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If the cost of regular goods and services grows at a steady walking pace, higher education is galloping away like a Triple Crown winner whose ass just met a hornet.

How to Pay for College without Selling Your Soul to the Devil

Listen you lazy, entitled whiners: it’s easy to pay for college. Just get a summer job! Why, in my day I worked weekends as a fry cook down at the diner on Main, graduated without debt, and now I’m sixty-five years old and completely delusional about the inflated costs of higher education! Ask me more about the house I bought for $60,000 and how much I resent the respectful empathy of the children I raised!

Sorry, y’all. Probably should’ve started that with a trigger warning.

Whenever we write about student loans, we get at least one comment like this. Except with more caps lock. We delete them. We never silence interesting criticism, but come on, this ain’t a public square for every old man who wants to yell at a cloud! We pay good money for this web hosting!

At least where the cost of college is concerned, things aren’t what they used to be. Thirty years ago, it cost the modern equivalent of $8K per year to attend a public college and $18K per year to attend a private college.

Today, the same year of school would cost $21K and $48K. And you’re supposed to buy FOUR of them!

If the cost of regular goods and services grows at a steady walking pace, the cost of higher education is galloping away like a Triple Crown winner whose ass just met a hornet. I didn’t even mention the cost of textbooks, room and board, and other academic fees, which are all even worse. Can’t be giving you nightmares!

Meanwhile, average hourly wages have barely increased 11% (adjusted for inflation), making the wage-to-college-cost-ratio just fucking laughable. Yet college is still a barrier to entry into not only white collar jobs, but an ever-increasing number of blue collar jobs.

My purpose here is not to unpack the absurd inflation of higher education costs in recent years (I’d need another 2,500 words, and I can only hold your attention through so many gifs). Nor is it to debate the relative value of a college degree (another 3,000 words).

Instead, I want to focus on practical solutions for people who’ve already weighed their options and decided that college is right for them. Yes, a traditional four-year undergraduate degree is heckin’ expensive as fuck. Short of The Deep Magic, how do we mere mortals even attempt to pay for it?

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Some people make budgets, fail at them, and enter a cycle of self-loathing and financial stress that harms more than it helps.

Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone—Try This System Instead

On a recent episode of the highly respected, laudable, and deserving-of-awards Bitches Get Riches podcast, Kitty and I came out with a controversial take: You don’t necessarily need a budget.

Next to “You can buy a latte sometimes,” it’s just about the closest we’ve come to outright heresy in the halls of money writers. We expect to be shunned and excommunicated any moment now.

Yet I firmly believe that budgeting doesn’t work for everyone!

Yes, for some people it’s an incredibly useful, indispensable tool. I know people who flailed around with money like a noodly-armed fan man on a used car lot before they made a budget, and afterward approached their finances with the serenity and enlightenment of a monk.

Seen here: Actual post-budgeting bliss. Results not typical.

I also know people who make budgets, fail at them, and enter a cycle of constant self-loathing and financial stress that ultimately harms them more than it helps. Some of us chafe against the rigidity of a budget, others thrive within its strict boundaries.

Seen here: Actual post-budgeting death throes.

So budgeting ain’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you’re excused from managing your money altogether. Even without a budget, it’s still useful to have a system for keeping an eye on your money.

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MASTERPOST: Everything You Need to Know About Saving Money and Being Frugal

{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Saving Money and Being Frugal

The Colosseum teems with unruly members of the plebeian class. As the sun beats down upon their heads, a riotous energy gathers and surges through the gathered masses. “Masterposts, masterposts, masterposts,” they begin to chant in unison.

The charioteer’s horses stamp their feet in agitation as the chant grows louder, reverberating around the stone walls of the arena. The captive tigers and lions pace back and forth as their handlers exchange nervous glances. How much longer can they hold their deadly charges back? How much longer will the people be denied?

Co-Empresses Piggy and Kitty—looking extremely classy in complimentary but not matchy-matchy ionic chiton gowns—stand and extend their golden and white respective arms. The crowd falls silent, awaiting their judgement.

Thumbs up.

There will be masterposts. And our first one is on ways to decrease spending. Are you not edutained?! Is this not why you are here?!

Look, there are really two basic ways to get more money: increase your income or decrease your spending. Through a clever application of both methods, you can end up with enough money to live comfortably and stress-free without having to sell your organs in the process.

Let’s focus on one half of the equation today: decreasing your spending. The less you spend, the more you have to work with. And living a frugal life means you’ll need less money to get by. It’s all a beautiful circle!

So here it is! The complete list of everything we’ve ever written about being frugal and saving money. Your mileage may vary, so try different stuff until you find what works for you.

And hey. We’re all in this together. Don’t give up.

