Partners in Fire is all about lifting everyone up and helping everyone live the life of their dreams – whether that includes travel, gaming, gardening, family, or anything else. We’re here to help you save and invest, but also live your life to the fullest now.
Hobbies are a great way to unwind after a long stressful day, but unfortunately, many hobbies have high barriers to entry because they’re so expensive.
Want to start rock climbing? You need hundreds of dollars worth of gear. Even simple hobbies like painting can cost a lot for beginners. You need a canvas, brushes, and at least a few different paint colors, costing about $10 a bottle!
But some hobbies are relatively inexpensive to start and maintain. While scrolling the Frugal sub of Reddit, I came across a thread asking other money-minded people to share hobbies that don’t cost much money.
You can watch birds for free at any local park. All you need are your eyes! You may also want to invest in a journal to record the bird species you view, but you can get a cheap journal for under $10.
It can get more expensive if you get really into it. Big-time birders invest in a nice pair of binoculars, which can cost a ton of money, but you can get a cheap pair for about $20. The only other thing you might want is a bird guide to help you identify different species.
All you need to start drawing is a pencil and paper. Although you can start with simple school supplies, those who want to get into it should invest in high-quality pencils and sketch paper, but even these aren’t that expensive.
“You get a pencil set for 20 bucks (including about 10 pencils, charcoal, eraser, sharpener), and a sketching block of good quality with 100 sheets should be 20 bucks too,” offered one user. We’ve seen both for cheaper on sale at craft stores, though.
A one-time board game purchase can turn into a fantastic hobby. Simple chess boards only cost about $20, and you can find one at any local big box store.
Of course, there are ways to get started for even less. One user mentioned that online chess is even cheaper, as you don’t have to buy the board.
If you don’t care about specialty paper, you can start with Origami for free.
“You can buy paper for it, sure,” said one user, “but scratch paper around the house works just fine, and there are thousands of videos and guides online for every skill level,” they added.
Origami paper isn’t that expensive, though, so if you decide you love it after using scraps, sticking with it won’t cost much more.
It’s easy to get sucked into gardening and spend hundreds of dollars on seeds, pots, and tools. However, you can get started with small plants for far cheaper.
As a bonus, if you love gardening, you can learn how to grow your food, which may save you money in the long run.
LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) does get expensive if you get into it. However, you can typically try it for free.
“You can often show up, and groups will have loaner gear to get you started.” said one user. They went on to warn that it can get pricey over time. “You can put a lot of money into it over time to get the exact stuff you want, but you don’t have to, depending on how crafty you are.”
All you need for a journaling hobby is a journal and a pen. You can get started with a cheap office pen and a dollar notebook if you want, but when you get into it, you’ll probably want a real journal and special pens.
Both of these items are inexpensive. You can get a decent journal for around $10 and a set of colored pens for the same.
There are various types of journals available for anything you want to write about – consider a bullet journal for a hobby that will help you stay productive or a junk journal to make your own journal out of scraps.
All you need to start programming is a computer, which is expensive, but you probably already have one.
One user said there are “tons of tutorials, and if you’re on Reddit, you probably have access to the necessary equipment already.”
Knitting or Crochet
All you need to knit or crochet is yarn and a needle, which can cost under $10 to start. You can find various online tutorials to teach you the correct technique, and as a bonus, you get to make valuable items for yourself or as gifts.
It can get a little pricey as you get into it. You must keep replacing the yarn, and those who love it end up spending more and more on new patterns.
Writing, in general, is a fantastic hobby that’s basically free to start if you have a computer. Put your creativity to work and write the next great American novel!
You could also focus on short stories or fan fiction.
Rockhounding is a low-cost hobby that gets you outside and helps you learn something new.
“You can look up what minerals are indigenous to your region and set outings to go find them,” offered one user. “Collect, label, and store them forever in milk crates under your stairs! When you visit other places, look up what’s in local quarries or stream beds,” they added.
Of course, be sure to check any local laws regarding collection. Typically, you can’t take things out of state or national parks, but public parks and stream beds may be fair game.
Lots of Inexpensive Hobbies to Try
There are tons of inexpensive hobbies you can try. Try walking, meditating, working out, cooking, or playing frisbee in addition to the items Redditors mentioned in the thread. Engaging in a hobby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and you’ll be happier and less stressed out if you find something fun to do in your free time.
One of the most significant benefits of getting older is realizing what matters and what doesn’t. Some of the things we cared so much about as kids seem unimportant as we age, making us wonder why we ever even bothered in the first place.
While scrolling through my favorite sub on Reddit, R/AskReddit, I came across a fun question asking users to share things that got less and less important as they aged.
The answers can offer profound insight into what really matters and what we can let go of. Here are the top responses.
What Others Think
Why do we care so much about what others think, especially when we’re younger? Redditors in their 30s and beyond have learned to let go of pleasing others and focus on being true to themselves.
“I think the point doesn’t ring as true for kids/teens because social learning is such an integral part of that life stage,” said one user, offering insight as to why younger folks tend to care more about what others think. “It’s hard for them to internalize that most people aren’t looking at or thinking that hard about them because they themselves spend a lot of energy observing and thinking about others,” they added.
“Life’s short.” said another. “Wear a messy bun and leggings.”
Stuff We Can’t Control
“Being concerned about things in the news that are beyond my control.” responded one user.
Their statement reminds us of the old saying, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can change, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Birthdays used to be the day per year set aside to celebrate yourself, but as we age, the idea because less exciting and more exhausting.
“It’s just a reminder that I’m getting older,” said one user of why they no longer want to celebrate.
Another said birthdays stopped being fun when they got too old for cool gifts. “Ohhh thanks for the socks! And the underwear! And the Walmart birthday cake that I had to pick up myself on the way home,” they exclaimed.
Young people are obsessed with being “cool,” but as we age, we realize it doesn’t matter.
“One of the most liberating things about getting older is you can just do your own thing without caring if it’s trendy or not.” said one user.
“The older I get, the less important material possessions become to me,” responded one user.
As we age, we no longer care about having the newest style of shoes, the hottest purse, or the biggest release in gaming.
One user implied it’s a financial thing. It’s easier to say no to that trendy new toy when you’re forking out the dough to buy it. “People spend money like they want to work forever,” they said. “I just want to work long enough to buy the things I NEED.”
Ah, to be young and full of career ambition. Many older Redditors realized that climbing the corporate ladder isn’t as important as it once seemed.
“As long as I earn enough to cover my bills and to splurge a little now and then, I’m happy,” said one, explaining why they no longer care about a prestigious career.
Family & Friends
One Redditor claimed to be far happier after removing family and friends from their lives. “I like being alone and don’t need the drama they make,” they admitted.
Others agreed but geared their responses toward toxic people. As we age, we realize that we get to choose who we hang out with and that we don’t need to maintain contact with toxic people, even if they are family.
“Cutting my sister out of my life was the best thing I ever did for myself and my kid,” responded one.
Young folks always want to be out and about on the weekend, whether to hit the hottest nightclub, catch the most recent release at the movies, or see a live band.
That stuff sounds exhausting as we get older, and many of us prefer quiet nights in.
“This weekend I hung out at home, baked a pie, made crochet lace, read about daikons, and drank hot chocolate. It was glorious,” offered one user.
The older we get, the more we value comfort over style. “I hate wearing heels so now I’m all about the flattest shoe I can wear. They still need to be stylish to my own taste, but I can’t stand being uncomfortable,” said one Redditor, explaining why they no longer care about the hottest new look.
Others decried old-school bosses who force employees to wear uncomfortable office attire such as suits, ties, heels, and pantyhose.
Getting Older isn’t All that Bad
Although many people fear aging, it isn’t all bad. It’s nice to let go of the worries of youth and focus on your happiness.
What do you think about Reddit’s responses to things that matter less as you age? Do you tend to agree or disagree with their assessments?
Gaming has long been considered a male domain, but the ladies are fighting back. Female Twitch streamers are on the rise and dominating in various online communities.
Many posts celebrating female streamers focus on the handful that made huge careers out of Twitch, but this one is slightly different. Here you will find smaller female Twitch streamers that you might not have considered following.
The ladies on this list may not be Twitch superstars yet, but they are unique streamers who deserve more publicity.
