When the check arrives, who pays?

Take Pride in Being a Cheap Date

I have no idea how to date. I accidentally fell in love with the boy next door at eighteen, married him at twenty-seven, and I don’t think you could call my high school floozyism before then “dating” by any stretch of the imagination (#noregerts).

So picture my horror when my single friends tell me about how goddamn expensive it can be to date. On top of dating being an often excruciatingly awkward, painful, nerve-wracking, and misery-inducing experience, it can also feel like throwing good money after bad dates.

My girl Gabby says of the dating experience, “Dating revolves a lot around going out for meals and activities. We went to Top Golf for an hour and a half and he spent over $100… for a casual weeknight date. Concert tickets at the best venues in town are no less than $50 a pop before you even add in any drinks or food. Not only is dating expensive because you’re going out, but it also means you want to look your best so you may get a few new articles of clothing, get your hair done (on your head or otherwise…), get your nails done…”

All of which is just financially dire enough to convince me there has to be a better way. And I don’t mean taking vows of chastity and poverty and joining a convent. Though that’s a truly tempting option in light of some men’s behavior.

So buckle up, kids, and let this old married hag tell you how to save money while still finding Prince or Princess Charming. Surely it can’t be that hard, right?

… right?

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Do not get me started on the whole "audiobooks aren't books" thing.

Your Library Lets You Stream Audiobooks and eBooks FOR FREEEEEEE!

Our love of libraries is well-documented. Did we mention we feel the same way about librarians? We’re working on a dating app to connect our two core user demographics: INTJs and librarians. It’s called Stackitect, and it’s coming in 2019! Copyright, copyright, copyright. (Copyright law works just like triple talaq, yes?)

We love going to the library in person. Entering a library feels like taking an Adderall. (Again, I assume. I’m lame.) My ass gets FOCUSED! It’s the perfect place to work, read, research, study, and learn. And whatever you’re doing, librarians can be incredibly helpful. They are friendly, knowledgable, and waging a quiet war to protect us from fascism.

But sometimes it’s tricky to physically get to your library. Maybe the parking situation is rough, or the hours overlap with your work schedule, or a trip requires a long series of bus rides. Maybe you find the librarians too distractingly sexy. I’m not here to judge.

Too sexxxay.

Have no fear! In recent years, libraries have made incredible strides into the dense and unmappable jungle that is the internet. There’s a slew of new and constantly-improving apps that allow you to instantly rent and return free audiobooks and ebooks. Including graphic novels! And movies!

As you well know, the only thing we love more than librarians is free shit. Here are some of the top apps. Please go download them immediately.

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The Magically Frugal Power of Patience

When I was a little kid, my dad explained the power of prayer to me. He said, “When you ask God for something you really, really want, He’ll give you one of three answers: yes, no, or wait.”

And kids? That’s when I became an atheist.

Just kidding. I didn’t apostatize until I was about nineteen, and the decision to leave religion forever had nothing to do with my dad’s words of wisdom.

But at the time my dad told me this story, I was pretty fucking disgruntled. “Wait”? Dafuq kind of answer was “wait” from an all-knowing, benevolent, magical guidance counselor in the sky? “Wait” was not in my eight-year-old vocabulary and I was damned if I was going to be patient for anything.

But with the perspective and wisdom of years, I now have good reason to embrace this concept of waiting, of being patient for the things I want.

My dad thought he was teaching me about faith and adult-level patience and serenity and shit. But what he really taught me about was far more interesting:

Money.

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What’s the Effect of Social Media on Your Finances?

“What’s the effect of social media on my finances?”

Our regular readers know that we ask our Patreon supporters to help us choose article topics. This month’s poll was a dead heat, so we decided to take on both! And this was the question posed.

It’s a tough one to answer comprehensively with data. Everyone uses different platforms, in different amounts, for different reasons. But some immediate commonalities jumped out at us. Some were good, and some were bad. In honor of my tepid* acknowledgment that Star Wars exists, I’ve categorized them into light and dark sides.

GUYS I’M JUST SO

HIP AND TOPICAL

YOU CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT.

Go see a star war.

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Fun for the whole train car!

Understand the Hidden Costs of Travel and Avoid Them Like the Plague

Like traveling ladies of yore, we daintily but enthusiastically wave our kerchiefs to our Patreon supporters. They selected this week’s topic in our monthly donor polls, and I’m thrilled. Because I have some things to get off my chest. Other than my bra, which has already had its ceremonial end-of-day removal and flinging.

Gentle readers, I come to you straight from my biannual trip back home for Christmas.

It fucking suuuuucked.

It’s not that I hate spending time with my family (though the inclusion of the Commander in Chief in this year’s Christmas dinner prayer was more than enough to ruin my appetite). But visiting them during the holidays is an expensive logistical nightmare.

