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"Bitches, how do I get over being annoyed and repulsed every time a homeless person inconveniences me?"

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Stop Myself from Judging Homeless People?

I have a question about maintaining empathy in this capitalist hellscape. I live in NYC and there are homeless people everywhere. I can remember being a kid and having huge amounts of sympathy for the homeless in my hometown; I always gave some of my allowance money if I walked by a homeless person, or asked a parent for a dollar to give. Now I’m 27, have lived in NYC for 2+ years, and have lost so much sympathy for the suffering of the homeless.
I know logically that I should be much more sympathetic to their situation, but I also can’t help but think they are such a nuisance. I almost never give them a spare dollar. I just can’t afford it. I loathe them for inconveniencing me with their shouting and their stench. I think that if they’ve reached the point of needing to beg strangers for help, they must have alienated all of their loved ones; I’d never be in that position. If the people who love them won’t help them, why should I?
But logically I know that’s not true. I could be in that place with just a few family tragedies. It’s this internal battle I deal with every day on my commute: I dehumanize these people, I feel guilty and logically know I’m wrong. I do nothing to help. I want to stop dehumanizing the homeless because I know it’s wrong, and because I know I can do better for them and society can do better for them. What can be done? How do I get over being annoyed and repulsed every time a homeless person inconveniences me?

This is an anonymous question we received on our Tumblr. And… it’s a doozy.

It takes a rare person to be this self-aware, pragmatic, and compassionate. The last thing I want to do is submit this person for public shaming for finding homeless people “annoying” and repulsive. Instead, I want to applaud them for doing something rather difficult: staring straight into the heart of one of our collective societal failures and searching for a solution.

We tend to equate poverty with moral inferiority. And so it can be easy to look at homeless people and dismiss them as individual moral failures. They’re people who’ve fucked up so bad they have to live in a cardboard box, right? I want to challenge that dark individualism.

So let’s talk about homelessness.

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We were blown away by this update.

Update: I Know How to Struggle and Fight, but I Don’t Know How to Succeed

We have a super special treat for you today. It’s our first ever official follow-up from an Ask the Bitches letter writer!

You may remember Hope from this article. Hope is a Patreon donor at the $5 level, which earns her the right royal privilege of asking us questions directly. This was her original letter to us:

I’m a single mom and have spent the last 7 out of my son’s 10 years of life struggling HARD. I’ve climbed my way up my professional ladder with no formal education or degree. I accrued $20K in debt during these hard years, but I have a plan to pay it off over the next two years, and overall my prospects are good.

My problem is this: I’ve always dreamed of putting away money for a down payment on a house my son can grow up in. But my son will be 12 by the time I’m ready to start saving. By the time I can afford a house, we’d have little time to enjoy it together. I can’t see myself being stuck with a house at 40 years old and my son gone off to school or whatever he ends up doing.

I know it sounds like this isn’t a problem, but I’m afraid that without a plan or goal, I’ll end up squandering anything I’m able to save once I get this paid off. I’m afraid of having money and not struggling and wasting money. I’m thinking of starting a college fund, a travel fund, I have no idea fund, but other than the small-scale budgeting I can do, I have no idea how money works. 

How can I “get riches” and be smart and not lose them for lack of a plan? is it too late to set my son up for success in other ways? Should I just be talking to an accountant? 

Any advice you could give would be great. I know how to struggle and fight, but I don’t know how to succeed.

That was last February. And what a difference a year can make! Because last week she sent us an update, and it’s a freaking doozy.

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"Ugh, really? Shall I deposit this check before or after I churn the day's butter?"

How Do You Write and Cash Checks? Asking for a Friend.

I grew up in an era where checks were a completely normal and necessary part of everyday life. I wrote and cashed them frequently when I was a little kid—especially around Girl Scout Cookie season, trying to square the orders of all my neighbors.

Because yes, I used to sell Girl Scout Cookies the old fashioned way. I’d leave my family home, on foot, in the dead of winter, to walk aimlessly around my neighborhood, alone and unsupervised, ringing random doorbells, initiating conversations with strangers, accepting their invitations to come inside. Might as well have been helping them move couches, and answering persistent questions about my dress size.

