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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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When your toxic, evil boss asks you to do something illegal, don't fucking do it. He can afford a better lawyer than you.

Are You Working on the Next Fyre Festival?: Identifying a Toxic Workplace

Ever had a dream job become a nightmare?

I did.

On paper, the job was everything I wanted and more. Sexy product with high growth potential; industry stars leading the initiative; the best Glass Door reviews I’d ever seen; snazzy downtown office with free snacks, free catered lunches, even beer on tap. I’d be working with a few beloved former colleagues, and oh, right—they were doubling my previous salary. I even got to interview and approve my own manager, who was hired after me.

This opportunity sparkled from every facet like a lovely jewel. I entered that job with this-close-to-literal stars in my eyes.

Wobble wobble.

Four months later, it was 8:05 a.m. on a Monday. I was lacing up my snow boots for the walk to the train station. And I couldn’t see the laces anymore because tears reduced everything to a wobbling blur. They were tears of pure dread. These tears had replaced the stars in my eyes and the job that had once thrilled me filled me with misery.

My train leaves at 8:31, I reasoned. It takes me twenty minutes to walk to the station. I have six minutes to kneel here and let the tears flow. Not the healthiest calculus.

I told myself I would give it a year. After all, I had known real hunger—I could do anything for a year. But I only made it to six months.

All my life, I’ve had instruction on how to identify people who want to abuse me. Peers who want to bully and backstab; husbands who want to beat and control; strangers who want to rape and kill. But nobody ever warned me about their institutional counterparts.

These are the hospitals that confound you with arcane billing procedures; colleges that frame their loans as special awards; police that may arbitrarily enforce or not enforce the law based on who you are; unscrupulous realtors who redline; vampiric MLMs who predate. The list ain’t short!

But worst of all, the place you are obliged to go for forty hours (or more) every single week: the toxic workplace.

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Here's how you, too, can be a Craigslist Samurai.

I Am a Craigslist Samurai and so Can You: How to Sell Used Stuff Online

A few months ago I found my neighbor’s purse in the alley behind our houses near the dumpster. It was a nice purse, real leather, and inside was a Coach brand wallet. I assumed she’d been robbed, and went to her door to return the nearly empty bag. Imagine my surprise when she told me that no, it hadn’t been stolen, she’d just thrown it out.

Rather than side-eyeing her into oblivion, I kept the designer items… and sold them for cold, hard cash. Because that, dear friends, is how I do.

For I am a Craigslist Samurai! A Paladin of online, stranger-to-stranger transactions! Bequeath unto me your used snowboards and semi-broken furniture! I shall dust them off, fix them up, and turn them for a tidy profit, all in the name of my eventual financial independence!

Besides the thoughtlessly discarded purse and wallet, over the last few years I’ve sold a dresser ($20), a table ($25), a microwave ($10), a VCR ($10), bar stools ($20 each), a flat-screen TV I literally found on the side of the road ($100), another flat-screen from a friend ($100), two tables ($50 and $20 respectively), my old desk ($50), an AC ($20), a hardwood bed frame ($280), and a bike a friend left in my garage because he didn’t want to bother selling it before moving away ($150).

Selling stuff online can be a great way to bring in a little extra money. Most of the items above are things I got for free. The tables, for example, were left in the alley behind my house (before you call me out on it, yes, I aspire in all ways to be Dumpster Doggy). I rescued them, gave them a new coat of paint and stain, and sold them.

And if you’re patient, the payoff can be huge: the bed frame, bike, and TV were all from friends who moved away and didn’t have the time to sell their stuff before they left. But I had a garage to store them in and plenty of time to sell them right, for maximum profit.

It’s an art and a challenge. Here’s how you, too, can be a Craigslist Samurai.

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No one will ever give you a $50/hr gig because you quietly accepted enough $15/hr gigs.

Ask the Bitches: My Boss Won’t Give Me a Contract and I’m Freaking Out

We have another reader question today.

On its face, it’s a pretty straightforward question about working sans contract. But beneath bubble some pretty volcanic emotions about job security, class, and anxiety. Let’s get into it!

Our reader asks…

I was hired to write blog posts for a digital platform. I was offered $15 an hour and 20-30 hours per week, paid out once a month as a direct deposit. That was a year and a half ago.

Since then, my responsibilities have changed tremendously. Instead of writing a few blog posts per week, I also work on site maintenance and other freelancers’ blog posts. I feel like I’m more involved with the administrative side of the blog than some of the other freelance writers I’ve seen, but I can’t confirm this, as I have no regular correspondence with any of my peers.

I was told I was being hired as a freelance writer, and that there would be a contract to be signed. That contract still hasn’t come. I asked about it when I was first hired and the CEO said he’d get around to it and never did. I was getting paid, so I didn’t care enough to push the issue and eventually forgot. But now I feel less like a freelance content creator and more like a full-time member of the creative staff. I asked the CEO a month or two ago about the contract again, and he dodged me. Again.

The rational side of me knows that I’m well within my rights to renegotiate where I stand with this company. I want to stand up for myself. But every time I fire up the email draft, I get so physically ill I have to walk away. Just writing this makes me want to puke.

I feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds me by saying it’s not enough. I feel like if I ask and get an outright refusal, I’ll either be forced to stay and feel undervalued or leave and go back to Minimum Wage Hell. Worrying about it is taking a toll on my health. I feel like a mess and a fool and a bastard and a failure all wrapped up in one big blanket of anxiety and ennui.

According to The Creative Group’s 2016 salary guide, bloggers should be making $45k a year but that just seems insane to me. That’s not the kind of money people like me make. We make minimum wage where I come from and we like it. $15 an hour is unthinkable enough, but a salaried position? Benefits? That’s not stuff I or anyone in my family has ever had to deal with going back generations. I don’t know how to not be in poverty. No one ever told me that was an option.

I feel kind of ashamed seeing it all in writing, if I’m honest. I feel weak, like I should be able to figure this out on my own. But I’m so grateful that I don’t have to. I can’t tell you what it means to have someone in my financial corner. I’ve never had that. I wish I’d found you guys years ago.

-Claire

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Early retirement didn't make my depression go away. That's not how life works.

Tanja Hester on Early Retirement, Privilege, and Her Book, Work Optional

Dear readers, we’ve been holding out on you. For there is something beyond the basic financial literacy we strive to teach you here at Bitches Get Riches. Something that comes after you level up as far as you go with your money.

It’s called FIRE, or “financial independence, retire early.” And it’s something a lot of our esteemed colleagues in the money-writin’ biz are fighting tooth and nail to achieve.

One of the beacons of light in the conversation about financial independence and early retirement is Tanja Hester, author of the brand new book Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.

Tanja is awesome. Her book is awesome. Her advice is awesome.

She’s like the result of a long, fulfilling, romantic relationship between a timelessly wise Amazon warrior and your favorite cool aunt, the one who both comforted you about the mean kids at school and bought you your first box of condoms. I’d trust her both to carry my body to Valhalla from the field of battle and to give me sound financial advice, is what I’m saying.

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