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.

(more…)

Read More

"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.

(more…)

Read More

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.

(more…)

Read More

I know people who pay Spotify $9.99 a month just to avoid listening to ads. That is insane to me. You are not Bing from that one episode of Black Mirror. You are not in a science fiction dystopia with no mute button.

How to Insulate Yourself From Ads

“If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men’s bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear…”

You might remember this passage from high school. It’s from Homer’s Odyssey. Specifically, it’s the part where the sorceress Bavmorda gives advice to Willow Ufgood (hero of the Odyssey) about how to navigate temptation. Although she is a rapscallion known for turning soldiers into pigs, she’s a smart lady and gives pretty good advice. Willow ends up lashing Madmartigan to the mast of their ship while stopping his own ears (and those of the prophesied child Elora Danan) with wax.

(more…)

Read More

Other people's weddings are expensive.

Other People’s Weddings Don’t Have to Make You Broke

There’s a code of honor when it comes to weddings: if you came to mine, then I will go to yours. Even if yours is on the other side of the country, and especially if you boarded an airplane to get to mine.

I don’t think I need to point out the flaw in this reasoning.

Other people’s weddings are expensive. This past year my husband and I collectively attended five weddings, two in the state where we currently live and three about 2,000 miles away in the region where we grew up. And that was it. That was our travel budget for the year. All gone.

So this isn’t going to be a story about how to save money on your own damn wedding. Today I’m going to tell you how to save money on other people’s weddings.

(more…)

Read More

"My New Year's Resolution was to go to the gym six days a week, but it's February 10th and there's a new season of OITNB and I'm too ashamed to cancel my membership SO HERE WE ARE."

You Probably Don’t Need That Gym Membership

Ok I know I just told you to start working out as a way to stay healthy and wealthy, but listen up: you can do it all without a gym membership.

Gyms are smelly, crowded, and over-priced. Their hours are sometimes inconvenient, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a turn on the equipment you want to use or fit into that over-crowded aerobics class. Even the most affordable, at $30 a month, are a big chunk of change that you could surely use for more lofty goals. And while the most expensive ones also offer things like saunas and in-house massage therapists, do you really use those services often enough to justify paying $500 or more a month?

Answer’s no, snowdrop. When you get right down to it, a gym membership is a great way to tell the world “My New Year’s Resolution was to lose ten pounds by going to the gym six days a week, but it’s February 10th and there’s a new season of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix and I’m too ashamed to cancel my gym membership so HERE WE ARE.”

(more…)

Read More

Getting in shape can save you money in surprising ways.

Run With Me If You Want to Save: Exercising Will Save You Money

Being unhealthy, overweight, and just generally unfit is expensive. Living a truly sedentary lifestyle (one in which the word “exercise” is avoided at all cost and bursts of physical motion are vanishingly rare) is associated with all kinds of expensive illnesses and health risks. It literally costs you money to be lazy and out of shape.

But being fit and healthy is affordable by comparison. You can save yourself all kinds of money on healthcare costs and lifestyle expenses just by working your muscles periodically throughout the day. As far as frugality goes, physical fitness is an all-around genius tactic for saving.

(more…)

Read More

There's no faster way to sour a friendship--and jeopardize your future trading opportunities--than to mishandle the intricacies of the friend trade.

The Delicate Art of the Friend Trade

When you’re short on money and long on time you get creative about paying for things. And a great, creative way to save money on goods and services is by trading for them with other goods and services.

I haven’t paid for a haircut in literally years. My hairstylist friend just happens to be a mom, so I trade babysitting for haircuts and we both walk away happy. This friend trade is a mutually beneficial arrangement: we both get something we really need, we both save money, and we both get the satisfaction of helping a sister in her hour of need.

But the friend trade is a delicate art. There’s no faster way to sour a friendship—and jeopardize your future trading opportunities—than to badly mishandle the intricacies of the friend trade.

Let’s examine how you can save money by navigating the waters of friend trading without being a total garbage person.

(more…)

Read More

Gently-used pre-owned shit is often just as good as band-spanking-new shit.

Almost Everything Can Be Purchased Secondhand

Shit’s expensive. If you need to buy shit, you should try to make it less expensive. Spend less on the shit you need to buy, and you’ll have more money to spend on your other financial goals. A great way to do this is by buying your shit secondhand.

Gently used, pre-owned shit is often just as good as brand-spanking-new shit, and can always be purchased less expensively than new shit. It can even be free! To really drive this point home, I’m going to start with a by-no-means comprehensive list of shit you can (and should!) get secondhand.

(more…)

Read More

At the very least, work with a buddy. So you can die together.

When Should You Release Your Death Grip on Your Precious Money and Hire a Professional?

(Please queue up Kenny Rogers’s timelessly wise “Know When to Hold ‘Em” while reading this post.)

We ladies at Bitches Get Riches are enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers—mostly by way of being stingy harpies with desk jobs that leave us thirsting to interact with something other than glowing ones and zeros. But sometimes, you need a pro more than you need the money you’ll save by doing it yourself.

Here’s a handy guide that should help you spot the difference.

(more…)

Read More