Don’t Spend Money on Shit You Don’t Like, Fool

My darling, hyper-intelligent baby deer, I am going to share with you one of the best, most secret methods of saving money. It cuts down on wasteful spending. It increases your savings. It encourages you to be intentional. It even empowers you to live your best life.

Please hold onto something and prepare yourself spiritually. Ready? Here goes:

Don’t spend money on things you don’t like.

Wait, come back! I know it sounds obvious… but I find myself breaking this personal rule all the damn time. And whenever I do, I regret it, and not just for the wasted dollars I will never ever see again. So take my hand and let’s break it down, shall we?

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And that's when I strangled him, your honor.

The Subjectivity of Wealth, Or: Don’t Tell Me What’s Expensive

Wealth is entirely subjective. Depending on where you’re sitting on the great Staircase of Financial Solvency, your perspective of who’s wealthy and what’s expensive is going to vary wildly.

Because of this disparity, the definition of “expensive” truly depends on an individual’s personal money situation. Someone who makes $300K a year and can easily afford their rent and insurance isn’t going to think twice about buying cage free eggs, organic milk, and grass-fed beef. Meanwhile, their neighbor who makes $30K a year is going to be buying the practically expired store brand milk on sale. To them, the whole concept of buying organic, cruelty-free food seems absurdly out of reach even while their wealthier neighbor finds it “inexpensive.”

Which is why it’s about as irritating as a Spotify Premium commercial to hear people speak authoritatively about what’s expensive and what’s not. Especially when their version of “expensive” is a diamond encrusted dog manicure and yours is a Whole Foods grapefruit.

Lemme ‘splain.

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Like it or no, you can't find a romantic partner or benefit from networking with industry colleagues while staying home and organizing your collection of reusable cloth grocery bags.

The Unexpected Benefits (and Downsides) of Money Challenges

I fucking love money challenges. As a naturally competitive person, gamifying self-improvement is totally my jam. I’m one of those weirdos who sets a New Year’s Resolution every year and always finishes it. Turning money, exercise, or learning a new skill into a game to be won makes it feel like I’m leveling up with every grand I save, baby!

I’ve tried a number of money-based challenges to achieve my goals (like paying off my student loans in half the time). But some criticize money challenges because they risk starting you on a financial yo-yo diet in which your good habits wax and wane according to whether you’re currently pursuing a money challenge.

Preach it, Sir Ian McKellen! I think money challenges are a fresh and exciting short-term method of meeting long-term goals.

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You Need to Ask for a Fucking Raise

A new whiskey distillery opened near my office. And because we work for a publishing house and some stereotypes exist for a reason, my coworkers and I went for happy hour the day it opened. Which is how I found myself drunkenly badgering three of my female coworkers about their income (if this is shocking to you, you must be new here).

At issue was the fact that none of them had ever asked for a raise. Ever. And as I listened to their lame excuses I felt the worst kind of déjà vu. All of their reasoning and fear sounded so familiar to my own personal experience.

Because if you recall, I too had once waffled about asking for a raise. And I think of the whole miserable time just like the Alamo: NEVER AGAIN. (That’s how the saying goes, right? … right? Right.)

Apparently not, because if my coworkers are still struggling with all the same hang-ups about asking for a raise that I once had, then chances are some of you are too. And it is my sworn duty as a personal finance blogger and Loud Internet Woman to type words at you until you get the hell over it! So here goes.

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I'd like to avoid supporting labor practices that make Upton Sinclair's The Jungle look positively humanitarian.

Fast Fashion is Fucking Up the World

As you can tell from our witty banter on the Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn podcast, Kitty and I consider ourselves to be eminently fashionable gentlewomen. Look good, feel good! That’s our motto! (Just kidding that is definitely not our motto. We don’t have one. We’re still workshopping it. Do you even realize how long it took us to come up with the name of this blog? A long time… and many Excel spreadsheets.)

And yet, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I rarely go shopping for myself, and when I do, it is with all the precision and swiftness of a predator drone. Get in, get the goods, get out. I love me a good thrift store find, few things give me more materialistic glee than purchasing a unique garment at the flea market, and yes, I shop at fucking Target. But these expenditures are few and far between.

This is partially because of my frugal nature. I just don’t buy a lot of stuff. But it’s also because in recent years I’ve tried really hard to avoid an industry that is damaging to both the environment and to human rights on a global scale.

I am speaking, of course, of fast fashion.

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I'm proud to be a Millennial so fuck you.

