Today I'd like to talk about one of the things this community really, really doesn't like to talk about: the financial advances of being white.

The Financial Advantages of Being White

We were recently nominated for some industry awards! This was absolutely shocking. I have no idea who nominated us or how or why, but it instantly gave me two very strong, very different reactions.

The first was a  variation on Sally Field’s Places in the Heart acceptance speech. “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Borrowing, of course, the original speech’s explosively manic and self-congratulatory tone. We feel tremendously hashtag blessed to have found so many warm and welcoming people in our short stay in the personal finance community. And we are truly grateful to all of our readers.

My second reaction was, “Shit. We’ve been pulling our punches!”

See, one of the reasons Piggy and I decided to start this blog was that too much financial advice ignored the hard questions and contentious issues that drive personal finance. Take, for example, this question: why do some people have more money than others? 

See, one of the reasons Piggy and I decided to start this blog was that too much financial advice ignored the hard questions and contentious issues that drive personal finance. Take, for example, this question: why do some people have more money than others?

There are so, so many potential answers to this question. People are different! They have different personalities, abilities, interests, advantages, backgrounds, opportunities, drives, beliefs, and knowledge sets that combine into a set of financial circumstances unique to each individual. The personal finance community seems inclined toward examining only a few of these differences—the ones that are easy to talk about, the ones that cast a flattering light upon ourselves.

Today I’d like to torpedo all hope of winning industry awards by talking about one of the things that this community really, really doesn’t like to talk about. That subject is race, and by extension, the financial advantages of being white in a white supremacist culture.

Today I’d like to torpedo all hope of winning industry awards by talking about one of the things that this community really, really doesn’t like to talk about. That subject is race, and the financial advantages of being white in a white supremacist culture.

Friends, I’d like you to extend me a little trust. Take my hand and follow me on a journey. I’m going to try to inventory some of the gifts given to me by a white supremacist culture. I didn’t ask for these gifts—there was no registry, and I will not be sending thank-you notes. But they also didn’t come with a return address, and there’s no way to refuse them. The body I was born with—that of a white woman—comes with undeniable financial advantages. And the legacy of these advantages is terrible  to consider.

Let’s consider it anyway!

You ready?

(more…)

Read More

Beer is one of my financial vampires.

Slay Your Financial Vampires

For centuries they have lurked in the shadows. Stalking, hunting, draining their victims of their means of survival, they prey upon the weak-willed, the guileless.

I am of course speaking of financial vampires. And it’s time to slay these undead motherfuckers once and for all. Why? Because it’s October, the season for getting all spoopy.

A financial vampire is an activity, product, or person that routinely sucks you dry of money you didn’t plan to spend. It is tempting or unnoticeable, demanding or pitiful. They rely on you to spend unconsciously, or succumb to temptation.

Your financial vampires could be vices like absinthe and opium dens (or, y’know, cigarettes and beer). They could be the last-minute social invitations of your friends. They could be a beguiling advertisement for a fucking Amazon Echo (which I am as yet convinced no able-bodied person needs).

A financial vampire is an activity, product, or person that routinely sucks you dry of money you didn’t plan to spend.

A financial vampire can derail your careful budget and responsible savings plan faster than you can say,

Let’s slay these bumpy-foreheaded, melanin-depleted, fruit-punch-mouthed bastards once and for all.

(more…)

Read More

I know what you're thinking. It can't possibly be this simple. But it is.

This Flowchart Tells You When You Need Extended Warranties

Is it my imagination, or are companies offering extended product warranties way more often than they used to?

Oh, I’m being coy. I know the answer—Portia reads the papers! 74% of electronics shoppers and 85% of appliance shoppers get the extended warranty pitch during their shopping experience.

Whether in-person at Best Buy or online at Amazon, it seems like every purchase now comes with a suggested extended warranty. And it’s not just for computers and smartphones. I’ve gotten these offers on crappy $10 earbuds, pet hair vacuum cleaners, and brass floor lamps.

Why are companies pushing these special extended warranties? And how do you know if purchasing one is in your best interest?

I’m proud to say that I’ve developed a formula to answer this very question, and I’ve put it into a helpful flowchart for all you good boys and girls. But it wouldn’t be a Kitty article if I didn’t bury my lede under some quasi-socialist deconstructions of consumerism first!

Why are companies pushing these special extended warranties? And how do you know if purchasing one is in your best interest? I’m proud to say that I’ve developed a formula to answer this very question, and I’ve put it into a helpful flowchart for all you good boys and girls.

(more…)

Read More

Unless you're a nineteenth century representative of the American government chatting with the Sioux, contracts are unbreakable without consequences.

Freelancer, Protect Thyself: The Importance of a Fair Contract

I can’t even believe this needs to be said, but… you deserve to be paid.

