms.
2. Don’t spend money on [X].
X tends to be luxury items – designer clothing, daily lattes, fancy cars, cable TV, vacations. But they might also be purchases that the person loves. Personal finance is personal. There are very few things that people buy that are universal bad ideas (except lottery tickets and scams). Personal finance shouldn’t be about giving up arbitrary things but giving up things that mean very little to you so that there’s sufficient funds for things you really care about – whatever those things are.
3. Student loan and mortgage debt is “good debt.
This was more prevalent advice before student loan debt toped $1 trillion. While student and mortgage debt may be unavoidable for some, there’s nothing desirable about having the debt.
The “good” label really refers to the moral superiority over having this debt. In terms of impact on your finances, I would venture to say that student loan debt is the very worst debt because 1) it can’t be discharged in bankruptcy; 2) is the fastest and easiest way to get into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt; 3) can’t be settled for a lower payment; and 4) you can’t return or sell the product you purchased to alleviate some of the debt.
4. Diving in the trash is a good way to save money.
If I literally had no money for food, I would still rather skip meals than eat out of the trash. It’s like French kissing strangers, except the stranger has been rotting in the garbage can and tastes bad.
Food prices have decreased dramatically over the decades. Food is cheap. Ramen, beans and rice, frozen veggies, eggs, pasta – you can eat a delicious dinner for less than $1/meal – why eat someone’s gross leftovers for free?
5. Save money by not tipping.
This is how you actually save money – eat at home or eat at a place where you’re not expected to tip. Don’t be a jerk to save money.
6. Get free meals by going on dates.
First there is the inherent risk that if you go out, your date will not cover the cost of dinner or may even expect you to cover the cost of it. Second, if you aren’t interested in dating this person, that’s a waste of your time. Time is more important than money. Third, you’re making the rest of womankind look bad. Some people will argue that men should pay for dates. Some people argue that everything should be split. Everyone thinks that each person should be prepared to pay for the meal.
Generally, these tips don’t save a lot of money but have the side effect of making you a terrible person and hurting others. Let’s not follow these tips because being a stingy miser that everyone hates doesn’t mean you’re good with money. Being good with money involves keeping your reputation and friendships intact, enjoying your life, and not spending all your time strategizing or thinking about money. Wasting your life obsessing about saving every last cent – well, to me, that’s an impoverished life no matter how much you have in the bank.