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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Are You a Frugal Mooch?: Mooching Off Friends Is Not a Valid Savings Strategy

Sometimes, the quest for frugality can drive us to do ugly things. One of those things is mooching.

You probably know some mooches in your life. I know I do! In every social group, there’s That One Guy who comes to every party, eats and drinks as though he’s storing up for a long winter’s hibernation, and never offers to bring anything or chip in. He begs rides and never offers gas money. If you do him a favor, you’re extremely unlikely to be thanked with a kind word, a gift, or a return favor in the future.

On the other hand, in the rare instances where That One Guy actually orders a pizza for the group, out comes the calculator. He’ll send you a dead-serious Venmo request for $2.40 for your 1/8 of the pie. And no, he did NOT forget to factor in the tip, sales tax, or delivery fee.

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The Unexpected Benefits (and Downsides) Of Money Challenges

I fucking love money challenges. As a naturally competitive person, gamifying self-improvement is totally my jam. I’m one of those weirdos who sets a New Year’s Resolution every year and always finishes it. Turning money, exercise, or learning a new skill into a game to be won makes it feel like I’m leveling up with every grand I save, baby!

I’ve tried a number of money challenges to achieve my goals (like paying off my student loans in half the time). But some criticize money challenges. They risk starting you on a financial yo-yo diet in which your good habits wax and wane according to whether you’re currently pursuing a money challenge.

Preach, Sir Ian McKellen! I don’t buy the yo-yo diet theory of money challenges. Rather, I think money challenges are a fresh and exciting short-term method of meeting long-term goals. And while I’m sure there have to be downsides, I blithely hypothesize that the good far outweighs the bad.

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You Don’t Have To Have Kids

I’ve spent a lot of time with kids over the years. I babysat in high school. I was a nanny in college. Now I look after my friends’ children on a regular basis, and I’m the proud auntie of the World’s Cutest and Smartest Nephew (he blew the competition out of the water). In fact, I have so much childcare XP that babies magically stop crying the second I pick them up. I can prevent small children from smearing spaghetti sauce on the wall with barely a glance!

All of this time spent with other people’s children has made me absolutely certain of one thing. I don’t want to have kids.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to. And neither do you.

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Other People's Weddings Don't Have to Make You Broke

Other People’s Weddings Don’t Have to Make You Broke

There’s a code of honor when it comes to weddings: if you came to mine, then I will go to yours. Even if yours is on the other side of the country, and especially if you boarded an airplane to get to mine.

I don’t think I need to point out the flaw in this reasoning.

Other people’s weddings are expensive. This past year my husband and I collectively attended five weddings, two in the state where we currently live and three about 2,000 miles away in the region where we grew up. And that was it. That was our travel budget for the year. All gone.

So this isn’t going to be a story about how to save money on your own damn wedding. Today I’m going to tell you how to save money on other people’s weddings.

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

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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You Need to Talk to Your Parents About Their Retirement Plan

You Need to Talk to Your Parents About Their Retirement Plan

I don’t give a flying nun about inheriting money when my parents eventually buy the farm. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their hard-earned dough. They should use every goddamn penny of it to enjoy their retirement and live comfortably until the day they die. In fact, I truly hope they do!

But one of the greatest gifts they can give me instead is the knowledge that their retirement and passing won’t be a financial burden on me. Knowing that my parents have a solid retirement plan will grant me enormous peace of mind. It will allow me to focus on growing my own wealth so that when I get to the age where I’m allowed to be embarrassingly blunt in public, I won’t be dragging down the finances of my younger relatives.

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The Delicate Art of the Friend Trade

The Delicate Art of the Friend Trade

When you’re short on money and long on time you get creative about paying for things. And a great, creative way to save money on goods and services is by trading for them with other goods and services.

I haven’t paid for a haircut in literally years. My hairstylist friend just happens to be a mom, so I trade babysitting for haircuts and we both walk away happy. This friend trade is a mutually beneficial arrangement: we both get something we really need, we both save money, and we both get the satisfaction of helping a sister in her hour of need.

But the friend trade is a delicate art. There’s no faster way to sour a friendship—and jeopardize your future trading opportunities—than to badly mishandle the intricacies of the friend trade.

Let’s examine how you can save money by navigating the waters of friend trading without being a total garbage person.

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Two-Ring Circus

Two-ring Circus

This is the wedding ring that I wanted.

Dinosaur/Antler/Meteorite Ring.

Hand-crafted by a bearded artisan, it’s made from dinosaur fossils and deer antlers and meteorites. Is there anything cooler?

A lot of people like diamonds because they represent eternity, but this strange mishmash of textures represented it much more clearly to me. The bones of things long dead. The pieces of ourselves that die and renew each year. Starstuff from dark, unknown, unknowable places our species will die without ever setting eyes upon.

AMAZON PRIME HEYO!

This is the wedding ring that I got.

It was available on Amazon Prime for $25.

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