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.
“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?”
I regret that this podcast was recorded before I could reference this joyful ~*cUrReNt eVeNtzZz*~ example of wealthy, comfortable people proving they’re still values-driven hippies at heart.
All thanks to our Patreon donors for bringing this episode to the world. And for voting Oreos as our next store brand food review. Hold on to your butts—your answer is on its way!
Episode transcript (click to reveal)
Theme Song 0:00
If you need some dough
You don’t know where to go
In this patriarchal capitalist hellscape
Well here’s the ‘sitch
We’re gonna help you, sis
Because bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
And so can you
There’s nothing that feels better than being completely prepared – than being ahead of whatever work is due. And yet, even though I know that I spend like 90% of my life procrastinating. No, it’s true. Like, yesterday I was, I worked real hard on a manuscript and then I was just like, I need to watch four episodes of Jane The Virgin in a row.
That’s just gonna make me that’s gonna make me feel good. So…
Haven’t you already watched all of that?
No, I’m watching the final season bitch.
Oh, okay okay okay. I’ve never seen any of it.
Oh my god what are you doing with your life?
Is she still a virgin?
No spoilers – so after she loses her virginity like no spoilers about that, but like it does happen. The title credits start like scratching out the word Virgin and like writing in other things. It’s like Jamie “Really Stressed Mom” and you know, etc, etc. But it’s always funny and there’s a Latin Lover Narrator and the whole thing is like an homage/parody of telenovelas so it’s just – it’s brilliant. You need to watch that and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend immediately.
Okay, but here’s the thing. Did you watch Fleabag?
All right. You get to give me shit about not watching those two shows when you have watched Fleabag. Here’s my pitch for it.
Okay, hit me.
There’s only two seasons.
Each of the seasons is only six episodes. And those six episodes are half hour.
Oh! Ok – I’m in.
I feel like a sense of, like, visceral relief when I start a new TV show and I see at the bottom that it’s like 23 minutes long, because it was like a half an hour formatted for TV and like, YES!, this is such a small commitment as opposed to a prestige drama where like, they’ll randomly have like, one hour, seven minute long episodes, and I’m like NO! I have so much I have to do.
There’s so much to do!
And sometimes it’s like, listen, I need to sit in front of the TV and watch a thing while I’m eating food. And I need to get up and then I need to be done. I only have so much time that it’s going to take me to eat my food. And like I need to be entertained for that time. Because like lord knows that like I can’t be alone with my thoughts.
NO! Are we recording by the way?
We are. I’m Kitty.
Oh, and I’m Piggy.
We’re the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.
We’re an anarchist motorcycle gang roaring across the post-apocalyptic landscape on steeds of iron!
And we are here to fight you to the death in our Thunderdome.
Yet, our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
Alright, so today’s letter comes to us from our Tumblr. If you’re not following us on Tumblr yet you absolutely should. Not only do we post fun stuff, but we also do a lot of Q and A’s. Sometimes I will do Q and A’s from the pub around the corner, which is like #DRUNKPIGGY and it’s in all caps. It’s very entertaining – like you’re missing out if you’re not following us on Tumblr yet.
That is a treat.
It really is. And it’s either Tumblr.com/BitchesGetRiches or BitchesGetRiches.Tumblr.com like who even knows we don’t.
We definitely should have looked that up by now.
Should have looked it up. Haven’t done it yet. Everything’s fine. All right. So here’s our question: As a progressive person and someone who was starting to get into a pretty good place financially: having an emergency fund, bought a home a few years ago, paying off credit card debts, I start to feel so guilty. It probably doesn’t help that I work in finance too. I don’t like capitalism (girl, same) but I’m working it the way I’m quote unquote supposed to. How do I feel less guilty for making myself financially healthy?
This is a really good question. And it’s one that I have heard a lot. And I think that to a certain point, this shows you the kind of social circles that you and I are likely to run in where I’ve heard this, this kind of angst a lot.
And I think it’s a combination of folks who are very mindful of the ethics of the way that they interact with the world, but also I think there’s a little bit of a fear of being perceived as a sellout. That when you are poor, that means you automatically get status into this group of people who are unimpeachable in terms of their inclusion into this morally correct club that all rich people are awful. So I need to stay safe in this poor column so that I won’t have to think too hard about how difficult it actually is to consistently make ethical purchases. It’s really hard.
