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Stop the Hogwarts Express on the bougie side of Hogsmeade so all the Slytherins can get off.

Hogwarts Houses, Ranked by How Good They Are With Money

So Piggy and I went to FinCon 2018 in Orlando last week. It was super fun—but we’re not going to do a full run-down because so many great writers have already done so! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but, come on… It’s totally Josh.

We do have some Cliff Notes, though. Those are like Spark Notes, but for old people!

  1. We met many incredible finance professionals eager to share their expertise. Obligingly, we drained them of their knowledge and left them as lifeless husks stacked three deep behind the cabana.
  2. We won two Plutus Awards! Best Blog for Women and Best Blog for Gen Z & Millennials! Unfortunately, this means we must say goodbye to any readers outside those two demographics. <cocks shotgun> START RUNNING, OLDS!
  3. We failed miserably at obscuring our faces in photographs. If you follow us on social media, you probably noticed a whole lot of our faces going on. So the secret is out: we are actually several toddlers standing on each other’s shoulders inside of two trench coats.
  4. There is basically a FinCon: Netherworld Edition of the most powerful and creative women in the industry meeting informally in each other’s hotel rooms. And it was unspeakably inspiring, edifying, and encouraging. We traded monetization tips, then flew naked through the night air like the coven at the end of The VVitch. Oh! Sorry, spoiler alert for The VVitch.

Finally, and most importantly:

  1. All business meetings are automatically improved by virtue of being conducted in line for frozen butter beer after riding a buncha damn roller coasters at Harry Potter World.

The real revelation of this past week was how right things feel for us right now. We really, really, really love what we do. And we’re more committed than ever to doing it. And we’ll probably talk about that more, but… Later.

We have pressing thoughts to share.

On Hogwarts Houses. And money.

It’s been a while since we did a good old fashioned #ranked article. Stick around, because I think you’ll find this one…

Magical…

EVIL LAUGH

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I don't know how helpful these images are.

When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse

Content warning: abuse.

Our culture’s view of domestic abuse lacks imagination.

A quick Google image search for the term shows image after image in the same composition: sad, broken-looking women with bruised faces and smeared mascara. There’s often a menacing figure looming somewhere in the foreground or background. A hand—either her own, or the abuser’s—covers their mouths, preventing them from speaking.

These images are certainly evocative. They’ve been burned into our cultural brain by many years of prevention campaigns.

And they work. Maybe not exactly how they’re meant to, but they certainly influence behavior. I’ve injured my face a few times—a split lip from accidentally head-butting the dog, a black eye from a too-quick turn near my own woodworking project. Every time that’s happened, I’ve felt the concern of acquaintances and strangers in full force. There’s skepticism in their eyes when I explain about the dog or the two-by-four. I can feel them watching me for other signs. It’s both annoying and affirming. The world is full of people with good intentions, and it’s nice to remember that.

But I don’t know how helpful these kinds of images are. There are a lot of people who are in abusive relationships and genuinely don’t know it. When there’s such a codified cultural idea of what an abuse victim looks like and you don’t look like her, it makes it easier to silence your own suspicions that there’s something very wrong in your relationship.

It’s hard to look at a staged photo of a cringing, weeping, blood-splattered woman and say “I think I deserve access to the resources set aside for her.”

There’s a huge spectrum of abusive behaviors and relationships that isn’t captured in this simplistic picture. Abusive relationships aren’t an exclusive plague upon heterosexual relationships. Victims aren’t always women. Abusers aren’t always violent, and the damage often doesn’t leave a mark. And we’re going to talk about one of the most prevalent kinds of abuse today: financial abuse.

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Money is to relationship as icebergs are to feats of engineering hubris.

How Dafuq Do Couples Share Their Money?

As we’ve discussed previously, the Olde Method for merging finances was simple and straightforward:

The Man and Womyn shall meet when they are idiot teenagers. They shall marrie when they are both seventeen years old, after two weeks of casual dates at the soda shoppe. The couple shall thereafter commence cohabitation. The Man shall seek salaried employment, and shield the Womyn’s eyes from their mutual finances, excepting the allowance to keep herself in straight pins, and the house in mutton, and the sheepe in the oat corne, and the rye corne, and the barley. And i ‘t be true the Husband gambles her dowry hence, the Wyfe might not but wend to Reno and return to her father’s home in shame and disgrace. Oye, oye, oye, forever and ever, Amen.

Mmhmm, yep, that’s just how it went!

Because labor outside the home was classically a masculine burden (at least in the last few centuries and at least for middle- to upper-class folks), salaries and investments were largely the purview of men. Women, conversely, were usually tasked with domestic labor and household budgets.

The history of gendered expectations around money is long and bonkers. It was only in the 1960s that women gained the legal right to open a savings account of their own. Until the mid-1970s, banks refused to issue lines of credit to women without their husbands’ permission—and not at all to unmarried women. This is a great example of a situation where the patriarchy makes life unpleasant for all genders of people: women are treated like idiot children, men are treated like the long-suffering babysitters of their life partners. And it was all within living memory for our parents! Jeeeeezuz.

