“What is a down payment?” In an ideal world, no one would need to ask themselves this question because no one would need one! Expensive things like cars and houses and college educations would be a lot more affordable. Enough so that we could pay for them with the money that we already have. And we’d all have mountains of it.
But unless you have a Scrooge McDuckian money vault at your disposal, buying a car or house or bachelor’s degree in cash is probably impossible. Down payments are necessary because of how our world works. Today we’re going to teach you what they are, when you need them, and how to use them to your advantage.
On a recent episode of the award-winninghighly acclaimedscandaloushomoeroticmerely adequate “moms love it!” Bitches Get Riches podcast, we discussed how to get your first apartment.
It’s an exciting time! You’re moving into your very own place, getting one of your very first Adulthood Merit Badges!
But what do you do when your time in that first apartment comes to an end? In short, how do you move out?
As tempting as it might be to toss the keys over your shoulder and just walk the fuck away, there is definitely an etiquette for moving out.
For one thing, it’s best to leave on good terms with your landlord, as you’ll likely need them to be a good reference for another apartment later on. Plus, you really want them to return your security deposit. And that means making your exit from the apartment with all the grace and aplomb of a Shakespearean actor leaving the stage.
It is Bitches Get Riches canon that Kitty and I met when we were randomly assigned roommates freshman year of college. We bonded through the adversity of cohabiting in a forced triple with an infuriating third party who shall forever remain nameless. The two of us shared a bunkbed and ceded one entire half of the room to that creature’s baffling habits and excessive belongings. I won’t go into it except to quote General William Tecumseh Sherman: “War is hell.”
Yet BGR lore rarely tells the end of the story! For after that fateful freshman year, we went on to rent our first apartment together, taking our roommateship to the next level. Nothing tests a friendship like shopping for a shower curtain together.
We survived our fourth-floor walkup with its busted dollhouse dishwasher and coffin-like shower. But more importantly, our friendship survived.
And thus, we feel uniquely qualified to dispense advice on Baby’s First Apartment!
As of fifteen minutes (and one very cold beer) ago, I officially own the beautiful house I’m sitting in right now.
My partner and I have been refreshing our mortgage account every few hours today, waiting for the final payment to process. (Weirdly, you have to WIRE the final payment. Seriously? After this years-long relationship of sending personal check after personal check, our mortgage lender refuses to trust us at the finish line? Fine, whatever…) Just before the close of the day, it happened.
Current principal balance: $0.00.
My mortgage is gone. I am done paying rent. If all things go according to plan, I will never ever pay rent again for as long as I live. Let’s talk about it!
Today I’m answering a timely question from one of our Tumblr followers. Takeittothestarss asks…
“Hi bitches! I hope you’re well and that you can help me (in that order). I’ve recently moved out of my parent’s house into an apartment with a couple housemates. Our building is old and not well insulated. It also doesn’t have A/C or heating, so right now it’s cold as balls. I’m wearing 5 sweaters and a blanket and I’m still cold. How do I warm this space up? I can’t make any modifications to it bc it’s a rental and we’re college students in very expensive city, so the less $ the better. Thanks!”
Ah. Heat. Like hope, it leaves the world sometimes, and we’re all worse off for it. But this is a modern late-stage-capitalist twist on a classic tenet of life on the cheap.
If there’s a Ten Commandments of Frugal Living, the first three are probably…
Thou shalt not drinketh the fruit of the latte.
Thou shalt cut thine cable.
Thou shalt put on a goddamn sweater.
This coincides with the first two of the Ten Commandments of Being Dad…
Thou shalt not touch the thermostat.
Nay, seriously, thou shalt not fucking touch it.
I live in New England, which is about as cold and dark as Hell itself. Even now, several feet of snow are pouring down around me. Even worse, I live in an old house that’s still heated by oil.
Each fill-up is about $500.
Like most frugal New Englanders, I have shivered my way through many a cold winter day, trying to save a few ha’pennies to buy my husband the new watch chain he so richly deserves. So I’m going to tell you what I know about staying warm.
Keep in mind that, thanks to our Patreon donors, we don’t need to stoop to spon-con. All the product recommendations in this article come straight from the heart!
When life stresses me out beyond belief, I find nothing more soothing or rejuvenating than reading about petty dramas I’m not personally involved in.
