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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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Friends, if you're going to jump, jump like there's no ceiling.

The Fascinating Results of Our Job Hopping vs. Career Loyalty Poll

Guys, Bitches can’t thank you enough for stepping up and volunteering your salary histories for our recent article on job hopping. If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out and feel free to skip straight down to those juicy, delicious, nutritious comments.

We discovered some really interesting trends, and we’re going to break them down for you now!

Overall, commenters were big fans of a hybrid approach. Job hopping was universally endorsed as an essential move, regardless of career path, even by serial job monogamists. But occasionally stopping to rest once you’ve landed in a good position was also extremely popular.

Here are some of the factors that made people stay… and go.

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Boing boing boing, bitches.

Job Hoppers vs. Career Loyalists: I Want to See Numbers!

Recently a little conversation sprang up on Twitter on the topic of changing jobs frequently as a strategy to increase your salary, i.e. job hopping. Respondents tended to fall into one of two camps on the subject.

One camp is the job hoppers. Desirae over at Half Banked had three jobs within her first five years out of school. Not to be outdone, Cameron at Save Splurge Deny Debt has had four career changes since graduation. Both gave a thumbs-up to the strategy.

The other camp is career loyalists. Included are Felicity at Fetching Financial Freedom and both Mrs. And Mr. Adventure Rich, who’ve held steady for six, five, and ten years respectively. As one user put it: “Lots of opportunities at my current job. For now, little reason to look elsewhere.”

This boggles my mind.

And kinda makes me want to do… this:

Slapslapslapslapslap.

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Whisper "any investment you make in yourself is an investment toward your retirement" three times.

How to Save for Retirement When You Make Less Than $30,000 a Year

Retirement is a difficult concept for young people to wrap their heads around. It’s hard enough figuring out how to be An Adult, let alone An Old.

We’ll be talking more broadly in the near future about the general concept of retirement. (Spoiler alert: it’s as outdated as an avocado-colored refrigerator.) But today I’d like to talk directly about the concept of saving for retirement while pretty legit poor.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to define that as someone making $30,000 a year or less. Obviously there are lots of factors that can stretch this figure. A mom of three with a high school education in Washington, D.C. is going to have a much harder time than a single, highly-educated person making the same amount in Woodstock, Alabama. And actually, that number is still more than double the official so-called “poverty line,” which is just over $12,000.

But Piggy and I feel strongly that there isn’t enough realistic, valuable advice for people in this general bracket, and so we’d like to talk to them.

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Riddle me this: when is your time worth more than your money?

Should You Increase Your Salary or Decrease Your Spending?

When it comes to advice on how to become financially independent, there are two schools of thought:

  1. Increase your salary as much as possible.
  2. Decrease your spending as much as possible.

There are personal finance gurus who scoff at the idea of cutting out lattes and other minor unnecessary expenses as a path to wealth and security, instead advising you to spend your time making as much money as possible. Then there are others who extoll the virtues of thrifty living and frugality in the extreme, championing a spartan lifestyle in which you can retire early by spending minimally.

So who’s right? Which method will lead most quickly to financial independence and a life in which you no longer have to worry about money? Which tactic for peak prosperity should you pursue?

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If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Romanticizing the Side Hustle

Ah, the side hustle. More commonly known as the “second job,” side hustles are a badass, creative, independent—yet completely romanticized—way to increase your income. They’ve become a symbol of entrepreneurial go-gettership, a way to show the world that your ideas and goals are far too important to contain in a single 9-5. Side hustlers are super humans with the energy and vision to Get Shit Done.

Or at least, that’s the rhetoric we all perpetuate by romanticizing the side hustle.

Let’s call a spade a spade. A side hustle is a goddamn second job, and if you have one it means either a) your first job is failing to pay the bills, or b) you’re willing to trade all of your free time in order to retire early because your job sucks and doesn’t pay enough to achieve this goal. Neither scenario is particularly inspiring or empowering.

I’m not saying we should all revolt against the concept of side hustles and give up our efforts to make extra money. You can pry my side hustle from my cold, dead hands, as a matter of fact. But I think a dose of realism is in order lest we get carried away romanticizing the side hustle.

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This is the "caulk the wagon and float it" method for getting a promotion.

Santa Isn’t Coming and Neither Is Your Promotion

Some people are told there is no Santa Claus. Their dick cousin tells them, as vengeance for a lost game of Monopoly Junior. Or they saw Gremlins.

Others figure it out on their own. I was one of these. It took me eight years of cognitive development to get there. The physical impossibility and the logistical improbability pressed at my young mind, but the biggest question I had was one of motivation.

At eight years old, I had recently begun to understand money. I’d come to understand that one Breyer Horse was equal to approximately one thousand years of untouched allowance. I’d also begun my education in the concept of Stranger Danger. I had a newly honed ability to scrutinize adults for their intentions.

And I found myself wondering, “If this old man has such limitless wealth and power, what is his angle in using it to buy presents for children he’ll never meet?”

So I asked my parents, and they confirmed. “Yeah, that’s a thing adults made up to incentivize kids to conform to behavioral expectations,” they said, in so many words.

The thing is, Santa Claus is not an isolated incident. False or greatly exaggerated incentives exist everywhere to compel you to behave yourself. I’d like to talk about one of those false incentives today. The merit-based promotion is a comforting myth that took me thirty years to unravel. Much like with Santa, it was a rude awakening, but I’m much happier knowing the truth.

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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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PEOPLE DIE OF EXPOSURE.

Stop Undervaluing Your Own Work, You Darling Fool

Like many Millennials, I’ve got multiple income streams. At my day job, I work for a salary that I negotiate upwards every so often. But as a side-hustlin’ freelance editor, I set my own rates and negotiate directly with individual clients for each new job.

This means I’m in a position of awesome power with every customer. Like Ursula the Sea Witch, I can name whatever price I like, and if the client wants both legs and a hunky prince, they’re going to have to give up their beautiful singing voice or THE DEAL’S OFF.

But what if the client can’t afford my price? What if they find my rates completely unreasonable and expensive compared with industry standards? What if they’re bargain hunting and willing to work with someone less qualified for a steeply discounted rate? What if they’re really nice and I feel uncharacteristically sorry for them?

What if instead of their beautiful singing voice, they’re only willing to part with the sound of their burps, the noise they make right before yakking up last night’s vodka tonic, their impression of Marlon Brando in The Godfather? What then?

When you set the price for your own work, there are innumerable reasons you might be tempted to lower it. This is a way of undervaluing your own work, and trust me my beauties, it is not worth it.

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Income inequality is a real thing. Let's start there.

How to Start at Rock Bottom

Income inequality is a real thing. Let’s start there. We are not all starting on a level playing field. In fact, some are actually starting at rock bottom.

Whatever way you define rock bottom, it’s a shitty place to start when envisioning your financial future. And it’s a frightening reality for many Americans. Giving advice about how my fellow college-educated Millennials can get ahead in their careers, defeat their student loans, and buy homes is all well and good, but it’s utterly useless advice for someone with no education, no family support, and no job prospects to speak of. It’s useless to those drowning in medical debt or responsible for supporting a family on a minimum wage salary. You can’t think about Step 1 when you’re currently at Step -37. Those living at rock bottom need to achieve a basic standard of survival before they can think about “getting ahead.”

One way to start at rock bottom—to survive—is by using a number of government social welfare programs. The purpose of these programs is to help those starting at rock bottom, or who find themselves at rock bottom due to drastic circumstances, to get back on their feet and working toward financial stability.

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