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My purpose here is to give a millennial's eye view of the situation.

A Brief History of the 2008 Crash and Recession: We Were All So Fucked

A lot happened ten years ago. We’d just voted Barack Obama into the White House. Billy Mays was here and alive and selling us Hercules Hooks. Shorty had freshly acquired them apple bottom jeans comma boots with the fur. Kitty and I had just entered our senior year of college (holy fuck we’re old).

We were sweet baby angels who did exactly what we were told: get good grades, stay out of trouble, pursue a career where you have both passion and talent. We pushed ourselves to work part-time, take on industry internships, still achieve academically. We’d done it. Our futures felt secure and blindingly bright, like Southern California teeth.

And then the walls came tumbling down.

Much ink has been spilled over the 2008 stock market crash and subsequent economic recession. So you’ll pardon me if I add to the deluge. But my purpose here, ten years after the fateful events that ripped the world economy asunder, is to give a millennial’s eye view of the thing.

Below is my attempt to understand and explain the 2008 crash and recession in a way I couldn’t have ten years ago.

We were seniors in college. I think it’s fair to say we had no idea what was going on at the time, what it meant for our future, and why it all was happening. We didn’t understand why the world our parents, teachers, guidance counselors had promised us just… no longer existed.

We graduated into a situation no one—least of all the class of 2009—was prepared for.

Guys. We were so fucked.

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I don't know how helpful these images are.

When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse

Content warning: abuse.

Our culture’s view of domestic abuse lacks imagination.

A quick Google image search for the term shows image after image in the same composition: sad, broken-looking women with bruised faces and smeared mascara. There’s often a menacing figure looming somewhere in the foreground or background. A hand—either her own, or the abuser’s—covers their mouths, preventing them from speaking.

These images are certainly evocative. They’ve been burned into our cultural brain by many years of prevention campaigns.

And they work. Maybe not exactly how they’re meant to, but they certainly influence behavior. I’ve injured my face a few times—a split lip from accidentally head-butting the dog, a black eye from a too-quick turn near my own woodworking project. Every time that’s happened, I’ve felt the concern of acquaintances and strangers in full force. There’s skepticism in their eyes when I explain about the dog or the two-by-four. I can feel them watching me for other signs. It’s both annoying and affirming. The world is full of people with good intentions, and it’s nice to remember that.

But I don’t know how helpful these kinds of images are. There are a lot of people who are in abusive relationships and genuinely don’t know it. When there’s such a codified cultural idea of what an abuse victim looks like and you don’t look like her, it makes it easier to silence your own suspicions that there’s something very wrong in your relationship.

It’s hard to look at a staged photo of a cringing, weeping, blood-splattered woman and say “I think I deserve access to the resources set aside for her.”

There’s a huge spectrum of abusive behaviors and relationships that isn’t captured in this simplistic picture. Abusive relationships aren’t an exclusive plague upon heterosexual relationships. Victims aren’t always women. Abusers aren’t always violent, and the damage often doesn’t leave a mark. And we’re going to talk about one of the most prevalent kinds of abuse today: financial abuse.

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The catastrophic recklessness and base greed represented in these statistics transcends cartoonish supervillainy.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Student Loans

According to BGR lore, Kitty and I met as randomly assigned freshman year roommates at college. We came from different backgrounds, had different interests and goals. But we had two things in common:

  1. Clothing size.
  2. Student loans.

The former meant that our wardrobes essentially doubled in size while we lived together. It was a rude awakening when I moved halfway across the country from Kitty only to realize the only shoes I owned were hiking boots. Gone were the days when I would get drunk and traipse around our apartment in Kitty’s four-inch-high red heels! Now I would have to buy my own grownup shoes!

But I digress.

The latter was the seed that sprouted into this very blog.

We each graduated with student loan debts in the tens of thousands… a fact that lands us squarely in the average of our millennial age bracket. And the year was 2009… a year after the 2008 recession and subsequent dismal job market. Fun times!

It was our joint effort to pay off our considerable student debt ahead of schedule in an unwelcoming economy that taught us the importance of financial literacy. It was a painful process, and having that debt in the first place set our financial independence back by years.

But this is not simply the origin story of your humble Bitches. It is the story of thousands upon thousands of young Americans. The current reality of student loans is a source of controversy and curiosity. And it’s time we set the record straight.

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How i spent my summer vacation, part one: severe testicular injuries.

I Think I Need to Go the Emergency Room?

Or, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part One: Severe Testicular Injuries.

General content warning: this post discusses medical stuff that some people might find squicky. Possibly men in particular. As if they needed more reasons to not read this blog!

Last Sunday was a pretty damn perfect day. It was my wedding anniversary—FOUR MORE YEARS! It was also the last weekend before my little brother (who lives with us) leaves for a life-changingly awesome two-month working vacation overseas.

So we drove into the Big City to celebrate. We marveled at nature’s weird-ass creations at the local aquarium. Afterwards we ate an obscene amount of oysters, shrimp, scallops, and hot buttered lobster rolls. Then we drove home and laid out in the king-size hammock in the backyard, reading The Subtle Knife aloud to each other. The air was warm; the world was still; and the late-afternoon light was hazy and golden. It was a perfect day.

And then all hell broke loose.

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Free steps you can take immediately

Our Master List of 100% Free Mental Health Self-Care Tactics

What are you supposed to do if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and you don’t have a therapist? Or money for healthcare? Or supportive parents? Or transportation and time off to visit a doctor? Or like, the ability to shower and leave the house?

We see you.

Whether you have a serious diagnosed condition, or you’re just feeling stressed or blue, this list details free steps that you can take immediately that might help mitigate your circumstances. Nothing on here is revolutionary. Nothing here will “cure” you of whatever ails you. You cannot solve mental health problems with rationalizing and motivation. But because most of such struggles are chronic, it helps to have a sizable toolbox of behaviors to turn to.

