Recently we got a question from a reader about how to explain a caregiving resume gap. Meaning, they took significant time off from work to care for someone who was sick or disabled. And now there’s an employment gap in their job history that they worry is negatively impacting their resume.
I haven’t seen this problem addressed much on finance and career blogs. That’s surprising, considering how common it is. One in four American adults is a caregiver to someone with a long-term illness or disability. Millions of them are simultaneously working outside the home.
It’s unendurably difficult to be a full-time employee and a full-time caregiver. But the “second shift” is a reality for many people. Caregivers pay an incredible physical and mental toll to do what they feel must be done. It makes perfect sense that someone would choose to pause one to focus on the other.
But of course that doesn’t stop certain prospective employers from holding that choice against you in your job search…
It’s that time of year again, Bitch Nation! SUMMER VACATION!
Long time devotees of the Bitches know that we take precisely two hiatuses (hiati? I’m a highly paid professional editor) every year: one in winter and one in summer. And our summer hiatus starts riiiiiight about… meow. So say good-bye to your Bitches for two whole weeks!
During the break we’ll be doing some richly deserved grape-eating and cabana-boy-gazing. Hah! Just kidding. As usual, we’ll use this time to work on the site and begin production on the next season of the podcast. Call it a “working vacation”—that most repugnant of contradictory terms.
Even though you won’t hear from us for two weeks, we won’t leave you empty-handed. Can’t have you getting bored or restless with no riveting personal finance content to keep you edutained! So of course this hiatus comes with homework.
Behold, the 2022 Bitches Get Riches Summer Reading List:
The stock market looks real ugly right now. The last six months have been some of the worst for the stock market in the last decades. The Nasdaq is down by 30%, the S&P 500 by over 20%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 15%. It’s lookin’ like a crash, a recession, an “economic downturn”! Which, uh… isn’t pretty.
That’s why I’m choosing not to look!
Because when I do look, it seems like aaaaall the gains I’ve earned by investing in the stock market have shriveled up like a scrotum on Hoth. It looks, in other words, like I’ve lost a lot of money.
But have I really? When the stock market crashes, do you really lose money?
In light of the overturning of Roe v Wade, it’s with a heavy heart that I revise and expand this article from 2019 with a new goal to take back reproductive rights.
Our mission at BGR is to help people use money as a tool for greater personal autonomy, community stability, and social justice. The sudden unjust denial of abortion access to many Americans has us utterly shaken. We have stated many times that reproductive rights are a non-negotiable basis for success. It is impossible to work toward any of those goals without the right to freely determine the number and timing of potential children. But here we are.
The average American child costs a quarter million dollars before they reach age eighteen. The idea that any person or family should be forced to make such a financial commitment—or several such commitments—for something they don’t passionately want is fundamentally repugnant to us.
We mostly write about money and careers on Bitches Get Riches. It’s not because we love them so much we wanna kiss ‘em on the mouth—it’s because in the society that we have today, money and careers are the best tools we have to attain complete independence and autonomy.
We believe that each individual is an expert in their own happiness. And given a modest level of financial stability, people will have the freedom to make the choices that make their lives feel deliciously worth living.
Limiting abortion access—much less criminalizing it—stands in direct opposition to these values.
Piggy and I are sick with worry for the people impacted by this ruling. We’re grieving, as we know many of you are too. We are not alone. We’re not even a minority, as two thirds of Americans didn’t want this ruling. But we’re also furious, and ready to fight. Together, we have more power than the tyrannous minority of withered shitheads bent on turning our country into a racist, misogynist, corporate-sponsored theocracy.
Phew. Getting spicy and it’s just the intro! Did I mention I am furious?
Today we’re discussing how, and why, to take back reproductive rights. How do we get abortions to people who need them? Who can undo this injustice, and what can we do to exert influence on them so they take action? And how do we make sure that the changes endure permanently? Let’s get into it.
This Bear Market (i.e., when the stock market plunges and investors start sweating bullets, not a charity auction event I’m sure is occurring somewhere this Pride Month) is scary stuff. It can be incredibly difficult to stick to a long-term investing strategy when it looks like you’re losing hundreds or even thousands day by day. Cutting your losses and pulling your money out of the stock market is a strong temptation.
For the record, we don’t recommend doing anything so hasty. But we also feel your pain! Which is why we’ve always recommended mitigating your risk by diversifying your investments. Remember our classic lesson about horcruxes and investment diversification? If not, go read it now. I’ll wait.
Welcome back! Today we’re introducing one of my favorite diversification horcruxes: small business investing—a lovely little option for the nervous stockholder looking for another way to grow their money outside of the stock market… while keeping their ethics intact.
In the past, when asked about sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner, our advice has boiled down to one word: don’t.
There are two main reasons we’ve tended toward this perspective. First, many of the specific questions we’ve gotten on this topic have been, um… ill-advised? Often they’ve come from young people with limited life experience asking how to most expeditiously derail their lives. (“Myself and my four best friends are juniors in college, and rent in our city is super expensive, so we want to buy a house together! We haven’t been roommates yet, but we’ve all been best friends since grade school and have never fought about anything. None of us have credit yet. Can we all just co-sign five separate loans for each other? Thanks in advance!”) We will continue to answer such questions with a gentle yet robust one-two slap.
Reason #2 we’ve historically cautioned against sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner?
Times were different.
