Barbara Sloan’s New Book Dares To Suggest Service Industry Professionals Deserve Financial Stability Too

Last year at the EconoMe Conference in Cincinnati, Kitty and I were excited to meet many a cool human. Much to our general shock and consternation, many of those cool humans were excited to meet us too! And not just because we were like “Hi we’re friends with Paula Pant.”

This is where we met Barbara Sloan, founder of Tipped Finance. Barbara is a veteran of the tipped workforce: a former waitress, bartender, stripper, and several other tipped professions. More importantly, she’s also a huge money nerd. She has made it her mission to dispense financial know-how specifically tailored to service industry professionals! And she does it all with the fierce determination and tireless badassery we like to see in our women.

Meeting Barbara caused a lightbulb to go off in our collective brain (we each operate with only half a brain at any given time and only manage to get things done when working together… barely.)

The halls of personal finance media are packed with self-styled money gurus dispensing no-brainer advice (“Spend less than you earn”) to people who don’t really need it (“I make $240k a year and spend $260k on cable, Cadillacs color-coordinated to my daily mood, and indoor jacuzzis for my dog houses. Why am I broke???”).

But advice for people working for tips is thin on the ground. After all, it’s way harder to achieve financial independence—or even a comfortable retirement—while working for tips than it is while working for a salary and benefits. We’ve been over this! Tipped professionals don’t usually have things like an employer-sponsored, tax-advantaged retirement account or even employer-provided health insurance. Conventional wealth-building advice just doesn’t apply to these folks.

So why is there so little financial guidance out there for the tipped?

Tipped: Now it’s a book!

Fortunately for all of us, our Lorde and Saviour Barbara has bestowed upon us a brand new book to fill the knowledge gap. Enter Tipped: The Life Changing Guide to Financial Freedom for Waitresses, Bartenders, Strippers, and All Other Service Industry Professionals by Barbara Sloan.

Tipped, the new book by Barbara Sloan, provides service industry professionals with a path to wealth.

If you’re a service industry professional who has ever read a guide to personal finance and been like “Ok cool I’ll just talk to my nonexistent HR manager about increasing my contribution to my nonexistent 401(k) and while I’m at it opt into my nonexistent HSA”… this book is for you. It was born out of the frustrated cries of millions of service industry professionals sick of being excluded from financial paths to wealth and stability.

An interview with author Barbara Sloan

I sat down with Barbara to pick her brains right after I read absorbed the book. And because our combined beauty is too perfect to be hidden from the eyes of our readers, I released the whole interview on our YouTube channel. You’re welcome, aesthetic connoisseurs of the feminine form!

Without further ado, here’s our full interview with the incomparable Barbara Sloan, author of Tipped.

Tipped is available for purchase right now, just in time to remind you it’s not too late to make “get good at money” your New Year’s Resolution. Visit the Tipped Finance website or your local librarium for a copy. You can also follow Barbara on Instagram @TippedFinance.

Interview transcript (Click to reveal)

Piggy: Well, welcome bitchlings. I am here with Barbara Sloan, who is one of our favorite human beings in the world. You will know her from her media empire Tipped Finance and more importantly, her brand new book Tipped, which we did a give-away for recently on our Patreon. Look at that! So I love it. I have read it cover to cover, and it has just blown my mind all over the wall behind me. So without further ado, Barbara, welcome to Bitches Get Riches.

Barbara: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

Piggy: As you fucking should be.

Barbara: Yeah, I am. I’m honored.

Piggy: You should be, you should be. I’m going to start with a very hard hitting question.

Barbara: Okay.

Piggy: So gird your loins. All right. So first question: If you had to be trapped on a desert island with one money media celebrity, who would it be? And keep in mind, this can be the person you can stand to be alone with for the longest period of time, or it can be the person who you’re most comfortable cannibalizing.

Barbara: Yeah, I guess I would go cannibalizing. Like I’m stuck on a desert island, it’s probably not going to be somebody that I’m gonna get along with for the entire time. So I’m gonna have to get used to like hating them, right? I would probably go with Suze Orman, then.

Piggy: Okay, all right, coming out strong eating Suze. I like it.

Barbara: Yeah. Like. Why didn’t you come out earlier? Why weren’t you more of an LGBTQ advocate and ally, and like using your platform for good in all the ways. And like, yes, you did do some very good. But like, come on.

