Dafuq Is Credit and How Do You Bend It to Your Will?

We’ve been getting a lot of variations on the same question recently: “How dafuq do I credit?”

How indeed? A lot of our readers are struggling with not only maintaining a good credit score, but with even understanding credit in the first place.

It’s one of the many money terms I have the sneaking suspicion everyone else in my high school class was taught on a day I was absent.

Thus, I’ve been left to figure it out for myself over the years. And what I’ve found is reassuring: credit is not nearly as scary or complicated as you’ve been led to think. But like a pack of trained raptors, it must be treated with care and attention lest it rend you limb from limb.

(more…)

Read More

If Kerry Washington has worn it in Scandal, it is suitable job interview attire.

What to Wear (and What Not to Wear) to a Job Interview

They say first impressions are important. What they don’t say is that they’re also not fucking fair. Like, not at all.

When you go in for a job interview, the first impression you make on your potential employer could determine the outcome of the hiring process. In fact, 30% of hiring decisions are made within the first five minutes of an interview. That’s why what you wear and how you present yourself are so important. So make it count.

Appearance-based discrimination happens all the time in the hiring process. And while you can’t help the color of your skin, your body size, or your gender, you can do something about what you wear and how you wear it to give yourself a fighting chance.

I interview job candidates all the time. I’m my company’s internship coordinator, and I also visit one of the local universities every year to practice mock interviews with their students and recent graduates.

So I’ve seen it all. Including the girl who dressed like Professor Trelawney on a bad hair day… and the guy I smelled before I saw him… and the girl who looked like she was dressed for our first date rather than an interview… and all the motherfuckers who dared to wear flip-flops to a goddamn job interview.

(more…)

Read More

But what about investment jewelry?

You Deserve Cheap, Fake Jewelry, Just Like Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, 1930s fashion icon (and alleged Nazi sympathizer, let’s not play), had many wise things to say about beauty. Like, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” which is both tasteful and minimalist.

Most importantly though, she said: “Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful.”

Costume jewelry is cheap and fake, made to look like real precious gems and metals. So she’s making a statement about the purpose of jewelry. But she’s also saying that you don’t have to be wealthy to be stylish and attractive. In other words: your monetary worth does not determine your worth as a person.

Your monetary worth does not determine your worth as a person.

Chanel went on to say, “It’s disgusting to walk around with millions of dollars around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry… because it’s provocative.” Now this is the kind of opinionated anti-bullshittery I can get behind. And I’ve kept it in mind with all my jewelry purchases.

This timeless genius of style believed there was no shame in wearing fake jewelry because economic circumstance should not determine beauty. And also because the Nazis stole every precious gem in Paris. But I digress.

(more…)

Read More

Econ Nerd Book Review: The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

It’s no secret that I’m interested in economic injustice. That’s why I wax grumpy and bitter about things like gentrification, fast fashion, clean water, and environmentalism. But I have a lot to learn about the kind of systemic inequality that keeps some people down while others float above.

Which is why I read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.

Alexander’s premise is simple on its surface: since its inception, the War on Drugs has targeted black and brown people at disproportionately high rates. This has led to a new racial caste system in the United States.

But of course, like anything to do with race in America, it’s far from simple. And Alexander seems to realize how far-fetched some might consider her findings because she spends, like, 20% of every chapter going “I know this sounds crazy but seriously, stick with me. Just look at this data.”

While I wasn’t completely ignorant of the racism inherent in our justice system before reading The New Jim Crow I am now completely overwhelmed with new and damning knowledge. The rules of this new and insidious Jim Crow state affect people socially and economically in disastrous, life-ruining ways, through every stage of the justice process from arrest through trial, punishment, and release.

Here’s some of what I learned.

(more…)

Read More

Don’t Spend Money on Shit You Don’t Like, Fool

My darling, hyper-intelligent baby deer, I am going to share with you one of the best, most secret methods of saving money. It cuts down on wasteful spending. It increases your savings. It encourages you to be intentional. It even empowers you to live your best life.

Please hold onto something and prepare yourself spiritually. Ready? Here goes:

Don’t spend money on things you don’t like.

