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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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Podcast Episode 007: "I'm terrible at budgeting. Do I suck it up---or is there another way?"

Episode 007: “I’m Terrible at Budgeting. Do I Suck It Up—Or Is There Another Way?”



Today we’re doing that thing we love to do: taking age-old advice, rolling it up into a ball, and dunking it with the speed and grace of a green-screened figure.

You don’t have to budget to live a frugal, responsible life.

Today’s question

We tackle this topic at the behest of Patron Sarah C., who writes…

“How the HELL does someone stick to a budget? I have ADHD and self control and budgeting is already hard as is, so if you have any tips or tricks to help a gal stay in a budget (especially a very stringent one!) that would be neat :)”

Also today’s episode contains a bold-faced lie. In it, I swore I would never bring a chicken to the vet. This was recorded before my favorite chicken got sick. And I contemplated the enormous sacrifice she made laying an egg for us every single day, and I…

Brought her to an emergency avian specialist…

At great expense…

What can I say? I am as lava cake: crackly exterior, gushy interior.

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Hashtag rustic shit is really having its moment.

Wait… When Did DIYing Become As Expensive As Buying New??

I often fall into the trap of seeing a cost estimate online and thinking, “Ah, I, savvy anti-consumer than I am, shall devise a way to get the same results for a fraction of the price!” So I slave over making something, fixing something, finding something… and then I pass by the exact item I just made, sitting on the shelf of Home Goods, for twenty dollars less than the price I just paid to make it myself.

Why does this happen? I was raised with the general truism that making something yourself is less expensive than buying it new. And I think this used to be the case with almost everything.

But our world has changed a lot in a short amount of time. Certainly for our grandmothers, it was cheaper to sew their own dresses than buy them from a catalogue. But big, global economic factors have pulled down production prices for almost everything under the sun. And that has a huge effect on whether DIYing something is really going to save you money.

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My only wedding financial regret is that I didn't pay $8.99 to get my officiant ordained as a Jedi Knight.

The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need for a Cheap-Ass Wedding

Ah, summer! Wedding season! Love is in the air, and it’s time to express that love in front of everyone you know in a legally binding and probably permanent way! No big deal!

Enter the Wedding Industrial Complex™: that wicked machine that chews up formerly sane couples and spits out crazed people who shout things like “I don’t give one single fuck about fucking hundred-dollar napkin rings why is this all so fucking expensive?!” at one another.

Expressions of enduring love strained through the colander of financial stress tend to come out a little… wrong.

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There is no such thing as a bacon emergency.

On Emergency Fund Remorse… and Bacon

It was an expensive day in my household.

The kitchen sink had been backed up for more than a week. I’d disassembled and reassembled it twice and couldn’t fix the problem myself, so I knew it was time to call in the professionals. Clearly the damn thing needed to be snaked, and I had neither the tools nor the know-how to handle that myself. So I called a plumber.

On top of that, my dog was experiencing… butt problems. Of the totally non-life-threatening but definitely requiring-immediate-medical-care variety. (He had an anal gland abscess, ok? It was both gross and fascinating and it completely reaffirmed my conviction that dogs are strange and magical creatures.) I have no medical training, and I would move heaven and earth for this goddamn mutt, so I called the vet.

And thus began my winter of discontent.

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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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