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From New York to Los Angeles, Erin Ryan has gone from beloved internet commenter to New York media darling and now to Hollywood screenwriter. But just how do different writing jobs differ financially? Is it feasible to live the bicoastal dream? What does a TV writer even make? This week, Erin tells all.

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Hey, guys.

I am Chelsea Fagan. And this is "The Financial Confessions." Welcome back.

And we have a guest today that I am very personally excited about, because she is someone that I was a friend of in New York. We went out to dinner sometimes. We hung out.

And then she moved to Los Angeles. And if you guys live in New York and know what happens when someone moves to Los Angeles, it's as if she died. And now we're hanging out again and doing this podcast.

But before I introduce you to my friend, I want to talk quickly about the partner that we make this podcast with every week. So as you guys might know, we make every episode of "The Financial Confessions" in partnership with Intuit, which is an amazing group of products, most of which I either use personally everyday or have used several times in my life to great success. They make things like QuickBooks and TurboTax and Mint-- basically, tons of financial products that help make every financial decision and obstacle and challenge in your life way more easy to understand and way more effective.

If you've been thinking about getting better with your own financial life, definitely check out all of Intuit's products at the link in our description or the show notes. So, person who moved to Los Angeles but used to live in New York, what is your name? My name is Erin Ryan.

Tell us about yourself. Well, where do I begin? I'm a writer.

I used to be a journalist back in New York City, I worked at The Daily Beast, and I did CNN, HLN stuff. And then somebody who worked in entertainment was like, you should try writing for TV, and gave me a job. And so I moved out here.

So now I'm a TV comedy writer, and I also host a podcast with Crooked Media, which is the Pod Save America people. And it's about sort of women, politics-- kind of the ways that our lives intersect with public policy and, you know, the way that big issues affect individuals' lives. What is that podcast called?

It's called "Hysteria." Very cool. It's ironic, because women-- get it? "Hysteria?" Yes, it's like we're being hysterical. Yes, exactly.

Reclaim that term. Yeah, I know, we're trying. Well, it's funny-- when we first named it-- I'm doing this ironically, oh, it's so fun.

And then I noticed a generational difference in the response to it. Women above a certain age were like, I don't like that name. And I think it was because when they were younger, people were probably using that word against them a lot more.

And now it's sort of like out of fashion. Like, I'm never called hysterical or a harpy or anything like that. You're being hysterical.

It's very "Mad Men." Right. It's this sort of like noir woman being like, I couldn't go to the police. And he's like, now-- He slaps her and he's like, get yourself together.

You're hysterical. So yeah, I think that the generational divide is probably because those women grew up-- hopefully not slapped by Humphrey Bogart-- but they grew up maybe being called hysterical. And you worked at Jezebel too, didn't you?

I did. That was where I got my start as a writer. Before I was doing that, I worked in finance, actually.

Wow. Yeah. So my first-- I think I remember that now that you say it.

I'd forgotten. Yeah, I'd like to forget too. What did you do in finance out of curiosity?

Well, I worked at Merrill Lynch. And I was a broker in the retail brokerage. And I was there during the crash, which wasn't a fun time to have a job in need insurance.

It especially wasn't a fun time to have a job and work for a large financial company that was every Friday just laying people off. But I was always a person who couldn't just rely on somebody else's money. I didn't have parents who paid for anything.

So it was like, look, you work at Merrill Lynch until they fire you, or you move back in with your parents who cannot afford to support you. So it was a survival thing. And I worked there.

I held on for maybe five years, I think. And then I left because I got a job writing for Jezebel and I was like, bye. And I moved from Chicago to New York for that job and have not wanted to work in finance since.

I'm curious how that experience has shaped your investment strategy on an individual level. One thing that I learned from that that's really important is that it's really important to save when you're young. It's worth so much more to make some sacrifices when you're young than it is to wait until you're in your 30s.

So I started investing in a 401(k). And I was not very good with debt, but I was really good saving, weirdly. So I was really good at stocking away a little bit of my paycheck every week.

And I still have this lump of money from when I was working at Merrill Lynch that I haven't touched and will not touch until I retire. So I will say that it informed my strategy, because it taught me that I would see people coming in every day who would be 45 and just getting started. And it would be like, wow, you're not going to retire.

I mean, you can, but it's going to be a really tough 20 years. Right. Exactly.

You're going to be living on a fixed income that we don't even know if it's going to be there. If you want to get to a point in your life when you're no longer working and earning money, you have to save a lot of money when you're young. Yes.

Yeah, a lot of people don't realize-- I want to see the average number something like 1.4 million-- 1.4, 1.2, I don't know what it is-- but for a healthy middle class retirement with the ability to do a little bit of traveling, to have some luxury expenses within reason for about 20 years of retirement. It's over a million dollars. And again, I don't know the number of the top of my head.

But a lot of people have a really hard time imagining that, because they're like, I live on $65,000 a year. How could I need to be a millionaire? Well, divide that number by X amount and leave some for contingencies.

Right. Every American, even Americans with really good insurance, are one medical catastrophe away from complete financial ruin. I think it's something like 50% of people who get-- Cancer.

Cancer file for bankruptcy or something. Within two years. Yeah.

All of their money is drained. So when I was working in finance in 2006 to 2011, people could come in and be like, I have good insurance, this, this, and this. Now, the question marks are so much bigger.

And so I guess maybe the main ways that working in finance influenced me currently is now I save money. And also now I assume that I can't take any of it with me. I save money, but I have in the back of my head that it can all just go away in a second.

And what am I going to do then? And is there any way for me to safeguard what I do have? And those are questions that are super complicated.

And if you do want to protect your actual assets from medical seizure or whatever, then you have to invest in the help of a professional, I think. So what took you from finance to working at Jezebel, was the next stop? Yeah, Jezebel was the next stop, and it's very odd.

I guess here's a kind of funny story from when I was a little kid. I used to love doing gymnastics. We had a big front yard-- lived in the country on a dirt road, nobody ever drove by the house.