Here’s what we’ve got.

Physiological

  • Drink a glass of water. Don’t gulp it down, drink it sip by sip.
  • Eat something. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal. A banana or a granola bar is great. Maybe avoid super salty or sugary stuff. Unless you’re in a place where you need to drive to Five Guys in your pajamas with no shoes on because I have been there.
  • Stretch and change your position. If you’ve been standing and moving, try sitting or lying down—and vice versa. Stretch like a bear awakening from hibernation. Even if you don’t feel like you have to, your limbs will appreciate it.
  • Get some light. If your blinds are drawn, pull them up. If you’re in a dark room, move to a lighter room. If it’s possible to put sun on your skin, do so. Your poor brain is confused; help her out by having lights on in the day and off at night.
  • Get some fresh air. If you can go for a walk, awesome. If not, just stand outside for a moment. Breathe deeply and listen to the sounds you don’t usually notice: birds singing, wind moving, cars going by.
    • If that’s too much: Open the windows if the weather is nice. If the weather’s not nice, just open them for a minute or two. Light a scented candle.
  • Move your body. Walks are a solid response to basically all feelings and situations. If you have the energy and focus to do more (go to the gym, go for a run), do that. Exercise almost always helps improve and stabilize moods.
    • If that’s too much: Put a time limit on it. Tell yourself “I only have to do this for five minutes, and if I want to stop after that, I can.” The hardest part is to get going. Once you’re there, you may decide you can continue after all. In any case, you have permission to stop.
  • Don’t do anything dangerous. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or depression, please don’t get into a car or operate heavy machinery.

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Illnesses like depression and anxiety can limit your ability to attack opportunities with all the entrepreneurial viciousness of a litter of upwardly-mobile wolverines.

How Mental Health Affects Your Finances

May is Mental Health Month, and that’s why we, your fabulous yet imperfect Bitches, have been sharing stories of our own mental health challenges. Kitty bravely explained how she’s dealt with depression, and I walked you through my adventures with anxiety. Then we examined the human brain itself through one of our favorite books: Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos.

We’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from our followers. But even better, our lovely readers have come out of the woodwork to share their own stories of life outside the neurotypical spectrum. And this. Is. Glorious. We’ve never felt more warm fuzzies for our community and we’re proud of each and every one of you for carrying on through depression, anxiety, ADHD, and whatever other mental weirdness you’re dealing with.

But some of you might be asking at this point, “I thought this was a money blog. What the hell does mental health have to do with personal finance?”

Everything.

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More and more employers are requiring entry level employees to have industry experience in order to get hired. Get that? You have to have a job to get a job, a requirement that necessitates ripping the fabric of the space time continuum in order to get hired.

The Ugly Truth About Unpaid Internships

Internships: a time-honored tradition in which young professionals gain valuable career experience and skills they can’t learn in the classroom. Internships are widely recognized as a great way to boost your resume and get a leg up over your peers in the job market. For many industries, they’re a rite of passage and an invaluable part of the workforce.

Yet there’s something horribly wrong with most internships as we operate them here in the bestest country on Earth.

Trigger warning: today’s lesson includes mentions of privilege and unfavorable descriptions of capitalism. Also law-breaking. Clutch your pearls and avert your eyes.

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If you're tired of paying taxes, you're shit out of luck.

Taxes: Your Annual Fee for Membership in Civilization

While I would never presume to contradict the inimitable Ron Swanson, he left out half the lesson. Sure, the guv’mint takes a percentage of your money in taxes. But it’s not all doom and gloom and stolen lunches! For as they say, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” and those dastardly G-men actually give us a useful thing or two in exchange for our taxes.

So listen up, kids! Your days of hating taxes are about to come to… a middle!

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Like a real-life heroine in a YA novel featuring vampires and forbidden love, my most benign character flaw is that I'm clumsy as fuck.

Financial Lessons Learned from a Night in the ER

I have always been accident prone. Like a real-life heroine in a YA novel featuring vampires and forbidden romance, my most benign character flaw is that I’m clumsy as fuck.

I guess I just never grew out of that stage of puberty where you walk smack into walls that have been there for your whole life and end up with bruises of mysterious origin all over your legs. I just don’t know where my ends are! I’m missing whatever survival instinct informs the human body not to grievously injure itself on a regular basis.

So I guess it was just a matter of time before I ended up in the emergency room, writhing and blinded by the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life.

You guys. I hurt myself really, really badly. And I’m going to be paying for it for a long time.

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Our Single Best Piece of Advice for Women (and Men) on International Women’s Day

This post is part of the #WomenRockMoney Movement, a group of female personal finance bloggers who have come together to inspire more women to own their finances. Thanks to Chelsea for putting together this collaboration and the amazing homepage for the movement!

As part of International Women’s Day, we’ve partnered with other personal finance bloggers under the hashtag #WomenRockMoney. Our task was to:

“Write your one most important piece of advice you wish all women know. This is your ‘shout from the mountaintops,’ inspirational speech for women. It can be something you wish you knew when you were younger, something you’ve learned from experience, or something you are still working on mastering today.”

This is an overwhelming question. We started this blog because we’re a bottomless pit of unsolicited opinions! How the hell are we supposed to boil it all down into one single piece of solicited advice?

But all right, all right. There is one piece of advice that ticks all of those boxes. It’s our shout-from-the-mountaintops, inspirational speech for women—and men! It’s something we wish we knew when we were younger. It’s something we’ve learned from experience. And it’s something we’re still working on mastering today.

Conveniently, this advice fits neatly into a single word:

Radicalize.

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