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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.

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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.

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Building a Scrooge McDuckian money vault is too gauche.

I Paid off My Student Loans. Now What?

After spending over a year scrambling to put every extra dollar I could find into my student loans, I’ve paid them all off almost five years ahead of schedule. I’m now in the enviable position of having a big chunk of extra money every month. It literally feels like I just got a massive raise. So what do I do with it?

Building a Scrooge McDuckian money vault is far too gauche. And besides, I want to use this money to improve my financial position in the fastest, most badass way possible (with badass defined as “most profitable in the long-term”). There’s no shortage of options.

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Whenever someone gives you financial advice, you have to ask yourself, "What is their angle?"

Bullshit Reasons Not to Buy a House: Refuted

Look, there’s a lot of terrible financial advice out there. I had to seek out a bunch of it to write this article, and I think my eyeballs rolled too far and are now permanently pointing into the back of my head. It is very hard to type. Are my fingers still on the home row? Everything is pink and dark. Please send help.

Recently, I’ve seen some advice against buying a home, and I really wanted to examine that. On the one hand, it makes some sense—in the wake of such a damaging recession, many traditional investment truisms proved to be overstated. Financial gurus were overconfident, and occasionally dead wrong. We are collectively wise to question everything.

But in the opinion of these Bitches, home ownership is right for most people. It can be done unwisely, even ruinously—but there are very few situations where renting in perpetuity is a great choice.

Whenever someone gives you advice of any kind, you have to ask yourself: “What is their angle?” If you ask a professional tattoo artist if you should get a tattoo, they’re probably going to be very enthusiastically in favor of the idea. If you ask your Bubbe the same question, she’s probably going to be very enthusiastically against the idea. Everyone has personal preferences, biases, passions, experiences, and agendas that influence how they advise you. Their intent may not be malicious, but it could be short-sighted or unsuitable to your situation.

Let’s get a spoon and dig into this heaping pile of problematic advice.

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I've come to think that's the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person's life.

Why You Might Not Need Your Emergency Fund

Excluding my mortgage, I’m a debt-free individual. That means my credit card is a pretty lonely lil’ guy. He doesn’t even get to live in my wallet. He’s entombed in my office with my library card, my old student ID, and that Best Buy gift card with only $3.52 left on it. He has a zero-balance and a $10,000 limit.

I used to keep $6,000 in cash squirreled away as part of an emergency fund—enough to make a few rent payments if I lost my job or had to cover an unexpected accident deductible. I was very lucky, and none of those things ever came to pass; but this meant my emergency fund sat in my savings account, slowly depreciating. Meanwhile, I was toying with the idea of closing my credit card altogether—after all, I never used it.

But eventually, I saw a wonderful opportunity to justify that card, and put my emergency fund to better use: I invested the $6K and designated my credit card as my new emergency fund. I’ve come to think that’s the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person’s life.

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If you really need to borrow money but you're scared of the bad kind of interest, don't fret! For there are ways to lessen the pain of paying interest on a loan.

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 the law of compounding interest, which Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela all coined 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 the dual nature of interest with a healthy dose of hyperbole, shall we?

*Not intended to be a factual statement

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