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The catastrophic recklessness and base greed represented in these statistics transcends cartoonish supervillainy.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Student Loans

According to BGR lore, Kitty and I met as randomly assigned freshman year roommates at college. We came from different backgrounds, had different interests and goals. But we had two things in common:

  1. Clothing size.
  2. Student loans.

The former meant that our wardrobes essentially doubled in size while we lived together. It was a rude awakening when I moved halfway across the country from Kitty only to realize the only shoes I owned were hiking boots. Gone were the days when I would get drunk and traipse around our apartment in Kitty’s four-inch-high red heels! Now I would have to buy my own grownup shoes!

But I digress.

The latter was the seed that sprouted into this very blog.

We each graduated with student loan debts in the tens of thousands… a fact that lands us squarely in the average of our millennial age bracket. And the year was 2009… a year after the 2008 recession and subsequent dismal job market. Fun times!

It was our joint effort to pay off our considerable student debt ahead of schedule in an unwelcoming economy that taught us the importance of financial literacy. It was a painful process, and having that debt in the first place set our financial independence back by years.

But this is not simply the origin story of your humble Bitches. It is the story of thousands upon thousands of young Americans. The current reality of student loans is a source of controversy and curiosity. And it’s time we set the record straight.

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Etiquette sucks.

Traditional Wedding Gifts Can Burn in Hell Where They Belong

I’m going to start this article with a big, beautiful disclaimer…

Weddings are highly personal.

No matter how you conduct them, they always end up being perfectly splendid. And you can take my word for it—I used to work in special events, and have probably been to about 150 of them. My focus was high-end events. (Like, high-end high-end. Secret Service clearance high-end. Fun fact: most Secretaries of State are accomplished musicians and all of them will get up and play with the band at a wedding if they’ve had a sufficient quantity of wine.) But my own wedding was in a parking lot behind my house. I’ve seen ‘em all!

Today I’m going to take a wee bit of a shit on certain wedding traditions. They’re widely-practiced traditions that myself and many of my friends have partooken in. (Piggy, don’t you dare change “partooken” to “partaken” when you edit this!*)

For example, I’m going to shit on (spoiler alert) wedding showers. Now, Piggy had a wedding shower—an extremely traditional wedding shower, with tea and tiny sandwiches and everything! And I LOVED it! We had a blast. I would get together and eat tiny sandwiches with friends and strangers any day of the week. My love for tiny sandwiches really cannot be overstated.

What I’m criticizing isn’t this event—but rather, the weird historical power structures and social pressures that dictated the terms of this tradition. Don’t feel the need to rush to the comments to defend why you did your wedding the way you did. It’s extremely understandable why people follow traditions. It’s also not my business.

But they pay me the big bucks to be an opinionated old person. And I’ve got hot takes on the wedding industry spilling out of my eyes, nose, and mouth like liquid-hot adamantium. The weight of my opinions is so heavy that it drops me to the bottom of a tank of water with a metallic clang.

Holy shit.

Wanna hear ‘em? Sure you do.

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My only wedding financial regret is that I didn't pay $8.99 to get my officiant ordained as a Jedi Knight.

The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need for a Cheap-Ass Wedding

Ah, summer! Wedding season! Love is in the air, and it’s time to express that love in front of everyone you know in a legally binding and probably permanent way! No big deal!

Enter the Wedding Industrial Complex™: that wicked machine that chews up formerly sane couples and spits out crazed people who shout things like “I don’t give one single fuck about fucking hundred-dollar napkin rings why is this all so fucking expensive?!” at one another.

Expressions of enduring love strained through the colander of financial stress tend to come out a little… wrong.

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If it is also your goal to save money, eat well, and become my mother, then settle in.

How to Shop for Groceries like a Boss

It’s happened. That thing countless rom coms and heteronormative popcorn flicks from the 90s warned me about. The thing I swore at the tender age of sixteen would never, ever happen to me.

Dear readers, I have become… my mother.

My fate is sealed and I’ve got proof! At the grocery store, I haughtily wave my cloth bags at the bagger and proclaim, “I prefer to bag for myself.”

It’s not that I hate baggers and seek to force their entire profession out of employment. It’s just that they don’t do it right, with “right” defined as “according to my very particular and neurotic specifications.”

The one time I was in a hurry and neglected to bag for myself, I lost a bag to the straining weight of all the most heavy items on my grocery list. It burst right there on my front stoop, ripped apart by the carelessness of a bagger who clearly had not trained for extreme grocery bagging at the feet of the expert: my mother.

All of which is to say: I take every step of the grocery-shopping process extremely seriously. And if it is also your goal to save money, eat well, and become my mother, then settle in.

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Buying an expensive game console is laughably cheaper than shelling out $13 to see a movie every Saturday night.

Ask the Bitches: How Can I Absolve Myself of Financial Guilt Over My Pricey PS4?

It’s hard out there for a broke-ass bitch. You try so hard to be frugal and disciplined, to make sound financial decisions and never waste a dime.

Yet still, financial guilt happens to the best of us. It can sneak up to bite you in the ass like some kind of slippery, perfidious garden snake in the Eden of your good monetary habits, leaving one trembling and sweaty with remorse and second thoughts.

Regretting a purchase or agonizing over a financial decision builds anxiety and stress migraines and is just generally no fun.

Recently loyal citizen of Bitch Nation Bettedavissighs (one of our darling Tumblr babies) asked a question about financial guilt. Her concerns are near and dear to my anxious little gazelle heart:

Hey Bitches, I just bought myself a PS4. It’s a big splurge on something non essential (I am fairly responsible w money, esp. now that I’m getting into FI stuff). How do I stop feeling guilty about it? I’ve wanted it for months (newbie gamer), but I keep having moments of extreme anxiety (how much I spent on it!). I had the money, so don’t get why I’m feeling like this now. Maybe it’s just a result of growing up poor? Love your blog! (ps any game suggestions, prefer w good female characters?)

Honey, I feel you.

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Beat identity thieves to the punch. File your taxes early.

Go Ahead and File Your Taxes Right Freakin’ Now

Ah, late winter. What a fine season!

Thick stews and steaming hot soups for dinner every night… haven’t seen my friends in weeks… onto our second tank of expensive-ass oil heat for the season… so pale and wan I look like one of the tuberculoid Brontë sisters, but with fewer published novels to show for it… people asking me what I want to do for my birthday…

Oh. Wait. I hate late winter!

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to nearly everything, but the one exception is filing taxes early. I love getting my taxes out of the way in February. And there’s a few really good reasons for it.

Lower your risk for identity theft

If some kind of l33t haxx0r gets their hands on your social security number, it’s relatively easy for them to file a fraudulent return in your name and pocket your return funds. Joke’s on anyone who tried to do this to me from 2008-2012! Self employment taxes are a bitch!

This is one of the most common forms of identity theft. Although it can usually be sorted out, it takes a long-ass time to do so—an average of 278 days. I’m sure that involves untold hours of bureaucratic headaches and heartaches.

A tightly protected social security number is a great place to start, but identity thieves could phish this information from gullible family members or steal it from employers with poor information security. That’s why the best secondary line of defense is filing taxes early. Knowing that most people wait until April to file, identity thieves work quickly to file their fraudulent returns first. Beat them to the punch.

It’s especially crucial this year due to the recent Equifax breach, which we wrote about here. Read More

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!

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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 a while 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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