Skip to main content
Buying the $7 Chocolate Bar

Buying the $7 Chocolate Bar

Last time I found myself in a high-end grocery store, I remember looking at the prices of everything and thinking “who the hell would buy a $7 chocolate bar?” Yesterday, I got my answer. And it was a pretty surprising one! It opened my eyes to a truth I’ve struggled for years to acknowledge.

I have a friend who is struggling with homelessness right now. She was in my house, staying for a spell while she looked for a permanent place to live. I watched her unpack her few belongings.

And there it was. Inside her purse was a large, rather expensive, luxury-brand $7 chocolate bar. She held it up and twiddled it back and forth in her hands, letting the silver foil catch the light.

“Sweetie, I’m homeless,” she said, very matter-of-fact. “You’d better believe I’m getting the good stuff.”

And boy was she making a great point.

Read More
How to Start Small by Saving Small

How To Start Small by Saving Small

“If you don’t start saving your money when you’re young, you’re going to die impoverished, overworked, and alone!” says every personal finance blogger ever to young people just starting out in the world.

And while it’s only a slight exaggeration, this kind of enormous pressure can be overwhelming and demoralizing when you’re just starting to get your financial life under control and barely bringing in enough money to make ends meet.

So what’s a young, financially inexperienced person to do? What’s anyone with bills and debt to do with the specter of an empty savings account looming and no solution in sight?

The answer, as with most personal finance, is to start small. Because when saving, your little savings really do add up.

Read More
Why Are Poor People Poor and Rich People Rich?

Why Are Poor People Poor and Rich People Rich?

In a society that’s supposedly equitable, why are some people poor, and other people rich?

Piggy and I discussed a ton of things when we first started talking about starting our personal finance blog. But one thing we didn’t talk about was our target audience. We didn’t have to! We both knew immediately that we wanted to write for our younger selves. Years later, we’re older and more financially stable—but inside we still feel like a pair of broke young folks.

And maybe we always will? As we’ve discussed, money doesn’t immediately cure the financial anxieties you develop when you’re poor.

Our twenties were a decade-long financial panic. It was so stressful trying to figure everything out on our own. So we spent a lot of time talking about how traditional financial advice had failed people like us.

Some advice failed simply for being too old. It relied on outdated growth models. Or ignored a rapidly changing globalized economy. Or discounted the possibilities of living in a world transformed by technology.

These failures were innocent.

Others were not.

Much advice we’ve encountered conflates the virtues of wisdom, self-control, independence, perseverance, diligence, vision, and thrift with the state of being financially solvent. Whether directly stated or merely implied, people who are poor are poor because they are therefore foolish, indulgent, leeching, lazy, idle, short-sighted, and wasteful pieces of shit.

No. What are you. No.

I do not know of a single misconception that has damaged society more. It’s embedded so deeply in American sensibilities I don’t think I could pry it out with the claw-end of a hammer.

I have seen so many powerful people wield it like a scepter, a symbol of their divine right to their disproportionate wealth.

And even sadder, I have seen many more powerless people use it as a cudgel against one another.

Read More
Businesses Will Happily Give You HUGE Discounts if You Ask This Magic Question

Businesses Will Happily Give You HUGE Discounts if You Ask This Magic Question

Also known as “the magical six-word question that’s saved me $1,140 in the last three months.” Sounds like clickbait, right? But miraculously, this tip is 100% legit and may one day save your (financial) life. It’s a special little secret called the cash discount.

I’m a little wary of asking for discounts, especially from very small companies. When it’s just one or two people running the show, it means those one or two people spend an inordinate percentage of their time doing things they don’t like to do. Nobody starts their own business because they love filing quarterly taxes—they soldier through it for the 10% of the time where they’re actually doing the thing they love.

And every small business owner I’ve known has lost sleep over their pricing. (Us included!) No matter what you’re selling, there’s local and global competition for it, and consumers have tools now that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago that allow them to find, compare, rate, and review similar services. The world is a buyer’s market, and it’s really hard to measure what you know your work is worth against what you know people are willing to pay for it.

