Category Archives: Think

The Feminist Financial Roundup

About four years ago, The Feminist Financial Handbook hit the shelves at a bookstore near you. A lot has happened in the time since!

In the upcoming months, we’ll be doing check-ins with some of the women featured in the book. You’ll be able to catch up with the careers, lives, and money wins and losses of people like Nicole Lynn Perry, Heather Watkins, and more.

 

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Ahead of this series, I wanted to give everyone a chance to read the book who hasn’t. So today, we’ll be covering a bunch of reviews and roundups where you can learn more about The Feminist Financial handbook, and where you can catch a big sale on your purchase.

Get The Feminist Financial Handbook for Less

Black Friday and its related sales start EARLY anymore, friends.

And this week, you’ll be able to catch one of the best early holiday sales on Amazon.

 

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Last week, The Feminist Financial Handbook was 12% off on Amazon. We’re expecting a similar discount — or an even bigger one! — sometime over the next two days. This would be a great time to make your purchase to catch up on the stories of these amazing women.

UPDATE: The sale just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter! The initial Early Black Friday sale has come and gone, but in the time since Amazon’s started some even better ones. You can now get The Feminist Financial Handbook for 16% off!

It’s also a great time to make a purchase to gift to someone over the holidays.

 

New Sale Direct from Publisher

Announced just this week, the publisher — Mango — is having a huge holiday sale!

If you buy direct from Mango, The Feminist Financial Handbook is 30% off. That’s even cheaper than Amazon!

 

The Feminist Financial Roundup

 

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Over the years, The Feminist Financial Handbook has been featured in some pretty fun reviews and roundups. If you’re looking for more background on the book to inform your purchase, be sure to check these out!

Bitches Get Riches

“Here is an example of how to say ‘Something is wrong,’ while simultaneously doing something about it. The whole premise of the book is ‘certain people are oppressed, but let’s help them find their power with the following financial tools.’ It belies the feminist=victim simplification. For the author is definitely a feminist (who knew?), and she’s using her financial skills to lift up both her own life and the lives of others who find themselves in dire financial straits because of prejudice…

It’s a huge departure in the best way. Instead of simply describing how financial systems work, The Feminist Financial Handbook details how social systems work within a financial framework: how they’re broken, how they’re disproportionately built for certain kinds of people and not others, and how to work within and around the system to beat the game.”

-Piggy of Bitches Get Riches, Bitchtastic Book Review: The Feminist Financial Handbook

 

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Money for the Mamas

“I have absolutely viewed people’s hardships through my own lens. So, needless to say, this book was a much-needed total wake-up call for me. I say it was hard for me, but I know facing my own prejudices isn’t nearly as hard as those who have lived under this system that keeps people down. This book humbled me, and it will absolutely change how I help people navigate their finances.

One of the key differences of this book is that it’s very tactical in its help (which most finance books focus on strategies). Tactical help is much more actionable and immediately beneficial, as strategies are long-term benefits.”

-Kari of Money for the Mamas, 15 Best Finance Books for Women

Other awesome authors on this list:

  • Jean Chatsky
  • Lauren Greutman
  • Patrice Washington
  • Kumiko Love
@serraisabella The Feminist Financial Handbook by Brynne Conroy #womenauthors #womenwriters #WomenOwnedBusiness #womensappreciation #womensappreciationmonth #womanartists #financialbooks ♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono – moshimo sound design

Clever Girl Finance

“We live in a society controlled by whoever can pay. Brynne argues that women can create a more fair world by building their own wealth.

It draws from stories of women of varying races, sexual orientations, abilities, and financial situations. Brynne provides motivation and resources to achieve personal success.”

-Ashlee Sang of Clever Girl Finance, The 15 Best Financial Literacy Books for Women

Other amazing authors on this list:

  • Vicki Robin
  • Jen Sincero
  • Beth Kobliner

 

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Review at Smart Money Mamas

“If you’re a woman who has never felt like a personal finance book was talking to you, or if you’re feeling weighed down by society or life’s difficulties, Brynne’s book is your chance to get advice from a perspective you know well. I want to be clear, though, that any woman can gain knowledge from this book, even if you’re feeling like a financial rockstar and just want to learn how to acknowledge where you’ve benefitted and better support other women.”

