Nearly 1 in 3 Transgender People Live in Poverty in U.S. What Can We Do?

The phone interview went well for Michael. The supervisor he spoke with said his experience looked great and that he was excited to meet him.

But the supervisor also assumed that Michael was a woman, as the name on his resume implied. While Michael identified as a male, he hadn’t started changing his paperwork when he applied for the position as a summer camp counselor. As a result, Michael’s resume had his old name on it.

Michael arrived wearing a dress shirt, bow tie and slacks. With a smile and his hand outstretched, he greeted the interviewer. He told him he goes by Michael and that he uses male pronouns. The interviewer ignored his hand.

During the interview, Michael said, the man sat across from him, staring down at his resume and refusing to make eye contact. He leaned away from Michael when he asked him about his experience. He referred to Michael by his old name and used his old pronouns multiple times throughout the interview.

“He couldn’t get far enough away from me,” said Michael, who asked to only be identified by his first name.

The interviewer told Michael he would hear back about the position in the coming days. Michael never got a phone call.

“You can tell when someone doesn’t want to talk to you,” he said. “Not only [did] being misgendered hurt, but knowing that someone was uncomfortable even being in the same room as me was a little bit degrading.”

Here’s What Many Transgender People Face in the Workplace

Today, Michael is employed –– but the company he works for doesn’t know he’s trans.

Michael isn’t alone in his experiences: The National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey of 27,715 transgender people — the largest-ever survey of its kind in the U.S. — found that 53% of respondents who held a job in the previous year hid their gender identity at work to avoid discrimination. The same survey found that 30% of those who had a job in the past year reported being fired, denied a promotion or experiencing other forms of mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity or expression.

A man waves around a transgender flag during a pride parade in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Lucas Wehle participates in the transgender march after doing community outreach during the St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., in June 2017. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

That’s why Lucas Whele, transgender care coordinator at Metro Wellness Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, dreads the question: “I’m not out to my employer — what do you recommend?”

A transgender man himself, he is responsible for helping trans people find resources they need for everything from changing their legal paperwork to obtaining proper health care.

“I have no idea what their employer is like,” Lucas said. “I can recommend things, but at the end of the day, my most secure recommendation is for people to make sure they have their ducks in a row and are prepared for the worst. If you think it’s going to go horribly, it will probably go horribly.”

When President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military on July 26, 2017, an estimated 15,500 active-duty personnel who are suddenly faced the possibility of being out of a job. The military is the single largest employer of trans people in the world, The Washington Post reported.

The Justice Department has since placed the ban on hold, allowing transgender people to enlist in the military, but the Trump administration continues to defend the ban against multiple lawsuits.

Taliyah Cassadine works on creating a mannequin that has her size measurements inside her home in Atlanta, GA.
Taliyah Cassadine works on creating a mannequin that has her size measurements inside her home in Atlanta. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Taliyah Cassadine, a 35-year-old trans woman who served in the Army from 2000 to 2004 while she still identified as a man, disputes the reason Trump gave for the ban — that allowing trans people to serve brings “tremendous medical costs and disruption” — saying that transgender people often physically transition during their leave time.

“So who is to say that a trans woman or a trans man couldn’t serve their time in the military and they get paid every 1st and the 15th, save their money, and pay for it themselves?” Taliyah said. “No one is saying that they ever asked the government to pay for anything, and I think that’s the biggest issue.”

She described the attempted ban as “discrimination at its finest.”

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey estimated the unemployment rate in the transgender community at 15%. At the time of the survey, that was three times higher than the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. High unemployment contributes to the staggering poverty rate of 33% in the trans community, a rate that’s twice that of the general U.S. population.

But the poverty cycle often begins long before a transgender person tries to get a job.

A woman applies makeup to her face in the dressing room of Hamburger Mary's before a drag show performance.
Delores T. Van-Cartier gets ready for a performance at Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater, Fla. Van-Cartier has a full-time job during the week, and she performs on some weeknights and over the weekend. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Delores T. Van-Cartier, a transgender woman and drag performer at LGBTQ-friendly chain Hamburger Mary’s, said many in the trans community turn to sex work as a result. The U.S. Transgender Survey found that 1 in 5 of respondents have participated in the underground economy for income at some point, and 12% have done sex work in exchange for income.

“They are afraid to go out and get a real job because of fear,” Van-Cartier said. “They’re afraid of being found out; they don’t want to be discriminated against, or rejected. So they go out, and they look for work where they won’t have to deal with being called names in their office every day, because that’s rough. You have to have a thick skin in this life.”

What Can We Do About Anti-Trans Discrimination?

While the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey revealed the ongoing discrimination trans people face, it also found growing acceptance.

More than half of respondents reported that their family was supportive of them being trans. More than two-thirds who were out to their co-workers stated that they were supportive. For students, more than half reported that their classmates supported them.

A couple snuggle together on their couch inside their home.
Lucas Wehle spends time with his fiancee, Rachyl Carey, at their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal work to defend the rights of the transgender community both through legislation and by representing those who have faced discrimination.