So asking to pay less for the same product is almost always a wearying and unwelcome question… with one very special exception.

Read More
Dafuq Is Interest? And How Does It Work For the Forces of Darkness?

Dafuq Is Interest? And How Does It Work for the Forces of Darkness?

Here at Bitches Get Riches, we’re constantly extolling the virtues of compounding interest, which Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela all deemed the Eighth Wonder of the World.* This might lead personal finance novices to believe that interest is universally a great and wealth-building thing. Not so, dear readers. Not so.

Just as interest can work for you, contributing mightily to your financial goals over a long period of time, so it can spell your very doom. DOOM.

Like a monetary Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, interest has both your best interests (see what I did there?) and your utter financial destruction at its heart. Let’s explore its dual nature with a healthy dose of hyperbole, shall we?

*Not intended to be a factual statement

Read More
The Library is a Magical Place and You Should Fucking Go There

The Library Is a Magical Place and You Should Fucking Go There

Back when I lived in a hippie commune with approximately nine humans and 37 dogs, I biked to the library on a regular basis. It was an easy way to keep myself in reading material without spending all of my meager paycheck on books.

As I was leaving one day, I asked one roommate if she wanted me to pick up anything at the library for her. Her response: “Is it free?”

Is it free? Is it free?

Let’s pretend for a minute that it’s not completely weird and unbelievable that an adult human being could grow up in the United States without ever having learned the first thing (literally, the very first thing) about the public library. Let’s also set aside the fact that this particular person was an English major! I’ll just state, definitively and for the record:

The library is fucking free, you fool. So why the hell wouldn’t you use it? Especially if you’re on a tight budget and trying to save money?

Read More
You Deserve Cheap Toilet Paper, You Beautiful Moon Goddess

You Deserve Cheap Toilet Paper, You Beautiful Moon Goddess

In my short lifetime, I have heard more than one perfectly sensible person tell me they “can’t do” cheap toilet paper.

Rick knows how I feel.

I don’t know why people tell me these things.

It’s like they want me to cry out to Father Dagon and Mother Hydra and bid them raise an army of Deep Ones from the many-columned depths of Y’ha-nthlei to sweep over the land and drown the humans in a cosmic flood as recompense for their innumerable and unpardonable follies.

Read More
Procrastinating on opening a retirement account? Here's 3 ways that'll fuck you over.

Procrastinating on Opening a Retirement Account? Here’s 3 Ways That’ll Fuck You Over.

If I had to rank all the things I love to do in my precious free time, where would opening a retirement account fall? Let me see, hmm… Above a root canal, but below politely accepting a religious tract from a door-knocking missionary. What can I say? Some of them have pretty nice artwork!

Have you been procrastinating on opening your retirement account? Feeling lazy? Avoidant? Afraid of the paperwork? Feel like you’d rather use that money on stuff right now? Obviously I feel you.

But buck up, son! I’m about to tell you why you can’t afford not to open a retirement account.

To recap: Americans have access to two main kinds of retirement accounts.

First, a 401(k)—or 403(b), if you work for a nonprofit—is a retirement fund facilitated by your employer. You set it up so they can take money directly out of your paycheck and squirrel it safely away for you to use when you’re terrorizing orderlies in the nursing home. That way you can focus on maintaining your record as Wheelchair Drag Race Champion of Shady Hills Retirement Community and not get distracted by petty financial concerns.

Pictured here: retirement goals.

Second, there’s IRAs (individual retirement accounts). IRAs are very similar to 401(k)s, but they’re attached to you directly instead of your employer. There are other differences, but meh, they’re pretty minor. You can get acquainted with the finer points later.

Retirement accounts are powerful tools for growing wealth and stability for your future self. The trick is you have to opt into your retirement account. If you’re self-employed, or you work for a company that doesn’t offer 401(k)s, you need to go out and open your own IRA. And if you work for a company that offers 401(k)s, you need to sign up and voluntarily tell someone to NOT give you part of your paycheck every month.

As broke as you are right now, ignoring a perfectly good retirement fund is a terrible idea. Because if you do that, you’ll lose money in three different ways.

Read More