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While we should all do what we can, the key phrase there is "what we can."

Ethical Consumption: How to Pollute the Planet and Exploit Labor Slightly Less

There’s a short story by Ursula K. LeGuin called The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. With apologies to the late, great author, I want to summarize it here:

In the city of Omelas, everyone is deliriously happy. The people eat well, drink well, and party all the time. There’s no sickness, no pain, and the weather’s always perfect. It’s a utopia. Everyone has everything they could possibly want or need.

Well, almost everyone. For deep in the heart of Omelas is a dark, damp, cold room. And in this room is a child: unwashed, starved, uneducated, and treated cruelly. They don’t have a name, a family, clothes, or a clue as to why they’re kept in horrible conditions.

Everyone in Omelas is taken to see the child once in their lifetimes. They’re made to understand that, somehow, all the glorious happiness of Omelas relies on this one person’s suffering. As long as this child suffers, everyone else in Omelas will thrive.

And it’s then that the individuals of Omelas make a choice: to stay in Omelas, content in the knowledge that their comfort and happiness relies on the misery of another; or to leave, to opt out, to go somewhere that might not be as perfect as Omelas, but where they can live without exploiting another for their own gain.

The ethical choice is, of course, to walk away from Omelas. It’s a fable for modern times.

We live in a world where so much of our lifestyles, our wealth, relies on exploitation. Animals live short, brutish lives on factory farms so we can eat meat from the supermarket. Carbon emissions slowly damage the climate to devastating effect so we can drive cars and ride airplanes. Children work twelve-hour work days in sweatshops so we can browse a closet full of fashionable clothes and still say “I have nothing to wear.”

The way we consume—food, clothing, electronics, everything—is, all too often, pretty fucking unethical.

Now here’s a gif of a doggo hanging out with some baby chicks because that shit just got real fucking dark!

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Are Unions Good or Bad?

Our awesome Patreon donors have spoken! This week, they would like for us to answer this question…

What’s the deal with unions? Because I’ve heard they’re amazing, corrupt, empowering, exploitative, equalizing, and expensive. What’s the truth?

Let me answer this question the way I answer most things: by starting with a tangent on a totally unrelated topic, until it suddenly isn’t! (It’s kinda My Thing.)

It’s toasted

Do you know when cigarette smoking among Americans peaked? It was in 1963.

How about when we first got pretty solid evidence that smoking caused lung cancer? It was thirteen years earlier, in 1950.

Thirteen years is a long dang time! If people knew it was a health risk, why did so many not only continue to smoke, but begin smoking who hadn’t before?

The main culprit is the tobacco industry’s social engineering. Which is to say: their deliberate, coordinated campaign of disinformation.

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Children today are more anxious and depressed than ever before. Which is why they should read Animorphs.

Why Animorphs is Frighteningly Relevant in Contemporary Trumpian America

Not too long ago, I found myself in a room full of Olde Millennials. And I casually made a deep-cut joke that was only understandable to those who’d read the Animorphs series. I think it was something about Yeerks? Or Andalites? Possibly it was just the admission that Cinnabon is the peak of human all human arts and sciences!

The reaction in the room was instantaneous: gasps of recognition, faces lit with excitement. Ohhhhh my god, Animorphs, my childhooooooood! But the joke bounced harmlessly off my husband, who’d never read them. I’m not going to lie: it crushed my soul and I considered divorce.

My partner has never been much of a reader. I’m honestly not sure why, because he is exactly the kind of person you would expect to have been a voracious reader in childhood: a contemplative, dreamy person who imagines deeply and curiously. I seethe with quiet rage when I watch him watch his twentieth hour of YouTube videos exploring Dark Souls lore. How is it possible that no one pressed Garth Nix novels into your hands?

Reading was always a refuge for me. When my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, I could climb inside someone else’s. As George R. R. Martin says: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” I can’t imagine what kind of person I would be if I hadn’t read the books I did.

Today I want to talk about six lives I climbed inside again and again when I was a child: Jake, Rachel, Marco, Tobias, Cassie, and Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. AKA (ah, Katherine Applegate) the Animorphs.

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"Just get emancipated" is dangerously naive advice, and I'm sick of seeing it everywhere.

Leaving Home before 18: A Practical Guide for Cast-Offs, Runaways, and Everybody in Between

Happy Pride, my beauties!

… okay okay, that’s enough pleasantries—I’m worked up about something!

I recently read an article about queer teens being thrown out of their homes by unsupportive families. It had a lot of advice that sounded pretty good. Pursue legal emancipation. Talk to your teachers and guidance counselors. Seek therapy.