“We’re fighting discrimination in employment, housing, and public places, including restrooms. We’re working to make sure trans people get the health care they need and we’re challenging obstacles to changing the gender marker on identification documents and obtaining legal name changes,” the ACLU’s website states.

Still, the National Center for Transgender Equality reminds people that “laws on the books don’t always translate into actual fair treatment.”

Lambda Legal has an entire page dedicated to employers and how they can make their workplace all-inclusive by taking steps like supporting employees’ rights to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, offering diversity training and contracting with a health insurance provider that covers transition-related expenses.

But unfortunately, for those in the transgender community who deal with discrimination, the best advice Lucas can give them is to present in their assigned gender, at least temporarily.

That allows people to save as much money as possible and start searching for an LGBTQ-friendly workplace.

“It sucks, and I hate to say it, but sometimes that’s all you can do,” he said. “But in order to get to a place where you’ll be comfortable, you might have to do it in order to survive.”

But Lucas adds: “In some places, those just don’t exist.”

Kelly Anne Smith is an email content specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Here’s What’s Actually Inside The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

It’s green, minty, (debatably) delicious, and absolutely not health food.

Every March, McDonald’s reissues its infamous mint-flavored “Shamrock Shake” to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Every March, McDonald's reissues its infamous mint-flavored "Shamrock Shake" to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Caroline Kee / BuzzFeed News

But what’s actually inside this bright green drink?

The current version is made with reduced-fat vanilla soft serve, whipped light cream, and “Shamrock Shake syrup,” according to McDonald's. The soft serve and whipped cream are both made with lots of milk, cream, and sugar, and some preservatives. The flavored syrup is chock-full of high-fructose corn syrup, and, unsurprisingly, various dyes and flavors to make it extra minty and green. The shake does not contain actual shamrocks.

A small Shamrock Shake has 460 calories, a medium has 560 calories, and a large shake has 800 calories. Obviously, these numbers might change if you decide to skip the whipped cream — but there aren't many other adjustments you can make. The vanilla soft serve and shamrock syrup are premade, so you can't really ask to swap the whole milk out for soy or almond, for example.

McDonald's tagline for this frothy green goodness is “cool, minty & full of luck.” By that criteria, the luckiest ingredient of them all? Sugar! While using reduced-fat vanilla soft serve and the “light” whipped cream may cut the amount of fat, it does not decrease the jaw-dropping amount of sugar in these shakes. / Via

A medium Shamrock Shake has 78 grams (or about 20 teaspoons) of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar.

A medium Shamrock Shake has 78 grams (or about 20 teaspoons) of sugar. That's a lot of sugar.

Let's see how that measures up to other sugary food and drinks:

  • One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew has 46 grams of sugar.
  • One Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar has 24 grams of sugar.
  • One grande Unicorn Frappuccino has 59 grams of sugar.
  • One 5-ounce bag (4 servings) of Haribo Gummy Bears has 72 grams of sugar.

Weixx / Getty Images / Via

That said, the other McDonald’s shake flavors (chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla) have similar amounts of sugar. So the Shamrock Shake isn’t particularly bad compared with its peers.

That said, the other McDonald's shake flavors (chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla) have similar amounts of sugar. So the Shamrock Shake isn't particularly bad compared with its peers.

Vanilla has the least amount of sugar out of all the shake flavors (72 grams in a medium) and strawberry has slightly more. Personally, I always thought the Shamrock Shake was a vanilla shake with green food coloring, so it must be the added minty “Shamrock Syrup” that adds the sugar.

Chocolate has the most sugar out of all the shakes (89 grams in a medium and 122 grams in a large).

Fcafotodigital / Getty Images / Via

But keep in mind that one Shamrock Shake has nearly *two and a half times* the maximum amount of added sugar that’s recommended per day.

But keep in mind that one Shamrock Shake has nearly *two and a half times* the maximum amount of added sugar that's recommended per day.

Sugar in your diet can be either be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found in things like fruit (as fructose) and dairy (as lactose). “Added sugars” are any sugars or syrups that get added to food during processing, preparation, or at the table.

Now, no single ingredient is “good” or “bad,” and there's nothing wrong with a bit of sugar. But experts do recommend limiting added sugar when possible because consuming too much sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

One Shamrock Shake, any size, is still more added sugar than the upper recommended limit for any given day. (The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25–36 grams of added sugar per day, or 6–9 teaspoons.) Even the small shake (which has 63 grams of sugar) is two times the daily recommended limit. And the large size (which has 113 grams of sugar) has almost FOUR TIMES the upper limit.

virtustudio / Getty Images / Via

That said, if you’re in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit or you have a big sweet tooth, go for it — one shake probably won’t hurt.

That said, if you're in the St. Patrick's Day spirit or you have a big sweet tooth, go for it — one shake probably won't hurt.