Female Twitch Streamers You Need to Follow
I’ve cultivated a list of 18 outstanding female Twitch streamers you need to follow. These extraordinary ladies are thriving on Twitch, growing their communities, and slowly but surely dismantling the stereotype that Twitch is for boys.
You might be surprised at the variety of content these extraordinary ladies are pushing out. But you shouldn’t be – whether it’s MMO, horror, platform, FPS, or anything else, gaming is slowly but surely making room for the ladies.
Check out these rising star female Twitch streamers:
Briikachu is a League of Legends master! And she’s also the most wholesome streamer that I’ve ever met. She built a community around being an epic League of Legends player (she’s in a Gold League!) while also being incredibly supportive of everyone around her.
She showcases her sense of community by being a part of the PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) stream team, promoting positivity above all else. Briikachu radiates warmth in all that she does – if anyone is looking for a welcoming stream to call home, you need to check her out.
You can usually find BouncyFerret11 patrolling the high seas in Sea of Thieves, but she also occasionally plays Call of Duty, Minecraft Dungeons, and other games.
BouncyFerret is unique because she’s built her community without a camera, and that’s a difficult thing to accomplish for any small streamer. But her attitude and her gameplay speak for themselves; no camera needed.
xSadShadowx is the nicest person ever. She streams various games, from platformers like Mario to random indie games, and always gives off sweet, wholesome vibes.
xSadShadowx is also a writer forMental Health Gaming, a website dedicated to supporting mental wellness while showcasing their favorite video games. She doesn’t shy away from talking about complex mental health issues on her stream and helps cultivate a safe space for those who are struggling.
Although XSadShadowx is more active on Youtube and TikTok, some of Twitch’s biggest rivals, she occasionally hosts a Twitch stream. Catching the live show on Twitch is definitely worthwhile!
Seasaltflavour is a disabled horror streamer. Her main goal is to raise awareness about invisible disabilities and support folks who struggle in ways that the general public may not be able to see. She often discusses her disability on stream and has even lived streamed appointments with her therapist.
Seasaltflavour chose to be a horror streamer because she gets scared easily and thought it would be entertaining for people to watch her freak out over every little thing in the game. And she’s right; it’s always a good time.
Though Seasaltflavour can’t stream as often as she’d like due to her disability, her streams are always a delight, and she’s worth a follow so you can catch her when she goes live.
Beary (you can read her name as “Hi, I’m Beary!) streams whatever catches her fancy – art, MMOs, FPSes, RPGs, rhythm games, puzzle games, and on one rare occasion, building a custom keyboard.
Although she began streaming only sporadically, she found that she enjoyed engaging with viewers to discuss a range of topics, as well as showing off her unique “skills” at games, and now has a regular schedule in which she’s live four or five days a week.
She’s proud that viewers describe her stream’s atmosphere as cozy, but she has no comment on the other description of belonging on some kind of government watchlist.
In place of a face cam, she uses a PNGtuber of a feline-adjacent cryptid with approximately fifteen eyes all gazing soullessly into the void. It’s just a typical cat, though.
Joieoieoieo (Joie for short) is a small streamer who focuses on connecting with her viewers. She is all about engaging with chat and making her stream a good time for all. She mainly plays PUB-G and Call of Duty; but also streams various party games, inviting her viewers to join in on the fun. Joie’s streams are 18+.
She is constantly supporting her fellow streamers and managing her Discord while wrangling her five energetic boys when she is not streaming.
If you want a wholesome, cozy, inclusive stream featuring a cat cam, you need to check out HiHelloRachel.
Although she’s a variety streamer, you can usually catch her playing games like The Sims and Stardew Valley. She’ll host a baking stream on occasion to show off her incredible culinary skills as well!
One primary reason to check out HiHelloRachel is her fantastic support of others. She provides a safe place for others to talk about life, pets, or whatever is on their minds and works to bolster other female streamers in the community.
Scarlet is a variety vampire Vtuber. She loves JRPGs, comfy, indie, and building-style games, but will try her hand at horror games when she is pulled in by a friend and sometimes alone. She loves to laugh and chat with her community.
Scarlet has started movie/anime/tv nights in her discord every other week. She likes to share her love of anime and movies with her. Also, the viewers love to use her channel points to hear her dog, Kaiba, howl for them and pay or not pay their blood tax.
Plaguebby, who goes by Bby or Devi, has been streaming for about a year can’t imagine doing anything else! She started streaming for fun and had no idea how much the platform and community would come to mean to her.
Upon discovering streamers like Buffpup and Shylily, Plaguebby decided to become a Vtuber, feeling it would help her embrace her creativity and goofiness on stream. Her favorite game is Doom, and you’ll often find “doom guy” dancing in the corner of her streams.
As a variety streamer, Plaguebby enjoys playing silly gamers with her community, watching videos suggested by fans, and even making art as a channel redemption point. Her goal is to bring happiness to others and make her viewers smile, which she often does with her trademark goodnight smooch before signing off.
WhaleWhyNot is a variety streamer that loves playing all types of games, from cozy story games to first-person shooters. She strives to create a safe space for those who join and always offers laughs and smiles.
Whalewhynot wants gaming to be fun and would rather have a great time than worry about being an expert. She advocates for chronic illness and mental health and uses her streams to comfort those who need help and educate those who may not understand the challenges.
HeySmallz is a streamer and an actress, so you better believe she knows how to entertain! She’s a variety streamer who typically plays puzzle, horror, or adventure games, but she will also venture into other genres if the mood strikes.
Heysmallz was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2019 and uses streaming to raise money for treatment and awareness for the illness.
Kawaayeet just started her streaming journey, so is an ideal choice for those wanting to support a new small streamer. She mostly plays Valorant, Roblox, and Minecraft but is open to adding new games to the mix as she grows her channel.
Kawaayeet aims to create a chill community that’s inclusive to everyone and help promote other women in the gaming industry.
Although this post isn’t about the most prominent female Twitch streamer, it doesn’t hurt to talk about her for comparison’s sake. The top female streamer of 2022 was Amouranth, pulling in over 32 million watch hours. Ironmouse came in second with a little over 20 million watch hours.
The ladies still have a lot of catching up to do. The top male streamer had nearly 224 million watch hours in 2022, and the top ten male streamers each had over twice as many watch hours as the top two women.
Why it’s Important to Support Female Streamers
Female gamers, YouTubers, and content creators, in general, are often dismissed as “influencers,” while their male counterparts get celebrated as “entrepreneurs.”
Many gaming communities are toxic hives filled with misogyny, where men cry foul if a woman dares enter. How can we forget the infamousgamergate, the hate-filled quest to destroy female creators?
Although that was a few years ago, toxicity persists in gaming. Many female gamers refuse to use microphones and cameras lest they be targeted for harassment for the horrible crime of gaming while female.
Twitch, Misogyny, and Female Bodies
Female Twitch streamers also have to toe a fine line between being comfortable in their own bodies and not appearing too sexual. Many men already assume that women only get popular because they are attractive or sexual – because why else would people watch a woman play a game if not for her body?
This disgusting attitude is not only common but often celebrated. Women who do happen to show extra skin are called a plethora of derogatory terms that I refuse to repeat and are even accused of creating adult content on Twitch.
God forbid a well-endowed woman wants to be taken seriously as a gamer. The amount of vitriol aimed at women for trying to be comfortable in their bodies is astounding.
Some female Twitch streamers do use their sexuality as a draw. However, there are two crucial points to remember. First, the vast majority don’t. But second, and more importantly, it’s nothing to be disrespected over.
Women’s bodies are used to sell everything, from beer to cars to food, so why shouldn’t women be able to use their own bodies to promote their creative endeavors?
Female video game characters are renowned for being scantily clad and drawn to appeal to the male gaze, so why is it wrong for female content creators to cosplay as these characters and use this fantasy to their advantage? Women are inundated from birth with the message that their only worth lies in their ability to be attractive, so why are they then punished for using that to support themselves?
Women are ostracized for being themselves, being comfortable in their own skin, dressing up, dressing down, and basically just existing in the world of gaming.
You can help by speaking out against misogyny and toxicity when you see it. Promote the change you want to see in the world. Call out your friends for their toxic behavior, and treat women like the people that they are.
You can also help by supporting female Twitch streamers on their platforms. Hop into their chat as a viewer, promote them on your social media channels, and even become a subscriber (you can subscribe to one awesome creator per month for free if you have Prime!).
