148. Your Parents Aren’t Always Right

April 4, 2024

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“Stop asking directions of the people who are not where you want to be.” – Glennon Doyle

Tori kicks off the episode by reflecting on this powerful quote from Glennon Doyle — sparking an insightful conversation about the importance of seeking advice from those who have walked the path we aspire to follow. She shares that even though they might mean well, there are pitfalls of taking guidance from people who may not have relevant experiences. She reflects on her own journey and experience with her own parents, who told her she should buy a house, that renting was throwing money away, and that she should keep her job even after her business had become successful.

In speaking with members of the Her First $100k team, we compiled a list of some of the most misguided (though well-intentioned) pieces of financial insight you might’ve heard:

  • Renting is throwing away money 
  • Buying a house is a smart investment
  • Getting a traditional job offers more stability
  • You should have a $1000 emergency fund
  • You need to go to college to get a good job
  • You should combine your finances with partner 
  • Credit cards are bad
  • Don’t job hop

This conversation isn’t about simply debunking the myths above — but challenging societal narratives so you can forge a path that aligns with your individual values and aspirations, rather than succumbing to external pressures. Not only does Tori analyze why this advice may or may not work for every situation, she encourages listeners to trust their intuition and prioritize their own aspirations, rather than adhering to outdated norms and expectations. 

“Stop asking, where should I eat pasta in Italy from people who have never been to Italy.” – Tori Dunlap

Mentioned in this episode:

Renting vs. Buying: What’s Right for Me?

Job-hopping to Increase Your Income with Cinneah El-Amin

How to Win the Financial Game: Money Coaching with Tiffany Aliche

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Tori Dunlap:

Hello Financial Feminists. Welcome to the show. I’m so excited to see you. If you’re an oldie but a goodie, welcome back. And if you’re new here, hi. My name is Tori. I run Her First $100K, which is a money and career platform for women. I believe I was put on this earth to fight for your financial rights. Our work’s been featured in The New York Times, Good Morning America, the Today Show, CNN, CNBC, a bunch of others. I’m a New York Times bestselling author of a book also called Financial Feminist, and we help you save money, pay off debt, start investing, feel financially confident, all while talking about how money affects women differently and how we can fight the patriarchy doing it.

A reminder, a little housekeeping before we get into it. You can like, subscribe the show. You can click the plus or the subscribe button wherever you’re listening right now. I always joke that this podcast is expensive for us to produce, but free for you to listen. And the best thing you can do to support the show is by subscribing, which is making sure that you don’t miss an episode and just clicking that button right there. So we appreciate it. You can also follow Financial Feminist on Instagram @financialfeministpodcast and you can also send us a voicemail. We have our SpeakPipe voicemail box down below in the description.

You can send in a question, comment, concern about what’s going on in your life and we would love to potentially answer it on an upcoming episode. What’s going on in my life before we get into the episode, Dune Two. It’s perfection. This is probably going to come out much later than maybe when it’s in theaters. Let’s hope it’s still in theaters. First of all, if you have not seen Dune One, you’re going to need to see it. My partner went with me to Dune Two and he was a little confused and he kept turning to me and being like, “You didn’t tell me about this part”. And I was like, “One, because I didn’t remember and also two, this is new. I didn’t know this.”

So it’s perfection. It’s a perfect movie. And yes, I’m biased because Timothée Chalamet’s in it. It’s incredible. People are saying this is our generation’s Lord of the Rings or Empire Strikes Back and it’s true. It’s fucking incredible. It’s a great movie. It’s visually stunning. It’s really well acted. We’re probably going to get a third one. The critics love it. It’s fantastic. I went to see it twice in theaters. I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX. This is one of those movies and I know that it sounds pretentious anytime somebody says this, but do not watch Dune Two on a streaming platform in four months.

It deserves a big screen. Denis Villeneuve, who’s the director, the writer, the producer. His work is so cinematic, it needs the biggest screen you can get. So go watch it in a theater, go watch it in an IMAX if you can. And it’s just fantastic. Rebecca Ferguson, if you’ve never seen an interview that she’s done, please look her up. She is mommy. She’s incredible. The rizz just drips off of Rebecca Ferguson. So go see Dune Two. Nobody’s paying me to say this except my future marriage to Timothée Chalamet. Just go see this movie. It’s fantastic. I am obsessed with it. I can’t stop talking about it. My poor team has heard me say Dune Two 25 billion times, but it’s the best.

