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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Lukasz Laniecki.

Warren Buffett gives all young people a tremendous advice almost no parents give their children.

He says that there are two things that can hold people back from realizing their full potential in life.

One is lack of education, and the second are the habits that we develop.

The habits you form early in life will carry you through life. This doesn’t work when you’re 50 or 60. By then the habits are too well formed. But if you do it early, behavior becomes a habit.

The habits that are very important are our habits concerning money. And what Warren Buffett says is:

Avoid credit cards, just forget about them. If you can’t pay for it don’t buy it.

If you start revolving debt on credit card you’re going to be paying 18 or 20% and you can’t make progress in your financial life going on borrowing money at 18–20%.

If at the beginning of your adult life you are several thousand dollars behind and you’re paying 18 or 20% interests on it you’ll never get out of it.

You want to figure out where you don’t want to be ahead of time and avoid that.

Credit card debt is something you bring on yourself and it’s way easier to stay out of trouble than get out of trouble.

“Stay out of debt!” is probably the rarest advise parents give their children.


Because almost as soon as we find our first jobs we are being encouraged to buy everything on credit. House, car, TV set, and other things we absolutely need to have because everyone else has them.

Obviously banks and other financial institutions always do a great job convincing us that we absolutely need their money and that we should be able to enjoy life. And they are always there, ready to help us enjoy it. And those who could have warned us (i.e. our parents) very often too have credit card debt (or other kind of debt — like mortgage, for example) and have c ome to believe those myths banks want all of us to believe.

In his great book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari wrote:

One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.

That’s why so many young people become trapped early in their lives and very often stay their entire adult lives in jobs they hate just to be able to afford those luxuries. The price they pay for them is insane.


My answer gained a lot of attention. A lot of people read it. Some interacted with it.

There were people who said it was an awesome advice, and there were people who said it was a bad, or “impractical” advice.

I want to tackle some of this “negative” feedback.

Not that I don’t allow people to have different opinions - I totally respect different opinions and I also think it’s great that people with different take on this posted their comments, because they undoubtedly added some value.

My observations so far are in my new post:  The Single Most Important Advice Almost No Parents Give (Revised.