Join gaming communities designed for women, such as r/girlstreamer on Reddit, and support the women trying to make it in gaming.
Give Female Twitch Streamers an Equal Chance
Most of the women on Twitch are making content that’s just as good, if not better, as the men. Give them a chance. It’s time to retire the tired stereotype that women aren’t any good at video games.
Some things run their course. Brands, ideas, and guidelines may shine like the brightest star, then lose their luster and public appeal.
Although some highly respected brands destroy their image in a blaze of glory, more often than not, they slowly whither and fade from public perception as industry leaders.
When scrolling through my favorite Reddit sub, R/Askreddit, I found a fascinating question asking users to share things that were once highly respected but are now seen as jokes.
The responses range from brands to products and ideas to people. Read on to find out what internet users think no longer deserves respect.
McAfee was the original antivirus, and it helped protect many early internet users from spyware, spam, and viruses. Many users said that Microsoft’s advancements with Windows Defender made most third-party antivirus software obsolete.
McAfee is one of the worst antivirus options now, though, according to Reddit. “I do some tech support for some software I maintain, and McAfee has been by far my biggest antivirus headache,” said one user.
Sears was iconic in the glory days of department stores. Sears was the big name in appliances, tools, and home goods. They even sold houses!
Some Redditors said it went downhill after being purchased by Kmart, while others blamed their inability to adapt to the internet for their demise.
Many Redditors said the History Channel and all the other learning channels (TLC, Discovery, etc.) used to be valuable sources of learning and information that are now filled with trash.
“TLC now (unofficially) stands for Terrible Life Choices,” said one user, while another said the channel is very uncomfortable to watch.
Others added Food Network to the mix, saying it used to be educational, but now it’s full of useless competition shows.
The Food Pyramid
People used to respect USDA’s food pyramid but now realize the dietary guidelines are outdated at best.
Others said it’s not just the US that got food guidelines wrong. “Found out the Canadian Food Guide was originally created as a rationing plan during WW1,” said one user. However, other Canadians stood up for their government, saying the recently revised standards are much better.
“They used to have serious power in local communities,” said one user of the once highly respected profession. “Now they have to be glorified customer service reps a lot of the time,” they added.
Others agreed that commercial banking has morphed into a sales position, with corporate headquarters pushing associates to upsell customers at every turn, adding to the profession’s decline.
“OG Craftsman tools were something else,” said one user. “Those tools are so much better than anything I’ve bought for myself. Superior quality.” they added.
Another said the return policy was terrific. “And if they did break, you could just walk into Sears, show it to them, and they’d give you a replacement, no questions asked.”
The quality and craftsmanship of craftsman tools are no longer top-rate. A former Lowes employee added, “Craftsman is far and away the brand of tools that get returned the most due to them malfunctioning or breaking. It’s crazy because my dad still has some craftsman stuff from when it was a Sears brand, and they work great.”
Facebook may still be popular, but it’s not good anymore. The once exclusive network was a respectable networking app for college students, but now it’s a cesspool of negativity.
“Facebook was very similar to Instagram back in the day. None of this commercial and advertised video spam, but actual pictures and posts of your friends.” said one user, lamenting Facebook’s downfall.
“The house phone used to be a vital link to the outside world. It’s how you’d talk to friends and family far away, interact with businesses, call for help in an emergency, etc.” said one user, describing the vital role home telephones played.
They went on to say the rise in spam calls made landline phones virtually useless. Others said the mass movement to cell phones added to the demise of the landline.
Not everyone agreed that landlines lost their luster. Many said it’s a vital backup during mobile outages, such as natural disasters, or in rural areas.
“I am a hobbyist musician and will never try to make money off of my music. I simply enjoy creating it with zero expectations.” said one Redditor. They lamented the rise in hustle culture, where everyone tries to monetize their hobbies. “Time enjoyed is not time wasted,” they said.
Many users added examples where others try to push them into monetizing the hobbies they love. “I crochet, and people are always trying to talk me into selling stuff on Etsy. Most people won’t even pay enough to cover materials,” said one.
“I wrote/edited/produced an entire album and a short film just for myself no-one else, and made a board game for my family. People can’t understand why I’m not interested in making them about views or money.” added another.
Although many Redditors added to the thread on hobbies, most agreed that enjoying something SHOULD be respected and lamented the fact that some folks want to make it all about money.
There was a time when everyone wanted the hot new mobile productivity device. Blackberry was an industry leader in mobile phones, offering users calendars, emails, and note-taking capabilities in one handheld device.
However, as smartphones grew in popularity, Apple and Andriod rise in promise, outcompeting Blackberry. Although the company still exists, it’s no longer the leader in mobile technology.
One of the biggest names in banking is now among the least respected. Some said the original Wells Fargo was a great bank, but the company that took them over in the 90s was awful.
“Norwest Bank acquired Real Wells Fargo in the late nineties but kept the Wells Fargo name as it had better brand recognition. All of the recent scandals have occurred since the takeover, in the Bank Formerly Known as Norwest.” claimed one user.
Another said Wells Fargo exists to “wring every last cent they could out of a customer” and admitted to smiling whenever they see the banking giant hit with a fine “because I know they deserve it.”
Companies Rise and Fall
Most items on this list are companies and brand names, showcasing that although companies can rise in prominence and garner our respect, they can also fall quickly.
What do you think about Reddit’s responses on things that used to be respected? Do you think they were too harsh?
Financial gurus and Twitter money bros constantly bombard the financial independence space with the same advice: real estate investing is the key to wealth.
The stories all have a similar ring to them. “How I achieved financial independence with real estate investing” and “How I make $200K per year investing in real estate”.
While these stories are mostly true, they don’t tell the whole story. Investing in real estate isn’t a magic button to wealth building.
Here’s the absolute truth about real estate investing so you know what to expect before diving in.
14 Harsh Truths About Real Estate Investing
I tried investing in real estate, with both a primary residence and as a landlord. My experience doesn’t always match the outcomes we are bombarded with on Twitter.
Here are some of the harsh truths I learned while trying to build wealth through real estate.
1. Buying a House is Impossible if You’re Poor
The most significant limitation with real estate investing is the lie that anyone can do it. Homeownership is out of reach for millions of Americans. The barriers to entry are too high for many people to overcome.
To even consider buying your first home, you need a decent credit score and a hefty down payment. You must also show a steady income and have enough cash to pay closing costs. And don’t forget all the extras that come with a mortgage payment: interest, taxes, PMI (primary mortgage insurance), and homeowners’ insurance.
The best option is a conventional loan because you won’t have the additional burden of PMI payments. However, you need a 20% down payment to access a conventional loan. With theaverage home price in the US reaching nearly $350,000, you’d need $70,000 in cash to obtain a conventional loan – and that’s before considering closing costs!
Even Programs that “Help” are Expensive
Programs are available to help more people get into houses. FHA (Federal Housing Authority) loans allow borrowers to take out mortgages with only 2.5% down. That same $350,000 home would only require a down payment of $8750 with an FHA loan.
However, FHA loans come with additional costs. Borrowers will have to pay an extra 1.75% at closing for the upfront costs of PMI and then pay an additional fee every month of approximately .85% until the loan is at least 20% paid off. These payments can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a home over the years, sometimes putting the mortgage payment out of reach.
How I Bought a House
I could only afford a home because I had access to a Veterans Administration Loan (VA Loan). VA Loans are offered to service members as a benefit for joining the military, so they aren’t an option for most Americans.
The VA loan allowed me to purchase a home in Southern California with no money down and didn’t require a PMI. Without these two benefits, I would not have been able to buy when I did.
2. Secret Safety Nets Help More Than You Know
I’m sure you’re wondering, “if buying a house is expensive, how do people afford it? How do they afford to buy more than one?”
I suspect the truth can be found in the media. You’ve seen the stories. “How this millennial used real estate to retire at 30!” and “How I saved 75% of my paycheck, and if I did it, anyone can!”
You know these articles. And you also know what you will find when you read them.
Many of the people extolling the virtues of real estate investing have help. Their parents or grandparents gifted them money for a down payment, got them a high-paying job, or even bought them a whole house. While I don’t blame them for taking advantage of the available resources, I think it’s disingenuous to assume everyone has the same kind of support.
While you can still find people who have done it independently, those stories seem scarcer by the day. Generational wealth is a massive component of successful real estate investing. Those with access to it have an enormous head start.
