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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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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

I said I wanted to be a horse when I grew up.

The Actually Helpful, Nuanced, Non-Bullshit Way to Choose a Future Career

I waded into a lot of “career advice” as part of my research for this article. It was so universally bad that I feel stirred to apologize for it, even though I didn’t write it.

I am so, so sorry. 

We haven’t improved on any of it over the last few decades. In fact, it may have gotten worse since I was a student, back during the Polk administration.

This article is my apology to you. It contains all of the best and wisest advice I have for teenagers and young adults trying to choose which career is right for them. It may also be helpful to fellow olds who have a vague feeling that they’re ready for a change.

The key isn’t to rely on experiences. Instead you must identify and follow where the immutable parts of your deeper personality.

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Our society is deeply invested in upholding a cultural myth that all mothers know instinctively how to nurture and love. They don't.

Ask the Bitches: I Was Guilted Into Caring for a Sick, Abusive Parent for Years. Now What?

We’ve been talking a lot recently about unequal circumstances. Some people, through no fault of their own, have a harder time achieving financial independence than others. This is why the “anyone can do it,” one-size-fits-all success narrative is harmful and exclusionary.

This question is a good example of one such set of circumstances. This came to us from an anonymous Tumblr follower.

“Bitches I need advice, I have never had a job because I was guilted into caring for an emotionaly abusive sick mother right out of high school. I am twenty three and have no idea what to go into now that I am free. I’m mostly afraid of going to school because I don’t have any money, but I have no idea what jobs I can get without an education! I don’t want to work in fast food and retail until I’m thirty, please tell me you can advise this poor bitch :(“

A poor bitch indeed. Oh, my sweet child of winter.

My poor child of winter.

You have opened the door to my heart, and also my memories. Because I, too, spent a precious chunk of my young adulthood doing the exact same thing.

I ask myself why I did it all the time. The only real answer is that there is immense social pressure on children to care for their ill parents—particularly daughters. Friends and family members I hadn’t spoken with in years (or ever) tracked me down. They got my phone number from my mother, or found me on social media, and twisted my arm until it broke. I was too young and inexperienced to tell them to fuck off.

I share these details because I want you to know that you are not alone, and you will never be alone. Abusive and toxic people are very good at turning illness to their advantage. Their greedy hearts are fed by the sympathy and attention, and they will manipulate the situation to get what they want from you.

And the people who were absent? Who enabled them? Looked the other way? They’re tumbling out of the woodwork like termites to volunteer you for the job they don’t want to perform themselves.

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How do you like me now, Dotty?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Financial Math

I fucking hated math in high school.

It was torture. Though I did ok throughout Algebra I and Geometry, once I got to Algebra II the wheels came off the bus. I listened to entire lectures on logarithms delivered in the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher. I didn’t understand why it mattered, its practical application, why I needed it.

And to this day I’m convinced my teacher was a sociopath who derived great joy from my confusion. Let’s call her Dorothy Ball because her fucking name was Dorothy Ball (HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, DOTTY?). She was one of those teachers who, instead of motivating students to give it their all, slowly crushed the joy of learning out of me and convinced me that I was a feeble-minded and frivolous girl for not picking up what she put down.

Clearly I wanted to learn math—or I at least cared about my academic standing—because I remember sitting through a meeting with my mom and Ms. Ball to come up with a strategy for improving. I’ll never forget that meeting.

With great pity in her eyes, she said, “It’s ok that you’re not good at math. You’re good at other things. So let’s just shoot for passing, ok?”

The callous harridan was right: I was good at other things. Like mentally eviscerating those who dared to condescend to me.

But, as we all know, I still needed math to survive.

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You need to learn to forgive.

If You Don’t Eat Leftovers I Don’t Even Want to Know You

Did you guys know there are people out there who just… don’t eat leftovers? Yes! These wasteful, snooty heathens exist! And they’re coming for your delicious yet frugal lifestyle decisions.

To combat this slothful, repugnant, and uncreative attitude, I’m going to extoll the virtue of leftovers in all their glory. Because I think leftovers are the cat’s pajamas and you should too.

What do you take me for?

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Let's break the Equifax situation down into tiny morsels of suckitude that can be easily digested.

Dashit Just Happened, Equifax?

Because the horrendous disaster of two malicious hurricanes isn’t enough for people to worry about right now, a few weeks ago a storm of a different sort swept through the United States. Like those assholes Harvey and Irma, this one’s going to be an enormous, life-changing financial burden for millions of people. And like the hurricanes, it could take years to repair the damage.

Yes: it’s time we talked about the Equifax breach.

If you follow us on Tumblr, you’ll know we’ve been getting some panicked messages about Equifax recently. So to dispel panic (or encourage it, as the case may be), I want to break the situation down into tiny morsels of suckitude that can be easily digested. Read More

The most complex thing my parents taught me to make was a slice of cold cheddar cheese placed upon a dry Wheat Thin, a culinary innovation known in some circles as a Protestant Patty Melt.

Why You Should Learn to Cook

I take cooking pretty seriously. The fact that I catered my own wedding should give you a pretty good benchmark for just how seriously. I’m in the background of most of my own wedding photos as a blur in a white dress and a stained apron.

Nobody taught me how to do it—I taught myself the moment I realized the extent to which buying premade food was killing my budget.

The amount of money you can save by preparing your own food is staggering. But as cooking became my habit, I discovered all sorts of unexpected additional benefits to my social life, physical health, mental well-being, and even my sex life.

Please go into this article with a basic working knowledge of the works of Frank Herbert, as there is a joke later that I think is really funny.

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You know how much we love reminding you that you are human.

Take a Break: The Importance of Rest and Relaxation

In my capacity as a non-scientist, I have observed that when it comes to stress, there are two kinds of people.

One is the kind of person who feels the effects of stress first in their body; the other feels it first in their mind.

Piggy and I both fall into the first category. We’re skilled jugglers, and we tend to think “Sure, I can add one more ball into the mix.” We don’t really register how stressed we are until we get migraines (her) or muscle spasms (me). Other people in this category might experience digestive problems, insomnia, frequent colds, loss of energy, chest pains, racing heartbeats, panic attacks, and other such unfair bullshit.

Folks who fall into the second category don’t get off lightly either. Stress can make them feel overwhelmed in a way that manifests very strongly in their moods. They might feel agitated, frustrated, moody, avoidant, lonely, or depressed. These kinds of emotions can tarnish their self-image, strain their relationships with loved ones, and make them feel socially isolated when they most need support.

Everyone feels both kinds of stress; it’s just a question of which way it manifests first.

The unfortunate thing about both the physical and emotional symptoms of stress response is that both tend to exacerbate existing stressors. If you’re super busy at work and you start getting stress headaches, congratulations: you’re now both busy and in pain! If you’re super busy at work and you start crying at your desk, congratulations: you’re now both busy and humiliated!

Piggy and I spent a bit too much time in our twenties ignoring the signs our bodies were sending us, and had to learn our limits by suffering the consequences of overextending ourselves.

We are older and wiser now. We know that it’s better to take breaks before you “need” them. And we want to model that behavior for all of you, which is why we took a vacation and publicized it!

Hint hint: we think you should take a vacation too. Here’s why.

Chill, bro.

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