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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What's your Lucky Charms methodology?

The Magically Delicious Intersection of Financial Discipline, Generational Poverty, and Marshmallows

What’s your methodology for eating a bowl of Lucky Charms? And in a related question: how’s your financial discipline?

RESIST.

Do you peck the marshmallows out first, like a marshmallow-loving chicken? Or do you eat around them, creating a cereal-free pleasure palace of marshmallows, swimming together decadently in their milk? Or do you dig in holistically, indiscriminately, with marshmallows and cereal intermingling freely, devil-may-care, eating whatever ends up on your spoon?

The answer could reveal a whole lot about your life, your personality, and the health of your personal finances. We know this thanks to a fascinating series of studies conducted on children eating marshmallows.

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"Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it."

You Are above Bottled Water, You Elegant Land Mermaid

One time during my freshman year of college, I walked into my dorm to find my pals holding up a bottle of Fiji water like it was the Holy Grail. Recently escaped country bumpkin that I was, I had never heard of Fiji bottled water. “Oh, you have to try it!” they exclaimed reverently, “It’s the best water.”

I sipped. I was underwhelmed. “Tastes just like my well water back home,” I explained. They gave me looks that clearly said, “Take your fairy tale upbringing in a sylvan glade drinking unicorn tears and shove it.”

All of which is to say that I have never been impressed with our country’s feverish devotion to bottled water. And here’s why I am perfectly vindicated in that point of view.

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Being frugal is neither a death sentence for your social life nor a monastic vow to sit in silence and think about all the fun you're not having.

7 Totally Reasonable Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

There’s this assumption when talking about frugality that it means a lifestyle of no fun, ever. “But if I live like a pauper, how will I ever take my cherished babies to Disney World?” we wail, assuming that a) Disney World is fun, and b) it’s impossible to afford fun on a frugal budget.

I am here to dispel this ridiculous notion, dear readers. We’ve been writing a lot about the big picture of personal finance recently, and I wanted to give you (and me) a break with some practical, small-scale advice. Being frugal and smart about your money is neither a death sentence for your social life nor a monastic vow to sit quietly and think about all the fun you’re not having. Movies, concerts, video games, sports—all are well within your grasp as a professional penny-pincher. In fact, you can enjoy a whole weekend full of cheap shenanigans while still maintaining your badass, frugal ways.

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