“Bah,” I scoffed through a mouthful of Babybel cheese. “Amateurs! Someone needs to write a real guide. Someone who actually knows what it’s like!”

I was too busy playing with that weird red wax to remember I was exactly that person.

I left home when I was a junior in high school. The reasons were complicated and sad. Suffice to say it was driven by a need for physical and psychological safety I wasn’t getting at home.

Everything worked out for me. I got lucky and landed on my feet. A few psychological scars added to my roguish charm! But it’s not the best strategy. Sorta like throwing yourself down a mountain and hoping you learn to ski on the way down. (Also a thing I did once. How am I alive?)

There are many reasons a teenager might leave home early. Among them: poverty, instability, abuse, neglect, addiction, incarceration, system involvement, and mental and physical health issues. Some are thrown out or kicked out in stark, dramatic fashion. Others are slowly, painfully squeezed out or frozen out. Still more are ignored, unsupported, or victimized to the point that the child must take the initiative to leave.

Regardless of the method, one of the most prevalent reasons teens become homeless is due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine in ten homeless LGBT teens “ran away” (46%) to escape family rejection, or were actively forced out (43%) by unsupportive parents.

So I dedicate today’s article to our young queer readers. May you never need the tips I’m about to lay out.

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It takes a quarter million dollars to raise one child.

On Pulling Weeds and Fighting Back: How (and Why) to Protect Abortion Rights

I’ve been gardening a lot in the month of May. And pulling weeds.

So. Many. Weeds. And none of them the fun kind.

I was struck by how suddenly they appeared. In the space of a few days, my empty flower bed was suddenly full of wild violets, dandelion, creeping charlie, and worse things. Prickly things. Toxic things. Deeply rooted things. Weeds that can grow so powerfully they rip apart concrete.

… also whatever that one plant is that smells like old cum. Ugh. Weeds.

The thing is, they didn’t really appear out of nowhere.

I knew they were coming.

They left their seeds and their taproots behind last autumn. Their seeds stayed quiet and waited for conditions to be right. When the planet tilted in their favor, and the sun shone warmly down on them, and the snowmelt watered them, they began to unfurl, out of sight, under the crust of the earth.

I’ve felt the warm air and stomped through the puddles left by the rain. Even though I can’t see them, I have always known that they were there. I’ve watched my flower beds like one watches a door they know is about to open.

When they finally make their move and show themselves, I am ready.

The recent changes to the state laws of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Utah regarding abortion and reproductive rights shocked a lot of people. Suddenly, everything was happening everywhere, all at once.

But these new laws didn’t appear out of nowhere.

I knew they were coming. And so did a lot of other people.

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There is too much "inspiration porn" out there.

Earning Her First $100K: An Interview with Tori Dunlap

They say the first $100,000 is the hardest to save. Wunderkind personal finance guru Tori Dunlap says, “Challenge accepted.”

Kitty and I have known Tori since BGR’s inception. She virtually forced us, through sheer tenacity and brilliance, to adopt her as our little sister—our more knowledgeable, successful, savvy, and funny little sister who in every way exceeds the promise of this very blog and inspires us every day.

Like, just look at this motivational young feminist do her thang:

So when Tori announced that she was emerging from the chrysalis of rebranding into a new feminist financial coaching venture, Her First $100K, I knew I had to pick her brains about it. I just didn’t realize I was simultaneously going to be schooled on the greatest animated movie of our time.

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Early retirement didn't make my depression go away. That's not how life works.

Bitchtastic Book Review: Tanja Hester on Early Retirement, Privilege, and Her Book, Work Optional

Dear readers, we’ve been holding out on you. For there is something beyond the basic financial literacy we strive to teach you here at Bitches Get Riches. Something that comes after you level up as far as you go with your money.

It’s called FIRE, or “financial independence, retire early.” And it’s something a lot of our esteemed colleagues in the money-writin’ biz are fighting tooth and nail to achieve.

One of the beacons of light in the conversation about financial independence and early retirement is Tanja Hester, author of the brand new book Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.

Tanja is awesome. Her book is awesome. Her advice is awesome.

She’s like the result of a long, fulfilling, romantic relationship between a timelessly wise Amazon warrior and your favorite cool aunt, the one who both comforted you about the mean kids at school and bought you your first box of condoms. I’d trust her both to carry my body to Valhalla from the field of battle and to give me sound financial advice, is what I’m saying.