It’s the best movie. It was so good. I’m obsessed with it. Listening to the audiobook now. 10 out of 10 would recommend. Today we started talking about the topic of this episode, Kristen and I, a couple of weeks ago, and it was prompted by actually a LinkedIn post that I did, but based on a Glennon Doyle quote. Queen Glennon Doyle who wrote Untamed, is married to Abby Wambach, is just incredible. One of my favorite people producing work. It’s this great quote that says, “Stop asking directions of the people who are not where you want to be.” I’m just going to say that again and let it sink in a little bit.

“Stop asking directions of the people who are not where you want to be.” And I posted this on LinkedIn and it got Kristen and I talking about all of the times in our lives and in our money that we take advice from people who might be well-intentioned and who might love us a lot, but are not giving us advice for a life that we actually want to live or are not giving us advice because they’ve been there, done that, but just are giving you advice because they feel like it’s the right thing to do. I see this so often especially with people who want to be entrepreneurs or want to be business owners.

They take advice from people who have never been entrepreneurs or even are not the kind of entrepreneur they want to be, but for some reason, we take that as gospel. And I think that it is one of the most damaging things we do without even realizing it because especially as women, we’ve been made to doubt ourselves and we’ve been made to seek validation from any source that will give us validation. And often when we seek advice and seek validation, what we end up getting is a different opinion about how we should live our life that has nothing to do with how you actually want to live your life.

So there’s the societal pressure from our family and specifically our parents often, to do what they think is best or to follow their generational rules. “This is the way it’s always been done” or “This is the way I did it” or “This is what keeps you safe.” I’ll talk about this in a second with my own parents, but their number one job as a parent is to keep their child safe. So if you’re asking advice or getting advice, sometimes you don’t ask for it, sometimes you just get it. If you are getting advice from a well-meaning person, especially a family member and especially a parent, they’re not there often thinking about what is the best career move for you?

What is the best financial move for you? Even if it is a little risky, they’re thinking, “How do I keep her safe? How do I make sure that she is safe and stable and avoids risk at all costs?” And I think that there’s this cultural difference as well between generations and between how a lot of us approach different decisions in our lives. So I’ll give you a couple examples from my own life and my own parents, where my parents weren’t always right even though they were well-meaning and they loved me and they wanted me to make the right choice. Really, they wanted me to make a certain choice that preserved my safety or that was down a certain path or along a line of certain expectations.

And we’ve talked about some of these on the show before. The first one is that my parents told me that renting was throwing away money and I should buy a house, and that was not the right decision for me. That was not the right decision for me. We will link the episode down in the description where we talk about why this wasn’t the right decision for me in greater detail and why not buying a house was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made. But if I would’ve gotten caught up in this narrative that my parents and I think many other people of a certain generation believe is that renting is throwing away money.

It’s throwing money down the drain. You’re not doing anything. You don’t get anything with that money, so you should buy a house the moment you can. That’s not always the case. And for me, I was going to have to buy a house that was away from my friends, that was an hour and a half away from my work because that was the only house I could afford when I was 22, 23. So that’s one of those where I was listening to my parents literally up until the day before I closed on the house. I just remember it was such a whirlwind at that time. I remember looking at condominiums because again, that was the only thing I could afford.

And just thinking, “I don’t even know if I like this place, but they clearly want me to like it, so I guess I’ll like it.” The people pleasing was just so obvious. It was just like, I don’t even feel like I have sat down and actually figured out if this is something I want, but they’re telling me it’s a good thing, so I guess I should do it. We actually just had a call in on the show in our episode where we did coaching with Tiffany Aliche and it was like, “My coworker told me that I need to buy land because that’s smart and I don’t even…” It was very clear she didn’t even know if she wanted this land, but it was just “the smart financial thing to do.”

This is the classic version of that, which is sometimes the thing that I’m putting in the biggest air quotes possible is the “right financial thing to do,” sometimes isn’t, first of all. But second of all, it doesn’t take into account do you actually want this? Do you, yourself, actually want to do this? And just because it’s financially smart doesn’t mean it’s emotionally smart. Again, I was going to be removed from the city. I was going to not get to hang out with my friends. I was going to be living an hour outside of Seattle. That would’ve probably severely impacted my mental health and my social life because I just wouldn’t have seen anybody.

And I think it would’ve severely impacted my ability to grow a business because I wasn’t in a thriving city with networking events and I wouldn’t have met certain people that were integral to me growing a business. So I think it’s just this moment where you realize that sometimes the right financial choice is not necessarily the choice that’s right for you at this current moment in your life. And your well-meaning parents, well-meaning coworkers, well-meaning uncle, well-meaning whoever is just trying to perpetuate something that they were told or that they believe and it’s just not always right.

