Women, Take Your 72¢ And Be Happy With It

Ma’am, if you don’t think you’re getting paid enough, maybe you shouldn’t have chosen modeling for a career

Our favorite talking points of election season:

  1. “Binders of women”
    A candidate could refer, somewhat obviously, to binders of women’s résumés. But if he used the shorthand “binders of women”, that means he’s a misogynist who wants to take the distaff half of the species back to the Stone Age, including his long-suffering wife. (Hmm…they also have 5 kids, who all happen to be male. The chances of that happening are 32 to 1. Can we state unequivocally that there wasn’t some sex-selective infanticide along the way?)
  2. “Women make x¢ for every dollar men make”, x being a number somewhere around 68 to 77.

This one just refuses to die. The consensus interpretation of it seems to be that for your average man who makes $50,000 in his generic job, the average woman beside him makes $36,000 or so. Since some women make as much as their male counterparts, for every one who does there must be another woman who makes even less compared to men.

This is 99% false, and even if it were 0% false, so what? Let’s examine it a little more closely:

Yes, if you add up the total amount of money earned by women in the workplace, divide that by the number of working women, multiply that by the total money earned by men, and divide that by the number of working men, you’ll get something like .72.

But that includes every job in existence, and doesn’t correct for the indisputable fact that women gravitate toward flexible jobs. Ones that allow for plenty of time away from the office, and thus that permit some form of turnover. To cite an example, the combatant commander of CENTCOM can’t take time off to drop his kids off at the pediatrician’s office or petition his boss (that’d be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) for additional maternity leave. Meanwhile, the daycare center supervisor at the Franklin County Public Library can afford to be a little more accommodating.

Of course, “women gravitate toward flexible jobs” is a general statement. More women do so than men, but most gainfully employed people of either sex aren’t as interested in flexibility as they are in earning money.

Lines of work in which women make several dollars for each dollar men make:

  • Stripping
  • Prostitution
  • Tending bar, and sorry if you happen to be a bartender and think we’ve drawn some equivalence between your job and the others on this brief list.

Gals, if you want to make more money, here’s a handy 2-part strategy that never fails:

  1. Pick a career that increases the likelihood that you’ll get paid more. Sure, you’d make a great receptionist. But is that really what you want to do for a living? Maybe it is, in which case, great. But think about what draws people to that job. Heck, ask a receptionist if you want to. They’re easy enough to find. Most of the women who answer phones for a living do so because the demands are small, and it’s easy to find someone to cover for them.
  2. Negotiate better. Look. No one seriously disputes that there are certain activities in which one sex has consistently shown more proficiency than the other. Here are just a few:
  • Child-rearing
  • Lifting 50-pound sacks of cement
  • Being “intuitive”, whatever the hell that means
  • Calculating cube roots and partial derivatives
  • Reading palms and consulting the stars
  • Isolating chemical elements (Yes, Marie Curie existed and was awesome. So were Albert Ghiorso, Glenn Seaborg, Enrico Fermi, Ernest Lawrence, Dmitri Mendelev, Henry Cavendish, Ernest Rutherford, Otto Hahn, Antoine Lavoisier, Joseph Priestley, Linus Pauling and about 1000 more. You want us to keep going?)
  • Interior design
  • Civil engineering
  • Human resources
  • Playing football at a professional level
  • Elementary education

Don’t pretend that men and women, cumulatively speaking, are equally adept at each of the activities listed above. But for the vast majority of jobs, it doesn’t matter whether the person performing them is male or female. Attorney. Veterinarian. United States Senator. Journalist, and if that’s what you do for a living God help you regardless of what sex you are. And yes, tire plant supervisor.

If you’re a woman, and you’re making less than your male coworkers in any of the jobs we just mentioned, why? Did you insist when you were hired that you make as much as the men do? If not, why not? And what if the men don’t each make the same amount anyway?

Alf is a shift supervisor who makes $45,000. Barry is a shift supervisor at the same plant, with responsibilities identical to Alf’s. In Barry’s interview, he insisted on $50,000 and not one penny less. The hiring manager was authorized to pay Barry as much as $54,000. There were no other qualified candidates at the time, and the plant needed to fill the position ASAP. So Barry got his $50,000.

A third shift supervisor position opens up. Cindy applies for it, and gets hired. How much should they pay her?