But I loved doing gymnastics. I used to do tumbling runs down this long stretch of grass that was right by the road. And in my mind, someday a gymnastics coach would drive by and see me doing cartwheels.

No, that obviously never happened. Maybe for the best that that strange man never drove down your dirt road and was like, you want to do those flips in this truck? Hey, little girl.

You're pretty good at cartwheels. You want to be a gymnast? Actually, yeah.

I feel like I'm glad that didn't happen. But I was in this very rural area, and nothing ever happened. I was in a place-- Where are you from?

Wisconsin? Northern Wisconsin. Hell yeah, I remember that.

Yeah, very rural remote. But basically that happened with my writing career. I was a commenter on the website.

And they had this very vibrant commenting community. It wasn't just first and YouTube racism. It was a pretty well-curated community-- like, smart readers.

And then the editor noticed my comments and was like, you're very funny. Do you write? And I was like, ha ha, no.

And she kind of kept cajoling me until I agreed to write a couple of tests posts, and ended up working out. That's how my writing career started. And then I was a contributor.

And then I worked on Sundays. I was the Sunday editor. So I'd wake up at 6:00 in the morning and work until 6:00 PM.

And I got paid I think $115 a shift. And then I would go to my normal 9 to 5 job on Monday through Friday. And I was just completely working for the weekend, because I loved the writing part so much.

And then after a year of that, I asked them to hire me full time, and they did. So that's how that whole thing got started. And as I mentioned at the top of this, so you worked at Jezebel and The Daily Beast and all that was in New York.

And then you were taken out to LA by television writing. Yeah. So this is another version of I was just doing something publicly and somebody noticed.

I have a Twitter account that I'm pretty active on and I-- What's that? Social media. It's a flaming pit of hell.

But eight years ago, it was cool. But yeah, I had a Twitter account that I would mostly use to tell jokes and share news stories that I thought were interesting. And I got a DM from the creator of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." And he was like, you're really funny, I'd love to email you something.

And I was like, OK. And he e-mailed me and was like, let's talk on the phone about you writing for TV. And we talked on the phone and he became sort of a mentor to me and ended up hiring me to write for "Always Sunny." I didn't know what I expected it to be like.

I thought everybody would be mean, just because I don't know. I've been around a lot of comedians, and they tend to be kind of-- I don't know. There's a certain type of comedian that tends to be very petty and egotistical and stuff-- a type.

I know a lot of nice comedians, but that's one type. Everybody was super nice. It was people who'd been writing for the show forever.

And then I was the new-- I was the only person who was totally new in the writer's room. And on the first day, we just sat around a table and talked about things we thought would be funny and news stories that we're interested in. And then we put push-pins up-- I was right.

Yep, push-pins up on the board. And a lot of them were like-- some of them made sense. They all made sense because we were all in the room when they were written down, but by the end of the cycle, once we'd written the season, if you went back and looked at the board from the first day, it would be like, Charlie poops his pants.

What? It was a well-formed idea, but now I've lost what it was. But yeah, you sit around and you talk about ideas, and then you break them down into things that might make good episodes.

And you break the room in half, and half of the room works on one, half the room works on the other. And then you switch ideas and you critique with the other room is doing. And everybody pitches jokes.

So every single episode of that show has pieces of every single writer in it. So I don't think there was any episode that people didn't have input in. It was every single person, very collaborative.

Is it 9:00 to 5:00 during? It depends on what type of show you're working for. "Always Sunny" is really humane. Rob and Charlie both have kids, and they both have other stuff they're working on.

And David Hornsby, who's one of the executive producers and is Cricket on the show, if you watch the show, he's a writer in the room too and he is married and has kids. So it's usually we would get in 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, and we would usually be out by 6:00 or 7:00 at night. The latest we ever had to stay was 9 PM, and it was only once.

And they bought us dinner and were really apologetic about it. Other writer's rooms are totally different. Sometimes there's certain show-runners that I'll tell you off-mic.

There's certain show-runners that are notoriously sadistic. There's one in particular that has a reputation where he would make people work until 3 AM and then tell them that they had to be at work at 6:00. So a lot of people would just sleep in their offices.

And then, yeah, it can be really gross and bad. Also because it's a union job, so you're paid pretty well. And considering how much money you're generating, it's pretty fair.

And it's a lot of money per week compared to what an average person would make. But you also have to keep in mind that in a lot of cases, this 10 to 20-week period of a year is the only time that-- You're making that money. Is working, yeah.

And so commensurately, some show-runners kind of think they own you for that period of time. If you have a 15-week contract, they own your ass-- Monday through Friday plus weekends. They just will call you up and own your ass.

But "Sunny" is not like that at all. It's very Monday through Friday. Sometimes, we get assignments over the weekend where it's like, yeah, sometime over the weekend, why don't you watch a noir?

Or sometime over the weekend, why don't you read this article that we're all talking about? But yeah, it was pretty good. But it is very tiring, because you're basically in a meeting the last six hours.

And then you take lunch, and then you are in another meeting. It's just all day long. And you have to be engaged.

There's no spacing out. You just have to kind of be there all day long. And so that does get really tiring.

Well, I catch episodes every now and again. Can't say I'm a regular viewer, but always funny, I have to say-- enjoy it. Yeah.

It's fun because all the characters are the worst people you can imagine. And because they've been written that way for-- we just finished our 14th season-- 14 seasons of them being the worst people in the world means that you can do anything to them. And the audience will be like, yes.

That's like "Grey's Anatomy" numbers for season. That's crazy. It's the longest-running live action American sitcom.

That's crazy. Well, congratulations for that. I had literally nothing-- literally nothing to do with it.

Yes. So I think a lot of people assume that TV writers must all be incredibly wealthy-- that it's probably a very lucrative job, especially if you're on a hit show. What does a TV writer actually make in general?

Well, it really depends on how much experience you have, what your rate is, if you have agents, which we had to fire all of our agents this year, which was a whole thing. Drama. Yeah, yeah.

