The Hosts of the “Bitch Sesh” Podcast Guest-Answer Your Money Questions

Guest columnists Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider untangle the issues that happen when people and money get together.

Dear Ms. Etiquette:

I recently agreed to be a bridesmaid to one of my best friends— but then I found out what was required of me. Traveling for her bridal shower, her bachelorette party, her wedding — all out of state. Paying for hair, makeup, shoes, a new dress, and gifts for all the events. It's money I feel like I can't really spend. What do I do?

From, The Broke Bridesmaid

Dear Broke Bridesmaid:

Casey: That’s a tough one. I had friends just say point-blank to me: I can only come to the wedding and one other event. Which I totally respected. I will say I had one friend just say she couldn’t come to anything. And we’re no longer friends, to be quite frank. I had done all of those things for her wedding right after my mom died.

Danielle: That’s tough. Tough tough tough. But fair.

C: Yeah. Sorry.

D: I would say, prioritize. Like, definitely buy the dress, because everybody has to match. And go to the wedding. And say this is what I can do and this is what I can’t. Right out of college I had a friend who got married, and they were very wealthy, and everything on her registry was very expensive. I remember crying in a Bloomingdales because I could only afford a ladle. And I thought, this is dark, I have nothing to give these people. So I bought her a ladle, I didn’t go to her events, and then I just went to the wedding, but I will say that our friendship has never been the same, so.

C: Yeah. I don’t think one ladle will keep a friendship going.

Look, I think everyone has to be realistic, and I think if you’re honest it works out best. And I don’t think it’s a good friend if they’re hung up on you spending a ton of money. Unless you don’t make it to the actual wedding; see my answer above.

D: Also, if you can’t afford any of those things, you could take them out for dinner or something.

C: Or put together a video thing on your iPhone of everyone saying things, although I find those incredibly tedious to do for people.

D:And nobody wants to see those, except for you.

So, do it as a gesture, but realize no one will watch it and no one will enjoy it.

Wealthsimple: So I guess the advice boils down to: try to be honest, see if you can at least go to the wedding, buy the dress and get one gift.

C: Yeah, and I would say you can do your own hair and makeup and go for a very sentimental gift instead of an expensive one.

D: And bronzer goes a long way! Bronzer hides just an array of issues. Splurge on the bronzer, and go from there.

Dear Ms. Etiquette:

I've been offered a position at a company doing work I'm excited about. It's a better job than I have, doing stuff I've always wanted to do. And it's more money.

The catch is, I'm not excited about what the company does. I don't want to get specific, but imagine that I'd be doing PR for an oil company.

Should I take the job?

From, Potential Future Oil Baron##

C: Absolutely not.

D: Look, I’m not so black and white.

C: Absolutely not.

D: Look, where are you in your life? Is this a stepping stone to something better? Could you do it for a year? How bad is the company? I think you have to weigh all of this and say to yourself, can I do this? Is it on my way to something else better?

C: Danielle, she did not indicate that she was destitute! If you’re destitute, absolutely, you take anything you need and feel great about that. But if not, and you’re going to contribute to the dark times of this world, shame on you.

Sorry guys.

D: I don't know. Have I done work that I’m ashamed of and is beneath me? Sure.

C: Yeah, I was in a bloated stomach commercial — but I needed the money.

D: I did an Axe body spray commercial and I was physically and mentally damaged. But it paid well and I have seen residuals from it in recent years. I don’t regret it.

C: Do with that information what you will. Hopefully there's some advice?

Dear Ms. Etiquette:

I recently had horrible service at a restaurant — the waiter was as rude and inattentive as you can get. Is it ever okay not to tip anything at all? Ever?

From, Underserved

D: No!

C: No.

D: No no no no! For sure no.

C: Always tip 20% and keep it moving.

D: Yes. In fact I would say start at 20%. If they’ve done a bad job, 20%. And then move up from there. As a former waitress who was terrible at her job I can tell you: they don’t want to be there, they’re probably trying to do something else, and even if not, they’re doing the best they can.