  • More than Alf? That’s hardly “pay equity” in the traditional sense.
  • As much as Alf? Not if Cindy a) ever glances at Barry’s paycheck and b) knows how to find a lawyer.
  • Less than Alf? No, that’s the very inequality we’re trying to avoid.

Here’s how much they should pay Cindy: whatever she can get.

Why should an employer pay you more than you ask for? More to the point, why shouldn’t you ask for as much as you can get?

The unfortunate truth is that women are almost as bad at negotiating as they are at throwing baseballs. (You ladies know you can move your elbow back, right? Try it sometime.) Heck, one of the brightest and most financially savvy women we know admits that she sucks at negotiating.

It isn’t Congress’s job to do what you can’t, or refuse to. Stand up for yourself, and demand more. Examine your alternatives – you can’t negotiate without leverage. Learn to say no. Reject the first offer. Find competitors and play them off against each other. Unlearn everything you’ve ever been taught about playing nice, being agreeable, not hurting the other person’s pride, going along to get along, etc. Money doesn’t care what sex you are. If Cindy’s years of feminine programming prohibit her from asking for as much as Barry does, that’s not the hiring manager’s problem.

This is so obvious it hardly counts as an observation, but every financial negotiation is inherently adversarial. The employer (client, etc.) wants to pay as little as possible. The employee (or vendor) wants to get paid as much as possible. The company in the above example is profiting off Barry, and profiting even more off Alf. It’s up to Cindy to decide how much she wants the company to profit off her.

It’s not that people of different sexes receive differing pay. It’s that everyone receives differing pay, depending on what they can negotiate. And that’s how it should be, unless you’ve ceded your bargaining rights to a union.

This has nothing to do with morality, or fairness. What Would Jesus Do? He’d tell you that if you agreed to work for a certain wage, even if other people are getting more than you and rubbing your face in it, suck it up until your contract expires. Or find something else.

How To Make An Effective $1200 An Hour

The guy with cop hand in his face should’ve read this post.


We haven’t done a story with a misleading headline in a while. So here’s one, in Yahoo! News and Drudge Report fashion.

You’re not going to make $1200 an hour doing this, but you could make $200 in 10 minutes. Or, more accurately, not lose $200 in 10 minutes. It’s a post about how to get out of a speeding ticket, or at least minimize the damage.

Your humble blogger enjoys driving fast for several reasons, the primary one being the self-evident one – you get where you’re going earlier. While we’re on the topic, something of a tangent: it makes no sense that old people drive slowly. They’re the ones who have the least sand left in the hourglass, yet they mosey along as if God isn’t tapping them on the shoulder and pointing to His watch.

So yeah, driving fast is efficient. Almost as importantly, it’s fun. The Richard Petty Driving Experience doesn’t charge people $135 to do laps of an oval at 45 mph. Also, driving fast forces you to pay attention to your surroundings, engaging you in a way that a driver fixated on the speed limit never is. Drivers who lull, or worse yet fall asleep at the wheel, are rarely speeding. It’s when the possibility for danger is heightened that your senses are correspondingly so.

Alright, enough preface. Two offenses, a couple of weeks apart. The first was outside the quiet desert town of Baghdad, Arizona, 82 in a 55 zone. Obviously, no one was in any danger. No bobbing and weaving, no dodging oncoming traffic, just unfortunate positioning (us here, the highway patrolman there – traveling in the other direction, on the crest of a hill, where a civilian’s radar detector is useless.)

That’s a $200 fine, for doing 25-30 over the limit. And probably a couple hundred more in the near future, indirectly, when the insurer realizes that they’ve been providing coverage to a genocidal driver who won’t be satisfied until the highways of the Southwest are covered with blood.

We got out for $40, no points, and no notification to our insurer (unless said insurer happens to read this blog. Hi there!)

How’d we do it? Simple. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Acknowledge the obvious: you’re busted. You saw the cop’s lights flash, so don’t be stupid. Pull over immediately. If it turns out that the cop happened to turn his lights on for a completely different reason, big deal – pulling over thus cost you a few seconds. If you are indeed the subject of the cop’s interest, you’re showing deference and expediency – you value his time too, and want to get this incident over with as soon as possible.
  • It’s going to take the cop a few seconds to approach your car. Break out your license, proof of insurance and registration and place them on the dash before he gets there. You’re not admitting guilt, at least not explicitly. But if you are guilty, or at least citable, doing this makes things easy for the cop.
  • Hands in front of you. On the steering wheel is as good a place as any. Tell your passengers to put their hands where the cop can see them, too.

