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If you think houses are money pits, try having a fucked-up childhood!

Stop Recommending Therapy Like It’s a Magic Bean That’ll Grow Me a Beanstalk to Neurotypicaltown

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes this an excellent time to talk more about our beautiful broken brains!

(Ahem. Because I am an honest chap, I feel compelled to stress that we did not plan this in advance. We are not nearly organized enough to do that. It was purely coincidental.)

I’m an advice column junkie. My regs right now are Where Should We Begin?, Dear Prudence, Dear Sugars, Savage Love, Care and Feeding, Captain Awkward, Ask a Manager, My Brother My Brother and Me, and the collective wisdom (?) of r/relationships. Yeah… it’s a problem.

When the subject of mental health arises, I’m perennially dismayed to see a very narrow, circumscribed answer appear again and again and again. It goes something like this:

“Go see a therapist; get counseling; find a psychologist; get into therapy; go see your school’s counselor; go to a mental health clinic; you need to be in therapy; find a support group; have you talked to your therapist; have you tried group therapy; talk to your doctor; therapy, therapy, counseling, therapy…” 

And this really bothers me.

It’s not that this advice is bad. It’s not bad! All things being equal, most people would probably benefit from therapy. I have no doubt that the net benefit of professional mental healthcare is incalculably vast.

But it pains me to see therapy described as a one-size-fits-all solution for every person in every situation. I’m someone who experiences intermittent depression. Like half of all mentally ill people in the United States, I’m not currently receiving medical care for it. This doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible or helpless. There are a lot of very understandable reasons why people can’t or won’t seek professional help. Let’s talk about a few of them.

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I looked up the leading cause of death for women on the job. It's homicide.

One Reason Women Make Less Money? They’re Afraid of Being Raped and Killed.

God bless our Patreon supporters. Seriously. In our April topic poll, I gave them several non-depressing softball article topics. But the one they wanted to read most was about the relationship between sexual assault and the gender wage gap. GOD. DAMN. You guys are the fucking best. We are so happy to be supported by people who are willing to embrace the difficult stuff.

The gender wage gap is a many-tentacled hentai monster. What is its primary driver? Is it choice of career? Education? Lack of mentors and sponsors? Familial commitments? The high cost of childcare? Lopsided domestic dutiesIngrained sexist attitudes in the culture? Unconscious bias during the hiring process? Biological differences in the brain?

Research demonstrates that it’s almost certainly a gnarly combination of all of the above. But there’s another element that doesn’t get much attention, and that’s fear of rape and sexual assault. Harassment and isolation are known contributing factors for so-called “pipeline” problems, but I’m talking about something that goes even beyond that. There are instances where the threat of rape acts as a professional barrier to women.

So today, we’re going to look at three different case studies: two from my own life and one from recent news. The last one is very exciting to me, because it’s basically the perfect case study for examining this issue.

This article talks about the existence of rape and sexual assault, but does not go into details about specific acts. Some linked articles do. Use that information as you will.

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My primary hobbies are fostering rescue dogs and writing this blog. I do these things because I am a bitter crone who thinks most people are trash, yet has not fully abdicated her responsibilities as a member of society. Go figure.

Woke at Work: How to Inject Your Values into Your Boring, Lame-Ass Job

I generally don’t find it hard to live my values in my personal life. I vote. I’m conscious of where I spend my money, which is another kind of voting. My primary hobbies are fostering rescue dogs and writing this blog. I do these things because I am a bitter old crone who thinks that most people are trash, yet hasn’t fully abdicated her responsibilities as a member of the human race. Go figure.

Where I struggle is in my working life. Like lots of folks, I work in a white collar job that doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of social issues. My background is graphic design, and my past clients have mostly been super lame and boring. Think commercial real estate databases, catering associations, paper shredding companies.

Nevertheless, over the years, I have managed to find unexpected opportunities to live my values at work. I started out as an SJW ninja, finding sneaky ways to slip in and shift the culture. Since then, I’ve graduated to bigger and bolder actions that are getting me a lot more traction.

If you want to be a good ally in the workplace, I believe that the first and most powerful thing you can do is to be solid and cool to your fellow workers. Be kind and respectful. Don’t be a shitty, judgmental, gossipy, mean coworker. Don’t work unpaid overtime. Take your vacations. Share salary information. Support unions. Expose harassment. Use your privilege for good.

But today we’re going to focus more on what you can do in your job roles.

… Job rolls?!

............BACK ROLLS?!

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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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This is Bitches Get Riches. If we need an example of an awesome intersectional hero, we'll obviously go straight to a G-rated 90s film that no one remembers.

A Little Princess: Intersectional Feminist Masterpiece?

People really don’t like to be called “privileged.” We’ve had a small number of readers who’ve felt compelled to leave comments rejecting the term. Most of these fit into one of three categories:

  1. “I am really offended that you would assume I’m a racist, because I’m not.”
  2. “I am really offended that you would assume that I am rich, because I’m not.”
  3. “I am really offended that you would assume that my life has always been easy, because it hasn’t.”

These comments speak to three of the most common misconceptions/misinterpretations of the meaning of the concept of privilege. Namely:

  1. Having privilege implies bad moral character.
  2. Having privilege implies some degree of monetary wealth.
  3. Having privilege implies that you have never known struggle, and that nothing bad or unfair has ever happened to you.

