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How bad of an idea is it to take out a student loan to get me out of my situation?

Ask the Bitches: I Want to Move Out, but I Can’t Afford It. How Bad Would It Be to Take out Student Loans to Cover It?

We have a question today from a Tumblr follower. If you don’t follow us on Tumblr, you should! Piggy is one of the Tumblr Deep Ones. She’s been on the platform since its infancy, and she answers tons of reader questions.

Like this one!

I need to move out, but I don’t have any money actually saved up. I do have a job that can cover my monthly costs and still have some left over. So I was wondering just how bad of an idea it is to take out a student loan to get me out of my situation and then immediately work on paying it off.

Ah. A very relatable dilemma.

For most people (and families), housing is the largest item in their budget. Young people spend, on average, a quarter of their income on housing—more than any other age group. Which means that saving money on housing can have an enormous positive impact on your finances. Especially when you’re young.

But is it ever a good idea to strategically spend a lot more than you have to on housing? Spoiler alert: yes, it absolutely can be.

Let’s get into it!

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Yeah, it's stupid to try to time the market.

Hurricane Debt Weakens to Tropical Storm Debt, but Experts Warn It’s Still Debt

It’s been over a year since the last time I gave an update on the state of my own debt. Since we’re always dispensing our opinions from our seat on the divine acropolis at the crest of Mount Olympus, we like to be transparent about our own situations. So let’s check in!

As we’ve chronicled, Piggy and I paid off our student loans ahead of time. And we don’t have credit card debt, unless it’s part of a nefarious-but-prudent scheme to harvest points. When talking about my financial sitch, I love to describe myself as “debt free, except for my mortgage!”

Which, when you think about it, is kinda weird? Like describing a milkshake as “dairy free, except for the milk!” The milk is not a small or trivial part of a milkshake. It is eponymous! It’s basically the point of the thing!

And the mortgage is a big debt. The average American family has $16,000 in credit card debt (yikes). An average student’s educational loan debt is $34,000 (double yikes). But the median home price blows both those numbers out of the water at $227,000.

For most people, a house is the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy, and the largest source of debt. It’s the milk in the milkshake.

And if you were about to jump to the comments to erroneously claim that ice cream is the point of a milkshake, hold ya fakkin’ hahses, khed. I live in New England. Our milkshakes do not have ice cream. If there’s ice cream in it, it’s called a frappe.

I can’t tell you why. I don’t make the rules, I just abide by them.

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Can a recession ever be a good thing? No. Full stop.

There’s a Storm a’Comin’: What We Know About the Next Recession

A foul wind’s a’blowin’! There’s evil in the air! A recession is a’brewin’ and you need to be prepared! 

-From “Pay Off Them Debts Before the Recession Comes,” by Piggy Smalls featuring The Kitty Kat Kid, new from Bitches Get Riches Records

Last week we put all your pre-recession fears to rest by explaining how you can arm yourself with strong financial decisions before the next recession comes. To recap:

  • Track your spending. You’ll feel less anxious and more in-control if you have a clear picture of your needs.
  • Fatten up your emergency fund. Let your level of risk set the size of your emergency fund.
  • Pay off as much debt as you can. This will give you more flexibility with your money and reduce your expenses overall.
  • Get a credit card or increase your existing credit limit. Credit freezes up during a recession, so get it now while you still can. Yes, credit is scawwwy and can be misused—but it is a tool that can instantly put food on your table.
  • Get your health in order. Avail yourself of healthcare access while you have it, and stock up on needed prescriptions.
  • Identify areas to cut back before you have to. The less money you spend every month, the less money you need to get by. The less you need to get by, the easier it’ll be to pay your bills if you lose your source of income.
  • Broaden your skills. Start doing whatever you need to make your resume stand out in a more competitive job market.
  • Back up your work files. You don’t want to lose potential portfolio pieces.
  • Stay the course. Don’t freak out and pull your money from the stock market.
  • Be kind. A time is coming when we’re going to have to depend on each other. No one wants to help out an asshole when times are tough.

So praise be, we know what to do! But what exactly is going to happen? And when?

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My purpose here is to give a millennial's eye view of the situation.

A Brief History of the 2008 Crash and Recession: We Were All So Fucked

A lot happened ten years ago. We’d just voted Barack Obama into the White House. Billy Mays was here and alive and selling us Hercules Hooks. Shorty had freshly acquired them apple bottom jeans comma boots with the fur. Kitty and I had just entered our senior year of college (holy fuck we’re old).

We were sweet baby angels who did exactly what we were told: get good grades, stay out of trouble, pursue a career where you have both passion and talent. We pushed ourselves to work part-time, take on industry internships, still achieve academically. We’d done it. Our futures felt secure and blindingly bright, like Southern California teeth.