It's all about how much experience you have, what kind of show it is, where it airs, how long it is. There's all these different things. If you join the WGA, they give you a schedule of minimums.

And the minimums tend to be-- for a person writing for like a weekly sitcom, I think the minimum is-- I think it's like between $3,000 and $5,000 a week per week of your contract. But then you get taxed as though you're making that for the entire year. Right.

So the amount that you actually see is not very high compared to what that sounds like. But as you get more experience, usually when you get offered a new contract or if get brought on for a new season, there's increases in pay. So you start out making maybe $3,000 to $5,000 a week, depending who you are, who your agent is, and once you get to be a producer or a Story Editor, Executive Story Editor, it goes up to $7, $8, 9,000.

Once you're a producer, it's like $10,000. Executive producers $14 or $15,000 or more. And those people also get a share in other forms of revenue the show generates.

Writers do too, but it's a lot smaller. So it's a very convoluted way of saying if you're working for a show that has a-- let's say you have a 16-week writer's room, you get paid $80,000-ish or so roughly if you're just a low level writer. And you can get paid a lot more if you're a high level writer.

But like I said, the taxes situation is significant. And TV writing is lucrative, and so it's very coveted. And for every person in a writer's room, there are 15 PAs, writer's assistants, and other people that are just graduating film school, really good novelists-- all these people that have the skills necessary to be a good TV writer just kind of waiting in the wings.

Totally. So unless you've been doing it for a really long time, the newer you are, the more interchangeable you are-- the more disposable you are. If you're just a TV writer with one season's experience or whatever, you can easily be replaced.

You don't have this deep knowledge of the show. You don't have like chemistry with the other writers. It's a very fraught and nerve-wracking lifestyle.

And there's some writers who will just write for one show and they won't get another job for the rest of the year. So if you're an "Always Sunny" writer or something, you can try to get in another room, but you might not, which means that that's the only income that you're making. So it's sort of a lifestyle where you have to be in survival mode all the time unless you're an upper level writer or producer.

It's anxiety-inducing for sure. The funny thing is with a lifestyle and income fluctuation like that, a person being smart about a job like that would be striving to save 50% of their income at least. And I have a strong speculation knowing the people in media that I know that it's probably not that case for most.

There are some people that are pretty good at it. But I think that most people who've been doing it for a little while have a good sense of saving and splurging. I know one writer who she and her husband always go on these big, long, amazing trips after she's done working in a writer's room.

So it's like they don't live an extravagant lifestyle or anything like that. But they do this one cool, big thing. Like teachers who go on vacations during the beginning of summer.

Yeah, exactly, sort of. And then there's also some people try to supplement their income. There are other ways to make money as a writer besides being in a writer's room.

Sometimes you get hired to do like punch-ups on a script. You get hired to do an outline on something. You're not necessarily working full-time in a writer's room, but you might be working on a film but not the whole film-- just part of it.

You might do punch-ups where they'll call a group of funny people together in a room, and you guys will work on a scene and help the movie be funnier-- like with kids movies. A lot of times they'll hire comedians to do punch-ups and stuff. That's such a fascinating world to me.

So the job took you to LA. Job took me to LA. I had illusions about being bi-coastal, because I thought it would be cool and glamorous, but it just is not.

I was exhausted all the time. I didn't know what time it was. So how were you doing the bi-coastal?

What was that setup? I was still working at The Daily Beast, but I was a contributor, so they kind of just let me come and go as I pleased. And then CNN, HLN was amenable to my travel schedule.

So they wouldn't book me on weeks that they knew I was going to be in LA or they would just book me specifically for an LA flash studio instead of being in studio in New York. So I would be New York for three weeks, LA for a week and a half. New York for three weeks, LA for a week and a half.

And then did you maintain apartments in both? No. Out here, I did Airbnb whenever I stayed out here, because it was just like, my real home is New York.

I'm a New Yorker, blah, blah, blah. And then I got to a point where all of the money I was making was out here. The company I have a podcast with is out here.

The show I write for is out here. New York started to feel like a vanity project. It was like, I don't need to be here.

And also, I'm tired. I really want a place to live. So I got offered a different job on a different show.

I'd written for "Sunny," and then there's this new show up on Apple TV called "Mythic Quest." It's not out yet, but it's coming out. And worked in season one of that writer's room. And once I got that job, I was like, OK.

It makes no sense for me to be ping-ponging back between New York and Los Angeles. So I kind of hung on. I was subletting my apartment, which you've been to my apartment, right?

Not the latest one. The one-- because you moved up to Harlem. Yeah.

Right on top of Central Park. Uh huh. I don't think I ever went there.

I was downstairs from it one day-- like when we met up. Right, right, right, right, right. Above that little place called Rendezvous.

Yeah. Still there I think. Yes.

It's actually a really nice little spot. It has a really good happy hour special. Hot tip.

Yeah. But I sublet that place, because I was like, eventually I'll be back and forth again. It's like, no, you won't.

So I just was back in New York specifically to get rid of all my remaining stuff that was there-- to ship it-- Like in a storage unit. It was in the office in my old apartment. Oh you still had your old apartment?

Yeah. You subletted for that long? What was that, two years?

It was a year-- a little over a year, yeah. That's crazy. Yeah, it is crazy.

Dreams are crazy, Chelsea. RIP New York City. for you. I know.

And you miss it. I do miss it. It's just hard.

Everything about being in New York is hard. The weather sucks, the trains don't work, the people-- they're pretty nice, actually, but the tourists are bad. And everything's a pain in the ass.

But at the end of every single day, you feel like you accomplished something just by continuing to be alive. No, I mean, it's true. It's true you do.

I was thinking about this recently-- I feel like you can draw-- it's a graph that is just one line of the amount of money you have and the amount you enjoy New York. Yes. And the thing is that there are quite a lot of things about New York that I like objectively.

I don't drive. My license is expired. I can drive.

