You’re employed. You’re making enough money to live on and putting a little away for the future. And you’re filling your free time with stuff you find enjoyable and fulfilling.
… but is it enough?
This week we handle the nagging feeling that you should be doing more with your time. It’s hard to fight against the advice that you need a second income stream, the coveted “side hustle”, even when in reality you’re doing just fine. It’s all tied into that most frightening of the coronavirus pandemic’s side effects: productivity porn.
And if that wasn’t enough terror, we slip in a real palm-sweaty story about that one time
KITTY READ PIGGY’S DIARY
WAS TOTALLY CAUGHT RED-HANDED, THAT FUCKING SNAKE!!
Last week I was chatting with a rad young lady who is about to start her final semester of college. When the subject of careers and negotiation came up, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. (“Teaching young people how to negotiate their salaries” is what I write down on the religion line on surveys.)
I asked what salary range she was asking for, and she quickly answered: “$37,000.”
It struck me as an unusual number for two reasons:
First, it seemed mighty low. Many people live happy, stable lives on as much or less—but she was a high-achieving college student entering a STEM field in one of the ten most expensive American cities. I expected double or triple that amount.
Second, what’s with the non-round number? Usually when people talk about hypothetical large numbers, they do so in intervals of fives and tens. It’s why the JonBenét ransom note haunts us all to this day! (And by “us” I mean rubberneckers who were alive in the 90s and/or true crime nerds. Surely everyone belongs in one of those demographics.)
So I dug deeper. “Why that number?”
She explained that she sat down with a notebook and wrote down all the expenses she might have in a given month. “Rent, internet, groceries, student loans, car insurance… I added it all up, multiplied by twelve, and added 10% for savings. It came out to $36,200, so I rounded up just to be safe.”
My nurturing altruism joined forces with my baser capitalist instincts to manifest a camera to do a dolly zoom on my horrified face.
You were told never to enter the crypt… told that the sacred knowledge buried there would break the minds of the weak-willed. You were told… and you disobeyed.
Now, as you creep your way forward, guttering torch in hand, you wonder if you’ve made a fatal error. The cobwebs hang thick before you, obscuring your view down the dank and musty corridor. As you descend into darkness, your courage wanes, your resolve falters. Perhaps you are not ready for the secrets buried within the Crypt of the Bitchy Ones. Perhaps no one is…
For in this ancient sepulcher lies the key to all career wisdom, the key to getting ahead and navigating the workplace as smoothly as a serpent along the dusty stones your feet now tread. And no matter the risk, no matter what haunts the hidden crypt, you will not stop until you have attained this knowledge.
When at last you enter the cavernous tomb, your torch illuminates an ancient stone plinth. Upon it rests a dusty tome. You open its cracked leather cover and begin to read…
Welcome, fellow traveler!
One of the most important factors in your path to financial independence (or at least stability) is your income. Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and a trust fund worth a tidy million or two… that means you’re going to have to work for your money.
We Bitches know about work. We’ve been cogs in the machine of production and profit for years now! And as depressing as that sounds, what it means is that we’ve both learned a thing or three about navigating the job market.
This means job hopping when necessary, competing for promotions, and yes (OH BOY, HERE COMES MY OLDEST FRIEND, ANXIETY), even asking for a raise once in a while.
We want to share that knowledge with you. It’s what we’re here for! So below is our complete catalog of knowledge on getting a job, getting a raise, getting a promotion, and staying sane at work.
Our awesome Patreon donors have asked us to tackle a really interesting question this week: what’s the real rate of return on the stock market?
If you ask people this question, you get surprisingly different answers. And for some reason (boredom at my day job) I decided to get all art school with it. Here, I wrote you a one-act play on the topic!
WHAT THE FUCK IS IT EVEN: THE REAL RATE OF RETURN ON THE STOCK MARKET
A Play in One Act
SOME PEOPLE (With great confidence) Ten percent!
OTHER PEOPLE (With low confidence) Ssssssssssix?
MOST PEOPLE (In anguish) Why are you asking me this?! Shit. Am I supposed to know?!
SOME PEOPLE (Smugly) It’s totally ten percent. Why would you ever buy a house or pay off debts when stocks are so mathematically superior?
OTHER PEOPLE Ssssssseven??
MOST PEOPLE (With self-loathing) I feel like I’m too busy to know this. But also I made time to watch that Zac Efron Ted Bundy biopic on Netflix, so…
SOME PEOPLE Don’t even buy a single tube of mascara or a ham sandwich. It’s a waste. It’s unoptimized garbage. I buy nothing but stocks and Soylent!
OTHER PEOPLE Wait, is this the four percent thing? I’ve heard people talk about the four percent thing. Is it foooourrrr?
DAVE RAMSEY exits the stage and the playwright forgets to go back and delete that part.
MOST PEOPLE (With resignation) No, you know what? I know that Alleras the Sphinx is actually a lost Sand Snake, and I know three quarters of the verses of Mambo #5, but I do not know what the rate of return on the stock market is and I have accepted that fact about myself.
SOME PEOPLE rubs stocks all over his torso. He visibly nips out. OTHER PEOPLE keeps mumbling random numbers. MOST PEOPLE starts adjusting the Pinterest board for her wedding, even though she is not engaged or seeing anyone seriously.
