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MASTERPOST: Everything You Need to Know About Saving Money and Being Frugal

{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Saving Money and Being Frugal

The Colosseum teems with unruly members of the plebeian class. As the sun beats down upon their heads, a riotous energy gathers and surges through the gathered masses. “Masterposts, masterposts, masterposts,” they begin to chant in unison.

The charioteer’s horses stamp their feet in agitation as the chant grows louder, reverberating around the stone walls of the arena. The captive tigers and lions pace back and forth as their handlers exchange nervous glances. How much longer can they hold their deadly charges back? How much longer will the people be denied?

Co-Empresses Piggy and Kitty—looking extremely classy in complimentary but not matchy-matchy ionic chiton gowns—stand and extend their golden and white respective arms. The crowd falls silent, awaiting their judgement.

Thumbs up.

There will be masterposts. And our first one is on ways to decrease spending. Are you not edutained?! Is this not why you are here?!

Look, there are really two basic ways to get more money: increase your income or decrease your spending. Through a clever application of both methods, you can end up with enough money to live comfortably and stress-free without having to sell your organs in the process.

Let’s focus on one half of the equation today: decreasing your spending. The less you spend, the more you have to work with. And living a frugal life means you’ll need less money to get by. It’s all a beautiful circle!

So here it is! The complete list of everything we’ve ever written about being frugal and saving money. Your mileage may vary, so try different stuff until you find what works for you.

And hey. We’re all in this together. Don’t give up.

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Yeah, it's stupid to try to time the market.

Hurricane Debt Weakens to Tropical Storm Debt, but Experts Warn It’s Still Debt

It’s been over a year since the last time I gave an update on the state of my own debt. Since we’re always dispensing our opinions from our seat on the divine acropolis at the crest of Mount Olympus, we like to be transparent about our own situations. So let’s check in!

As we’ve chronicled, Piggy and I paid off our student loans ahead of time. And we don’t have credit card debt, unless it’s part of a nefarious-but-prudent scheme to harvest points. When talking about my financial sitch, I love to describe myself as “debt free, except for my mortgage!”

Which, when you think about it, is kinda weird? Like describing a milkshake as “dairy free, except for the milk!” The milk is not a small or trivial part of a milkshake. It is eponymous! It’s basically the point of the thing!

And the mortgage is a big debt. The average American family has $16,000 in credit card debt (yikes). An average student’s educational loan debt is $34,000 (double yikes). But the median home price blows both those numbers out of the water at $227,000.

For most people, a house is the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy, and the largest source of debt. It’s the milk in the milkshake.

And if you were about to jump to the comments to erroneously claim that ice cream is the point of a milkshake, hold ya fakkin’ hahses, khed. I live in New England. Our milkshakes do not have ice cream. If there’s ice cream in it, it’s called a frappe.

I can’t tell you why. I don’t make the rules, I just abide by them.

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Gird your loins. Don your resting bitch face.

Buying a Car with the Bitches, Part 2: How to Pay for Your Car

Previously, on “Buying a Car with the Bitches”: Part 1.

Before we discuss any part of the car buying process, there is one very important thing you need to remember:

You are a dragon and you breathe fire.

Do not let sellers push you around. Do not let them talk you into anything. Do not feel sorry for them. And do not forgive or excuse them for anything.

If they want your extremely valuable business, they are going to have to earn it by respecting you, your money, and your time. They are going to have to prove themselves with straightforward answers and solid customer service.

Don’t be nice. You can’t afford to be nice. Make those fuckers werk.

While this is good advice for any financial negotiation, it’s especially important for buying a car because the entire car buying industry seems to be predicated on a philosophy of shady sales tactics and manipulation.

And you have too much money at stake to put up with that shit.

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Buying a Car with the Bitches, Part 1: How to Choose Your Car

When I got my first big-kid job, I took most of my savings from over four years of nannying and bought a used car with cash. Seven years of hard commuting later and that car was a thirteen-year-old dinosaur with over 300,000 miles on it begging to be put out of its misery.

When I refused to let the poor thing die with dignity (because I definitely didn’t plan to buy a new car while in the middle of Operation Student Loan Decimation), it made the decision for me and offed itself.

I didn’t have enough cash saved up to buy a new car without a loan because I’d been spending every last shining penny on my student loans at the time. This process had drained all but a minimal emergency fund dry, so buying a new car with cash was out of the question.

And making my forty-mile round trip commute by bus was actually more expensive than driving: four hours and $10 a day, to be exact.

So I needed to buy a new car. Here’s what I learned from the process.

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Remember learning about means, medians, and modes in middle school? You're about to understand why they taught that shit to you.

What’s the REAL Rate of Return on the Stock Market?

Our awesome Patreon donors have asked us to tackle a really interesting question this week: what’s the real rate of return on the stock market?

If you ask people this question, you get surprisingly different answers. And for some reason (boredom at my day job) I decided to get all art school with it. Here, I wrote you a one-act play on the topic!

WHAT THE FUCK IS IT EVEN: THE REAL RATE OF RETURN ON THE STOCK MARKET

A Play in One Act

SOME PEOPLE
(With great confidence)
Ten percent!

OTHER PEOPLE
(With low confidence)
Ssssssssssix?

MOST PEOPLE
(In anguish)
Why are you asking me this?! Shit. Am I supposed to know?!

SOME PEOPLE
(Smugly)
It’s totally ten percent. Why would you ever buy a house or pay off debts when stocks are so mathematically superior?

OTHER PEOPLE
Ssssssseven??

MOST PEOPLE
(With self-loathing)
I feel like I’m too busy to know this. But also I made time to watch that Zac Efron Ted Bundy biopic on Netflix, so…

SOME PEOPLE
Don’t even buy a single tube of mascara or a ham sandwich. It’s a waste. It’s unoptimized garbage. I buy nothing but stocks and Soylent!

OTHER PEOPLE
Wait, is this the four percent thing? I’ve heard people talk about the four percent thing. Is it foooourrrr?

DAVE RAMSEY bursts onto the stage.

DAVE RAMSEY
It’s 12% if you follow my system! But I never agreed to be here! My company sends cease and desist letters to people who criticize me!

DAVE RAMSEY exits the stage and the playwright forgets to go back and delete that part.

MOST PEOPLE
(With resignation)
No, you know what? I know that Alleras the Sphinx is actually a lost Sand Snake, and I know three quarters of the verses of Mambo #5, but I do not know what the rate of return on the stock market is and I have accepted that fact about myself.

SOME PEOPLE rubs stocks all over his torso. He visibly nips out. OTHER PEOPLE keeps mumbling random numbers. MOST PEOPLE starts adjusting the Pinterest board for her wedding, even though she is not engaged or seeing anyone seriously.

Rocks fall; everyone dies.

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