Yeah. And I also want to say like, I’m going to head the criticism off at the pass and say, you know, there are probably people who are reading this are like, oh, boohoo, you’re rich, like, it sucks, like poor little rich girl. It sucks to be you feeling guilty, like some people have real problems, and that’s absolutely true, but I do think that this is something that is important to address and it’s important for us to address because of who we are, you know, to millennials who paid off our student loans when many of our friends are still, you know, mired in student loan debt. We graduated in 2009. We both were lucky enough to get work in our chosen industries while some of our friends, you know, are still waitressing or…
You were about to say hard working enough, and you got so scared and you locked your legs and you were like, I’m NOT going over that cliff! It’s a perfect example of this. I think you and I are very, VERY reticent to attribute too much of our success to anything other than pure luck of who we are, the traits we were born with, the advantages that our parents gifted down to us, and the sort of circumstances of where we happen to end up in life.
Yeah. It’s the tightrope of discussions of privilege where like, yes, one can have advantages. And yes, one can be lucky, but one can also waste luck and advantages. It is hard to admit that, you know, there are people out there who do work just as hard and don’t have luck and advantages and there are people who have luck and advantages and don’t work as hard and some combination of those qualities is what gets you where you are and I do feel like you and I have worked very hard. Like, that’s part of why we’re such good business partners with this blog and why, you know, we’re sort of on the same page, but it’s also why we’ve chosen to spend our time dispensing advice largely for free to people who, you know, either haven’t had the luck and advantages we have or don’t know how to figure it out and game the system and other ways. So, long story short, this is a great question. Let’s answer it.
Yeah. I think there’s a really big difference between participating in a capitalist society and advocating for the continuation of a capitalist society. I would say you and I are both like probably closer to those socialists spectrum in terms of our political beliefs
Noooo! Surely not!
I know, I’m really going out on a limb here.
My father is horrified.
We feel that there are certain baselines of quality of life that everyone deserves: That basically no one should deserve to starve. No one should deserve to have to sleep on the streets. No one should be able to intellectually handle more education, but financially unable to pursue it.
No one should be fighting for clean water #FlintMichigan.
It’s often difficult to not feel like a hypocrite when you’re like “I’m someone who is good at capitalism”. That does not mean that I think capitalism is a fantastic system. And I am someone who’s good at capitalism. I am really freaking good at capitalism.
You are soo good at capitalism.
I am an ENTJ. I’m very good at making money. I’m very good at navigating sort of complex social environments like corporations.
You’re a level 20 capitalist.
I am a level 20 capitalist, thank you. And really that is not a slam. Being able to live and thrive in a capitalist world is completely separate to me from saying this is “the best possible system. If I can do it, anyone can. I’m gonna, you know, spend my precious dollars and my precious votes, making sure that this is the system that we have forever and ever. Amen.”
Yeah! Listen – you were talking about the difference between advocating for capitalism and being good at playing the game. And capitalism is a fucking game.
I look at our economy as a game, I look at our financial institutions as a game. And as a game, it can be beaten, and it can be lost. And I feel very strongly that you know, our whole purpose in dispensing financial advice and advocating financial literacy is teaching people how to win the game and how to beat the game and overcome the these odds that are, you know, literally set up so that there can be losers, which is, you know, which is so horrible when you think that the losers like those are people’s lives, like there’s nothing funny about losing the game of capitalism.
If the penalty for losing is that you have like the least cool car on the block, fine, whatever. Unfortunately, the penalty for losing is like…
Yeah, like you don’t have a home or you don’t have enough money to feed yourself or you’re bankrupt from medical expenses.
And your kids get taken away from you.
Yeah, those are the consequences for losing.
Kitty & Piggy 11:08
We’re good at fucking capitalism, but we have friends who are not. And we have many friends who are not – they’re either working artists or freelancers or they’re not as financially solvent as we are for various reasons. And I often, like the letter writer, you know, I kind of compare myself to those friends and I look at it as my position as a financially healthy person is both to lift as I climb, and that means, you know, helping the people who aren’t as financially healthy as you as you are becoming more financially healthy. And also to, you know, use my power – and money is power – to dismantle the game, or at least make it less rigged against people who don’t have as much money.
I’ve talked a little bit in the past how You know I am someone who would self identify now as wealthy
You are wealthy, absolutely.
Yeah, that’s pretty recent, but we’re starting to say that without getting crazy eyes.
Remember when we lived in an apartment with like 9000 mice.
Oh my god – they were all my friends. They’d come out in the middle of the night…
They all had hantavirus.
I’d tiptoe up to collect my cheez-it crumbles from the floor. I felt like Cinderella.
