An unusual amount of effort has been expended tearing this author down.

Econ Nerd Book Review: Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado

“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” originally meant “impossible.” Think of it: you can’t defy gravity just by pulling up on your shoes. It can’t be done.

And yet this phrase has become both a command and an insult wielded by those who insist that anyone can make it in America. “Quit whining and pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” is the refrain from news anchors and radio hosts who seem to think that being poor is a choice and poverty an indication of moral failing.

Enter Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. I was pretty psyched to read this one, as most of the books on economics and inequality I’ve read recently have been written by academics or historians.

Linda Tirado is neither. She’s a person who has lived the reality of being poor in this country. She’s one of the millions of Americans who lives hand to mouth, told to pull herself up by her bootstraps, who has fought to navigate the maddening labyrinth of government welfare, been mistreated and shat upon in minimum wage jobs, whose life has been stressful and precarious because of a lack of money, and whose health and quality of life has therefore suffered.

This story on poverty in America is from the horse’s mouth.

Tirado answered a question on an online forum about what life was like for the poor and her post went viral. From there, she was offered a book deal. This book is basically an expansion on her original blog post. It is angry, frustrated, passionate, filled with the pent-up rage of years of being downtrodden.

Here’s what I learned.

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My only wedding financial regret is that I didn't pay $8.99 to get my officiant ordained as a Jedi Knight.

The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need for a Cheap-Ass Wedding

Ah, summer! Wedding season! Love is in the air, and it’s time to express that love in front of everyone you know in a legally binding and probably permanent way! No big deal!

Enter the Wedding Industrial Complex™: that wicked machine that chews up formerly sane couples and spits out crazed people who shout things like “I don’t give one single fuck about fucking hundred-dollar napkin rings why is this all so fucking expensive?!” at one another.

Expressions of enduring love strained through the colander of financial stress tend to come out a little… wrong.

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It's young animals.

Twelve Reasons Senior Pets Are an Awesome Investment

I mentioned in my last post that my vacation was wholly suboptimal. The piss-icing on the shit-cake was that my little cat passed away. Yep, that was How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part Two: Digging a Grave in the Rain for the Dopest Cat Who Ever Walked This Unclean Earth.

WAIT! COME BACK!!

Don’t worry, don’t worry! This isn’t going to be a tearjerker. I swear on my honor that you can read this post while wearing non-waterproof mascara. My cat had a great life and a dignified death—that’s something to be happy about. That’s basically all I’ll say about her.

But I did want to take this opportunity, in her honor, to speak out about my experience adopting rescued pets—particularly seniors. This is a blog about money and adult responsibilities, but also about creating happiness and enjoying the human experience to the fullest. Pets have the potential to greatly influence all of those things.

If you want to add a pet to your family, I firmly believe that adopting a senior is a substantially better choice for most people than getting a puppy or a kitten. And I’mma tell you why. You’ll be surprised how many of the reasons are financial.

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How i spent my summer vacation, part one: severe testicular injuries.

I Think I Need to Go the Emergency Room?

Or, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part One: Severe Testicular Injuries.

General content warning: this post discusses medical stuff that some people might find squicky. Possibly men in particular. As if they needed more reasons to not read this blog!

Last Sunday was a pretty damn perfect day. It was my wedding anniversary—FOUR MORE YEARS! It was also the last weekend before my little brother (who lives with us) leaves for a life-changingly awesome two-month working vacation overseas.

So we drove into the Big City to celebrate. We marveled at nature’s weird-ass creations at the local aquarium. Afterwards we ate an obscene amount of oysters, shrimp, scallops, and hot buttered lobster rolls. Then we drove home and laid out in the king-size hammock in the backyard, reading The Subtle Knife aloud to each other. The air was warm; the world was still; and the late-afternoon light was hazy and golden. It was a perfect day.

And then all hell broke loose.

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It's our royal duty to provide you with some entertaining and enlightening free content while we go do internet-grandma vacation things.