-Chelsea of Smart Money Mamas, The Feminist Financial Handbook: A Must-Read New Book

Review at The Plutus Foundation

“This book does more than attempt to bring understanding of differentiated circumstances and the resulting specific advice for women and other marginalized identities to the reader. Brynne nails down a number of inherent systemic problems, legacy issues with society and barriers that certain members grapple with but will never affect others, and shows how they apply to the quest for individualistic (with the individual being the important unit of a mostly-capitalistic economical society) financial freedom.

But importantly, she shakes off the idea of societal victimization and offers practical advice for navigating finances in spite of the kyriarchy — which, by the way, is a word I needed to look up even though I knew the Latin etymology, so don’t be ashamed if you do, too.”

-Harlan Landes of The Plutus Foundation, The Feminist Financial Handbook

 

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Maggie Germano

“Any book with the words “financial feminist” in the title is going to catch my eye. Add someone as great as Brynne Conroy and you have a winner…

In this book, Brynne dives into the financial issues that disproportionately affect women in our society. But you won’t walk away feeling hopeless because she gives you actionable steps to achieve financial success in your own life.”

-Maggie Germano, 5 Books That Make Personal Finance More Accessible

Other fantastic authors on this list:

  • Erin Lowry
  • Kristen Wong
  • Alexa Von Tobel

 

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Women Who Money

“Brynne Conroy has written a personal finance book like no other.

The Feminist Financial Handbook doesn’t tell you how to get rich quick or put you down for your money choices.

Her handbook provides valuable information, action steps, and resources to help you make changes in your personal and financial life.

More importantly, the personal stories and concepts she shares in the book will help you better understand the experience of others – and that’s priceless.”

-Vicki of Women Who Money, The Feminist Financial Handbook [Book Review]

 

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Your Dream

Why is personal finance a feminist issue? I’ve read a bunch of finance 101 type books aimed at women, but the ‘The Feminist Financial Handbook’ by Brynne Conroy was the first of them that answered this question by walking the reader through a diverse array of rarely-heard perspectives on the issue.”

-Mallika Sen of Your Dream Blog, Book Review: The Feminist Financial Handbook

 

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Pretty Progressive

“Sometimes the best way to stick it to the man is by doing well for yourself. There’s just one problem: it’s hard to do well for yourself when systemic oppression has placed innumerable hurdles between you and your aspirations. The Feminist Financial Handbook provides real motivation and resources for real women who may be struggling―not only those who have already accumulated wealth.

In this book, author Brynne Conroy provides actionable tips for women in business to overcome these obstacles without dulling the visceral experience of the real-life struggles women face as they try to master their money management and their lives.”

-Pretty Progressive, 14 Clever Feminist Books To Read For Women In The Business World

Plano Public Library

“Author Brynne Conroy shares practical advice on saving, financial planning and more while delving into issues that disproportionately affect women, like the wage gap or the long road to economic recovery after experiencing domestic violence.”

-Plano Public Library, Financial Literacy: Latest Added to the Collection

Other great authors on this list:

  • Tiffany Aliche
  • Michelle Singletary
  • Bola Sokunbi

 

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Roundup on This Book, That Book

“Because women’s experiences don’t exist in a vacuum relegated to their gender, the handbook explores financial issues with anecdotes and perspectives of women of different races, sexual orientations and abilities.”

-This Book, That Book, Celebrate Financial Literacy Month With These Awesome Personal Finance Guides

Gifts That Give Back

Loving this list of gifts that give back. Has some really creative ideas that never occured to me before. Now my Christmas shopping list will include something other than just charity donations!

As we think about giving this year, maybe we should be thinking a bit beyond ourselves. Maybe we should make sure the money that we’re spending is going to support others who are suffering or working through some trials towards a grander goal and future.

That doesn’t mean our gift list needs to be an itinerary of charity donations. (Not that there’s anything wrong with charity donations.)

It’s just that we can still get useful and meaningful gifts while supporting good causes.

Ten Thousand Villages

I’ve been gifting or receiving from Ten Thousand Villages since I was a little kid. My amazing aunt introduced our family to the organization, which brings wares from artisans in developing areas the world over into its shops and online marketplace.

