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Remember learning about means, medians, and modes in middle school? You're about to understand why they taught that shit to you.

What’s the REAL Rate of Return on the Stock Market?

Our awesome Patreon donors have asked us to tackle a really interesting question this week: what’s the real rate of return on the stock market?

If you ask people this question, you get surprisingly different answers. And for some reason (boredom at my day job) I decided to get all art school with it. Here, I wrote you a one-act play on the topic!

WHAT THE FUCK IS IT EVEN: THE REAL RATE OF RETURN ON THE STOCK MARKET

A Play in One Act

SOME PEOPLE
(With great confidence)
Ten percent!

OTHER PEOPLE
(With low confidence)
Ssssssssssix?

MOST PEOPLE
(In anguish)
Why are you asking me this?! Shit. Am I supposed to know?!

SOME PEOPLE
(Smugly)
It’s totally ten percent. Why would you ever buy a house or pay off debts when stocks are so mathematically superior?

OTHER PEOPLE
Ssssssseven??

MOST PEOPLE
(With self-loathing)
I feel like I’m too busy to know this. But also I made time to watch that Zac Efron Ted Bundy biopic on Netflix, so…

SOME PEOPLE
Don’t even buy a single tube of mascara or a ham sandwich. It’s a waste. It’s unoptimized garbage. I buy nothing but stocks and Soylent!

OTHER PEOPLE
Wait, is this the four percent thing? I’ve heard people talk about the four percent thing. Is it foooourrrr?

DAVE RAMSEY bursts onto the stage.

DAVE RAMSEY
It’s 12% if you follow my system! But I never agreed to be here! My company sends cease and desist letters to people who criticize me!

DAVE RAMSEY exits the stage and the playwright forgets to go back and delete that part.

MOST PEOPLE
(With resignation)
No, you know what? I know that Alleras the Sphinx is actually a lost Sand Snake, and I know three quarters of the verses of Mambo #5, but I do not know what the rate of return on the stock market is and I have accepted that fact about myself.

SOME PEOPLE rubs stocks all over his torso. He visibly nips out. OTHER PEOPLE keeps mumbling random numbers. MOST PEOPLE starts adjusting the Pinterest board for her wedding, even though she is not engaged or seeing anyone seriously.

Rocks fall; everyone dies.

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Learn from the wisdom of the Dark Lord.

The Dark Magic of Financial Horcruxes: How and Why to Diversify Your Assets

Lord Voldemort was the unrecognized Suze Orman of the Potterverse. The man could’ve poured his money into nasal reconstruction surgery, yet instead he saw the value in diversification, making himself harder to kill by spreading his assets out among multiple Horcruxes.

You may not be a wizard, ‘Arry, but today you’re going to learn something about personal finance from He Who Must Not Be Named. For while we’ve already established that the good guys of J.K. Rowling’s seminal masterpiece are fucking idjits when it comes to money, the Dark Lord himself is another matter.

The principle of Horcruxes—dividing Voldemort’s soul into multiple containers so that he could only be killed when all of the Horcruxes were destroyed—is a pretty damn clear analogy for financial diversification.

Diversification, just like the dark magic of Horcruxes, is a strategy for risk management. The idea is to spread your money out into a variety of different investments and savings vehicles to lessen your overall risk should one or more of those investments go the way of Tom Riddle’s diary. Diversification generally helps you yield higher financial returns over the long term and wraps your financial future up in layers of safety you won’t get from sticking 100% of your net worth in a checking account.

You know: exactly like Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

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A lot of times advisors start off with the question "what's your risk tolerance?" Like I dunno motherfucker, medium??

Investing Deathmatch: Stocks vs. Bonds

Since the dawn of mankind, certain rivalries have shaped human civilization.

Their power struggles have violently ripped through the fabric of eons, causing the sun to rise in the west and set in the east, the oceans to run dry, and mountains to blow in the wind like leaves. Thus spake Mirri Maz Duur, noted economist.

Today we explore one of these ancient grudges in a segment we call:

INVESTING DEATHMATCH.

Yes that’s right, my precious seekers of financial literacy. Once again, we’re going to break down two forms of investment and pit them against each other in a metaphorical battle for the soul of economic solvency!

Let’s meet our contenders!

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My parents always treated the topic of investing the same way they did the topic of sex: knowledge to be imparted "when you're older."

Advice I Wish My Parents Gave Me When I Was 16

My parents meant so, so well. And they were so, so right about some things (the relative unworthiness of all teenage boys, for example). But there are a couple of things I’m kinda pissed they didn’t tell me about when I was 16 and on the cusp of making serious decisions about finances and the next several years of my life.

It’s not that they told me nothing, or even that they gave me horrible advice. But I feel like my time as a 16-year-old was the last year of my life before I was expected to make monumental decisions that would affect my financial future in really, really big ways. And that future could have been drastically different (and potentially better) if only they’d told me some key things that would have influenced my decisions about college, a career, and investing.

I brought receipts.

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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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We bitches are trying to reach a very specific audience of people who are cheap yet virtuous.

How to Spot a Charitable Scam

Let’s say I handed you a $100 bill and the following list of charities. If I asked you to pick one to give the money to, which one would you choose?

American Association of the Deaf-Blind

National Veterans Services Fund

Children’s Wish Foundation International

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund

Breast Cancer Relief Foundation

Now before you make your choice, consider this: four of these charities are considered to be among the absolute worst charities in America. These charities are shams designed to line the pockets of unscrupulous monsters who prey upon the charitable intent of others. They raise millions of dollars and blow it all on large executive salaries and lavish fundraisers designed to be self-perpetuating. No meaningful progress is made toward their charitable aim. Each spent less than 3% of the millions it raised on direct cash aid toward the causes they purport to maintain.

… So that’s four of them. One received a perfect score from charity watchdogs.

Look closely at the list again. Really scrutinize those names. Are you confident that you’ve spotted the diamond among the turds? Are you sure your $100 is going to be well spent?

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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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I don't know why I've never thought about the Theory of Compounding Interest in this way before, but it's genius.

I Read a Book About Warren Buffett. Here’s What I Learned.

So I read The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. It’s an absurdly long, absurdly detailed book about one of the most famously wealthy people in the world: Warren Buffett. Notorious for his frugal ways and uncanny ability to predict the future of the stock market (no seriously), Buffett’s name has become synonymous with financial success. Which is why I read the book.

I wanted to see if the Wizard of Omaha (I know—not nearly as sexy as the Wolf of Wall Street) had anything to teach me about making lots of money.

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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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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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