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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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