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Hashtag rustic shit is really having its moment.

Wait… When Did DIYing Become As Expensive As Buying New??

I often fall into the trap of seeing a cost estimate online and thinking, “Ah, I, savvy anti-consumer than I am, shall devise a way to get the same results for a fraction of the price!” So I slave over making something, fixing something, finding something… and then I pass by the exact item I just made, sitting on the shelf of Home Goods, for twenty dollars less than the price I just paid to make it myself.

Why does this happen? I was raised with the general truism that making something yourself is less expensive than buying it new. And I think this used to be the case with almost everything.

But our world has changed a lot in a short amount of time. Certainly for our grandmothers, it was cheaper to sew their own dresses than buy them from a catalogue. But big, global economic factors have pulled down production prices for almost everything under the sun. And that has a huge effect on whether DIYing something is really going to save you money.

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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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Take a break from your weekly meeting of the Optimistic and Nearsighted Libertarian Club.

Dafuq Is Insurance and Why Do You Even Need It?

This article is definitely not about health insurance. I specifically refer to pretty much every other kind of insurance you can get in the United States, but not health insurance. Because contrary to what our fearless leader said recently, everyone knows that healthcare is really fucking complicated. Not to mention expensive.

Therefore, I’m saving it for another post so as not to muddy the waters… with our tears.

Our readers from civilized countries like Canada and Namibia are probably recoiling in horror right about now. Yeah. WELCOME TO THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, BITCHES. Moving on.

Insurance in general can seem like a confusing and unnecessary gamble. Obtaining it and taking advantage of its benefits might seem daunting. Why should you pay money for something you might never need? You’re healthy and careful! What’s the point of this expensive service?

Worry not my confident yet naive marshmallow peeps. I’ll break it all down for you.

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I know what you're thinking. It can't possibly be this simple. But it is.

This Flowchart Tells You When You Need Extended Warranties

Is it my imagination, or are companies offering extended product warranties way more often than they used to?

Oh, I’m being coy. I know the answer—Portia reads the papers! 74% of electronics shoppers and 85% of appliance shoppers get the extended warranty pitch during their shopping experience.

Whether in-person at Best Buy or online at Amazon, it seems like every purchase now comes with a suggested extended warranty. And it’s not just for computers and smartphones. I’ve gotten these offers on crappy $10 earbuds, pet hair vacuum cleaners, and brass floor lamps.

Why are companies pushing these special extended warranties? And how do you know if purchasing one is in your best interest?

I’m proud to say that I’ve developed a formula to answer this very question, and I’ve put it into a helpful flowchart for all you good boys and girls. But it wouldn’t be a Kitty article if I didn’t bury my lede under some quasi-socialist deconstructions of consumerism first!

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This is exactly the kind of mindless consumption that could send our species into extinction.

Five Reasons to Love the Tiny House Movement

At times, our series on tiny houses ventured toward… scathing. Which isn’t even original, as evidenced by articles like this, this, this, thisthis, this, this, thisthis, this, this, this, and this. Jeez. Maybe this counts as punching down?

So as promised, we will conclude our series by refocusing our discussion on what’s great about the tiny house movement. As the movement begins its slow fade into obscurity, these are the five points I pray leave a lasting impact on our culture.

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The solution to systemic issues in our mortgage industry isn't "live in a rustic wheeled broom closet bought with your mom's cashed-out 401(k)."

Bullshit Reasons to Live in a Tiny House, Refuted (Part 2)

“If you believe that having a tiny home will lead you to a more focused and purposeful life, you probably also believe that buying a Slap Chop will lead you to eat salad every day.”

-Mister Kitty

Welcome back to the enormous mansion that is my overness with tiny homes. It’s so large and spacious here! You can twirl through the front door like Julie Andrews, arms outstretched, lungs full of crisp alpine air, yodeling your appreciation for an efficient and well-designed 1,200 square foot home.

