‘Bad with Money’: Gaby Dunn on society’s lack of access to financial literacy

Writer, podcaster and comedian Gaby Dunn poses for a photo with students before her Feb. 20 talk at Scripps College. (Timothy Liu • The Student Life)

We’re bad with money, and Gaby Dunn wants us to talk about it.

Dunn visited Scripps College Feb. 20 to discuss her recently published book, “Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together.” The book is a continuation of conversations and topics from her hit podcast “Bad with Money,” meant to be a guide to financial literacy for those often left out of finance discussions, like young people, people of color, disabled people, the LGBTQIA+ community and immigrants.

Dunn is a writer, actor, journalist, comedian, activist and podcaster. She was well-known for being a writer and producer for BuzzFeed, but has since left the company to venture out on her own. Currently, she is known for her podcast, YouTube channel “Just Between Us” and book “I Hate Everyone But You.” She co-created the latter two with creative partner Allison Raskin (also previously BuzzFeed famous).

The event at Scripps centered on Dunn’s frustration with a societal lack of financial transparency.

“I realized nobody was talking about money,” she said. “The reason I decided to write about it was because I would cry about money all the time. It was the biggest stressor. I would just cry, cry, cry — I couldn’t figure out how other people had money or what you did with it once you had it.”

Being bad with money, Dunn said, is normally considered to signify that “not only are you bad and dumb and also morally bankrupt,” but also that you are “a personal, intellectual and moral failing.”

However, Dunn did not want to blame young people; she said a systemic lack of access to financial literacy is a reason for money woes.

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“The idea of talking about money as taboo is a way to keep people in their place,” Dunn explained. “If you’re not sharing information with the people around you — who are most likely [going to] have a similar income, or similar situation or similar lifestyle — then how is anyone going to learn anything? You can’t. And then Jeff Bezos pays zero dollars in taxes.”

Dunn also stressed the power that college students have in advancing their economic mobility through collaboration.

Dunn’s new book, “Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together,” is out now. (Timothy Liu • The Student Life)

“[College students] have the best information for each other,” she said. “Any kind of information that you have, if you share it with each other, it’s over for these bitches.”

More specifically, Dunn recommended always opening mail from your bank, going through monthly bank statements to understand what expenses one values and not being afraid to start savings from zero.

Student attendees appreciated Dunn’s accessibility and humor.

“I found her to be extremely personable,” Annie Jones SC ’22 said. “[Personal finance] is a scary thing, so it’s beneficial to put those two things together and learn from her.”

Amelia Carttar PO ’22 agreed.

“I think she presents the information in a way that’s not intimidating and in a way that’s funny and engaging, so it seems less terrifying,” she said. “It was fun to be able to laugh about this stuff.”

Students also pointed out the importance of financial literacy discussions at the 5Cs and in college overall.

“There’s obviously not financial literacy that’s being explicitly taught to us at college,” Amaya Duncan SC ’22 said. “I feel like bringing someone that is financially literate is really helpful and important, but there could always be more done.”

Dunn’s final advice? “Don’t add shame to something that’s already shameful. You’re normal. No one knows anything.”

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