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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Beat identity thieves to the punch. File your taxes early.

Go Ahead and File Your Taxes Right Freakin’ Now

Ah, late winter. What a fine season!

Thick stews and steaming hot soups for dinner every night… haven’t seen my friends in weeks… onto our second tank of expensive-ass oil heat for the season… so pale and wan I look like one of the tuberculoid Brontë sisters, but with fewer published novels to show for it… people asking me what I want to do for my birthday…

Oh. Wait. I hate late winter!

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to nearly everything, but the one exception is filing taxes early. I love getting my taxes out of the way in February. And there’s a few really good reasons for it.

Lower your risk for identity theft

If some kind of l33t haxx0r gets their hands on your social security number, it’s relatively easy for them to file a fraudulent return in your name and pocket your return funds. Joke’s on anyone who tried to do this to me from 2008-2012! Self employment taxes are a bitch!

This is one of the most common forms of identity theft. Although it can usually be sorted out, it takes a long-ass time to do so—an average of 278 days. I’m sure that involves untold hours of bureaucratic headaches and heartaches.

A tightly protected social security number is a great place to start, but identity thieves could phish this information from gullible family members or steal it from employers with poor information security. That’s why the best secondary line of defense is filing taxes early. Knowing that most people wait until April to file, identity thieves work quickly to file their fraudulent returns first. Beat them to the punch.

It’s especially crucial this year due to the recent Equifax breach, which we wrote about here. (more…)

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Piggy and I are both card-carrying members of the Highly-Educated Older Millennials Making a Liberal Arts Degree Work Come Hell or High Water Club.

High School Students Have No Way of Knowing What Career to Choose. Why Do We Make Them Do It Anyway?

We have a favorite reader demographic. And no, it’s not fellow personal-finance-slash-chicken enthusiasts, though they’re a damn close second!

It’s the Younglings. The sweet children of winter who live in the wild, welcoming woods of Tumblr. They are wise beyond their years, eager for our advice, and willing to politely overlook the old-ass pop cultural references they don’t understand.

Crying Native American man, Geocities, “fingerprints,” carrying no more than exactly 2,000 pounds of meat, the shoeing of George W. Bush, and Pogs, Pogs, Pogs!

A very frequent question we get from them concerns the choosing of a future career path. For high-school-age kids, there’s a lot of pressure to articulate some kind of plan for what you want to study, and how you’d like to translate that into a job. It’s appallingly weird that we would set such questions to fifteen-year-olds! Especially given all the ways that we as a society fail to help them find the answer.

But seriously, though: Pogs.

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I’ve Succeeded at Every New Year’s Resolution I’ve Ever Made. Here’s How.

Ah, January. The time when everyone bravely makes a super ambitious New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight™, Get Better At Money™, and Stop Stalking Exes on Facebook™. And then, before the Ides of February, quietly shelving said resolution and wallowing in nihilistic self-loathing. “Nothing ever changes, so why bother?” millions ask as they wipe Cheeto dust from their fingers to scroll through the Facebook profile of ex-boyfriend Doug Jackson and wonder how he can look so happy and fit now that he’s dating what’s-her-face.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could make a New Year’s Resolution and actually keep it?

According to Kitty, I am the only person in America who ever completes a New Year’s Resolution. I therefore consider myself a bit of an authority on the topic.

For the past five years, I have made a New Year’s Resolution. And every single year, I have succeeded at my resolution. Here’s a quick tally:

2013  Read a book a week (52 in all)
2014  Run a 5k comfortably by the end of the year
2015  Write 100,000 words by the end of the year
2016  Save $10,000 by the end of the year
2017  Do a good deed every week (52 in all)

Every one of these goals was made in the spirit of self-improvement and creating a life I love. They were rewarding, challenging, fun, and empowering. I am #livingmytruth and a dozen other inane platitudes AND SO CAN YOU!

Below, I’ll use each of my goals from the past five years as an example of effective New Year’s Resolutioning. Buckle up.
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