Piggy: Yeah, she deserves to be eaten. Very good answer. So moving on to a less serious question. So your book talks a lot… [laughter] I know, I’m just like breezing by the cannibalism. So in your book you talk a lot about SIPs, which stands for service industry professionals, and that’s everyone who works for tips essentially. So waitstaff, bartenders, strippers, nail techs… anybody who works in the tipped economy. And this sets your book apart because you might have noticed, and I certainly noticed, not a lot of other personal finance gurus are talking to SIPs, or about SIPs or issues that specifically concern the finances of SIPs. So why do you think that is?

Barbara: Yeah, I hadn’t come across one, which is why, after dealing with a ton of imposter syndrome, I was like fine. It’ll be me. Fine, I’ll do it. You know, dragging me kicking and screaming. I think a lot of people don’t realize how many people work in this industry. It’s the largest private sector employer in the United States. There’s over 5.5 million people who work partially or solely on a tip-based income. So it’s a huge part of our population. And yeah, I think one reason is that people often assume that these positions are not serious, are not long term positions, are not–maybe they assume that they can’t take advantage of them, because there’s not a lot of income there. So a lot of financial services, they like to get paid, and they go for where they see the money. And a lot of people don’t see these industries as having relevant and real income—which they do! I would say, those are the reasons that most people don’t think of it.

Piggy: Yeah. Which is like very mercenary. It never occurred to me that it was just like financial planners being like oh these people don’t have finances to plan so I’m not going to bother with them. But you know, like a good business person, you are looking at where the hole is in the market, and being like well, you know, I’m a former tipped person. I’m a SIP, like I can go and talk to these people, which I love.

Barbara: I just couldn’t hear one more person say, just don’t forget about your 401(k) match, and I’m just like…makes me want to scream, but like, most people shouldn’t forget about it. But there’s so many people that that does not apply to.

Piggy: Yeah, absolutely. I I think, in your book you stated some ridiculously low figure for the percentage of people in the United States who even have a 401(k) through an employer.

Barbara: It’s less than 5% in the service industry have access to a 401(k). Yeah. But you know, obviously this industry is very problematic in and of itself as an industry. How tipping came to be is super problematic history, but it is–the owners and purveyors of these establishments are not evil, you know people who are like we don’t want to give our employees benefits. These industries run on really small margins, and they often wouldn’t survive if they had the overhead of an HR person, or the expense of the compliance that it takes in order to run things like a 401(k). Like there’s a lot goes into running a 401(k). There’s a lot of compliance measures, Safe Harbor, you know. I mean it’s just it’s a complicated thing, and you have to have educated people who understand how to make sure you don’t get like fined as a business.

Piggy: That’s what’s terrifying to me like, you know, as a small business owner myself. I have friends who are tipped or working in small businesses and you’re absolutely right. It can be so hard to walk that fine line of profitable margins, while also, you know, making sure you’re compliant with taxes, taxation, and labor laws, and like treating your employees like human beings, so they can get ahead financially.

Barbara: Yeah. And should employers be providing more? Yes, the Federal minimum wage is $2.13, which is just…it’s deplorable, and employers are gonna have to start moving the needle a little bit. We have to make changes federally, state, and at corporate levels. But it can’t all be done at once. It has to be done slowly, so these employers can catch up. And these employers were among some of the hardest hit during the pandemic, so they’re starting from even more behind the line. So it’s not–I spend a lot of time in Facebook groups reading messages, and what I’ll often hear is people saying like why am I responsible for paying, making up for this employer who’s not paying their employee, and it’s like well, that’s not how this works right. Most people don’t understand that there’s multiple types of employment. Tipped employment is one type and that type requires this two-part payment processing. One is the sub minimum wage, hourly wage, that the employer provides and the other part of the compensation is the tip that you provide, and that is how this industry was designed. So most people that I talk to who are in the industry. They like the risk versus reward aspect to it. They like to know that a part of their compensation is based on their performance. All of it? No, no one wants that. Everyone wants like a living wage as the base of their compensation. They would also like benefits on top of that. But they like the tipping aspect where they’re like, you know what? This is a skill set that I’m really great at. I’m great at engaging with people. I’m great at either dancing, or, you know, in performing, or smiling, or serving, or points of service, or whatever it is, I’m great at giving a massage. I’m great at doing these things, and I want to be rewarded based on how great I am at it. And it is, it’s a nice way to make sure that you feel served in those establishments is to have that dynamic. One of the other industries that used to be tipped as well, I write this in the book, was the railroad industry used to be tipped. And you know I often ask people like when was the last time you had an amazing time with a train worker? Like I don’t. I just haven’t.

