There are lots of controversial financial topics that money experts haven’t come to a consensus on. Is it better to rent or buy? Should you buy a used car or a new one? Should you pay off your house or focus more on investing?
Because personal finance is personal, the right answer to these questions will be different for everyone. But today I thought I’d weigh in and share my opinions on some frequently debated financial topics. Here are four of my personal finance opinions that may be unpopular or unconventional.
Job Hopping Isn’t Always Worth It
A lot of personal finance advice centers around maximizing income. We’re told to consistently upskill, side hustle, and job hop to grow our salary. However, I don’t think job hopping or working lots of overtime is always worth it.
There are still fears that a recession is on the way in 2023. Leaving a stable job that you’ve had for a while may not be a good move right now. The last one to be hired is often the first one out during a layoff, so it might be better to stay put right now.
Additionally, your job is more than just a paycheck. Even if you don’t get a huge raise every year, there may be other things you love about your job, such as your coworkers, short commute, or great work-life balance. Sometimes it isn’t worth sacrificing those intangible benefits for a higher salary.
As long as you’re meeting your financial goals, I think it’s ok to prioritize your lifestyle and stick with a job you like even if you could earn higher pay by job hopping. If there are few opportunities for advancement at your company, you may eventually need to move on. But there’s a middle ground between job hopping every year or two to score raises and staying in a job where you’re undercompensated for far too long.
I’m Prioritizing Paying Off My Mortgage
Another debate that the personal finance community doesn’t agree on is whether or not you should pay off your mortgage early. Historically the stock market has yielded higher returns than average mortgage interest costs, so it made more sense to invest than make extra principal payments. However, the math may be changing, because returns are expected to be pretty low over the next ten years. If stock market returns end up being more or less on par with interest costs, paying off your mortgage early may not be a bad idea.
Even when stock market returns are higher than mortgage interest, there are many people who prefer the security of a paid-off home, including me. The idea of being debt-free and having low monthly living expenses is very attractive, so I’m prioritizing paying off my mortgage. I’m still investing enough for retirement, but I’m not putting all of my discretionary income into the stock market. Instead, I’m using my extra money to make principal payments on my mortgage and will hopefully have it paid off within the next 5 to 7 years.
I Want to Become a Stay At Home Mom
In the future when my spouse and I have kids, I want to be a stay at home mom. Recently I’ve seen a lot of comments online about the financial risks of leaving your career to raise kids. Many people will tell you not to do it because it could open you up to financial abuse. Or you may find yourself in a tight spot if your spouse leaves or gets sick. However, I think with proper planning, women (and men!) can become full-time homemakers without putting themselves in financial jeopardy.
Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst
Saving and investing aggressively in the years before you have kids can help give you a financial safety net. Your working spouse can also contribute to a spousal IRA for you. This will allow you to still save for retirement while you’re not working. Plus, you can take courses or do side gigs to keep your skills fresh. That way you’ll be able to reenter the workforce when the kids are older.
If the worst happens and your spouse dies or you get divorced, life insurance or alimony and child support payments can help keep you afloat while you figure things out. That safety net you accumulated before you left your job can also help insulate you from emergencies like illness or injury. I think it’s important to consider what can go wrong when you become a stay at home parent and prepare for the worst-case scenarios. However, know that this arrangement can work out and allow you to spend a lot of precious quality time with your kids.
My mom was a full-time homemaker my entire childhood, and I really benefited from always having a parent around. My mom and dad are still married and have a healthy relationship. So if being a stay at home parent is what you really want, don’t let the warnings scare you off completely. Just be responsible and plan out what you’ll do if something goes wrong.
Travel and Experiences Aren’t Superior to Material Belongings
Financial experts usually suggest you invest in experiences and travel if you want to maximize your happiness. Experiences are touted as being more fulfilling than material possessions even though they don’t last as long.
For example, the $100 ping pong table I bought two years ago is still going strong after hundreds of games and tons of enjoyment. On the other hand, the $100 I spent to see my favorite pop punk band in concert three or four years ago doesn’t feel as worthwhile to me. The concert is just a fond memory now, whereas I can play ping pong anytime I want to add some fun to my day.
Material items are viewed as consumerist purchases, but travel and experiences often aren’t. Because travel can expand your horizons by allowing you to learn more about the world, it’s framed as a more meaningful pursuit than shopping on Amazon. However, I’d argue that travel is still a form of consumption and consumerism because it uses resources and costs money.
Don’t Take on Debt to Travel
Dumping lots of money into travel to the detriment of your finances is just as frivolous as going on a shopping spree in my opinion. Saying YOLO and racking up debt to go on a “once in a lifetime” vacation is just as unwise as putting a flatscreen TV on a credit card. Because travel is regarded as a good use of money, many Americans justify going into debt to do it.
As someone who doesn’t enjoy travel, it’s easy to feel like the odd man out because of the way it’s hyped up on social media these days. But it’s totally normal and ok if travel isn’t your thing. I’d rather use my fun money on material purchases that double as experiences, such as board games, video games, and outdoor gear. Feel free to spend your hard-earned discretionary income on anything you like without guilt or FOMO.
Do you have any personal finance opinions that may be unpopular? Share your thoughts below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.