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Like your fingerprint, or your RuPaul's Drag Race fantasy league, your emergency fund is unique to you and you alone.

You Must Be This Big to Be an Emergency Fund

Here’s a horrifying fact. 46% of Americans can’t come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. Instead of an emergency fund, those people have to use credit cards, borrow from friends and family, or just… not pay for the emergency.

Scary, right? That means almost half of my countrymen are one fender bender, one slip on the ice, one infant with pneumonia away from—at best—massive debt. And at worst, massive bankruptcy. Homelessness. Abject poverty and desperation.

Think I’m being dramatic? I’m not.

My purpose in bringing up the nightmare that is living just above the poverty line is not to nag those who can’t afford an emergency. What kind of monster would belittle people so poor they have no way of saving themselves from one minor stumble on the road to making ends meet?

I’m also not here to advocate filing for bankruptcy multiple times (let’s say six) as a legitimate means of making emergencies go away.

Instead, we’re here to plumb the depths of one of personal finance’s most enigmatic puzzles:

How much money should you have in your emergency fund?

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When you live alone, no one will kick you out of bed for eating crackers.

Ask the Bitches: Why Are Painted Mason Jars the Internet’s Only Solution to My Tiny Apartment Woes?

In finance, Piggy and I are as the knuckle-dragging Australopithecus. We’re upright, we get the job done, don’t yell at us! But we’re the clumsiest possibly hominids. Our knowledge is erratically cobbled together from history books, finance podcasts, Kitty’s racist-yet-thrifty grandpa, and poorly-sourced socialist Facebook memes.

Thankfully, there are other areas where we are Homo neanderthalensis: graceful and erect, with powerful bodies and minds, superbly adapted to the cold, with cosmopolitan attitudes on interspecies breeding. Our knowledge in these areas is instinctual, virtuosic. And one of these areas is organizing small spaces.

Today we have a great reader question from our Tumblr on this very topic:

Hi! I love your blog and I find it really helpful!! I’m a mid-20s human in the SF Bay Area. I got a job and and was able to get an extra $15k in my salary (thanks to your advice!), and have now moved into my own little studio. My problem is this: Everything to help you “save space” on the web seems to actually be “how to move your entire kitchen into hand-painted mason jars”. Any advice on how to organize my space without buying useless storage buckets on Amazon?

Is… is this what I think it is? IS THIS PERMISSION TO GO ON MY BIG RANT ABOUT MASON JARS? Oh, thank the stars! (Jars?)

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Hold your lectures, bikevangelists.

The Joys of Getting Around Without a Damn Car

Loyal citizens of Bitch Nation, I have a confession to make.

I fucking hate driving.

It’s tedious and boring. It takes up time I could spend in other ways. It raises my blood pressure because everyone else is a really fucking bad driver but definitely not me I’m perfect. Cars are noisy, dirty, and expensive. And I’m expected to follow the rules of the road when I just wanna be all

So yeah. Me and cars? We don’t get a long.

And I’m not alone. Haunt the halls of lifestyle blogs and personal finance advice long enough and you’ll run into people who have gone to great lengths to go without driving.

Living a carless lifestyle is entirely possible for a lot of us, and the joys and benefits are many. Getting around without a car saves you a trunkload of cash (see what I did there?), it’s better for your health, and it’s better for the environment. It can even save you time, in certain circumstances.

Below I examine the joys and practicalities of carless modes of transportation. It’s by no means a complete list, so I encourage class participation! Tell me all about your car-free mobility in a comment.

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The transition from struggling to thriving can be very jarring.

Ask the Bitches: I Know How to Struggle and Fight, but I Don’t Know How to Succeed

Oh, everyone, I have a great treat for you today. It’s a very interesting letter from one of our Patreon supporters!

If you don’t already know, readers who makes a small donation to our Patreon account will get to ask us a question. Any question! And they may do so privately or publicly. This was a private question, but I asked our patron (whom I’ll call Hope) if I could share it with you. Because despite Hope’s rather specific situation, I think it speaks to a surprisingly universal experience.

I’m a single mom and have spent the last 7 out of my son’s 10 years of life struggling HARD. I’ve climbed my way up my professional ladder with no formal education or degree. I accrued $20K in debt during these hard years, but I have a plan to pay it off over the next two years, and overall my prospects are good.

My problem is this: I’ve always dreamed of putting away money for a down payment on a house my son can grow up in. But my son will be 12 by the time I’m ready to start saving. By the time I can afford a house, we’d have little time to enjoy it together. I can’t see myself being stuck with a house at 40 years old and my son gone off to school or whatever he ends up doing.

I know it sounds like this isn’t a problem, but I’m afraid that without a plan or goal, I’ll end up squandering anything I’m able to save once I get this paid off. I’m afraid of having money and not struggling and wasting money. I’m thinking of starting a college fund, a travel fund, I have no idea fund, but other than the small-scale budgeting I can do, I have no idea how money works. 

How can I “get riches” and be smart and not lose them for lack of a plan? is it too late to set my son up for success in other ways? Should I just be talking to an accountant? 

