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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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!

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.

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Investing Deathmatch: Managed Funds vs. Index Funds

Two methods of investing in the stock market enter the ring.

Only one will leave victorious.

Welcome to… INVESTING DEATHMATCH!!!!!!!!!

Hey! Get back here! Don’t you dare click away. This is fucking important and I am stretching a goddamn WWF metaphor past the bounds of decency to make it interesting for you.

So sit your ass down and learn a thing.

Before we ring the bell and start this fight, we should get the basic concept of investing out of the way. Investing in the stock market means you buy tiny chunks of various companies and in return you get tiny chunks of their profits. These tiny chunks add up over time so that you make more money than you would if you just put your money in a savings account.

Got it? For more on investing, check out this beginner’s guide over at Half Banked.

Ok. Now I want a good, clean fight…

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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 awhile 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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I'd like to avoid supporting labor practices that make Upton Sinclair's The Jungle look positively humanitarian.

Fast Fashion is Fucking Up the World

As you can tell from our witty banter on the Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn podcast, Kitty and I consider ourselves to be eminently fashionable gentlewomen. Look good, feel good! That’s our motto! (Just kidding that is definitely not our motto. We don’t have one. We’re still workshopping it. Do you even realize how long it took us to come up with the name of this blog? A long time… and many Excel spreadsheets.)

And yet, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I rarely go shopping for myself, and when I do, it is with all the precision and swiftness of a predator drone. Get in, get the goods, get out. I love me a good thrift store find, few things give me more materialistic glee than purchasing a unique garment at the flea market, and yes, I shop at fucking Target. But these expenditures are few and far between.

This is partially because of my frugal nature. I just don’t buy a lot of stuff. But it’s also because in recent years I’ve tried really hard to avoid an industry that is damaging to both the environment and to human rights on a global scale.

I am speaking, of course, of fast fashion.

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Those motherfuckers always pay their debts.

3 Badass, Sexy, Totally Metal Reasons to Save $1,000

Here at Bitches Get Riches we soundly reject the notion that personal finance is a dry, boring, unsexy topic. In fact, nothing gets us metaphorically harder than a solid breakdown of modest, cautious techniques for growing personal wealth. Day drinking? More like day trading, AMIRITE?

And this is why we’ve set about to change some preconceived notions about all the wild and wondrous things you can do with a large chunk of money—let’s say $1,000 for the purposes of this article. Not quite enough to drastically change the life of the average person, but definitely enough to have some fun.

With $1k you could go to Cuba for a few days (seriously y’all, flights are dirt cheap right now). You could revamp your wardrobe! You could buy a brand new PS4 and a flat screen TV on which to play it! You and your dog could have a spa day!*

But we’re here to urge you to take a different approach. Don’t waste that $1k on basic bitchiness like a new wardrobe, a trip abroad, or canine mani pedis. At least not before you’ve cut your teeth on these badass, sexiful, metal af ways to really make $1k worth saving for.

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I couldn't pick a Hermes Birkin out of a lineup even if you threatened to spoil Game of Thrones for me.

Status Symbols Are Pointless and Dumb

You guys. I just learned about a thing so utterly ridiculous it defies belief: investment purses.

What is this mysterious and logic-defying item? Well, according to the Interwebz, it’s a grossly overpriced handbag that gets to be grossly overpriced because a famous designer’s name is plastered all over it. And it’s called an “investment purse” because you buy it with all the money you’re not investing in your future financial well-being. I’m assuming. Because what else could possibly be the explanation?

An investment purse, as it is so loftily known, is similar to a luxury car or a gold-plated Rolex watch. In other words: it’s a status symbol, a way of keeping up with the Joneses.

And status symbols, my beautiful, badass, budgeting butterflies, are fucking dumb as shit.

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Everyone's dreams are probably dumb.

Two-Ring Circus

This is the wedding ring that I wanted.

Dinosaur/Antler/Meteorite Ring.

Hand-crafted by a bearded artisan, it’s made from dinosaur fossils and deer antlers and meteorites. Is there anything cooler? A lot of people like diamonds because they represent eternity, but this strange mishmash of textures represented it much more clearly to me. The bones of things long dead. The pieces of ourselves that die and renew each year. Starstuff from dark, unknown, unknowable places our species will die without ever setting eyes upon.

AMAZON PRIME HEYO!This is the wedding ring that I got.

It was available on Amazon Prime for $25.

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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.

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Building a Scrooge McDuckian money vault is too gauche.

I Paid off My Student Loans. Now What?

After spending over a year scrambling to put every extra dollar I could find into my student loans, I’ve paid them all off almost five years ahead of schedule. I’m now in the enviable position of having a big chunk of extra money every month. It literally feels like I just got a massive raise. So what do I do with it?

Building a Scrooge McDuckian money vault is far too gauche. And besides, I want to use this money to improve my financial position in the fastest, most badass way possible (with badass defined as “most profitable in the long-term”). There’s no shortage of options.

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