Small Business Investing: A Kinder, Gentler Alternative to the Stock Market

Gentle readers… shit’s straight fucked.

This Bear Market (i.e., when the stock market plunges and investors start sweating bullets, not a charity auction event I’m sure is occurring somewhere this Pride Month) is scary stuff. It can be incredibly difficult to stick to a long-term investing strategy when it looks like you’re losing hundreds or even thousands day by day. Cutting your losses and pulling your money out of the stock market is a strong temptation.

For the record, we don’t recommend doing anything so hasty. But we also feel your pain! Which is why we’ve always recommended mitigating your risk by diversifying your investments. Remember our classic lesson about horcruxes and investment diversification? If not, go read it now. I’ll wait.

Welcome back! Today we’re introducing one of my favorite diversification horcruxes: small business investing—a lovely little option for the nervous stockholder looking for another way to grow their money outside of the stock market… while keeping their ethics intact.

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A Guide to Sharing Finances with Someone Other Than a Romantic Partner

A Guide to Sharing Finances with Someone Other Than a Romantic Partner

In the past, when asked about sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner, our advice has boiled down to one word: don’t.

There are two main reasons we’ve tended toward this perspective. First, many of the specific questions we’ve gotten on this topic have been, um… ill-advised? Often they’ve come from young people with limited life experience asking how to most expeditiously derail their lives. (“Myself and my four best friends are juniors in college, and rent in our city is super expensive, so we want to buy a house together! We haven’t been roommates yet, but we’ve all been best friends since grade school and have never fought about anything. None of us have credit yet. Can we all just co-sign five separate loans for each other? Thanks in advance!”) We will continue to answer such questions with a gentle yet robust one-two slap.

Sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner is fine. BUT THIS GOES TOO FAR.

Reason #2 we’ve historically cautioned against sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner?

Times were different.

Sooooooo much has changed since we started this blog. Political unrest, widening inequality, spikes in unemployment, a global pandemic, war, inflation, a new recession… during all this turmoil and strife, I’ve found it clearer than ever that none of us can weather these changes alone. Total independence is a luxury few can afford anymore.

Our systems are designed to make it easy and safe to share money with only two categories of people: spouses and immediate family members. If you don’t have—or want—those traditional ties, it puts a lot of pressure on you to fully and independently support yourself. And if there was ever an era in which that was doable and sustainable, that era has officially passed us the hell by!

Which means we need to reevaluate our stance on sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner. We need to do better to legitimize chosen families and normalize community support. So today I’m offering a high-level overview of some of the best ways for sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner.

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Procrastinating on opening a retirement account? Here's 3 ways that'll fuck you over.

Procrastinating on Opening a Retirement Account? Here’s 3 Ways That’ll Fuck You Over.

If I had to rank all the things I love to do in my precious free time, where would opening a retirement account fall? Let me see, hmm… above a root canal, but below politely accepting a religious tract from a door-knocking missionary. (What can I say? Some of them have pretty nice artwork!)

Have you been procrastinating on opening your retirement account? Feeling lazy? Avoidant? Afraid of the paperwork? Feel like you’d rather use that money on stuff you need or want right now? Obviously, I feel you.

But buck up, son! I’m about to tell you why you can’t afford not to open a retirement account.

Wait… what’s a retirement account again?

To recap with a vast simplification: Americans have access to two main kinds of retirement accounts.

First, a 401(k)—or 403(b), if you work for a nonprofit—is a retirement fund facilitated by your employer. You set it up so they can take money directly out of your paycheck and squirrel it safely away for you to use when you’re terrorizing orderlies in the nursing home. That way you can focus on maintaining your record as Wheelchair Drag Race Champion of Shady Hills Retirement Community and not get distracted by petty financial concerns.

Pictured here: retirement goals.

Second, there’s IRAs (individual retirement accounts), both traditional and Roth. IRAs are very similar to 401(k)s, but they’re attached to you directly instead of your employer. There are other differences, but meh, they’re pretty minor. You can get acquainted with the finer points later.