They make sure everyone is being paid fairly and that working conditions are safe. A lot of the materials used are recycled or 100% naturally-sourced. When you shop at Ten Thousand Villages, you support small businesses and individuals by giving them employment — which leads to access to healthcare and education because money.

Plus, you get really phenomenal products. Here are just a few examples of the types of jewelry, housewares and personal care items you’ll find:

 

Summer Day Hammock

Cream Cotton And Wood Hammock - Summer Day Hammock

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How This Gift Gives Back

The Summer Day Hammock is made by Oyanca Artesania in Nicaragua. The organization — whose employees are 50% female — was started as a way to boost export opportunities for artisans in the Central American country. Today their artisans mix traditional Nicaraguan arts with contemporary design to make amazingly beautiful items like this hammock.

 

Mosaic Bird Pendant

Gorgeous White Metal Pendant - Mosaic Bird Pendant

Get the Mosaic Bird Pendant

How This Gift Gives Back

This gorgeous white metal pendant is made by women from Manushi in Nepal. Manushi works to empower women living in poverty with the power of artistry. They also work on community development, provide entrepreneurial training, and issue microloans for small businesses.

 

Gingerbread Soap

bar of light orange soap sitting on a plate full of gingerbread cookies

Get Gingerbread Soap

How This Gift Gives Back

India operates under a caste system. At the lowest rung are the Harijans, or untouchables. If you are a Harijan, you are not allowed to purchase land. Palam — who makes delicious-smelling soaps — works to to mediate this by using profits to buy land and homes for Harijan artisans in southeast India. They also build schools for their artisans’ children, on top of providing healthcare and pensions.

 

Krochet Kids

Krochet Kids fights poverty through:

With locations in both Peru and Uganda, the company is focused on building ladders to sustainable businesses. The women they employ get paid fairly for their work, have opportunities for management positions, and receive training in personal finance, business and their craft should they choose to venture down the road of entrepreneurship solo.

One of the many cool things about Krochet Kids is that the woman who makes your gift signs the tag. Then, you can go online and write her a thank you note.

 

Are you giving gifts that give back this year? Would love to hear about your plans in the comments.

A Very Feminist Gift Guide

This post is in collaboration with Etsy.

This is so awesome. Definitely loading up my Chirstmas shopping list with a lot of these frugal feminist gift ideas!

The holidays are just around the corner! And many Etsy shop owners are offering up to 60% off to celebrate.

While you should definitely check out the deals on feminist gifts today, I wanted to put together a gift guide that could last beyond the clickiest holiday all year.

They’re great when the sale is on. And they’re great afterwards, too.

8 Feminist Gift Ideas

Without further ado, here are 8 gift ideas for the feminist in your life.

 

Feminist Financial Handbook

Woman holding a copy of The Feminist Financial Handbook on a white background.Sale: 16% off
Where to get it: Amazon

First, let me introduce you to The Feminist Financial Handbook, written by yours truly! If you’re tired of reading money books that pretend like you’re already rich — or ignore the kyriarchal economic systems we all live under — this is the book for you. Here are some more in-depth reviews of The Feminist Financial Handbook.

 

Frida Kahlo Clock

black clock with green numbers with frida kahlo's face and some foliage hand painted on itPrice: $38.99
Where to get it: FunAroundtheClockCo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who explored so many intersections. From gender to race to colonialism to socioeconomic class, she covered all the bases in truly powerful ways.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mug

ruth bader ginsburg giftPrice: $15.75
Where to get it: SheMugs

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Pioneer. Women’s advocate. Dissenter at large. With this gift, your feminist can start her morning with caffeine and a reflection: What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg do?

 

I’m Speaking Sweatshirt

powder blue sweatshirt with 'i'm speaking' printed in small print across the chest. shirt is surrounded by various accessories and foliage for artistic purposes. kamala harris quotePrice: $33.99
Where to get it: TheRepublicDesigns

We’ve all been where Kamala was — even if we weren’t on the world stage.

