When my then-boyfriend got me a cordless drill for my birthday, I opened its sleek plastic case with all the gasping, questioning, and blubbering usually reserved for a ring box.

9 Essential Tools for Apartment-Dwelling Hominids (and 5 That Are Kiiiiinda Useless)

Bitches, I have lovely news. My little brother just moved in with me!

He’s almost a full decade younger than me, and is graduating college a semester early. His final task before graduation is completing an internship, and it just so happens that he was accepted to one in my city. He’s crashing for the summer and filling the house with all sorts of dangerous new ideas. (Sports jerseys can be wall decor. WHO KNEW?)

Little brothers, man!

As my whole being pulsates with prideful big sister vibes, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like to be twenty-one and living in a city for the first time. If I could go back ten years, there’s so much I would tell myself to spare me time, heartache, and money. So if you notice a certain nostalgia creeping into my upcoming posts, that’s probably why!

I got tons of advice when I moved into my first apartment. Some friend or family member gifted me with the tiny toolbox I called Baby’s First Toolbox. It was the size of a slim binder and probably cost them $20.

And that $20 toolbox has saved me thousands of dollars over the last decade.

In the spirit of learning from the past and embracing the skills you need for the future, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite and least favorite tools for beginners. These tools assume you’re not super handy (yet), and that you have a very limited amount of both space and budget.

Every single tool on the first half of this list can be purchased for less than $10, and they’re among the most ubiquitous finds at garage sales. Ask your parents and grandparents if they have extras they would give to you—because I’ve learned that part of being an adult is magically acquiring one new screwdriver every two years?

I don’t know what’s up with that. It’s like the tooth fairy, but even lamer.

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I'd like to avoid supporting labor practices that make Upton Sinclair's The Jungle look positively humanitarian.

Fast Fashion is Fucking Up the World

As you can tell from our witty banter on the Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn podcast, Kitty and I consider ourselves to be eminently fashionable gentlewomen. Look good, feel good! That’s our motto! (Just kidding that is definitely not our motto. We don’t have one. We’re still workshopping it. Do you even realize how long it took us to come up with the name of this blog? A long time… and many Excel spreadsheets.)

And yet, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I rarely go shopping for myself, and when I do, it is with all the precision and swiftness of a predator drone. Get in, get the goods, get out. I love me a good thrift store find, few things give me more materialistic glee than purchasing a unique garment at the flea market, and yes, I shop at fucking Target. But these expenditures are few and far between.

This is partially because of my frugal nature. I just don’t buy a lot of stuff. But it’s also because in recent years I’ve tried really hard to avoid an industry that is damaging to both the environment and to human rights on a global scale.

I am speaking, of course, of fast fashion.

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The Frugal Introvert’s Guide to the Weekend

Ah. Thursday afternoon.

The perfect and natural time to begin contemplating your weekend plans.

We learned from our Myers-Briggs and finance article that we have quite a lot of introverted readers. In particular, we have a veritable army of female INTJs. Y’all are only 0.8% of the population! So since there’s five or six of you, we can assume that literally every female INTJ alive is present and accounted for in the comments section of BGR.

I made this post especially for all of you. I know how much you guys enjoy plans, backup plans, schemes, machinations, and gambits (an INTJ somewhere is rushing to the comments with “DON’T FORGET STRATAGEMS”). I’m also aware that your drug of choice is that sweet, sweet Get Shit Done feeling. Yet you struggle with prioritizing self-care and have difficulty enjoying lazy, unscheduled time. Don’t we all!

That’s why I have developed this Frugal Introvert’s Guide to the Weekend. It’s a bunch of free and low-cost stuff you can do in your home that will make you feel rested, tested, and invested (TM, TM, we’re starting an MLM and that phrase is gonna be part of our cult-like sales culture).

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I'm proud to be a Millennial so fuck you.

I’m Proud to Be a Millennial So Fuck You

Lazy, entitled, freeloading, whiny, safe-space-inhabiting, impatient, thin-skinned, don’t-know-the-meaning-of-a-hard-day’s-work, precious snowflakes. Millennials. My generation.

Or, if you’re Time Magazine, “The Me Me Me Generation.” This is but one example of the current favorite editorial of the lazy middle-aged journalist, in which they trash millennials for everything they’re anecdotally doing wrong with very little empirical evidence about what’s actually going on in their lives. Writing indignant think pieces about how awful the young people are these days has been in style since Socrates was pioneering toga style in the amphitheaters of Athens. But this style of editorializing still pisses me off.

