When the check arrives, who pays?

Take Pride in Being a Cheap Date

I have no idea how to date. I accidentally fell in love with the boy next door at eighteen, married him at twenty-seven, and I don’t think you could call my high school floozyism before then “dating” by any stretch of the imagination (#noregerts).

So picture my horror when my single friends tell me about how goddamn expensive it can be to date. On top of dating being an often excruciatingly awkward, painful, nerve-wracking, and misery-inducing experience, it can also feel like throwing good money after bad dates.

My girl Gabby says of the dating experience, “Dating revolves a lot around going out for meals and activities. We went to Top Golf for an hour and a half and he spent over $100… for a casual weeknight date. Concert tickets at the best venues in town are no less than $50 a pop before you even add in any drinks or food. Not only is dating expensive because you’re going out, but it also means you want to look your best so you may get a few new articles of clothing, get your hair done (on your head or otherwise…), get your nails done…”

All of which is just financially dire enough to convince me there has to be a better way. And I don’t mean taking vows of chastity and poverty and joining a convent. Though that’s a truly tempting option in light of some men’s behavior.

So buckle up, kids, and let this old married hag tell you how to save money while still finding Prince or Princess Charming. Surely it can’t be that hard, right?

… right?

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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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If it is also your goal to save money, eat well, and become my mother, then settle in.

How to Shop for Groceries like a Boss

It’s happened. That thing countless rom coms and heteronormative popcorn flicks from the 90s warned me about. The thing I swore at the tender age of sixteen would never, ever happen to me.

Dear readers, I have become… my mother.

My fate is sealed and I’ve got proof! At the grocery store, I haughtily wave my cloth bags at the bagger and proclaim, “I prefer to bag for myself.”

It’s not that I hate baggers and seek to force their entire profession out of employment. It’s just that they don’t do it right, with “right” defined as “according to my very particular and neurotic specifications.”

The one time I was in a hurry and neglected to bag for myself, I lost a bag to the straining weight of all the most heavy items on my grocery list. It burst right there on my front stoop, ripped apart by the carelessness of a bagger who clearly had not trained for extreme grocery bagging at the feet of the expert: my mother.

All of which is to say: I take every step of the grocery-shopping process extremely seriously. And if it is also your goal to save money, eat well, and become my mother, then settle in.

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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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Hold your lectures, bikevangelists.

The Joys of Getting Around Without a Damn Car

Loyal citizens of Bitch Nation, I have a confession to make.

I fucking hate driving.

It’s tedious and boring. It takes up time I could spend in other ways. It raises my blood pressure because everyone else is a really fucking bad driver but definitely not me I’m perfect. Cars are noisy, dirty, and expensive. And I’m expected to follow the rules of the road when I just wanna be all

So yeah. Me and cars? We don’t get a long.

And I’m not alone. Haunt the halls of lifestyle blogs and personal finance advice long enough and you’ll run into people who have gone to great lengths to go without driving.

Living a carless lifestyle is entirely possible for a lot of us, and the joys and benefits are many. Getting around without a car saves you a trunkload of cash (see what I did there?), it’s better for your health, and it’s better for the environment. It can even save you time, in certain circumstances.

Below I examine the joys and practicalities of carless modes of transportation. It’s by no means a complete list, so I encourage class participation! Tell me all about your car-free mobility in a comment.

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The Magically Frugal Power of Patience

When I was a little kid, my dad explained the power of prayer to me. He said, “When you ask God for something you really, really want, He’ll give you one of three answers: yes, no, or wait.”

And kids? That’s when I became an atheist.

Just kidding. I didn’t apostatize until I was about nineteen, and the decision to leave religion forever had nothing to do with my dad’s words of wisdom.

But at the time my dad told me this story, I was pretty fucking disgruntled. “Wait”? Dafuq kind of answer was “wait” from an all-knowing, benevolent, magical guidance counselor in the sky? “Wait” was not in my eight-year-old vocabulary and I was damned if I was going to be patient for anything.

But with the perspective and wisdom of years, I now have good reason to embrace this concept of waiting, of being patient for the things I want.

My dad thought he was teaching me about faith and adult-level patience and serenity and shit. But what he really taught me about was far more interesting:

Money.

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Fomo is real. But.

You Won’t Regret Your Frugal 20s

The topic of regret is a controversial one, especially in personal finance. Whole treatises have been written on the premise that if you live frugally during your twenties and make sound financial decisions for the future, you’ll regret wasting your youth as a joyless loner.

We reject this characterization of a frugal youth for a couple reasons:

  1. It doesn’t take a lot of (or any) money to have fun with your friends.
  2. You can (and should) pursue fun long past your twenties.
  3. You’re at more risk of regretting not saving for retirement than you are at risk of regretting not going out to da clerb that one time.

And yet fear of this kind of regret persists.

I get it! No one wants to constantly feel left out. FOMO is real! But I also firmly believe that no one wants to get to retirement age only to realize that all the money they could’ve lived on for another twenty to thirty years got puked out after a night of binge drinking.

Depending on a single, barely funded income stream after retirement, one that could easily go up in a puff of smoke… that’s something worth regretting.

One of our adorable and beloved Tumblr babies asked recently:

“I’ve been reading this blog for the past three hours or so and just finished the post regarding financial vampires. This reminded me of a dilemma I’ve been struggling with. I’m young and I want to have fun. I don’t want to be 35 and realize that I wasted my 20s worrying about saving money and being responsible. But on the other hand… I really want to be financially well off. Help me convince myself that I won’t regret not going out every Saturday night.”

Honey child, we are here for you.

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"Wow, myrrh!" Mary exclaimed.

In Defense of Shameless Regifting

“There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep passing it around.” Ah, Johnny Carson’s ole’ traveling fruitcake story. So ancient and apocryphal it took significant googling to uncover its origins.

It’s a perfect example of the holiday season’s most notorious social faux pas: regifting.

Regifting is considered tacky and thoughtless: the worst version of “being cheap.” If you regift, it means a) you were too lazy to go out and buy a new gift for someone, b) you didn’t actually appreciate the gift in the first place, and c) you care so little about the giftee that you won’t even spend a little money on a personalized gift for them.

I’m here to propose a new way of looking at the practice of regifting. In fact, I think it can be an economical, creative, waste-free, and considerate way of bestowing presents upon your loved ones.

Yes, I am of course an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew. But I’m also an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew with a damn good point… and a damn fat wallet.

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Beer is one of my financial vampires.

Slay Your Financial Vampires

For centuries they have lurked in the shadows. Stalking, hunting, draining their victims of their means of survival, they prey upon the weak-willed, the guileless.

I am of course speaking of financial vampires. And it’s time to slay these undead motherfuckers once and for all. Why? Because it’s October, the season for getting all spoopy.

A financial vampire is an activity, product, or person that routinely sucks you dry of money you didn’t plan to spend. It is tempting or unnoticeable, demanding or pitiful. They rely on you to spend unconsciously, or succumb to temptation.

Your financial vampires could be vices like absinthe and opium dens (or, y’know, cigarettes and beer). They could be the last-minute social invitations of your friends. They could be a beguiling advertisement for a fucking Amazon Echo (which I am as yet convinced no able-bodied person needs).

A financial vampire can derail your careful budget and responsible savings plan faster than you can say,

Let’s slay these bumpy-foreheaded, melanin-depleted, fruit-punch-mouthed bastards once and for all.

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