 

Carry Yourself with the Confidence of a Mediocre White Man Cross Stitch

Cross stitch sitting on a background of pennies. Cross stitch has flowers around the outside and reads 'Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man'Price: $40
Where to get it: SarasEccentricSewing

Because you deserve to be in the room, too.

 

Customizable Fearless Girl Statue in Bronze

tabletop statue of the fearless girl who faced the market bull in NYC's financial district. She is standing on the name 'NANCY' but name can be customized to your own. Bronze statue.Price: $136.08
Where to get it: 3DesignGiftShop

Whether she’s taking on bulls or the patriarchy, this customizable bronze statue is an inspirational gift for your little feminist.

 

Narrative of Sojourner TruthNarrative of Sojourner Truth

Price: $15.99
Where to get it:
AffordableBooks

If you’ve got a reader on your hands, you’ll seriously want to consider ordering the Narrative of Sojourner Truth from AffordableBooks. Truth was arguably America’s first intersectional feminist, and the pages of her narrative cover her years as a slave, an abolitionist and a feminist.

 

In This House We Believe PosterIn this house we believe black lives matter love is love science is real feminism is for everyone no human is illegal kindness is everything

Price: $8.00
Where to buy: littlegoldpixel

Odds are, your feminist holds the values encapsulated in this poster printable:

  • Black lives matter.
  • Love is love.
  • Science is real.
  • Feminism is for everyone.
  • No human is illegal.
  • Kindness is everything.

 

Celebrating 11 Years with 11 Good Things

Image of a woman celebrating her birthday by herself with cupcakes and a party hat. Text reads 'Celebrating 11 years with 11 happy things femmefrugality.com'This summer, Femme Frugality turns 11 years old.

This past year?

It’s not been my favorite.

That’s an understatement. And I know a lot of you are right there with me.

One of the things that helps me get through times like these is practicing gratitude. Even when the world is a steaming hot pile of garbage.

So today, at the conclusion of a particularly difficult year and what I hope is the dawn of a much, much better one, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the good things that happened between the summers of 2021 and 2022.

Some of these things are Femme Frugality adjacent. Some of them are totally unrelated wins and accomplishments of my peers in the PF space.

All of them have brought me great joy. I hope they bring a smile to your face, too.

1. Mom Autism Money launched & nominated for awards.

Joyce Marrero and I launched a podcast! Mom Autism Money has a pretty self-explanatory name: We talk about personal finance for parents of kids on the spectrum.

We’ve gotten to speak with some pretty amazing guests, and have covered topics you don’t often hear talked about in the personal finance space, like:

  • ABLE accounts.
  • Supplemental needs trusts.
  • Medicaid access.
  • How to successfully apply for SSI.
  • Guardianship vs supported decision-making.
  • And the list goes on.

Here’s where you can check out the full episode archive.

Bonus on top of getting to do something we love that’s making a difference?

Mom Autism Money was just announced as a finalist for two Plutus Awards!

  • Best New Personal Finance Podcast.
  • Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities.

This in and of itself is an honor enough. But if you’d like, you can also nominate us for the People’s Choice Award. You can also nominate anyone else from this post.

We’ll be launching Season 3 sometime this Fall, so it’s worth subscribing now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to podcasts. That way you’ll automatically be updated when we start releasing new episodes.

2. Shalese Heard is winning.

This year I was introduced to a new-to-me content creator, Shalese Heard, AKA the Autistic Travel Goddess. And I’m so glad I was.

Shalese primarily covers travel content. But within that, there’s a whole lot of personal finance content. Because what better way to help you travel the world than establishing some financial freedom for yourself?

Shalese has used tons of creative and outside-the-box ways to fund her travels, which we did discuss a good bit on an episode of Mom Autism Money.

She’s had a TON of wins this past year, from speaking at huge conferences to launching new courses. Be sure to keep up with the latest from Shalese on Instagram and YouTube.

3. Pauline got her CFP.

shorter woman with brown hair and black shirt standing net to taller woman with black cowboy hat black shirt and pink hoodie. both women wearing white lanyards and smiling

Pauline and me in Dallas back in 2017. I need to get better about taking pictures with people when we spend time together!

My good friend Pauline from Reach Financial Independence spent much of the first part of the pandemic studying away to earn her CFP. And in December, she got it!