Piggy: As a survivor of the Boston subway, I really genuinely can’t think of a single time.

Barbara: Yeah, so you know, it’s nice to know that that service is part of it, because I would hate to lose that in these establishments that make up our communities, restaurants, bars, clubs, beauty, and body services. That’s the fabric of our communities, and when we all felt them go away during the pandemic, it left a huge void. You know? The people that we talk to, our bartenders, our hair stylists, those are who we tell our secrets to, that’s where we get our advice from. When those people are not there, our communities are impacted.

Piggy: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, you’ve just totally blown me away again, as you usually do. It seems like we do have this cultural stigma against service industry professions, and I don’t mean like we hate them, but there is sort of this, you know, you mentioned in the book people kind of offending you or hurting your feelings by being like oh, you know you’re waiting tables now. But what do you really want to do for your career, or like what profession are you working up to that’s not this? And I just, I want to know why you think that is? Why we depend on SIPs so much, and yet disrespect their chosen professions on the same hand?

Barbara: I hate this question and I love this question. When people are like, “what’s your real job?” Mostly the people who are asking it are poor-mannered pricks. But there is something underneath there, and what’s underneath there is the person, the patron, is saying like I followed these things in my life because I thought I had to. So how do you get to do what you do and still take care of those things? Right, how do you get to have this fun job where you’re engaging, or you get to go home at the end of the day and not worry. You get to see the beginning and end of a creative process. You get to have socializations, you know, with all of these different types of people, how do you get to do this and still make your life work? Because I thought I had to chase different things. And then on the other side of it, what the SIP doesn’t here is that person saying, there’s these systems that I have, that I’m pretty sure you don’t have. And that seems like a problem. And the reality is, it is a problem. It is a problem. So there’s truth in that question of like, there is some concern there, and some curiosity. So I think what I like to encourage people to do in that question is to answer somewhere where truth meets possibility, and to say something like, you know, this is my job, and I am working really hard, and I’m keeping my eye open for opportunities, and I set myself up with paid time off, I set myself up with my retirement funds, I set myself up with health insurance, and that’s how I make all of this work. Because I think that’s the curiosity portion of it from people. But the reason I think people seem to think of these positions as way stations is you know we just all–we’re all a little influenced by the media and by what we see, and it’s a trope that we often see it’s like, oh, this waitress, this dancer, this bartender working their way to this next thing, and it’s a trope that we see all through Hollywood, and I think that’s why most people think it’s like oh, it’s on the way to something else. The other side of that being that the benefits are not there. And so people think that it’s not a sustainable career path because those benefits are not there, and that’s a big part of why I wrote this book because I wanted to show people that you can create your own benefits while we wait and beg for the system to change is that you can do a lot of this yourself. Shouldn’t have to. But you can.

Piggy: Yeah. Well, so let’s talk about that. Because this is definitely, you know something that I know Kitty and I agree with you on is that like you know, we need to survive the world we have while still working for the world that we want, and working towards a better system and a more equitable society. And so a lot of what you do in this book is you’re talking about pretty standard financial topics, budgeting, investing, credit, saving for retirement. But it’s all through this completely different lens of being a SIP and working in industries that do not have employer sponsored retirement accounts, that do not have employer sponsored health insurance most of the time. So like, if you could sort of get it down to like the nugget of wisdom like, how do you think all service industry professionals should approach their own financial freedom without these systems that are accessible to other people, but exclude them entirely?

Barbara: Yeah, I think my goal in this book was that all of these 9 to 5 type industries, they have an HR person which tells them how to do all of these things. And so my book was sort of like, I want my book to serve as the HR. To tell you how to do these things, and for SIPs I think that they do need to take the classic pillars of financial advice and just modify them slightly to work for whether you’re living on a fluctuating income, whether or not you are only getting cash, and you don’t have–you know, there’s some ways if you’re unbanked, for instance, that you can utilize that aspect of your employment to work for you. Everything starts with an emergency savings fund. And I think that’s a classic one that it’s across every industry. Everyone needs an emergency fund. I think, even more so for people in this industry. We just talked about power imbalance and the dynamics that you work. There’s a lot of power on the other side of that table, of that serving situation. And you need this emergency fund to protect you, and to know that you can say no to certain situations. And it’s not just an emergency fund for the things that are happening outside of your workplace, but also it serves as an emergency fund for the things that are happening inside your workplace. And so I sometimes call it a Fuck Up Fund, a Fuck You Fund. It’s All the Fucks Funds. I hope I’m allowed, I assume I’m allowed to swear on here…

Piggy: We have a minimum quota for swears on Bitches Get Riches. So don’t worry.

