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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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"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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