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"Bitches, how do I get over being annoyed and repulsed every time a homeless person inconveniences me?"

Ask the Bitches: How Do I Stop Myself from Judging Homeless People?

I have a question about maintaining empathy in this capitalist hellscape. I live in NYC and there are homeless people everywhere. I can remember being a kid and having huge amounts of sympathy for the homeless in my hometown; I always gave some of my allowance money if I walked by a homeless person, or asked a parent for a dollar to give. Now I’m 27, have lived in NYC for 2+ years, and have lost so much sympathy for the suffering of the homeless.
I know logically that I should be much more sympathetic to their situation, but I also can’t help but think they are such a nuisance. I almost never give them a spare dollar. I just can’t afford it. I loathe them for inconveniencing me with their shouting and their stench. I think that if they’ve reached the point of needing to beg strangers for help, they must have alienated all of their loved ones; I’d never be in that position. If the people who love them won’t help them, why should I?
But logically I know that’s not true. I could be in that place with just a few family tragedies. It’s this internal battle I deal with every day on my commute: I dehumanize these people, I feel guilty and logically know I’m wrong. I do nothing to help. I want to stop dehumanizing the homeless because I know it’s wrong, and because I know I can do better for them and society can do better for them. What can be done? How do I get over being annoyed and repulsed every time a homeless person inconveniences me?

This is an anonymous question we received on our Tumblr. And… it’s a doozy.

It takes a rare person to be this self-aware, pragmatic, and compassionate. The last thing I want to do is submit this person for public shaming for finding homeless people “annoying” and repulsive. Instead, I want to applaud them for doing something rather difficult: staring straight into the heart of one of our collective societal failures and searching for a solution.

We tend to equate poverty with moral inferiority. And so it can be easy to look at homeless people and dismiss them as individual moral failures. They’re people who’ve fucked up so bad they have to live in a cardboard box, right? I want to challenge that dark individualism.

So let’s talk about homelessness.

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Can a recession ever be a good thing? No. Full stop.

There’s a Storm a’Comin’: What We Know About the Next Recession

A foul wind’s a’blowin’! There’s evil in the air! A recession is a’brewin’ and you need to be prepared! 

-From “Pay Off Them Debts Before the Recession Comes,” by Piggy Smalls featuring The Kitty Kat Kid, new from Bitches Get Riches Records

Last week we put all your pre-recession fears to rest by explaining how you can arm yourself with strong financial decisions before the next recession comes. To recap:

  • Track your spending. You’ll feel less anxious and more in-control if you have a clear picture of your needs.
  • Fatten up your emergency fund. Let your level of risk set the size of your emergency fund.
  • Pay off as much debt as you can. This will give you more flexibility with your money and reduce your expenses overall.
  • Get a credit card or increase your existing credit limit. Credit freezes up during a recession, so get it now while you still can. Yes, credit is scawwwy and can be misused—but it is a tool that can instantly put food on your table.
  • Get your health in order. Avail yourself of healthcare access while you have it, and stock up on needed prescriptions.
  • Identify areas to cut back before you have to. The less money you spend every month, the less money you need to get by. The less you need to get by, the easier it’ll be to pay your bills if you lose your source of income.
  • Broaden your skills. Start doing whatever you need to make your resume stand out in a more competitive job market.
  • Back up your work files. You don’t want to lose potential portfolio pieces.
  • Stay the course. Don’t freak out and pull your money from the stock market.
  • Be kind. A time is coming when we’re going to have to depend on each other. No one wants to help out an asshole when times are tough.

So praise be, we know what to do! But what exactly is going to happen? And when?

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The feminist financial handbook details how to work within the system to beat the game.

Bitchtastic Book Review: The Feminist Financial Handbook by Brynne Conroy

Gentle readers, it’s time we discussed the F-word.

It’s one we use often here on the blog, and it’s probably the most controversial part of Bitches Get Riches. It’s certainly the thing that brings us the most criticism crawling out of the woodwork of the Internet.

I’m talking, of course, about feminism. (What other F-word did you think I fucking meant?)

We firmly believe that personal finance has everything to do with feminism. This is partially because of super fun stuff like the wage gap, financial abuse, the opportunity gap, and other money inequities that have historically left women at an economic disadvantage.

But it’s also because feminism, at its core, is about equality. And one of the surest routes to equality—or at least equity—is by spreading around economic power to those for whom it’s been tantalizingly out of reach.

Enter the hot-off-the-presses book The Feminist Financial Handbook: A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Wealthy Life by Brynne Conroy.

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