The first five points we discussed last week were mostly logistical. We raised questions about such issues as financing, insurance, time-management, and other such boring topics.

What is this?

The final five points we’ll discuss today get down to a deeper, more emotional level. What is the purpose of a home? Of family? Of travel and adventure? Such topics are of essential importance to people considering the tiny house lifestyle. And in order to explore them to the best of my ability, I’m going to share AN EMBARRASSING PERSONAL ANECDOTE before the end.

So if you don’t agree with this article, go ahead and read it anyway because you’ll be rewarded with a story that depicts me in very unflattering terms!

Let’s get right back into it, shall we?

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Owning a three-bedroom home does not mean the three-bedroom home police are gonna come peep in your windows.

Bullshit Reasons to Live in a Tiny House, Refuted (Part 1)

“I would rather bathe in 10,000 scorpions while singing the entire libretto of Rent than live in a tiny house.”

-Piggy

For a while there, I was ready to breathe easy, thinking that the tiny home craze had finally passed. I saw far fewer think pieces, pins, and aspirational hashtags than I once did. The advent of television shows describing the movement seemed to announce its loss of counter-culture status, typically a sure sign that the end is nigh.

… Then I started writing a financial blog.

Like a recalcitrant UTI patient, I’d stopped taking my antibiotics when my symptoms went away. My reward was the metaphorical equivalent of pissing a mixture of broken glass and lava: boundless renewed fascination with tiny houses.

It’s easy to understand why this is. Tiny homes are singularly appealing to frugal people. On paper, they are everything a traditional home is, but optimized: cheaper, greener, less constricting. But the proliferation of tiny homes has begun the slow process of revealing a less rosy truth.

I think the tiny house movement is already being lowered into its coffin, but allow me to secure the lid with ten big nails. The following list comes from the Tiny House Blog’s Top 10 Reasons to Join the Tiny House Movement. (I selected this list from a hat, more or less. It’s the first entry that popped up when I googled the phrase “reasons to get a tiny house.” Interestingly, the second one is Forbes’s 5 Reasons Buying a Tiny House is a Mistake.)

I’m going to dismantle each one because I’m a neoliberal killjoy and secret corporate shill for Big Housing.

Hold onto your butts.

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When my then-boyfriend got me a cordless drill for my birthday, I opened its sleek plastic case with all the gasping, questioning, and blubbering usually reserved for a ring box.

9 Essential Tools for Apartment-Dwelling Hominids (and 5 That Are Kiiiiinda Useless)

Bitches, I have lovely news. My little brother just moved in with me!

He’s almost a full decade younger than me, and is graduating college a semester early. His final task before graduation is completing an internship, and it just so happens that he was accepted to one in my city. He’s crashing for the summer and filling the house with all sorts of dangerous new ideas. (Sports jerseys can be wall decor. WHO KNEW?)

Little brothers, man!

As my whole being pulsates with prideful big sister vibes, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like to be twenty-one and living in a city for the first time. If I could go back ten years, there’s so much I would tell myself to spare me time, heartache, and money. So if you notice a certain nostalgia creeping into my upcoming posts, that’s probably why!

I got tons of advice when I moved into my first apartment. Some friend or family member gifted me with the tiny toolbox I called Baby’s First Toolbox. It was the size of a slim binder and probably cost them $20.

And that $20 toolbox has saved me thousands of dollars over the last decade.

In the spirit of learning from the past and embracing the skills you need for the future, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite and least favorite tools for beginners. These tools assume you’re not super handy (yet), and that you have a very limited amount of both space and budget.

Every single tool on the first half of this list can be purchased for less than $10, and they’re among the most ubiquitous finds at garage sales. Ask your parents and grandparents if they have extras they would give to you—because I’ve learned that part of being an adult is magically acquiring one new screwdriver every two years?

I don’t know what’s up with that. It’s like the tooth fairy, but even lamer.

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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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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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