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It takes a quarter million dollars to raise one child.

On Pulling Weeds and Fighting Back: How (and Why) to Protect Abortion Rights

I’ve been gardening a lot in the month of May. And pulling weeds.

So. Many. Weeds. And none of them the fun kind.

I was struck by how suddenly they appeared. In the space of a few days, my empty flower bed was suddenly full of wild violets, dandelion, creeping charlie, and worse things. Prickly things. Toxic things. Deeply rooted things. Weeds that can grow so powerfully they rip apart concrete.

… also whatever that one plant is that smells like old cum. Ugh. Weeds.

The thing is, they didn’t really appear out of nowhere.

I knew they were coming.

They left their seeds and their taproots behind last autumn. Their seeds stayed quiet and waited for conditions to be right. When the planet tilted in their favor, and the sun shone warmly down on them, and the snowmelt watered them, they began to unfurl, out of sight, under the crust of the earth.

I’ve felt the warm air and stomped through the puddles left by the rain. Even though I can’t see them, I have always known that they were there. I’ve watched my flower beds like one watches a door they know is about to open.

When they finally make their move and show themselves, I am ready.

The recent changes to the state laws of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Utah regarding abortion and reproductive rights shocked a lot of people. Suddenly, everything was happening everywhere, all at once.

But these new laws didn’t appear out of nowhere.

I knew they were coming. And so did a lot of other people.

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Perfect opportunities aren't often handed to you, like a ripe peach from the leather-gloved hand of Jereth the Goblin King.

I Was Happy to Marry a Poor Man. Then Things Changed.

On the day my partner and I got married, I didn’t promise him much. Life is long. Uncertainty is its only certainty.

For poorer? In sickness? Forsaking all others? Until death?

Like, death-death??

I have questions. Why are we poor? Are we poor because capitalism sucks and robots took our jobs? Or poor because one of us hid a gambling addiction, and poured our life savings down a slot machine somewhere in Hollywood, Florida? Because those are pretty different things!

What sickness? All others? Because if I get a neurodegenerative disease, and I lose every memory of you, but you stay by my side, and the kind nurse (who has been with a long string of undeserving guys and who’s super pretty but doesn’t know she’s pretty) leans over to check my vitals, and compliments you on your unfaltering loyalty to me, and then your eyes meet, I do want you to kiss her. Details from my upcoming self-published romance novel to follow.

When comes the death? Who dies first? How different will we be? What kind of world will we live in? What will it cost me to keep these promises?

Obviously there is a pleasant future we’re aiming for where none of these mundane trials become marriage-ending events. But I am a realist. Life can change people, sometimes beyond recognition. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. So I would never promise to stay married to someone no matter what. And I would never expect a pledge from a partner that I myself am unwilling to give.

In the end, what we promised each other was this: “I will always enable your happiness.”

If we were happy together: mazel tov. If we were happy apart: so it goes.

That was a promise I knew I could keep. And it was the only one I wanted in return.

But I did make one other promise that day, this time to his parents. I took them by their shoulders, looked them square in the eyes, and gave them this pledge:

“I will take care of your son. You never need to worry about him ever again.”

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There is too much "inspiration porn" out there.

Earning Her First $100K: An Interview with Tori Dunlap

They say the first $100,000 is the hardest to save. Wunderkind personal finance guru Tori Dunlap says, “Challenge accepted.”

Kitty and I have known Tori since BGR’s inception. She virtually forced us, through sheer tenacity and brilliance, to adopt her as our little sister—our more knowledgeable, successful, savvy, and funny little sister who in every way exceeds the promise of this very blog and inspires us every day.

Like, just look at this motivational young feminist do her thang:

So when Tori announced that she was emerging from the chrysalis of rebranding into a new feminist financial coaching venture, Her First $100K, I knew I had to pick her brains about it. I just didn’t realize I was simultaneously going to be schooled on the greatest animated movie of our time.

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Disney vacations and their ilk are marketed to parents as experiences so magical you would be A Terrible Parent if you deprived your kids this holy formative experience.