Author's note: I had never tried a Shamrock Shake before, so I went out and got one to drink while I wrote this article. I thought it tasted like melted ice cream mixed with toothpaste, but to each their own. At least it didn't turn my mouth green.

Caroline Kee / BuzzFeed News

Oh Thank Heaven! This 7-Eleven Contest Is Giving Away $190K for a Franchise

You’re at the 7-Eleven every day to get your daily Slurpee fix, so why not own the place?

With 7-Eleven’s W.E. Take the Lead contest, you could be a step closer to your dream. The company will give one female entrepreneur the prize of initial franchise fees up to $190,000.

Win a 7-Eleven franchise and enjoy free Slurpees for life? Sign me up!

But before you start dreaming about living the good life in the snack aisle, check out this article that covers the pros and cons of franchising.

The initial application for the 7-Eleven contest is due by May 7, 2018. It states you must have excellent credit and a passion for day-to-day 7-Eleven operations.

You also need to be at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but you can’t enter if you live in Hawaii or either of the Dakotas.

(So much for my “Deadwood” 7-Eleven idea.)

The contest gets a lot more involved from there.

If your initial entry is selected, you’ll go through four progressively more difficult rounds of judging, which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Submitting a financial history proving your creditworthiness
  • Uploading a two-minute video about why you deserve to win
  • Interviewing with 7-Eleven executives online and in person
  • Traveling to 7-Eleven’s Store Support Center in Irving, Texas, for training

If you win, you’ll get the $190,000 prize toward your initial franchise fee, but you’re responsible for any amount over that.

The company notes that initial franchise fees range from $50,000 to $750,000, depending on location.

Upon winning, you’ll also have to cover the down payment of $29,000 plus the costs of inventory, supplies, licenses and permits. And don’t forget those local, state and federal taxes on your prize.

You’ll also be responsible for all royalties, ongoing franchise fees and operation costs when you open your location.

But you’ll own your own business! And it will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (that’s required in the contract).

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She prefers to enter contests that have snacks as the prizes.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Camila Cabello Just Trolled The Hell Out Of The Paparazzi And I’m Living For It

“If they’re taking photos, might as well do a photoshoot…”

This is Camila Cabello, oh na na…

This is Camila Cabello, oh na na...

Yes, yes, half of her heart is in Havana and she used to be 1/5 of Fifth Harmony.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

As a *famous* person, Camila is often caught on camera by paparazzi during seemingly mundane life moments — like going through security at LAX.

As a *famous* person, Camila is often caught on camera by paparazzi during seemingly mundane life moments — like going through security at LAX.


But unlike most famous people, Camila decided to make the best of the moment and turn it into her own personal photo shoot. She did a little bit of this…

But unlike most famous people, Camila decided to make the best of the moment and turn it into her own personal photo shoot. She did a little bit of this...


…a little bit of THAT.

...a little bit of THAT.





It was truly a moment to behold.

It was truly a moment to behold.


She really just milked it for all it was worth.

She really just milked it for all it was worth.





Never change, Camila.

Never change, Camila.

Epic Records

7 Financial Slip-Ups That Can Crush Your Dreams of Retiring Comfortably

Preparing for your retirement may not always feel like the most important thing on your mind. Far from it in fact.  But you probably don’t want to try living on Social Security alone in your golden years either.

You won’t need to if you avoid these seven common mistakes and try out the fixes too.

Mistake No. 1: Only Living in the Now

We are living in the era of mindfulness. Meditation apps, yoga studios and Instagram slogans are always reminding us to be in the here and now, and appreciate the moment.

While loads of research suggests mindfulness is a huge key to happiness, you cannot live entirely in the moment. Planning for the future is important. In retirement, you’ll live entirely off of assets you accumulated in the past, so you need to plan now to live in comfort in the future.

The Fix  

This may sound odd, but studies have found that one of the best ways to plan for your future is to make friends with the future versions of yourself. Visualize who you will be, what you will be doing, and with whom and where you will live, Then, think about how your decisions will affect your present and your imagined future self.

Your present self may prefer to spend all your income this month, but your future self will regret it big time!

Mistake No. 2: Thinking It Is Too Early to Plan for Retirement

There is one right time to plan for retirement. That time is right now!

It doesn’t matter if you are 22, 35 or in your 50s; it’s never too late to plan for retirement — but the earlier, the better.

Think about it; you will probably live in retirement for around 30 years — from around 65 until perhaps 95 and beyond — and most of us only have a little over 40 working years. So, saving enough money — especially when accounting for inflation — is a gargantuan task that’s best to begin when you’re young.

The Fix

Put a detailed retirement plan on paper right now. Include how much you want to spend, when you’ll start Social Security, where you’ll live and more. Carefully analyze how much you need to save. Make sure to update this plan yearly until you are in your 40s, then quarterly thereafter.

Maybe make it easier to remember by doing it when filing your taxes.

The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator makes it easy to start a personalized financial plan. Enter some initial information about your current finances and your goals for the future to see where you stand. From there, you can make changes to see what is possible — every time you update your data, you’ll get detailed feedback about how your finances change.  

