{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about How to Pay off Debt

You’ve passed the trials. You’ve fought hard and won your place among the champions. At long last, it is time to be inducted into the Secret Society. Which secret society, you ask? It’s a secret.

As you take your place among the robed and hooded figures in this subterranean chamber, you know not what to expect. They are lit only by the flames of an ancient fire.

One by one, the hooded figures raise their arms to the stalactites above and intone:

Let us pay off debt, brothers and sisters!

Elmo amid the flames, presumably chanting "pay off debt."

Darling readers, debt fucking happens. Having debt doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, nor that you’re lazy or stupid. But it is something you’ll have to work hard to get past. So here is our collected advice on the subject of how to pay off debt.

Go forth and conquer, for you are soon to be debt-free!

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Dafuq Is Interest? And How Does It Work For the Forces of Darkness?

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

*Not intended to be a factual statement

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Case Study: Held Back by Past Financial Mistakes, Fighting Bad Credit and $90K in Debt

Case Study: Held Back by Past Financial Mistakes, Fighting Bad Credit and $90K in Debt

Hi, it’s me again—your Good With Money Friend! It’s time for another case study. This time we’re talking about how to recover from past financial mistakes.

You guys really enjoyed our first case study. It tackled problems related to student loan debt, employment instability, and paying through the nose for rent in a high cost of living area. I’ve been hoping to do another one, but all of my friends’ most recent money issues have been too specific to their situations to be helpful to a broader audience.

Until now!

A friend reached out, asking for help repairing her damaged credit score. So she scheduled a 30 minute call with me to discuss her options, because I’m literally that bitch.

Obviously it turned into a ninety-minute call, mostly because I love the sound of my own voice. (Vocal fry ’til I die!) But really because the more we talked, the clearer it became that her credit score wasn’t her main enemy on the battlefield for financial stability. It was like a machine gun a mile away: an easy threat to identify, making a huge racket and scaring the shit out of everyone, but not actually that threatening in her present circumstances.

If you’ve struggled with debt, or you want to hone your Good With Money Friend skills, read on. Hopefully hearing about her situation will help some other folks!

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Mountains of debt cannot be repaid just by packing lunches and cutting cable. Those are comforting bedtime stories we tell ourselves about capitalism.

The Real Story of How I Paid Off My Mortgage in 4 Years

As of fifteen minutes (and one very cold beer) ago, I officially own the beautiful house I’m sitting in right now.

My partner and I have been refreshing our mortgage account every few hours today, waiting for the final payment to process. (Weirdly, you have to WIRE the final payment. Seriously? After this years-long relationship of sending personal check after personal check, our mortgage lender refuses to trust us at the finish line? Fine, whatever…) Just before the close of the day, it happened.

Current principal balance: $0.00.

$0.00.

My mortgage is gone. I am done paying rent. If all things go according to plan, I will never ever pay rent again for as long as I live. Let’s talk about it!

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As Johnnie Cochran would say: if the interest rate's nil, don't pay that bill!

Ask the Bitches: “The Government Put My Student Loans in Forbearance. Can I Really Stop Paying—or Is This a Trap?”

So… I made a mistake.

Our Patreon donors have been so wise with choosing quality topics in the past. So this month, I invited our supporters to pitch article topics directly to us.

Sounds great, right? WRONG. This was a huge mistake because all of our supporters’ ideas are fucking great! Now I have no choice: I simply must write them all. When am I supposed to do my life’s most important work: incorrectly cutting the wood for my woodworking project, then driving to Lowe’s to buy more wood???

This is technically incorrect. Piggy is the Chip.

One question stood out as being particularly time-sensitive, so today I’m answering this question from Patreon Rachel, who we all know to be so glitteringly beautiful that she’s regularly mistaken for an ice sculpture of herself:

I’d love to know your thoughts on U.S. federal student loans currently being deferred with no interest. Is it smart to continue to make my regular payments? Or should I stop making payments and use that money to invest in other things?

– Patreon Donor Rachel

An excellent question! Today we’ll address the basics of student loan forbearance, including how it pertains to the CARES Act. (That’s the $2 trillion stimulus package we explained here.)

Luckily there’s a fairly definitive answer, which I am just barely capable of explaining in human speech. Let’s get into it!

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How can you work toward new financial goals with $2,000 in fixed costs?

Case Study: Swimming Upstream against Unemployment, Exhaustion, and $2,750 a Month in Unproductive Spending

Hi, it’s me: your Good With Money Friend.

If an old acquaintance reaches out and asks if I’d like to grab drinks, I know it’s not because they miss my sparkling personality. It’s because they just cracked open their investment statements for the first time in five years and they need to talk to someone who actually understands whut dafuq it says. It’s okay! I don’t take it personally.

The Good With Money Friend is a very valuable part of any friend ecosystem. A squad without one is like a Pokemon team without a dragon type: our rarity and fussy movesets make us only situationally useful, but there’s no getting through the Elite Four without at least one of us.

Obviously Piggy shares my genus and species. We started this blog so that we could save time by sending people a link instead of tapping it all out with our thumbs in a text!

Now, we ain’t professionals. (CFPs are lawful good. We’re chaotic good; we tell you which parts of your taxes you can cheat on. Key distinction!) But if your budget for financial advice is “here, take this six pack,” then BABY, we’re here for you! Talking to a Good With Money Friend can give you the gut-check you need when you can’t afford professional advice, or need insights from someone who knows you better than a paid professional you just met.