Now if I want my Thin Mint fix, I gotta go to the grocery store awning and talk to a bunch of moms because the eponymous Girls are sitting in the car because it’s too cold and they need to charge their phones. Oh the times, they are a’changing!

It says a lot about the pace of financial technology that now, checks have become a chore. When somebody hands me a paper check, I’m like, “Ugh, really? Shall I deposit this before or after I churn the day’s butter?” They’re dinosaurs barely holding on to relevance. Like Adam Sandler.

But they come up just enough that you need to know how they work.

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Can a recession ever be a good thing? No. Full stop.

There’s a Storm a’Comin’: What We Know About the Next Recession

A foul wind’s a’blowin’! There’s evil in the air! A recession is a’brewin’ and you need to be prepared! 

-From “Pay Off Them Debts Before the Recession Comes,” by Piggy Smalls featuring The Kitty Kat Kid, new from Bitches Get Riches Records

Last week we put all your pre-recession fears to rest by explaining how you can arm yourself with strong financial decisions before the next recession comes. To recap:

  • Track your spending. You’ll feel less anxious and more in-control if you have a clear picture of your needs.
  • Fatten up your emergency fund. Let your level of risk set the size of your emergency fund.
  • Pay off as much debt as you can. This will give you more flexibility with your money and reduce your expenses overall.
  • Get a credit card or increase your existing credit limit. Credit freezes up during a recession, so get it now while you still can. Yes, credit is scawwwy and can be misused—but it is a tool that can instantly put food on your table.
  • Get your health in order. Avail yourself of healthcare access while you have it, and stock up on needed prescriptions.
  • Identify areas to cut back before you have to. The less money you spend every month, the less money you need to get by. The less you need to get by, the easier it’ll be to pay your bills if you lose your source of income.
  • Broaden your skills. Start doing whatever you need to make your resume stand out in a more competitive job market.
  • Back up your work files. You don’t want to lose potential portfolio pieces.
  • Stay the course. Don’t freak out and pull your money from the stock market.
  • Be kind. A time is coming when we’re going to have to depend on each other. No one wants to help out an asshole when times are tough.

So praise be, we know what to do! But what exactly is going to happen? And when?

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Another recession is coming.

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Prepare for a Recession?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about a hypothetical looming recession. The stock market has taken a bruising; bellwether companies are stumbling. Do such omens and portents mean that another recession on its way?

The good news is, we can answer this one very easily.

Yes. Another recession is coming.

We know this with 100% certainty.

How?

The same way we know with 100% certainty that Piggy and I will be dead within the next hundred years. It is in the nature of a living being to die, just as it is in the nature of economies to grow and contract. The sun rises; the sun falls. The tides go in; the tides go out. It’s just the way things are.

Sounds kinda shitty, right? It’s possible that, someday far in the future, someone will devise some new system that will smooth out or even eliminate these cycles. Maybe the nature of goods and services will change so fundamentally that economies will transform in ways we can’t even imagine. But that’s Phillip K. Dick stuff—innovations that live so far in a hypothetical future that they’re still science fiction. You should plan to endure these market cycles throughout your lifetime.

And yes, there are lots of things you can do to make yourself more prepared. Let’s go through them.

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The feminist financial handbook details how to work within the system to beat the game.

Bitchtastic Book Review: The Feminist Financial Handbook by Brynne Conroy

Gentle readers, it’s time we discussed the F-word.

It’s one we use often here on the blog, and it’s probably the most controversial part of Bitches Get Riches. It’s certainly the thing that brings us the most criticism crawling out of the woodwork of the Internet.

I’m talking, of course, about feminism. (What other F-word did you think I fucking meant?)

We firmly believe that personal finance has everything to do with feminism. This is partially because of super fun stuff like the wage gap, financial abuse, the opportunity gap, and other money inequities that have historically left women at an economic disadvantage.

But it’s also because feminism, at its core, is about equality. And one of the surest routes to equality—or at least equity—is by spreading around economic power to those for whom it’s been tantalizingly out of reach.

Enter the hot-off-the-presses book The Feminist Financial Handbook: A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Wealthy Life by Brynne Conroy.