Barbara: Okay, excellent. But so you have to start there and build up an emergency fund for yourself, because it protects you and allows you to stay in this industry and to protect yourself while you’re in this industry. You deal with the general public, and as we know, the general public is awful. They can put you in some strange and unsafe situations. And so, if you are reliant on these tips in order to pay your rent, each of those tips, then you are going to be less likely to look within and decide if you can actually accommodate that person’s request or needs; whereas, if you have some savings built up, you can say you know what I’m gonna go tell my manager that you need to be kicked out, and that I don’t care about the tip of this table because I have an emergency fund, and you can go fuck yourself. So yeah, it starts with the emergency fund, and then we move on to the other more classic employer provided benefits. And the thing I love about the emergency fund that I like to say to SIPs is like, this is the one thing that everyone in the industry, no matter what industry you’re in, you have to create it for yourself. So here you’re not left out. Everyone is creating this for themselves. This is not provided by anyone else’s employer. But you still need it. So you’re not being left out of this one. The rest of them you’re totally being left out of, and we’ll get to those. For retirement plans, you guys also just did an awesome, awesome episode about how to retire without access to quote-unquote traditional retirement accounts. And you did such a beautiful job, saying like the only thing that makes it a retirement account is that it’s tax advantaged. That’s it. A brokerage account, I say this in the book too, where I’m like, any account that you get at a brokerage is a brokerage account. They just all have these different fancy names because of tax rules. So a brokerage account can be used for your retirement, and that’s what a lot of people in the service industry have to use. If you are somebody who gets technically a W2, and that means you probably get like a paycheck of like $40 because taxes eat most of it, then you have access to an IRA, and then, once you fill that up, you move on to the (401)k. Or sorry once you fill up the IRA, then you move on to the brokerage account. If you are a 1099 person, let’s say your employer doesn’t provide you with that W2 at the end of the year, and you’re considered more of a consultant, which–I love this. I think a lot of people are like my employer’s a dick because they 1099 me instead of putting me on the books. I actually think this is a superpower for you, because one, you can set yourself up with like a solo 401(k). Or you know, I prefer solo 401(k), but you could also do like a SEP 401(k) or SEP IRA, but you have a lot more options as far as retirement accounts if you’re a 1099. You also can write off your health insurance. You can also write off your cell phone bill. You are a business. You’re an employer. You are employing yourself if you’re a 1099.

Piggy: Absolutely. Oh, my god! I love that. You just took this concept of, you know, being almost a victim of your employer when you’re a SIP and turned it around to like. No, no, no, you’re totally empowered to start this health savings account, this retirement, on your own terms, not at the whims of anyone who deigns to give you a job. And I love that attitude. That’s incredible.

Barbara: Yeah, I mean, if you’re gonna be fucked over by your employer like, have them fuck you the whole way so there’s a lot more benefits.

Piggy: Hell yes! You heard it here first. Barbara Sloan says “let your employer fuck you the whole way.”

Barbara: The whole way.

Piggy: So you can take advantage of those benefits.

Barbara: So that you can get a solo 401(k).

Piggy: Exactly. Oh, my god, I love this. Oh, okay. Well, so speaking of ways that employers fuck people over, let’s talk about the way that we are all fucked over through the predatory system of credit. You talk about in your book how credit and credit scores are a predatory, classist system. I love that you don’t shy away from this issue, and you address it head on, but you address it, because, unfortunately, SIPs are almost more likely to fall into a bad credit score through no fault of their own. So let’s talk a little bit about credit. Why it becomes so hard for SIPs to build good credit and maybe you know what they can take as the first step to getting their “credatory” house in order.

