Beer is one of my financial vampires.

Slay Your Financial Vampires

For centuries they have lurked in the shadows. Stalking, hunting, draining their victims of their means of survival, they prey upon the weak-willed, the guileless.

I am of course speaking of financial vampires. And it’s time to slay these undead motherfuckers once and for all. Why? Because it’s October, the season for getting all spoopy.

A financial vampire is an activity, product, or person that routinely sucks you dry of money you didn’t plan to spend. It is tempting or unnoticeable, demanding or pitiful. They rely on you to spend unconsciously, or succumb to temptation.

Your financial vampires could be vices like absinthe and opium dens (or, y’know, cigarettes and beer). They could be the last-minute social invitations of your friends. They could be a beguiling advertisement for a fucking Amazon Echo (which I am as yet convinced no able-bodied person needs).

A financial vampire is an activity, product, or person that routinely sucks you dry of money you didn’t plan to spend.

A financial vampire can derail your careful budget and responsible savings plan faster than you can say,

Let’s slay these bumpy-foreheaded, melanin-depleted, fruit-punch-mouthed bastards once and for all.

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You need to learn to forgive.

If You Don’t Eat Leftovers I Don’t Even Want to Know You

Did you guys know there are people out there who just… don’t eat leftovers? Yes! These wasteful, snooty heathens exist! And they’re coming for your delicious yet frugal lifestyle decisions.

To combat this slothful, repugnant, and uncreative attitude, I’m going to extoll the virtue of leftovers in all their glory. Because I think leftovers are the cat’s pajamas and you should too.

What do you take me for?

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You shut the hell up and learn about cognitive behavioral science while looking at my collection of chocolate cake gifs!

Making Decisions Under Stress: The Siren Song of Chocolate Cake

I’m a slut for studies.

I love random, weird studies that reveal surprising and bizarre correlations. And I’d like to take you through one of my favorites today. It’s called “Heart and Mind in Conflict: the Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making” and it’s about the ways that stress affects our ability to make good choices.

Oh, and more importantly: it stars a fat slab of chocolate cake.

AWWWW YEAH

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If the only time I hear from a friend is when she needs to borrow my car for the afternoon, I start to assume she likes the car a lot more than she likes me.

Are You a Frugal Mooch?

Sometimes, the quest for frugality can drive us to do ugly things. One of those things is mooching.

You probably know some mooches in your life. I know I do! In every social group, there’s That One Guy who comes to every party, eats and drinks as though he’s storing up for a long winter’s hibernation, and never offers to bring anything or chip in. He begs rides and never offers gas money. If you do him a favor, you’re extremely unlikely to be thanked with a kind word, a gift, or a return favor in the future.

On the other hand, in the rare instances where That One Guy actually orders a pizza for the group, out comes the calculator. He’ll send you a dead-serious Venmo request for $2.40 for your 1/8 of the pie. And no, he did NOT forget to factor in the tip, sales tax, or delivery fee.

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But what about investment jewelry?

You Deserve Cheap, Fake Jewelry, Just Like Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, 1930s fashion icon (and alleged Nazi sympathizer, let’s not play), had many wise things to say about beauty. Like, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” which is both tasteful and minimalist.

Most importantly though, she said: “Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful.”

Costume jewelry is cheap and fake, made to look like real precious gems and metals. So she’s making a statement about the purpose of jewelry. But she’s also saying that you don’t have to be wealthy to be stylish and attractive. In other words: your monetary worth does not determine your worth as a person.

Your monetary worth does not determine your worth as a person.

Chanel went on to say, “It’s disgusting to walk around with millions of dollars around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry… because it’s provocative.” Now this is the kind of opinionated anti-bullshittery I can get behind. And I’ve kept it in mind with all my jewelry purchases.

This timeless genius of style believed there was no shame in wearing fake jewelry because economic circumstance should not determine beauty. And also because the Nazis stole every precious gem in Paris. But I digress.

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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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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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The Frugal Introvert’s Guide to the Weekend

Ah. Thursday afternoon.

The perfect and natural time to begin contemplating your weekend plans.

We learned from our Myers-Briggs and finance article that we have quite a lot of introverted readers. In particular, we have a veritable army of female INTJs. Y’all are only 0.8% of the population! So since there’s five or six of you, we can assume that literally every female INTJ alive is present and accounted for in the comments section of BGR.

I made this post especially for all of you. I know how much you guys enjoy plans, backup plans, schemes, machinations, and gambits (an INTJ somewhere is rushing to the comments with “DON’T FORGET STRATAGEMS”). I’m also aware that your drug of choice is that sweet, sweet Get Shit Done feeling. Yet you struggle with prioritizing self-care and have difficulty enjoying lazy, unscheduled time. Don’t we all!

That’s why I have developed this Frugal Introvert’s Guide to the Weekend. It’s a bunch of free and low-cost stuff you can do in your home that will make you feel rested, tested, and invested (TM, TM, we’re starting an MLM and that phrase is gonna be part of our cult-like sales culture).

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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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