Let's get down to the EXTREMELY ANALYTICAL CARNAGE.

Investing Deathmatch: Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA

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

Only one will leave victorious.

Welcome back to another installment of… INVESTING DEATHMATCH!!!!!!!!!

If you’re one of our Patreon supporters, there are four things I know for sure about you. One: you’re beautiful on the inside and out. Two: you’re powerful, also on the inside and out (like, you are spiritually intimidating and also extremely muscular). Three: You have excellent taste in blogs run by women who are emotionally in their mid-seventies but physically in their early thirties.

The fourth and most important thing I know about our Patreon supporters is that once a month, they get to choose a topic for an upcoming blog post. And this month they selected a battle royale between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

So if you enjoy this week’s post, you have our gorgeous, strong, good-taste-having, democratically-empowered Patreon supporters to thank for it. Please consider becoming one, or continue to aspire to grow up to be one.

So real.

Now let’s get down to the EXTREMELY ANALYTICAL CARNAGE.

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Hogwarts Arithmancy classes clearly do not cover compound interest.

When Money in the Bank Is a Bad Thing: Understanding Depreciation Expense

Here’s a riddle: when is $100 worth $97? 

The answer is: when you put it in the bank a year ago.

Being frugal and being money-savvy are actually two very different skills. The former requires self-discipline, planning, and a strong sense of the relative importance of resources. The latter relies more on understanding how to take advantage of existing financial systems, economic regulations, and mathematical quirks.

Think of it this way: a frugal person packs their own lunch, whereas a money-savvy person itemizes it.

Depreciation expense is one of those mathematical quirks. It sounds tricky, but it’s really not! And if you know how it works, you can make it work for you.

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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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Dafuq Is Credit and How Do You Bend It to Your Will?

We’ve been getting a lot of variations on the same question recently: “How dafuq do I credit?”

How indeed? A lot of our readers are struggling with not only maintaining a good credit score, but with even understanding credit in the first place.

It’s one of the many money terms I have the sneaking suspicion everyone else in my high school class was taught on a day I was absent.

Thus, I’ve been left to figure it out for myself over the years. And what I’ve found is reassuring: credit is not nearly as scary or complicated as you’ve been led to think. But like a pack of trained raptors, it must be treated with care and attention lest it rend you limb from limb.

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"Wealthy White Folks Welcome!"

Gentrification: Artisanal, Small-Batch Displacement of the Poor

I had just come home from work when three students from the college down the street approached my porch with official-looking clipboards in hand. “Excuse me ma’am,” (I’m a ma’am now? When did this happen?) “Can we ask you some questions for a school research project?”

Instead of hissing “Youths!” and retreating into the darkness of my lair, I obliged. I am a “ma’am” now, after all, and that comes with a responsibility to be magnanimous toward fine upstanding young people everywhere.

First question: “What does gentrification mean to you?”

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Using charitable platforms to push discriminatory policies is a no-no jerk move.

Judging Charities Like Judgey McJudgerson: How Can Your Donation Make the Biggest Impact?

As we’ve discussed previously, we love charitable spending, but it can be really hard to figure out the best way to do it. If you followed our advice, you’ve already verified that the charity you’re considering isn’t an out-and-out scam.

But is it a good investment?

A Ford Pinto and a Ford Focus both proclaim to do the same thing (you know, drive), but one does so in a much more sustainable, efficient, and pleasurable manner than the other. How do you sort out the absolute best way to support the causes you care deeply about?

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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.

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Most Millennials I know do not have an IRA. This is because it is viewed much like the burning bush: awesome and powerful, but completely mysterious and baffling.

Dafuq Is a Retirement Plan and Why Do You Need One?

For young’uns like us, old age and retirement couldn’t seem further away. And yet the thing about retirement is it goes way smoother if you prep for it in advance. Which is why all of us—yes, even you fresh-faced recent graduates—need a retirement plan.

The term “retirement plan” itself is a bit misleading. It suggests there’s a singular, one-size-fits-all tool for preparing to live out your sunset years in the lap of luxury. In reality, not only is there no one single retirement savings tool that works for everyone, but most people use multiple “retirement plans.”

Join me, dear readers, as I guide you through an entirely-too-detailed tour of the most common forms of retirement plans. Keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times and please don’t feed the wildlife.

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Come at me in the comments, you short-rest dependent motherfuckers.

A Dungeonmaster’s Guide to Defeating Debt

Let’s talk about D&D&D! That’s Dungeons & Dragons and debt. Strictly 5e. Live in the now.

Guys. I don’t mean to brag, but I run a fourteenth level wizard that I’m pretty damn proud of. She is a cold-hearted bad-ass lawful-evil murder-machine.

My steed is a magic broom with a fifty-foot move-speed. My staff turns into a friendly giant constrictor snake on command. My Contingency spell is set to Polymorph me into a T-Rex if my hit points drop below 20%. I know, I know, it’s basically a massive free heal! And I’m a resourceful motherfucker. I once used a level one Disguise Self to convince two-dozen hostile Kuo Toa that I was Blibdoolpoolp, lobster-headed mother deity of the sea. I ordered them to pray until they died of exhaustion. #lawfulevil

If you play Dungeons & Dragons, you already know the best way to handle enemies depends on your class strengths. A barbarian has no business casting spells. A wizard has no business grappling. (And a warlock has no business in any campaign, period. Come at me in the comments, you short-rest dependent motherfuckers.)

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This is the most fundamental lesson we can teach you. In personal finance, the end game isn't money. It's freedom.

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying: Finance Philosophy Explained by The Shawshank Redemption

What you are about to read is pretty graphic. I’m sure it’s hard to read. At times, it was hard to write. It’s not an easy thing, to torture a metaphor to death. I was almost at the point of walking away from this article when I heard John 3:16 ringing in my memory: “For Kitty so loved the world, that she gave her only favorite movie, that whosoever believeth in her should not go broke, but have eternal cash.”

If you have not seen The Shawshank Redemption, I have two questions and one command. The first question: are you some kind of Alexandreey Dumbass? The second question: how did you get from 1997 to the present without watching cable television during daylight hours? The command: go watch The Shawshank Redemption. Only after you’ve done so are you allowed to return here and continue on. One hundred and forty-two minutes of narration by Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) is the necessary prep work you need to open your heart and expand your mind.

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