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

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

So… I made a mistake.

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

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

This is technically incorrect. Piggy is the Chip.

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

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

– Patreon Donor Rachel

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

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

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Podcast Season 2 Episode 1: "I'm financially stable, but my friends aren't. The guilt is crushing!"

Season 2, Episode 1: “I’m Financially Stable, but My Friends Aren’t. The Guilt Is Crushing!”

“We’re back” isn’t just a dinosaur’s story anymore. Or it is, but it includes these dinosaurs! (we said, gesturing at our own wrinkled selves).

That’s right, kids, the Bitches are back with season two of our podcast!

This week is all about friendly debate. What’s the line between the nearly extinct middle class and The Rich, Who Must Be Eaten? Who has the most responsibility for driving change? Most importantly, who does the better Ursula?

(We meant to settle this with our very loud and obnoxious Poor Unfortunate Souls-off, but I’m not sure a clear winner was established???)

This week’s question

An anonymous Tumblr follower asks…

Hi Bitches! You guys have been so helpful to me. I graduated last year with no student loans thanks to my parents, I got a job in that field with a pretty good salary for an entry level position, I’m contributing to my 401(k) and I’m close to paying off my credit cards. So that’s fantastic!

But as I’m looking at the near future of actually having a decent amount of money in the bank, emergency/retirement funds, living a bit more comfortably, I’ve started feeling really guilty.

Most of my friends come from a less fortunate background than me, whose parents aren’t able to be as generous, and also haven’t been as lucky with jobs. I feel like I have no business having money in the bank when people I care about are struggling. And then I feel ridiculous for complaining about a problem that boils down to “I have too much money.”

I’ve helped a couple of friends by covering a bill until they get their check, for example… but sometimes I overextend my budget by doing that, which obviously isn’t ideal. But I keep doing it because I feel awful that I have a safety net (with my parents) and they don’t!

I want to help my friends, but I also want to be financially stable myself. As money-savvy folks who are also very aware of the state of the economy, have you had any similar feelings? Do you have any advice?

Yes and yes, and plenty of ’em! Listen and let us know how this question made you feel.

A few suggestions for further reading…

Thanks as always to our generous patrons for their help creating another season of our podcast. Patreon donors get direct access to our nefarious and not-very-good-working minds. Donors can pitch us questions directly, and get private answers from us directly in their inbox. Join us over at our Patreon page!

It's taken me months to write this article. I sacrificed the adventure of a lifetime to keep my job. A month later, they fired me anyway.

I Lost My Job and It Might Be the Best Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

Two years ago I was celebrating leaving my job of nearly nine years at a nonprofit publishing house and finally going corporate. I was riding high and making more money at a large, for-profit publishing house, working remotely full-time and generally kicking ass. It was the shit.

Aaaaand then I lost my job.

Sad trombone.

Kitty dropped the news during our coronavirus article blitz. And I’m honestly glad she did, because it saved me the struggle of deciding to pull the trigger on telling you all. For some reason I’ve been too… ashamed? Embarrassed? Afraid? Feeling hypocritical? Emotionally stunted???

There’s a reason it’s taken me a few months to write this article, even if I don’t yet understand what that reason is. Clearly I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to process about getting laid off. So let’s get with the processing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHEERS M8
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Here is some of our favorite stuff from some of our favorite (and soon to be your favorite) rad black money experts.

10 Rad Black Money Experts to Follow Right the Hell Now

Have you ever gotten the impression that the world of finance, economics, and money media is dominated by, shall we say, “one particular kind of voice, speaking to one particular kind of experience?”

Ope, pardon me, just gonna go ahead and slide this in…

Yeah. That.

If you’re longing for other perspectives, we got you, baby! This week we want to share our little pink space with just a few of the rad black writers and podcasters of the personal finance mediasphere.

Here are ten of our favorite—and soon to be your favorite—black money experts. GO READ THEIR STUFF. We’ll call out a few of our favorite articles and episodes to get you started!

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The area known as "Black Wall Street" started as 40 acres of empty land. Within a few years, it was a nascent metropolis and a living testament to Black Excellence. So what happened to it?

The Biggest Threat to Black Wealth Is White Terrorism

You know what I love?

The American Dream.

Maybe that’s a surprising thing to hear me say, as I so often use this blog as a platform to criticize our current system and express deep cynicism about many aspects of American life. But nah, man! I adore that shit. Devoid of the context of its shortcomings, stripped of its more recent associations with a generic sort of upward mobility, in its pure and original form, the American Dream is actually one of my very favorite things.

