Skip to main content
The Financial Order of Operations: 10 Great Money Choices for Every Stage of Life

The Financial Order of Operations: 10 Great Money Choices for Every Stage of Life

One of the reasons personal finance can feel so overwhelming—nay, defeating—is that there’s so much pressure to do everything at once. I think it’s why so many people feel lost and incompetent with money. I did too, until I discovered a financial order of operations.

Money decisions are always intimidating. Every financial decision you make compounds over time! That can be good, like when investments grow. But it’s also terrible, because financial mistakes can haunt you for years after you’ve made them. With so much pressure to get it right, every single time, and always on the first try, it’s no wonder people freeze up.

I wish someone had sat me down and compassionately explained that I didn’t have to do everything all at once. If you want to stay motivated and make meaningful progress on a goal, it’s so much better to focus on just one at a time. And just like in eighth grade math, there’s a right order of operations to everything, depending on what stage of life you’re in.

Today I’m going to take you through my financial order of operations. It’s a basic blueprint of ten steps most people could follow to transform their finances for the better.

In my opinion, it’s the best order in which to save, invest, and pay off debt. It also takes into consideration the incredible importance of maintaining motivation and keeping financial decisions centered exactly where they should be: around your personal goals, dreams, and emotional well-being.

Best of all, anyone can follow the first two steps! You don’t need to have money or a job to get started. Woo-hoo! Gates are open—send in the teenaged overachievers!

Obviously, everyone is different. Think of this journey as the Oregon Trail. We all start in the Independence, Missouri of total ineptitude, and we’re all trying to get to the gloriously fruitful Willamette Valley of financial independence. Some of us may choose to raft down the Columbia River Gorge, and others will take the Barlow Toll Road. That’s totally fine! This guide will help you make informed decisions, even if you don’t follow it exactly.

Read More
Money is Fake and GameStop is King

Money Is Fake and GameStop Is King: What Happened When Reddit and a Meme Stock Tanked Hedge Funds

This past week I spent significant time on our Tumblr fielding live questions about what in the fresh-baked hell was going on with Reddit and GameStop.

I tried to keep up with the news and do the Explain Like I’m Five in real time, but it was all moving too fast. David and Goliath were fighting, and David wasn’t just winning—he was feeding his fists to Goliath like they was ham sandwiches.

Eventually I decided to hold onto my butt with the rest of you and enjoy the pyrotechnics, committing to waiting for the dust to settle before I tackled #gamestonk from a Bitch-eye-view.

Is… is it over now? Is it safe to come out?

And what the hell just happened and why am I still laughing about it?

Note: be aware that some of the Reddit links in this story have offensive language. And if two women who CHOOSE to go by “the Bitches” are slapping a content warning on something, we mean business! In particular, they really love using the r-word as a term of endearment. So consider that before you click. Additional context in the comments below.

Read More
This is a horrible mistake to make because there's no way to really fix it.

PLEASE Tell Me You’re Not Making This Disastrous Beginner Mistake with Your Retirement Funds

It has come to my attention that there may be a particularly disastrous beginner retirement fund mistake we’ve failed to warn our readers against. As they say in the extremely dramatic anime I’m currently watching: moushiwake arimasen!

Worse, it’s exactly the kind of mistake we proudly specialize in addressing: a mistake that makes you feel so freaking inept and self-conscious that you act like it didn’t happen, never speak of it again, and quietly add to the self-critical monologue that plays inside your head on nights when you cannot sleep.

No? Just us? Humph! Very well.

This mistake has to do with your retirement funds. I can’t sugar-coat this one: it’s a horrible mistake to make because there isn’t really a way to fix it. It’s like burning your popcorn: what’s done is done, there’s no way to un-burn it. But the faster you yank that stanky shit out of your microwave, the sooner you can chuck it and move on with with your life. And a fresh batch of popcorn. Make it kettle corn. Invite me!

For those of you who don’t have retirement accounts yet, read on anyway. Trust me! This is something you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind for whenever you finally do.

Read More
I respect entrepreneurial spirit but my respect evaporates when people use their talents to knowingly peddle snake oil.

Why Are Hot Young Instagram Babes Using MLM to Sell Shady Personal Finance Products?

I’m used to pretty Insta-people hawking all sorts of things that will never, ever make my face more symmetrical—but what’s the deal with the recent trend of influencers selling financial products?

This week’s question comes from Patreon Donor Mara. Their question prompted a lot of deep thought about the aspirational nature of wealth, and our complicity in that paradigm. It’s self-recriminatory af, you’re gonna love it. 

Mara writes…

I’m writing to ask if you guys had any thoughts on all these Personal Finance Flavored MLMs that are popping up like crazy on social media.

I work in the entertainment industry. Recently I’ve noticed that a lot of young actors are selling “classes” and the like on their Instagram pages. It seems like they really target young artists/musicians/models and tell them that selling Forex or Bitcoin is the key to intergenerational wealth and stability.

It seems super sketchy and predatory to me, but I would love y’alls thoughts.

– Patron Mara
Read More
Ask the Bitches: "Is this the right time to start investing?"

Ask the Bitches Pandemic Lightning Round: “Is This the Right Time to Start Investing?”

Welcome to the Ask the Bitches Pandemic Lightning Round! We’re working around the clock to answer your questions about coronavirus, the impact of quarantine, and the recession of 2020.

Today, we’re considering if now is a good time to start investing. Because your dad probably told you it’s a great time to invest. But is your dad right?!

We’ll be coming at you fast this week, answering as many urgent questions as we can. If you appreciate the extra effort, we would love a small donation to our Patreon. Thank you!

