Did You Hear My Entire Life Story on Afford Anything?

So ya’ll, I was on my casual trip to Las Vegas when I remembered that Paula Pant lives there. We decided to meet up for a co-working session, and then got to chatting about her podcast. She invited me on, which was so nice of her.

Beforehand, we talked about maybe discussing all the ways that people who want to retire and write could make a little side money. Sounded great.

I arrived that morning with a coffee in hand, not really having eaten. Paula records in her sound-proofed closet, so we had to sit on two stools, really close, and share a mic. It already felt like a confessional booth.

Then she starts me back with my childhood experience with money. I was like, “woah, ok, we’re going there…” What came out was essentially a 90-minute version of my financial memoir. There were tears.

Afterward I felt shaky and light, truly like a deep confessional had just occurred.

Since then, people have reached out thanking me for sharing this story and saying they’ve gone through similar experiences.

I hope you enjoy the episode!

What Did I Bet On in Vegas?

My boyfriend had a last-minute work trip in Vegas right before Thanksgiving, and I last-minute tagged along, for a flight price of $390. 

Casinos are weird. I had never been to Vegas, and I wasn’t ready for all the random slot machine tie-ins. Sex and the City? Game of Thrones? Ellen? Seinfeld??? 

I had not known how many brands were making money tying their name in with slot machines. Of all my vices, gambling is just not one of them. I felt a sense of power as I walked through the casino at The Mirage. Casinos take advantage of people with gambling addictions, and, if you look at the lights and the spectacle of The Strip, you know that was not built on jackpots, but instead on the wealth of all the losers.

In the ’70s, my mom bet on my dad in Vegas, eloped with him to the chapel across from the courthouse. They later lived there, and my mom told me one morning she saw a man in a three-piece suit, sitting on the curb, sobbing. She could tell he had lost it all.

What did I do in Vegas? I went to visit the offices of The Believer, a wonderful literary magazine, where someone I’d known in Seattle had moved to work for the organization that runs it. I brought them a copy of my book, and she thought one of the illustrations might be good for the magazine. Which would be crazy. (Networking!)

Then I met up with Paula Pant, who I know from my money writing world. She runs the Afford Anything podcast, and, since I was in town and right in front of her face, (networking!), she invited me to be on the podcast. I thought we were going to chat about writing, but instead she asked me about my whole financial past. I spilled it all, things I’ve written about here and there, but never blurted out in one hour. There were tears. Afterward I felt like and shaky, like I’d just been in a confessional for an hour. 

I don’t know how, but I think that podcast will lead to me writing my financial memoir. Maybe because saying it all out loud like that made me remember how much I want to write it down, tell the whole thing. 

We didn’t go to shows, I didn’t bet a single dollar. What did I bet on in Vegas?


Anyone who works in the arts or in what they love is taking the biggest gamble there is in life, letting it all ride. 

Accepting your Financial Reality on Martinis and Your Money

On this episode of Martinis and Your Money, I talk with the business bad ass Shannon McClay, telling her about my fall from Fuck Off Funder to Fuck Off Fundless.

Listen now!

Shannon’s Podcast Notes

  • Cut down on non-essentials, don’t cut them out completely.
  • Willpower Instinct – a book about the hidden factors about willpower and how having something be forbidden and bad is not helpful.
  • When you cut out everything, often times you will go to the other extreme. It’s like yo-yo dieting.
  • Unfortunately, the biggest way to build credit is by using credit cards. Credit card companies report to the credit bureau the most. You need to know how to play the game.
  • Take the buffet of wisdom that is out there and apply what works best for you.



Ignorance is Bliss, My Blog Makes Me Face the Nightmare

Oh hello, you may remember me as the person who said she was going to keep this blog.

Here I am again.

Why haven’t I been here in a while? It’s here I have to face reality.

Why have I slacked on using YNAB? It’s there I have to face reality.

Why do I keep wasting time on Instagram? In there, I don’t have to face reality.


Oh Pauli P, you’re up to your old shit again my dear.


We had this problem growing up in my house. We’d set up a system, a chore chart, usually, and we’d say, this is what we’re going to do. And then… we would not do it.

I’ve always wanted to become the kind of person who did the things she said she was going to do.

In a large part, I have. I graduated college, I completed two years in Peace Corps, I finished my book. I’m going at doing the things I say I will do.

I’m still bad, however, at not doing the things I say I’m not going to do. Kelly McGonigal calls this “I Won’t Power” in her great book The Willpower Instinct. This year, I said I won’t spend the money that should go in my Fuck Off Funds.

And that, my friends, is going terribly. On paper.

Here’s what paper says:

  • I’m now almost $8,000 in debt from not saving for my taxes, and having to do a business loan, which is a fancy way to say I had to borrow money from my mom.
  • I’m back to my regular penpal, those little NSF slips

Here’s what my heart (or my denial) says:

  • This is a building year, building my reputation, my network, and my “brand”
  • I wrote an entire book, two years of work, for a take-home pay of about $5,000, so no shit I’m broke.


Here’s what my inner hard ass says:

  • Are you fucking kidding me? Quit spending money you don’t have. You are poor-ish. Act like it.
  • You could be working harder and spending less. But you’re not
  • Shut the fuck up.
  • What the fuck is wrong with you?
  • You’re a spoiled little shit.

Well that’s not very nice. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. Either way, the truth is that right now, I’m failing to make it as a freelance writer business.

Knowing you’re failing is good. You can change course.

Things I did today:

  • Redesigned my Excel spreadsheet with a fully separate personal and business financial section
  • Upgraded from Excel 2011 to 2016 to get the latest tools
  • Did a “fresh start” in YNAB
  • Signed up for Quickbooks
  • Wrote this blog post
  • Made these scary charts:



Back to Basics

Oh hey look everyone, now that’s I’ve started an official blog about money, I’m doing worse financially than ever. (Ok, maybe not ever.) Hmm, wonder what that’s about.