Point being, it hasn’t been a long time at all since couples were legally forced to merge most aspects of their individual finances. (We also invented gay marriage since then. You’re welcome.)

That means that couples today are almost certainly managing their finances radically differently than their parents and grandparents. We have a very shallow bench of examples to pull from! And we’ve made up individualized systems as we go, aided by technology.

Here are the successful ways I’ve seen couples divide, partition, and share their finances. Read More

Etiquette sucks.

Traditional Wedding Gifts Can Burn in Hell Where They Belong

I’m going to start this article with a big, beautiful disclaimer…

Weddings are highly personal.

No matter how you conduct them, they always end up being perfectly splendid. And you can take my word for it—I used to work in special events, and have probably been to about 150 of them. My focus was high-end events. (Like, high-end high-end. Secret Service clearance high-end. Fun fact: most Secretaries of State are accomplished musicians and all of them will get up and play with the band at a wedding if they’ve had a sufficient quantity of wine.) But my own wedding was in a parking lot behind my house. I’ve seen ‘em all!

Today I’m going to take a wee bit of a shit on certain wedding traditions. They’re widely-practiced traditions that myself and many of my friends have partooken in. (Piggy, don’t you dare change “partooken” to “partaken” when you edit this!*)

For example, I’m going to shit on (spoiler alert) wedding showers. Now, Piggy had a wedding shower—an extremely traditional wedding shower, with tea and tiny sandwiches and everything! And I LOVED it! We had a blast. I would get together and eat tiny sandwiches with friends and strangers any day of the week. My love for tiny sandwiches really cannot be overstated.

What I’m criticizing isn’t this event—but rather, the weird historical power structures and social pressures that dictated the terms of this tradition. Don’t feel the need to rush to the comments to defend why you did your wedding the way you did. It’s extremely understandable why people follow traditions. It’s also not my business.

But they pay me the big bucks to be an opinionated old person. And I’ve got hot takes on the wedding industry spilling out of my eyes, nose, and mouth like liquid-hot adamantium. The weight of my opinions is so heavy that it drops me to the bottom of a tank of water with a metallic clang.

Holy shit.

Wanna hear ‘em? Sure you do.

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If you own a bedazzled lace cashmere bra, wow, I wanna know you!

How the Hell Does One Laundry? Asking for a Friend.

Our sweet, sainted Patreon supporters have demanded a follow-up to our smash hit, How the Hell Does One Wash Dishes? Turns out, people really love embarrassing anecdotes from my childhood (kittenhood?).

Today, we’ll be tackling the second most annoying chore: doing the laundry. I understand that some parents still expect their children to do their own laundry, but they are rare. This is understandable given the surprisingly high stakes. Getting the laundry wrong can be a pretty bad situation, as we shall discuss below in moar embarrassing chores-gone-awry stories!

The result is a whole lot of young adults who don’t necessarily know what they’re doing in the laundry room. It’s okay, no judgements here. This article will give you the extremely zen vibe you need to succeed.

MY LIFE

Step One: Don’t buy pain-in-the-ass clothes

I’m not precious about my clothing. Some people are, and there is nothing wrong with that, because clothing can be a large investment and an important expression of personal identity. If you really love your clothing and want to nurture them right, follow a more detailed guide like this one instead. Luxey knows her craft and everyone should listen to her.

My personal philosophy, which many of you probably relate to, is that high-maintaince clothing is not worth it. No matter how much I love something, I won’t buy it if it must be washed by vestal virgins and rinsed in the tears of a mermaid by the light of a gibbous quarter-moon. If I wear it frequently, it has to be easy to care for.

Bottom line, your clothing should suit your lifestyle, not the other way around. I can’t be the only person who owned a few dry-clean only things, and never chose to wear them because it meant adding an extra chore to my schedule. Which is very busy. With important things. Like pretending to be a space marine in my video games. Plus dry cleaners charge women more for no reason. So now I just don’t get those things, and we all live happily ever after.

I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my least favorite Pink Tax on the Citadel!

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Hashtag rustic shit is really having its moment.

Wait… When Did DIYing Become As Expensive As Buying New??

I often fall into the trap of seeing a cost estimate online and thinking, “Ah, I, savvy anti-consumer than I am, shall devise a way to get the same results for a fraction of the price!” So I slave over making something, fixing something, finding something… and then I pass by the exact item I just made, sitting on the shelf of Home Goods, for twenty dollars less than the price I just paid to make it myself.

Why does this happen? I was raised with the general truism that making something yourself is less expensive than buying it new. And I think this used to be the case with almost everything.

But our world has changed a lot in a short amount of time. Certainly for our grandmothers, it was cheaper to sew their own dresses than buy them from a catalogue. But big, global economic factors have pulled down production prices for almost everything under the sun. And that has a huge effect on whether DIYing something is really going to save you money.

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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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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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