This makes it easy to learn through the experience of documenting and manipulating your data. It can even be kind of fun, like a game.

Mistake No. 3: Not Knowing What You Don’t Know About Personal Finance

A recent Fidelity survey found that financial literacy is low across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Researchers asked more than 2,000 people questions in eight retirement categories. On average, people answered a mere 30% of the questions correctly. Absolutely nobody got all the questions correct, and the highest overall grade was 79%. Can you do better than average?

The Fix

Personal finance can be complicated, but it’s not impossible. Perhaps the best way to get your hands around your money is to focus on the personal aspects. Take a very detailed account of your money now and where you want it to be in the future.

You don’t need to read complicated books about municipal bond ladders and commodity futures to achieve a more secure retirement. You just need to understand your own situation.

Mistake No. 4: Not Saving and Not Knowing How Much You Need to Save

The vast majority — about two-thirds — of American workers don’t know how much they should be saving for retirement, according to research by TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies. And 42% of American workers don’t have a retirement strategy, let alone an estimate of how much they will need.

The Fix

How much you need to save is dependent on many factors: how old you are now, when you hope to stop working, how long you will live, how much you want to be able to spend in retirement and more.

A good retirement calculator can help you get a personalized estimate. More generally, financial advisors usually recommend that you save 10-15% of your income, starting in your 20s and be sure it is invested effectively. You need to save more if you are older.

Mistake No. 5: Not Increasing Savings Rate Each Year

OK, let’s assume you’re saving for retirement already. If you are not, then you’ve got to get going! Simply not saving did not even make this list because, well, it should be obvious: You should be saving for retirement!

Less obvious than saving each month is the fact that you must remember to increase your savings rate at least every year — especially when you get a raise.

The Fix

When you get a raise, tax return or other money, be sure to thoughtfully consider how much of this new money can go into savings.

Fist bump if you can save all of any raise and just maintain your existing quality of life.

Mistake No. 6: Not Having an Emergency Fund

A couple years ago, The Atlantic published a surprising analysis from the Federal Reserve Board stating that nearly half of all Americans — including the middle class — would have trouble coming up with just $400 to pay for an emergency.

And not having emergency cash on hand can turn a relatively minor financial need into a long-term debt or, in some more extreme cases, bankruptcy.  

The Fix:

The ideal emergency fund is equivalent to three to six months of your income. However, having anything set aside for emergencies is better than nothing, and you can accumulate your funds over time. Open an account and start squirreling away funds.

Mistake No. 7: Not Having a Plan for Your Future Now

Only 30% of Americans have long-term financial plans that include savings and investment goals.

Furthermore, Americans tend to spend more time on research about vacations than they do on retirement planning, even though retirement planning needs to be an ongoing activity.

When you retire, you are no longer living month to month or year to year. When you stop working, you are dealing with a finite set of financial resources that you need to budget to last the rest of your life. You really do need a plan.

The Fix

Assess what you have and what you need for retirement and in ways to improve your situation. Do it right now.  

The NewRetirement calculator is a detailed and reliable system. This tool will save your information so it is easy to make updates and improvements.

Kathleen Coxwell is a reformed personal finance deadbeat. After recovering from a student loan disaster, she used her know how to help her parents and in-laws plan for retirement. And seeing a big need for unbiased financial advice and tools, she co-founded NewRetirement, a company dedicated to helping people imagine and plan for a secure financial future.  

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

23 Hilarious School Stories To Read Instead Of Doing Your Homework

“How do you kick a ceiling by accident?!”

When the chemistry teacher gave a repeat performance:

When the chemistry teacher gave a repeat performance:

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When a kid showed off his weird talent:

When a kid showed off his weird talent:

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When an accident happened in drama class:

When an accident happened in drama class:

When a teacher got sneaky:

When a teacher got sneaky:

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When a student was late for class:

When a student was late for class:

When a girl shared her makeup tips:

When a girl shared her makeup tips:

When they held an assembly:

When they held an assembly:

When an actor got a little too method:

When an actor got a little too method:

When finals week hit:

When finals week hit:

When a student spoke up:

When a student spoke up:

When safety was of the utmost concern:

When safety was of the utmost concern:

When the new kid made an impression:

When the new kid made an impression:

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When a student simply followed the instructions:

When a student simply followed the instructions:

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When the teacher got a little off topic:

When the teacher got a little off topic:

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When a child was a little bit extra:

When a child was a little bit extra:

Tumblr / Via sydney–

When a teacher gave zero fucks:

When a teacher gave zero fucks:

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When someone made a new friend:

When someone made a new friend:

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When an actor landed a coveted role:

When an actor landed a coveted role:

When a student discovered the power of suggestion:

When a student discovered the power of suggestion:

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When there was an attempt to skip class:

When there was an attempt to skip class:

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When a student tried to avoid blame:

When a student tried to avoid blame:

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When a teacher didn’t prepare his student for the lesson:

When a teacher didn't prepare his student for the lesson:

Tumblr / Via

And when there was an important math test:

And when there was an important math test:

Tumblr / Via

A 20-Year-Old Gouged Out Her Own Eyes. Here’s What Makes People Do This.

