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Breaking the money rules
Published 3 September 2015 by Emily Bancroft
Some rules are just made to be broken – find out what you should ignore.
Life is full of rules – keep off the grass, keep right on the escalators, eat a balanced diet. And it can often seem like there a lot of rules for managing your money too.
However, it seems that we don’t always follow the rules. Research* carried out on our behalf found that nearly a quarter of shoppers say they’d pocket the difference if they were given extra change, despite the fact that a huge 95% of consumers describe themselves as honest. 4% even say they’d try to profit if their bank or insurance company made a mistake.
While there definitely are some money rules you should follow – make a household budget, check your credit report – you don’t have to do everything you’ve been told. Let’s take a look at some of the financial lessons you’ve been taught that you might be able to ignore:
1) Never borrow money: while it’s never a good idea to get into problem debt that you can’t afford to pay back, this doesn’t mean you should avoid borrowing entirely. Used responsibly credit can be a useful financial tool. Getting a credit card could be a good way to build a positive credit history, providing you repay at least the minimum every month. Using a credit card can also be a smart move for some larger purchases, as anything you buy on a credit card over £100 is protected under Section 75, so you’ll be able to claim the money back if the goods aren’t delivered or if the firm goes bust.
2) You need to buy a house/pay off your student loan by the time you’re 30: you don’t need to have achieved certain financial goals by a specific age. Everyone gets through life differently and if you’re not ready to buy a house when you reach 30, don’t feel like you need to stretch yourself and get into unnecessary debt.
3) Don’t rent – it’s dead money: you’ll have heard this from older relatives – you should get on the property ladder as soon as possible so you can own your house. However, you should never rush into buying a house. Take some time to decide where you want to buy property – what schools are nearby, is it a good area – and think about what sort of house you want. It’s much more sensible to buy when you’re ready and you’re sure of what you want than being stuck with a mortgage for a house you’re not really happy with.
4) Always buy in bulk: it’s a good idea to buy non-perishable stuff – like toilet rolls or shampoo – in bulk, assuming you’ve got the space to store them. Don’t be tempted to buy food in bulk though – unless you can keep it in the freezer, that 2 kilos of chicken breasts will only go off before you’ve got the chance to use them.
5) Student loan debt doesn’t matter: just because your student loan doesn’t affect your ability to borrow and it gets written off when you’re older, that doesn’t mean you should take it on carelessly. Depending on your career, you might not need to go to university and there’s no point getting into £30,000 of debt if your degree won’t add anything to your salary.
*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 6th June and 16th June 2014, of whom 500 were Scottish residents.