Pauline is now using her CFP to work with active duty military members, and doing some charity work on the side.

Pauline is one of the most money-savvy people I know. She’s found incredible ways to use her finances to explore the globe, and has made sure to also use her wealth to support others in all of her communities along the way.

She’s a wonderful, compassionate person, a personal finance genius, and someone you’re always glad to see succeed.

4. Nicole Lynn Perry continued to change the world in new capacities.


I had an opportunity to chat with Nicole Lynn Perry this year. You probably remember Nicole’s story from The Feminist Financial Handbook. At the time the book was published, she had just secured a job at Amazon. Which was great.

But in the time since, even better things have come her way. Nicole has been working as a paralegal and mitigation specialist for the Lavender Rights Project out of Seattle. This year, her advocacy work and insights have been featured in many major publications, like the Washington Post.

I continue to be impressed by and grateful for all of the change she makes in the world — whether it was her work back in Texas or in her new role in Seattle.

If you’re an editor or writer and want to get in touch with Nicole for like media features, I’d be happy to put you in touch.

5. Rebecca Neale received the Nery Arrano Award.

I have so much respect for Rebecca not only because she’s a talented, skilled attorney, but also because of her phenomenal character as a human being.

This year, the head of Bedford Family Lawyer received the Nery Arrano award for pro bono work from the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts.

I have witnessed Rebecca dedicate so much of her career to survivors of domestic violence. I have seen her raise her voice to bring awareness to economic abuse, which almost always accompanies these cases.

It is so nice to see someone who does so much good being honored for their work.

Rebecca shares some super negotiation tips for women in The Feminist Financial Handbook.

6. Cashing Out was published.

I met Kiersten Saunders of Rich & Regular in the Spring of 2019, and her perspective on FIRE (financial independence/retire early) blew my mind. I was instantly impressed and wanted to learn ALL THE THINGS from her.

Her approach to FI wasn’t about hustling away your 30s and giving up all the luxuries, but rather about leveraging corporate systems — and then walking away from them — in order to buy back more of your life for yourself. It was also about decidedly making these goals less exclusively white.

This year, she and her husband Julien released the book Cashing Out, which covers all those topics and more. The book teaches you how to quit your job within 15 years without burning yourself out along the way.

They’ve been featured on Good Morning America, Marketwatch, and had a super successful book tour. (More dates may be added — keep up here so you don’t miss one in a city near you!)

I am so happy to see Julien and Kiersten get so much attention for their phenomenal work, and happy for all of us that we get to learn from them with this new tome.

7. Stacked hit the shelves.

 

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Another great book that came out this year?

Stacked by Emily Guy Birken and Joe Saul-Sehy!

I reviewed the book earlier this year here on Femme Frugality, but here’s the synopsis:

It’s a funny, engaging way to learn about personal finance, especially if you’re new to the investing side of the equation. It takes complex topics and breaks them down in a way that will actually keep you turning the pages rather than falling asleep. Hilarious analogies and pop culture references abound!

Emily and Joe have had a lot of success with this book, and you LOVE to see it.

In fact, both Stacked and Cashing Out are both finalists for Best New Personal Personal Finance Book from the Plutus Awards.

8. Jackie Cummings Koski was featured on Rachael Ray.

And about a million other exciting places, like CNBC and Black Enterprise.

Jackie‘s story, which she generously shared in The Feminist Financial Handbook, is so inspiring. It shows how you don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to become a millionaire. You can retire early without sacrificing ALL the things, even if you make an average income.

One of her long-term goals has been taking the time to focus on giving back with her knowledge, and it’s been really cool to see her achieve this in such big ways over the past year!

Be sure not to miss her on Rachael Ray.

9. J$ is back!

 

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After some time away, J$ is back and blogging at Budgets are Sexy!

And he and Nate have already brought back the Giving Cards!

I know I’m not the only one who missed J in his absence. He’s done so much to further the accessibility of financial literacy education. He also does so much to give back to the community. If you think the stuff he posts on his blog is kind, you would be so impressed by the goodness he shares with the world when no one is looking. And by the fact that he never mentions it.

Having him back is cause for rejoice.