Last month, Kaylee Muthart blinded herself. While shocking, this is not the first time someone has removed their own eyes. We spoke to an expert about the history of eye-gouging and why it happens.

Kaylee Muthart, a 20-year-old from South Carolina, made headlines in February when she gouged out both of her eyes while high on methamphetamine. She recently told her story for the first time to Cosmopolitan.

Kaylee Muthart, a 20-year-old from South Carolina, made headlines in February when she gouged out both of her eyes while high on methamphetamine. She recently told her story for the first time to Cosmopolitan.

In the as-told-to article, Muthart describes how she went from a straight A student at her high school in Anderson, South Carolina, to a dropout who regularly used alcohol and marijuana.

After losing her job and boyfriend, Muthart (who says she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder after the incident), began taking ecstasy and smoking methamphetamine to cope. Muthart described herself as a “religious Christian” and she would read the Bible while high. “I convinced myself that meth would bring me even closer to God,” she told Cosmopolitan. Despite multiple attempts to stop using, Muthart became addicted to snorting and injecting meth.

Concerned about her daughter's mental health and drug use, Muthart's mother encouraged her to enter rehab or a psychiatric treatment facility. Her mother recorded a conversation during which her daughter said she didn't “want to be in this world.” Her mom hoped to use the recording to obtain a court order to commit Muthart to a facility. The next day, Muthart bought more drugs and that night she used more than she had ever used before.

Kaylee Muthart / Via

Muthart was high and wandering along a railroad track on her way to her church when she thought God was asking her to make a sacrifice. Numb to pain from the drugs, she gouged out her eyes, and it took several men to subdue her before paramedics arrived and sedated her.

After Muthart was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for her injuries, she was transferred to a psychiatric facility. It was there where she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed antipsychotic medication.

eclipse_images / Getty Images / Via

This is not the first time in history this has happened. Also called “self-enucleation,” this is a rare form of self-inflicted injury usually associated with psychosis.

This is not the first time in history this has happened. Also called "self-enucleation," this is a rare form of self-inflicted injury usually associated with psychosis.

It may sound like something out of a horror movie, but self-enucleation (or autoenucleation) is a very real and unfortunate psychiatric emergency. It's rare, and in the past 50 years, there have been over 50 documented cases of complete or partial self-enucleation in English medical journals, according to a 2012 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

What would drive someone to commit such a violent act of self-harm? Psychosis, or the loss of touch with reality. “All of these patients have had a psychotic episode and developed delusions about their eyes,” Matthew Large, coauthor of the study and conjoint professor of psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told BuzzFeed News. Just last December, a Colorado prisoner grew out his fingernails and removed his eyes after guards allegedly ignored his psychotic episodes, the Guardian reported.

The symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations, or hearing things that are not present; delusions, or strongly-held false beliefs; and cognitive impairment, or the inability to think logically. “People who remove their eyes due to psychosis often believe that they can see evil or they are casting evil,” Large said. Similar to Muthart, many patients believe their eyes pose a threat to their loved ones.

Georg Bartisch / Wellcome Library, London / Via

Kokular, Aleksander, National Museum of Warsaw / Via

Historically, psychiatrists thought self-enucleation was a form of self-inflicted punishment resulting from sexual or Christian religious guilt. The act is described in a well-known passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” But arguably the most famous account of self-enucleation is from Sophocles' epic tragedy, Oedipus Rex. The protagonist, Oedipus, gouges his own eyes out after realizing he slept with his mother and killed his father.

The belief that people injure their eyes due to psychosexual guilt was prolonged by Sigmund Freud's “Oedipus complex,” first proposed in the early 1900s, Large said, and became a central myth surrounding self-enucleation. “We now know it has very little to do with religion or sexual guilt and there is no deep psychological insight, it's due to psychosis,” Large said.

Psychosis can result from an untreated psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia or drug use. About 40% of methamphetamine users experience psychotic symptoms while high.

Psychosis can result from an untreated psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia or drug use. About 40% of methamphetamine users experience psychotic symptoms while high.

The common psychiatric illnesses that cause psychosis are untreated schizophrenia, psychotic depression, psychotic mania, and bipolar disorder, Large said. “Many of these patients have never-treated schizophrenia, which means they might not even know until they have their first episode of psychosis and remove their eyes,” Large said.

Psychosis is also caused by certain medications and drugs, Large said, and methamphetamine is a particularly common culprit. “It is thought that one of the causes of psychosis is too much dopamine, and meth causes a massive release of dopamine in the brain,” Large said. While this excess of dopamine (pictured above) can cause a temporary state of euphoria, it can also impair decision-making and cause deluded thinking.