Bitch-Approved Podcasts for Your Summer Vacation

We’re going on vacation! This is a thing that not everyone can do, but everyone deserves—so consider this your friendly reminder to help shift the culture by taking a break of your own!

We would never leave our beloved Bitch Nation with nothing to do for two weeks. So it’s our royal duty to leave you with some entertaining and enlightening FREE content while we go do internet-grandma vacation things. Like gardening and criticizing television shows made for a much younger demographic.

That’s why we’re highlighting some of our favorite podcasts, in both money-related and non-money-related categories. Because you know what I won’t be doing for the next two weeks? Listening to any of the money podcasts. Sorry about it. When I’m off, I’m off!

Tee hee! Tee hee!

So: what kinda podcast would you like to listen to?

Our Five Favorite Serious-Business Money Podcasts

If you answered…

“I want to hear some snappy stories about financial news and the economy, and I want it to be informative, but kinda light, with no big, anxiety-inducing bummers.”

We answer…

Planet Money

Length: 10-30 minutes

This twice-weekly NPR podcast was started in late 2008, after the financial crisis casually knee-capped the American public. “What the fuck!” we all cried. “What happened to my knees!?” Planet Money was there to help explain economic issues in plain language with engaging, almost hand-holding stories. And they’ve been there ever since! This is a no-brainer, especially if you have money in the market and need help understanding what’s causing your investments to go up and down. (Just assume it’s China. The answer is probably always China.)

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A lot of employers use software to sift through job applications.

How to Write a Cover Letter like You Actually Want the Job

Welcome back to another episode of The Bitches Teach You How to Get Your Ass Hired! Last time we reviewed some cardinal rules of resume writing. And today—you guessed it!—we’re gonna learn how to write a coherent and effective cover letter.

But first, a caveat. While I have sat on both sides of the hiring table over the years—both as my last company’s internship coordinator and in my recent successful job search—I am by no means an expert. That’s practically the secondary motto of our blog!

Bitches Get Riches: Finance. Feminism. We have no idea what we’re doing. 

So don’t make the mistake of beginning and ending your cover letter practicum here at BGR. Go read Ask a Manager at least. It’s their whole area of expertise. But here are some of the most important rules, based on my own personal experience… and a twenty-second text conversation with Kitty.

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There is nothing shameful or gross about sex--but it is intimate. Just like there is nothing shameful or gross about mental illness--but again, it is intimate.

Ask the Bitches: “How Do I Protect My Own Mental Health While Still Helping Others?”

We’re going to cap off our series on mental health with a question from one of our Patreon donors! This question comes to us from Patron Zoë. And it is SO GOOD and SO IMPORTANT! I am thrilled that she allowed me to share my response.

Here’s Zoë’s question:

In a recent article, Kitty recommends peers as an alternative to therapy. Philosophically, I think it’s a great recommendation. US culture seems increasingly dependent on monetary fixes rather than social fixes.

Here’s my problem: as a friend of some people with severe mental hurdles who can’t afford/don’t want therapy, sometimes it’s just… too much.

I feel stuck. I want to love them and assuage their anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. But I also find myself hitting a wall where they aren’t getting well or coping any better than they did before I tried to help.

It’s not fair to expect someone to just suddenly overcome a mental health issue just because I talked them through one incident. It’s also not okay to treat a friendship as a transaction. (“One breakdown for you; one breakdown for me: that’s the deal!”) But it also starts to become a pretty huge emotional burden and an unbalanced relationship for a while. In my case, the friends most reliant on my care are on the internet, which means they have fairly unlimited access to me.

I don’t think it’s selfish to want to draw a line… but it feels selfish. And I don’t know what to do.

I really can’t understate what a powerful and difficult question this is. Whether your mental health seascape is placid or stormy, being a constant source of support for other people’s struggles takes tremendous psychic energy. Here are my suggestions on how to manage this incredibly tricky situation.

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Miss me with that Papyrus, James Cameron.