I’m Proud to Be a Millennial So Fuck You

Lazy, entitled, freeloading, whiny, safe-space-inhabiting, impatient, thin-skinned, don’t-know-the-meaning-of-a-hard-day’s-work, precious snowflakes. Millennials. My generation.

Or, if you’re Time Magazine, “The Me Me Me Generation.” This is but one example of the current favorite editorial of the lazy middle-aged journalist, in which they trash millennials for everything they’re anecdotally doing wrong with very little empirical evidence about what’s actually going on in their lives. Writing indignant think pieces about how awful the young people are these days has been in style since Socrates was pioneering toga style in the amphitheaters of Athens. But this style of editorializing still pisses me off.

I’m tired of it. For one thing, the entire concept of “generations” is bullshit, as perfectly explained by Adam Ruins Everything:

For another, the Millennial stereotype is pure, unfiltered cockamamie. So setting aside for a moment the fact that generations are a nebulous concept devoid of meaning and that the popular stereotype of millennials is false, I’d like to take this moment to explain a thing at you.

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"Wealthy White Folks Welcome!"

Gentrification: Artisanal, Small-Batch Displacement of the Poor

I had just come home from work when three students from the college down the street approached my porch with official-looking clipboards in hand. “Excuse me ma’am,” (I’m a ma’am now? When did this happen?) “Can we ask you some questions for a school research project?”

Instead of hissing “Youths!” and retreating into the darkness of my lair, I obliged. I am a “ma’am” now, after all, and that comes with a responsibility to be magnanimous toward fine upstanding young people everywhere.

First question: “What does gentrification mean to you?”

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Subscribing to a monthly box of random shit treats your financial goals like a dartboard and your money like the darts...while you're wearing blindfold and drunk off your ass.

Fuck Your Blue Barking Birch Box

It’s time for another edition of Piggy Complains About Wasteful Spending! In this episode, I’m going to cover a recent phenomenon so antithetical to both minimalism and frugal spending that it has literally left me apoplectic with indignation.

I am speaking, of course, of the monthly subscription box.

As best I can tell, the trend started with Birch Box, a monthly package of beauty product samples to which you can subscribe. Here’s how the model works: you pay a monthly subscription and in exchange you’re sent a monthly box of stuff. You do not get to choose the stuff, you are not told what the stuff will be, and usually you don’t get to exchange the stuff for stuff you would prefer.

Most of the companies providing this service have a theme: there’s the dog theme, the nerd theme, the clothing theme, the healthy snack theme, the makeup theme, I shit you not the Ron Swanson theme, the I-am-incapable-of-meal-planning theme, the affluent vegan theme, the agoraphobic bookworm theme, and the I-find-the-wine-selection-at-my-local-liquor-store-intimidating theme, just to name a few.

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Riddle me this: when is your time worth more than your money?

Should You Increase Your Salary or Decrease Your Spending?

When it comes to advice on how to become financially independent, there are two schools of thought:

  1. Increase your salary as much as possible.
  2. Decrease your spending as much as possible.

There are personal finance gurus who scoff at the idea of cutting out lattes and other minor unnecessary expenses as a path to wealth and security, instead advising you to spend your time making as much money as possible. Then there are others who extoll the virtues of thrifty living and frugality in the extreme, championing a spartan lifestyle in which you can retire early by spending minimally.

So who’s right? Which method will lead most quickly to financial independence and a life in which you no longer have to worry about money? Which tactic for peak prosperity should you pursue?

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If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Romanticizing the Side Hustle

Ah, the side hustle. More commonly known as the “second job,” side hustles are a badass, creative, independent—yet completely romanticized—way to increase your income. They’ve become a symbol of entrepreneurial go-gettership, a way to show the world that your ideas and goals are far too important to contain in a single 9-5. Side hustlers are super humans with the energy and vision to Get Shit Done.

Or at least, that’s the rhetoric we all perpetuate by romanticizing the side hustle.

Let’s call a spade a spade. A side hustle is a goddamn second job, and if you have one it means either a) your first job is failing to pay the bills, or b) you’re willing to trade all of your free time in order to retire early because your job sucks and doesn’t pay enough to achieve this goal. Neither scenario is particularly inspiring or empowering.

I’m not saying we should all revolt against the concept of side hustles and give up our efforts to make extra money. You can pry my side hustle from my cold, dead hands, as a matter of fact. But I think a dose of realism is in order lest we get carried away romanticizing the side hustle.

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