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Ask the Bitches: "Is it safe to keep my money in the bank?"

Ask the Bitches Pandemic Lightning Round: “Is It Safe to Keep My Money in the Bank?”

Welcome to the Ask the Bitches Pandemic Lightning Round! We’re working around the clock to answer your questions about coronavirus, the impact of quarantine, and the recession of 2020.

Today, we meditate upon the subject of social trust. How safe is it to keep relying on our usual systems and financial institutions?

Of course by “meditate” I mean watch YouTube clips of It’s a Wonderful Life.

We’ll be coming at you fast this week, answering as many urgent questions as we can. If you appreciate the extra effort, we would love a small donation on our Patreon. Thank you!

The question

“I’m worried the coronavirus will cause enough economic fuckery that it will trigger a massive recession and banks will close due to not having workers. Is it worth it to remove the money in my account? It’s only $400, but it’s all the money I have.”

If all you have is $400, that’s not much to lose. It likely means this question asker is riding very close to insolvency and truly can’t afford to lose that $400 buffer. So I don’t blame them for freaking out!

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Like your fingerprint, or your RuPaul's Drag Race fantasy league, your emergency fund is unique to you and you alone.

You Must Be This Big to Be an Emergency Fund

Here’s a horrifying fact. 46% of Americans can’t come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. Instead of an emergency fund, those people have to use credit cards, borrow from friends and family, or just… not pay for the emergency.

Scary, right? That means almost half of my countrymen are one fender bender, one slip on the ice, one infant with pneumonia away from—at best—massive debt. And at worst, massive bankruptcy. Homelessness. Abject poverty and desperation.

Think I’m being dramatic? I’m not.

My purpose in bringing up the nightmare that is living just above the poverty line is not to nag those who can’t afford an emergency. What kind of monster would belittle people so poor they have no way of saving themselves from one minor stumble on the road to making ends meet?

I’m also not here to advocate filing for bankruptcy multiple times (let’s say six) as a legitimate means of making emergencies go away.

Instead, we’re here to plumb the depths of one of personal finance’s most enigmatic puzzles:

How much money should you have in your emergency fund?

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There are so many loopholes in pet insurance contracts that I assume they were constructed using Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

As we’ve discussed, Piggy and I are pretty obsessed with our pets. I admire Piggy’s restraint in having but a single dog. My house currently contains four dogs, one cat, six chickens, and two clinically narcissistic garbage disposals guinea pigs. Friends who know me to be an IRL Pokemon Master often ask me what my pet insurance rates are like.

My pet insurance bill is approximately zero dollars. Same goes for Piggy.

Neither of us have pet insurance. And there’s a reason.

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There is no such thing as a bacon emergency.

On Emergency Fund Remorse… and Bacon

It was an expensive day in my household.

The kitchen sink had been backed up for more than a week. I’d disassembled and reassembled it twice and couldn’t fix the problem myself, so I knew it was time to call in the professionals. Clearly the damn thing needed to be snaked, and I had neither the tools nor the know-how to handle that myself. So I called a plumber.

On top of that, my dog was experiencing… butt problems. Of the totally non-life-threatening but definitely requiring-immediate-medical-care variety. (He had an anal gland abscess, ok? It was both gross and fascinating and it completely reaffirmed my conviction that dogs are strange and magical creatures.) I have no medical training, and I would move heaven and earth for this goddamn mutt, so I called the vet.

And thus began my winter of discontent.

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Those motherfuckers always pay their debts.

3 Badass, Sexy, Totally Metal Reasons to Save $1,000

Here at Bitches Get Riches we soundly reject the notion that personal finance is a dry, boring, unsexy topic. In fact, nothing gets us metaphorically harder than a solid breakdown of modest, cautious techniques for growing personal wealth. Day drinking? More like day trading, AMIRITE?

And this is why we’ve set about to change some preconceived notions about all the wild and wondrous things you can do with a large chunk of money—let’s say $1,000 for the purposes of this article. Not quite enough to drastically change the life of the average person, but definitely enough to have some fun.

With $1k you could go to Cuba for a few days (seriously y’all, flights are dirt cheap right now). You could revamp your wardrobe! You could buy a brand new PS4 and a flat screen TV on which to play it! You and your dog could have a spa day!*

But we’re here to urge you to take a different approach. Don’t waste that $1k on basic bitchiness like a new wardrobe, a trip abroad, or canine mani pedis. At least not before you’ve cut your teeth on these badass, sexiful, metal af ways to really make $1k worth saving for.

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I've come to think that's the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person's life.

Why You Might Not Need Your Emergency Fund

Excluding my mortgage, I’m a debt-free individual. That means my credit card is a pretty lonely lil’ guy. He doesn’t even get to live in my wallet. He’s entombed in my office with my library card, my old student ID, and that Best Buy gift card with only $3.52 left on it. He has a zero-balance and a $10,000 limit.

I used to keep $6,000 in cash squirreled away as part of an emergency fund—enough to make a few rent payments if I lost my job or had to cover an unexpected accident deductible. I was very lucky, and none of those things ever came to pass; but this meant my emergency fund sat in my savings account, slowly depreciating. Meanwhile, I was toying with the idea of closing my credit card altogether—after all, I never used it.

But eventually, I saw a wonderful opportunity to justify that card, and put my emergency fund to better use: I invested the $6K and designated my credit card as my new emergency fund. I’ve come to think that’s the ideal role for credit cards to play in a debt-free person’s life.

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