“Stop Buying Avocado Toast” and 3 Other Toxic Financial Tips

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It’s time to put an end to these trips of financial guilt.


Key points

  • Toxic financial advice shames the listener instead of helping them.
  • Other examples include buying a house instead of continuing to rent and sacrificing hobbies to be able to work more.
  • It’s better to ignore these so-called tips and find healthier ways to improve your finances.

In 2017, Australian multi-millionaire Tim Gurner blessed the internet with advice that quickly went viral. He explained that when he started out as a real estate investor, he wasn’t “buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees for $4 each.”

It was your typical disconnected financial “advice” from someone born on third base who thought they had hit a home run. Gurner explained how he worked around the clock and saved every penny. That was apparently the key to his success, not the $34,000 his grandfather gave him to buy property when he was 19.

This kind of financial shame disguised as advice is unfortunately all too common. It’s more about making people feel guilty than helping them. If you’ve come across any of the following toxic ideas about money, the best thing to do is ignore them.

1. Don’t buy lattes or anything else that brings the slightest hint of joy

Before avocado toast, the stereotypical example of overspending was the latte. We’ve probably all heard of the money we could save if we made our coffees and lattes at home. But really, this trick has been repeated ad nauseam with many examples of what you shouldn’t buy. Lattes, iPhones, and designer clothes are often mentioned, and the list goes on.

What’s annoying about this advice is that it implies that spending money on yourself is wrong. That couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the benefits of making money is having a good quality of life. The key is to spend what you can afford.

It’s true that we don’t want to spend too much, but the solution is not to deprive ourselves of everything. Instead, set aside a certain amount of disposable income each month to use as entertainment money and spend whatever you want. And if you want to buy something big, like a new phone or a vacation, save up over time so you don’t have to go into debt.

2. Get rid of fun habits to become a productivity machine

This one is a favorite in the hustle bro culture, where every moment should be spent maximizing your productivity. Supposed success gurus will explain how those two hours you spent watching Netflix are time you could have used to learn a new skill or work at a company.

Just as there shouldn’t be shame in how you spend your money, there shouldn’t be shame in how you spend your free time either. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy work-life balance.

Working all the time isn’t the only way to get ahead. You can still be successful while having hobbies and other things that bring you happiness. In fact, you’re less likely to burn out when you maintain interests outside of your job.

3. Stop wasting money on rent and buy a house ASAP

Even though it’s the most Boomer advice ever, I’ve heard it from people of all ages. They explain how you pay your landlord’s mortgage and waste money renting. You could use that same rent to pay a mortgage, and then you’ll increase the equity in your home. Simple, right?

Definitely not. This advice glosses over the challenges of owning a home, like all the added expenses of homeownership. You are not simply exchanging rent for a mortgage. You pay property taxes and maintenance, and you’re responsible for scheduling repairs whenever something breaks. It’s a huge commitment, and there are plenty of horror stories about regretting a first home purchase.

That’s not to say buying a home is a bad idea. Home ownership and renting each have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s all about finding the option that works best for you and your current lifestyle.

Personal finances shouldn’t make you feel guilty or get in your way. All that really matters is that you save and invest regularly to build your financial security. Everything else, from how you use your money to what you do in your free time, is up to you.

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