If someone's dying, I could drive them to the hospital, but I don't drive. And I don't like being in cars. I don't like being-- nothing to do with cars I enjoy.

So that eliminates a lot of cities for me. And I do think, in general, it's better to walk everywhere if you can. So I do like that about New York.

Lots of great culture-- clearly, New York has a lot going for it. But I do think that the extraordinary cost of living is really kind of a shame. And I didn't move to New York intentionally.

I moved there because I had a job there that I couldn't keep working remotely for. And I hated it for many, many years because I was like, why am I here? I didn't sign up to have to live this way.

And I think a lot of people come to New York and have those sparkles in their eyes and are happy to live in-- Squalor. Utter squalor in Bushwick and commute an hour and a half every day to their two jobs. And I just never experienced that.

Oh and also, my husband and I, we're not planning on having children. And I partially wonder if that's something that has come out of the fact that I don't think I could ever have a decent life in New York with children. I don't think I've got that in my bones.

Yeah. A baby is fully an albatross around your neck in New York-- unless you're rich. Because there are people on the Upper West and Upper East Side you sometimes see that display their big family.

You'll see four blonde children walking hand in hand. It's totally a status symbol. Have you read a book called Primates of Park Avenue?

This is the second time I'm talking about this book. No, no. Please read it.

It's so fascinating. And one of the things she talks about is one of the biggest status symbols on the Upper East Side is how many children you can have, because that means you have that much space, that many nannies, that big of a car. It's a whole thing.

And she's like, you'll literally meet women who have six children on the Upper East Side. And it's like some kind of a cult scenario, but it's just because that's the chic thing to do if you can afford it. The life can be so incredibly hard there.

And really the only true lubricant to life in New York City-- the WD-40-- is money-- lots and lots of money. Yeah and even with money, though, it's so dense, that everything is going to be a little bit of a pain in the ass. There is no way to money your way out of traffic.

So what is your favorite thing? What do you love about living in LA? I love the fact that you can live like a human being.

I remember when I first got out here, I was like, OK, getting an apartment. And I was looking at these places, and it was amazing. I was dazzled by what I could get for the amount that I was paying in New York.

And it was a real-- It is dazzling. Yeah, it was a real extravagance to live alone. I found this beautiful vintage Spanish building that had this gorgeous-- Vintage in California is from 1983.

It's like from the '30s. Yeah, and it's just beautiful. And it's actually not far from here.

And it was just I had these beautiful arches and little things built into the wall. And I was like, everything so charming. And it had a balcony, palm trees outside of it, and these big windows with wooden shades that would open up.

It was so beautiful. Love that. Yeah, I loved that apartment.

And as soon as I moved in, I was like, oh. This kind of ambient stress that lived in the area right around my heart just sort of dissipated. No, it's true.

Like, survival stress-- like in New York, it's kind of always like fight or flight. What's going on? What's the next three things I have to do?

Everything is logistics. Everything is planning. And then I was just so much more relaxed.

I love that the weather is good. Everybody loves the weather, but I underestimated how much it impacted my mood. Because cloudy, bad weather makes me very grumpy.

And not having very much light makes me sad. And being out in a place where it's pretty much sunny every day-- not today, but it's pretty much sunny every day-- Pouring rain today. Yeah, you came with bad weather.

I know. And it was just the first snow in New York. It was a magical time.

Oh, the only-- Lame trade-off. I know. The only time the snow is magical.

Although LA is really beautiful after it rains. It's clean and green and it's great. There's these big kind of wild parks right inside the city that you can just hike around in.

There's great hiking. Griffith Park is beautiful. Legion Park is beautiful.

I love the east side. I love that it's easy to get out of LA if you just are sick of it and you need to go to Joshua Tree and take some mushrooms, you can totally do that. If you want to go-- the ocean is here.

If you want to go to Venice for some reason, you can go to Venice. It's pretty easy. There's wine country that's close by-- not Napa, but a lot more down to earth version of Napa.

There's a lot of beautiful things to do and outside stuff is a lot better here than it was in New York. Although Central Park is incomparable, and there's nothing-- It's spectacular. It's wonderful.

I was kind of wedged between Central Park and Morningside. And it was just beautiful. Morningside Park is a great park.

I live in Morningside Heights, and so it's definitely a fave. I will say-- so we just moved into a new apartment, and I think, honestly, it's just under 1,000 square feet, which to me is like, this is perfect for two people. I do not need it to be bigger than this.

But that is ludicrously bigger than any apartment I've lived in New York. Yeah, I was going to say, 1,000 square feet, that's crazy. But the two most exciting things about an apartment-- and this is how much New York City beats you down-- there are two entrances and exits to the kitchen, so I can go through the dining room or through the hallway.

Two entrances and exits to a room? Who's ever heard of such a luxury? That's crazy.

And I have an actual dining room where you can walk comfortably around the whole dining table, which has never happened to me before. It's always some nook or you have to pull it out or it's cramped in the side of your living room. Right.

And I think on some level, because I'm fascinated by the tiny house stuff in the sense that I feel like if any trend should come to Americans, it should be living in smaller, less sprawling places. But it does make you realize after five years-- for me, six years-- of living there, you're like, wow, I'm really that high about being able to walk around my dining table. Right.

Right. Do you ever think you'll live in a city that's neither or? San Francisco-- if you could just take all the awful people out of it, if it were more like it's original hippie intentions, San Francisco could be cool.

Nice weather. Yeah. I've never been to Portland, but I think I would like it.

I lived in Chicago for a while. It's so cold there. I loved Chicago.

It was very cold, but like-- Minneapolis is also great. I love Minneapolis. My family's from near there.

Nice. I could see myself doing it as-- in my mind, I would have to live it like an expedition. We're doing this arctic expedition for eight months of the year.

It's unlivable, but for four months of the year, it's great. Actually a funny anecdote about people in Minneapolis. I was there doing a show-- a live "Pod Save America" show called "Lovett or Leave It." I was "Lovett or Leave It" live in Minnesota April 2018.