Splurging on Kids: When It Works, and When It Doesn’t

Piggy and I have a general policy against giving childrearing advice.

It’s not because we don’t have opinions on the subject. Trust and believe: we have opinions on everysubject. For example…

  • Opinions on land use in Paraguay? The Bitches say: Keep the grazing cattle in the Chaco region. Although we are Team Yerba Mate, everyone knows that the climate is just too arid—although better land management practices are needed to prevent desertification.
  • Thoughts on the performance of the current mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont? The Bitches say: We strongly approve of Lincoln, the Nubian goat. Eating the paperwork itself may be the best way to combat bureaucratic creep. Honestly, Lincoln the Goat 2020.
  • Was Paris wrong to give the Golden Apple of Discord to Aphrodite? The Bitches say: Absolutely! Athena clearly offered him wisdom because she could see he was sorely lacking in sense. Women are not prizes, Paris, so stop using your magical fruit like a fistful of arcade tickets you’re hot to trade in!

See? We’re a bottomless pit of opinions!

But because we don’t have children ourselves, we try to keep our big mouths shut on the subject. Especially when talking to actual-factual parents. We’ve lived the experience of mansplaining; we can only imagine that DINKsplaining is similarly annoying.

But today we wanted to explore an interesting topic for our readers who are becoming, thinking of becoming, or trying to become parents:

Think back to the times your parents “splurged” on you. In hindsight, you probably know which things you truly enjoyed, versus stuff you just put up with.

So which expenses were worth it? Which ones weren’t? If you could go back in time, what would you tell them to stop doing, or do more of?

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Life is long. YOu have plenty of time and chances to make mistakes, fix them, and get back on track.

Ask the Bitches: Is It Too Late to Get My Financial Shit Together?

Life is long. In theory, this means you have plenty of time and chances to fuck up, make mistakes, fix them, and get back on track.

And yet we’re surrounded by messages that instill the fear that if we don’t have our financial shit together by the age at which Warren Buffett was starting his prepubescent golf ball recovery empire, we’re doomed to a lifetime of grueling work and poverty.

In other words, if you don’t save $300,000 by the age of 30, you’re financially fucked for all eternity.

Many of the discouraging messages mean so, so well! Yet for the late bloomers, reading about thirty-year-old retirees and debt-free millennials can make it feel like they were late to the show and missed the main act.

And while I love savings and investment projections like this one for the purposes of setting goals… they can imbue the late bloomers among us with a sense of despair. For if you reach your thirties still knee-deep in debt and scrabbling at a meaningful career, it can seem like you’re already way too late. It can seem like it’ll take you forever to catch up. So why bother starting at all?

We got a question along these lines from an anonymous reader a little while back:

“Hi, Bitches. I’m so hooked on your material! Thank you so much for your dedication to financial literacy for us. My only issue is that I’m 26, so when I read through your material, I’m afraid I’ve made too many mistakes already or I’m too old to get on track to where you are. Any advice to us on the older side of this community?”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, creampuff.

I, Piggy, Co-Bitch of Bitches Get Riches, was twenty-six when I started cracking down on my finances.

So in my book, you’re not late at all. You’re right on time.

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Auditing taxpayers is a "dying tradition."

My Taxes Are a Little, uh, Creative. What’s My Risk of Being Audited?

Enough time has probably passed for me to admit to playing fast and loose with the truth in some very old tax returns. But let’s drape this whole conversation in a veil of hypotheticality to preserve our modesty.

THIS ARTICLE DEALS IN HYPOTHETICALS, I SAY!

MY FAN FICTION NOVEL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ONE DIRECTION, I SAY! NOTHING!

As all liars will tell you when caught, I (hypothetically) had great reasons for lying. I was (hypothetically) a new graduate during the worst part of the Great Recession, cobbling together freelance jobs to afford a gruel made of boxed mac and cheese thinned with water and Goya packets. I was (hypothetically) hanging onto adult independence by my fingernails. And my fingernails were notoriously hypothetically thin and weak from my high-sodium gruel diet!

This was pretty much how my first tax return after college went…

KITTY:
I made $18,000 last year.

