Money Advice Our Parents Were Actually Right About

published Feb 11, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Is it a goal of yours to save more money in 2020? Yeah, me too. Truthfully, it could be going better, but I’ve done some good, easy things so far this year, like set up an account that rounds up your purchases to the next dollar and invests the change. One thing I could do better is take advice from—gulp—my parents.

My mother recently convinced me to finally put my utilities on autopay (I know, I know). Then I taught her how to Venmo, so it goes both ways. Since it’s all too easy to brush off the advice of one’s own family, I decided to ask Apartment Therapy staffers for the best money tips they learned from their folks. Perhaps hearing it from OPP (other people’s parents) will make it sink in.

Keep an emergency cash stash

“My Bubbie and mom taught me to always stash an emergency $20 in my wallet. Even if I don’t have ANY cash, I always have that $20. If I use it for something, I have to replace it ASAP. It’s come in handy very often (like once in college when I was on a toll road and realized I had no money and EZ pass didn’t exist yet).” —Lisa Freedman

Invest for the long term

“My dad insists on putting money into the stock market versus a savings account for the long run. Over time, the market will continue to increase higher than any percent a savings account can give. Even if it takes a turn for the worse for a few years, historically it will always bounce back higher. It’s about long term investments, not short term gains.” —Laina Zissu

Stop loaning the government money

“Always elect to pay more when taxes are due (versus withholding more and receive a tax refund) because otherwise ‘you’re giving the government an interest-free loan,’ as my dad always says.” —Megan Baker

Don’t keep cash all in one place

“My mom taught me that especially when traveling, your money shouldn’t all be in your wallet (some should be at home, in a separate pocket, etc.). Also, never do anything related to sharing money with friends, and save every single receipt.”—Terri Pous

Open a high-yield savings account

“My mom/dad recommended putting the majority of my savings into high yield savings accounts, in a “I thought you were doing this already” sort of way (all my siblings were using one called Wealthfront). So though I don’t originally remember them giving me this advice, I wish I had taken it sooner. It’s super simple, and there are no repercussions or fees for putting money in or taking it out.”—Hillary Halter

Buying stuff doesn’t make you happier

“My dad always said, ‘The fun is in the wanting, not the having.’ If you can internalize that and save/invest your money, you’re way ahead financially and perhaps happier as well. It also turns out there’s some science behind that, too.”—Curtis Thompson