11 Women Share the Absolute Worst Financial Advice They've Ever Gotten

Wendy Robinson | Mar 20, 2017 Money

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When I graduated from college, I was thrilled to get a job in my field and start making some money. I had been living like the broke college student I was and driving a 15-year-old clunker of a car. So, when an older friend told me I needed to upgrade my car to "look professional," I believed her. Boy, was that stupid. 

Two days after graduation, I went and bought myself a brand-new car with a $17,000 price tag. I thought I got a pretty good deal on it, since my interest rate was only 8 percent, and my payments would be around $300 a month. I was too young to realize that 8 percent wasn't anything to brag about, and that a $300 car payment on a monthly paycheck of just over $1,500 was going to be a problem.

A few months later, my student loan payments started, and I found myself in a situation where 3/4 of my take-home pay was going to my car, my rent, and my student loans. I was, to use some technical language, financially screwed. 

After running up some huge credit card balances, I finally came to my senses. I sold the car, got another clunker, and took a second job to pay off what I still owed on the car. I learned a painful but valuable lesson -- not all financial advice is actually GOOD advice. 

I talked to 11 other women who've also learned this lesson the hard way. Read on for some truly bad financial advice and consider this a what-not-to-do list. 

  • The Bubble Burst

    1

    "My husband and I were renting in 2006 and EVERYONE told us we needed to buy a house because the market was so hot. We lived in Arizona and it was true, the housing market was crazy. We didn't have a down payment or any savings, but we pulled the trigger anyways. We bought a $205,000 house with an 80/20 loan and rolled all the closing costs in on the mortgage. So we have minus equity, basically. 

    "Well, about six months after we bought the house, the housing bubble burst and the value of homes started crashing -- BIG-time. Our house was worth $180,000, then $150,000, and so on. Finally, in 2009 we had to sell because we had moved out of state for work. We ended up selling for $104,000. Yep. It lost over $100,000 in less than three years. 

    "Lesson learned -- a hot housing market doesn't last forever and you shouldn't buy a house until you are really ready and you can put some money down. It was the most expensive mistake of our life." -- S.T., Ankeny, Iowa

  • Opt Out

    2

    "When I got my first professional job with benefits, you could chose to opt in or opt out of the retirement plan. My then-boyfriend told me to opt out because I could use the extra money in my paycheck to save for our wedding someday. So I did. 

    "SO DUMB. My company policy was actually really great. I would put in 4 percent of my pay and they'd match with 6.5 percent. I worked there for five years. That ended up being thousands of dollars I didn't get and it means that I totally shortchanged my future self. They guy and I broke up after a few months, so it wasn't even like I had a wedding to save for. I kick myself about it." -- M.K., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • No Baby

    3

    "This advice was well-meaning, I guess, but ended up being terrible for us. My dad said that we should wait until we had a year's worth of salary in savings before trying to have kids. It took us a long time to save up that much but we eventually did it and then started trying and trying and trying for a baby. I'm 37 now and still no baby, and I wish we had started trying when I was still in my 20s. 

    "Now, we have savings that are probably going to get eaten up by fertility stuff or the cost of adopting, so we aren't really ahead of the game after all." -- P.H., Phoenix, Arizona

    More from CafeMom: 10 OMG Texts About Money Stuggles That Are All Too Real

  • Day Trading

    4

    "You know how it seems like every guy has that one friend who is Mr. Bad Ideas? That is Tim. Tim convinced my husband to try his hand at day trading, which is this crazy idea that if you buy and sell stocks every day, you can make tons of money because ... well, I don't know really. 

    "All I know is that my husband signed up for some stupid course on how to do it (which cost $999) and then tried it for like five months and lost $6,000 on bad moves and fees and God knows what else. 

    "He is officially banned from ever getting money advice from Tim again." -- E.D., Cary, North Carolina 

  • Didn't Sign

    5

    "When I was getting married for the first time, my family's lawyer said I should get a prenuptial agreement, because I was due to inherit some money fairly soon. My mother said that a prenup wasn't 'romantic' and didn't show trust in my husband. I agreed, so I ditched the prenup.

    "A few years later, we went through an UGLY divorce, and he ended up walking away with a lot of my inheritance (which we used to buy an amazing house), and I am still salty about it. My second marriage, we did a prenup. Screw romance, I want my money safe!" -- A.C., San Diego, California 

  • Grad Condo

    6

    "After advice from my boyfriend, I took out extra student loan money to put down a down payment on a condo to live in during grad school. Once I finished my PhD, I got a job offer across the country and had to sell the condo at a loss. I lost money on that and I had hefty student loans to pay back. I'm proof that smart people can make very dumb money decisions." -- L.D., Saint Paul, Minnesota

    More from CafeMom: 8 Ways to Start & Maintain a Family Financial Safety Net

  • Dumb Debt

    7

    "My husband has almost $100K in debt from law school. He only went to law school because he didn't really have a direction in life, and his dad said that law school would give him focus.

    "Yeah. Sure. Focus is pretty damn expensive, and it turns out the job market for new lawyers is TERRIBLE right now. He's got a job using his degree, but it pays about $50,000 a year -- not exactly the rich lawyer dream. He doesn't even like his job! We're going to be renting forever, because these loans are killing us." -- T.E., Omaha, Nebraska

  • Private School Problems

    8

    "We live in a fairly affluent area, even though we aren't rich. When it came time for my daughter to start school, I totally bought into the social pressure about having to send her to 'the best possible school,' which costs about $25,000 for kindergarten. 

    "We make $119,000 a year. We can't afford $25K for private school, but I felt like I'd be ruining her chances or something if she didn't go to a top-notch private school. So, we took out a home equity loan to help cover tuition. 

    "It was so dumb, and I regret it all the time. Our public schools are actually pretty good, but now she is making friends at a school I can't afford to send her to next year." -- E.T., Edina, Minnesota

  • Buy Big

    9

    "We were told at one point to buy as much house as you can afford. I think this is terrible advice. I feel you should buy a house so that you can still afford to go on vacations and live a nice life. So, basically, we should live beneath our means and not above. Being house poor SUCKS." -- W.S., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Back to School

    10

    "I went to a private four-year college right out of high school because that is what everyone said I should do. I had no idea what I wanted to study, and I basically spent five years partying and racking up student loans before graduating with a useless degree in sociology. 

    "Now, 10 years later, I'm back in school. But I go to a community college and I'm getting a nursing degree. I wish I had done this FIRST. I was too stuck up to think about community college then, but I would have saved myself so much money." -- S.K., Kansas City, Missouri

  • Mommy Track

    11

    "This might be controversial, but I wish I had thought more about the money aspect of quitting my job to stay home with the kids. We looked at what day care cost and figured that my job would essentially just be covering the cost, so why not stay home? We talked to a few people, and they all pretty much agreed with our math and said that was the smart thing to do.

    "But what we didn't think about were things like the impact of not adding to my 401K for almost 10 years and how hard it would be to get back into the workforce after such a long gap. I'm having to apply for all sorts of jobs I wouldn't have considered, because now my skills are out of date, and I can't get back in at the level I once was. 

    "I loved, mostly, the time with the kids, but I think it was a bad decision money-wise." -- S.F., Tucson, Arizona

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