The other big example from my life, my parents told me that I should keep my job no matter what even when my business was thriving. This was late 2019, I literally had saved my 100K at 25. The business had momentum. Again, we’ve talked about this on the show before, but there was this moment where it was very clear that it was time for me to leave my job. It had gotten pretty toxic. They didn’t like that my business was succeeding and it was so obvious that it was time to go but it just felt so risky. And it felt risky, in part because I called my parents, who I’m so thankful always chose the stable option because it meant that I had a very stable upbringing.

But I don’t have dependents, I don’t have children, it was the perfect time for me to see if this business could have legs and run on its own. But I called my parents and they told me, “You need to do everything you possibly can to keep your job, and it’s really risky to go out on your own. Where’s your health insurance going to come from? You don’t have a stable paycheck. What’s going to happen?” And again, we’ve mentioned this before, but I had money in the bank. I had a business that had momentum. I had just been on Good Morning America. It was making money. I was doing just fine. All of the ducks were in a row.

It was time for me to make a go at this. And I remember just this pressure of thinking, “This is what my parents want me to do. This is what they think is right. I do value their opinion and also I need to do what’s right for me.” I just remember feeling this almost taste in my mouth that was just gross of, “No, I don’t need to keep my job no matter what. I don’t need to stay in a situation that doesn’t like me or respect me or see my value just to tough it out.” Now, sometimes we have to do that if we’re not financially able. I’m not saying go off and quit your job immediately at the moment things might be a little terrible. We have to pay our rent.

We have to be practical. But this is why financial freedom is so important. This is why I talk about it. I want you to have the ability to get out of a situation that you don’t want to be in anymore or doesn’t respect you anymore or doesn’t value you anymore because you have the money to do so. And I had the money to do so. I was ready to go. And again, well-meaning parents who wanted to keep me safe, wanted me to choose the stable option. I understand why, but I call them all the time now and jokingly tell them, “Hey, if I would’ve taken your advice, my life would be very, very different.”

So that was a classic moment of your parents aren’t always right because they’re not inside of your body, they’re not inside of your experience. What they want for you might be different than what you want for you.

So these are some of the examples in my own life, but we talked to our community and Kristen and I polled our team at Her First $100K as well to talk about some of the financial advice that’s out of date, that your parents or your well-meaning adults might give you. A couple of these examples that might spark something in you. The first one is that $1,000 emergency fund, that that’s all you need for emergencies, that $1,000 is enough before you pay off your debt or proceed to pay enough debt. This comes directly from Dave Ramsey, we know this. $1,000 is an incredible accomplishment, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough to actually keep you afloat.

We at Her First $100K talk about a three month of living expenses for your emergency fund, and that needs to live in a high yield savings account. So that’s one of those that we hear all of the time. That $1,000 emergency fund. Another one we hear is that credit cards are bad and you should never use them. This can be perpetuated from a family that didn’t have a good relationship with credit cards, which is totally normal. I talk about this more in my book of this financial trauma that has passed down from generation to generation. Never using my credit card, just keeping my debit card because credit cards are bad.

You’ve probably been told this at some point in your life and you maybe are still just using your debit card. On the flip side, it might be opening a credit card, but no one’s ever taught you how to use it. “Yes, it’s important for you to build credit, but we’re not going to teach you actually how to manage one responsibly.” Again, your parents aren’t always right. We believe in credit cards here at Her First $100K. We believe in smart management of credit cards, of using the perks and benefits of credit cards to boost your credit score and to also get you free shit while paying your bills on time and in full.

This was one straight out of my playbook, but buying a home. The importance of buying a home and getting that as soon as possible. We know now that it’s just not the same. Homes are a lot more expensive now than they used to be. People are much more transient, I think. They don’t want to be in one place for as long. Homeownership, because it’s so expensive in and of itself, is a privilege. Now, if you want to buy a home and other people are also telling you to buy a home, great. That’s fantastic. I am getting that itch a little bit in my own life. I’m an infamous millionaire who rents.

We’ve talked about this before, but I will say I am starting to get the itch of buying a house. If that’s something you actually want to do and can afford to do it and it makes sense for you, great. I think for a lot of people, you’re just told that buying a home is smart, renting is throwing away money, and that’s just not necessarily true. This is another common one that I hear all of the time, that combining your finances with a partner is a hundred percent the right choice a hundred percent of the time. No, please, no, please, no, no, no, no.

