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Podcast Episode 007: "I'm terrible at budgeting. Do I suck it up---or is there another way?"

Episode 007: “I’m Terrible at Budgeting. Do I Suck It Up—Or Is There Another Way?”



Today we’re doing that thing we love to do: taking age-old advice, rolling it up into a ball, and dunking it with the speed and grace of a green-screened figure.

You don’t have to budget to live a frugal, responsible life.

Today’s question

We tackle this topic at the behest of Patron Sarah C., who writes…

“How the HELL does someone stick to a budget? I have ADHD and self control and budgeting is already hard as is, so if you have any tips or tricks to help a gal stay in a budget (especially a very stringent one!) that would be neat :)”

Also today’s episode contains a bold-faced lie. In it, I swore I would never bring a chicken to the vet. This was recorded before my favorite chicken got sick. And I contemplated the enormous sacrifice she made laying an egg for us every single day, and I…

Brought her to an emergency avian specialist…

At great expense…

What can I say? I am as lava cake: crackly exterior, gushy interior.

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Episode 004: “Capitalism Is Working for Me. So How Could I Hate It?”



Our podcast question today is on the topic of wealth, privilege, and g-g-g-g—

No, not ghosts! It’s g-g-g-guilt!

Specifically: rich white lady guilt! OooOOoooOOOO!

But don’t be afraid. Piggy and I are both ex-Catholics. Whatever kind of guilt you have, we can slice and dice it into bite-sized chunks with the studied grace of a teppanyaki chef.

Today’s question

“As a progressive person and someone who is starting to get into a pretty good place financially (have an emergency fund, bought a home a few years ago, paid off credit card debts), I’ve started feeling so guilty! It probably doesn’t help that I work in finance too. I don’t like capitalism but I’m working it the way I’m ‘supposed’ to. How do I feel less guilty for making myself financially healthy?”

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Why I Feel Filthy Fucking Rich

I recently went adventuring with some friends. As we were sitting in a hot spring at the end of a long day spent rock climbing in a national park (because we’re like biscotti: glamorous and crunchy), we started talking about money. My favorite topic!

None of these particular friends know about this blog. They don’t know I research money stuff and answer questions about personal finance for fun. So, in the tradition of thirsty voyeurs everywhere, I sat back to listen as my friends talked about negotiating higher salaries and faking it till you make it and—wait, hiring a maid? Ok, so there were clearly some differences in perspective. We’ll come back to that.

One of my friends proudly revealed that she is now making $130k a year at her new job. Babies, I am thrilled for her. She works super damn hard and she’s gifted and brilliant. But what happened next gave me pause.

“Your husband’s an art director, right? So he must be making pretty good money too by now,” I asked.

“Oh no. He only makes $70k a year. And he has student loans,” she answered, sincerely.

That response really took me back for a moment. Because fam… she was describing me exactly. I also make about $70k a year (at two whole jobs). And I also started my career with student loans. Yet I don’t feel like what I have is an “only.”

As a matter of fact, I feel filthy fucking rich.

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Masterpost 03: Everything You Need to Know about Self-Care

{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Self-Care

Self-care! It’s not just for rich white ladies with 100,000 Instagram followers!

Self-care is for you.

Yes you. As hard as it may be to believe when you’re at your worst and feeling low, you deserve a little care and maintenance now and again.

And we want you to have it. So here it is, children: the complete works of the Bitches on self-care, personal betterment, and making your life happier, healthier, and wealthier.

You’ve earned it.

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How bad of an idea is it to take out a student loan to get me out of my situation?

Ask the Bitches: I Want to Move Out, but I Can’t Afford It. How Bad Would It Be to Take out Student Loans to Cover It?

We have a question today from a Tumblr follower. If you don’t follow us on Tumblr, you should! Piggy is one of the Tumblr Deep Ones. She’s been on the platform since its infancy, and she answers tons of reader questions.

Like this one!

I need to move out, but I don’t have any money actually saved up. I do have a job that can cover my monthly costs and still have some left over. So I was wondering just how bad of an idea it is to take out a student loan to get me out of my situation and then immediately work on paying it off.

Ah. A very relatable dilemma.

For most people (and families), housing is the largest item in their budget. Young people spend, on average, a quarter of their income on housing—more than any other age group. Which means that saving money on housing can have an enormous positive impact on your finances. Especially when you’re young.

But is it ever a good idea to strategically spend a lot more than you have to on housing? Spoiler alert: yes, it absolutely can be.

Let’s get into it!

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You think Beyonce scrubs her own damn toilet? A resounding "hell no!"

Stop Measuring Your Time in Beyoncé Hours

Let’s debunk a shitty motivational platitude, shall we?

“We all have the same 24 hours in a day.”

This trite adage is meant to motivate the lazy. It’s meant to erase the excuse “I don’t have time,” to convince us that the only thing separating us from the most successful people in the world is how we spend our allotted twenty-four hours every day.

The result, at least for this Bitch, is that I sometimes find myself frustrated and cranky because I couldn’t complete all my goals in a single day.

I begin my twenty-four hours with the goal to finish three major projects at work, read fifty pages of a novel before bed, get a workout in, walk the dog, weed the garden, write an article for the blog, edit a chapter of a freelance project, mop the kitchen floor, schedule dinner and hanging out with three other couples, paint a bookshelf for my friend’s nursery, and call United Airlines in the vain hope that for once in their miserable existence they’ll treat a customer with reasonable compassion.