Oh don’t lie. You weren’t eating cheez-its, you were eating cheese nips we know.
It’s, well listen, it was whatever I could steal from the convenience store that my friend was working at…
You’re right. You’re right.
I could just walk out with something and be like, okay, I can’t afford this. So…
…you’re going to let me walk out with it. God bless on campus convenience stores – that place is a den of iniquity.
Those were the days.
So I have talked in the past about how being wealthy I have had the opportunity – have had the amazing opportunity to extend the stability that that grants me to other people who don’t have stability. So I will give an example. One of my goodest Judy’s a gal who goes by the name Goosey she’s been around for a long enough that she gets her own animal nickname.
Goosey!! You all know her from the cheese cracker debate post.
She was our cheese cracker debate moderator.
And she was really really good at it. I’m gonna have to ask her to return with those skills for our next one, which our Patreon donors have determined is going to be Oreos and their generic ilk. Anyway, I met Goosey once. The women’s rally that was in that was shortly after the 2016 election.
January 21, 2017 – a day that will live in infamy.
Whoa, you’re amazing at remembering dates. I have got hella ADHD. So she and I…
Girl, the president is always inaugurated on the 20th of January. It was the day after Trump’s inauguration. I’m not a Rain Man. I just like – never mind.
This is all news to me. I’m lucky if I remember my birthday. So Goosey and I met once and we met through a mutual friend and I told that mutual friend later like she seems really cool. I like her. I got a great vibe from her. Like a couple of weeks later, I found out that some really awful stuff had happened to her and her partner was not being supportive in the least. And she lives with a partner and she worked in retail. So, which is another way of saying, she’s not like Scrooge McDuck, swimming in a pool filled with golden balloons. So I was able to say hey, come and live with us. Come stay with us for like a couple of months until you kind of find a new situation where you don’t have to live with this asshole who’s kind of questioning this awful stuff that happened to you. And you can save up money and she ended up staying with us for a while and not paying rent gave her the freedom to choose instead to spend her money on like a violence recovery program, which I think was super helpful for her. So I think when you become rich, which is something that we hope, kind of everyone who interacts with us online like that’s something we all hope for all of you like, believe me, like it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, but it solves A LOT of the ones that are total bullshit and not fun to deal with. And it’s a lovely thing to be, these are good problems to have, but when you do become wealthy or even like middle class and stable. What are you willing to use the money, use the stability, use the house that you’ve been able to afford letter writer? What are you going to do with that? And whatever you think you’re capable of doing, I guarantee that there’s more.
Absolutely. Okay. I’m going to go total like literary nerd on you right now. There’s a Mary Oliver quote, Mary Oliver being a poet, I think it goes something like, “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” And when I am feeling that sense of financial guilt and looking around me at people who are less fortunate, like, I think of that and I’m like, I have one chance to be a decent fucking human being. And I have one chance to get myself to a place of fulfillment and happiness. And what that means is simultaneously like, yes, doing well financially, getting myself to a healthy financial place, but also like not ignoring the people around me and I think that alleviating that guilt, whether or not it’s justified like, you’re absolutely right. One way to do that is to pay it forward, spread that good fortune around. And it doesn’t you don’t have to, you know, do it literally through taking someone into your home or donating money. But, you know, speaking out against capitalist systems that do exploit and victimize people, I do have an issue with people who claim to be progressive and then you know, don’t interrogate ways that they are systematically advantaged by the exploitation of people who are poorer than them.
Mm hmm. It’s not a good look.
It’s not a good look. It’s hard for example, you know, we’re both white women. It’s hard for us to not benefit from systemic racism like that just happens to us.
Yeah, we can’t – same for like benevolent sexism. There’s way more shitty sexism in the world. But there is some minor benefit to like, you know, I can go to Home Depot and ask for a $1 cut of lumber and I will not be charged $1.
So nice thing – I have an extra dollar.
Way to go.
Thanks a lot.
Which is great because we get paid 77 cents – anyway! No, but there are ways that you know, you can offset that privilege and that systemic advantage by acknowledging it saying, hey, this exists and it’s a problem and then going forth and doing what you can to educate others and fix it in your daily life. And you know, you’re not going to solve issues of racism and sexism and classism all by yourself. That’s just that’s too much to ask of anyone and I don’t think it’s your responsibility as somebody who is not wealthy but financially healthy – to use the letter writers terms – I don’t think it’s that person’s sole responsibility to alleviate the stress of classism, etc, in the lives of everyone the know. That’s just too much for one person.