IRS:
Awesome, give us $3,000 of it.

KITTY:
That can’t be right.

IRS:
It is.

KITTY:
Wh— Bu— I live in one of the most expensive cities in America. I can barely pay rent and put food in my cupboards. The unemployment rate for young people is almost 20%, for fuck’s sake! Surely you wouldn’t charge a flat tax rate on someone so desperate?

IRS:
We totally would.

KITTY:
Teach me, dear creature, how to think and speak.
Lay open to my earthly gross conceit,
smothered in errors, feeble, shallow, weak,
the folded meaning of your words’ deceit.
Against my soul’s pure truth why labour you
to make it wander in an unknown field?
Are you a god? Would you create me now?
Transform me, then, and to your power I’ll yield.
But if I am that I am, then well I know
I do not have three thousand dollars, bro,
Nor to your purse no homage do I owe.

IRS:
Ma’am, will that be check or money order?

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Theres a silver lining to this shit cloud.

How to Pay Hospital Bills When You’re Flat Broke

It’s a fucking travesty that the leading cause of bankruptcy in these United States is medical bills. Not credit card bills nor risky investments. Not even student loans, but hospital bills. Invoices racked up through freak accidents and diseases the patient certainly didn’t ask for and would probably prefer to live without.

To our readers in other, more civilized countries, you’re dismissed. This week we’re going to be dissecting a uniquely American problem: exorbitant medical bills and how to pay them.

The CEO of GoFundMe, an online crowd-funding platform, never dreamed that his company would become synonymous with “I’m broke and need $300,000 to pay for my child’s cancer treatment.” What he envisioned as a way for entrepreneurs and artists to raise money for their passion projects has become the last desperate hope of sick and injured Americans on the verge of total financial ruin.

It blows, dear readers. It fucking blows.

Which is why we need to get creative with some of the lesser-known and best ways to pay for medical bills. Sure, it might be cheaper in the long run to move to Canada, Sweden, or Namibia. But if you bleed American blood on American soil, here’s what you do.

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EAT UR DAMN PILLS BITCH!

Ask the Bitches: Ugh, How Do I Build the Habit of Taking Meds?

Hey Bitches, Patreon supporter here! Friday I had my very first physical, which was covered by my insurance. I told my new doctor about starting back up on antidepressants to save me a visit/copay. He gave me a script based on the ones I tried before, plus Zoloft has been around long enough it’s super cheap instead of the couple hundred/month my last one was to start. The doc also agreed gardening would help with the depression. Any produce growing tips or motivation to make sure I actually stick to my meds this time instead of ditching after a few weeks?

Welcome, beautiful and vibrant Patreon donor! Congratulations on wisely using the low- and no-cost preventative healthcare insurance affords you. And thank you for this extremely relatable question!

Before I get too deep into this, I want to remind y’all that I am not a medical professional of any kind. I’m not even a financial professional. No—I am a self-important PowerPoint jockey who came this close to opening this site under a .net address! If you’re torn between listening to yourself, listening to your doctor, and listening to a random bossy Internet nobody, choose the bossy Internet nobody last, okay?

I’ve never personally been on antidepressants. So my direct experience here is somewhat limited. (Any depressive periods I’ve had in the past have been solved by irresponsibly ignoring the problem while feverishly spending all of my spoons trying to convince the people around me that everything is juuuuuust fine until suddenly, one day, it is. Don’t be like me. I’m trying to change.)

HOWEVER! I certainly know the joys of going on and coming off of meds.

O! The joie of hormonal fluctuations!

For various reasons not related to the desire to become pregnant, I’ve been on and off of birth control pills over the past few years. And lord, what a trip that has been.

Birth control is pretty damn weird. It’s a well-established drug. Millions of people take it. It’s not thought of as particularly volatile or significantly mood-altering. Some people feel no side effects at all. And yet… let’s go to the tape.