In some of these patients, repeated use of methamphetamine actually induces a psychotic disorder, so the psychotic symptoms like delusions occur after intoxication or withdrawal from the drug. Of those who experience methamphetamine psychosis, Large said, about half will develop schizophrenia over time.

In Muthart's case, her untreated bipolar disorder made her more prone to using drugs like crystal meth and more prone to experiencing psychotic symptoms while high.

Visuals Unlimited, Inc. / Getty Images / Via

The only way to prevent this kind of self-harm is by understanding psychosis, and treating the underlying cause as soon as possible.

The only way to prevent this kind of self-harm is by understanding psychosis, and treating the underlying cause as soon as possible.

“People do react very strongly to [self-enucleation] and it doesn't necessarily help the patients. They are very sick people in need of a lot of care, treatment, and rehab,” Large said. It's important to treat the underlying psychiatric illness or drug addiction before the delusions about one's eyes become strong enough to prompt someone to hurt themselves.

Not to mention, attempting to blind yourself can be fatal. “Some of these patients just die because they end up pulling off an artery and it causes a hemorrhage in the brain,” Large said.

“The eyes are the only part of the body that hasn't been ritually mutilated by one culture of another, because we have developed very strong prohibitions and mechanisms of protecting our eyes — these can only be overcome by very severe mental illness,” Large said. “Self-enucleation is a clear example that delusions are firmly held real beliefs and they can be very strong. […] Psychiatric problems are not made up.”

Jenny Chang / Via

Once she has completed her outpatient psychiatric treatment, 90 days of Narcotics Anonymous, and physical therapy, Muthart hopes to return to school and fulfill her dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Although it's been difficult after losing her eyesight, she is staying optimistic.

“It took losing my sight to get me back on the right path, but from the bottom of my heart, I'm so glad I'm here,” Muthart said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, here are please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-4357) for 24-hour assistance or visit You can also visit the American Addiction Centers website or call 888-987-9927 for more resources and support.

In the case of a medical or psychiatric emergency, call 911.

Why Financial Independence is Within Your Grasp — Even in Your 30s

Do you get totally irritated and depressed when you see articles about people who retired in their 30s?

Can’t seem to scroll past them fast enough?

After all, your 30th birthday might be nothing more than a faint memory and the idea of retiring anytime soon is, well, a joke. If this sounds like you, stop beating yourself up. You are far from being alone in the financial abyss.

But why should you take my word for it? I’m glad you asked — I’m speaking from experience here, and I felt the exact same way just a few short years ago.

My husband and I are no strangers to financial missteps. We also didn’t start pursuing financial independence until we were well into our 30s, which makes me someone who knows what I’m talking about.

In fact, we didn’t even know there was such a movement until we stumbled upon one of those crazy FIRE/FIOR (Financial Independence Retire Early/Financial Independence Optional Retirement) articles.

Before finding our way to this offbeat, online community, my husband and I were pretty normal, meaning we were in debt and weren’t making our finances a priority because, you know, financial independence and early retirement is not reality.

Our reality was enjoying our relative youth while continuing to chase a bigger house, better cars and elaborate vacations. And that’s exactly what we were doing.

The last straw came when we nearly purchased a large home we couldn’t comfortably afford. We’d signed on the dotted line and were under contract. And then, the panic attacks started. My husband and I were waking up in the middle of the night worrying about taking on such a huge debt.

I mean, my salary was steady and predictable, but my husband’s was not. We were approved based on our income history, but what would happen if his work unexpectedly tailed off? Our income would do the same but the bills would remain sky high.

To say we were stressed about this is an understatement.

Our lucky day came when the home inspector came back with a shockingly bad report. There was mold — and lots of it. We took that golden opportunity to cancel our contract and commit to start making smart financial decisions.

We committed to stop being normal.

On that very day, I began frantically searching the internet for tips on how to take control of our money and build wealth. With a few clicks of the mouse, I found myself immersed in the concept of financial independence and early retirement.

With our new found knowledge and excitement, we embraced a frugal lifestyle, stayed in our small home, and maxed out our retirement accounts. And yes, we even cut the cable cord. Gasp!

Not surprisingly, the concept of FIRE/FIOR being attainable for normal people with normal salaries was completely fascinating. Almost immediately, we were hooked — and you can be too.

Let’s do this!

How to Become Financially Independent After 30

If you’re sitting there reading this with a retirement account that is pretty much non-existent, don’t be alarmed when I say you can still retire decades ahead of schedule by pursuing financial independence.

By making smarter financial decisions and tweaking just a few areas of your life, you can put yourself on the path to financial independence, quite literally, overnight.

By taking your money seriously, making a plan and sticking to it, you’ll start to build wealth on auto-pilot.