10. Shanté became a screenwriter for PBS.

Last Fall, Shanté’s music video was featured at the Plutus Awards!

And her artistic vision and successes didn’t end there. This year, she became a screenwriter for the PBS show Two Cents. Check it out here! New episodes are forthcoming.

Joyce and I were lucky to sit down with Shanté for an episode of Mom Autism Money this year, too. She’s such a brilliant educator, able to break down even the most super complex financial topics and turn them into digestible lessons. If you aren’t already a member of her Financial Common Cents community, you’ll want to change that fast.

11. Personal finance and public policy intersected at Plutus Voices Philly.

I was honored to speak at Plutus Voices Philly this year alongside the brilliant Courtney Richardson.

We talked about the different ways public policy and personal finance intersect. We touched on some pretty deep and important topics, and I’m hoping to have a video for you all soon.

I have been taking extra care with COVID, so this trip was something that was carefully considered and planned out. I encourage you to be COVID safe, too. For others, if not for yourself.

It was so nice to see old friends again after so long. Especially such compassionate and inspiring ones like Harlan of the Plutus Foundation, Miranda of the Plutus Foundation and the Freelance Writer Academy (<— for any of you looking to break into that field), and Jason Vitug of Phroogal, the YOLO book, and various other financial literacy projects.

It was also really great to meet new people in real life, like Courtney. Who, have I mentioned? Is absolutely brilliant across so many domains. I have learned so much from her, especially in recent months, and I’d highly recommend following along so you can learn from her, too.

I found out that Jason is coming out with another book soon, so be sure to follow him to stay on top of that news!

What good things have happened to you this year?

Obviously, more than 11 happy things happened in the world of personal finance this year. Whether you’re a writer, media producer, or just an individual who paid off the last of their debt this year, I want to hear all about it!

Leave your win or someone else’s win that brought you joy in the comments. Or @ me on social media.

The world can feel so tenuous lately. Let’s point out the things that are definitively celebratory.

Not to ignore the bad. But to give ourselves one, brief moment to recognize the good.

I’m a Black Disabled Woman. My Identity Has Been Stolen More Than 6 Times During the Pandemic.

This latest installment in the Intersectional Money Series is by Heather Watkins.

Black woman wearing a yellow sweater typing at her laptop. Coffee, a notebook and pen are in the background.

“Oh no, not again.”

I thought after receiving a letter about yet another attempt to steal my identity to get credit or compensation in some way.

In the past 18 months while in pandemic lockdown and loosening stages, scammers have tried to:

  • File for unemployment in my name in two different states.
  • Ordered food using my debit card info on both the east and west coasts of the country.
  • Tried to buy clothing from online retailers.

The latest scam involved taxes being e-filed in my name.

We’re all living in desperate times during this coronavirus wildness and many folks are experiencing far more disparities depending upon where you live, socio-economic status, marginalized identities, or lack of access to opportunities that might connect you to increased quality of life.

So many of us who live gridlocked with low-income tied to health insurance, food and housing security, transportation, childcare costs, etc have also had supplemental income and secondary support systems dry up overnight.

Many have had to pivot and get their quick footing by eyeing new ways to survive and stay safe, fed, and housed. There are scores of folks who may have run out of options and then there are quite a few who prey upon unsuspecting others for sport without a care about the carry-over.

According to this recent article, scams like these have cost Americans more than a half billion dollars since early 2020.

My lived experience makes me hyper aware of my finances.

As a Black disabled woman who doesn’t live too far past the poverty level, I know this sense of anxiety all too well. I’m cautious about how I spend my money and keep a watchful eye on my finances.

My state-sponsored health insurance is income-contingent and loss of coverage would interrupt the continuity of care needed. I have a physical disability that impacts not only my mobility but my respiratory muscles also. When resting at night, I require the use of mechanical ventilation to assist my breathing otherwise I could risk respiratory failure.

My health insurance covers the costly rental fees of this much needed durable medical equipment (DME) or else I would not be able to afford it since it exceeds my monthly income. Any fraudulent financial claims can quite literally affect my access to healthcare, and can affect other areas of my finances, too, since I am required to live on a limited income.

