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I've assumed that the hypothetical ideal pet loves you with all the platonic passion of a Nicholas Sparks protagonist.

Cold, Unfeeling Human Overlords Rank 30 Pets for Financial Efficiency

On the spectrum of compassion for fellow humans, I fall somewhere between Daniel Plainview and Vegeta, Prince of All Saiyans. I’m ruthless and self-interested and generally take a dim view of the collective worth of mankind.

But like many a cold-hearted misanthrope, I’m a secret, tenderhearted lover of animals. In fact, I’m a big gay pussy for animals and I can say that because <flashes QUEER WOMAN CARD>. Pets are the fucking best.

As bikevangelist Mister Money Mustache points out in his infuriating-but-factually-correct Great News! Dog Ownership is Optional!, pet ownership is expensive, lifestyle-altering, and entirely optional. Americans spend over $60 billion every year on their pets. It’s an enormous financial and logistical commitment that should be thoroughly explored before adding a pet to your family.

Which is why I’ve set out to rank the financial efficiency of the most common kinds of household pets.

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What's your Lucky Charms methodology?

The Magically Delicious Intersection of Financial Discipline, Generational Poverty, and Marshmallows

What’s your methodology for eating a bowl of Lucky Charms? And in a related question: how’s your financial discipline?

RESIST.

Do you peck the marshmallows out first, like a marshmallow-loving chicken? Or do you eat around them, creating a cereal-free pleasure palace of marshmallows, swimming together decadently in their milk? Or do you dig in holistically, indiscriminately, with marshmallows and cereal intermingling freely, devil-may-care, eating whatever ends up on your spoon?

The answer could reveal a whole lot about your life, your personality, and the health of your personal finances. We know this thanks to a fascinating series of studies conducted on children eating marshmallows.

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Hand-me-down diapers are...not a thing.

You Don’t Have to Have Kids

I’ve spent a lot of time with kids over the years. I babysat in high school, I was a nanny in college, I look after my friends’ children on a regular basis, and I’m the proud auntie of the World’s Cutest and Smartest Nephew (he blew the competition out of the water). In fact, I have so much childcare XP that babies magically stop crying the second I pick them up and I can prevent small children from smearing spaghetti sauce on the wall with barely a glance.

All of this time spent with other people’s children has made me absolutely certain of one thing: I don’t want to have kids.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to. And neither do you.

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"Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it."

You Are above Bottled Water, You Elegant Land Mermaid

One time during my freshman year of college, I walked into my dorm to find my pals* holding up a bottle of Fiji water like it was the Holy Grail. Recently escaped country bumpkin that I was, I had never heard of Fiji bottled water. “Oh, you have to try it!” they exclaimed reverently, “It’s the best water.”

I sipped. I was underwhelmed. “Tastes just like my well water back home,” I explained. They gave me looks that clearly said, “Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it.”

All of which is to say that I have never been impressed with our country’s feverish devotion to bottled water. And here’s why I am perfectly vindicated in that point of view.

*Editorial note from Kitty: I’m so impressed that Piggy had the discretion and restraint to not out me as the Fiji Water Friend. It is delicious water! I just hadn’t yet processed that it was flown from halfway across the world in non-biodegradable plastic bottles, a behavior so absurd it would make the citizens of Panem’s Capitol blush.

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Most Millennials I know do not have an IRA. This is because it is viewed much like the burning bush: awesome and powerful, but completely mysterious and baffling.

Dafuq Is a Retirement Plan and Why Do You Need One?

For young’uns like us, old age and retirement couldn’t seem further away. And yet the thing about retirement is it goes way smoother if you prep for it in advance. Which is why all of us—yes, even you fresh-faced recent graduates—need a retirement plan.

The term “retirement plan” itself is a bit misleading. It suggests there’s a singular, one-size-fits-all tool for preparing to live out your sunset years in the lap of luxury. In reality, not only is there no one single retirement savings tool that works for everyone, but most people use multiple “retirement plans.”

Join me, dear readers, as I guide you through an entirely-too-detailed tour of the most common forms of retirement plans. Keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times and please don’t feed the wildlife.

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Come at me in the comments, you short rest dependent motherfuckers.

A Dungeonmaster’s Guide to Defeating Debt

Let’s talk about D&D&D! That’s Dungeons & Dragons and debt. Strictly 5e. Live in the now.

Guys. I don’t mean to brag, but I run a fourteenth level wizard that I’m pretty damn proud of. She is a cold-hearted bad-ass lawful-evil murder-machine.

My steed is a magic broom with a fifty-foot move-speed. My staff turns into a friendly giant constrictor snake on command. My Contingency spell is set to Polymorph me into a T-Rex if my hit points drop below 20%. I know, I know, it’s basically a massive free heal! And I’m a resourceful motherfucker. I once used a level one Disguise Self to convince two-dozen hostile Kuo Toa that I was Blibdoolpoolp, lobster-headed mother deity of the sea. I ordered them to pray until they died of exhaustion. #lawfulevil

If you play Dungeons & Dragons, you already know the best way to handle enemies depends on your class strengths. A barbarian has no business casting spells. A wizard has no business grappling. (And a warlock has no business in any campaign, period. Come at me in the comments, you short-rest dependent motherfuckers.)

Life, as I have so often found, mirrors games. Here is some wisdom for humans and demi-humans of all alignments.

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Being frugal is neither a death sentence for your social life nor a monastic vow to sit in silence and think about all the fun you're not having.

7 Totally Reasonable Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

There’s this assumption when talking about frugality that it means a lifestyle of no fun, ever. “But if I live like a pauper, how will I ever take my cherished babies to Disney World?” we wail, assuming that a) Disney World is fun, and b) it’s impossible to afford fun on a frugal budget.

I am here to dispel this ridiculous notion, dear readers. We’ve been writing a lot about the big picture of personal finance recently, and I wanted to give you (and me) a break with some practical, small-scale advice.

Being frugal and smart about your money is neither a death sentence for your social life nor a monastic vow to sit quietly and think about all the fun you’re not having. Movies, concerts, video games, sports—all are well within your grasp as a professional penny-pincher. In fact, you can enjoy a whole weekend full of cheap shenanigans while still maintaining your badass, frugal ways.

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I know people who pay Spotify $9.99 a month just to avoid listening to ads. That is insane to me. You are not Bing from that one episode of Black Mirror. You are not in a science fiction dystopia with no mute button.

How to Insulate Yourself From Ads

“If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men’s bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear…”

You might remember this passage from high school. It’s from Homer’s Odyssey. Specifically, it’s the part where the sorceress Bavmorda gives advice to Willow Ufgood (hero of the Odyssey) about how to navigate temptation.

Although she is a rapscallion known for turning soldiers into pigs, she’s a smart lady and gives pretty good advice. Willow ends up lashing Madmartigan to the mast of their ship while stopping his own ears (and those of the prophesied child Elora Danan) with wax.

Sometimes, the best way to resist temptation is to physically stop yourself from experiencing it in the first place.

Did he get an Oscar for this?

This got me thinking about advertisements. The average American sees more than 5,000 of them every single day. For some people, it can be as many as 20,000. Although you only remember seeing a small percentage of them, the amazing supercomputer that lives in your skull is constantly processing them on a subconscious level.

The point is, the best way to avoid the temptation of ads is to insulate yourself from them. Here are some easy ways to do so.

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