Barbara: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of reasons that SIPs fall prey to the debt cycle, a big one being that they are operating off of fluctuating income. And when you’re operating off of fluctuating income, and you don’t have any financial literacy, it can be hard to figure out how to budget. That’s how most people operate in their financial lives in this industry, is whatever doesn’t fit in the day to day gets put on credit, and I’ll do my best to pay it off as more income comes in. And you know, I think a lot of financial services are predatory in the way that they will give rates based on somebody’s income. And for a lot of people in the industry, you’re not claiming your income for a myriad of reasons. One, you don’t track your income in this industry, and anyone who tells you that they would track their income if they didn’t get it on a W2 is lying. Like business owners, you have to track all of your stuff. It’s a pain in the ass, and if you didn’t know you had to do it, you wouldn’t do it. So people in this industry, they get a lot of cash. They get a lot of different ways of payment, so they don’t necessarily track their income. But in our financial system, your rates are based on your income. So if you have, let’s say you claimed $15,000, your rates for a credit card, for a personal loan product, for even a mortgage, are going to be predatory in nature. They’re going to be higher because you’re not seen as a good candidate. And so those rates, when you don’t understand the compounding effect of those interest rates, they are going to take over your income. That debt pay off is going to take over your income.

Piggy: Yeah. You say something similar about Social Security as well. You know, it’s kind of counterintuitive, because you know, your Social Security when you retire, is based on the income you made throughout your life. But if you’re a SIP and you’re trying to save as much as you can, you might not report all of your income. So then, you know 20, 30, 40 years down the road, when it comes time to collect your Social Security, your income is artificially deflated and therefore you’re getting less in Social Security. So I love that you take that approach in the book of like, no, it’s a huge pain in the ass but at the end of the day, in your sunset years, it’s really going to benefit you to report all of that income. Which is so unfair.

Barbara: Yeah. The majority of retired SIPs rely solely on Social Security only, which is terrifying. And if you consider they also don’t claim their income… Last year, was it last year or 2020? Average Social Security check was like less than $20,000, and that’s for people who claimed in full! So it’s no wonder that SIPs become the most economically disadvantaged people in our population, like next to veterans. Like it’s terrifying for this population. So claiming their income is one huge thing that you advocate for, that I advocate for, because it is, it’s a little counterintuitive. You’re like oh, I want to save on taxes. All these other bitches and assholes are getting pre-tax benefits. I’ll consider this my pre-tax benefits and not claim these taxes, and I don’t blame a single person. So if you want to continue to do a portion of it, maybe 25%. Right like, I won’t, I won’t. I would never, I would never advise that.

Piggy: Never.

Barbara: Never advise that. But you do have to claim your income, because Social Security, because you don’t want to fall prey to this predatory lending, and also because majority of Americans build their wealth through 2 ways: their 401(k), and through their primary residence. And if you want to get in on real estate, then you have to be claiming your income.

Piggy: Yeah, you’ve got to be showing that you actually earn money. Ugh, so unfair. Okay, so.

Barbara: And they’re capable of it, because typically in this industry it’s not an income problem. There are definitely people who have an income problem in this industry. But majority of people do not suffer from an income problem. We don’t track our income, and so we don’t realize the power that it has, and you know it–we’re also paying for a lot of benefits ourselves.

Piggy: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Report that income, so you can use it for your benefits. Well, so not to keep like being a fucking Debbie Downer, but let’s talk about yet another way that SIPs are kind of financially disadvantaged, and this was a light bulb moment for me reading your book when you were talking about the cost of winding down. So, for example, you talk about spending an eight-hour shift on your feet, running around behind the bar, dancing and just like getting exhausted at working to, you know, serve people, and at the end of the day, you gotta go home and you’re gonna sleep extra hours to make up for that exhaustion. You’re going to spend extra money to have a drink to wind down with friends. You’re going to spend time, money, and resources that you don’t have, or you can’t afford to spare, to recover from just the utter toll of your work. And this blew me away as a concept because I filled in a bartending shift this–sorry my dog is–he’s like, that’s right.

Barbara: We need all the dogs to jump in on this point.

Piggy: Exactly. Dogs support SIPs. But no, I filled in a bartending shift Saturday night at my friend’s brewery, and I came home and I was exhausted, and I slept for 10 hours. And I was like, you know what, I could have used a couple of extra hours of being awake to like, pursue my personal goals or do something I enjoy. And yet the cost of doing that job just took too much out of me. So I want to talk, I want to hear more about this concept that just blew me away, and I want to understand why you think the cost of winding down is such an important consideration for SIPs as opposed to people who work 9 to 5, for example.

