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We strolled around for hours, having a great time at one of the city's best tourist destinations without spending a dime.

Your School or Workplace Benefits Might Include Cool Free Stuff

If you work for a large company, or a well-connected small one, you should investigate if part of your benefits package includes any unexpectedly awesome free shit.

Many companies act as corporate sponsors of local theaters, symphonies, museums, zoos, sporting teams, and other cultural institutions, and their patronage can translate to free or discounted tickets for you.

This is also the case for many colleges and universities. Whether you’re a grad or undergrad, the right student ID can equal discounted membership, classes, and admission to any institution your school partners with. I regret not taking advantage of my college’s generous museum consortium membership more often when I was a student. (To be fair to myself, I had just discovered alcohol. So. Mm-hmm!)

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Nobody does what you do. So if they want it, make them crawl for it.

Should Artists Ever Work for Free?

I’m an artist. I am well paid to do my job. And I am way, way rarer than I should be.

There are a lot of historicaleconomictechnological, and cultural factors that keep the perceived value of art lower than that of professions that require comparable education and practice. Unfortunately, there ain’t shit you can do about historical, economic, technological, and cultural factors. But you can refuse to contribute, on an individual level, to the devaluation of your chosen industry.

The easiest way to do that is to refuse to work for free. Here’s why. Read More

If you're confident in your ability not to abuse it, raising your borrowing threshold will give your credit score an instant boost.

How to Instantly Increase Your Credit Score

One of the ways you can improve your credit rating is to lower your credit utilization ratio, that is: the amount you owe compared to the amount you could borrow.

It’s usually better to just pay down the principal, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you’re confident in your ability not to abuse it, raising your borrowing threshold will give your credit score an instant boost.

I’d assumed this was a complicated process requiring some degree of cringing, but it turns out increasing your credit limit is extraordinarily easy. This method was described to me by an educator in my city’s free first-time homebuyer program. I will try to transcribe it exactly as she said it:

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Whenever someone gives you financial advice, you have to ask yourself, "What is their angle?"

Bullshit Reasons Not to Buy a House: Refuted

Look, there’s a lot of terrible financial advice out there. I had to seek out a bunch of it to write this article, and I think my eyeballs rolled too far and are now permanently pointing into the back of my head. It is very hard to type. Are my fingers still on the home row? Everything is pink and dark. Please send help.

Recently, I’ve seen some advice against buying a home, and I really wanted to examine that. On the one hand, it makes some sense—in the wake of such a damaging recession, many traditional investment truisms proved to be overstated. Financial gurus were overconfident, and occasionally dead wrong. We are collectively wise to question everything.

But in the opinion of these Bitches, home ownership is right for most people. It can be done unwisely, even ruinously—but there are very few situations where renting in perpetuity is a great choice.

Whenever someone gives you advice of any kind, you have to ask yourself: “What is their angle?” If you ask a professional tattoo artist if you should get a tattoo, they’re probably going to be very enthusiastically in favor of the idea. If you ask your Bubbe the same question, she’s probably going to be very enthusiastically against the idea. Everyone has personal preferences, biases, passions, experiences, and agendas that influence how they advise you. Their intent may not be malicious, but it could be short-sighted or unsuitable to your situation.

Let’s get a spoon and dig into this heaping pile of problematic advice.

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I've come to think that's the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person's life.

Why You Might Not Need Your Emergency Fund

Excluding my mortgage, I’m a debt-free individual. That means my credit card is a pretty lonely lil’ guy. He doesn’t even get to live in my wallet. He’s entombed in my office with my library card, my old student ID, and that Best Buy gift card with only $3.52 left on it. He has a zero-balance and a $10,000 limit.

I used to keep $6,000 in cash squirreled away as part of an emergency fund—enough to make a few rent payments if I lost my job or had to cover an unexpected accident deductible. I was very lucky, and none of those things ever came to pass; but this meant my emergency fund sat in my savings account, slowly depreciating. Meanwhile, I was toying with the idea of closing my credit card altogether—after all, I never used it.

But eventually, I saw a wonderful opportunity to justify that card, and put my emergency fund to better use: I invested the $6K and designated my credit card as my new emergency fund. I’ve come to think that’s the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person’s life.

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Buying something you don't need can be an act of defiance against your current situation.

Buying the $7 Chocolate Bar

Yesterday I watched a friend who was struggling with homelessness unpack her few belongings. Inside her purse was a large, rather expensive, luxury-brand chocolate bar. She held it up and twiddled it back and forth in her hands, letting the silver foil catch the light. “Sweetie, I’m homeless,” she said, very matter-of-fact. “You’d better believe I’m getting the good stuff.” And boy was she making a great point.

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Asking to pay less is almost always a wearying and unwelcome question...with one very special exception.

The Magical Six-Word Question That’s Saved Me $1,140 in Three Months

I’m a little wary of asking for discounts, especially from very small companies. When it’s just one or two people running the show, it means those one or two people spend an inordinate percentage of their time doing things they don’t like to do. Nobody starts their own business because they love filing quarterly taxes—they soldier through it for the 10% of the time where they’re actually doing the thing they love.

And every small business owner I’ve known has lost sleep over their pricing. No matter what you’re selling, there’s local and global competition for it, and consumers have tools now that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago that allow them to find, compare, rate, and review similar services. The world is a buyer’s market, and it’s really hard to measure what you know your work is worth against what you know people are willing to pay for it. Asking to pay less for the same product is almost always a wearying and unwelcome question… with one very special exception.

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If you think of quilted toilet paper as a small luxury, you are bad at thinking and should be punished.

You Deserve Cheap Toilet Paper, You Beautiful Fucking Moon Goddess

In my short lifetime, I have heard more than one perfectly sensible person tell me they “can’t do” single-ply toilet paper.

Rick knows how I feel.

I don’t know why people tell me these things. It’s like they want me to cry out to Father Dagon and Mother Hydra and bid them raise an army of Deep Ones from the many-columned depths of Y’ha-nthlei to sweep over the land and drown the humans in a cosmic flood as recompense for their innumerable and unpardonable follies.

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Do you know what Cinderella did to get ahead? She planted a tree. And watered it daily with her tears. The point is that class mobility has literally been a fairy tale for most of human history.

“Poor People Are Poor Because They Are _____. Rich People Are Rich Because They Are _____.”

When Piggy and I first talked about starting a finance blog for Millennials, we spent a lot of time talking about how traditional financial advice had failed us. Some advice failed simply for being too old. It relied on outdated growth models, or it ignored a rapidly changing globalized economy, or discounted the possibilities of living in a world transformed by technology.

These failures were innocent. Others were not.
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