Retirement accounts are powerful tools for growing wealth and stability for your future self. The trick is you have to opt into your retirement account. If you’re self-employed, or you work for a company that doesn’t offer 401(k)s, you need to go out and open your own IRA. And if you work for a company that offers 401(k)s, you need to sign up and voluntarily tell someone to NOT give you part of your paycheck every month.

As broke as you are right now, ignoring a perfectly good retirement fund is a terrible idea. Because if you do that, you’ll lose money in three different ways.

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Ask the Bitches: Should I Get a Loan Even Though I Can Afford To Pay Cash?

Let’s talk about the logistics of paying for large purchases. As in: When should I get a loan? And how big should that loan be? Should you ever forego a down payment or paying with cash even when you can afford it?

Unlike the suitcase full of dirty laundry you brought home from that conference three whole weeks ago… let’s unpack this! And our favorite way to unpack a problem is with a real-live question from a real-live reader with a real-live dilemma:

Hello sage bitches. My trusty old car is on its way out, and I’m going to need to get a new one soon. I do have enough money in savings to buy it outright without a loan (though it would put a… substantial dent in those savings), but some family members keep saying it might be a better idea to see if I can get a low-interest loan instead, because it “would be good to have paid off a big loan.” I do have a credit score of ~800, so it’s possible that I could get a decent loan, and I have heard a lot of vague things about how it’s good for your credit to have payed off a big purchase before, but something in me hates the idea of having to pay a higher total sum than I have to. Any advice?

An anonymous yet glorious citizen of Bitch Nation we’ll call Chickadee

In other words: “Should I get a loan just to improve my credit score even if I can afford to pay cash?”

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Unmarried? In THIS Economy? 7 Ways Our Society Financially Punishes Single People

Unmarried? In THIS Economy? 7 Ways Our Society Financially Punishes Single People

Structural discrimination against single people is the latest topic chosen by our Patreon donors. It is sooooo like them to throw research-heavy bummers my way. Thanks a lot, you beneficent bastards!

I used to think that the biggest financial turning point in my life was when I stopped being self-employed (read “chronically underemployed”) and got a Big Girl Job™ with a steady paycheck and health benefits. It was transformational. I felt suddenly, magically middle class. Like the fairy godmother turned down the heat on her princess-making magic wand to something just as good, but slightly less flashy.

Single people when they finally feel middle class.

But now, I question if that was really my greatest turning point. Because around the same time, I started dating a friend of mine. Financial pressures pushed us to commit to moving in together almost immediately. In the jumble of first/last/security payments on a new apartment and a flurry of Craigslist secondhand furniture purchases, it took a while to feel any financial benefits to partnership.

I see more clearly now how much dual incomes and shared expenses contributed to our long-term stability, to a magnitude no job could ever touch.

At the structural level, our economy financially punishes single people. I think it often rises to the level of discrimination. But even when it doesn’t, single people statistically have less financial security, and thus will feel “normal” economic strains faster than partnered people.

I’m striving with all my being to discuss this topic without making an “all the single ladies” joke. 2008 was four hundred years ago, and I’m clinging to cultural relevancy with only my fingertips.

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Credit Card Companies HATE Her! Stay Out of Credit Card Debt With This One Weird Trick

Kitty was once at an event where a credit card company was hawking their new cash rewards credit card. The credit card rep excitedly told her about all the cash back rewards she could earn by using the card, and how the interest wasn’t even “that bad!”

But mama didn’t raise no fool. Instead of falling head over heels for low interest, Kitty asked, “But what if someone pays off the credit card debt in full and on time? Will they still get the rewards?”

“Ah,” the credit card rep sighed, “we call those people deadbeats.”

A deadbeat, Kermit.

That’s right: deadbeats. Credit card companies fucking hate people like Kitty and I. And that’s exactly how we like it!