And then the walls came tumbling down.

Much ink has been spilled over the 2008 stock market crash and subsequent economic recession. So you’ll pardon me if I add to the deluge. But my purpose here, ten years after the fateful events that ripped the world economy asunder, is to give a millennial’s eye view of the thing.

Below is my attempt to understand and explain the 2008 crash and recession in a way I couldn’t have ten years ago.

We were seniors in college. I think it’s fair to say we had no idea what was going on at the time, what it meant for our future, and why it all was happening. We didn’t understand why the world our parents, teachers, guidance counselors had promised us just… no longer existed.

We graduated into a situation no one—least of all the class of 2009—was prepared for.

Guys. We were so fucked.

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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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As best I can tell, there are two likely reasons for the prevalence of this misconception. Sadly, they both link back to perfectly true, but often misunderstood, facts about how credit works.

Let’s End This Damaging Misconception About Credit Cards

I don’t know who started the rumor that carrying a balance on credit cards is good for your credit score, but I think they should be drawn and quartered.

You shut your pie hole, Poppins. This is serious.

Of all the damaging misconceptions about personal finance we’ve had to correct over the course of running Bitches Get Riches, this is by far my least favorite. And it keeps popping up again and again in questions from our followers! Why? How? Who is teaching all of our darling kangaroo babies such a terrible way of handling their credit cards?

Until I can find the culprit and give them their just desserts (hot oil? The rack?), I have made it my mission to set the record straight.

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Investing has the reputation of being mysterious and intimidating. It’s something for older, more worldly, bebuttsticked captains of industry, not lowly millennials trying to make their way in a hostile economy. But like the president's reputation as a deal maker, this characterization is a complete myth.

Investing Deathmatch: Paying off Debt vs. Investing in the Stock Market

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLE!

It’s time for another thrilling episode of Investing Deathmatch, in which two forms of investing enter the ring, and only one leaves victorious. Or, more accurately, we decide that investing is a far more complicated affair than wrestling and the outcome of the fight depends on a number of nuanced factors.

But I digress.

TO THE BLOOD SPORT!

This fight has a long and sordid history. We’ll be uncovering old wounds, dredging up arguments long held in stalemate. We’ll be discussing a topic about which every damn personal finance blogger on the Internet has a very firm opinion. And we’ll be demystifying an age-old enigma of financial independence.

Brawlers, take your corners.

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Making it to thirty with a fat bank account and a well-ordered life makes you a certifiable badass.

Ask the Bitches: How Can I Make Myself Financially Secure Before Age 30?

Are you following us on Tumblr yet? No? Well then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

No but seriously, our beloved darlings of Tumblr ask the best questions. And we love answering them because the Tumblr kids are simply inspiring in their determination to get good at adulting. Some of our answers spin out into novel-length screeds on finance, feminism, and figuring shit out.

So Kitty and I thought, why not share the best of those answers with the rest of the Bitchosphere?

Loyal follower of the Bitches pallid-etoiles asked: “Hey, BGR (sue me I acronymed it. Please don’t.), What are your wise ways of making yourself financial secure before you hit 30? What’s the best way to start financially at limited experienced 17-year-old who hasn’t any have the knowledge of what to do on her own?”

How indeed?

The fact that you’re even thinking about this at age seventeen means you win ALL THE AWARDS! Seriously, this is a great time to start prepping for your future, and you’re way ahead of the game by even reading finance blogs and trying to get your shit together.

Here’s our advice.

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I've tried making debt visualizations to help me stay on track. I'm going to share two with you today, including one that is fucked up and embarrassing.

Share My Horror: The World’s Worst Debt Visualization

Some days I wake up ready to crush my debts. I am filled with fire and vinegar. (No, the vinegar does not put out the fire.) I double down on everything I do on that day—I spend less, work harder, and plan more.

Other days, I wake up feeling like Idgaf, Queen of the I Don’t Give a Fuck Tribe of Greater New England. On those days, I find myself wasting time with stuff that distracts me rather than enriches me. I play old video games I’ve already beaten three times before, and mewl at my partner to take me to Five Guys. On those days, it can feel like the sacrifices aren’t getting me anywhere.

What can I learn from this? Besides the fact that I suffer from intermittent depression, because I already knew that.

I have a sprinter’s attention span and marathon financial goals. My current financial goal will take at least nine years to achieve. Maintaining momentum and motivation over such a long period of time is really hard.

I’ve tried making visualizations to help me stay on track, and I’m going to share two with you today. Including an old one that is weirdly fucked up and embarrassing.

Embarrassing!!!

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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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