It snowed. It was a huge blizzard. Our plane from Chicago touched down right as the big fat wet flakes started hitting the runways.

Get to the hotel, it is a full-on blizzard. They declare a state of emergency in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We tried to cancel the show, the venue was like, no. You can't cancel the show. So people put out on Twitter, if you can't make it to the show, your tickets will be refunded.

Please don't risk your lives. Before the show, we're backstage, and Jon Lovett and I were talking and I was like, I think if there's not many people, we should just at the first commercial break, we should just tell everybody to move as close to the stage as they want. And it'll be a very fun, intimate show.

He's like, yeah, let's do that. There's not going to be very many people. We get backstage, the place is fucking packed.

And everybody is hyped. People snowshoed there. People cross-country skied there.

People hiked in knee height-- like, it was crazy. The Minneapolis attitude towards snow is like, screw you. You are not going to mess up my plans to go see this live podcast.

Yeah. It's like, oh yeah? Well how about this?

I fully do not have that energy-- do not have that in my bones. Goodbye, I'm drinking hot chocolate. I don't care if I get my money back.

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And if you want to make sure that you are truly kicking your taxes' butt this year, you want to check out TurboTax Live at the link in our description or our show notes. You mentioned a few times already that you grew up maybe not a ton of money. And I grew up similarly, and then I moved to New York and worked in media where an inordinate amount of people that I knew really had quite the opposite experience.

And now I don't think about it as much, but for a long time it was very, very difficult for me to not feel incredibly resentful and bitter at all the people around me. It's as if they sort of all went through life in a little space suit and had no real sense of consequences or urgency. And I'm curious as to how you dealt with that, how you would even give advice for people who might be in a similar situation-- like someone from not a lot of money who goes to an elite school or works in an elite industry.

Well, I went to a school where a lot of people had a lot of money. I went to Notre Dame for undergrad. And I remember this is how sheltered I was.

I remember getting to school and one of my good friends let it drop that she was-- I was talking about scholarships, and she's like, oh yeah, they didn't give me any scholarships. And it's all need-based at Notre Dame. It was like, her parents can afford to pay $40,000 a year?

That is insane. It didn't occur to me that people could just write a $40,000 check. One college, please.

Yes. Two colleges-- four colleges. One for all of my four kids that I had to show off how rich I am.

The thing that really bothered me, and I still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about it, but now I kind of view it as a superpower, is people like you and me know things that people like that will never know. And there's something that has always struck me as very pathetic about the struggle cosplay that they think they're doing. It's like watching little kids play office.

It's like watching a rich kid pretend that they're struggling or having a hard time, they think that's not-- no, you don't-- you don't get emails from the fax machine, little kid. That's not how any of this works. It is frustrating, because I think a lot of people in media-- and in order to enter a creative field, you have to either be willing to live on canned worms and dirt, have a financial cushion that either you earned or that your parents are giving you.

So my working at Merrill Lynch gave me enough time to build my own cushion so that I could go into a creative field and make $40,000 a year living in New York City. But most kids it's like, yeah, my parents pay my rent. Or oh yeah, my parents paid for college so I don't have any student loans.

So all of the money that I'm earning, I just get to keep, which is a thing that really drove me nuts, but now I feel like Daenerys after she walks through the fire and she comes out and she's like, I'm still alive. That's what I feel like it is to come from a middle class or lower middle class or impoverished background and be able to find a path in the creative field is you've gone through something hard that other people haven't gone through, and I think if you make it through, then you end up stronger for it. I find, and obviously you talk about politics kind of, I guess, on a daily basis now, I feel like people have become comfortable talking about almost any political identity or almost any cultural or group identity except for class, really, in any meaningful way.

There is a lot of talk, for example, when it comes to women and female empowerment and what it means to be a strong woman or a working woman. That a lot of it is still centered around this idea that the goal for women is to just make as much money as possible or to ascend to a certain sort of corporate status. And I think part of that is probably because, ultimately, we're not really given the tools to talk about class as an identity.

And people who come from different backgrounds or who have different needs-- if you're a woman, you're a woman, and it's very difficult to escape that identity. But often, people who come from, let's say, backgrounds where they have less will go really far out of their way to obscure that, you know? And I'm curious as to how you've found in the work and the talk that you do, how you've been able to bring money and class and access into that conversation.

Well, here's the truth. The truth is that most Americans do not grow up with money. The truth is that most people that you come across in your day to day life, most people that you see walking down the street didn't grow up by having things handed to them.

Most people struggle. And I don't think that the fact that, if you're a woman like me who wasn't wealthy growing up and had to kind of figure out her own way and made a fuck load of mistakes, that's a lot more relatable and important and universal than being a wealthy person and only portraying that. So I think there's the old feminist quote, the personal is political.

And I think when it comes to money, my show thrives because people watch it-- or people listen to it. People watch us on Crooked Media's Instagram, people listen to us. And the reason people listen is because they hear things that they recognize in themselves.

And they're exposed to other women who have lived different lives than they've lived. So people listen because it's like, OK, we have this really diverse array of women who came from all different backgrounds and we're all talking about what we're bringing to the table. That's power to me is people tuning in and people seeing themselves in you-- and, because they see themselves, being able to see other women.

I find that people make more of an effort to obscure coming from money than not coming from money, where-- I think both for sure. Yeah, we're at this weird conflation of it where it's like people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to show the symptoms of having come from money without having come from money.

And they also want to advertise that they didn't come for money while still acting as though they did. It's just this weird cosplay. I also wanted to add that I think that women are really powerful when we talk to each other and when we're honest with each other and when we're open to hearing another person's experience without judgment.

That, to me, is female power. And that's not a power that I've seen-- this is anecdotal-- but I haven't seen that same power reflected in the way that men share and the way that men communicate. And I think living in an age where women, it's normalized that we talk to each other about money or about our health or about our politics, I think that that only heightens our power.

It's true. It's extremely powerful to sit down with people who are different from you, to listen to people who are different from you, and to normalize your experiences and their experiences. I think that's very true.