And when I’ve failed to complete all these goals in a single day, I beat myself up for not being efficient enough. For clearly there are successful people out there achieving all of their goals in the same amount of time, right? We all have the same twenty-four hours, after all!

To be successful, you just need to optimize your time! Work smarter, not harder! Stop wasting time and use your twenty-four hours just like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk! Sort out your priorities and get shit done! If Sheryl Sandberg can do it in twenty-four hours, then by all that’s holy, so can you!

Which is, of course, complete and utter bullshit.

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Yeah, it's stupid to try to time the market.

Hurricane Debt Weakens to Tropical Storm Debt, but Experts Warn It’s Still Debt

It’s been over a year since the last time I gave an update on the state of my own debt. Since we’re always dispensing our opinions from our seat on the divine acropolis at the crest of Mount Olympus, we like to be transparent about our own situations. So let’s check in!

As we’ve chronicled, Piggy and I paid off our student loans ahead of time. And we don’t have credit card debt, unless it’s part of a nefarious-but-prudent scheme to harvest points. When talking about my financial sitch, I love to describe myself as “debt free, except for my mortgage!”

Which, when you think about it, is kinda weird? Like describing a milkshake as “dairy free, except for the milk!” The milk is not a small or trivial part of a milkshake. It is eponymous! It’s basically the point of the thing!

And the mortgage is a big debt. The average American family has $16,000 in credit card debt (yikes). An average student’s educational loan debt is $34,000 (double yikes). But the median home price blows both those numbers out of the water at $227,000.

For most people, a house is the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy, and the largest source of debt. It’s the milk in the milkshake.

And if you were about to jump to the comments to erroneously claim that ice cream is the point of a milkshake, hold ya fakkin’ hahses, khed. I live in New England. Our milkshakes do not have ice cream. If there’s ice cream in it, it’s called a frappe.

I can’t tell you why. I don’t make the rules, I just abide by them.

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Disney vacations and their ilk are marketed to parents as experiences so magical you would be A Terrible Parent if you deprived your kids this holy formative experience.

Splurging on Kids: When It Works, and When It Doesn’t

Piggy and I have a general policy against giving childrearing advice.

It’s not because we don’t have opinions on the subject. Trust and believe: we have opinions on everysubject. For example…

  • Opinions on land use in Paraguay? The Bitches say: Keep the grazing cattle in the Chaco region. Although we are Team Yerba Mate, everyone knows that the climate is just too arid—although better land management practices are needed to prevent desertification.
  • Thoughts on the performance of the current mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont? The Bitches say: We strongly approve of Lincoln, the Nubian goat. Eating the paperwork itself may be the best way to combat bureaucratic creep. Honestly, Lincoln the Goat 2020.
  • Was Paris wrong to give the Golden Apple of Discord to Aphrodite? The Bitches say: Absolutely! Athena clearly offered him wisdom because she could see he was sorely lacking in sense. Women are not prizes, Paris, so stop using your magical fruit like a fistful of arcade tickets you’re hot to trade in!

See? We’re a bottomless pit of opinions!

But because we don’t have children ourselves, we try to keep our big mouths shut on the subject. Especially when talking to actual-factual parents. We’ve lived the experience of mansplaining; we can only imagine that DINKsplaining is similarly annoying.

But today we wanted to explore an interesting topic for our readers who are becoming, thinking of becoming, or trying to become parents:

Think back to the times your parents “splurged” on you. In hindsight, you probably know which things you truly enjoyed, versus stuff you just put up with.

So which expenses were worth it? Which ones weren’t? If you could go back in time, what would you tell them to stop doing, or do more of?

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Life is long. YOu have plenty of time and chances to make mistakes, fix them, and get back on track.

Ask the Bitches: Is It Too Late to Get My Financial Shit Together?

Life is long. In theory, this means you have plenty of time and chances to fuck up, make mistakes, fix them, and get back on track.

And yet we’re surrounded by messages that instill the fear that if we don’t have our financial shit together by the age at which Warren Buffett was starting his prepubescent golf ball recovery empire, we’re doomed to a lifetime of grueling work and poverty.

In other words, if you don’t save $300,000 by the age of 30, you’re financially fucked for all eternity.

Many of the discouraging messages mean so, so well! Yet for the late bloomers, reading about thirty-year-old retirees and debt-free millennials can make it feel like they were late to the show and missed the main act.

And while I love savings and investment projections like this one for the purposes of setting goals… they can imbue the late bloomers among us with a sense of despair. For if you reach your thirties still knee-deep in debt and scrabbling at a meaningful career, it can seem like you’re already way too late. It can seem like it’ll take you forever to catch up. So why bother starting at all?

We got a question along these lines from an anonymous reader a little while back:

“Hi, Bitches. I’m so hooked on your material! Thank you so much for your dedication to financial literacy for us. My only issue is that I’m 26, so when I read through your material, I’m afraid I’ve made too many mistakes already or I’m too old to get on track to where you are. Any advice to us on the older side of this community?”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, creampuff.

I, Piggy, Co-Bitch of Bitches Get Riches, was twenty-six when I started cracking down on my finances.

So in my book, you’re not late at all. You’re right on time.

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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, 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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