3. Real Estate Investing is Difficult if You Don’t Have Capital
We talked about how hard it is to buy a first home, and that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of how crucial access to capital is if you want to make good money investing in real estate.
And by capital, I mean cold hard cash.
The old adage it takes money to make money is true. Access to cash for 20% down payments is just the beginning. You will also need cash at closing and funds available to pay for any necessary repairs while you own the property.
Repairs are difficult to estimate. You never know when an air conditioning will go out, a roof will leak, or an appliance will bug out. My house in Savannah had constant problems with the HVAC. It required repair after repair, costing me upwards of ten thousand dollars.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money in my bank account to cover these repairs, so I had to rely on credit. The end result was a lower credit score and increased debt load until I sold the house.
Financial advisor Nathan Mueller, owner of Blackbird Financial Planning, often sees clients interested in real estate investing who believe it’s a passive way to build wealth.
Although Mueller acknowledges that a property manager can make things easier, he often has to advise clients that it still isn’t passive.
Property managers can’t make decisions on repairs or evictions. The property owner must make every decision regarding the property. Once a property owner has made the decision, the property manager can facilitate the actions if desired.
Without a property manager, you have to do everything yourself, from finding tenants, collecting rent, coordinating repairs, and, if needed, working through the eviction process.
5. There’s So Much Stress
The need for capital and responsibility for all decisions intensifies the stress of real estate investing. I was more stressed out as a landlord than at any other time in my life, including my tour in Iraq.
When you don’t have an emergency fund capable of covering any housing repair, you begin to dread the phone calls. All you can think is, “What’s wrong now” and “What needs repairs next.”
Your entire existence is spent waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the property manager to call you and tell you about the next extensive repair.
Selling my rental property was the most significant stress reliever of my life, followed closely by selling the fixer-upper nightmare I used as a personal residence for three years.
6. DIY is Harder than it Appears
Speaking of the fixer-upper, flipping houses is often hailed as an easy way to make money with real estate.
Buy a home in dire need of repair, fix it up, and sell it for a considerable profit.
Home improvement shows make it look easy, but it can become a massive and costly headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.
My home in Pennsylvania was a fixer-upper, and I quickly learned I’m not good at DIY. I didn’t have the skills to put in a new floor on my own or to demolish and rebuild a bathroom completely. Installing even a new toilet is beyond my capabilities!
I ended up paying contractors over $20,000 to fix all the problems with the house and couldn’t recoup these losses when I sold.
Though buying a fixer-upper may be an excellent option for those with construction skills, it’s not good for everybody, and don’t let home improvement shows sucker you into thinking it’s easy.
7. Surprise Damage Can be Costly
Although I knew the home I purchased was a fixer-upper, I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the project. I knew that a bathroom was leaking, the kitchen was dated, the carpet needed replacing, and the roof was old.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know that all three bathrooms had plumbing issues, the sewer was backed up, and the kitchen floors were uneven.
Even real estate professionals find nasty surprises while trying to flip houses. Brian Davis, the owner of Spark Rental, bought a seemingly perfect property to flip. He did his due diligence, getting inspections and quotes from contractors before buying.
The deal closed, and the contractors got to work. Upon tearing down the walls, the contractors discovered the entire frame was rotted and needed to be replaced. The repairs cost Davis thousands of dollars more than he had bargained for, so much more that he could no longer sell for a profit.
Davis decided to keep this property as a rental, but he put so much into the renovation that he lost money on it every year.
8. Bills Don’t Stop Coming
No property has a 100% tenancy rate, meaning you will have months without renters if you’re a landlord. The bills don’t stop coming when you don’t have a tenant to help you pay them.
Adam Kol of the Couples Financial Coach Podcast reminds listeners that real estate investing often requires borrowing a large sum of money. Borrowing to invest is called leverage, and it can be a powerful wealth-building tool.
However, Kol advises caution. You will still owe your payments if you can’t find a renter. Although you can decrease your risk by making larger down payments and having a bigger cash cushion, those options can also lower your overall return on investment.
The possibility of overleverage is even more dire in a lousy economy. Just as you still owe on a vacant property, you still owe in a bad economy. If you’ve taken on a lot of debt to acquire properties, you may find that you owe far more than the properties are worth. A decline in real estate values could lead to a financial avalanche that’s difficult to dig out of.
If you’re looking to invest in real estate due to the massive returns of the last few years – look again. Current returns are far from ordinary.
Mueller helps his clients make good decisions on real estate investing by looking at the complete data. He found that, on average, real estate tends to provide a 3.5% rate of return. In addition, many people don’t even consider their costs when calculating their returns. Interest payments, inflation, closing costs, and other things can eat into the income.
Of course, the average tracks the entire US, and some areas may have vastly different outcomes. But it’s essential to look at the whole picture before investing and remember that real estate has long been considered a conservative investment vehicle.
10. The Housing Market Doesn’t Always Go Up
Speaking of low returns, you also need to consider that the market doesn’t always go up. Sometimes it goes down slightly, and sometimes, like in 2008, it crashes and burns.
Investing in real estate, like any other investment, comes with risk. Unfortunately, unlike stocks, it can turn into a risk that keeps on risking.
Let’s say you have $20,000 to invest. You can either purchase stocks or real estate. If you buy stocks, you invest the $20,000, and that’s it. You may lose it all, or you may win big, but unless you are making risky put buys (which is, in my opinion, like gambling on stocks and not a good investment move), you are only exposing your initial investment of $20,000.
Real estate is different. If you’re investing $20,000, you’re likely using that for a down payment and closing costs. You will have to add money to your investment each month to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and other maintenance fees. The thought is you are paying down the mortgage, which is good, and you will recoup those costs when you sell.
However, real estate doesn’t always go up, either. Suppose you bought a $150,000 property with your $20,000 initial investment. The market crashed, and you need to sell, but it’s only worth $100,000. You’ve lost $30,000 more than you did in the stock example.
Obviously, this is a stark oversimplification and far more goes into real estate investing. Most people in the second situation would opt for a short sale or bankruptcy rather than lose the additional $30,000.
However, the point remains that you could lose far more than you bargained for with real estate if the economy takes a hit. In the 2008 collapse,Americans lost over 3 trillion dollars in home equity. It would be unwise to assume a housing crash could never happen again.
11. Tenants Destroy Things
Another harsh truth about real estate investing is that you must rely on the integrity of others. While most people are good and don’t want to destroy the place they live in, there is no guarantee that you will find great tenants. Even the best credit checks and referrals can’t catch everything, leaving you stuck with a less-than-stellar tenant.
Tenants can trash a property. Some refuse to clean, leaving the landlord a mess when they move out. Others steal anything not bolted to the ground. Others have out-of-control animals or children who destroy walls and carpets.
A True Story of Terrible Tenants
Tomas Satas, the founder of Windy City Homebuyer, has first-hand experience with nightmare tenants. Satas conducted a credit check and employment verification, which the young couple passed with flying colors. They seemed perfect on paper: A young professional couple who always paid the rent on time.
Satas thought everything was great until they moved out.
That’s when he uncovered the horrifying truth. His property was a disaster. The seemingly perfect couple trashed the place, leaving cigarette burns in the carpets, holes in the walls, and trash everywhere. After further research, Satas learned the couple constantly fought, and the cops came by at least once a month.
Satas learned a valuable lesson from this experience: Always conduct a background check. He created his own rigorous screening process after this horrific experience to avoid similar situations.
12. Taxes are Complicated
Don’t get me wrong, the tax benefits of a real estate investment can be fantastic. Many of the expenses we discussed previously (maintenance, insurance, property taxes, etc.) can be written off as business expenses, resulting in a much lower tax burden.
However, the rules regarding what’s deductible and what’s not can get confusing, especially regarding depreciation. Real estate investors should talk with an accountant to ensure they correctly complete their taxes each year.
The more confusing and sometimes shocking tax burden comes when you sell. Unless you have lived in the house for three of the past five years, you need to pay capital gains tax on the sale of your home. If you rented the property and claimed depreciation over the years, you will also need to pay the depreciation recapture tax.
Depreciation recapture is calculated based on the years you owned the property and the depreciation you claimed each year on your taxes. Although it’s capped at 25%, it may be a nasty shock for small-time landlords unaware of it.