I think there's also, I think, unfortunately-- and you certainly probably saw this as close up as anyone would, having worked at Jezebel at a time when it was very, very culturally influential, and now kind of going through all different parts of media and still talking about feminism-- have kind of seen a little bit of the lifecycle of what feminism means in the public sphere and how it has probably, in some ways, this being something that people talk about, a term people identify with, has done an enormous amount of good. It's almost undeniable, but has also in many ways, I think, been co-opted. And it's a vacuum-based kind of definition of what feminism means.

And I'm curious as to what your view of that was and how you saw it happen. Yeah. Gosh.

It's sort of the principle where it's like if kids really like a toy, it's only a matter of time before the adults ruin it. I think when there is an ideology that looks forward to a future that is better that will require work to get to, I think it's really easy for companies to take hold of the hope and erase the work part of it and sell the hope back to us without the work. So it's just this kind of disembodied hopefulness.

I was talking to somebody who works in TV recently, and I am really tired of being pandered to. I think most people are smart enough to know when they're being pandered to. I don't need a montage of a 95-pound actress karate chopping dudes.

I am woman, hear me roar plays. And I think right now, we're in the middle of a great pander that eventually people are going to get tired of. And once people are tired of it, they're going to move on to the next ideology that they can package and sell without the work attached to it.

I remember-- you probably remember this-- maybe five or six years ago, there was this annoying trend of celebrities being asked if they're feminists in magazine profiles. You remember that? Yes.

Only female celebrities-- never male celebrities. And then whatever they said, became the cover line. Like, I am-- Taylor Swift, I am a feminist.

You know, whatever. And I think that more than anything stripped of its meaning, because it's like, how do you end question? Yes, I want people to like me or no, I don't understand that I need to say, yes, in order for people to like me right now.

Do you identify as a feminist? Yeah, but I also think that there's a lot of problems with that. I mean, it's like saying, yes, I identify as a person.

There's a lot of nuance to how I identify feminism and what I think it means. What would you say to a woman who wants to make her personal political but feels like maybe she doesn't have the resources to do it or the time to do it? What are ways that you found in your talking about all of these different intersections for people to have a big impact without necessarily, for example, a ton of financial resources?

Well, it's free to talk to somebody. That's true. For now, unless Twitter gets its way with asking people to Venmo you in order to give you a phone call.

Seriously. Ugh. No, I think that there's a ton of power in women's social networks.

And I don't mean that as like a commodified tech social network, I mean in terms of the people that you know. And I think that in this day and age-- it sounds like I'm so old-- in this day and age, we meet in person a lot less. And one thing that I think a super easy way to foster an environment where women form a group and talk to each other about things is start a book club.

I mean, it sounds like-- I'm in one. Yeah, book clubs rock. They do.

Reading is mega fun. And it feels very safe to talk about these things through the prism of a book. Because at least at first, you don't have to talk about yourself.

You don't have to talk about any part of your own experience that you may not be comfortable with. And that's why we often recommend that people have, for example, group texts that are explicitly about talking about money. And you can talk about your salary, you can talk about what you pay for rent, if you have debt, all that kind of stuff.

Because having a space that's explicitly dedicated to the topic means that you never have to do that awkward thing of bringing it up or introducing it or even testing whether or not someone else is OK with talking about. You're already in the room, and you're supposed to talk about this thing. Yeah, totally.

Yeah, I think that's a really good thing to do. And also I think I don't know, a safe space to talk about a prickly topic. I mean, I hate the phrase safe space, but I do think that there are certain topics that you want to feel safe talking about.

And I think money is one of the things that women, it's awkward for us to talk about. I think another thing that-- I mean, this is kind of a tangent-- but I think another thing that is very awkward for women to talk about is health and diet and exercise, because it's so personal and we get so much shit for all of our decisions around those things. And anytime anybody has a different opinion, it feels like an attack.

Oh yeah. Take everything personally. Our office is entirely women, and it's like an informal rule, but one of the few rules we have is you're not allowed to make negative food talk.

You can't be like, oh, I shouldn't have this. Or I had such a big breakfast. Like oh, I didn't eat so I can have this.

You're not allowed to do that, because-- I mean, listen, you're allowed to do whatever you want. You can say whatever you want, but it's just-- But you're fired. Oh my god, no.

Oh my god, no, you're not. But in all seriousness, though, I think it creates an environment where then other people feel compelled, other women feel compelled to participate in it. Or you feel compelled to, at the very least, validate it.

And what are you really validating with that? And I think ultimately, there's so much of this stuff-- money is, I think, a more complicated topic for a lot of people than food. But food is pretty damn close.

And food and body and stuff like that, it's one of those things where once one person is doing some weird talk around it, it's like a virus. That reminded me when we were talking food and money both being awkward, do you remember the episode of "Sex and the City"-- Yes, you don't even need to know which one. You know exactly what I'm talking about, right?

Carrie needs money and Charlotte won't help her, and Carrie gets offended. I think one of the reasons that it's awkward to talk about is that I think a lot of times, you read into conversations about money as either requests for help or offers of help. And that's awkward if you feel like somebody is talking about their financial troubles with you.

Could we break down what happened in that episode for the listeners who probably have better things to do than us watching that episode six times? So basically, long story short, Carrie Bradshaw has spent, I think they totaled it, $40,000 on her designer shoes. And she was originally going to buy her apartment with her fiance.

So they had already bought it. And they broke up. And so her fiance was essentially evicting her unless she bought back the apartment, because he was going to sell it.

And she didn't have any money and literally had no money in savings-- nothing except for her check as a columnist. And she went-- Which was insane. No columnist makes that much money.

This is already fake news. There's no way this happens. It's crazy.

But then she went to her friend-- no, she didn't actually ask her friend Charlotte York, who, to be clear, did not work and was just recently divorced from an extremely wealthy man and lived in a Park Avenue whatever. Got mad at her because that woman didn't automatically offer her the money to buy her apartment, and then went over and yelled at her. And to be clear, I think it was one of the few like well done scenes show with the topic of money, because Charlotte was like, excuse me, it's not my responsibility to be fiscally responsible on your behalf, whatever.