Here are a few actionable tips:

  • Start a budget. You need to know how much you’re making and spending.
  • Cut the fat. Stop paying for stuff you don’t use or value. Can you cut the gym, cable, or make your own lunches for work?
  • Consider adjusting home, health and car insurances for better rates.
  • Build at least a small emergency fund of $1,000 – $2,000 before diving into debt repayment.
  • Make paying off debt (all debt) a priority. You’ll never build wealth if you’re paying significant interest on debt.
  • Track your net worth. This is quite possibly the single biggest motivator for building wealth. Whether you’re paying down debt or investing, your net worth is going to go up. And when you see that, you’ll be more likely to stick to your financial plan!
  • If your employer offers a matching contribution to a retirement account, max it out. This is free money. Don’t leave it on the table. Increase retirement contributions each year when you get a raise until you’re completely maxed out. The current maximum allowable contribution for 401(k) accounts is $18,500. This goes up every few years so make sure you adjust accordingly.
  • After you’re at least getting the full employer match for your retirement account, consider contributing to an IRA or Roth IRA.
  • If you’ve taken care of all of the above, consider diversifying your investments into non-retirement accounts. This could mean purchasing stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.

Once you reach the end of this list, you’ll be joining the exclusive ranks of the FIRE/FIOR community in no time.

So instead of crying over all of those pumpkin-spiced lattes and spring breaks in Miami, pull yourself together and act like the responsible 30-something (or 40-something) you are, and resolve to take control of your financial future today.

And with that, let’s stand tall and consider a few of the benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30.

You Messed Up — So What

 Ice cream on the ground.
Sayan_Moongklang/Getty Images

Now that you’ve lived a little, experienced some good times (and bad times, too), and can clearly envision what you want from your life, you have a much better understanding of what you need to do (and not do) to build wealth.

Having a few years on the books means you likely experienced some combination of poor money decisions relating to credit card debt, student loans, and car payments. And that’s okay.

Fortunately, the best part about messing up is that experience is a great teacher.

I made almost every poor financial decision you can make. I took out unnecessary student loans and had a sports car and super expensive payment to go along with it.

I charged dinners out with the girls and new clothes to high-interest credit cards, and even borrowed money from my 401(k).

Yep, I’m pretty much a pro when it comes to doing everything wrong with money.

But you know what, I’m okay with all of it. Without my experiences, I wouldn’t realize what it takes to do the right thing with money.

I found out pretty quickly that doing the right thing with money is way more rewarding. So if you’re sitting there with a few poor decisions under your belt, don’t worry, you can turn it around starting today.

The old adage of hindsight being 20/20 still holds true. Sure, having a degree from an expensive school is nice, but you now realize you might’ve landed in the same spot had you opted for the less expensive state school.

And of course you loved buying new clothes and taking fancy vacations years ago, but now you look at your retirement savings and understand the term, “missed opportunity.”

Yeah, you messed up. So what? Recognize your past but don’t dwell on it.

Messing up in your 20s means you’re less likely to mess up now. And that’s a good thing, because now is when you’re choosing to make your finances a priority.

The Big Picture

Now that you’re a full-fledged adult, it’s a great time to assess your current life situation, past choices, and your hopes and dreams for the future. No judgment, please.  

You see, the best thing about being a bit older is you might actually know what you want out of life.

I know I sure didn’t know what I wanted when I was a bright-eyed college grad in my 20s. But as time passed and I experienced more, both personally and professionally, the big picture became crystal clear.

For instance, if you prefer to work as a freelancer and live in an RV or van, you’re not going to need to save as much money to reach financial independence as someone who wants to have four children and travel to Europe every summer.

So I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you also have a bit more clarity at this point in your life, too. Let’s use that clarity to answer some key questions about your big picture.

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Which career is more appealing? A stable job or freelancing?
  • Do you prefer being in a relationship or remaining single?
  • Are children a possibility? If so, do you want to stay at home to raise them?
  • Is extensive travel a priority, or do you like staying in one spot?
  • Are you interested in retiring as soon as you save enough money to meet the 4% rule, or do you want to build legacy wealth for future generations?

If you can answer at least some of these key questions with confidence, you’ll be in a much better position to plan for your financial future and actually reach your goals.

Naturally, our lives are fluid and we all reserve the right to change our minds, but these questions present a good starting point.

The Incredible Benefits Of Pursuing FI After 30

Traveler woman legs walking carrying a suitcase in an airport
AntonioGuillem/Getty Images

So with your answers in hand, let’s check out the incredible benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30.

  • You know what you want from your life — and how much money you need to achieve it
  • You have a better idea of whether you’re pursuing FI with one income or two
  • Past mistakes have made you a better decision-maker
  • You have experienced debt and will do anything to avoid it
  • You want options because you know how it feels to not have them
  • Staying on-task is much easier with clear life goals

Obviously, there are plenty of other benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30, but these sum up the major ones.

Our personal lives are just that, and our finances are complementary. Pretending one is independent from the other is just silly.

Contrary to popular belief, money is not the root of all evil — it is the root of all opportunity.

To name a few…

  • The opportunity to work or not work
  • The opportunity to move wherever you want to live
  • The opportunity to start a business

Whatever your dreams, money will provide you with the opportunity of pursuit.

Now that you understand the benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30, don’t be afraid to embrace your mistakes and chase the dream.

