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Here's what you should be doing every year.

Take Advantage of No-Copay Medical Care

If you are an American who is lucky enough to have health insurance, you almost certainly have several annual and semi-annual services available to you with no copay—and you have absolutely no reason not to use them. Technically, you have already bought them, as their cost is built into the premiums you’ve already paid; and your body will thank you for it! Even if you feel perfectly healthy, establishing a baseline of health will help your medical professionals detect problems early.

Here’s what you should be doing every year.

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We strolled around for hours, having a great time at one of the city's best tourist destinations without spending a dime.

Your School or Workplace Benefits Might Include Cool Free Stuff

If you work for a large company, or a well-connected small one, you should investigate if part of your benefits package includes any unexpectedly awesome free shit.

Many companies act as corporate sponsors of local theaters, symphonies, museums, zoos, sporting teams, and other cultural institutions, and their patronage can translate to free or discounted tickets for you.

This is also the case for many colleges and universities. Whether you’re a grad or undergrad, the right student ID can equal discounted membership, classes, and admission to any institution your school partners with. I regret not taking advantage of my college’s generous museum consortium membership more often when I was a student. (To be fair to myself, I had just discovered alcohol. So. Mm-hmm!)

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Nobody does what you do. So if they want it, make them crawl for it.

Should Artists Ever Work for Free?

I’m an artist. I am well paid to do my job. And I am way, way rarer than I should be.

There are a lot of historicaleconomictechnological, and cultural factors that keep the perceived value of art lower than that of professions that require comparable education and practice. Unfortunately, there ain’t shit you can do about historical, economic, technological, and cultural factors. But you can refuse to contribute, on an individual level, to the devaluation of your chosen industry.

The easiest way to do that is to refuse to work for free. Here’s why. Read More

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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Why? Because fuck student loans.

I Paid off My Student Loans Ahead of Schedule. Here’s How.

I paid off my student loans almost five years ahead of schedule.

I dedicated every waking hour for a little over a year to stomping out these loans like the parasitic infestation that they were, and now that this monumental task has been accomplished it feels really, really good. I wiped out about the last $18k of loans in 14 months, and doing that required intense discipline and concentration. I channeled the mental fortitude of a Buddhist monk and the austerity of an Irish peasant circa the Potato Famine. Here’s why and how I did it.

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Let the scales fall from your eyes, dear readers, for truly name brand products are beneath you.

Name Brand Products Are Beneath You: The Honor and Glory of Buying Generic

Gather round, children, while I tell you one of adulthood’s greatest secrets. It is a pearl of wisdom that can only be gained by leaving the nest, spreading your wings, and comparison shopping. Retailers don’t want you to know it, advertising agencies spend bajillions trying to keep you from learning it. You can live your whole life in ignorance of this simple fact if you don’t spend a little extra effort to look around yourself and pay attention at the goddamn grocery store.

Are you ready? Of course you are, you badass paragon of frugality and virtue.

You don’t have to buy name brand products. Most of the time the generic or store brand is the exact same thing for less money.

Armed with this knowledge, you are ready to embark on a spiritual and financial journey of fiduciary gratification the likes of which the world has never known. You will suddenly discover whole dollars in your grocery budget you never even knew existed. Let the scales fall from your eyes, dear readers, for truly name brand products are beneath you.

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There is a way to build up good, healthy credit while neither increasing your debt nor your risk.

How to Build Good Credit Without Going Into Debt

As we’ve discussed, adult human beings need credit—good credit—to do lots of important adult things such as renting apartments and buying cars. But having debt, whether it be in the form of a balance on a credit card or just Ye Olde Stvdint Loane, can be fucking terrifying.

Fear not, gentle readers. For there is a way to build up good, healthy credit while neither increasing your debt nor your risk.

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If you're confident in your ability not to abuse it, raising your borrowing threshold will give your credit score an instant boost.

How to Instantly Increase Your Credit Score

One of the ways you can improve your credit rating is to lower your credit utilization ratio, that is: the amount you owe compared to the amount you could borrow.

It’s usually better to just pay down the principal, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you’re confident in your ability not to abuse it, raising your borrowing threshold will give your credit score an instant boost.

I’d assumed this was a complicated process requiring some degree of cringing, but it turns out increasing your credit limit is extraordinarily easy. This method was described to me by an educator in my city’s free first-time homebuyer program. I will try to transcribe it exactly as she said it:

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