C: And, a lot of times that tip gets distributed — it goes to pay out the people who earn the least at the restaurant. The busboys, people in the kitchen. Am I wrong Danielle?

D: You are not. You pay out.

C: So you’re kind of punishing everyone and I don’t think that’s right.

D: And living off tips. It’s not minimum wage — it’s something else.

C: And even if the waiter is awful, tipping 20%, it’s actually saying, “I’m still a good person in the face of you.”

Once when I was a waitress — this actually happened a couple times —the guy that I was waiting on was with a girl, his wife, and he was very rude to me. One guy just left a bunch of pennies. And I shamed them. I stood up in front of the entire restaurant as he walked out, and I said to his wife — which I regret — I said, “I just had to spend an hour with him, but you have to spend a lifetime with that man.”

D: OH!!!

C: And threw the pennies back on the table. When I’m hurt I bite back.

D: I would also say that people don’t forget a bad tip. And there are people, when I was waiting in New York, there were famous people that came in and tipped me very badly and I’ll never forget it. And I tell people.

C: So I think you should say always tip 20% and if you’re famous, more.

D: More. More more more!

Also, put in something fun. I once had a table of people tip me no money but a picture of a woman’s vagina in pantyhose. And that was fun.

So get creative. If you’re not going to do 20%, give me something to talk about.

Dear Ms. Etiquette:

I'm 30 years old, and I still use my parents' Netflix and Spotify accounts. Is that weird? Am I stealing? Should I start paying for my own accounts?

From, The Hulu Pirate

C: I mean there are worse crimes.

D: Yeah.

C: But look, should you be taking a look in the mirror? Yes.

D: Right. If you’re using their Netflix account I’m sure you’re using other stuff.

But I will say for myself, a woman in her 40s: am I on my best friend’s Amazon Prime account? Sure. Sure sure sure sure sure. That is something that is real. But, it was offered to me and I don’t think about it. So if it’s not something that you feel guilty about, then have at.

C: Yeah, who cares? It’s not illegal, right?

D: No!

Wealthsimple: It’s probably not illegal, maybe it’s probably against company policy.

C: I think we have bigger fish to fry.

Dear Ms. Etiquette:

I got a bonus! Everyone says you should immediately save your bonus instead of blowing it. But the truth is I really want to treat myself to either a pricey cosmetic procedure (laser hair removal!) or an upgrade of my apartment furniture. Is it worth investing in either of these over saving?

From, Sick of Shaving my Legs

C: Absolutely!

D: I was going to say, Casey you should answer this question for sure.

C: Ab-so-lutely. Always treat yourself; we could die tomorrow.

D: Yeah. I would also say though, laser surgery -- c’mon. As a woman who is Jewish and hairy, there are bigger priorities.

C: Yeah, I’d like to see a trip. I’d like to see a bag. I’d like to see something with some staying power that you can look at every day and feel proud of and feel like you earned that.

D: Exactly. In, fact, run it by us, and we’ll tell you if it’s worth it.

C: Yeah.

D: You can make your legs hairless in various, less expensive manners.

C: But I’m a huge believer in: if something’s gonna make you feel great, you know, enjoy. And one piece of controversial advice is, give your money away, and you get it back tenfold.

Now look, I’ve been on the edge many times. You know, I don’t have a job right now. But I do believe the more generous you are with money in general, the more it comes back to you.

D: I would even say, even use that money -- spoil yourself. But spoil a friend with you. Because it makes it more enjoyable. You do it together and you don't feel as alone in it. Someone else enjoying it with you makes it worth it.

C: Disagree.

D: Disagree?? Did you say disagree?

C: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Very nice.

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Money Diaries

"MY UNDERGRADUATE ADVISER TOLD ME I SHOULD JUST FORGET ABOUT THE WHOLE WRITING THING. ‘YOU SHOULD FIND A GOOD MAN AND GET MARRIED,’ HE TOLD ME."

Margaret Atwood

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