Any advice you could give would be great. I know how to struggle and fight, but I don’t know how to succeed.

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Buying an expensive game console is laughably cheaper than shelling out $13 to see a movie every Saturday night.

Ask the Bitches: How Can I Absolve Myself of Financial Guilt Over My Pricey PS4?

It’s hard out there for a broke-ass bitch. You try so hard to be frugal and disciplined, to make sound financial decisions and never waste a dime.

Yet still, financial guilt happens to the best of us. It can sneak up to bite you in the ass like some kind of slippery, perfidious garden snake in the Eden of your good monetary habits, leaving one trembling and sweaty with remorse and second thoughts.

Regretting a purchase or agonizing over a financial decision builds anxiety and stress migraines and is just generally no fun.

Recently loyal citizen of Bitch Nation Bettedavissighs (one of our darling Tumblr babies) asked a question about financial guilt. Her concerns are near and dear to my anxious little gazelle heart:

Hey Bitches, I just bought myself a PS4. It’s a big splurge on something non essential (I am fairly responsible w money, esp. now that I’m getting into FI stuff). How do I stop feeling guilty about it? I’ve wanted it for months (newbie gamer), but I keep having moments of extreme anxiety (how much I spent on it!). I had the money, so don’t get why I’m feeling like this now. Maybe it’s just a result of growing up poor? Love your blog! (ps any game suggestions, prefer w good female characters?)

Honey, I feel you.

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Beat identity thieves to the punch. File your taxes early.

Go Ahead and File Your Taxes Right Freakin’ Now

Ah, late winter. What a fine season!

Thick stews and steaming hot soups for dinner every night… haven’t seen my friends in weeks… onto our second tank of expensive-ass oil heat for the season… so pale and wan I look like one of the tuberculoid Brontë sisters, but with fewer published novels to show for it… people asking me what I want to do for my birthday…

Oh. Wait. I hate late winter!

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to nearly everything, but the one exception is filing taxes early. I love getting my taxes out of the way in February. And there’s a few really good reasons for it.

Lower your risk for identity theft

If some kind of l33t haxx0r gets their hands on your social security number, it’s relatively easy for them to file a fraudulent return in your name and pocket your return funds. Joke’s on anyone who tried to do this to me from 2008-2012! Self employment taxes are a bitch!

This is one of the most common forms of identity theft. Although it can usually be sorted out, it takes a long-ass time to do so—an average of 278 days. I’m sure that involves untold hours of bureaucratic headaches and heartaches.

A tightly protected social security number is a great place to start, but identity thieves could phish this information from gullible family members or steal it from employers with poor information security. That’s why the best secondary line of defense is filing taxes early. Knowing that most people wait until April to file, identity thieves work quickly to file their fraudulent returns first. Beat them to the punch.

It’s especially crucial this year due to the recent Equifax breach, which we wrote about here. Read More

Investing has the reputation of being mysterious and intimidating. It’s something for older, more worldly, bebuttsticked captains of industry, not lowly millennials trying to make their way in a hostile economy. But like the president's reputation as a deal maker, this characterization is a complete myth.

Investing Deathmatch: Paying off Debt vs. Investing in the Stock Market

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLE!

It’s time for another thrilling episode of Investing Deathmatch, in which two forms of investing enter the ring, and only one leaves victorious. Or, more accurately, we decide that investing is a far more complicated affair than wrestling and the outcome of the fight depends on a number of nuanced factors.

But I digress.

TO THE BLOOD SPORT!

This fight has a long and sordid history. We’ll be uncovering old wounds, dredging up arguments long held in stalemate. We’ll be discussing a topic about which every damn personal finance blogger on the Internet has a very firm opinion. And we’ll be demystifying an age-old enigma of financial independence.

Brawlers, take your corners.

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Do not get me started on the whole "audiobooks aren't books" thing.

Your Library Lets You Stream Audiobooks and eBooks FOR FREEEEEEE!

Our love of libraries is well-documented. Did we mention we feel the same way about librarians? We’re working on a dating app to connect our two core user demographics: INTJs and librarians. It’s called Stackitect, and it’s coming in 2019! Copyright, copyright, copyright. (Copyright law works just like triple talaq, yes?)

We love going to the library in person. Entering a library feels like taking an Adderall. (Again, I assume. I’m lame.) My ass gets FOCUSED! It’s the perfect place to work, read, research, study, and learn. And whatever you’re doing, librarians can be incredibly helpful. They are friendly, knowledgable, and waging a quiet war to protect us from fascism.

But sometimes it’s tricky to physically get to your library. Maybe the parking situation is rough, or the hours overlap with your work schedule, or a trip requires a long series of bus rides. Maybe you find the librarians too distractingly sexy. I’m not here to judge.

Too sexxxay.

Have no fear! In recent years, libraries have made incredible strides into the dense and unmappable jungle that is the internet. There’s a slew of new and constantly-improving apps that allow you to instantly rent and return free audiobooks and ebooks. Including graphic novels! And movies!

As you well know, the only thing we love more than librarians is free shit. Here are some of the top apps. Please go download them immediately.

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