Your friends and family are probably great resources to turn to if you have questions that relate to certain aspects of your personal life. However, when it comes to your money, you should be very critical of who's giving you the advice — and of the actual money advice itself, said financial advisor Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning.
Young people are constantly getting bombarded with bad money advice from friends and family, said Bera, herself a millennial. While these advice givers usually mean well, she said, young people need to understand what's in their own best interest when it comes to money matters.
Bera is a certified financial planner who works with clients in their 20s and 30s. She helps them navigate through big life decisions, such as buying a home, paying off student loans, maximizing their company benefits and investing in their future. Millennials make up 75 percent of her clientele, and she says she has witnessed many mistakes by young people that can and should be avoided.
Bera said some bad advice she has heard clients receive from friends and family is to avoid getting a credit card at all costs. They may be afraid you will abuse the card and run up big debt, Bera said. However, getting a credit card is essential for establishing good credit, she explained.
"Many young people are trying to build their credit," she said. "One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to use a credit card regularly and responsibly."
To have good credit, you need a record of on-time debt payments, she stressed. It's key to establish a credit history, because it has a big impact on your life.
Bera pointed out that your credit report will typically be reviewed by a prospective landlord or rental agency. Additionally, your credit score commonly influences auto-loan rates available to you, and cell phone companies will check your credit score before deciding to grant you a service plan.
She urges young investors to take control of credit card debt and pay it off as quickly as possible. If you do max out your credit card, you're going to trigger an annual percentage rate penalty that can be very costly, Bera explained.
Another piece of bad advice Bera hears is when young people are urged to buy a home, as in "You have a good job now; you need to buy a house." Don't worry when someone tells you that you're throwing away money on rent, she said.
Bera said a recent survey concluded that millennials would rather be debt free than own a home. "Owning a home is the American Dream for many people, but it may not be your American Dream," she noted.
Many millennials apparently realized that mobility is more important to them and being chained to a massive mortgage is not part of their American Dream.
So while you might go to your friends or family for all sorts of advice, from relationships to what restaurant you should go to this weekend, Bera says you need to be careful when they offer you financial pointers. Remember, what worked for them may not work for you.
— By Jim Pavia, Money Editor