Neighbors feuding in all caps on Next Door; running blogs dragging the shit out of marathon cheaters; Facebook mommy groups erupting into explosive schisms over international geopolitics. Ahhhh… reading them is like slipping into a warm bath. So juicy! So low-stakes! With so much to fret about in my life, it’s nice to pause and contemplate the completely optional frettings of random other people I will likely never meet.
Which is why I love Reddit! And I’ll occasionally pull random questions that feed the drama-devouring beast within me interest me! Today’s question was found on r/personalfinance, a board where I lurk on the reg for obvious reasons…
We have a question today from a Tumblr follower. If you don’t follow us on Tumblr, you should! Piggy is one of the Tumblr Deep Ones. She’s been on the platform since its infancy, and she answers tons of reader questions.
Like this one!
I need to move out, but I don’t have any money actually saved up. I do have a job that can cover my monthly costs and still have some left over. So I was wondering just how bad of an idea it is to take out a student loan to get me out of my situation and then immediately work on paying it off.
Ah. A very relatable dilemma.
For most people (and families), housing is the largest item in their budget. Young people spend, on average, a quarter of their income on housing—more than any other age group. Which means that saving money on housing can have an enormous positive impact on your finances. Especially when you’re young.
But is it ever a good idea to strategically spend a lot more than you have to on housing? Spoiler alert: yes, it absolutely can be.
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.
… okay okay, that’s enough pleasantries—I’m worked up about something!
I recently read an article about queer teens being thrown out of their homes by unsupportive families. It had a lot of advice that sounded pretty good. Pursue legal emancipation. Talk to your teachers and guidance counselors. Seek therapy.
“Bah,” I scoffed through a mouthful of Babybel cheese. “Amateurs! Someone needs to write a real guide. Someone who actually knows what it’s like!”
I left home when I was a junior in high school. The reasons were complicated and sad. Suffice to say it was driven by a need for physical and psychological safety I wasn’t getting at home.
Everything worked out for me. I got lucky and landed on my feet. A few psychological scars added to my roguish charm! But it’s not the best strategy. Sorta like throwing yourself down a mountain and hoping you learn to ski on the way down. (Also a thing I did once. How am I alive?)
There are many reasons a teenager might leave home early. Among them: poverty, instability, abuse, neglect, addiction, incarceration, system involvement, and mental and physical health issues. Some are thrown out or kicked out in stark, dramatic fashion. Others are slowly, painfully squeezed out or frozen out. Still more are ignored, unsupported, or victimized to the point that the child must take the initiative to leave.
Regardless of the method, one of the most prevalent reasons teens become homeless is due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine in ten homeless LGBT teens “ran away” (46%) to escape family rejection, or were actively forced out (43%) by unsupportive parents.
So I dedicate today’s article to our young queer readers. May you never need the tips I’m about to lay out.
A few months ago I found my neighbor’s purse in the alley behind our houses near the dumpster. It was a nice purse, real leather, and inside was a Coach brand wallet. I assumed she’d been robbed, and went to her door to return the nearly empty bag. Imagine my surprise when she told me that no, it hadn’t been stolen, she’d just thrown it out.
Rather than side-eyeing her into oblivion, I kept the designer items… and sold them for cold, hard cash. Because that, dear friends, is how I do.
For I am a Craigslist Samurai! A Paladin of online, stranger-to-stranger transactions! Bequeath unto me your used snowboards and semi-broken furniture! I shall dust them off, fix them up, and turn them for a tidy profit, all in the name of my eventual financial independence!
Besides the thoughtlessly discarded purse and wallet, over the last few years I’ve sold a dresser ($20), a table ($25), a microwave ($10), a VCR ($10), bar stools ($20 each), a flat-screen TV I literally found on the side of the road ($100), another flat-screen from a friend ($100), two tables ($50 and $20 respectively), my old desk ($50), an AC ($20), a hardwood bed frame ($280), and a bike a friend left in my garage because he didn’t want to bother selling it before moving away ($150).
Selling stuff online can be a great way to bring in a little extra money. Most of the items above are things I got for free. The tables, for example, were left in the alley behind my house (before you call me out on it, yes, I aspire in all ways to be Dumpster Doggy). I rescued them, gave them a new coat of paint and stain, and sold them.
And if you’re patient, the payoff can be huge: the bed frame, bike, and TV were all from friends who moved away and didn’t have the time to sell their stuff before they left. But I had a garage to store them in and plenty of time to sell them right, for maximum profit.
It’s an art and a challenge. Here’s how you, too, can be a Craigslist Samurai.