That lived experience and disability lens perspective has informed my work in advocacy in many ways. I’m empathetic to social conditions and failed systems that impact quality of life particularly where race, disability, and gender may intersect.

As a person in need of care, a caregiver, and community-builder all at once, I know many women who live in this continuum, especially Black women and other women of color. We often have little choice not to do so pulling double and triple duty in terms of responsibility.

Even places of rest like our bedrooms become office command centers; I’ve run board meetings and the whole house from atop my bed, managed healthcare, grocery delivery, and family finances. Disability may dictate staying in place for the day and/or many days.

Here in the U.S. one out of four persons is estimated to have a disability and that includes apparent, non-apparent, and chronic illness. That’s about 25% of the population, and Black people number at around 14% of the population.

When we consider the nexus of being Black and disabled as this recent Atlantic article attests, the percentage of disabled Black Americans is 14% and disabled Black people who live in poverty number at 36%.

Black people typically don’t have the cushion of generational wealth that might soften the impact of financial damage incurred from injury of identity theft and fraud. Multiply-marginalized populations like disabled Black persons have even less of a financial safety net because of factors like racism and ableism.

Being better-informed doesn’t shield me from the effects but does help shape my worldview beyond doom and gloom to a more expansive one. Think more context not just consequences; more proactivity instead of being reactive only.

Still, it’s unnerving that hackers gained access to my private information and used it in nefarious ways. So right after being initially upset, I made sure to activate better security measures.

Handling Unemployment Scams

First, I made sure to call both state’s unemployment offices and let them know that I didn’t initiate those claims. Thankfully, both times they confirmed that claims had not moved further because they had been unable to verify all information.

Addressing Debit Card Fraud

Next, the debit card claims were handled by the bank and the funds were immediately returned pending investigation. If the claims were found to be account holder’s responsibility then the funds would have been paid back to the bank. This usually happens by automatic debit.

I’ve since placed alerts on my bank accounts so that every time funds were moved I would get notifications, which would allow more time for an immediate response if something were found to be amiss.

The fraudulent online purchases were caught in time and were still “pending,” so I alerted my bank that the purchase was not initiated by me. It was denied and the retailer was blocked for my bank account.

If I want to purchase anything from that site in future, I will have to contact the bank to have the block lifted.

Tax Identity Theft

Lastly, after receiving notification in mail regarding tax filings, I contacted the IRS and it was  confirmed that just a few months ago someone had filed taxes using my information. I was urged to file an identity theft form for them to investigate and have on record for my own protection.

Also, contacting the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report is another proactive measure that raises the red flag. It adds another layer of scrutiny for creditors to consider before granting applicants lines of credit and loans. You can either call or apply online.

Once you alert one of the credit bureaus they alert the others. The alerts can be temporary and last a year or as long as 7 years.

More stringent measures are security freezes and credit locks which place holds on your reports. They differ slightly and are explained in greater detail here.

The emotional labor of dealing with fraud during the pandemic.

It’s a lot of work to stabilize finances and find balance in such trying times. It can be a tough challenge especially when you may not have the physical and mental wherewithal to stay afloat without additional support.

Even now during festive times of year, it’s hard to muster up enough cheer when yet another strain of coronavirus is dominating the news. You start to wonder about further impact to marginalized communities. It’s complex, layered, and can feel overwhelming.

My advocacy work has expanded my awareness and reminds me to stay grounded as many of us are just trying to do the best we know how. There is such connective tissue that binds us all, and being mindful of that helps to keep my focus on building a better world where more of our basic needs are met, rather than focusing solely on blaming the wayward few who stay trying to break down individual and community morale.

I’m grateful that I didn’t incur much loss and hopefully don’t discover any more attempts in the future. But I’ll be ready and think I’m pretty well-buffered from all the gains, life hacks, and insights I’ve learned along the way as a Black disabled woman active in the disability rights community.

Woman in grey coat, blue and white blouse and blue earrings smiling at the camera.

 

Heather Watkins is a disability advocate, author, blogger, mother, graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in Mass Communications. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, loves reading, daydreaming, chocolate, and serves on a handful of disability-related boards. Her blog, Slow Walkers See More, includes reflections and insight from her life with disability.

 

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