Sooooooo much has changed since we started this blog. Political unrest, widening inequality, spikes in unemployment, a global pandemic, war, inflation, a new recession… during all this turmoil and strife, I’ve found it clearer than ever that none of us can weather these changes alone. Total independence is a luxury few can afford anymore.
Our systems are designed to make it easy and safe to share money with only two categories of people: spouses and immediate family members. If you don’t have—or want—those traditional ties, it puts a lot of pressure on you to fully and independently support yourself. And if there was ever an era in which that was doable and sustainable, that era has officially passed us the hell by!
Which means we need to reevaluate our stance on sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner. We need to do better to legitimize chosen families and normalize community support. So today I’m offering a high-level overview of some of the best ways for sharing finances with someone other than a romantic partner.
If I had to rank all the things I love to do in my precious free time, where would opening a retirement account fall? Let me see, hmm… above a root canal, but below politely accepting a religious tract from a door-knocking missionary. (What can I say? Some of them have pretty nice artwork!)
Have you been procrastinating on opening your retirement account? Feeling lazy? Avoidant? Afraid of the paperwork? Feel like you’d rather use that money on stuff you need or want right now? Obviously, I feel you.
But buck up, son! I’m about to tell you why you can’t afford not to open a retirement account.
Wait… what’s a retirement account again?
To recap with a vast simplification: Americans have access to two main kinds of retirement accounts.
First, a 401(k)—or 403(b), if you work for a nonprofit—is a retirement fund facilitated by your employer. You set it up so they can take money directly out of your paycheck and squirrel it safely away for you to use when you’re terrorizing orderlies in the nursing home. That way you can focus on maintaining your record as Wheelchair Drag Race Champion of Shady Hills Retirement Community and not get distracted by petty financial concerns.
Second, there’s IRAs (individual retirement accounts), both traditional and Roth. IRAs are very similar to 401(k)s, but they’re attached to you directly instead of your employer. There are other differences, but meh, they’re pretty minor. You can get acquainted with the finer points later.
Retirement accounts are powerful tools for growing wealth and stability for your future self. The trick is you have to opt into your retirement account. If you’re self-employed, or you work for a company that doesn’t offer 401(k)s, you need to go out and open your own IRA. And if you work for a company that offers 401(k)s, you need to sign up and voluntarily tell someone to NOT give you part of your paycheck every month.
As broke as you are right now, ignoring a perfectly good retirement fund is a terrible idea. Because if you do that, you’ll lose money in three different ways.
Let’s talk about the logistics of paying for large purchases. As in: When should I get a loan? And how big should that loan be? Should you ever forego a down payment or paying with cash even when you can afford it?
Unlike the suitcase full of dirty laundry you brought home from that conference three whole weeks ago… let’s unpack this! And our favorite way to unpack a problem is with a real-live question from a real-live reader with a real-live dilemma:
Hello sage bitches. My trusty old car is on its way out, and I’m going to need to get a new one soon. I do have enough money in savings to buy it outright without a loan (though it would put a… substantial dent in those savings), but some family members keep saying it might be a better idea to see if I can get a low-interest loan instead, because it “would be good to have paid off a big loan.” I do have a credit score of ~800, so it’s possible that I could get a decent loan, and I have heard a lot of vague things about how it’s good for your credit to have payed off a big purchase before, but something in me hates the idea of having to pay a higher total sum than I have to. Any advice?
An anonymous yet glorious citizen of Bitch Nation we’ll call Chickadee
In other words: “Should I get a loan just to improve my credit score even if I can afford to pay cash?”
Structural discrimination against single people is the latest topic chosen by our Patreon donors. It is sooooo like them to throw research-heavy bummers my way. Thanks a lot, you beneficent bastards!
I used to think that the biggest financial turning point in my life was when I stopped being self-employed (read “chronically underemployed”) and got a Big Girl Job™ with a steady paycheck and health benefits. It was transformational. I felt suddenly, magically middle class. Like the fairy godmother turned down the heat on her princess-making magic wand to something just as good, but slightly less flashy.
But now, I question if that was really my greatest turning point. Because around the same time, I started dating a friend of mine. Financial pressures pushed us to commit to moving in together almost immediately. In the jumble of first/last/security payments on a new apartment and a flurry of Craigslist secondhand furniture purchases, it took a while to feel any financial benefits to partnership.
I see more clearly now how much dual incomes and shared expenses contributed to our long-term stability, to a magnitude no job could ever touch.
At the structural level, our economy financially punishes single people. I think it often rises to the level of discrimination. But even when it doesn’t, single people statistically have less financial security, and thus will feel “normal” economic strains faster than partnered people.
I’m striving with all my being to discuss this topic without making an “all the single ladies” joke. 2008 was four hundred years ago, and I’m clinging to cultural relevancy with only my fingertips.
Kitty was once at an event where a credit card company was hawking their new cash rewards credit card. The credit card rep excitedly told her about all the cash back rewards she could earn by using the card, and how the interest wasn’t even “that bad!”
But mama didn’t raise no fool. Instead of falling head over heels for low interest, Kitty asked, “But what if someone pays off the credit card debt in full and on time? Will they still get the rewards?”
“Ah,” the credit card rep sighed, “we call those people deadbeats.”
That’s right: deadbeats. Credit card companies fucking hate people like Kitty and I. And that’s exactly how we like it!