Last week my wife was surfing the Internet to find out the ideal temperature and cooking time to bake a potato. As she was digging for the information – she discovered an interesting fact: to properly bake a potato, you should place it bare on a cooking sheet (though, coated w/ oil and your choice of seasoning, of course).
For years, my wife and I were under the impression that a properly baked potato involved you wrapping it in tin foil, poking it with a fork and then placing it on the oven rack. We have been sorely misled. In fact – as my wife learned – wrapping a potato in tin foil actually steams it. (Of course, many of you might be thinking to yourself, “uh.. duh?”)
This got me to thinking about other things that I have done in my financial life which I thought were right – but actually turned out to be wrong. Considering these things often makes me think about other things that I still could be doing wrong (You have to buy 9 items when it says 9 for $10, right?).
- Money will take care of itself. For many years I had been under the false notion that money doesn't need to be managed or directed. As a fresh graduate with a new job, I'd get my bi-weekly paycheck and the race was on to see how fast I could spend it. It was like an assignment: see how fast you can get rid of it. Afterwards, I remember thinking, “where does all my money go?” For years I lived by the popular saying, “easy come, easy go”. It wasn't until I finally got my financial house in order and wrote everything down (what was coming in and going out) did I finally have purpose and direction with money. No longer was I living on a whim and paycheck to paycheck – but every dollar had a mission. It took getting deep-in-debt to finally come to.
- Savings is for people who lack faith. There was a time in my life where I held a false belief (somewhat inspired by a misinterpretation of what a real Christian should be like) that certain acts of preparation or self-preservation were a sign of unbelief. So I was constantly riding this tidal wave of paying off one large debt after the other because I couldn't “weather” unexpected expenses due to a lack of emergency funds. It's only been in the last 10 years that I've seen just how important savings can be and how my thinking was “stinking”. Of course, you may have your own reason for not saving – it doesn't have to be as odd as mine. ;)
- Real men don't coupon. I grew up with a mother who was good with money and was always clipping coupons out of the Sunday circulars and coupon booklets. So for years, I thought couponing was only for the feminine specie. It wasn't until college (where I met Charlie) and then years later rooming with several of the cheapest, manliest men I'd met (Leo, Dave, Zach, Daniel and Ed) that I could feel secure in my masculinity and coupon with the best of 'em (Check out Charlie organizing his coupon booklet).
- Debt isn't that bad. I've been very flippant about debt. For years, debt never really even bothered me. I figured it was a “fact of life”. Every one has student loans (not true), a car loan (not true) or credit card debt (false). This type of thinking is what kept me broke and in the hole. It was only when I shed this false belief about debt that I was able to change my financial future.
- To enjoy life, you have to spend money. Perhaps it was my younger years and being naive but I felt that to have a good time required spending money. Be it movies, entertainment, golf, sporting events, travel – etc. Today – this belief has been shattered. Some of the best memories involve being with family/friends and enjoying God's creation. All free.
Have there been some financial beliefs or principles which you have held on to – only to find out later they were entirely wrong?