I said I wanted to be a horse when I grew up.

The Actually Helpful, Nuanced, Non-Bullshit Way to Choose a Future Career

I waded into a lot of “career advice” as part of my research for this article. It was so universally bad that I feel stirred to apologize for it, even though I didn’t write it.

I am so, so sorry. 

We haven’t improved on any of it over the last few decades. In fact, it may have gotten worse since I was a student, back during the Polk administration.

This article is my apology to you. It contains all of the best and wisest advice I have for teenagers and young adults trying to choose which career is right for them. It may also be helpful to fellow olds who have a vague feeling that they’re ready for a change.

The key isn’t to rely on experiences. Instead you must identify and follow where the immutable parts of your deeper personality.

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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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Ah, the joys of being opinionated women on the internet!

The Bitches Get Riches Annual Review and Soirée

‘Tis the season… for the Bitches to take a break!

That’s right, my darlings. Your humble hosts are fucking tired as shit. So we’re going to take our own advice and go on a brief two-week hiatus for some R&R.

During this vacation, we will be busily contemplating the mysteries of the universe and researching all things economic and adulty. That way, when we come back from our vacation in early January, we can continue to give you the same mildly useful, humorously tasteless, unrepentantly self-referential content you’ve come to expect from us.

Just kidding. We’ll mostly be doing this:

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Meaning a necklace, not a garrote.

I Have No Gift to Bring Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum: The Anti-Consumerist Gift Guide

Kitty: <writes title>

Kitty: <pats self on back until wrist breaks>

Self-congratulatory.

As we discussed earlier this month, shopping for holiday gifts can be… well, sucky. As often as it’s fun, it’s stressful and financially draining.

But if you’ve been paying attention to our RADICAL SOCIAL JUSTICE WAR CRIES, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’re pretty conflicted about holiday gift-giving in general. Specifically, our gripe is with the hyped-up mass commercialization and the endless push to consume.

Tokens and gestures of kindness give us a seasonal thrill—I mean, we’re not totally dead inside! Merely partially! But when you hate consumerism, it can be really hard to participate in the good parts of the tradition without feeling like you’ve lost touch with your own values.

Anti-consumerism is a lake fed by many rivers. Mindless consumption is bad for people, bad for the planet, bad for your wallet, and rote and impersonal. Some people care a lot about one or two of those aspects more strongly than others. If only there was some kind of helpful venn diagram that broke down anti-consumerist attitudes about gift giving…

Oh wait! Silly me, I’m a graphic designer! I’m paid to eat data and shit venn diagrams!

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Making it to thirty with a fat bank account and a well-ordered life makes you a certifiable badass.

Ask the Bitches: How Can I Make Myself Financially Secure Before Age 30?

Are you following us on Tumblr yet? No? Well then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

No but seriously, our beloved darlings of Tumblr ask the best questions. And we love answering them because the Tumblr kids are simply inspiring in their determination to get good at adulting. Some of our answers spin out into novel-length screeds on finance, feminism, and figuring shit out.

So Kitty and I thought, why not share the best of those answers with the rest of the Bitchosphere?

Loyal follower of the Bitches pallid-etoiles asked: “Hey, BGR (sue me I acronymed it. Please don’t.), What are your wise ways of making yourself financial secure before you hit 30? What’s the best way to start financially at limited experienced 17-year-old who hasn’t any have the knowledge of what to do on her own?”

How indeed?

The fact that you’re even thinking about this at age seventeen means you win ALL THE AWARDS! Seriously, this is a great time to start prepping for your future, and you’re way ahead of the game by even reading finance blogs and trying to get your shit together.

Here’s our advice.

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Our society is deeply invested in upholding a cultural myth that all mothers know instinctively how to nurture and love. They don't.

Ask the Bitches: I Was Guilted Into Caring for a Sick, Abusive Parent for Years. Now What?

We’ve been talking a lot recently about unequal circumstances. Some people, through no fault of their own, have a harder time achieving financial independence than others. This is why the “anyone can do it,” one-size-fits-all success narrative is harmful and exclusionary.

This question is a good example of one such set of circumstances. This came to us from an anonymous Tumblr follower.

“Bitches I need advice, I have never had a job because I was guilted into caring for an emotionaly abusive sick mother right out of high school. I am twenty three and have no idea what to go into now that I am free. I’m mostly afraid of going to school because I don’t have any money, but I have no idea what jobs I can get without an education! I don’t want to work in fast food and retail until I’m thirty, please tell me you can advise this poor bitch :(“

A poor bitch indeed. Oh, my sweet child of winter.

My poor child of winter.

You have opened the door to my heart, and also my memories. Because I, too, spent a precious chunk of my young adulthood doing the exact same thing.

I ask myself why I did it all the time. The only real answer is that there is immense social pressure on children to care for their ill parents—particularly daughters. Friends and family members I hadn’t spoken with in years (or ever) tracked me down. They got my phone number from my mother, or found me on social media, and twisted my arm until it broke. I was too young and inexperienced to tell them to fuck off.

I share these details because I want you to know that you are not alone, and you will never be alone. Abusive and toxic people are very good at turning illness to their advantage. Their greedy hearts are fed by the sympathy and attention, and they will manipulate the situation to get what they want from you.

And the people who were absent? Who enabled them? Looked the other way? They’re tumbling out of the woodwork like termites to volunteer you for the job they don’t want to perform themselves.

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When you come from a family such as mine, exchanging presents at holidays becomes a massive impracticality.

How Can I Tame My Family’s Crazy Gift-Giving Expectations?

Want to know how much the average American spends on Christmas gifts in a single year?

It’s $929.

Keep in mind that this does not include airfare to visit family, food and drink for large gatherings, donations to charity, holiday decorations, or other common yuletide purchases. That’s just the gifts.

Given that a majority of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, it’s hardly surprising that a majority of Americans also go into debt to buy Christmas gifts.

This indicates there is a startling cognitive dissonance around Christmas. Our cultural scripts constantly remind us that gifts are unnecessary, that the true spirit of the season is love. Yet so many of us martyr ourselves financially to be able to give each other yet more stuff.

It’s hard to push back against the weight of tradition, but the results are well worth the effort. We Bitches, using different systems, have managed to make the last several winter holidays a stress-free, debt-free season. Here are our secrets.

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Fomo is real. But.

You Won’t Regret Your Frugal 20s

The topic of regret is a controversial one, especially in personal finance. Whole treatises have been written on the premise that if you live frugally during your twenties and make sound financial decisions for the future, you’ll regret wasting your youth as a joyless loner.

We reject this characterization of a frugal youth for a couple reasons:

  1. It doesn’t take a lot of (or any) money to have fun with your friends.
  2. You can (and should) pursue fun long past your twenties.
  3. You’re at more risk of regretting not saving for retirement than you are at risk of regretting not going out to da clerb that one time.

And yet fear of this kind of regret persists.

I get it! No one wants to constantly feel left out. FOMO is real! But I also firmly believe that no one wants to get to retirement age only to realize that all the money they could’ve lived on for another twenty to thirty years got puked out after a night of binge drinking.

Depending on a single, barely funded income stream after retirement, one that could easily go up in a puff of smoke… that’s something worth regretting.

One of our adorable and beloved Tumblr babies asked recently:

“I’ve been reading this blog for the past three hours or so and just finished the post regarding financial vampires. This reminded me of a dilemma I’ve been struggling with. I’m young and I want to have fun. I don’t want to be 35 and realize that I wasted my 20s worrying about saving money and being responsible. But on the other hand… I really want to be financially well off. Help me convince myself that I won’t regret not going out every Saturday night.”

Honey child, we are here for you.

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