13. Cashflow is More Complex than it Seems
Kevin Lao, a financial planner at Imagine Financial Security, finds that investors often make mistakes when calculating cash flow. Lao advises that it’s not as simple as taking the mortgage and subtracting the rent.
There are many other costs to consider before measuring cash flow, such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, management fees, and possible vacancies. These costs can potentially eat into monthly earnings, depending on the rental value of your property.
When I rented my house in savannah, I barely made enough money from rental income to cover the mortgage and property manager fees. I struggled to afford maintenance costs and often relied on credit to fix more significant problems.
My cash flow didn’t cover my expenses.
Although Lao cautions potential investors to understand everything that goes into cash flow, he also reminds us that cash flow isn’t the only way to make money with real estate.
Investors make money with tax breaks, real estate appreciation, and by paying off mortgages. However, these alternative methods of earning money through real estate take more time and are less liquid. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a maintenance issue when it arises, it doesn’t matter that the property is worth 3% more.
14. Illiquid Capital
That brings us to our final harsh truth about real estate investing. Even if the property appreciates, you may be unable to pay your bills. The only way to access money made via real estate appreciation is to sell, and real estate sales take time.
Another thing to remember is that the 2021/2022 market isn’t typical. In 2010, it took an average of 140 days to sell a home, from arrival to the market to closing. Different cities and neighborhoods will have varying rates of sale as well.
The harsh truth is that there is no market where you can put your house up for sale today and have cash tomorrow. Real estate doesn’t work that way.
Loans for Capital
Of course, experts will tell you there are loans available. Rather than selling, you can take out a home equity loan to gain access to the appreciation immediately.
I’m not a fan of home equity loans. While I understand that you sometimes need the money, I don’t think getting into even more debt will help in the long term. There’s also no guarantee that prices won’t fall again, and a home equity loan may leave you underwater when you decide to sell.
Investing in Real Estate Can Help You Build Wealth
Another harsh truth is that financial advisors are right: investing in real estate CAN be a great path to building wealth. Thousands of people have made fortunes with real estate.
I’m one of them.
A very small fortune. Buying a home in Southern California near a market bottom and selling it in a rising market is the number one reason I’m in the financial position I’m in. I’ll be able to quit my full-time job in a year or two, primarily thanks to the sweet payout I received when I sold.
My other real estate deals weren’t awful, either. Although renting out my Savannah house was a massive headache and stressor, I came out positive in the deal, banking nearly $40,000.
I lost money overall on my third house, but living mortgage free for three years helped me fully fund my emergency accounts.
Overall, investing in real estate was a win for me. And it can be for you too.
How To Win at Real Estate Investing: 7 Tips
Despite the pitfalls, there are many great reasons to invest in real estate. Property ownership is still one of the best paths to building wealth, so here are some tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of real estate investing.
Of course, any investment carries risk, and even the most cautious investor can lose in an economic downturn.
1. Indirect Real Estate Investing
The simplest way to invest in real estate without much capital is via a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). REITs are basically like index funds for real estate. They invest in apartment complexes, office spaces, business complexes, and even real estate centers across the nation and pay investors a portion of the rent profit via dividends.
Investing in real estate via REIT minimizes your risk and is a passive real estate investing method. The drawback is that you don’t have a full ownership stake in any of the properties and likely won’t see many gains when the market has wild appreciations, as we’ve seen in the past few years.
Real Estate Crowdfunding
Brian Davis of Spark Rental recommends real estate crowdfunding as an alternative to REITs. Although commonly referred to as “crowdfunded REITs” or “private REITs,” they don’t follow the same SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) rules as publically traded REITs.
Real Estate Crowdfunding platforms allow you to invest with as little as $10, making it one of the most accessible forms of real estate investing. The downside is the time requirement. Most funds require you to stay invested for 3-5 years or face a steep penalty, matching the illiquid nature of traditional real estate investing.
2. Start Small
If your heart is set on investing in physical real estate, my best advice is to start small. Become a homeowner first, so you understand the total costs of owning a property.
Many people stop at one. Owning one home, the one you live in, can be enough to build generational wealth. Every mortgage payment will help you build equity, and if you keep the home for over 30 years, you can be mortgage free at the end of your life. You can also pass the house on to any offspring or dependents to give them a leg up in life.
Alternatively, you can sell your home when it appreciates. A lot of people purchase a starter home to start building equity and cash out at opportune times to invest in their dream homes.
One great thing about starting with a small home you plan to live in for a while is that you don’t have to worry much about market crashes and being over-leveraged. It doesn’t matter if your home is underwater for a few years if you can afford the payments and have no intention of selling.
Eventually, the market will recover, and over the course of 30 years, it’s likely (though not guaranteed!) that your home will increase in value. Even if it doesn’t, you will have a ton of equity in the house which can be used for whatever you need if you choose to sell.
3. Don’t Over-Extend Yourself
After you’ve experienced the joys and pitfalls of property ownership with personal property, you may want to consider expanding your portfolio and becoming a small landlord.
Looking at affordability if you decide to go this route is essential.
When I rented my home in Savannah, I made sure I could make my mortgage payments regardless of whether I had a tenant. Although the vacant months would be a struggle, they were doable. In this way, I protected myself from the dangers of overleverage.
It may not be feasible to be able to pay every bill for both a rental property and your personal residence with your paycheck. In fact, the ultimate goal for many landlords is to quit their job and use rental income to pay for living expenses!
While that’s a great goal, it’s best to be conservative when first starting. If you can’t afford to pay the mortgage with your paycheck, ensure you have extra cash in an emergency fund to cover a few months of mortgage payments.
4. The Duplex Route
One more accessible way of entering the real estate investing market is via a duplex or small apartment complex. Many investors start with a duplex, renting one side while living in the other.
Davis recommends this method for those wanting to dip their feet into real estate investing. Davis advises that you can use a conventional loan to buy a multi-family property with up to four units. You can even use the rent to qualify for the loan.
Ideally, the rent from the additional units will cover the mortgage, interest, taxes, and most routine expenses, allowing the landlord to live “rent-free.”
5. Have a Massive Emergency Fund
Extra months of mortgage payments aren’t the only reason you may need cash on hand. Things break. Appliances need replacement, sinks get backed up, paint gets chipped, and the carpet gets worn.
When you’re a landlord, you never know when the tenant will call with a costly repair request. You also never know when a tenant will decide to move out, forcing you to pay for cleaning and possible repainting.
If you can’t cover these expenses with cash on hand, you will have to rely on credit. Not only will this cause additional stress, but it can lead to a lower credit score, reduced credit availability for personal needs, and risk overleverage.
To be on the safe side, your rental property emergency fund should have enough money in it to cover three months of mortgage payments, the deductible on your insurance policy, and at least $5000 extra to cover the cost of a broken appliance, a paint job, or other maintenance costs not covered by your insurance policy.
To avoid the high costs of repairs, invest in a home warranty. The home warranty I had on my Savannah house was my saving grace. I wouldn’t have been able to afford all the repairs without it.
My home warranty cost about $800 per year and covered nearly everything that might go wrong with the house. All I had to pay was a $100 service fee for each issue – far less than the cost of most repairs.
While I lived in the house, the home warranty paid for itself. I replaced an AC drip pan, fixed a broken toilet, and repaired a massive plumbing issue outside using the warranty.
However, keep in mind that a warranty has limitations. It got immensely harder to use the warranty when I became a landlord.
Home Warranties as a Landlord
Using my home warranty was straightforward with my first tenant. She was a friend, so we didn’t use a property manager. I added her as an authorized user to my home warranty, so if a problem arose, she called them, they billed me, and then they coordinated with her to fix it.
It was a simple, straightforward process, and she only had to use them a handful of times.
When she moved out, I was already living in Pennsylvania, so I opted to have a property management company handle tenants. Unfortunately, this made using the home warranty harder. I couldn’t add my tenants to the home warranty because they needed to call the property manager if there was a problem.
The property manager was flakey about being an authorized user, and for some reason, I could never get them to call the home warranty company. They continued to call me whenever there was a problem. I then needed to reach the home warranty company, which needed to work with their vendors.
It became a convoluted trail of coordinating with six different entities to get a simple job done. In the meantime, my tenants would complain that it took too long to solve problems in the house.
In hindsight, I realize the property manager should have taken a more prominent role in working with the home warranty. Be sure to discuss your home warranty with your property manager before hiring them to ensure they will be the middle man between the tenant and the home warranty.