Kitty’s thoughts restarting birth control:

    • “Thank goodness for the overwhelming feeling that my body is hideous and disgusting—this sudden wave of self hatred is the helpful alarm clock announcing my period is starting soon!”
    • “Gosh, I can’t believe that guy cut me off in traffic! I’m gonna find out where his ancestors are buried, dig them up, and pose them humping each other on his front lawn.”
    • “Whither my dear friend Jawline Acne? O’er the purple moors? Beyond the mountain made of glass?”
    • “Now seems like a fine time to lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling until I muster the strength to attempt the impossible: move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.”
    • “Google, is this amount of period blood a ‘go to the ER’ sitch or…?”

Kitty’s thoughts coming down off of birth control:

    • “If somebody doesn’t bring me the puffy kind of Cheetos within the next nine minutes, the precious life my confused body is convinced I’m nurturing will NEVER GET INTO HARVARD.”
    • “I am actually kind of sure that if I concentrated hard enough, I could just Code Geass people.”
    • “I can’t believe how attractive I am. Oops, lil’ blood on the pillow from that painfully massive zit rupturing in the night. Anyway, regarding my undeniable sexiness, which rages around all of us like a wildfire—”
    • “I should probably sign up for skydiving now. Like, RIGHT now.”
    • “Google, can I get so horny I die?”

Blister packs giving me blisters, hack. (Waht.)

… So, letter writer, I feel you. I know exactly why someone would really want to start, but also really want to stop taking medication.

I’m going to assume that anyone who wants to start or stop a medication has thoroughly weighed their options, considered their best interests, and gotten their doctor’s blessing. I know that the awesome members of Bitch Nation will join me in this assumption! And none of you will leave judgmental, concern-troll-y comments about people’s medical shit.

So here are some strategies for sticking with any kinda meds!

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Put that in your Luddite pipe and smoke it!

How to Find Remote Work: On Getting the Elusive Work-From-Home Job

Previously, on Bitches Get Riches…

Working from home can be a pretty sweet gig if you can get it, but it comes with unique challenges. Setting up a routine, taking strategically scheduled breaks, and removing distractions will help keep you on task and motivated.

Which is all well and good if you already have a job that lets you work remotely. But how does one lock down that coveted, elusive work-from-home job?

The legions of telecommuters are growing, according to the New York Times. And half of the United States workforce will soon work remotely, if Forbes is correct. Yet with all of these people gloriously working from wherever the hell they want, we still get questions from readers all the time that boil down to: “I can’t work on-site, but I also can’t seem to find any jobs that will allow me to work remotely. Where are they all hiding?”

The hunt is over, job-searchers! Here are a number of tactics for how you too can join the telecommuting army.

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Buy a fucking fern!

How to Successfully Work from Home Without Losing Your Goddamn Mind (Or Your Job)

As most (all?) of you know, I started working from home full time a little over a year ago. It’s pretty great! I’m saving a metric fuckton of money on commuting costs. Plus, I have more time in my day to devote to things other than sitting in traffic shaking my fist and cursing the futility of existence.

Before working from home.

 

After working from home.

I’m an acquiring editor at a book publishing house. This is a fancy way of saying I babysit writers and occasionally correct their constipated prose for a living. Most of my job consists of reading book proposals and telling authors why they suck. I need little more than a laptop and a cell phone to do my job.

I regularly join meetings at my corporate headquarters via phone or video conference. During these meetings, my wardrobe is generally business formal above the waist, slumber party below.

And you guys, I rock. I’m real fucking good at my job and I have the employee reviews to prove it!

While transitioning from an office to working from home was a bit of an adjustment, I’ve since developed good habits for getting quality work done efficiently and quickly.

And yet there are some stubborn bastions of luddites who absolutely insist that a white collar worker needs to come into an office every day in order to be successful. I don’t cotton to that kind of backward thinking. For one thing, it makes it harder for caregivers and disabled people to find employment. For another, it fosters a culture that negatively impacts the environment and public health.

If a worker proves herself capable of getting the job done without commuting to an office, then by Grabthar’s Hammer, she should be allowed to do so!

But the only way we’re going to spread the work from home revolution is if we all work circles around our be-cubicled counterparts. Through trial, error, and interviewing people who have been working from home much longer than I have, here’s what I’ve found to be the best work-from-home practices in the biz.

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