Commentary / Financial Life

An Open Letter to Refinery29

A few weeks ago I remember seeing a headline in the daily email I was receiving from the site that really sparked my interest. “How I Turned $30 Into $10,000 In One Year”. So, I don’t have a lot of money, but 30 bucks is manageable. I’m definitely in. Lord knows I need the cash. Tell me your secrets!

I was hella pumped to learn the new financial advice Refinery29 was offering up. But, at the same time, I always enter their articles knowing that I’ll probably be pissed off halfway through because when it comes to writing to people in my kind of living/working/race situation, they often miss the mark. But, we’re taught to always give second (or third or twelfth) chances. So I decided to read the advice…

Want $10,000 in a year? All you have to do is put $30 in your bank account, EVERY DAY, for a year.

Are. You. FUCKING. Kidding. Me?

Who can afford to do that? Honestly? I have a lot of friends with good jobs, and that’s way too much money to just—I dunno—save. I was telling someone about this specific advice and their response was, “So it’s basically ‘How to turn $10,000 into $10,000”? Yeah, right?

Now, I don’t live super well, but I survive. I don’t like to complain about how little money I have because I have it a WHOLE lot better than many people who live in this city, country, world, and I don’t want to belittle true struggle. But I definitely don’t have it as easy as the team who has been tasked to give financial advice on R29. I swear, they must just read cover letters and try to find the most deluded, unconscious people possible. Anytime I read their articles, whether they are about women of colour, or how to save money, or shopping on a budget, I can feel the privileged whiteness oozing from between the perfectly spaced lines on the page. This article was no different.

Am I supposed to learn something from a person telling me that you may have to sacrifice a few things to save $30 a day, but it’s worth it. Here’s a list of some of the author’s “unnecessary spending”:


“An unnecessary cab ride, when I could just take the subway;

A hardcover book;

Two glasses of wine (at NYC prices).”


I get it, New York is expensive, but are you kidding me? I have a hard time believing that this woman understands the true value of $30. After doing the math I realized that 30 bucks is more than a third of my daily earnings, IF I worked 7 days a week, at full time hours, BEFORE TAXES. And this is not an uncommon reality for most of the people I know.

And maybe I’m completely missing the point. Maybe the article is more about taking the plunge and forcing yourself to stick to hard goals, but even five dollars a day would sometimes be an OVERWHELMING amount of money for me. And even if I was able to save 5 bucks a day, that’s not even two grand. I could pay my rent for two months with a little left over given that amount.

The author talks about sacrifice and how difficult it was to tote luggage on the New York subway. But what’s the savings reality for those of us who already rely on public transportation, who already don’t buy those hardcover books, or get our nails done, or go out for drinks with our friends? Where is OUR financial advice?

And I guess that’s what aggravated me so much about this particular Refinery29 article. It was only written for a very small, already supremely privileged group of people. When I see that there’s an article offering financial advice, I want it to be something that I can include in my already extremely thrifty life. I want to know how someone like me, someone working two minimum wage part time jobs, living in an expensive city, has any hope of saving some money here and there in hopes that next year I’ll have a little more in my savings than I do now. And in my experience, R29 has failed to do that for its readers. It is so hard to try to find useful information on a site that is so blatantly written for upper middle class white women, by upper middle class white women. And I think that, as a site that seems to be writing for the “20-40 year old Every-Woman”, it would be nice to get advice that is targeted a little lower, a little wider, so my friends and I and most of the women I’ve mentioned this article to don’t feel so forgotten. As a half-black, low-wage working, millennial woman, I already feel forgotten enough.


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