Lindy West’s big splurge was a used Hyundai Santa Fe

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Lindy West, author of the fabulous memoir Shrill, which serves as the basis for the Hulu series of the same name, recently sat down with The Cut to chat about her evolving relationship with money. West’s second book, The Witches are Coming, was released last week, and the second season of Shrill will be out January 24, 2020. The entire piece is worth a read, but here are some highlights from Lindy’s comments:

On “getting used to having some money in the bank”:
I remember calling my parents when I got my first grown-up job and being like, “They’re gonna pay me $32,000 dollars a year!” Like, I am rich. When I [got hired as a columnist at] Jezebel, during my quote-unquote negotiation — which I did not excel at — I think my boss offered me $50,000 and I was like, “I would prefer $55,000.” She was like, “Yeah, okay.” I clearly could have tried for $80,000. But $55,000 might as well have been a million to me at that time. I’m still getting used to having some money in the bank. A Hollywood paycheck is astronomically better than any other paycheck I’ve ever gotten, but it’s also just going to the same things as before. Mostly we’re thinking about, like, how are we going to send our kids to college? Can I help my mom in her retirement, and my mother-in-law? A couple weeks ago I needed a dental crown. I just got it done and paid for it. That was amazing. I remember once crying at the dentist because, between me and my husband, we needed like $11,000 worth of work. We were like, “Okay, what’s the bare minimum so that we can chew?” I’m very aware of what a privilege it is to be able to, like, get a crown.

On not really “understanding anything about money”:
I don’t really understand anything about money — how to manage it, how to save it, what to do with it other than buy clothes and pay rent and get my teeth fixed. I don’t know exactly how taxes work, either. I don’t think that I’m at the level where I benefit from Republican tax policy, but I’m glad I don’t find that tempting at all. I’m like, Please IRS and government social programs: Take my money, redistribute it, please. I do believe there’s something inherently immoral in amassing wealth.

On splurging on clothes:
The small explosion in plus-size fashion brands unfortunately coincided with me accruing some disposable cash. When I was a teenager, there were no cute clothes for fat people. I had to go to seventh grade dressed like a businesswoman in lumpy pantsuits from Lane Bryant. I now compulsively buy every garment I see. It’s really been therapeutic to be like, “Oh my God, look, someone made a weird jacket in my size. I’ve never had a weird jacket before!”

On buying her first car that was not sold to her by her parents:
Oh, and I bought a used Hyundai Santa Fe, the first car that I did not buy used from my parents… It’s the limited ultra edition, which means that it has, I don’t know, a sunroof. I had been driving a 2005 Ford Escape that my mom sold to me after my dad died. The one thing that I’ve absorbed about money is you’re not supposed to buy a new car because they immediately lose half their value, right? What I’m saying is, I stan my 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe limited edition.

On getting paid what she deserves:
I’m from Seattle, where everyone is passive-aggressive and polite to a fault. I’ve definitely gone into every salary negotiation of my life as a Seattleite, like, “I’m sorry, I actually don’t need any money, I should pay you for this job.” There is no reason to be like that. It’s capitalism. You are giving them your body and your time and your calories so that they can make more money than you’re gonna make. A thing that I’ve learned as an adult is that everything is fucking fake. Men are out there asking for extravagant shit and getting it. Everyone is bluffing about everything all the time. So just go for it. Go after what you need and what you want.

[From The Cut]

I loved this interview because Lindy articulated a lot of my own stress and anxiety about money. Like her, I’m now able to afford medical care and pay bills more easily, but it still seems strange and I’m getting used to it. I almost cried when I went to pick up a prescription a few weeks ago and it was affordable. I also recognize that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to worry less about paying bills (though my credit card company loves me because I will probably be paying off that balance as I’m dying several decades from now).

I also think what Lindy says about negotiating for salary is important. I think the messages that women get are to be deferential, polite, and to not walk into a salary negotiation like we deserve more than what our employer is offering to pay us, especially if we’re getting a raise. I don’t know how to negotiate at all, really, and I’ve not been in a position where I’ve had to or been able to. But the idea that “everyone is bluffing” and so to “just go for it,” is good to keep in mind. It’s easier said than done, though. Because I’m trying to be more careful about how I spend my money, I’m going to go put The Witches are Coming on my holiday wishlist and not buy it right this second, which, as an avid book-lover, is really, really hard to do.

Hulu's 'Shrill' New York Premiere - Arrivals

Hulu's 'Shrill' New York Premiere - Arrivals

photos credit: WENN and Getty

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27 Responses to “Lindy West’s big splurge was a used Hyundai Santa Fe”

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  1. Jillian says:

    OMG, I’M SEEING HER TONIGHT IN CHICAGO! I’m so GD excited I’m bouncing up and down right now

    • Flamingo says:

      I was able to see her speak several years ago. You will have a blast!

      • Jillian says:

        Oh yay, I can’t wait! I used to read her religiously when she was writing for Jezebel, she’s outrageously smart and talented

    • Some chick says:

      I’m jelly. Please let us know how it was!

      I love Lindy. I’ve been reading her since she was at Jezebel. She’s so smart, and a brilliant writer. (I might even go so far as to rename “Shrill” as “Brill!”)