On the day my partner and I got married, I didn’t promise him much. Life is long. Uncertainty is its only certainty.
For poorer? In sickness? Forsaking all others? Until death?
I have questions. Why are we poor? Are we poor because capitalism sucks and robots took our jobs? Or poor because one of us hid a gambling addiction, and poured our life savings down a slot machine somewhere in Hollywood, Florida? Because those are pretty different things!
What sickness? All others? Because if I get a neurodegenerative disease, and I lose every memory of you, but you stay by my side, and the kind nurse (who has been with a long string of undeserving guys and who’s super pretty but doesn’t know she’s pretty) leans over to check my vitals, and compliments you on your unfaltering loyalty to me, and then your eyes meet, I do want you to kiss her. Details from my upcoming self-published romance novel to follow.
When comes the death? Who dies first? How different will we be? What kind of world will we live in? What will it cost me to keep these promises?
Obviously there is a pleasant future we’re aiming for where none of these mundane trials become marriage-ending events. But I am a realist. Life can change people, sometimes beyond recognition. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. So I would never promise to stay married to someone no matter what. And I would never expect a pledge from a partner that I myself am unwilling to give.
In the end, what we promised each other was this: “I will always enable your happiness.”
If we were happy together: mazel tov. If we were happy apart: so it goes.
That was a promise I knew I could keep. And it was the only one I wanted in return.
But I did make one other promise that day, this time to his parents. I took them by their shoulders, looked them square in the eyes, and gave them this pledge:
“I will take care of your son. You never need to worry about him ever again.”
A few months ago I found my neighbor’s purse in the alley behind our houses near the dumpster. It was a nice purse, real leather, and inside was a Coach brand wallet. I assumed she’d been robbed, and went to her door to return the nearly empty bag. Imagine my surprise when she told me that no, it hadn’t been stolen, she’d just thrown it out.
Rather than side-eyeing her into oblivion, I kept the designer items… and sold them for cold, hard cash. Because that, dear friends, is how I do.
For I am a Craigslist Samurai! A Paladin of online, stranger-to-stranger transactions! Bequeath unto me your used snowboards and semi-broken furniture! I shall dust them off, fix them up, and turn them for a tidy profit, all in the name of my eventual financial independence!
Besides the thoughtlessly discarded purse and wallet, over the last few years I’ve sold a dresser ($20), a table ($25), a microwave ($10), a VCR ($10), bar stools ($20 each), a flat-screen TV I literally found on the side of the road ($100), another flat-screen from a friend ($100), two tables ($50 and $20 respectively), my old desk ($50), an AC ($20), a hardwood bed frame ($280), and a bike a friend left in my garage because he didn’t want to bother selling it before moving away ($150).
Selling stuff online can be a great way to bring in a little extra money. Most of the items above are things I got for free. The tables, for example, were left in the alley behind my house (before you call me out on it, yes, I aspire in all ways to be Dumpster Doggy). I rescued them, gave them a new coat of paint and stain, and sold them.
And if you’re patient, the payoff can be huge: the bed frame, bike, and TV were all from friends who moved away and didn’t have the time to sell their stuff before they left. But I had a garage to store them in and plenty of time to sell them right, for maximum profit.
It’s an art and a challenge. Here’s how you, too, can be a Craigslist Samurai.
It feels unwise to talk about it because it’s not official yet. There’s no contract in place, and we haven’t done title or salary negotiations. It’s possible that circumstances could fail to come together. But I’ve interviewed for the role with all stakeholders and each one has given a green light to the role change. The woman who will become my boss has already added me to her regular staff meetings and tasked me on a new project. It feels like a done deal, so I’m taking the karmic risk of telling you all about it now.
Plus, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give you all rolling updates!
It’s the first promotion I’ve ever received while working at a large corporation. (I was promoted in my first job from unpaid intern to intern with a stipend, basically. After I cried in front of my boss about money issues. A STORY FOR ANOTHER TIME!) I’m not entirely sure how to navigate it gracefully, but I’ll certainly invite you all along upon my journey of discovery.
The better part of getting this promotion was luck. And I think that’s likely true of any promotion.
But luck is boring to blog about. And it ain’t everything. I Underwooded a good portion of this shit. So let me tell you what I tried and rate how well it worked.
Guys, Bitches can’t thank you enough for stepping up and volunteering your salary histories for our recent article on job hopping. If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out and feel free to skip straight down to those juicy, delicious, nutritious comments.
We discovered some really interesting trends, and we’re going to break them down for you now!
Overall, commenters were big fans of a hybrid approach. Job hopping was universally endorsed as an essential move, regardless of career path, even by serial job monogamists. But occasionally stopping to rest once you’ve landed in a good position was also extremely popular.
Here are some of the factors that made people stay… and go.
Recently a little conversation sprang up on Twitter on the topic of changing jobs frequently as a strategy to increase your salary, i.e. job hopping. Respondents tended to fall into one of two camps on the subject.
One camp is the job hoppers.Desirae over at Half Banked had three jobs within her first five years out of school. Not to be outdone, Cameron at Save Splurge Deny Debt has had four career changes since graduation. Both gave a thumbs-up to the strategy.