We have to buy our flights, get to and from the airport four times, feed ourselves during a long day of travel, arrange for pet care while we’re away, and even pay for lodgings and transportation once we’re there if my in-laws are inexplicably remodeling the house again during our visit.

Again: it sucks. And I’ve realized that traveling to visit family is the thing that most often puts me at risk of overspending my budget.

Fortunately, this cheap bitch has learned a few tricks along the way to cling to my hard-earned pennies.

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Meaning a necklace, not a garrote.

I Have No Gift to Bring Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum: The Anti-Consumerist Gift Guide

Kitty: <writes title>

Kitty: <pats self on back until wrist breaks>

Self-congratulatory.

As we discussed earlier this month, shopping for holiday gifts can be… well, sucky. As often as it’s fun, it’s stressful and financially draining.

But if you’ve been paying attention to our RADICAL SOCIAL JUSTICE WAR CRIES, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’re pretty conflicted about holiday gift-giving in general. Specifically, our gripe is with the hyped-up mass commercialization and the endless push to consume.

Tokens and gestures of kindness give us a seasonal thrill—I mean, we’re not totally dead inside! Merely partially! But when you hate consumerism, it can be really hard to participate in the good parts of the tradition without feeling like you’ve lost touch with your own values.

Anti-consumerism is a lake fed by many rivers. Mindless consumption is bad for people, bad for the planet, bad for your wallet, and rote and impersonal. Some people care a lot about one or two of those aspects more strongly than others. If only there was some kind of helpful venn diagram that broke down anti-consumerist attitudes about gift giving…

Oh wait! Silly me, I’m a graphic designer! I’m paid to eat data and shit venn diagrams!

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When you come from a family such as mine, exchanging presents at holidays becomes a massive impracticality.

How Can I Tame My Family’s Crazy Gift-Giving Expectations?

Want to know how much the average American spends on Christmas gifts in a single year?

It’s $929.

Keep in mind that this does not include airfare to visit family, food and drink for large gatherings, donations to charity, holiday decorations, or other common yuletide purchases. That’s just the gifts.

Given that a majority of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, it’s hardly surprising that a majority of Americans also go into debt to buy Christmas gifts.

This indicates there is a startling cognitive dissonance around Christmas. Our cultural scripts constantly remind us that gifts are unnecessary, that the true spirit of the season is love. Yet so many of us martyr ourselves financially to be able to give each other yet more stuff.

It’s hard to push back against the weight of tradition, but the results are well worth the effort. We Bitches, using different systems, have managed to make the last several winter holidays a stress-free, debt-free season. Here are our secrets.

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Fomo is real. But.

You Won’t Regret Your Frugal 20s

The topic of regret is a controversial one, especially in personal finance. Whole treatises have been written on the premise that if you live frugally during your twenties and make sound financial decisions for the future, you’ll regret wasting your youth as a joyless loner.

We reject this characterization of a frugal youth for a couple reasons:

  1. It doesn’t take a lot of (or any) money to have fun with your friends.
  2. You can (and should) pursue fun long past your twenties.
  3. You’re at more risk of regretting not saving for retirement than you are at risk of regretting not going out to da clerb that one time.

And yet fear of this kind of regret persists.

I get it! No one wants to constantly feel left out. FOMO is real! But I also firmly believe that no one wants to get to retirement age only to realize that all the money they could’ve lived on for another twenty to thirty years got puked out after a night of binge drinking.

Depending on a single, barely funded income stream after retirement, one that could easily go up in a puff of smoke… that’s something worth regretting.

One of our adorable and beloved Tumblr babies asked recently:

“I’ve been reading this blog for the past three hours or so and just finished the post regarding financial vampires. This reminded me of a dilemma I’ve been struggling with. I’m young and I want to have fun. I don’t want to be 35 and realize that I wasted my 20s worrying about saving money and being responsible. But on the other hand… I really want to be financially well off. Help me convince myself that I won’t regret not going out every Saturday night.”

Honey child, we are here for you.

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"Wow, myrrh!" Mary exclaimed.

In Defense of Shameless Regifting

“There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep passing it around.” Ah, Johnny Carson’s ole’ traveling fruitcake story. So ancient and apocryphal it took significant googling to uncover its origins.

It’s a perfect example of the holiday season’s most notorious social faux pas: regifting.

Regifting is considered tacky and thoughtless: the worst version of “being cheap.” If you regift, it means a) you were too lazy to go out and buy a new gift for someone, b) you didn’t actually appreciate the gift in the first place, and c) you care so little about the giftee that you won’t even spend a little money on a personalized gift for them.

I’m here to propose a new way of looking at the practice of regifting. In fact, I think it can be an economical, creative, waste-free, and considerate way of bestowing presents upon your loved ones.

Yes, I am of course an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew. But I’m also an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew with a damn good point… and a damn fat wallet.

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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 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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