James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “the American Dream” in his book The Epic of America. He describes it as…

“… That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America

Freedom, liberty, independence, opportunity: that hopey changey stuff. I believe all the star-spangled buzzwords so often used to describe the national character of America are attempts to capture the light reflected by the glittering facets of this idea: that America is a place where everyone can rise to become their best selves, and that those best selves have equal value despite their differing contributions.

Like I said, I love and treasure this idea. And it’s because of that love that I taste such bitter disappointment in its failure. Nothing stings like seeing something fail when you really, truly believe in its inherent goodness. In the famous words of Tyra Banks: “I have never in my life yelled at [an idea] like this. When my mother yells like this, it’s because she loves me. I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you. How dare you?!

… Yeah. That’s how I feel about the American Dream in practice.

It’d take a galling amount of ignorance to fail to see the major cultural, political, and socioeconomic realities that make the American Dream more attainable for some than others. In this context, you can talk about the struggles of any number of marginalized groups—women, people with disabilities, queer folks, immigrants, minorities, and “out groups” of all kinds. But today we’re talking about race.

There are many systemic, structural, institutional impediments to black excellence. Today we’re looking at an itty bitty pie slice of history that serves as an example of how white people have used terrorism to destroy black wealth. You know—a lighthearted topic, best served at lunch, with tea and cucumber sandwiches!

We’re going to talk about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. For the sake of readers who may be sensitive to this topic, let me clarify that our focus today is specifically on the economic impacts of violence. That necessitates acknowledging the existence of slavery, segregation, lynching, false sexual assault allegations, and other upsetting topics. But I see absolutely no reason to repeat racist language or include detailed descriptions of physical violence to meet that goal. Gonna go ahead and miss y’all with that.

Also, we’re gonna keep this history lesson fast and shallow, because I ain’t any kinda damn historian! (Plus if I send Piggy another 5,000 word article for editing, she will divorce me.) We’re going to leave a lot of interesting stuff out, and sum up historical context with our signature house laziness. Slake any remaining thirst on the additional reading links provided at the end!

(You may have heard in the news that Donald Trump selected Tulsa, Oklahoma as the site of his first campaign rally of 2020—on Juneteenth no less! If you aren’t familiar with why this pissed so many people off, get excited! This article is about to shellack you in fresh knowledge like rejuvenating dewdrops on the morning flower!)

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Masterpost: Everything You Need to Know about Living Independently for the First Time

{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Living Independently for the First Time

It comes to you in a dream: ethereal voices, echoing through the fog of your resting mind. You toss and turn as you try to decipher their meaning. The voices are unspeakably beautiful, inspiring, gregarious… and it is then you know they are the voices of… the Bitches.

For it is they who bless the minds of young wanderers in the Land of Dreams! They who deliver divine inspiration directly to the soul so that upon waking, the listener is fortified with the knowledge to go forth and conquer the world.

You strain to hear. You yearn for their wisdom and sage advice. And at last you make out what they’re telling you:

“This is how you adult like a fucking champ…”

Readers, enjoy this masterpost of all our articles on living independently for the first time, so that you may learn to become your very own adult. For it’s the last you’ll hear from us for a while! That’s right: we’re taking our annual two-week summer vacation starting… now!

Don’t worry: we promise to come back better and bitchier than ever!

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

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

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

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

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

You’re heckin’ welcome, world.

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The process of getting my unemployment check sucked. I'm here to walk you through it too.

Dafuq Is Unemployment and How Do I Apply for It?

As we’re living through The Plague Times, a number of topics have really jumped the writing queue for your humble Bitches. And thanks to the massive wave of job losses, one of the more urgent subjects is, by necessity, unemployment insurance.

As it happens, I’m currently a bit of an expert on unemployment insurance. I’m not just a spokesperson… I’m a member! After losing my job this spring, I applied for and received unemployment insurance from my state.

The process was tedious, long, stressful, counterintuitive, repetitive, and obnoxious. But it worked. And now I’m here to walk you through it too. Because misery fucking loves company.

But before we begin, a note: The UI I’m receiving isn’t completely replacing my lost income. Like everyone on UI, I’m applying for jobs like it’s literally my job. Yet available jobs are pretty thin on the ground until the country opens up for business again.

My bills are still getting paid, due mostly to the generosity of BGR readers. If you’re so inclined, consider donating to our Patreon. It comes with spiffy rewards and our eternal gratitude, which by itself is worth at least $2.65!

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