Skip to main content
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

Investing has the reputation of being mysterious and intimidating. It’s something for older, more worldly, bebuttsticked captains of industry, not lowly millennials trying to make their way in a hostile economy. But like the president's reputation as a deal maker, this characterization is a complete myth.

Investing Deathmatch: Paying off Debt vs. Investing in the Stock Market

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLE!

It’s time for another thrilling episode of Investing Deathmatch, in which two forms of investing enter the ring, and only one leaves victorious. Or, more accurately, we decide that investing is a far more complicated affair than wrestling and the outcome of the fight depends on a number of nuanced factors.

But I digress.

TO THE BLOOD SPORT!

This fight has a long and sordid history. We’ll be uncovering old wounds, dredging up arguments long held in stalemate. We’ll be discussing a topic about which every damn personal finance blogger on the Internet has a very firm opinion. And we’ll be demystifying an age-old enigma of financial independence.

Brawlers, take your corners.

Read More

Let's get down to the EXTREMELY ANALYTICAL CARNAGE.

Investing Deathmatch: Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA

Two methods of investing in the stock market enter the ring.

Only one will leave victorious.

Welcome back to another installment of… INVESTING DEATHMATCH!!!!!!!!!

If you’re one of our Patreon supporters, there are four things I know for sure about you. One: you’re beautiful on the inside and out. Two: you’re powerful, also on the inside and out (like, you are spiritually intimidating and also extremely muscular). Three: You have excellent taste in blogs run by women who are emotionally in their mid-seventies but physically in their early thirties.

The fourth and most important thing I know about our Patreon supporters is that once a month, they get to choose a topic for an upcoming blog post. And this month they selected a battle royale between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

So if you enjoy this week’s post, you have our gorgeous, strong, good-taste-having, democratically-empowered Patreon supporters to thank for it. Please consider becoming one, or continue to aspire to grow up to be one.

So real.

Now let’s get down to the EXTREMELY ANALYTICAL CARNAGE.

Read More

Hogwarts Arithmancy classes clearly do not cover compound interest.

When Money in the Bank Is a Bad Thing: Understanding Depreciation Expense

Here’s a riddle: when is $100 worth $97? 

The answer is: when you put it in the bank a year ago.

Being frugal and being money-savvy are actually two very different skills. The former requires self-discipline, planning, and a strong sense of the relative importance of resources. The latter relies more on understanding how to take advantage of existing financial systems, economic regulations, and mathematical quirks.

Think of it this way: a frugal person packs their own lunch, whereas a money-savvy person itemizes it.

Depreciation expense is one of those mathematical quirks. It sounds tricky, but it’s really not! And if you know how it works, you can make it work for you.

Read More

Investing Deathmatch: Managed Funds vs. Index Funds

Two methods of investing in the stock market enter the ring.

Only one will leave victorious.

Welcome to… INVESTING DEATHMATCH!!!!!!!!!

Hey! Get back here! Don’t you dare click away. This is fucking important and I am stretching a goddamn WWF metaphor past the bounds of decency to make it interesting for you.

So sit your ass down and learn a thing.

Before we ring the bell and start this fight, we should get the basic concept of investing out of the way. Investing in the stock market means you buy tiny chunks of various companies and in return you get tiny chunks of their profits. These tiny chunks add up over time so that you make more money than you would if you just put your money in a savings account.

Got it? For more on investing, check out this beginner’s guide over at Half Banked.

Ok. Now I want a good, clean fight…

Read More

My parents always treated the topic of investing the same way they did the topic of sex: knowledge to be imparted "when you're older."

Advice I Wish My Parents Gave Me When I Was 16

My parents meant so, so well. And they were so, so right about some things (the relative unworthiness of all teenage boys, for example). But there are a couple of things I’m kinda pissed they didn’t tell me about when I was 16 and on the cusp of making serious decisions about finances and the next several years of my life.

It’s not that they told me nothing, or even that they gave me horrible advice. But I feel like my time as a 16-year-old was the last year of my life before I was expected to make monumental decisions that would affect my financial future in really, really big ways. And that future could have been drastically different (and potentially better) if only they’d told me some key things that would have influenced my decisions about college, a career, and investing.

I brought receipts.

Read More

I don't know why I've never thought about the Theory of Compounding Interest in this way before, but it's genius.

I Read a Book About Warren Buffett. Here’s What I Learned.

So I read The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. It’s an absurdly long, absurdly detailed book about one of the most famously wealthy people in the world: Warren Buffett. Notorious for his frugal ways and uncanny ability to predict the future of the stock market (no seriously), Buffett’s name has become synonymous with financial success. Which is why I read the book.

I wanted to see if the Wizard of Omaha (I know—not nearly as sexy as the Wolf of Wall Street) had anything to teach me about making lots of money.

Read More