Oh, you don’t have guns in the car? Why the hell not?

Riding with at least one gun (and, more importantly, availing the cop of its/their presence) shows you’re responsible. Doing so is common sense, and if you had to sit through a class to receive a concealed weapons permit, the instructor should have gone over this anyway.

The cop sees a speeder. He doesn’t know if you’re a career missionary who just returned from volunteer duty at the local veterans’ hospital, or Brandon Marshall. So put him at ease. Getting shot isn’t a common job hazard for any domestic line of work, but it’s a lot more frequent among police than it is in whatever you do for a living. The cop is certain you’re a speeder: make him equally certain that you’re not a criminal. Again, you’re trying to make his job easy here. Cops spend most of their workdays dealing with personalities ranging from verminous to merely uncooperative. Set yourself apart.

Oh, and tell him about the guns before he has a chance to talk. A) You’re supposed to and B) it’s kind of fun to initiate a conversation with a cop, forcing him to listen to you and not open his mouth until you’re done.

  • Don’t commit to a number when asked if you know how fast you were going. If you do, you’re signing your own warrant. Say something like “Officer, I was looking at the road, not my speedometer.” If you happen to be far from home, blame the scenery. “Officer, I thought I was driving safely and responsibly, but I was paying more attention to the gorgeous mountains and cacti than I was to my speed. I apologize for forcing you to stop me.”

We’re not kidding. Those quotes might look sarcastic, particularly the last one, but the idea here is to show deference. It’s amazing how many people will attempt to stand their ground against a cop, helpfully explaining to him why he’s wrong or at least misguided. If you’re going to do that, you might as well insult his mother.

All over our book, we remind you to look at each (financial) transaction from the other party’s perspective. Same deal for traffic stops. What does the cop want out of this? No hassles. Someone’s going to hassle him today, probably several people. Don’t be one of them. Be a bright or at least neutral spot in his otherwise stressful day. It’s not about who’s right. It’s about you minimizing the damage.

Back to our encounter. We found common ground, and continued to put the good patrolman at ease. We ending up discussing music for a few minutes – the merits of the Gibson SG over the Les Paul, etc. – and would have gone longer if we didn’t politely ask to get a move on before our bladders exploded. He said, “Look, I have to write you a ticket. You were doing 82 in a 55. I’m going to cite you for 5 over. Pay it by the end of the week and it won’t appear on your record. And slow down.”

Here’s what we didn’t do:

  • Plead for a reduced violation.

Reducing the violation is the cop’s call. Asking for it is like asking someone for a birthday gift. Tacky and ineffective.

  • Curse, threaten to fight the ticket, come up with an idiotic excuse, or use the venerable “Good thing there are no murderers or rapists for you to arrest” line.

This should go without saying, but it’s rarely a good idea to antagonize someone who has the legal authority to make your life miserable.

As for the second incident, that was on a lonely stretch of interstate in an even more remote part of the West. The officer was in the median. The radar detector went off too late to do anything about the excessive speed.

Again, pulled over immediately and did everything listed above. Complimented the officer’s beat (“These wide open spaces are just too distracting”), and he agreed to write up a 20 mph excess as a 1-5 mph one.

Then it got better. He did the thing where he steps back to his car for a few minutes, forcing his quarry to sweat, then returned and said, “I noticed you don’t have a front plate. The state requires one. I’m going to write you up for that instead.”

At least in the state in question, “No front plate” results in a fine or points only if the driver doesn’t show proof of correction within a fixed period. That is, if you affix the front plate to the vehicle, then fax a picture of same to the court, they’ll drop the charges.

Yes, if you no longer know where your front plate is you could conceivably just put the back plate on the front and send a picture of that to the court. Not that we encourage that, or would ever dream of doing it ourselves.

See? You learn something new on this site every day. Under the right circumstances, driving without a front plate can reduce your violation to zero. Grab a flathead screwdriver and take a little more control of your financial future right now.


And if all this fails, have breasts.

Consider Growing A Pair

Stop pondering. Stop considering. And while you're at it, get rid of that ridiculous facial hair.


WARNING: Self-reference coming hard in today’s post.

It’s the weakest, foulest word in the English language. It’s the first line of defense for the timid and the recreant. Most of the time, when someone uses it he’s saying, “I don’t have the strength of my convictions. In fact, I might not even have convictions. Essentially, I’m saying nothing.”