Wait, come back! I know it sounds obvious… but I find myself breaking this personal rule all the damn time. And whenever I do, I regret it, and not just for the wasted dollars I will never ever see again. So take my hand and let’s break it down, shall we?

(more…)

Read More

And that's when I strangled him, your honor.

The Subjectivity of Wealth, Or: Don’t Tell Me What’s Expensive

Wealth is entirely subjective. Depending on where you’re sitting on the great Staircase of Financial Solvency, your perspective of who’s wealthy and what’s expensive is going to vary wildly.

Because of this disparity, the definition of “expensive” truly depends on an individual’s personal money situation. Someone who makes $300K a year and can easily afford their rent and insurance isn’t going to think twice about buying cage free eggs, organic milk, and grass-fed beef. Meanwhile, their neighbor who makes $30K a year is going to be buying the practically expired store brand milk on sale. To them, the whole concept of buying organic, cruelty-free food seems absurdly out of reach even while their wealthier neighbor finds it “inexpensive.”

Which is why it’s about as irritating as a Spotify Premium commercial to hear people speak authoritatively about what’s expensive and what’s not. Especially when their version of “expensive” is a diamond encrusted dog manicure and yours is a Whole Foods grapefruit.

Lemme ‘splain.

(more…)

Read More

Like it or no, you can't find a romantic partner or benefit from networking with industry colleagues while staying home and organizing your collection of reusable cloth grocery bags.

The Unexpected Benefits (and Downsides) of Money Challenges

I fucking love money challenges. As a naturally competitive person, gamifying self-improvement is totally my jam. I’m one of those weirdos who sets a New Year’s Resolution every year and always finishes it. Turning money, exercise, or learning a new skill into a game to be won makes it feel like I’m leveling up with every grand I save, baby!

I’ve tried a number of money-based challenges to achieve my goals (like paying off my student loans in half the time). But some criticize money challenges because they risk starting you on a financial yo-yo diet in which your good habits wax and wane according to whether you’re currently pursuing a money challenge.

Preach it, Sir Ian McKellen! I think money challenges are a fresh and exciting short-term method of meeting long-term goals.

(more…)

Read More

You Need to Ask for a Fucking Raise

A new whiskey distillery opened near my office. And because we work for a publishing house and some stereotypes exist for a reason, my coworkers and I went for happy hour the day it opened. Which is how I found myself drunkenly badgering three of my female coworkers about their income (if this is shocking to you, you must be new here).

At issue was the fact that none of them had ever asked for a raise. Ever. And as I listened to their lame excuses I felt the worst kind of déjà vu. All of their reasoning and fear sounded so familiar to my own personal experience.

Because if you recall, I too had once waffled about asking for a raise. And I think of the whole miserable time just like the Alamo: NEVER AGAIN. (That’s how the saying goes, right? … right? Right.)

Apparently not, because if my coworkers are still struggling with all the same hang-ups about asking for a raise that I once had, then chances are some of you are too. And it is my sworn duty as a personal finance blogger and Loud Internet Woman to type words at you until you get the hell over it! So here goes.

(more…)

Read More

I'd like to avoid supporting labor practices that make Upton Sinclair's The Jungle look positively humanitarian.

Fast Fashion is Fucking Up the World

As you can tell from our witty banter on the Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn podcast, Kitty and I consider ourselves to be eminently fashionable gentlewomen. Look good, feel good! That’s our motto! (Just kidding that is definitely not our motto. We don’t have one. We’re still workshopping it. Do you even realize how long it took us to come up with the name of this blog? A long time… and many Excel spreadsheets.)

And yet, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I rarely go shopping for myself, and when I do, it is with all the precision and swiftness of a predator drone. Get in, get the goods, get out. I love me a good thrift store find, few things give me more materialistic glee than purchasing a unique garment at the flea market, and yes, I shop at fucking Target. But these expenditures are few and far between.

This is partially because of my frugal nature. I just don’t buy a lot of stuff. But it’s also because in recent years I’ve tried really hard to avoid an industry that is damaging to both the environment and to human rights on a global scale.

I am speaking, of course, of fast fashion.

(more…)

Read More