Again, I’ve said this before, I will say it again a million more times. If you are financially coupling with somebody, you should never completely combine your finances for many reasons. And you need to sign a prenup. If you get married, fun fact, you’ve actually signed a prenup. It’s the prenup dictated to you by the state. And I don’t know about you, I don’t often like what the government has in store for me or has in mind for me. And every person who gets married actually does have a prenup already. It’s dictated by what the state laws say.

So if you want to make sure that you and your partner are making that decision together, you actually need to create your own prenup. We’ll do probably a whole specific episode about this, but the word prenup just gets such a bad rep. Prenups are associated with gold diggers and one person has a shit ton of money and the other person’s just trying to get it from them. Or if you sign a prenup, it means that you think your marriage is doomed. None of that is true. Again, anybody who’s getting married, you actually do have a prenup. You have a prenup already. It’s through your state.

It’s through the state laws that’s dictating what happens to your money should you separate. I want you to make sure that you’re dictating and your partner is dictating what happens to your money. Should you separate. The aversion of stability that’s perpetuated where your parents aren’t always right, it’s get a government job and get a pension or some version of this. Become a teacher because teachers are always something that’s needed, which probably is true, but there is just this narrative of get the good stable job, get a pension, which I don’t even… Do pensions exist anymore?

Get the thing that is stable and consistent, and that’s how you go about it. Because again, your parents, your family, they’re just trying to keep you safe. If this is something you actually want to do, great. Again, this whole thing, if any of these are things you want to do, fantastic. But I think there is just this narrative over and over of, “This is how it’s done. This is the American dream. You get a good job and you work for 35 years and you buy a house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and you live in it for 30 years and that’s your life.” If that sounds great to you, I’m going to be honest. Part of that really does sound nice.

I love stability, then great. And the other part of me is like, “No, that sounds awful.” That’s not a choice. That’s just what the box I’m supposed to live in, not physically, but the metaphorical box you’re trying to trap me in. So that’s one that’s just perpetuated. One that we pulled that one of our team members said, I think this is generational, is that you should tip 10% or even 15%. Good service means 10%. Sorry, no, we’re at 20%. This is a whole other conversation about how basically society and the system has dictated… Tipping culture in the US is insane and that people don’t get paid often unless they get tipped is nuts.

But that’s where we’re at right now, and while we work to change it, leave a good fucking tip for people. Don’t be disrespectful. Don’t tip 10%. That’s not a thing. In the line with buying a house, you can buy a house for less than 20% down. But I think a common misconception, especially from your parents or from other people in your life is that you need 20% down on a mortgage, not necessarily. If you are a veteran, there’s options for you. If you’re a first time home buyer, there’s options for you and almost everybody potentially can qualify what’s for what’s called PMI, which is private mortgage insurance.

And it’s the way of purchasing a house even if you don’t have that 20% down. So that’s a misconception as well. There’s other just traditional thoughts of, “You need to go to college in order to get a good career.” I went to college, I’m very happy I did, but I also graduated with without student loans. And I imagine I would definitely feel differently about college if I walked out with $50,000 or $100,000 in student debt. I think there are of course some careers where if you want to do that, you got to go to college. And I think we’re just now starting to understand that the idea of college is so fucking nuts.

And cue the John Mulaney. Well, I’ll just quote the whole thing because I just said I wish we could splice it in, but we’ll have copyright issues or that’s what I was going to say, but then I’m like, “I can just do the whole thing.” I’m not going to, but I’m thinking about it. Anyway, the John Mulaney bit from his, was it Kid Gorgeous? Was it Kid Gorgeous? Yes. Kid Gorgeous, where he talks about how expensive college is and how we should stop going until we figure out what it is and how he paid $120,000 to get an English degree and how he signed on a dotted line when he was 17 in sweatpants and how that was fucking insane. And he literally says, “Stop going until we figure out what it is.

I paid $120,000 for someone to tell me to read Jane Austen, and then I didn’t.” That’s my Mulaney. It’s not fantastic, but it is what it is. I mean, I kind of agree. It’s fucking bonkers that we ask a literal minor to commit to getting a degree in four years when most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives, and it’s so expensive. I graduated college in 2016, and I think before any sort of scholarships, before anything, which almost a hundred percent of students at my university qualified for, just the sticker price of tuition with room and board was $52,000. That’s fucking bananas.

