As we’ve discussed, Piggy and I are pretty obsessed with our pets. I admire Piggy’s restraint in having but a single dog. My house currently contains four dogs, one cat, six chickens, and two clinically narcissistic garbage disposals guinea pigs. Friends who know me to be an IRL Pokemon Master often ask me what my pet insurance rates are like.
My pet insurance bill is approximately zero dollars. Same goes for Piggy.
Neither of us have pet insurance. And there’s a reason for that.
When it comes to advice on how to become financially independent, there are two schools of thought:
Increase your salary as much as possible.
Decrease your spending as much as possible.
There are personal finance gurus who scoff at the idea of cutting out lattes and other minor unnecessary expenses as a path to wealth and security. They instead advise you to spend your time making as much money as possible. Then there are others who extoll the virtues of thrifty living and frugality in the extreme. They champion a spartan lifestyle in which you can retire early by spending minimally.
So who’s right? Which method will lead most quickly to financial independence? Which to a life in which you no longer have to worry about money? And which tactic for peak prosperity should you pursue?
As I have already confessed, I love animals a bit too much. My husband and I, primates that we are, are minorities in our household. We have two dogs, a cat who believes she is a dog, and two maned pork tenderloins guinea pigs. And just this past Thursday, we came home from the feed store with six new additions.
Whoops! We now own chickens.
And from a financial perspective, we really couldn’t have done anything stupider.
Ah, the side hustle. More commonly known as the “second job,” side hustles are a badass, creative, independent—yet completely romanticized—way to increase your income. They’ve become a symbol of entrepreneurial go-gettership, a way to show the world that your ideas and goals are far too important to contain in a single 9-5. Side hustlers are super humans with the energy and vision to Get Shit Done.
Or at least, that’s the rhetoric we all perpetuate by romanticizing the side hustle.
Let’s call a spade a spade. A side hustle is a goddamn second job, and if you have one it means either a) your first job is failing to pay the bills, or b) you’re willing to trade all of your free time in order to retire early because your job sucks and doesn’t pay enough to achieve this goal. Neither scenario is particularly inspiring or empowering.
I’m not saying we should all revolt against the concept of side hustles and give up our efforts to make extra money. You can pry my side hustle from my cold, dead hands, as a matter of fact. But I think a dose of realism is in order lest we get carried away romanticizing the side hustle.
There are two valid forms of personality tests: Myers-Briggs and the Sorting Hat—BUT ONLY the Sorting Hat as defined by the collective wisdom of the broader Harry Potter fandom. J. K. Rowling’s Slytherinphobia is as well-documented as it is inexplicable. We cannot trust Pottermore.
If you don’t know your Myers-Briggs personality type, you can find out pretty easily. Free tests of varying length and quality clog the internet. I like this one, personally. It’s thorough but nowhere near as long as others.
In general, Myers-Briggs judges personalities in four metrics: introvert (I) vs. extrovert (E), sensing (S) vs. intuition (N), thinking (T) vs. feeling (F), and judging (J) vs. perceiving (P).
If you don’t want to take a quiz, you may be able to guess what you are. Introverts feel recharged when alone, and extroverts feel at-home among others. Sensors like to take people at their word, while intuits tend to look for meaning between the lines. Thinkers are rational and logical, while feelers are empathetic and expressive. Judgers (not to be confused with the judgmental) prefer plans and orderliness over the perceiver’s more casual, open-ended approach.
The kitchen sink had been backed up for more than a week. I’d disassembled and reassembled it twice and couldn’t fix the problem myself, so I knew it was time to call in the professionals. Clearly the damn thing needed to be snaked, and I had neither the tools nor the know-how to handle that myself. So I called a plumber.
On top of that, my dog was experiencing… butt problems. Of the totally non-life-threatening but definitely requiring-immediate-medical-care variety. (He had an anal gland abscess, ok? It was both gross and fascinating and it completely reaffirmed my conviction that dogs are strange and magical creatures.) I have no medical training, and I would move heaven and earth for this goddamn mutt, so I called the vet.
Some people are told there is no Santa Claus. Their dick cousin tells them as vengeance for a lost game of Monopoly Junior. Or they saw Gremlins.
Others figure it out on their own. I was one of these. It took me eight years of cognitive development to get there. The physical impossibility and the logistical improbability pressed at my young mind, but my biggest question was one of motivation.
At eight years old, I had recently begun to understand money. I’d come to understand that one Breyer Horse was equal to approximately one thousand years of untouched allowance. I’d also begun my education in the concept of Stranger Danger. I had a newly honed ability to scrutinize adults for their intentions.
And I found myself wondering, “If this old man has such limitless wealth and power, what is his angle in using it to buy presents for children he’ll never meet?”
So I asked my parents, and they confirmed. “Yeah, that’s a thing adults made up to incentivize kids to conform to behavioral expectations,” they said, in so many words.
The thing is, Santa Claus is not an isolated incident. False or greatly exaggerated incentives exist everywhere to compel you to behave yourself. I’d like to talk about one of those false incentives today. The merit-based promotion is a comforting myth that took me thirty years to unravel. Much like with Santa, it was a rude awakening, but I’m much happier knowing the truth.
Here at Bitches Get Riches we soundly reject the notion that personal finance is a dry, boring, unsexy topic. In fact, nothing gets us metaphorically harder than a solid breakdown of modest, cautious techniques for growing personal wealth and how to save money. Day drinking? More like day trading, AMIRITE?
And this is why we’ve set about to change some preconceived notions about all the wild and wondrous things you can do with a large chunk of money—let’s say $1,000 for the purposes of this article. Not quite enough to drastically change the life of the average person, but definitely enough to have some fun.
With $1k saved you could go to Cuba for a few days (seriously y’all, flights are dirt cheap). You could revamp your wardrobe! Or you could buy a brand new PS5 and a flat screen on which to play it! You and your dog could have a spa day!*
But we’re here to urge you to take a different approach. Don’t waste that $1k on basic shit like a new wardrobe, a trip abroad, or canine mani pedis. At least not before you’ve cut your teeth on these badass, sexiful, metal af ways to really make $1k worth saving for.
When I asked a family member why he was considering voting for Donald Trump in last year’s election, his answer was something you likely heard many times. “He is a businessman,” he said, “and the country would be better off if it were run like a successful business.”
If memory serves I took the bait and started pummeling away with evidence that Donald Trump is aremarkably unsuccessful businessman. What I should’ve done was question the entire underlying supposition of his argument.
Let’s be real. I’m a progressive soul, and nothing short of bamboo under my nails was ever going to entice me to vote for Donald Trump. But what if a democratic candidate appeared with a strong, successful business background? Would I count that as a boon if the shoe were on the other foot? Would we all be better off if the country was run more like a business?
The most amusing way possible to answer that question is to play Red Hook Studio’s Darkest Dungeon.
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 is some parental advice I’m kinda pissed they didn’t tell me about when I was sixteen. Sixteen, 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 sixteen-year-old was the last year of my life before I was expected to make monumental decisions. 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 to influence my decisions about college, a career, and investing.