And then she ends up just giving her the money anyway. Charlotte ends up giving her her Tiffany engagement ring, which Carrie, I guess, pawns to buy the apartment. It's like, OK, like, I love that show, but the amount of cultural damage that that show has done to women's idea of money and spending and material consumption is just unreal.

But the original show is pretty good. And it's funny, because it's about four women, all of whom can be kind of assholes sometimes and having to face the consequences interpersonally for their asshole behavior. That's funny.

It's funny. But it's not like, this is a blueprint for how to be. This is how to be a woman.

It's like, no, this is a story of these four complicated, flawed women who live in this world that has its problems. But it's interesting looking back at that show that they never bat an eyelash every other episode talking about vibrators, but yet the topic of money was almost never addressed. And when it was, it was an unspeakable taboo.

Right. Yeah. That show is interesting about money.

But I do want horny money Samantha to be like, OK, where she's not talking about dicks ever, it's just about-- What's happening in that 401(k). She's just horny about her stock portfolio. She's like, I'll tell you what's going up-- The Dow.

We actually have some rapid fire money questions. OK. We actually are bringing these to you guys in partnership with Mint, which I'll talk about a little bit later.

But it's an awesome app. Basically these questions-- now, I say rapid fire, but do not feel like you have to like spit out an answer. You can take a moment.

I don't have to Jim Jordan it and just say really-- Who's Jim Jordan? Jim Jordan is a member of Congress, a Republican, who yells really loud and fast into a microphone during hearings. Don't do that.

So yeah, just whatever comes to mind. Number one-- and we'll do television for this one-- what is the big financial secret of your industry? The biggest financial secret of the industry is if you make a hit show, if you create a hit show, it's like winning the lottery.

Even if it's a show that runs for five seasons, even if it feels like nobody watches it, you are god rich if you make a show. The thing is like most shows-- actually, here's the secret. That was already a good secret.

No, here's another secret. So Hollywood runs on announcements, right? You're always seeing like, oh, this is being developed.

So-and-so is-- developed doesn't mean dick. It just means somebody wrote you a check. The likelihood of it ever getting made, very, very low.

Most times you see announcements that are like, so-and-so is making this, and nothing ever comes of it. I've sold a show that ended up dying. Most people who sell TV shows, it dies.

Do you get a lot of money when you sell it? Depends on who you are, but yeah. You get a teacher's salary.

If you're a new writer, you get a teacher's salary worth for the original script. And then-- Not far off from a book deal. Yeah, it's like a book deal.

But imagine if you would get a book deal and then you write it, and they're like, no, we're not going to publish it, and it never gets made. That's the crazy thing about the industry is there are people here that live on selling things that never get made-- selling scripts for movies that never get made, rewriting scripts for movies that never get made, taking a pass at a show that never gets made, shooting an entire pilot that nobody ever sees except the executives who decide not to make it. So much happens below the surface here that never, ever sees the light of day.

And you can make a living never seeing the light of day. It is insane to me. It's crazy.

Who has the time? I know. I mean, lots of people.

What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? A couple of things. I think that as I've gotten older and as I've finally gotten to a point where I'm financially comfortable, I will invest in a really good pair of shoes.

I have a pair of combat boots that I bought that I really, really wanted them. And they were really expensive. But I'm going to wear the hell out of them.

They look good. I bought them and I was like, look, I love them. I can buy three pairs of shoes that I only sort of like, or I can buy this one pair of shoes that I really like.

So I am kind of more choosy about pieces of fashion that I will wear or carry all the time. I also have gotten really commensurately-- because I feel guilty about spending money on myself-- I have a rule where if I spend $1 on clothes for myself, I have to give $1 to charity. I don't do it 1 to 1, but if like go shopping for clothes and it's like I spent $200 on clothes or whatever, then the next time I spend money on something, I like it to be something charitable.

Like today, I gave to the food pantry in my hometown, because they're changing the SNAP benefit requirements so that now you have to produce-- yeah, so a lot of people are going to be cut off from food stamps. So I did that, because it was like, well, I'm mad. I also just bought myself some things, so I'm going to give money to other people who probably need it way more than I need Kenzo boots.

But yeah, the thing that I actually-- thing that I kind of scrimp on-- my fiance would get mad at me for saying this, but wine. I love a good glass of wine. But in terms of if I'm just going to have a glass of wine and watch a movie, I buy $3 Trader Joe's wine.

Oh, no, girl. The sulphide. The sulphide.

I know, it just doesn't-- Does it give you a headache? Cheap wine gives me a really bad headache. Oh, well, aren't you fancy?

I know. It's a headache from being so gauche. It's a headache from being around poor people things.

No, but it's often got a lot of sulfates and sugar and shit. Interesting. It could be psychosomatic, but I feel like-- and also to be fair, I will stand by this, you can get really, really good bottles of wine for $11.

Yeah, yeah. You don't have to get a $50 bottle of win. That's what I mean.

It's like, I won't go-- But that's not two buck Chuck. I'll drink two buck Chuck. But if I want to like step it, up I'll drink $12 whatever the real Chuck is.

What has been your best investment and why? Best investment-- this is going to sound a little bit sentimental. But 13 years ago, I adopted a cat.

She's still around, still kicking. What's her name? Eleanor.

But she thinks her name is pretty, because I call her pretty. What has been your biggest money mistake and why? My biggest money mistake was not staying on top of student loan payments when I was young.

That is like-- Did you go into default? You went into default? I went into default, and I had to go through a loan rehab program.

Same. Not for loan, credit card, but yes. Yeah, where you make payments on time for a certain amount of time, and then eventually the delinquencies get expunged from your report.

But it took so long. I had to be so diligent about it. And actually when I started making money from TV and the podcast, I just was like, I don't even care how financially responsible this is.