7. Do Your Research
The final tip to help you successfully invest in real estate is to do your homework. Although not all-inclusive, here’s a short list of items you need to research before making your first investment.
Research the Area
Research the area you will be investing in. How have property values moved over the past 10-20 years? Will people move to or from the region in the next 10-20 years?
You may also want to consider the job market when considering the area. Are industries moving in or out? What types of jobs are available to people who live in the region?
I made the mistake of buying real estate in a dying coal town. People and jobs are moving out of the town, not in. The depressed area is unlikely to get better in the foreseeable future.
To become a landlord, you also need to research potential market rents. How much money can you reasonably expect to charge for rent? Will that cover your expenses? Is it ethical?
Research the Laws
Some areas have laws that strictly protect tenants, while others favor landlords. Before investing in a given area, be sure you fully understand the laws regarding tenants’ rights.
As a landlord, you need to know exactly what your obligations to your tenants are, when you can start an eviction process if a tenant doesn’t pay, and how to notify tenants of any changes to their contracts or maintenance issues.
Although a property manager can help you navigate any issue you may come across, it’s best to have a baseline understanding of the laws before making your final decision on where to buy.
Research Your Investment Property
After you’ve decided on an area, it’s time to make your purchase. Don’t skip the research phase on this step!
Be sure to conduct a thorough home inspection to ensure you know everything that could be wrong with the house. Negotiate with the seller to fix any immediate problems before close, and work with a contractor to estimate the potential costs of anything you want to update.
You may also want to note the age of all the appliances and structures, considering when they might need to be replaced. For example, if a roof is 20 years old, you will probably want to replace it within the next 2-5 years. Be sure to consider all of these possibilities before purchasing the home.
Don’t just focus on the physical condition of the home. Get a title inspection to ensure you’re truly getting the deed, free and clear. If there are current tenants, understand all applicable laws of transferring ownership with tenants in place, and check to ensure all interested parties receive proper notifications.
Research Property Managers
As we saw in the home warranty example, you also need to research potential property managers. Will you do it yourself, or is there a company in the area that can manage it for you? What will they and won’t they handle?
You may be surprised when you work with a property manager to find they will only collect rent but won’t deal with angry tenants. Before signing a contract with them, ensure you fully understand what your property manager will and won’t do for you.
Research Potential Tenants
If you opt to use a property management company, they should do this work for you. However, if you opt to manage the property on your own, be sure to research your potential tenants. Many landlords do simple background checks and credit checks to ensure tenants are safe and likely to pay rent on time.
While researching tenants, be sure to follow any applicable laws. The Fair Housing Act bans discrimination on the federal level, and local/state laws regarding what you can/can’t ask may vary.
Real Estate Investing Isn’t for the Faint of Heart
Investing in real estate isn’t the easy path to building wealth that many people say it is. It is a fantastic way to build wealth but it isn’t easy.
Taking off the rose-colored glasses and getting the real down-low and gritty truth about the stress, risks, and potential downfalls of real estate investing is essential.
Use this information to make an informed decision about real estate so you can go forth and build wealth!
Frugality is a lifestyle. Although most people don’t embrace extreme frugality, some are so thoughtless with their finances that they throw away perfectly good stuff after just one use!
While scrolling through the Frugal sub on Reddit, I found a fun question asking the thriftiest Redditors to share the shocking items they’ve seen their friends and family toss out after just one use!
Maybe they didn’t like the item, but they could have at least put it up on Facebook marketplace and gotten some of their money back!
Brand New Natural Gas Furnace
One User was shocked to discover that a company threw away a brand-new natural gas furnace costing thousands of dollars. Apparently, after using it in an advertising campaign, they had no further use for the expensive equipment.
“Someone who worked there rescued it and took it home and sold it to me for $300. So at least it didn’t go to waste,” they added.
Although the Redditor didn’t see this in real life, they were appalled while watching an episode of MTV’s Cribs. “I saw an episode of ‘Cribs’ on Mtv for some rapper, and he would throw away white t shirts after wearing them once. They were nice shirts too.”
Even our non-frugal friends would side-eye someone throwing away a perfectly good shirt after just one use.
One Redditor was shocked when a fellow participant in a fundraiser ditched all her camping gear after just one night. They had a tent, sleeping bag, and pad from the high-end outdoor retailer REI.
“After the first night, she… left it all and walked away.” I guess she wasn’t into camping, but what a waste of great gear!
“Every time the flower starts to wilt, throw it out and get a new one,” said one user. “I calculated and since he always needed at least 2 at once, it was over $400 in orchids every year,” they added after doing the math of how much money was wasted.
The response shocked some Redditors. “Threw out the plants???” exclaimed one, “I’d go dumpster-diving after those.”
Frugal folks find it shocking when others don’t eat leftovers. “My friend’s in-laws threw away the leftover pot roast, immediately after a meal,” commented one user. “It was about 2 pounds of very tasty roast.”
They added they were even more confused when the family bought shredded BBQ beef at the deli the next day. Talk about wasting food.
Imagine throwing away an entire set of brand-new pots and pans they were gifted with because they weren’t the exact size of the stone burner. Although they only heard the story second hand, one Redditor was appalled by the wastefulness.
“Some people do not deserve gifts,” lamented another.
A Large Pop
One user was baffled by their friend’s tendency to purchase a large soft drink and throw it away after taking only a few sips. It wasn’t the drink, but the thought behind it left them scratching their head.
“ It was like she couldn’t stand giving the impression of thrift by ordering a smaller soda,” they said of her strange behavior.
Imagine wasting money on stuff you don’t need to avoid the appearance of looking cheap.
One user who didn’t even go to school in a “rich” neighborhood was perplexed by the actions of their peers. “It was a status symbol of my fellow high school peers…to throw their change in the trash cans or down the hallway after buying something from the lunch canteen, and only pocket the notes,” they shared.
“My neighbour threw a bunch of bananas in the trash. Like, a whole bunch with just like 1 or two bananas off. I mean… they were perfectly ripe. The whole bunch.” said one confused Redditor.
They shared that this happened only two weeks ago and added, “I’m just so confused. How are people putting good food in the trash in this day and age?”
Rich folks don’t have to be frugal. One user was shocked to discover a coworker would throw bed sheets away instead of washing them.
“She casually told us that she only used a set of sheets once. As in every day she’d strip her bed, put brand new sheets on the bed from her cupboard STACKED with them (she showed us a photo), and throw out the old sheets.”
So Many Things
Many Redditors shared the vast array of items they find discarded during community spring cleaning events. They’ve seen people toss out snowblowers, chainsaws, furniture, legos, bikes, appliances, and more.
Frugal users were appalled at how wasteful some folks are, but others use it as an opportunity to score big. They collect the discarded items, and either use them for themselves or sell them for a profit.
Wasteful or Normal?
Were the Redditors right to be baffled at the items people toss out after just a few uses, or is their judgment clouded by their frugal minds? One man’s idea of frugality may be a giant waste of time to another!
Imagine biting into mouthwatering pasta carbonara only to discover a crunchy, inedible shrimp tail hidden in the creamy sauce.
Many high-end restaurants leave shrimp tails on in pasta dishes and other offerings, much to the chagrin of consumers.
When scrolling through Reddit, I found a question in the popular R/cooking sub asking culinary experts on the site whether tails should remain on shrimp.
The debate rages ever on, but some of the responses are enlightening.
“It’s normal, but I hate it.” said one Redditor. Most Italian restaurants leave shrimp tails intact, even in creamy pasta dishes.
That doesn’t mean we have to like it, though.
Tails Add Flavor…
“But don’t shrimps with tails on enhance the flavour of the dish?” asked one user. “That was my understanding for why people would keep them on.”
Other commenters weren’t so sure. “ I’ve tried side by side and didn’t notice a difference at all.” said one. “I’m sure somebody will swoop in and swear up and down it makes a night and day difference. To each their own,” they added.
But There are Other Ways to Get It
Redditors who agreed that tails add flavor said there are other ways to a flavor boost without leaving the shells on.
“You can find ways to use the empty shells while cooking and remove them before serving. I literally made some shrimp Alfredo tonight and tossed the shells in with the butter and strained them out before adding the cheese.” said one user, while another suggested wrapping the shells in a cheesecloth and removing it before serving.