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January is for goals!

Actually, Fuck Big Goals

Dear ones, this will be our last post of 2018. After that, we’ll be taking our usual two-week winter vacation. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in 2019.

And let’s be real here—we’ll be at our worst. Doughy from cheese plates; mildly queasy from eggnog; loaded down with gifts of questionable usefulness; viciously introverted from mandatory holiday interactions with people. December is a month during which I often feel overfed and slothful, yet also exhausted and kinda seasonally depressed. But January is better. January is for goals! My Catholic guilt over nonstop holiday partying conspires with hardcore New Years Mood to shove me off the couch and make me strike at my goals like a holly jolly king cobra!

My goals for this year are modest. And that’s how I like it. I think we spend way too much time talking about the benefits of huge goals, and far too little on tiny goals.

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A lot of times advisors start off with the question "what's your risk tolerance?" Like I dunno motherfucker, medium??

Investing Deathmatch: Stocks vs. Bonds

Since the dawn of mankind, certain rivalries have shaped human civilization.

Their power struggles have violently ripped through the fabric of eons, causing the sun to rise in the west and set in the east, the oceans to run dry, and mountains to blow in the wind like leaves. Thus spake Mirri Maz Duur, noted economist.

Today we explore one of these ancient grudges in a segment we call:

INVESTING DEATHMATCH.

Yes that’s right, my precious seekers of financial literacy. Once again, we’re going to break down two forms of investment and pit them against each other in a metaphorical battle for the soul of economic solvency!

Let’s meet our contenders!

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Clementine: A Heartwarming Case Study in Risk Taking

This post originally appeared on our Tumblr, where we frequently answer reader questions and sometimes post random unrelated things. This is one of those random posts, but it got quite a lot of positive feedback—so we’re posting it in full again here on the blog.

I just got a cat.

When New Cat is named and fully acclimated, she will def join the dogs, guinea pigs, and chickens as a Tumblr/Instagram regular.

But I have… mixed feelings.

My last cat died six months ago. We didn’t get another cat to replace her—c’est impossible, she was irreplaceable. Rather, we did it because we know two things:

  1. A house that’s had a cat in it will always feel empty without a cat in it.
  2. We have money and space and time and patience and love, and shelters are full of cats who don’t got none of those things.

Still, I’ve been thinking about my last cat Clementine a lot. And I think it would be healing to me to share a few photos of her.

A slow start

This was Clementine. We adopted her when she was 14 years old. That’s old. If she were human, she would’ve been in her early seventies. Her previous owner had moved into a nursing home. She was lucky to land in one of the few no-kill shelters with enough resources to accept a cat of her age. Many don’t.

Clementine was terribly stressed out being in the shelter after so many years in one person’s home. Her fur started to fall out, and she refused to eat. She hid all the time and hissed if approached. No one applied for her.

We saw a lot of great cats at the shelter. For some reason, she was the one my partner and I both couldn’t stop thinking about. We talked about it, and decided we had the patience, emotional maturity, and financial stability needed to address the realities of adopting a shy geriatric cat. So we took her home and released her under the bed.

“We might never see this cat,” I told my partner. “We might just know she’s here by periodic dips in the level of the food bowl.”

“I’d be okay with that,” he said.

“I would too.”
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Yankee Candle should make a Corporate Money scented candle, because that shit smells AMAZING.

Bitches Get Riches Merchandise is HERE AT LAST!

We want to quit our jobs and do this full-time.

That sentence may have been easy to read, but you have no idea how hard it was to write!

I mean, I doubt it’s shocking. If given the opportunity, who wouldn’t want to be a caring Internet grandma slash pushy rich best friend who gives great advice but also needs to take it down two notches on a full-time basis?

We’ve been running Bitches Get Riches for just about two years now. We’ve started to get lovely, heartfelt emails from our readers. “I asked for a raise and I got it!” “My first job starts Monday and I wouldn’t have aced the interview without your help!” “I finally moved out and I’m so happy!” Absolutely nothing feels better than hearing you’ve helped someone improve their lives. Nothing.

And that got us to thinking: How many more people could we reach if we could give Bitches Get Riches our all?

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