These three things are categorically untrue. But it’s hard for some people to see a more nuanced vision of the word’s meaning. It conjures up visions of sneering 1980s rich-jock villains with cashmere sweaters tied around their necks. The kind of people named ~ C h e t ~ or ~ T i n s l e y ~. That is an idea with which, very understandably, no one wishes to align themselves!

Both history and fiction are filled with privileged people of strong moral character who undergo extreme setbacks and losses. And privileged characters can make amazing heroes. There’s nothing at all about their privileges that excludes them from being admirably brave, loyal, clever, compassionate, fearsome, ambitious, or generally fascinating.

Now, this is Bitches Get Riches. If we need an example of an awesome intersectional-yet-privileged hero, we’ll obviously go straight to a G-rated 90s film that no one remembers.

God, this cinematography...

THIS MOVIE ROCKS.

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Sometimes I'm fucking appalled by what I see.

Something Is Wrong in Personal Finance. Here’s How to Fix It.

We recently wrote an article about how raising awareness isn’t enough. Our thesis was that you need to pair awareness with some kind of action. Well, good thing we practice what we preach!

Last time we talked about some of the many ways being white brings unearned financial privileges. We got a ton of great responses from readers—many of them white—who are happy that the talk is being talked within the personal finance community.

Now let’s tell you how we think you can walk the walk. Here are our suggestions to make the personal finance community more realistic, more inclusive, more ambitious, and all-around better.

Let’s get to work.

Let's get to work.

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Today I'd like to talk about one of the things this community really, really doesn't like to talk about: the financial advances of being white.

The Financial Advantages of Being White

We were recently nominated for some industry awards! This was absolutely shocking. I have no idea who nominated us or how or why, but it instantly gave me two very strong, very different reactions.

The first was a  variation on Sally Field’s Places in the Heart acceptance speech. “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Borrowing, of course, the original speech’s explosively manic and self-congratulatory tone. We feel tremendously hashtag blessed to have found so many warm and welcoming people in our short stay in the personal finance community. And we are truly grateful to all of our readers.

My second reaction was, “Shit. We’ve been pulling our punches!”

See, one of the reasons Piggy and I decided to start this blog was that too much financial advice ignored the hard questions and contentious issues that drive personal finance. Take, for example, this question: why do some people have more money than others? 

There are so, so many potential answers to this question. People are different! They have different personalities, abilities, interests, advantages, backgrounds, opportunities, drives, beliefs, and knowledge sets that combine into a set of financial circumstances unique to each individual. The personal finance community seems inclined toward examining only a few of these differences—the ones that are easy to talk about, the ones that cast a flattering light upon ourselves.

Today I’d like to torpedo all hope of winning industry awards by talking about one of the things that this community really, really doesn’t like to talk about. That subject is race, and by extension, the financial advantages of being white in a white supremacist culture.

Friends, I’d like you to extend me a little trust. Take my hand and follow me on a journey. I’m going to try to inventory some of the gifts given to me by a white supremacist culture. I didn’t ask for these gifts—there was no registry, and I will not be sending thank-you notes. But they also didn’t come with a return address, and there’s no way to refuse them. The body I was born with—that of a white woman—comes with undeniable financial advantages. And the legacy of these advantages is terrible  to consider.

Let’s consider it anyway!

You ready?

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You don't want to work for any of them.

Looking Weird at Work

This morning I was clip-clopping through the third floor stairwell of my office building. I don’t work on the third floor, it’s a completely separate department that I have no contact with; it’s just where the good coffee lives.

I passed someone on the stairs, and we glanced at each other and gave polite smiles. Then I heard her do a double-take behind me.

“Hey,” this perfect stranger said, “I don’t mean to be weird, but can I ask where you work within the company? My friends and I have seen you in the hallways and we keep trying to figure out where you work.”

It’s a strange question, right? But I know why she was asking.

It’s because I’m weird-looking.

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Econ Nerd Book Review: The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

It’s no secret that I’m interested in economic injustice. That’s why I wax grumpy and bitter about things like gentrification, fast fashion, clean water, and environmentalism. But I have a lot to learn about the kind of systemic inequality that keeps some people down while others float above.

Which is why I read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.

Alexander’s premise is simple on its surface: since its inception, the War on Drugs has targeted black and brown people at disproportionately high rates. This has led to a new racial caste system in the United States.

But of course, like anything to do with race in America, it’s far from simple. And Alexander seems to realize how far-fetched some might consider her findings because she spends, like, 20% of every chapter going “I know this sounds crazy but seriously, stick with me. Just look at this data.”

While I wasn’t completely ignorant of the racism inherent in our justice system before reading The New Jim Crow I am now completely overwhelmed with new and damning knowledge. The rules of this new and insidious Jim Crow state affect people socially and economically in disastrous, life-ruining ways, through every stage of the justice process from arrest through trial, punishment, and release.

Here’s some of what I learned.

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"Wealthy White Folks Welcome!"

Gentrification: Artisanal, Small-Batch Displacement of the Poor

I had just come home from work when three students from the college down the street approached my porch with official-looking clipboards in hand. “Excuse me ma’am,” (I’m a ma’am now? When did this happen?) “Can we ask you some questions for a school research project?”

Instead of hissing “Youths!” and retreating into the darkness of my lair, I obliged. I am a “ma’am” now, after all, and that comes with a responsibility to be magnanimous toward fine upstanding young people everywhere.

First question: “What does gentrification mean to you?”

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