“When I cook I remove them.” stated one user. “I don’t want people fishing around in their food.”
In a later comment, they expanded upon the thought, saying, “I just think it’s annoying having to fish out sauce covered shrimp with my bare hands when I should be focused on shoveling cheesy carbs into my maw. I’d rather do a bit of extra work in the kitchen so I can relax and enjoy my meal later on.”
“I never order seafood pasta for this reason.” offered another. “With the shrimp tails and clam shells, my meal is half trash.”
It’s Not a Big Deal
Some users were shocked by the debate, saying that shrimp tails in pasta isn’t a big deal.
“Whenever I see this issue come up, I feel like I’m the only one who just pulls the tail off as I eat the shrimp?” they asked. “Skewer shrimp with fork, bite from front end, pinch and remove tail with fingers. I’m not sure if other people find that incredibly rude or what, but it seems a pretty good solution to me,” they added.
More Efficient to Leave it
Restaurants may opt to leave the tails on because it’s easier. “I’m guessing because it’s a lot of prep-work, a restaurant might cut that step to save time.” speculated one user.
They added that they wouldn’t expect homemade pasta dishes to include shrimp tails.
One Redditor who said they’re a chef said they keep the tail on for aesthetics. Shrimp looks better with the tail on.
Another suggested tails make it look like you get more bang for your buck. “It’s normal for a restaurant because the tail makes the shrimp look bigger, so they can sell you less shrimp for more money,” they said.
The Tail & Vein Are Dirty
“I was always told it was “dirty” to leave the tails on and not peel it and cut out the ‘poop line’.” offered one user.
Others explained that you could devein shrimp without removing the tail, and it’s not as gross as you think. “Their poop isn’t a health hazard to eat, but it’s gritty, and well, it’s waste product but don’t worry too much if a little is ingested.” they clarified.
Tails Make it Difficult to Eat
“ I, personally, don’t like it, and I think it makes the dish more difficult to eat.” said one user.
Another said it depends on how people will eat the shrimp. “I typically let form follow function,” they said. “If people are eating the shrimp with hands: tail on. If they are mixed into something eaten with utensils (seafood stew, pasta, etc.), tails off for cleanliness and ease of my guests/family.”
Many users complained about eating shrimp with intact tails, especially in pasta dishes. “What if I told you that people don’t want to fuss around shells when the dish has a sauce?” protested one commentator.
The Tail Meat Goes to Waste
Many users said leaving the tails on forces diners to waste the tail meat. One even quoted Miss Manners, saying, “in a formal setting, one does need to let the tail meat go as there is no polite way to retrieve it with a knife and fork, but that it’s a shame.”
Tails On or Off?
What do you think about the great shrimp tail debate on Reddit? Do you prefer meals with shrimp tails intact, or would you rather a restaurant de-tail shrimp before tossing it in pasta?
Fast food isn’t supposed to be a culinary delight. We know what to expect when we pull through the drive-through to order a greasy burger: cheap, fast, mass-produced food that isn’t horrible but tastes the same wherever you go.
However, some fast food restaurants broke the contract, serving genuinely awful food at outrageous prices. While scrolling through one of my favorite subs on Reddit, R/AskReddit, I found a question asking users to share their opinions on the worst fast-food restaurants.
Here’s what the internet thinks.
Panera used to be so good. Nothing beat their creamy broccoli cheddar soup served in a sourdough bread bowl. Their salads burst with flavor from the fresh ingredients.
In recent years, Panera hasn’t just gone downhill. It nosedived.
One user called it “Insanely expensive for extremely average food,” while another said, “It’s gone so far downhill since it was acquired by a private equity firm. The ingredients are less fresh, portions are stingy, and the price is no longer a reasonable value.”
“You can go to the same location three separate times, have the food made by the same staff, and receive 3 wildly different results,” said one user of Dunkin’s quality. “Their iced coffee tastes like fake chemically garbage unless you get it with a ton of cream and sugar,” complained another.
Users agreed that Dunkin still does one thing right: donuts. The namesake and staple food at Dunkin Donuts is basically the same as it’s always been. Don’t go to Dunkin expecting a good breakfast, and you’ll be fine.
One user lamented that Subway used to be good, but now all you get is a giant hunk of bread. Many agreed that they used to love Subway, but it’s significantly decreased in quality over the years.
“They have changed their meat vendor and the veggies are like the batch that’s just under grocery quality,” said one Redditor. “The last time I went they were even stingy with the toppings,” complained another.
“All it is is grease,” grumbled one user, “and the Mac and cheese is school cafeteria level,” they added.
Others agreed, saying they used to love the iconic chicken brand in the 90s, but the quality declined considerably in recent decades.
The internet’s issue with Five Guys is the price more than the food quality. A burger meal at the “fast food” joint can easily cost upwards of twenty bucks.
Others complained that the food is only good when it’s hot. “You have to eat it in store otherwise you just paid $20 for a soggy mess of fries and burger. It’s top tier fast food if you eat it fresh though.” said one user.
“It’s shocking to me how poor both the food and coffee are, and I’m not even a coffee snob,” stated one user, referring to the iconic coffee chain.
“The popularity of Starbucks is so weird to me when it’s not even very good. It almost feels more like a trend that people want to be part of than a reasonable option.” offered another.
Maybe the reason we all go to Starbucks is that it’s cool, not because it’s good.
Mighty Taco is a fast-food taco joint in the Northeast. Although it doesn’t have the national footprint other chains on this list do, one user said it’s the worst fast food chain ever.
“They were even voted best tacos a few years ago. It is absolutely terrible food. I’ve tried to like it and given them 3 chances. Each time I couldn’t eat more than a couple bites. Absolutely terrible and I’m disgusted even thinking about their sour vomit in a tortilla” said the user of their local chain.
Also See: Mouthwatering Potato Tacos You’ll Want to Add to Your Weekly Dinner Rotation
Dairy Queen used to be the best place to get delicious ice cream treats. Their blizzards were iconic! The food offerings have always been subpar, but Redditors think it’s gotten worse in recent years.
“The last couple years the prices doubled and the food quality is way down,” said one user who used to frequent DQ regularly.
Many users said McDonald’s has been declining in quality and rising in price for many years.
Others disagreed, saying McDonald’s is one of the few chains where you always know exactly what you’ll get.
Popeye’s service is so bad it’s not even worth trying. “Last time I went the food was slappin but the employees looked so unhappy. I felt bad, If the service is bad everywhere, means the company treats them bad.” said one Redditor.
Others said they can’t even do their core function. “I’ve been to Popeyes on more than one occasion where they actually tell me they are out of chicken,” another user complained.
Most agreed that despite the service, the chicken is still pretty tasty.
There’s no doubt that America is facing a mental health crisis. People are depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed at striking rates.
Research shows that over 50 million adults face some type of mental health problem, and over half don’t receive any treatment.
Much of the lack of treatment relates to the exceedingly high cost of healthcare. People don’t get treatment because they can’t afford it.
The dismal state of our mental health system was on my mind while scrolling through my favorite sub on Reddit, R/Askreddit. There, I found a great question asking users to share things that significantly improved their mental health.
Some responses may help you feel better along your journey, but remember, there’s no substitute for a real doctor if you can afford it.
Get in Shape
Exercising releases endorphins, which give you an instant mood boost. One user said getting into shape helped them feel better about their mental health.
Another was up in the air about it. “The mental benefits are great and setting a PR can make my day, but I would say I have more hang-ups about my body now than I did before working out,” they admitted.
One Redditor commented that practicing mindfulness has improved their mental health and helped them avoid embarrassing situations.
“If I’m with coworkers and I feel a strong urge to say something embarrassing or inappropriate, I’ll mentally ask myself, “Is that worth mentioning right now? Is it appropriate?” and the answer is usually no. It helped me a lot because I used to be a story topper,” They said.
Identify Your Triggers
Some users manage their anxiety by identifying and avoiding their triggers.
Knowing what sets you off allows you to avoid those things. However, it also helps you understand that you’re having an anxiety episode and that nothing is wrong. Knowing what sets you off is the first step toward learning to face it.
“Cutting toxic people out of my life. Including family.” said one Redditor.
Sometimes, our family members are the most significant source of our problems. It’s okay to remove toxic people from your life. You don’t have to engage with folks just because they are family.
