10 Really Bad Money Habits People Pick Up from Their Parents (Did You?)

These bad money routines can rob you of opportunities to increase your wealth. Are there any you're accidentally doing?

Mother and daughter not looking at each other
Updated July 11, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Did your parents struggle to boost their bank account? Did they miss opportunities to grow their wealth?

If so, they may have passed their money habits down to you. And you might pass them — or other bad habits you‘ve picked up — down to your kids.

Here are the most common bad money habits that you might have learned from your parents. 

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Not investing

Wayhome Studio/Adobe casually dressed young woman holding papers in her hands

Saving money is a good habit, but you also want to make additional money on some of the cash you have saved. 

If your goal is to build true wealth — or even just to stay ahead of inflation — you will have a tough time getting there if you put all your money in a checking or savings account.

Simply put, these accounts generally do not pay out high rates of interest (with high-yield savings accounts being an exception). 

Thinking that renting is throwing away money

xy/Adobe man in front of drawing house and money on blackboard

Purchasing a home is a big money commitment. Rushing to purchase a home because you consider renting a waste of money can be a mistake.

Renting offers a certain level of freedom that homeownership cannot match. Changes in jobs, relationships, and family size can quickly change peoples' living needs. If they rent, they can pick up and move when their lease expires.

It’s sometimes quite difficult — and more expensive — to sell a home.

Believing that a college education is the only path to prosperity

terovesalainen/Adobe counting college savings

A college degree can prepare you for a career with a large salary, but it isn’t the only option for everyone.

Tuition costs have risen dramatically over the last few decades, and some careers might not provide a salary that justifies that type of investment.

People should think carefully about enrolling in college. Sometimes, trade schools or certification programs can provide the necessary qualifications to get a good-paying job.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

Viewing all debt as bad

Chaay_tee/Adobe tired young lady upset about unpaid bills

Not all debt is bad debt. For example, taking out student loans today can help secure your livelihood tomorrow.

In addition, most people cannot afford to purchase homes with cash. Taking out a mortgage allows them to invest in a place that can provide a roof over their head for years and decades to come.

With debt, it’s important to preach responsibility. Never take on debt you don’t have a specific plan to pay off.

Putting every extra dollar you have toward paying off the mortgage

William W. Potter/Adobe house paper model US dollar hessian bags on a wood balance scale

If someone locks in a good rate on their mortgage, allocating every free dollar toward paying it off might not be their best option.

It’s possible that money could be used in better ways, such as investing or paying tuition costs when retraining for a new career.

In addition, it might make more sense to pay off high-interest credit card debt rather than a mortgage with a lower rate.

Doing everything yourself

Yekatseryna/Adobe stressed woman doing a home renovation

Doing things yourself can save money, but that doesn’t mean it’s always worth it. When it comes to fixes like home or car repairs, people should hire professionals if they aren’t 100% sure of their capabilities.

After all, trying to fix something incorrectly can lead to more problems and the need to spend even more money.

Also, before tackling a DIY project, people should make sure the investment of time is worth the money they will save. Young people have less free time than they did 30 years ago; paying someone to do a task might make sense.

Staying at a good, stable job forever

Syda Productions/Adobe bored man working late at night office

Previous generations thrived by remaining at the same reliable job until they retired. This scenario doesn’t always apply in today’s world, however.

Changing companies — even when working in the same position — often results in a higher salary. Continuing education can also provide higher earning opportunities in another position.

Viewing all credit cards as terrible

fizkes/Adobe credit card user woman having problems with online payment app

Credit cards are only terrible if you use them irresponsibly or don’t choose the right ones. As long as you pay off your debt completely each month, credit cards that offer rewards or cash back can provide great convenience.

When used responsibly, credit cards can also help you raise your credit score. This might allow you to qualify for the best rates on loans.

Assuming you have plenty of time to get started with investing

yurolaitsalbert/Adobe Financial advisor talking to couple

It is never too early to start making investments.

Investing sooner allows more time for investments to grow, which could leave people with more money than if they wait to invest until they‘re closer to retirement age.

Investing early — possibly with the help of a financial advisor — can help you build a strong portfolio.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Labeling insurance as a waste of money

PheelingsMedia/Adobe lady with broken arm signing insurance document

Health insurance is costly for some people, especially self-employed individuals. Homeowners and auto insurance are not cheap, either.

For that reason, purchasing an insurance plan might seem like a waste of money. But accidents and illnesses happen when you least expect them.

Rather than skipping the insurance altogether, people should compare plans to find the right policy for them at the best price.

Bottom line

Jadon Bester/peopleimages.com/Adobe cheerful young woman working on her laptop

If you’ve been managing money as your parents did — or have passed some of these habits down to your kids — all is not lost. 

It’s never too late to turn things around and begin making smarter money moves.

Breaking bad habits can help your kids make the most of their money and increase their wealth. The same applies to you, too!

Choice Home Warranty Benefits

  • First month free
  • Protection for unexpected expense
  • 24/7 claims hotline
  • Network of over 15,000 technicians

Author Details

Katelyn Washington

Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.