I’m tired of it. For one thing, the entire concept of “generations” is bullshit, as perfectly explained by Adam Ruins Everything:

For another, the Millennial stereotype is pure, unfiltered cockamamie. So setting aside for a moment the fact that generations are a nebulous concept devoid of meaning and that the popular stereotype of millennials is false, I’d like to take this moment to explain a thing at you.

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"Wealthy White Folks Welcome!"

Gentrification: Artisanal, Small-Batch Displacement of the Poor

I had just come home from work when three students from the college down the street approached my porch with official-looking clipboards in hand. “Excuse me ma’am,” (I’m a ma’am now? When did this happen?) “Can we ask you some questions for a school research project?”

Instead of hissing “Youths!” and retreating into the darkness of my lair, I obliged. I am a “ma’am” now, after all, and that comes with a responsibility to be magnanimous toward fine upstanding young people everywhere.

First question: “What does gentrification mean to you?”

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Whisper "any investment you make in yourself is an investment toward your retirement" three times.

How to Save for Retirement When You Make Less Than $30,000 a Year

Retirement is a difficult concept for young people to wrap their heads around. It’s hard enough figuring out how to be An Adult, let alone An Old.

We’ll be talking more broadly in the near future about the general concept of retirement. (Spoiler alert: it’s as outdated as an avocado-colored refrigerator.) But today I’d like to talk directly about the concept of saving for retirement while pretty legit poor.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to define that as someone making $30,000 a year or less. Obviously there are lots of factors that can stretch this figure. A mom of three with a high school education in Washington, D.C. is going to have a much harder time than a single, highly-educated person making the same amount in Woodstock, Alabama. And actually, that number is still more than double the official so-called “poverty line,” which is just over $12,000.

But Piggy and I feel strongly that there isn’t enough realistic, valuable advice for people in this general bracket, and so we’d like to talk to them.

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Subscribing to a monthly box of random shit treats your financial goals like a dartboard and your money like the darts...while you're wearing blindfold and drunk off your ass.

Fuck Your Blue Barking Birch Box

It’s time for another edition of Piggy Complains About Wasteful Spending! In this episode, I’m going to cover a recent phenomenon so antithetical to both minimalism and frugal spending that it has literally left me apoplectic with indignation.

I am speaking, of course, of the monthly subscription box.

As best I can tell, the trend started with Birch Box, a monthly package of beauty product samples to which you can subscribe. Here’s how the model works: you pay a monthly subscription and in exchange you’re sent a monthly box of stuff. You do not get to choose the stuff, you are not told what the stuff will be, and usually you don’t get to exchange the stuff for stuff you would prefer.

Most of the companies providing this service have a theme: there’s the dog theme, the nerd theme, the clothing theme, the healthy snack theme, the makeup theme, I shit you not the Ron Swanson theme, the I-am-incapable-of-meal-planning theme, the affluent vegan theme, the agoraphobic bookworm theme, and the I-find-the-wine-selection-at-my-local-liquor-store-intimidating theme, just to name a few.

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There are so many loopholes in pet insurance contracts that I assume they were constructed using Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

As we’ve discussed, Piggy and I are pretty obsessed with our pets. I admire Piggy’s restraint in having but a single dog. My house currently contains four dogs, one cat, six chickens, and two clinically narcissistic garbage disposals guinea pigs. Friends who know me to be an IRL Pokemon Master often ask me what my pet insurance rates are like.

My pet insurance bill is approximately zero dollars. Same goes for Piggy.

Neither of us have pet insurance. And there’s a reason.

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Riddle me this: when is your time worth more than your money?

Should You Increase Your Salary or Decrease Your Spending?

When it comes to advice on how to become financially independent, there are two schools of thought:

  1. Increase your salary as much as possible.
  2. Decrease your spending as much as possible.

There are personal finance gurus who scoff at the idea of cutting out lattes and other minor unnecessary expenses as a path to wealth and security, instead advising you to spend your time making as much money as possible. Then there are others who extoll the virtues of thrifty living and frugality in the extreme, championing a spartan lifestyle in which you can retire early by spending minimally.

So who’s right? Which method will lead most quickly to financial independence and a life in which you no longer have to worry about money? Which tactic for peak prosperity should you pursue?

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Thankfully, my spouse is DTF (down to farm).

So I Got Chickens

As I have already confessed, I love animals a bit too much. My husband and I, primates that we are, are minorities in our household. We have two dogs, a cat who believes she is a dog, and two maned pork tenderloins guinea pigs. And just this past Thursday, we came home from the feed store with six new additions.

Whoops! We now own chickens.

And from a financial perspective, we really couldn’t have done anything stupider.

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