The word? “Consider”. As in, “Consider raising your real savings percent after 401K contribution to 50% as soon as comfortably possible” (sic). Or “consider buying last year’s (consumer electronics) models” to save money.

The author wants us to consider saving half our income, in the roundabout way he phrased it? Okay.



Let’s consider some other things. We’ll start by considering moving to Wyoming with its business-friendly tax climate. Then, let’s consider buying a fuel-efficient and relentlessly douchey Nissan Leaf, so we can simultaneously save the planet and look down our noses at the Prius owners.


Done! Again! This considering business is easy.

Let’s see if “consider” becomes any more robust when used in a non-personal finance scenario:

Your friend: My boyfriend gave me a black eye last night. He said he’d give me another one if I didn’t have dinner on the table by 6:00 sharp.

You: Consider ending the relationship.

Any site that – or for that matter, any person who – tells you to “consider” doing something might as well sit there silent. It’s an effete way of attempting to make a point, which doesn’t stop countless other personal finance bloggers from doing so. Largely because they have nothing important nor interesting to say. We promise never to use the word on this site, at least not in that particular context.

That being said, here are a couple of financial steps you should take. Don’t “consider” taking them, just freaking take them. Or not, and be poorer:

1. Get a credit card with, in ascending order of importance: no annual fee, either cash back or rewards for something you use anyway, and a big limit.

Practically speaking, you can’t rely on cash for everything. (For instance, buying event tickets, renting a car, or buying expensive items that it’s impractical to carry cash for.) And you need to build credit, which you can’t do if you conduct business solely in cash. The bigger the limit, the less you have to rely on cash (and the more the issuer will entice you with offers unavailable to its customers with smaller limits.)

Convenience, discretion, and disclosure are major reasons for using a credit card. “Disclosure” just means that you have a paper trail in case you have any discrepancies. It’s hard to dispute a $3000 transmission replacement done by an incompetent auto technician if you paid cash.

Oh yeah, we neglected to mention interest rate. Who cares? Interest rate is meaningless. You know how much every credit card issuer charges on balances paid by the due date? 0%, without exception. We’re assuming you’re paying your bill in full every month, thus letting the credit card issuer profit off its hundreds of thousands of other cardholders. If you aren’t doing this, you shouldn’t be buying things with a credit card. In fact, you shouldn’t be buying things, period.

2. FORGET about “building an emergency fund”, the go-to financial advice from people who either don’t know what they’re talking about or are too lazy to think about the issue critically.

It sounds great in theory. The very name “emergency fund” implies that you’re avoiding the possibility of spending your retirement years holding a sign on a street corner because you sat there unmotivated while misfortune struck.

What are true emergencies?

-House burns down
-Contract lethal case of malaria or some other fatal disease.
-Get fired.

There are probably others, but these and variations were the most common ones cited in our informal poll. And every last one of them, you can insure against.

Having an insurance policy in effect on your residence is pretty much a law. Even if it wasn’t, the chance of your home burning to the ground is almost negligible. Control Your Cash world headquarters is located in a city with 240,710 “housing units”. Last year there were 396 residential fires in the city, and of those, only 20 resulted in the house becoming uninhabitable. Assuming that people are as likely to smoke in bed in any other part of the country as they are here, that means you have about a 12,000-to-1 shot of losing your house. And again, even if that happened, you’d almost certainly be covered.

What about health?

Well, what about it? Again, there’s this thing called insurance. You buy it, it covers you. If you think a sufficiently comprehensive policy is too expensive, then a) how much were you planning on committing to your emergency fund and b) what did you think such an emergency fund was going to pay for if you had to tap it?

And if you lose your job, again, unemployment insurance. You’ve been paying into it for years. Never mind that losing a job is the best thing that could possibly happen to many people, exactly how far is an emergency fund supposed to take you after you lose a job?

If you’ve got excess cash that you’re antsy to save somewhere, put it in your 401(k). Invest in an undervalued stock. Whatever you do, don’t be like this idiot and put an extra $1000 a year in a savings account where it’ll stagnate and won’t gain a penny of interest. Plus you’ll forgo the opportunity to have put your money in a place where it could have actually built wealth.

There. Now instead of considering subscribing to our RSS feed, do it. Click this link. You’re welcome.