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BONUS EPISODE: "What can I do to prepare for life in a post-Roe world?"

How to Prepare for a Post-Roe World (Bonus Episode)

In a good timeline, no one would have to prepare for a post-Roe world. Reproductive rights would be safely enshrined in our constitution, where they belong. Plus, ice cream would never melt.

Unfortunately, last week’s news made it abundantly clear that we’re in a crappy timeline. I accepted this news with horror, but not surprise. My faith in my elected representatives is as melty as a tub of Americone Dream left on the counter overnight.

But this isn’t the time to despair. It’s time to take action. Someone gave us the incredible gift of forewarning. We have two months to prepare. And there’s a lot of steps you can take to protect yourself and others in your community from the appalling consequences of forced childbirth.

Piggy and I hopped on an impromptu recording session to help our readers and listeners steel themselves for the fall of Roe v. Wade. And I’m thrilled to say we left our aimless thrashing and redundant moralizing on the cutting room floor! (Mostly.) What remained were actionable steps to help you prepare for a post-Roe world.

Listen below, or read on for a text transcript.

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How to Protect Cash Savings During High Inflation

How To Protect Cash Savings During High Inflation

We’ve gotten a TON of questions recently from readers trying to protect cash savings during periods of high inflation.

Usually, having mad cash and not being sure how to spend it is a fun problem to solve. (Index funds + a nice seafood dinner at a non-chain restaurant is our default answer.) But right now, high inflation is sucking the pleasure out of Scrooge McDucking on a big pile of cash.

Now is a terrible time to be holding onto cash. Cash savings during times of high inflation are guaranteed to lose value. For example: if you had $1,000 saved a year ago, our 8.5% inflation rate means that money can only buy $915 worth of goods today. It sucks for everyone, but especially so for people who’ve been saving up for a long time to hit a life milestone.

We know how hard our readers work and sacrifice to put money away. And it’s so painful to watch it lose its value because of reasons outside your control. So if you’ve got money sitting idle in your checking account, listen up! We’ll do our best to help you take the sting out of shrinking cash savings during high inflation.

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{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Investing for Beginners

Long after the Cataclysm, when the Reavers stalked the Land and life in the Before Times was but a distant memory, there were those who sought to understand the past. They sifted through the rubble of long-forgotten cities, searching for clues to the life of prosperity and ease their ancestors had enjoyed.

Ticker tape was found, and a dusty DVD of The Wolf of Wall Street. These artifacts were carefully preserved and venerated, mystics and scholars studying them to unravel the Deep Mysteries. There was a ritual known as “investing,” which took place in a temple called “the stock market” and bestowed upon the masses “dividends.” Could this be the key to the prosperity and opulence of their ancestors?

Only time would tell.

But there were some who remembered the Wysdom of Thee Bitches. You could hear these cultists crying out in the darkness, amidst their nightly rituals, “It’s about time IN the market! Not timING the market!” as they cackled and danced.

It’s been said you can’t save your way to financial independence—you have to invest your way there. But investing in the stock market seems like a complicated, daunting practice reserved for rich people and the bebuttsticked class. In the articles below, we attempt to demystify investing into something everyone can—and should—do.

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Ask the Bitches: How Do I Prepare for a Job Interview on Zoom?

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Prepare for a Job Interview on Zoom?

Dear readers… we’re no Ask A Manager. We’re more like Ask A Bargain Bin Manager. Or Ask Someone Who Once Played a Manager on TV. Even Ask Ask A Manager’s Opinionated Knockoff.

But we do love getting questions we’re barely qualified to answer! Like this one, from an anonymous bitchling:

Hey Bitches! I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the amazing advice! On another note, I have an interview coming up next week, and I’m STOKED that I’m being considered for this position. Only problem is… it’s on Zoom. How do I prepare for a job interview over video chat??? How can I stand out in comparison to other candidates, especially through a computer screen? Thanks!!

– A wild bitchling, rampant on a field of goldenrod
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