I realized while at Sasquatch that I’m up to my old shit again. Going to an event that I can’t really afford, one eye on the concert and one on my funds running low.

On the way home, I had $12 in my bank account and had to put $11.99 in my gas tank.

What is up?

I realized I forgot about the basics, the things that kept my blog going and got me out of $20,000 in debt when I started the first iteration of this blog 7 years ago:

  1. Someone I didn’t want to disappoint reading it. In my case, Jeri.
  2. A visual representation of my progress or lack there of. In other words, graphs.

So here I am, getting back to basics.

Hi Jeri. Thanks for reading this after I email it to you.

And here are my graphs.

I thought about making pretty ones in Illustrator, and I do want to do that one day. But with this blog paying zero dollars, needing hours to market my book, and not making jack s this year, I don’t have time.

If you don’t have time for the fancy, go with the rinky dink. The rinky dink is still something.

So here are my ugly graphs.

Ok this is my normal Net Worth graph, but I realized the scale is too huge and dips seem so little, so I made one for just this year. Wee what a fun slide into financial ruin I’m on.

This is one area I’m proud of. I haven’t put anything toward retirement in two years, which is bad. But when I had the tech job, I threw money in there like crazy because I knew saving early was key and when I was in my first years of full-time writing, I would be making jack s.

If you do not have a retirement account, start one with Acorns today, literally. I’m not kidding.

Hey, that’s not good! Short-term stuff is money I have on hand, and includes my checking accounts and my owed taxes, which are $3,800.

My Fuck Off Fund is a fucking disgrace.


But I don’t totally hate myself.

I’m working so hard these days. It’s the year of the grind. I am doing shit. It’s not all money-making right now, but I’m building momentum for my career that I fully trust will pay off in the future.

Can You Be Financially Insane?

Maybe I’m just financially insane. Have we considered that?

This week I was waiting with bated breath to see which would land first: my $795 rent check in my $600 account, or the $400 from my freelancing client that would prevent the check from bouncing.

The $400 landed first, and I felt this rush of relief, and then that day I spent money compulsively, like, out-of-body experience compulsively. Oh, I thought, Something is definitely wrong with me.


Did I mention that guy with the ADD? I was interviewing one of the top experts on ADD in the country, and we got to chatting about distraction, etc, and he said, “It sounds to me like you have ADD.” He even offered to hook me up with a center in Seattle that diagnoses ADD. But of course the analysis is $260, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.


On this Monday I might have to take money out of my Fuck Off Fund, because, per the ush, I set myself up to go on a trip that I don’t have money for. I’m going to try to lemonade stand it a little while I’m there. It’s a music festival, and I’m going to do portraits. But also, I don’t know. I’m going to feel it out.

I thought this blog would be a journey toward financial wellness. Maybe it’s just the observance of a disturbed individual living out her dysfunctional life. Ah well, it’s still pretty fun.

One of the reasons I feel insane is that career-wise, things are going well. I’m in Glamour and Cosmo this month. (Pay: $0) I found out I was in Feminist Fight Club. (Pay: $0) I have amazingly successful people in my corner trying to help me along and get me work. My book is sitting here right next to me.

And still. Bank account:

It’s the peak time of something, that something being the space between the growth of my career, in reputation and network, and the stagnation of my earnings.

I haven’t saved for retirement in almost two years. I’m hoping that what I’m putting away, in time, work, and dedication to this career, will pay off in compound interest.



Taking action is the most important thing. Yesterday I spent the entire Sunday setting up my Society6 store with the illustrations from my book (done in collaboration with Tony Ong.) I went to my favorite coffee shop and they gave me my tea for free, they were playing Pinkerton, and Ace Ventura was on the TV. I felt more hopeful.

Somehow, I’m most comfortable with less than $100 in my bank account. It feels like home.

I haven’t been using YNAB, even though I labeled all over my cards to do so. It’s just so easy to ignore, because it does exactly what it says it does, which is shows you what you’re stealing from.


Ok, let’s face the numbers.

I have $73

I have to pay $40 to eBay for selling a friend’s breast pump on there. (True story)

The guy who was going to go to this music festival with me couldn’t, and I sold his ticket, and I didn’t give him the money at the time, so I owe him $325.

I still owe $500 for my skin cancer surgery.

I owe my tax account probably $300.

I haven’t saved anything for taxes. This terrifies me. I swore I would never do this to myself. YNAB tried to convince me to keep my taxes in the same account as my other stuff. It seems like I’m not financially sane enough to do that.

My earnings thus far:

So according to this sad little income report, I owe $2,800 if we assume 20% toward taxes.

Also I’m on track to make just $33,000 this year. Not. Great.


What we’ve done here is taken someone who might be financially insane and put her in a low-earning, unreliable profession. Will she make it?


Yes dammit, I want to make it. I commit myself. To whatever padded room, whatever straight jacket I need to not hurt myself.

Jessica Moorhouse said she would help me with bookkeeping, which is a skill I’ve never learned.

Liz at Express Credit Union said I should get a business loan to build my credit for something I need (which I’ll tell you about later). She said she’ll watch it to make sure I don’t use it for anything else.


Shouldn’t I be able to do this without help? Sometimes you can’t, and trying to convince yourself otherwise only gets you in more trouble. You need those padded walls so you don’t bonk your head. An accountability buddy is a kind of padding.

This blog is a kind of padding. You just need to do what you have to do, and this is what I have to do: continually confess, to live in a state of confession, do my weekly washing of my weekly sins. Forgive me readers, for I have latte’d.


What is wrong with me? Something. But I can work with it.