How to Write a Resume so You Actually Have a Prayer of Getting Hired

Resume writing is one of the clearest markers of the generational divide. My dad insists on having a fucking dissertation of a resume, complete with hyperlinks, an “objective” (shudder), and paragraphs of description on every task, no matter how insignificant.

The strategy seems to be “Shock and Awe”: Shock that anyone would think such a cumbersome resume is acceptable, and awe that they made it so far in their career with that kind of overkill.

But as with everything from breastaurants to paper napkins, we millennials have opted to kill the lengthy and dry resume market. Like arrogant, disrespectful kids on the lawn of traditional careerist wisdom, we’re ignoring the advice of our elders and doing our own thing!

So let’s talk about resumes for the modern age. Having sat on both sides of the hiring table, I understand a thing or two about the art of condensing applicable experience into a written document. And it’s time I imparted that wisdom to you.

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Free steps you can take immediately

Our Master List of 100% Free Mental Health Self-Care Tactics

What are you supposed to do if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and you don’t have a therapist? Or money for healthcare? Or supportive parents? Or transportation and time off to visit a doctor? Or like, the ability to shower and leave the house?

We see you.

Whether you have a serious diagnosed condition, or you’re just feeling stressed or blue, this list details free steps that you can take immediately that might help mitigate your circumstances. Nothing on here is revolutionary. Nothing here will “cure” you of whatever ails you. You cannot solve mental health problems with rationalizing and motivation. But because most of such struggles are chronic, it helps to have a sizable toolbox of behaviors to turn to.

Here’s what we’ve got.

Physiological

  • Drink a glass of water. Don’t gulp it down, drink it sip by sip.
  • Eat something. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal. A banana or a granola bar is great. Maybe avoid super salty or sugary stuff. Unless you’re in a place where you need to drive to Five Guys in your pajamas with no shoes on because I have been there.
  • Stretch and change your position. If you’ve been standing and moving, try sitting or lying down—and vice versa. Stretch like a bear awakening from hibernation. Even if you don’t feel like you have to, your limbs will appreciate it.
  • Get some light. If your blinds are drawn, pull them up. If you’re in a dark room, move to a lighter room. If it’s possible to put sun on your skin, do so. Your poor brain is confused; help her out by having lights on in the day and off at night.
  • Get some fresh air. If you can go for a walk, awesome. If not, just stand outside for a moment. Breathe deeply and listen to the sounds you don’t usually notice: birds singing, wind moving, cars going by.
    • If that’s too much: Open the windows if the weather is nice. If the weather’s not nice, just open them for a minute or two. Light a scented candle.
  • Move your body. Walks are a solid response to basically all feelings and situations. If you have the energy and focus to do more (go to the gym, go for a run), do that. Exercise almost always helps improve and stabilize moods.
    • If that’s too much: Put a time limit on it. Tell yourself “I only have to do this for five minutes, and if I want to stop after that, I can.” The hardest part is to get going. Once you’re there, you may decide you can continue after all. In any case, you have permission to stop.
  • Don’t do anything dangerous. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or depression, please don’t get into a car or operate heavy machinery.

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Illnesses like depression and anxiety can limit your ability to attack opportunities with all the entrepreneurial viciousness of a litter of upwardly-mobile wolverines.

How Mental Health Affects Your Finances

May is Mental Health Month, and that’s why we, your fabulous yet imperfect Bitches, have been sharing stories of our own mental health challenges. Kitty bravely explained how she’s dealt with depression, and I walked you through my adventures with anxiety. Then we examined the human brain itself through one of our favorite books: Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos.

We’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from our followers. But even better, our lovely readers have come out of the woodwork to share their own stories of life outside the neurotypical spectrum. And this. Is. Glorious. We’ve never felt more warm fuzzies for our community and we’re proud of each and every one of you for carrying on through depression, anxiety, ADHD, and whatever other mental weirdness you’re dealing with.

But some of you might be asking at this point, “I thought this was a money blog. What the hell does mental health have to do with personal finance?”

Everything.

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