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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Within each INFP is a bottomless lake of love and compassion. Exactly what the fuck is an employer supposed to do with that?

Myers-Briggs Personalities and Income

There are two valid forms of personality tests: Myers-Briggs and the Sorting Hat—BUT ONLY the Sorting Hat as defined by the collective wisdom of the broader Harry Potter fandom. J. K. Rowling’s Slytherinphobia is as well-documented as it is inexplicable. Pottermore cannot be trusted.

If you don’t know your Myers-Briggs personality, you can find it out pretty easily. The internet is clogged with free tests of varying length and quality. I like this one, personally. It’s thorough but nowhere near as long as others.

In general, Myers Briggs judges personalities in four metrics: introvert (I) vs extrovert (E), sensing (S) vs intuition (N), thinking (T) vs feeling (F), and judging (J) vs perceiving (P).

If you don’t want to take a quiz, you may be able to guess what you are. Introverts feel recharged when alone, and extroverts feel at-home among others. Sensors like to take people at their word, while intuits tend to look for meaning between the lines. Thinkers are rational and logical, while feelers are empathetic and expressive. Judgers (not to be confused with the judgmental) prefer plans and orderliness over the perceiver’s more casual, open-ended approach.

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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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When running your own homestead was a supremely affordable option, nobody really felt like folding ye olde t-shirts at ye olde Aeropoftale.

Maury Povich Confirms Labor Shortages ARE the Father of American Business Ethics

You ARE the father.

Time for some History Lessons with Kitty and Piggy!

America is an interesting example of a country whose economic needs have flip-flopped wildly since its founding. The most interesting aspect to me is the story of American labor.

In the days of the American Revolution, labor was the scarcest commodity in the colonies. Which is hardly surprising if you think about it.

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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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It's a dick move that puts the onus on you, the applicant, to determine the worth of your work.

What to Do When You’re Asked About Your Salary in a Job Interview

One of the shittiest questions to be asked in a job interview is arguably also one of the most important considerations when looking for a new job: “What are your salary requirements?”

It’s shitty because even if you’re prepared, the question can immediately throw you into a state of self-doubt and nervous confusion where you risk shooting your potential earnings in the foot. You don’t want to blurt out a number too high and risk them writing you off as an entitled, money-grubbing Millennial with an overinflated sense of self-worth. But you don’t want to lowball them either, lest they see you as a bargain hire and take you on for a fraction of what they’d planned to pay.

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Why the everloving fuck didn't I ask sooner?

The First Time I Asked for a Raise

Story time. When I was 23 and only about six months into my very first big kid job, I got a promotion. It was great! I got to take the word “assistant” out of my email signature, I got to stop identifying as an entry-level employee, and best of all, I got a 22% raise.

I know, right? All was right with the world.

Fast-forward three years and my company had just merged with another company and in the resulting restructuring of the org chart I got another promotion. A big one.

But I didn’t get a raise.

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Graduating in a recession leads to earnings losses of nine percent. But there are some things you can do to get yourself back up to the level you deserve.

A Millennial’s Guide to Growing Your Salary

I don’t attach the word “millennial” to topics willy-nilly. A lot of our advice is aimed at everyone living in these strange times! But this advice is tailored specifically to those who came to adulthood immediately before or after the 2008 recession.

Graduating in a recession leads to earnings losses of about 9% compared to those who graduate in balmier financial climates. The pay gap takes a full decade to become statistically insignificant. For the average worker, that amounts to five grand in a single year. The lost opportunities to invest some of that income—as well as the recession-graduate’s stymied options for other jobs—creates a staggering wealth gap.

Worst of all, it’s completely fucking unfair, because we were kids when this hot mess was cooked up, yet we’re still the ones who have to eat it. We have every right to be salty about that.

There are some things you can do to get yourself back up to the level you deserve. Here’s what we suggest.

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