Oh, by the way, hoarding this incredibly powerful knowledge is just plain wrong. Pass it on!

Lisa is the founder and resident blogger at Mad Money Monster, a personal finance and lifestyle blog chronicling her family’s journey from doing money all wrong to doing it all right. If you want to follow along, sign up here.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

$6,000 Doomsday Costco Meal Kit Helps You Survive an Apocalypse on a Budget

The world is scary.

Not only do I have to worry about spiders, clowns, sharks and hurricanes, but threats of global warming, nuclear warfare and artificial intelligence infiltrate headlines periodically and scare the bejeezus out of me.

Preparing for an emergency seems to be an American pastime, if not a rite of passage. There’s even a TV show where people prepare for a range of potential threats like wildfires and doomsday.

The prepper craze has created an entire market for survival gear. Big-name retailers offer everything from one-person survival kits to a year’s supply of food delivered directly to your door.

Recent tensions with North Korea skyrocketed sales of such survivalist supplies, according to Time Money.

But the question remains: Is investing in one of these kits really worth it, or are folks just buying into hype?

The Wide World of Doomsday Prep Kits

A Google search for survival kits turns up tons of options.

Do I need tactical assault wipes? What about a survival capsule? Maybe I’ll get a survival kit for my cat — just in case.

There are plenty of options, but they ain’t cheap.

A year’s supply of food starts around $749.95 for a single person and can climb up to $36,999 for a 20-person supply. Run and tell that to the commune!

Bulk retailers aren’t new to the game, either. In fact, this is their specialty.

Costco offers by-the-pallet food kits. Options range from $999 to $5,999 for a year’s supply, assuming a 1,300- to 2,000-calorie diet.

One of them feeds a family of four for an entire year. It boasts 36,000 servings of food, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, for $6,000. That comes out to 16.7 cents a serving. Just keep in mind, coffee is sold separately.

The specs say this supply will last you 1,460 days, or four years if you eat 2,000 calories a day. So that means you can run from zombies and still get all the nutrients you need with plenty to spare.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But I’m gluten-free.” Don’t worry, we got you fam. Oh, you’re vegan? Got you, too.

In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive.”

How Much Food Do You Really Need to Survive?

Most of us learned about basic survival in school. You won’t live long without food and water.

You can last maybe a week without water, and you might make it several weeks to over a month — in rare cases — without food.

Sedentary men over age 18 need more than 2,000 calories per day to survive, according to the the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sedentary women ages 18 to 50 need at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. Anything below those numbers will result in weight loss.

The caloric needs of boys and girls under 18 start at 1,000 for toddlers and rise to 2,400 calories a day for teenage boys if they’re sedentary.

Most of the survival kits we’ve seen don’t include water, so whatever you do, don’t forget the water or else it’ll all be for naught.

How Much Does It Cost to Eat for a Year?

I pride myself on being pretty frugal with food costs.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a woman my age can survive off $1,965.60 a year, or $37.80 a week on a thrifty plan. Gulp. Guess I’m not as cheap as I thought!

The same plan estimates that a family of four — two adults 19 to 50 years old and two children between ages 2 and 5 — spends $128.90 a week or $6,702.80 a year on food.

So the premium Costco kit with its plethora of servings would be cheaper than living off a bargain-basement budget for a whole year by American standards.  

Items in the emergency kits generally keep from 10 to 25 years, so if you have a broke year, I’d say just dig in, because are you really ever going to ever eat it? You could always write it into  your will to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

I wonder how my fiance would feel if we just start eating MREs and put all the extra savings into our retirement accounts.

Can You Compile Your Survival Kit?

This is America! You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you don’t break any laws.

And we’ve definitely thought about this before because we’re Penny Hoarders, after all.

Having some sort of plan or emergency kit in place when a disaster strikes is smart. Snowstorms and hurricanes can knock out power grids for days. Tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires can destroy your home in a matter of seconds.

You can assemble your own emergency kit for much less than a store-bought one.

But when it comes to a nuclear attack or doomsday-type event, you might need a little more than the basics. We compiled a handy guide to help you wade through the options and stay ready.

Is it survival of the fittest or survival of the most prepared?

Do You Need Survival Gear?

This is entirely a personal decision.

I like to keep a spare tire, car jack and raincoat in my trunk for emergencies. A survival kit is just a more extreme version of that.

Everyone should have some version of a disaster kit because Mother Nature is one fierce woman, and you’ll never know when she’ll strike.

Although investing in a year’s supply of food is in a whole other ballpark. If you have enough money and it is important to you, there are affordable options that cost less than feeding your family for an entire year when the aliens or robots take over.

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Seriously, we got through Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar. There are other productive ways to prepare, such as learning Morse code, gardening, or skipping the hubbub and investing in a retirement account.

Even Shakespeare warned of a doomsday over four centuries ago. He didn’t seem too worried about it then. Why should you be now?

“Come, let us take a muster speedily. Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.”

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She takes the REM approach to doomsday: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.