  2. Christo says:

    Forgive me for thinking Kirsten Dunst had gained weight and/or was pregnant in the cover photo.

  3. Flamingo says:

    Lindy is amazing! She is the reason that I was hooked on Jezebel for years. I was lucky enough to see her speak when her first book came out. She was so humorous but also very thoughtful.

  4. PizzaLove says:

    I like her but I think she is crazy saying she wants the government to take and redistribute her money. WTH? I am middle class and pay a lot of taxes. I just wrote a check for $5000 for school taxes and I don’t have kids in school!!! I would rather “redistribute”my own money instead of having some corrupt politician decide where it goes.

    I still drive a 2005 Escape. 😝

    • a reader says:

      So what you’re saying is that you don’t understand how government works.

      Boo hoo, you had to cut a check for taxes. Guess what? Those kids you’re helping to educate will be more productive members of society thanks to your contributions. Would you rather defund public schools than pay your bills? Because taxes are the price we pay as part of the social contract between the government and the people.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Those kids in school now will be the office workers, police, nurses, etc.–pick a profession–of tomorrow. Wouldn’t you rather they be the best-educated people you interact with in your old age than not?

      • lucy2 says:

        Exactly – I’m happy to pay school taxes, and I don’t have kids either.

        If people are unhappy with how their taxes are distributed, they need to vote, or run for office themselves. Everyone getting to choose how they are distributed is not the answer.

    • Malificent says:

      I was happy to pay taxes to support schools long before I had a kid. It’s supporting your society. I live in Colorado where the TABOR Act (and a misplaced sense of rugged Western individualism) means that we chronically underfund our school system. We’re the #11 state for income in the US, and our economy is booming, but we’re #40 for spending on our schools.

      I literally just sent my son’s middle school teacher a note in response to a request for direct donations to support school activities (they already do a lot of fund-raising drives too). I told her that I consider it making up for what I should be paying for in taxes….

      I’m not rolling in it, but a third of my son’s classmates are from low-income families, and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities for field trips and activities that my kid does. Every kid deserves the chance to learn that there is a bigger world out there.

    • deezee says:

      Wanna hear a totally crazy idea!? Don’t like where the taxes are going; vote for someone else.

  5. Lucy2 says:

    Her first book was good, I’m definitely going to check out her other one. The Hulu show was really good too, I like Aidy Bryant.

    Don’t forget, if you want to read a book but are watching your pennies… Use your library!

    • tempest prognosticator says:

      Public libraries are a treasure!

    • IMUCU says:

      Big library fan! We don’t even have Netflix or anything like that because our library can get us everything we want, even if we watch it later than everyone else. I was so miffed when our libraries got funding cut (which cut their hours & a couple locations for YEARS) just bc people in this county wanted $50 to $200 off of their housing taxes for ONLY two years. And while we are comfortable, we are still frugal (& no kids helps with costs). I remember crying tears of happiness when one of my prescriptions went generic, dropping it $150/mo. It was such a relief. I still have to get another med directly from the manufacturer through an financial assistance program bc it would be $4600/mo otherwise and we could not afford that. Also, I don’t mind paying taxes to provide people with healthcare, schooling, etc. Several years ago was talking to some (mostly wealthy doctors & lawyers) friends about universal healthcare, and one said “No one wants their taxes raised.” And I, least financially secure in the bunch, told them that I was completely comfortable having my taxes raised if it meant providing more healthcare to others. Unfortunatley, the majority of people in this area are short-sighted when it comes to improving the quality of life for the area as a whole. Anyway, Lindy seems awesome; I didn’t know anything about her, so will be keeping an eye out for her now!

  6. Kk2 says:

    I have no clue who she is but nice interview. I think people are more grounded when they come into their success later in life and have lived like a normal person for decades. Enjoy that Santa Fe, lady.

  7. Kate says:

    “What is the bare minimum so that we can chew?” LOL – dying

  8. Renee says:

    I love the show Shrill. It was so good so I’m excited for season 2. I guess I didn’t realize it was based on a book so I’m off to my library to look for it.

  9. Bea says:

    Just here to say that I was lucky enough to meet Lindy on her book tour for Shrill and she is so extraordinarily lovely! I nerded out and told her how much her memoir meant to me and she was so stoked that I had connected to it. It’s really stuck with me how genuine and honest she was everyone with who’d come out to see her.

  10. Ana says:

    I don’t know who this lady is but now I feel like I want to know because I totally relate to her and the struggle. Thank God I am in a different place now but I definitely know needing something and not being able to buy it.

  11. Meg says:

    The fat girl pool party episode of shrill meant so much to me, I had multiple swimsuits for my summer trip and wore them without shame. Even when I was smaller I never felt good in a swimsuit so I can’t explain how monumental that was

  12. JanetFerber says:

    I happen to be going to a book store tomorrow and I’ll be sure to look for her memoir Shrill. I love it when women shine.

  13. Haapa says:

    I love Lindy! Honks for Lindy!

  14. Dazed and Confused says:

    I love my 2005 Ford Escape.