We are so over these 5 cliched pieces of financial advice

3 min read

When it comes to financial advice, cliches are a dime a dozen. Although those cliches are on the money, they’re so overused that we avoid them like the plague. If we had a nickel for every time we’ve seen a cliche offered as financial advice, the only financial advice we’d need is how to spend our fortune.

Let’s stop beating a dead horse: Here are 5 financial cliches we are so over.

Make a budget and stick to it

Best advice ever. Seriously. And so important, considering Gallup’s finding that only 1 in 3 Americans makes a budget. Bravo, budget makers!

But what about the other two-thirds? They know about budgets:

  • The 1 at work that’s always getting cut.
  • The 1 in Washington that’s a mess.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe “budget” just sounds negative, like if you make a budget, your household will forever be obsessed with fighting over what to cut and what to keep. Or maybe two-thirds of us just freak out whenever we see a spreadsheet, because let’s face it, there are 2 types of humans: spreadsheet weirdos and normal people.

You need to plan for retirement

I’ve got a retirement plan. It involves shuffleboard, adult beverages and early-bird dinners. How much is all of that going to cost? I have no clue, so I save as much as I can. But I have expenses. Like:

  • Rent, which goes up every year, even if my income doesn’t.
  • Cable, which also goes up every year. And sure, I could cancel HBO, but then I wouldn’t be able to go online without seeing a ton of spoilers.
  • Then there’s my new iPhone, which is kind of pricey, but it has a lot of really great financial planning and retirement apps that allow me to track my lack of progress.

Diversify your investments

Sure! I’ll get right on it, just as soon as I finish my Ph.D. in economics. Because only an economist understands how to invest in a complicated global economy, where a debt crisis in Europe can send American stocks tumbling and a bursting real estate bubble in Asia can ruin your 401(k).

Meantime, I’m all about research. I’ve got quarterly reports, I subscribe to 3 investor newsletters and my portfolio software makes some really cool graphs and pie charts. So when you think about it, the Internet gives me everything I need to really understand my investments and diversify. Except, there are cat videos on the Internet — glorious videos of cats chasing their tails, and playing musical instruments, and acting all cute and snarky, and …

Wait, what were we talking about?

Your daily coffee fix adds up

No kidding. Of course it costs more to buy a cup of coffee than to make a pot yourself. Everyone knows that. But what most people don’t know is how to make a decent pot of coffee, or a nonfat double cappuccino with extra foam, or 1 of those iced-blended drinks with whipped cream and a dash of caramel syrup. Have you tried making those concoctions at home? Trust me: Those baristas are worth every penny.

And while we’re on the subject of money, the mobile app I use to pay for my morning caffeine fix might just be the only customer loyalty program that actually pays dividends, so don’t tell me the cost of my caffeine fix adds up, because so do the rewards, buddy.

There could be tax consequences, so check with your adviser

First, there will be tax consequences. There just will be, because death and taxes and that old cliche. But let’s talk about this adviser, shall we? My “advisers” are pretty much the following:

  • This website.
  • A co-worker who “knows everything there is to know about taxes” because he’s been audited a dozen times.
  • Tech support at whatever company sold me my tax preparation software.
  • The IRS.

So yeah, I’m sure my advisers are totally up to speed and able to give me top-notch tax advice, just as soon as my call makes its way through the customer service line. But not too soon, OK? Because this hold music Is. My. Jam.