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Financial Advice from Your Dad

Dads. They’re full of advice. Some of it invaluable and some of it, well, frankly out of date. To celebrate Father’s Day, we rounded up a few of Dad’s pearls of wisdom that are more like wooden nickels in this day and age.

Dad says: “Find a solid company and work there until you retire.”

Our parents’ generation often stayed with one employer for their entire career. Changing jobs every few years would look bad on a resume. Today, that type of loyalty to one company may be not only difficult to achieve, but a really bad idea.

Staying with the same company for an entire career could mean you miss out on some big pay jumps that are possible only from changing jobs every few years. In fact, workers who stay at a job for more than two years may be making up to 50% less than their job-hopping counterparts!

Good advice? Fast Company recommends you should plan on switching jobs every three years for the rest of your life in order to continuously learn and advance in your career.

Dad says: “Take out student loans. Education debt is good debt because it’s an investment in your future.”

This advice may have worked when the cost of a college education was significantly less and a graduate could expect to pay off their loans within a few years, but with college tuition rising faster than inflation, many college graduates are hitting the job market with a staggering amount of student loan debt that takes decades to pay off and seriously hinders their investment and retirement savings potential.

A better rule of thumb? Don’t borrow more than your expected annual starting salary.

Dad says: “Use a debit card or cash, never a credit card!”

Dad’s warnings about the dangers of credit card debt are well founded, but there are times when credit cards, used responsibly, are a good thing. Paying with credit cards makes it easier to avoid losses from fraud. When your debit card is stolen or hacked, the money is gone from your account instantly and you have to fight to get it back. When your credit card is stolen or hacked, the credit card company has to fight to get its money back. Your money is not affected.

Better advice? Use a credit card for purchases, especially online, and pay the balance off monthly.

Dad says: “You’ll need to retire with $1 million to live comfortably.”

The $1 million figure is a popular number to throw around for retirement goals but in reality, it’s not based on real calculations, nor is it the right number for everyone. Longer life expectancy, rising health care costs and inflation may mean you’ll need more.

A better idea? Consider what you want your retirement to look like. A retirement lifestyle that involves a winter home in a warmer climate and traveling the world will cost a lot more than a slower lifestyle, staying home and tending the garden. Consider how you want to spend your retirement, then use a retirement calculator to figure out what you need to do to get there.

Dad says: “It’s not polite to talk about money.”

If Dad’s advice stems from Uncle Phil bragging about how much he paid for a new power boat, he may have a point, but talking about money at work should not be taboo. Keeping information about salaries and bonuses secret does damage to those who are being penalized based on stereotypes about gender or race. A lack of wage transparency will ultimately hurt your bank account if you’re the one being unfairly compensated.

Better advice? Discuss salary with your coworkers. If you’re being paid less for the same job, it’s time to have a frank discussion with your manager about why. There may be legitimate reasons or it may be time to look for a new job. Remember, the National Labor Relations Act made it illegal for employers to prevent employees from discussing wages and working conditions among themselves.

For more in-depth salary information, check out our Salary Guide.


Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.