Now it’s 60, 65. I’m seeing colleges where the full in sticker price is $70,000 a year. And then we went through the whole pandemic. Now I’m on a rant. We went through the whole pandemic where people went to virtual class and they paid the same amount as they would for in-person. That’s fucking insane. So this isn’t me saying don’t go to college, but it is a larger, again, issue of policy where college should not be this expensive. It just should not be this expensive. And you do have to start thinking about, “Wow, is it actually a good financial move for me to go to college?”

Because yes, in theory, you’re going to get a higher paying job, but one, that’s not guaranteed, and two, it’s a financial tradeoff for most people because you’re taking on a massive amount of student debt to do it. So I just want people to start thinking more about, “Is this actually a good decision for me? Does this actually make sense or is it just, again, what my well-meaning parents are telling me to do, or because society’s telling me I have to go to college?” You might not have to go to college. And again, college is so fucking expensive. And the last one is staying at one job for years and years and years and years, or a version of this, which is not being a job hopper.

My parents, again, every time I quit a job, they’re like, “You haven’t been there for that long. Are you really sure you should quit?” And I’m like, “Yeah, because I’m about to get $20,000 more.” We talked with our friends Sonia over at Financed before about this. We’ll link the episode down in the description, but the importance of job hopping. In a job market like this, if you feel like you’re not being treated fairly, if you’ve done some market research and you’re not getting promoted and you’re not getting yearly increases, it’s probably time to start looking. I mean, my dad, he’s in a job now. His previous job, he was in for 13 years.

My uncle, my dad’s brother was in the same job, I’m not kidding, from graduation all the way to retirement. He was at the same company that entire time he did not leave. That’s not a thing anymore. He was happy. I think he was treated well. That’s why he stayed. But to me, that seems absolutely insane. You don’t have to stay in the same job for years and years and years. Loyalty does not pay. That’s not a thing, especially for women. We get caught in this trap where it’s like, “They’ll notice us. We’ll do good work. I’ll do good work, and I’ll show up on time, and eventually they’ll notice me.” No, they won’t.

That’s a myth, that’s a lie to keep you in a underpaid, overworked position. You don’t need to stay in the same job for your entire career. Job hopping is not a bad thing. There’s a lot of new research out there that shows that job hopping every couple years. Again, if you don’t feel like you’re being compensated well, if you’re not loving your position, at least just looking at what’s out there. So I think that that’s one really, really important thing to keep in mind is… I think it’s, again, a generational thing.

Job hopping was so frowned upon and it looked like you couldn’t keep a job or couldn’t be consistent, and that’s just not a thing anymore. It’s more standard now every couple years to potentially look at what’s out there. We would love to hear, especially if you’re on Spotify any other your parents aren’t always right things. And I just want to say like I started this episode, stop asking people for advice if they’ve never been where you want to go. If you want to be an entrepreneur, ask other entrepreneurs for their advice. The advice for people who have not done it is not going to be as good as the advice from people who have.

That sounds obvious, but I think we just seek so much validation. We seek so much approval from people who have never lived the kind of life we want to live. And if you want to go out and live in a van and travel around and do that, and that sounds great to you. A lot of people in your life, that will not compute with them, that will not compute in their brain, and so they’re going to tell you not to do it. Have they ever tried it? Probably not. Your life is different than somebody else’s life, and you also need to seek advice and perspective on certain things from people who have actually done those things.

If I was going to Italy or I wanted to go to Italy, I’m not asking where should I go, where should I eat, what museum should I visit from someone who’s never been there. Right? That’s the metaphor here for all of our life and our advice. Stop asking where should I eat pasta in Italy from people who have never been to Italy. Cool, thank you Financial Feminists. I would love to hear other examples maybe where you’ve seen this in your own life or even stories, leave us voicemails. We would love to compile some versions of, “I took this advice from someone who was well-meaning, but it didn’t align with me, and here’s what happened.”

I think those are really, really important for the rest of our community to hear as well. We just appreciate you being here as always. We appreciate your perspective. If this episode connected with you, feel free to like, subscribe, share it. We really appreciate your support. Go to Italy, eat some pasta, and then tell people where to go. Thanks for being here. Have a good week. Bye.

Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First 100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, associate producer Tamisha Grant, research by Arielle Johnson, audio and video engineering by Alyssa Midcalf, marketing and operations by Karina Patel, Amanda Leffew, Elizabeth McCumber, Masha Bakhmetyeva, Taylor Chou, Kailyn Sprinkle, Sasha Bonar, Claire Kurronen, Darrell Ann Ingman, and Jenell Riesner, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolf, and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound.

A huge thanks to the entire Her First 100K team and community for supporting this show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First 100K, our guests and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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