I'm going to attack my student loans. I'm going to beat them to death. And so over a year and a half, I paid off tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, just cause I was like, I want this out of my life.

Yeah. But yeah, not staying on top of it was a huge mistake. And I wish that I could go back and yell at myself and be like, pay your goddamn student loans.

Yeah. What was your credit score at its worst, do you remember? I think it was like 580 or something like that.

I think mine might've been in the high 4's. What's it now? A little over 700.

Good for you. Yeah. What is your biggest current money insecurity?

My biggest current money insecurity-- so I'm getting married. And-- Sorry. I'm not insecure about getting married.

But I was not a wedding person, and then now that I'm with the person I'm with, I'm like, oh no, actually, I do want to have all of our friends and family in one place. That would be really cool. And as we've been planning it, it's like, this is going to cost quite a bit of money.

And Josh, my fiance, is doing the boy thing where-- women kind of have this part of our brain where we kind of know how much weddings cost, because we just absorb it by osmosis. We have a sense. And a lot of episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress." A lot of-- Let's be honest.

Exactly. And then we watch our friends slowly go insane as they're planning their own weddings and the sticker shock and all that stuff. And so we kind of know.

We kind of have a rough idea of what to expect. Men, no. Josh will be like, well, why don't we have a Korean barbecue chef and also we hire this other chef to come?

And it's like, do you know how much that's going to cost? Three catering companies, that's crazy. So it's going to be, I think, we do have a wedding planner to be an intermediary to be like, no, this is how much things cost.

So it won't be just me telling him things and him being like, that can't be right, and then having that be a fight. But yeah, the wedding stuff is going to be expensive. And also, we are trying to save money to buy a house-- and not right away, but within the next couple of years.

And New York is insanely expensive. LA is up there. It's expensive to try to buy something, and we would want to buy something that would have a yard.

And so the idea of how much are these two big coming expenses? And that's probably the thing that causes me the most stress. But the good thing is this is the first time in my life when I've actually thought that buying a house was something that was within reach.

So it's a good problem. Yeah, no, totally. I think I'm never going to buy a home in Manhattan.

I don't think it will ever be worth it to me, because the price that you pay for what you get. I'm never going to buy a home that doesn't have two bathrooms, is that too much to ask in New York City? Yeah, I think that's not too much to ask.

I think that's a normal person thing to want for sure. But also, I mean, this is something we won't get into it now, but a lot of people think that one has to buy a home. And you really don't.

There are many other ways to be smart with your money. If it's important to you, you should, but don't feel obligated. You don't have to.

I know a couple of people that are pretty high up in TV writing who are just like, nah, we just like renting. They just like-- Lot of perks to it. Yeah.

And there's a lot of other things you can do with your money. What is the financial habit that has helped you the most? The financial habit that has helped me the most-- probably leaving crumpled up change in my pockets.

And so then when I-- How do you crumple up change? Like, you know-- Oh bills. The bills, and then they put the change on top of it.

You crumple it up. And then the next time I wear those pants, it's a surprise-- it's surprise money. [LAUGHTER] No. I was like, this is a bad habit, it because then whenever I take the pants off, money falls out, and I'm like, you need to be more responsible.

Picturing you in some kind of sexy moment-- ching ching. No, I think my best financial habit is that I have a savings account that I just-- once my money is in savings, I just do not touch it. I'm very good about respecting the wall.

What I have in my checking account is how much money I have. I treat that as though that's the only money that I have. And I have a couple savings accounts where I just do not touch it in any way.

What are they for? Well, I have a business. So once you work in this town, honey-- it makes a lot of sense for tax purposes to get an S Corp or a C Corp.

It's not just an LA thing. You guys need to chill out-- [INAUDIBLE] But yeah, I have one account where when I get paid for things that I am doing under the corporation, it goes there, and then another one that's like personal. And then I have a 401(k) and an IRA.

That's my thing. Last question. When did you first feel quote, "successful," and what does that word mean to you?

Oh man. Let's hear it. I had this green couch that I bought from Anthropology.

And I bought it four years ago. And it was the most expensive-- How much was it? It was like $2,300.

That's an expensive couch. But not nearly as expensive as they go, man. Those fuckers can go up to $10 grand.

Yeah. It was like a $2,300 couch that I picked out the color and I got it customized. And I got it right after I signed my contract-- a contributor contract with CNN, which wasn't even that big of a contract.

But I was like, I have the money to spend on something that I like that is nice. And I'd never had a nice couch before. And when it came and they unwrapped it and put it down and I sat on it, I was like, I did it.

I still have it. That's a good one. I still have it.

I mean, it's made incredibly well. I moved it across the country and it's really well-made and it's still beautiful. But that was the first time I was like, I did it.

I did it. You got the couch. Yeah.

How nice. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. This was fun.

Yeah. Where can people find more of what you do? Well, you can watch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which it's on all the time.

I don't know if people know this, but at any given point in the day-- It's always on. It is literally always on. You can also listen to "Hysteria," which you can find on Spotify and Apple and all the places where they have podcasts.

And you can follow me on social media if you want. It's a lot of politics, but if you're into that, then-- I'm into it. Cool.

Well, thank you so much for joining us, Erin. Thank you. So as I mentioned in our rapid fire questions, another amazing product that Intuit makes and which I personally love is Mint.

Mint is a budgeting tool that basically tells you everything you need to know about your own personal finances. It breaks down all your different spending categories, shows you when you're going over budget, helps track your bills, when you need to move money, what you owe, when you're getting paid, and do everything it takes to basically get total control over your personal finances. Mint is actually the first app that I ever downloaded to get better with money, and that's over five years ago now.

And I still use it basically every day to track my own spending habits and make sure that I'm learning from my mistakes. They even go so far as to put a literal pie chart of your spending up so you can see exactly what you're doing at any given time. If you've been looking to get a handle on your budget and start spending a lot smarter, I highly recommend you check out Mint at the link in our description or our show notes. [MUSIC PLAYING]