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Another recession is coming.

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Prepare for a Recession?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about a hypothetical looming recession. The stock market has taken a bruising; bellwether companies are stumbling. Do such omens and portents mean that another recession on its way?

The good news is, we can answer this one very easily.

Yes. Another recession is coming.

We know this with 100% certainty.

How?

The same way we know with 100% certainty that Piggy and I will be dead within the next hundred years. It is in the nature of a living being to die, just as it is in the nature of economies to grow and contract. The sun rises; the sun falls. The tides go in; the tides go out. It’s just the way things are.

Sounds kinda shitty, right? It’s possible that, someday far in the future, someone will devise some new system that will smooth out or even eliminate these cycles. Maybe the nature of goods and services will change so fundamentally that economies will transform in ways we can’t even imagine. But that’s Phillip K. Dick stuff—innovations that live so far in a hypothetical future that they’re still science fiction. You should plan to endure these market cycles throughout your lifetime.

And yes, there are lots of things you can do to make yourself more prepared. Let’s go through them.

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What about that 800 point drop the Dow Jones experienced just last week? Yes! Let's address the steroid-addled gorilla in the room!

Investing Deathmatch: Investing in the Stock Market vs. Just… Not

It’s time for another thrilling episode of… INVESTING DEATHMATCH! In which we pit two forms of investing against each other and see which one escapes the struggle unscathed.

Today’s fight is an ancient grudge match between two opposing philosophies: extreme caution and risk-taking. In one corner we have investing in the stock market—an inherently risky proposition but one that comes with untold rewards. In the other, we have the option of the risk-averse everywhere: just… not with the stock market, and instead, playing it safe by sticking your money in a savings account.

It occurred to us that we needed to cover this battle to dispel some incorrect assumptions about money management.

After the Great Recession and stock market crash of 2008, a lot of young people coming of age in a new and fragile economy were scared away from the stock market. They saw the grownups around them ruined by plummeting stocks and improperly leveraged debt.

As a result, millennials are statistically less likely to have anything invested in the stock market—whether it be through a retirement fund or a managed portfolio. These younglings are choosing to play it as safe as possible.

But is that truly the way to win this Investing Deathmatch?

Fighters… TAKE YOUR CORNERS!

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Here are five easy, lightning-fast things you can do right fucking now to help your financial situation. DO THEM.

5 Easy Things You Can Do Right Fucking Now to Help Your Finances

When you wake up from the capitalist, consumerist nightmare that is our socioeconomic system (#SJW #eattherich), the thought of getting your financial shit together can be daunting. Where do you begin? What can you do right away to make an improvement in your financial prospects? How do you avoid fucking everything up even further?

It can all be a bit overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are five easy, lightning-fast things you can do right fucking now to help your financial situation. Do them.

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Like your fingerprint, or your RuPaul's Drag Race fantasy league, your emergency fund is unique to you and you alone.

You Must Be This Big to Be an Emergency Fund

Here’s a horrifying fact. 46% of Americans can’t come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. Instead of an emergency fund, those people have to use credit cards, borrow from friends and family, or just… not pay for the emergency.

Scary, right? That means almost half of my countrymen are one fender bender, one slip on the ice, one infant with pneumonia away from—at best—massive debt. And at worst, massive bankruptcy. Homelessness. Abject poverty and desperation.

Think I’m being dramatic? I’m not.

My purpose in bringing up the nightmare that is living just above the poverty line is not to nag those who can’t afford an emergency. What kind of monster would belittle people so poor they have no way of saving themselves from one minor stumble on the road to making ends meet?

I’m also not here to advocate filing for bankruptcy multiple times (let’s say six) as a legitimate means of making emergencies go away.

Instead, we’re here to plumb the depths of one of personal finance’s most enigmatic puzzles:

How much money should you have in your emergency fund?

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Investing has the reputation of being mysterious and intimidating. It’s something for older, more worldly, bebuttsticked captains of industry, not lowly millennials trying to make their way in a hostile economy. But like the president's reputation as a deal maker, this characterization is a complete myth.

Investing Deathmatch: Paying off Debt vs. Investing in the Stock Market

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLE!

It’s time for another thrilling episode of Investing Deathmatch, in which two forms of investing enter the ring, and only one leaves victorious. Or, more accurately, we decide that investing is a far more complicated affair than wrestling and the outcome of the fight depends on a number of nuanced factors.

But I digress.

TO THE BLOOD SPORT!

This fight has a long and sordid history. We’ll be uncovering old wounds, dredging up arguments long held in stalemate. We’ll be discussing a topic about which every damn personal finance blogger on the Internet has a very firm opinion. And we’ll be demystifying an age-old enigma of financial independence.

Brawlers, take your corners.

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