Yeah. I think sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. If you feel like the only way that you can live a blameless life is by being impoverished – girl, you got to go back and work on that because that is not the case. We can be fortunate in so many ways. I think we mentioned some fairly big things like giving free housing to someone, loaning money to someone, those are kind of big things. But I want to emphasize how many teeny tiny little things you can do that adds the net good and help to push us away from these systems that cultivate instability because the instability is profitable to the system. One of those things, obviously voting, voting is huge and not just voting in presidential elections, but voting in your local elections. Things like school board have a huge fucking impact on people’s lives.
So just go do that.
Exactly. I also want to say like being financially healthy, like it puts you in a really coveted position where like, you don’t have to spend 80 hours a week working for money. Like so what are you going to do with those hours that you’re not filling with a second or third job? And for me, the answer was volunteering. I volunteered at a middle school teaching or just tutoring writing and reading and I don’t get paid for this, obviously. And it was one of those things where you know, my friends, my friend is their math teacher and it I was like, so do you guys ever accept volunteers and she was just like, “How soon can you start?” You know, I work in a city with one of the worst school systems in the country. So one thing I can do as a financially healthy person who doesn’t have children in the school system is I can donate my time and my expertise to help these children get the education they need to be successful in life and to achieve, you know, financial solvency in a way that their parents maybe can’t at this point. So like, I’m not saying, you know, run out and tutor or you know, volunteer at the food bank, but it is a matter of looking at how your economic privilege has positioned you in a way that you can help without your dollars, but with your time.
Yeah, I think above all, there’s an inner critic, it’s the voice that’s responsible for our self doubts, for if you have imposter syndrome. It’s the person who sits inside your brain and tells you like, You don’t deserve this much money. You don’t deserve a nice house like this. You don’t deserve this level of comfort and happiness. There are all these people in the world who don’t have those things. Why should you be the one that has it and I think that voice is really unhelpful. And really doesn’t – I think focusing on your own hypocrisies is kind of an exercise in like navel gazing that isn’t actually helpful to any poor person anywhere. You feeling bad about your financial situation literally does nothing except for make you feel bad.
Exactly. You didn’t make the game like when you’re feeling guilty about benefiting from capitalism and all the other systemic economic privileges you have. Because remember, like you didn’t make the rules you’re just trying to win the game or at least beat the game.
Then use whatever money you got winning that game to like make spiteful purchases like hehehe, now I’m going to take all of all of this like great free tax money that I got back because I’m a member of a privileged class and instead I’m going to invest it in homeless shelters. Hehehe – take that. Yeah, fuck the system. Fuck the patriarchy. Fuck capitalism, but it’s the system we have right now so that’s the system we’re going to try to teach you how to be successful in.
Yeah. And being successful in that system is the only way to beat it and help other people and destroy the system. So focus on that. I do realize this episode might come off as a little bit of like, Oh, look at all the nice things we do for poor people. And that’s not our intention here. Like it’s, genuinely you know, remember where you came from and try to help others. That’s really all we should do in life is just be – fucking be nice.
Yeah, there are lots of people who have 18 houses and who are pissed as hell that they can’t get a huge tax break on their 19th. Those people aren’t sitting and asking like, is it ethically and morally there that I have way more than my personal family’s physical needs met? Like…
Like that person is not listening to us and they’re not asking these questions.
Yeah. So it’s a great start that you’re just asking, do what you can, but don’t waste your energy feeling bad about the fact that other people have it worse than you because that is
That is not productive. And as good capitalists productivity is our number one metric for success.
I work 19 hours a day in a hamburger mine just to buy one musical record.
What is that musical record by the way?
Oh, that musical record is Weird Al Yankovic’s Like A Surgeon.
Good answer. Good answer.
I’m good with that. Are you good with that?
I’m good with that.
Alright. Listeners, if there’s a question you would like for us to answer: Go to BitchesGetRiches.com and click Ask The Bitches.
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Hey, is there anything else they should know?
Yeah, I think that I’m really attracted to fire type Pokemon. And I kind of feel like I was meant to be like a fire gym leader. Mostly it’s because I really love rubbing Rapidash. Rapidash can learn bounce, which is actually a flying type move. Like he’s incredible. Like it’s very easy to take a Rapidash and make him a well rounded creature. I’m going to go ahead and say fire Pokemon are the way to go.
Good to know.
Kitty & Piggy 26:08
That might be the first time we got it like simultaneously.
Huge thanks to Purple at A Purple Life for her help creating these transcripts!