Some folks resist seeking therapy due to the stigma rather than the cost. However, it’s one of the best ways to cope with mental health issues, much to the surprise of some users.
“Therapy, who knew,” joked one user, adding, “IT isn’t easy, but it makes things easier.”
Appreciate Life’s Simple Pleasures
We’re always so occupied with what comes next that we often forget to pause and enjoy the current moment. Time passes by so quickly; we’ll miss things if we don’t consciously stop to enjoy them.
“Taking time to appreciate the simple things in life and focusing on the present moment instead of worrying about the future has had a huge positive impact on my mental health,” responded one user.
Some dogs are specifically trained to help people with mental health, but any pet can improve your life. Furry friends offer us unconditional love and support. They enhance your life in so many immeasurable ways.
Social media is a cesspool of despair. People share crazy conspiracy theories, the highlight reels of their lives, or tremendously photoshopped images of unrealistic body standards. It’s no wonder social media use leads to reduced mental health outcomes!
Many users agreed that ditching social media boosted their mental health. “I feel like I’m normal again,” said one user, describing how they felt after abandoning social media.
Working from Home
Working from home drastically improved workers’ lives. “Life without commute, micro-management, stupid co-workers, and getting sick every 3 months is on another level, and I just can’t go back,” said one user.
“Crazy how my mental health has deteriorated ever since returning to the office full time,” replied another, showcasing that the “return to the office” promoted by industry is not beneficial to employees.
Though it wasn’t mentioned in the thread, journaling is a terrific tool for improving your mental health and wellness. Journaling can help you gain new perspective on your problems, sort out your feelings, work through complicated emotions, and remember how much you’ve grown.
Journaling is also a fantastic tool for productivity. Bullet journal spreads can help you organize your schedule, remember essential tasks, and make plans for accomplishing your goals.
These Redditors offered tons of advice that real people can use to positively impact your mental health. Of course, seeking help is always the best option, but when the price makes professional therapy out of reach, the other options can offer short-term relief.
What do you have to lose in trying some of these ideas?
Bullet journaling is a fantastic hobby allowing you to embrace creativity while maintaining productivity. You can make gorgeous spreads with artistic doodles, design cartoon reminders for important dates, and construct valuable charts and tables to visualize your daily tasks.
To construct the perfect bullet journal, you need two major items: the notebook and bullet journal pens.
Why Bullet Journal Pens Matter
The right pen is vital for bullet journaling. The best pens don’t bleed through the pages and dry quickly to prevent smearing.
Some pens may create stunning writing visual effects, but if they bleed through the other side of your journal pages, half your journal will be unusable. Pen smudges make reading your charts, lists, and calendar difficult. Smeared ink destroys the gorgeous effect you were trying to create.
What Type of Pen is Best for Bullet Journaling?
The “best” pen for bullet journaling is highly subjective. Some folks prefer particular aesthetics and will sacrifice some smearing for the desired effect, while others prefer an easy-to-use pen that won’t cause any issues.
My favorite bullet journal pens are the colored Pilot G-2 07 fine retractable gel pens. I love the variety of colors in a pack, and the smooth writing should meet all your journaling needs. The only problem with the pens is that sometimes, the ink will pool near the point, causing too much ink to hit the page when you write. When this happens, the ink will smudge and smear.
I also love Zebra retractable medium-tip gel pens. The medium tip rolls a little smoother and is less likely to smear.
More Great Pens for Bullet Journaling
Lots of pens make great writing implements for your bullet journal. Here are the top types you should consider.
Ballpoint pens are perfect for those journaling on a budget. They are cheap, easy to find, and functional.
Ballpoint pens tend to write smoothly and dry quickly, so you won’t have to worry about smudging. The thin tips don’t lay out a lot of ink, so most are unlikely to bleed through to the opposite page.
Calligraphy pens offer special effects on your writing. The most significant limitation is that the ink tends to dry slowly, so if you write quickly and lay your hand across the page, you’re likely to smear your work.
Despite the drawbacks, some prefer calligraphy pens in their journals to showcase their artistic sides. If you choose this route, take your time crafting your journal entries to avoid smearing your work.
A burst of color and special effects enhance the visual quality of your bullet journal. Consider using pens that change colors or offer striking contrasts to help specific aspects of your journal stand out.
Rollerball pens use water- or gel-based ink, making them easier to write with than traditional ballpoint pens with oil-based ink. If your hand cramps quickly from writing, you might prefer a rollerball pen for journal writing.
The downside to rollerball pens is that they take longer to dry than traditional ballpoint pens. If you opt to use this style, give each journal section extra time to dry.
Watercolor pens bridge the gap. They are easy to use and prevent you from overdoing it with water. As a bonus, they don’t bleed through paper, and when used in moderation to add special effects in various places, they won’t destroy your journal pages.
Gel pens are my favorite type of pen for bullet journaling. They come in numerous colors and dry quickly, making it easy to run your hand over the page.
Gel pens are also the best for special effects and different color pallets. You can find glitter gel pens, multicolored gel pens, and metallic gel pens. Some brands even have white ink gel pens.
Another bonus to gel pens is that they’re easy to use. The ink rolls smoothly on the paper, requiring little force from the writer, making it easy on your hands.
What Types of Pens Should I Avoid When Bullet Journaling?
Some pens make stunning effects but aren’t ideal for bullet journaling. Here are pens that might be ideal for other projects but may not work as well with a bullet journal.
Fountain pens offer gorgeous script-like writing. Unfortunately, they are slow to dry and smear very easily.
If you love the ink effect a fountain pen offers, you can use it for your bullet journal. You must be careful not to rest your hand on the paper as you write and allow it ample time to dry.
Felt-tipped pens offer thick, bold lines, but they tend to bleed through the paper, making them unsuitable for bullet journaling.
However, felt-pinned pens are perfect for other types of journals, such as art journals, which have thicker paper.
Are Sharpies Good for Bullet Journaling?
Sharpies are generally not ideal for bullet journaling. Sharpies have thick felt tips, and although the bold ink stands out, it also often leaks through the page to the other side.
If you want the thick lines offered by sharpies, consider skipping pages in your journal. The opposite side of a page marked with sharpies won’t be very useful.
Sharpie brand has more than markers. Sharpie pens are better suited for journaling than markers. Sharpie brand gel pens or ballpoint pens are just as good as the other brands we discussed for journaling.
More Writing Instruments for Your Bullet Journal
You don’t have to stick with pens when you journal. Plenty of other writing implements can offer fun effects and give you the exact look you want.
Explore these additional writing tools for creating the perfect bullet journal.
Markers have the same limitations as felt-tipped pens. Though they offer fantastic color options, many are too thick for journal pages and bleed through to the other side.
However, if you want the colorful, subdued effects markers can offer, you can purchase non-bleed varieties for a little extra money.
Opt for water-based artist markers such as iBayam Journal Planner Pens or Zebra Pen Midliner highlighters.
Highlighters are essential bullet journal supplies. The highlighted text draws the eye, making highlighters the perfect tool for emphasizing a key date, showcasing the top priorities, and helping you visualize your essential tasks at a glance.
You don’t need fancy highlighters for bullet journaling. Head to your local office supply store and grab a variety pack of your favorite colors.
A pencil is ideal for sketching or creating rough drafts of charts in your journal. Using a pencil allows you to erase mistakes and helps you craft the perfect table or calendar. Although erasable pens are available, they are generally low quality and don’t erase as well as pencils.
Mechanical pencils are ideal. They are easy to write with, make bold, sharp lines, and come fully equipped with an eraser and plenty of lead.
Those looking to add more artistry to their journals via sketches and drawings may prefer an artist-quality pencil set, offering various grades of graphite to help you get the perfect shade.
If you want more color in your journal, choose colored pencils. However, don’t grab just any set. Children’s colored pencils are blunt and challenging to write with, creating rough lines and messy effects. Opt for artist’s-colored pencils for a more refined finish.
Artistic journalers may want to use chalk or oil pastels to create special effects. Although these tools are fun to play with, they aren’t ideal for bullet journaling as they are messy and smear very easily.
Pastels are ideal for drawing and artwork you want to add to your bullet journal but don’t work well for creating lists, charts, goals, and tasks.
Craft stores and office supply stores are ideal places to get bullet journal pens. Staples has a wide range of pen sets, pencils, highlighters, and pen refills, perfect for beginners and those who want a simple, functional journal.