This week I Zoomed with two of my closest friends. We talked through their goals and identified a strategy for getting there. With their permission, I’m going to open up that process so you can see how I arrived at my conclusions. 

One of our key missions at BGR is to create more Good With Money Friends, especially in historically underserved communities. So open your mind like a flower in the morning and absorb our baseless opinions! One day you, too, will be rich in grateful friends, a more stable immediate community, and/or six packs!

CHEERS M8
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There are a number of reasons why this might be the killing blow you need to destroy your debt faster.

Kill Your Debt Faster with the Death by a Thousand Cuts Technique

Sometimes I take for granted that everyone knows basic tenets of finance. Like how the IRS will never ever call you, or how money depreciates due to inflation. Or even how Harriet Tubman should absolutely replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill.

But every once in a while one of our darling readers (who are the salt of the Earth, but like, fancy Himalayan pink sea salt with grains of dried truffles mixed in) will remind me why we need to focus on basic financial literacy. It is, after all, our sacred mission, bestowed upon us by the goddess of internet memes!

Thanks to a conversation I recently had with some of our young Zoomer/Zennial readers on the sosh’ meeds’, today I’m going to focus on a frighteningly simple tactic for paying off debt. For once it’s understood, it could save you metric buttloads of money on interest, help you pay off your debt faster, and bring about world peace.

You’re heckin’ welcome, world.

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We get many letters from 18 year olds like "I submitted 9 applications and no one will give me a credit card!" Here's the reason for that.

A Hand-Holding Guide to Getting Your First Credit Card

I got my first credit card at age eighteen. I was a high school senior, I’d just been accepted into college, and the world was my goddamn oyster (just slightly less like salty snot). The year was 2005… and getting that shiny little piece of plastic was just about as easy as putting out my hand and asking for it.

Times have changed. We now live in a post-2008 Recession world, and getting your first credit card has become markedly harder. This is probably why we constantly receive questions from eighteen-year-olds like “I’ve submitted nine applications and no one will give me a credit card. What do???”

The Ramseyan debt purists will say “Do without it, you fool!” But we believe a credit card can be an extremely useful weapon in your financial arsenal. Just look at what happened when Kitty and her boyfriend tried to rent an apartment together and couldn’t because he had no credit!

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He has a college degree and is physically and mentally able, but he does not work This is crazy, right?

Ask the Bitches: “My Friend Is Going Broke Dating a Man Who Contributes Nothing. Should I Say Something?”

Today we have a question from a Patreon donor on a subject that’s always hard to answer: what can you do when a friend is doing something really, really financially dumb?

(Have you heard that we answer donor questions directly? It’s true! Find out how at Patreon.com/BitchesGetRiches!)

Donor Alyssa writes…

Here’s the situation. 

Last year, a good, long-term friend of mine (40 year-old woman) had her boyfriend (38 year-old man) move in with her. Before that they were long distance, so only recently have I gotten to know this dude and their relationship.

Despite him having a college degree and being physically and mentally able, he does not work. Not at all. Not one minute and not for one cent. He is also not a trust funder nor does he otherwise have money of his own. He is also not looking for work and he is not in school.

My friend supports him 100%. She provides all housing, food, transportation, vacations (!!!), and everything else. They do not have children or dependents to support, and neither want children in the future. He does do most of the housework and cooking. But they do not have a vast estate that needs tending. From what I glean he spends most of his time playing video games.

My friend tells me that she is declining further and further into debt. She has said, wistfully, that she wishes she could save for the future. She also says that she and her boyfriend are “great communicators,” and she likes that he is always available when she is.

So that’s the situation. Here are my questions: do I do anything/say anything about this? If so, what? It certainly isn’t my relationship, and they are both grown ass adults, but … THIS IS CRAZY, RIGHT? And just in case it’s not clear, I am Team DTMFA.

– Alyssa H.

Alyssa, thanks for this question, and for your support of this blog! I see two layers of questions here. First: is this dude’s behavior acceptable? Second: what (if anything) can you do about it as her friend?

Let’s get into it!

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Yeah, it's stupid to try to time the market.

Hurricane Debt Weakens to Tropical Storm Debt, but Experts Warn It’s Still Debt

It’s been over a year since the last time I gave an update on the state of my own debt. Since we’re always dispensing our opinions from our seat on the divine acropolis at the crest of Mount Olympus, we like to be transparent about our own situations. So let’s check in!

As we’ve chronicled, Piggy and I paid off our student loans ahead of time. And we don’t have credit card debt, unless it’s part of a nefarious-but-prudent scheme to harvest points. When talking about my financial sitch, I love to describe myself as “debt free, except for my mortgage!”

Which, when you think about it, is kinda weird? Like describing a milkshake as “dairy free, except for the milk!” The milk is not a small or trivial part of a milkshake. It is eponymous! It’s basically the point of the thing!

And the mortgage is a big debt. The average American family has $16,000 in credit card debt (yikes). An average student’s educational loan debt is $34,000 (double yikes). But the median home price blows both those numbers out of the water at $227,000.

For most people, a house is the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy, and the largest source of debt. It’s the milk in the milkshake.

And if you were about to jump to the comments to erroneously claim that ice cream is the point of a milkshake, hold ya fakkin’ hahses, khed. I live in New England. Our milkshakes do not have ice cream. If there’s ice cream in it, it’s called a frappe.

I can’t tell you why. I don’t make the rules, I just abide by them.

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