You deserve to be paid in a timely fashion, without a fight, and without jumping through flaming hoops over shark-infested waters. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth, for every billable minute, and neither you nor the people paying you should devalue your work or your worth in any way.

AND THIS SHOULD NOT BE A FUCKING REVELATION.

(more…)

Read More

It's not a goal, it's a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep.

Raising Awareness About “Raising Awareness”

Our spectacular, gleaming, aerodynamically-sound Patreon patrons have once more voted on the topic they’d like us to explode with our thermodynamic wisdom and our nuclear gifs. Their selection was:

“What’s the deal with raising awareness?”

Okay, okay, my language was actually a good deal more colorful. I think the phrase I used was “raising awareness is a fucking scam” or “raising awareness is the biggest scam of all time,” something like that. Yes, I could look it up, but no, I will not. The past is in the past! We live in the now!

Yes, it’s true. I have some… strong thoughts on raising awareness.

Snap on your LiveStrong bracelets, fill you ice buckets to the brim, and get ready to drill down into this topic—with a Susan G. Komen branded drill, of course.

(more…)

Read More

You need to learn to forgive.

If You Don’t Eat Leftovers I Don’t Even Want to Know You

Did you guys know there are people out there who just… don’t eat leftovers? Yes! These wasteful, snooty heathens exist! And they’re coming for your delicious yet frugal lifestyle decisions.

To combat this slothful, repugnant, and uncreative attitude, I’m going to extoll the virtue of leftovers in all their glory. Because I think leftovers are the cat’s pajamas and you should too.

What do you take me for?

(more…)

Read More

Dropping our first egg into a pot of boiling water felt strangely like dropping our first grand baby into a roiling cauldron.

So I Got Chickens, Part 3: Baby’s First Egg

Guys, there’s been a lot of movement on the chicken front. And if you just pictured chickens in tiny military uniforms, good, that was my plan all along.

Military chicken.

It’s been just over six months since we got chickens. When I wrote the first post in this series, it was really about expectations. I wanted to lay out the pros and cons of the experience, and why I’d ultimately decided to pull the trigger on obtaining six little day-old chicks from my local agricultural store.

The second part was a major bummer, written after one of the chicks died. It was about how raising living things is hard fucking work, and it’s incredibly sad when they die before their time. But ultimately it didn’t shake my commitment to my choices. It reaffirmed them.

Today’s post is a significantly happier one. No ugly crying this time, I promise! Because as our Twitter followers already know, my chickens finally laid their first egg.

(more…)

Read More

Let's break the Equifax situation down into tiny morsels of suckitude that can be easily digested.

Dashit Just Happened, Equifax?

Because the horrendous disaster of two malicious hurricanes isn’t enough for people to worry about right now, a few weeks ago a storm of a different sort swept through the United States. Like those assholes Harvey and Irma, this one’s going to be an enormous, life-changing financial burden for millions of people. And like the hurricanes, it could take years to repair the damage.

Yes: it’s time we talked about the Equifax breach.

If you follow us on Tumblr, you’ll know we’ve been getting some panicked messages about Equifax recently. So to dispel panic (or encourage it, as the case may be), I want to break the situation down into tiny morsels of suckitude that can be easily digested. (more…)

Read More

You shut the hell up and learn about cognitive behavioral science while looking at my collection of chocolate cake gifs!

Making Decisions Under Stress: The Siren Song of Chocolate Cake

I’m a slut for studies.

I love random, weird studies that reveal surprising and bizarre correlations. And I’d like to take you through one of my favorites today. It’s called “Heart and Mind in Conflict: the Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making” and it’s about the ways that stress affects our ability to make good choices.

Oh, and more importantly: it stars a fat slab of chocolate cake.

AWWWW YEAH

(more…)

Read More

The cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney will someday, when thawed, be thrilled to know that I have learned a helluva lot from the Disney Princesses.

The Economic Strategies of Disney Princesses

The cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney will some day, when thawed, be thrilled to know that I have learned a helluva lot from the Disney princesses.

I’ve learned how to dance like only freakishly friendly woodland creatures are watching. To ignore unworthy suitors. To pout prettily until some magical older woman with questionable motives offers to give me all my nearsighted heart desires.

Most importantly, I have learned from the Disney princesses’ various economic strategies. And it’s time I shared those lessons with you.

So here it is! A breakdown of the various financial lessons you can learn from each of the princesses’ personal finance decisions. For the purposes of this study, I’m assuming that every princess’s main goal is financial independence, not something trivial like finding true love or saving her village/family/culture from destruction. The metrics by which we judge them are merely how and if their in-story choices contributed to their fiscal future. Choices about contracts, marriage alliances, careers, trade deals, purchases, and investing all factor into this highly scientific examination.

Some of these Disney princesses are decent economic role models. Others are excellent examples of what not to do. Let’s read them for filth, shall we?

(more…)

Read More