Barbara: Yeah. So people who work 9 to 5, when they’re done with their shift or their work, they have a bigger mental drain as opposed to a physical drain. SIP work is different, especially if you’re in the bar, club, restaurant industry side of it. You leave a shift almost more energized. You just came off this big rush. You have like, a high at least right following your shift. The crash comes, for sure. And so you have to kind of burn that extra energy off after your shift, which is why most service industry people go to the bar after their shift is over. They’re not ready to go home and just fall and collapse in bed. Some people are, you definitely were. There’s definitely, you’re working a double, you’re working 10 hours, like you’re going home and crashing. But for a lot of people, if you’re working a typical shift, it gets you energized. So most people go to the bar, and they spend a good portion of what they just made to wind down, and it’s a cost of working that people don’t realize. The people who are in a 9 to 5, who just want to go home and crash on their couch as soon as they’re done, they have a $12 box of wine sitting on their counter, and they’re able to just pour that, whereas everyone else who’s like, you know what, I didn’t get to socialize with any of my coworkers because we were slammed and now I want to have a little water cooler talk and talk about my day and talk about my a shift and connect with humans before I just go back into my home and sleep for 10 hours to start over and do it again. And so there is that cost of winding down which is not across every industry. But it’s something to consider, because with all things money, you want to be intentional. And you want to know how much is it costing me to actually do my job? How much is it costing? Am I spending 30, 40% of what I make on this shift in order just to work? How much am I having to pay to play? And then you can make considerations of like, oh, you know what, do I want to be cut earlier to know that I could just not even be tempted to go out? Maybe I’ll get cut for my shift, and then I’ll just go straight home, and not only will I save a few hours of energy, but I’ll save it $100 and not spend that by going out afterwards. So it just allows you to make more informed decisions throughout your day.

Piggy: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So let’s talk about my favorite topic: fetishes. You mentioned you kind of use budgeting as a secret fetish in this. You talk about how people sometimes feel shame about managing their money, and so they hide whether or not they’re starting their own HSA or budget, or whatever. And I just I love that comparison, and I also want to know like, should we be treating our budgets like we treat our fetishes? Should we be hiding it from our fellow SIPs, instead of like sharing the knowledge wealth?

Barbara: I do love the comparison of fetish work to budgeting, and I think there’s a lot of overlap. I say that everything I learned about budgeting I learned through actual doing fetish work. And the first thing that I like to say is that only people who are into feet, want to talk about feet.

Piggy: Yes!

Barbara: Yeah, and I think the same thing is true about finances. If you are interested in getting better with your money, if you’re interested in budgeting, if you’re starting to get on this journey of financial freedom, financial literacy. You need to talk to people who care about these things. If you have a bunch of co-workers who are only interested in talking about the spend side of the equation, what they bought, the fashion, the going out, the this, the that. They’re not going to be excited to talk to you about your budget. They’re not going to be excited about you learning about a brokerage account. They’re just not. So you need to find like-minded people, and it’s very similar in the fetish community and the kink community. You need to find like-minded people, to talk about what you’re into, so that you can feel supported. The second thing that I like to say in comparison to budgeting and fetish is is the secrecy side of it. No one needs to watch you budget unless that’s what you’re into. And the same thing is true with kinks and fetishes. No one needs to know about it unless that’s gonna help support you. If you have people in your life who will not be supportive, then you don’t need to talk about your budget. You can just say you know, I have a lot of obligations right now. And they don’t need to know that you are trying to save more. So sometimes we have people in our life who will sabotage us because they want us to stay–they want us to stay in the circle that they’re in. Right, where you know we have people in our lives who are like oh, I’m broke, I’m broke, I’m broke, and they are in that mindset, and they want to keep you in that mindset, because that’s where they’re comfortable at right now.

Piggy: Misery loves company.

Barbara: Misery does love company.

Piggy: We have a bunch of sex workers and people who work in the sex work industry that follow us, and we get questions from them all the time that are like, you know, it’s so difficult talking to bankers or financial industry professionals about my financial goals and getting that help I need, because my industry is a little bit taboo. And first of all, if anyone works in the fetish world, in sex work, if you’re a stripper, if you’re anything sex work adjacent, let this be my moment to say you should not feel ashamed. We support you. We love you, and you’re doing great. But so what sort of advice do you have for people in the sex work industry who really want to get a hold of their money and don’t know where to start?

