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Tue, 04 Sep 2018 10:00:25 GMT

Lindsey Stanberry, editor of Refinery29’s Money Diaries – a viral series in which contributors lay bare their expenses – explains why we’re so fascinated with peering into each other’s finances

It was the viral read of the summer: a 21-year-old intern chronicling her week in NYC on $25 an hour. Despite her modest pay, the intern led a lavish lifestyle – thanks to her family giving her $3,200 every month to cover her living costs. #Blessed, the anonymous intern wrote, when disclosing the funds from her family. She certainly was, but the internet got extremely #angry.

The article, published in July, was part of Refinery29’s Money Diaries series, in which an anonymous (and usually millennial) contributor lays bare their finances, detailing everything they spend in the course of a week. Launched in January 2016, the series, which tracks the spending lives of the broke, the loaded and everyone in between, has become something of a modern phenomenon. Indeed, such is its popularity that a book based on the series is coming out today.

Related: Why do US women who earn more than their husbands lie about it? | Jessica Valenti

Related: Venmo: how the payment app exposes our private lives

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018 05:00:07 GMT

MH Miller left university with a journal full of musings on Virginia Woolf and a vast financial burden. He is one of 44 million US graduates struggling to repay a total of $1.4tn. Were they right to believe their education was ‘priceless’?

On Halloween in 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City, fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a guarantor. My father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she would have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

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Wed, 01 Aug 2018 10:00:14 GMT

It’s not clear how many deceased students Navient is chasing for money but the company has been riddled with controversy

In 2005, Sean Bennett took out a student loan with Sallie Mae, in 2010 he graduated from college and in 2011, when Sean was 23 years old, he died in a car accident.

At first, Sallie Mae sent out a letter of condolence to Sean’s parents explaining that they had a policy of forgiving debt if the recipient dies before they have repaid (they could afford to forgive – in the first quarter of this year alone, Sallie Mae made $333m in interest repayments from student loans).

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Mon, 23 Jul 2018 19:54:28 GMT

The fact that couples fudge earnings to suit traditional gender roles reminds us why the domestic sphere is still a battleground

New research from the US Census Bureau shows something a bit strange in the era of powerful feminist organizing. Apparently when women earn more than their husbands, both spouses lie about it.

About one in four heterosexual couples that the census looked at had wives that earned more than their husbands. In those cases, though, husbands over-reported their income while their wives under-reported their own. (The census sorted all this out when it matched couple’s answers to their actual IRS filings.)

If we don’t have parity in our homes, we won’t have it in our country

Related: The 'pro-life' conservatives' hypocrisy over children makes me sick | Jessica Valenti

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Do you have student debt? There's a reality TV show for that | Alissa Quart

Paid Off, a gameshow that pays off increments of contestants’ student loans for each correct answer, joins a growing ecology of films and TV shows about debt

Do you have student debt? What would you do to make it disappear?

In Paid Off, a new game show that promises to do just that for at least one lucky winner, we see three young people compete to get their loans paid off. The show’s host and creator, Michael Torpey, a comedian and actor, has created a formula for his TruTV program. For every trivia question the contestants answer correctly, the show pays off an increment of their student loans. If a contestant does particularly well, he or she might pay off their entire debt – which, for the contestants in the first episode, is as much as $40,000.

Related: The debt trap: how the student loan industry betrays young Americans

In post-recession shows … personal debt is a frequent theme, functioning as a kind of aggressive structuring absence

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