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Ask the Bitches: What’s the Difference Between Credit Checks and Credit Monitoring?

The world of personal finance is full of terms designed to confuse and waylay the innocent. Yet you are a beautiful and mysterious adventurer on the exciting journey of life! You do not have time to parse the different meanings of seemingly synonymous financial terms like “credit checks” and “credit monitoring.”

Fortunately, we’re a coupla’ nerds with nothing better to do.

Recently, an anonymous follower (we’ll call them “Pudding Cup” because I assume that, like pudding, they are both sweet and smooth) asked:

Dear Piggy and Kitty, I have a question. I just got an email from the auditing office of my state saying that the unemployment filing host “Accellion” was hacked and they don’t think anything happened, but are offering a free year of credit monitoring. I have no idea what that would do or how I would use it to make sure nothing bad happened? Also doesn’t monitoring your credit (somehow?) make it worse? Would this be helpful or not really?

In short, Pudding Cup has mixed up two distinctly different concepts to do with credit: credit monitoring and credit checks. I’ll detangle the two below.

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My Career Transition Succeeded When I Gave Fewer Fucks, Made More Friends, and Had More Fun

CAREER TRANSITION SUCCESSFUL: THIS BITCH IS EMPLOYED!

AIR HORNS FOR CAREER TRANSITION

As our Patreon community already knows, I, your humble Bitch Piggy, have a shiny new job! This life update comes in the wake of being laid off from a large publishing house a year ago. (You can read about the painful details of that identity-crisis-cum-career-bellyflop here.) Since then, I’ve been rocking the self-employed life as an editorial consultant, literary agent, and blogger. The hustle, my friends. The hustle.  

But now I’m very proud to announce I’ve joined the editorial team at The Motley Fool. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I’m the new managing editor for distribution acquisitions. Mostly that means that instead of wrangling book authors for a living, I’m going to be wrangling money writers.

Switching from a career in book publishing to one in financial media was no easy feat! But it did feel a helluva lot like destiny. Here’s how I made the career transition.

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How to Make Any Financial Decision, No Matter How Tough, with Maximum Swag

We get literally hundreds of questions on how to make a financial decision.

“O great and mighty Bitches, should I pay off my debt or add to my savings?”

“Our Bitches, who art in Bitch Nation, should I take a gap year or try to finish my college degree as quickly as possible?”

“Wise and benevolent Bitches, should I buy a house or keep renting?”

“Most beloved and humble of Bitches, how should I allocate my investments?”

“Bitches, I beseech thee: how much of my income should I budget for necessities vs. entertainment?”

One of the things about our blog I’m most proud of is that we answer as many of these questions as possible. Hence our Ask the Bitches series and the entire Q&A premise of our podcast!

It’s not entirely altruistic, though. We get off on being human Pez dispensers of advice tablets. And when we get multiple questions on the same topic, we often just write a whole ass article on said topic. BOOM! Question answered in perpetuity!

Despite the pleasure we take in our methodology, I’m about to shift it from a BGR-exclusive service to something even amateurs can do at home. With this article, I’ll wipe out about 70% of the questions people ask us in one fell swoop.

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Sexual Harassment: How to Identify and Fight It in the Workplace

When I hear about our followers enduring sexual harassment in the workplace, I wish I had the power to turn into a centaur wielding a flaming sword. I would burst into their workplace to trample the sexist bullies under my mighty hooves. Then I’d destroy filing cabinets and computers and shit with my flaming sword just for good measure. And I’d do it all while screaming the Misogyny Speech at the top of my lungs.

Valkyrie on a pegasus, flying in to destroy sexual harassment.

In other words: I feel heckin’ strongly about workplace sexual harassment. It makes me a sad panda.

“Fighting back” or “doing something about it” is easy enough in theory. But when your livelihood is on the line, ending the harassment (and punishing harassers) gets a lot more complicated. It can affect your mental health, your physical safety, and your financial security.

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Money is Fake and GameStop is King

Money Is Fake and GameStop Is King: What Happened When Reddit and a Meme Stock Tanked Hedge Funds

This past week I spent significant time on our Tumblr fielding live questions about what in the fresh-baked hell was going on with Reddit and GameStop.

I tried to keep up with the news and do the Explain Like I’m Five in real time, but it was all moving too fast. David and Goliath were fighting, and David wasn’t just winning—he was feeding his fists to Goliath like they was ham sandwiches.

Eventually I decided to hold onto my butt with the rest of you and enjoy the pyrotechnics, committing to waiting for the dust to settle before I tackled #gamestonk from a Bitch-eye-view.

Is… is it over now? Is it safe to come out?

And what the hell just happened and why am I still laughing about it?

Note: be aware that some of the Reddit links in this story have offensive language. And if two women who CHOOSE to go by “the Bitches” are slapping a content warning on something, we mean business! In particular, they really love using the r-word as a term of endearment. So consider that before you click. Additional context in the comments below.

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The Most Impactful Financial Decision I’ve Ever Made… and Why I Don’t Recommend It

Much is made in personal finance circles about personal responsibility, attributing success and failure to a particular financial decision. Not in the weird, political, shaming-you-for-being-born-poor way, but in the here-is-how-you-game-the-system-to-get-ahead-now-don’t-we-all-feel-clever kind of way.

In many respects, it’s solid advice! We talk about how making decisions based on ethical consumption saves you money and the planet; how you should be mindful and careful of where your money goes, lest you waste it on shit you don’t actually like or need; how every day the choices you make affect your financial future in large and small ways!

For a bunch of money nerds, gamifying personal finance by connecting calculated decisions to building wealth is exciting stuff. I’m getting a little hot under the collar just thinking about it!

