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Emotional gratification and continuous encouragement aside, what is the best method of paying down debt?

The “Best” Way to Pay off Credit Card Debt

The Harvard Business Review recently published a study on “the best strategy for paying off credit card debt.” Set aside for a moment the idea that you should try not to rack up credit card debt in the first place (shit happens, no judgment). This study benefits the millions of Americans who are literally $800 billion in collective credit card debt according to the Federal Reserve. So it’s a problem that needs a solution.

The researchers tested a couple of different methods for credit card debt reduction:

  1. Dispersing payments equally across every debt account each month.
  2. Concentrating as high a payment as possible on one account at a time.

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This is the most fundamental lesson we can teach you. In personal finance, the end game isn't money. It's freedom.

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying: Finance Philosophy Explained by The Shawshank Redemption

What you are about to read is pretty graphic.

I’m sure it’s hard to read. At times, it was hard to write. It’s not an easy thing: to torture a metaphor to death.

I was almost at the point of walking away from this article when I heard John 3:16 ringing in my memory: “For Kitty so loved the world, that she gave one of her favorite movies, that whosoever believeth in her should not go broke, but have eternal cash.”

If you have not seen The Shawshank Redemption, I have two questions and one command.

  • The first question: are you some kind of Alexandreeey Dumbass?
  • The second question: how did you get from 1997 to the present without watching cable television during daylight hours?
  • The command: go watch The Shawshank Redemption! Only after you’ve done so are you allowed to return here and continue on.

One hundred and forty-two minutes of narration by Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) is the necessary prep work you need to open your heart and expand your mind.

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The proof is in the pudding. The cold, hard, numerical pudding.

The Debt-Killing Power of Rounding Up

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a big fan of incrementalism. Like an establishment politician, I believe in taking reasonable baby steps toward an idealized future (and unlike said politician, some day I’ll actually get there… at least where my personal finances are concerned).

You can make really big progress on your debt and savings gradually, by degrees, and it feels so much more manageable and easy than committing yourself to meeting your financial goals in big chunks.

Take, for example, the debt-killing power of rounding up on all your bills.

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If someone handed you a single dollar bill, what would you do with it?

The Dollar Bill Game, Part One

“If money were no object, what would you do with your life?”

Did you get asked this hypothetical question a lot? Especially around high school and college graduation? I did. And it was frustrating as hell, because I was so overwhelmed by my choices that I had no idea how to answer.

This question requires you to have a deep knowledge of yourself and your place in the world—deeper than many young people will have adequate experiences to inform.

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Income inequality is a real thing. Let's start there.

How to Start at Rock Bottom

Income inequality is a real thing. Let’s start there. We are not all starting on a level playing field. In fact, some are actually starting at rock bottom.

Whatever way you define rock bottom, it’s a shitty place to start when envisioning your financial future. And it’s a frightening reality for many Americans. Giving advice about how my fellow college-educated Millennials can get ahead in their careers, defeat their student loans, and buy homes is all well and good, but it’s utterly useless advice for someone with no education, no family support, and no job prospects to speak of. It’s useless to those drowning in medical debt or responsible for supporting a family on a minimum wage salary. You can’t think about Step 1 when you’re currently at Step -37. Those living at rock bottom need to achieve a basic standard of survival before they can think about “getting ahead.”

One way to start at rock bottom—to survive—is by using a number of government social welfare programs. The purpose of these programs is to help those starting at rock bottom, or who find themselves at rock bottom due to drastic circumstances, to get back on their feet and working toward financial stability.

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It's a dick move that puts the onus on you, the applicant, to determine the worth of your work.

What to Do When You’re Asked About Your Salary in a Job Interview

One of the shittiest questions to be asked in a job interview is arguably also one of the most important considerations when looking for a new job: “What are your salary requirements?”

It’s shitty because even if you’re prepared, the question can immediately throw you into a state of self-doubt and nervous confusion where you risk shooting your potential earnings in the foot. You don’t want to blurt out a number too high and risk them writing you off as an entitled, money-grubbing Millennial with an overinflated sense of self-worth. But you don’t want to lowball them either, lest they see you as a bargain hire and take you on for a fraction of what they’d planned to pay.

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I don't agree with the cultural consensus that period blood is inherently more gross than any other bodily fluid. That said, all body fluids are hella fucking gross.

Blood Money: Surviving Your Period While Poor

Trigger warning: I use the word “panties” like, so, SO much in this post.

Some women have really figured out how to lean in to the concept of their menstruation. They describe it as a period of heightened sensitivity and awareness. They talk about how in-touch it makes them feel with their power, their humanity, and the changing seasons of their body.

I’m so happy for those women. I wish I could count myself among them. But I do not go gently into that dark night.

I HATE my period. No, I really fucking HATE it. It does not make me feel powerful or mindful; its arrival fills me with a fresh sense of mortal outrage. Sixteen years of menses has not dulled my sense of shock and dismay when I go to wipe myself and the tissue comes back red. Every month, I am fucking appalled.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "EVERY MONTH?!"
It’s not that I think period blood is something shameful or dirty. It’s just so fucking unfair.

There are so many aspects of ~*womanhood*~ that fucking suck. We work more, get paid less, are constantly judged by random strangers, get legislated bodily by old jerks, and carry the psychological and physical burden of sexual violence.

Menstruation is just one more thing that happens to you that you’ve got to deal with it. (And although I’ll use the word “women” a lot, it bears reminding that there are other kinds of people who menstruate.) It’s messy, uncomfortable, disruptive, and draining.

Worst of all, menstruating is expensive. Disposable menstrual products are a fixed monthly cost that’s surprisingly high—and they are inexplicably taxed as luxury items! (Don’t bother trying to repeal the tax, ladies! Your dashing white knight of a male governor will do it for you! Oh wait, no he won’t, he’s going to FUCKING VETO IT.) Reusable products have a startlingly high initial cost, and aren’t always convenient or appropriate for all people and situations.

With this in mind, Piggy and I have mined our own experiences and those of our vast network of Vagenda operatives to bring you clear-eyed reviews of each of these products through a financial lens.
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