Barbara: Yeah. So sex workers are a big part of my SIP community as well. So they’re included. There’s a lot of overlap between service industry and sex work, and I think that’s also where some of the shame comes in. And sex workers often do the work of carrying the shame of their clients, and I think that’s where the shame side of it comes in, not because their work is shameful. It’s often because the people who are seeking out sex services are maybe in a relationship where they are violating the agreement of their relationship, so that is coming with shame. Maybe they’re making financial choices that are against their own budget, and so that’s coming in with shame. Maybe they’re worried about the thoughts, and worries and concerns and judgments of their peers, and so that’s where the shame comes in. But it’s definitely should not and does not lie with the sex worker, because all work is work. And I don’t need to tell you that. But a lot of my clients are also sex workers.

Piggy: But yes, let’s reassure our listeners.

Barbara: Yeah! But I think what’s so interesting is that for SIPs and sex workers, shame goes along with the income side. And also we, as a society, carry so much shame around money in general, so it’s super tied in there. There’s so much shame in both how we spend, how we earn, how we manage. There’s just a ton of shame where there shouldn’t be any shame. And so, I think going back to finding your community, it’s the first thing that I would advocate for. Whether it’s talking to you, send me an email, send you an email. People in this industry need to have somebody that they can connect with, to get their money going in the right direction. We don’t have enough good modeling, so when I talk about it being a secret, it’s not that you want to not share with your co-worker friends. In fact, if you are listening to this, if you’re reading my book, then you’re already so far ahead of your peers, and you need to become a leader. You are a leader, and you need to become more vocal with your peers about managing money.

Piggy: Be evangelical about the the philosophy of Tipped!

Barbara: And about emergency funds. Spread the word!

Piggy: Oh yes, 100%.

Barbara: But so for sex workers, one of the things that I like to have them do is to set up multiple bank accounts. So it’s sort of like a business, where you are putting all of your money in one account, and then you can pay yourself regularly from that account. That serves twofold. One, it gives you the appearance of consistent income. Two, it’s a layer of protection in the event that you feel like one of your accounts might get shut down due to somebody finding out about the nature of your business. So it serves twofold that you have 2 dual accounts and it gives you the appearance of paying yourself more consistently.

Piggy: That is brilliant, and I never would have thought of that. I mean we always tell our audience you know, your bank is not your girlfriend. You can cheat on it guilt free. So I think that this definitely goes double for sex workers. Absolutely.

Barbara: Yeah. And I encourage them to have them from 2 different institutions. Then if one bank account is getting shut down, like if you have like 5 at the same institution, if one is getting shut down, they’re all getting shut down. So you should definitely split your accounts up between different industries so that you have that flexibility to, you know, go back and forth with whatever.

Piggy: Protect yourself.

Barbara: Protect yourself.

Piggy: The world is not friendly to this profession in many, many ways, and you know we need to build this community and make sure we’re all you know, spreading the word and helping each other out in this way.

Barbara: I just did a stand up show at Gotham Comedy Club, and I talked a little bit about some of my financial coaching. But I do have a lot of sex work clients who come to me, and they’re like Barbara, I know you keep telling me that I need to claim my income, but I’m super concerned that the government’s going to find out what I’m doing, and I’m always just like who the hell do you think has been tipping you? The government does not care what you’re doing, they just want their money! Like, call it whatever you want, but like just claim your income. It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. I promise you, they already know.

Piggy: They know, they know. Exactly. So, anyway.

Barbara: So pay your income, set up multiple bank accounts. You know, most sex workers don’t only do one job, so you probably have other jobs. And to go on the tax line there’s a ton of stuff you can write off if you’re a sex worker, right. Like dildos, ball gags, whips, I mean, like you can write all of that stuff off.

Piggy: That’s just like the most interesting tax return itemized deduction ever.

Barbara: Your press on nails, your press on lashes, anything that doesn’t stay attached to you, you can totally write off.

Piggy: Yeah, absolutely. Food for the goldfish that you keep in the heel of your platform go-go boots.

Barbara: 100%! Total write off.