Oo-la-la, hit me with that strong ROI, baybee...
Oo-la-la, hit me with that strong ROI, baybee…

I’ve made some pretty big money decisions in my time. Some decisions were purely financial. Others were personal decisions with a big financial impact. Sometimes I chose right. Sometimes I really, really chose wrong.

Today I want to tell you about one of the biggest personal financial decisions I’ve ever made… and why I would never recommend it to anyone else.

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Dafuq Is a Down Payment? And Why Do You Need One to Buy Stuff?

Dafuq Is a Down Payment? And Why Do You Need One to Buy Stuff?

“What is a down payment?” In an ideal world, no one would need to ask themselves this question because no one would need one! Expensive things like cars and houses and college educations would be a lot more affordable. Enough so that we could pay for them with the money that we already have. And we’d all have mountains of it.

But unless you have a Scrooge McDuckian money vault at your disposal, buying a car or house or bachelor’s degree in cash is probably impossible. Down payments are necessary because of how our world works. Today we’re going to teach you what they are, when you need them, and how to use them to your advantage.

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When I started freelancing, I bumbled around like a drunk baby panda until I fell into success by happy accident.

11 Awful Mistakes I Made as a Self-Employed Freelancer, and How YOU Can Avoid Them

A few weeks ago we introduced you guys to our new favorite term: “survival entrepreneurship.” It’s all the rage, now that mass lay-offs and unemployment in The Plague Times have forced so many of us to pivot into full-time self-employment. When you’re out of traditional employment options, survival entrepreneurship is often your only option.

That’s why we brought in Katelyn Magnuson, the Freelance CFO, to walk you through all the concrete steps you need to take to start your own business. If you missed our interview with Katelyn, go back and read it now. Because unlike your humble Bitches, she knows what she’s talking about!

Did you read it? Ok good. Now that you’ve heard from the professional business-starter, it’s time to hear from me, a decidedly unprofessional freelancer who has turned flying by the seat of her pants into a competitive sport.

Specifically, it’s time I told you all the freelancing and self-employment hacks I’ve learned through trial and error over the years. That’s right, kids…

Learn from my mistakes, children. And LEARN WELL.

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Starting your own business is the lemonade many have made out of 2020's nasty-ass lemons.

Becoming a Millennial Entrepreneur (in the Midst of a Pandemic) with Katelyn Magnuson

HOO BOY, WHAT A YEAR, AMIRITE?

In these trying times, it’s good to know we can still come together to celebrate what’s most important in life: raising chickens and naming them after TV characters.

This is Katelyn Magnuson, the Freelance CFO. More on this majestic Mother of Chickens in a moment.

With record numbers of layoffs and unemployment rising like a helium-filled dumpster, a lot of us have turned to what we call survival entrepreneurism. That includes full-time self-employment, freelancing, and stringing gigs together like so many Hobby Lobby clearance rack seed beeds. Not only is this #entrepreneurlife a way to make ends meet when absolutely no one is hiring, but it’s a method of advancing one’s career. Starting your own business right now is the lemonade many have made out of the nasty-ass lemons 2020 has given us.

I myself transitioned to full-time self-employment when I lost my job just as the coronavirus hit the fan. Yet while this makes me a card-carrying millennial entrepreneur, it’s not something I’ve written (or thought) much about!

To be honest, starting my freelance business and then making it my full-time job was, in the words of our Lord and Savior Bob Ross, “a happy accident.”

As usual… I have no idea what I’m doing.

Every so often when I’m researching money topics, I sigh dramatically and collapse onto my fainting couch, limp wrist held to my clammy forehead in the very picture of Victorian femininity. “Oh woe!” cry I, “This money shit is so confusing and complicated! If only some genuine professional would do the research for me and just let me copy their homework!”

Which is usually when I decide to interview an expert instead of doing the work myself.

Enter Katelyn Magnuson, the self-styled Freelance CFO and Mother of Chickens (long may She reign). Katelyn’s whole thing is working with small business owners and freelancers to take the practical steps necessary to bring their passion to life. Her courses, Facebook group, and free resources are not just full of empty platitudes and cheerleading… she actually has made her own business out of setting up the businesses of others.

So when Bitch Nation clamored for information on becoming “solopreneurs” (Katelyn’s word, but I’m stealing it), I knew she was the hero we needed and deserved; someone to cut through the bullshit and give us some step-by-step guidance.

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Clutch your pearls and contain your shock: gender and racial inequality are still problems in America.

Coronavirus Reveals America’s Pre-existing Conditions, Part 2: Racial and Gender Inequality

This is Part 2. Click here to read Part 1.

Hello friends, and welcome back to Everything Hurts and I’m Dying with your hosts, the Bitches!

Last week I hit you with a massively depressing article on how the coronavirus has simply exacerbated problems the United States already had before the pandemic ever reached our shores. If you had the mental fortitude to wade through all that, then you have my admiration and respect. Can I also get you a cup of tea and a massage? You earned it.

If not, here’s what you missed:

  • Coronavirus took an already unfair and unaffordable health insurance industry and exacerbated the problem, throwing still more Americans into medical debt and outright killing others who couldn’t afford treatment.
  • All the problems labor rights activists have been fighting to fix for decades were illuminated in stark relief by the mass unemployment that followed coronavirus lock-down relief efforts.
  • The eviction epidemic in the United States, which was already at crisis levels, became an utter catastrophe when low-income workers who were recently laid off couldn’t pay their rent anymore. Eviction and rent moratoriums were but a band-aid on the wound.

All of these issues disproportionately affect low-income and impoverished Americans. So this week, in Part 2, I’m going to address the demographics who are disproportionately represented among the poor and low-income. Hope you didn’t expect sudden egalitarianism in the midst of a pandemic and recession!

Let’s get to it.

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