The question

“Dearest bitches, I finally paid off my student loans in January and the money that had been going to them has just been hanging tight in a savings account until I move it to my Roth IRA (right now it’s up to about $2k). The question, then: with the market, to quote a friend, ‘going down worse than your eighth jagerbomb,’ when is the best time to make that shift? It’s going into a robo-managed fund, so it’s not like I’m actively playing the market, but I’m still nervous. Help!”

Ah. Lovely. A slightly more optimistic question than our last few!

We’re going to answer this question straight, with the assumption that you’ve already taken the stability of your job, healthcare insurance, and emergency fund into ample consideration.

Read More
Remember learning about means, medians, and modes in middle school? You're about to understand why they taught that shit to you.

What’s the REAL Rate of Return on the Stock Market?

Our awesome Patreon donors have asked us to tackle a really interesting question this week: what’s the real rate of return on the stock market?

If you ask people this question, you get surprisingly different answers. And for some reason (boredom at my day job) I decided to get all art school with it. Here, I wrote you a one-act play on the topic!

WHAT THE FUCK IS IT EVEN: THE REAL RATE OF RETURN ON THE STOCK MARKET

A Play in One Act

SOME PEOPLE
(With great confidence)
Ten percent!

OTHER PEOPLE
(With low confidence)
Ssssssssssix?

MOST PEOPLE
(In anguish)
Why are you asking me this?! Shit. Am I supposed to know?!

SOME PEOPLE
(Smugly)
It’s totally ten percent. Why would you ever buy a house or pay off debts when stocks are so mathematically superior?

OTHER PEOPLE
Ssssssseven??

MOST PEOPLE
(With self-loathing)
I feel like I’m too busy to know this. But also I made time to watch that Zac Efron Ted Bundy biopic on Netflix, so…

SOME PEOPLE
Don’t even buy a single tube of mascara or a ham sandwich. It’s a waste. It’s unoptimized garbage. I buy nothing but stocks and Soylent!

OTHER PEOPLE
Wait, is this the four percent thing? I’ve heard people talk about the four percent thing. Is it foooourrrr?

DAVE RAMSEY bursts onto the stage.

DAVE RAMSEY
It’s 12% if you follow my system! But I never agreed to be here! My company sends cease and desist letters to people who criticize me!

DAVE RAMSEY exits the stage and the playwright forgets to go back and delete that part.

MOST PEOPLE
(With resignation)
No, you know what? I know that Alleras the Sphinx is actually a lost Sand Snake, and I know three quarters of the verses of Mambo #5, but I do not know what the rate of return on the stock market is and I have accepted that fact about myself.

SOME PEOPLE rubs stocks all over his torso. He visibly nips out. OTHER PEOPLE keeps mumbling random numbers. MOST PEOPLE starts adjusting the Pinterest board for her wedding, even though she is not engaged or seeing anyone seriously.

Rocks fall; everyone dies.

Read More
Learn from the wisdom of the Dark Lord.

The Dark Magic of Financial Horcruxes: How and Why to Diversify Your Assets

Lord Voldemort was the unrecognized Suze Orman of the Potterverse. The man could’ve poured his money into nasal reconstruction surgery, yet instead he saw the value in diversification, making himself harder to kill by spreading his assets out among multiple Horcruxes.

You may not be a wizard, ‘Arry, but today you’re going to learn something about personal finance from He Who Must Not Be Named. For while we’ve already established that the good guys of J.K. Rowling’s seminal masterpiece are fucking idjits when it comes to money, the Dark Lord himself is another matter.

The principle of Horcruxes—dividing Voldemort’s soul into multiple containers so that he could only be killed when all of the Horcruxes were destroyed—is a pretty damn clear analogy for financial diversification.

Diversification, just like the dark magic of Horcruxes, is a strategy for risk management. The idea is to spread your money out into a variety of different investments and savings vehicles to lessen your overall risk should one or more of those investments go the way of Tom Riddle’s diary. Diversification generally helps you yield higher financial returns over the long term and wraps your financial future up in layers of safety you won’t get from sticking 100% of your net worth in a checking account.

You know: exactly like Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

Read More
Can a recession ever be a good thing? No. Full stop.

There’s a Storm a’Comin’: What We Know About the Next Recession

A foul wind’s a’blowin’! There’s evil in the air! A recession is a’brewin’ and you need to be prepared! 

-From “Pay Off Them Debts Before the Recession Comes,” by Piggy Smalls featuring The Kitty Kat Kid, new from Bitches Get Riches Records

Last week we put all your pre-recession fears to rest by explaining how you can arm yourself with strong financial decisions before the next recession comes. To recap:

  • Track your spending. You’ll feel less anxious and more in-control if you have a clear picture of your needs.
  • Fatten up your emergency fund. Let your level of risk set the size of your emergency fund.
  • Pay off as much debt as you can. This will give you more flexibility with your money and reduce your expenses overall.
  • Get a credit card or increase your existing credit limit. Credit freezes up during a recession, so get it now while you still can. Yes, credit is scawwwy and can be misused—but it is a tool that can instantly put food on your table.
  • Get your health in order. Avail yourself of healthcare access while you have it, and stock up on needed prescriptions.
  • Identify areas to cut back before you have to. The less money you spend every month, the less money you need to get by. The less you need to get by, the easier it’ll be to pay your bills if you lose your source of income.
  • Broaden your skills. Start doing whatever you need to make your resume stand out in a more competitive job market.
  • Back up your work files. You don’t want to lose potential portfolio pieces.
  • Stay the course. Don’t freak out and pull your money from the stock market.
  • Be kind. A time is coming when we’re going to have to depend on each other. No one wants to help out an asshole when times are tough.

So praise be, we know what to do! But what exactly is going to happen? And when?

Read More

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!

Read More