Piggy: All right. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so I just have a couple of more questions. But so the subtitle for your book is The Life Changing Guide to Financial Freedom for Waitresses, Bartender, Strippers, and All Other Service Industry Professionals, so that important term “financial freedom,” that’s one that, previously, you know, I would have assumed is the the strict realm of 9 to fivers of people who, you know, own their own businesses or are consultants, or whatever. But through reading this book it’s clear to me that you believe that SIPs can pursue financial freedom as well. So why is this such a revolutionary concept? And why do you believe it?

Barbara: So I think for me, understanding what financial freedom was, was the first step to realizing that it was possible. I think I used to think that financial freedom just meant you were like rich, and that even then, like what does that even mean? Right? But when I dug deeper I realized that financial freedom meant you have control over your choices, and you have control over your finances. And when you put it in those terms, it’s very achievable. And we all love in the personal finance space, we all love the example of that $40,000 a year janitor who retired with millions, right? And when you see examples like that, you realize it’s possible in our industry. It’s possible to–and in our our industry we’re seeing more and more people retire on low and middle incomes, and we realize it’s entirely possible if you get the systems going in the right direction. So often when SIPs go out with their 9 to 5 friends and you’re at a bar, the 9 to fiver will say I’m tapped, I’m all out of money, right like, I gotta either head home or you’re buying the next round. They’re spending what they have left over, whereas SIPs when they’re spending at the bar, they’re spending what they have. And I think it’s going to take SIPs a lot of mental reframing in order to put these systems in place to realize like, they have to do a lot more protecting of themselves before they can compare apples to apples with their 9 to 5 friends.

Piggy: Yeah, absolutely like pay yourself first. Do the savings first. Do all of that annoying nitty, gritty financial protection first, and then spend.

Barbara: Yeah, and I think the other thing that’s telling, the other thing that I I love to tell people who are SIPs, who are maybe operating on that middle or, you know, low income side of things is like, you may have a friend who’s making 6 figures. That friend has a 6-figure lifestyle they have to save up for retirement. That is a 6-figure retirement. If you are low and middle income, it’s going to be so much easier for you to save for a low and middle income retirement than it is for them. So in a lot of ways like, I think people feel a lot of despair, and they need these sort of reframes and these reminders. And so I just want to give people hope and optimism that that they can do it.

Piggy: That’s so awesome. Okay. So aside from buying the book or reading it, if you want to go to your library. Where do you recommend people start with with getting their tipped finances together?

Barbara: Yeah. So start with tracking your income. Start with tracking your income. Once you realize what you’re working with, then you can start to put those systems in place. The biggest resource that HR has in order to help Americans build wealth is automation. And so, once you know what you’re working with, then you can start to say, okay, this is what I made on average this month. This is what I made on average. So it’s that sort of like budgeting side of tracking your income where you can realize like, I can start allocating some of these resources. Get that out of my sight line and out of my brain, so that I’m not thinking about spending it, and then keep that moving in the background as you work on some of the other things. So yeah, it starts with tracking, tracking your income.

Piggy: Fabulous. I love that. Okay, I’m gonna let you go. But first, where can people find you on the interwebs?

Barbara: So the website’s, I do one on one coaching. I will come to your bar, your restaurant, your club. If you own Uber, I will come and give a money talk to your employees. Please reach out to me. Like I said, I do one on one coaching. If you wanna connect, show me your budget, show me what your current problems, your current struggles are. I talk a lot about mindset, too. So I do recommend my book. I think it’s awesome.

Piggy: I recommend it too! It is Bitch-endorsed. And might I recommend to our viewers/listeners/readers, January is coming up. New Year’s resolutions are coming, so you know if you work in the service industry, this is a great book to pick up for January.

Barbara: Thank you! Can I also tell people where to find me on the socials?

Piggy: Absolutely, yeah. Go for it.

Barbara: Okay and so I’m also on the socials @TippedFinance on Instagram. I’m starting out on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter @TippedFinance. Yeah, I like to make memes. So that’s why I hang out mostly on Instagram.

Piggy: And you have excellent meme taste, like from one memer to another like, chef’s kiss.

Barbara: Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.

Piggy: It was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for joining me. Yeah, I guess we will have to see what’s next for you after this book. Is it the world? I don’t know. Good luck.

Barbara: We’ll see. We’ll see. For now I’m just trying to tell people about the book. So, if you are in the industry, tell your friends about it.

Piggy: That’s right. Tell your friends

Barbara: Tell your 5.5 million friends.

Piggy: Yes, exactly. Barbara Sloan, Tipped. Thank you so much for joining us!

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