Please Note: This transcript was computer generated. Please be mindful of errors. Thank you.
Announcer: So, what did the bipolar say to the schizophrenic? You’re in the right place to find out. . .
Michelle Hammer: Welcome everyone, my name is Michelle Hammer, and I live with schizophrenia.
Gabe Howard: I’m Gabe Howard and I’m bipolar, and let’s give our sponsor some love. BetterHelp, get 10% off your first month by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22.
Michelle Hammer: Gabe, I like money. I want more money, I need more money. I love money and I love money so much. I want more of it.
Gabe Howard: Are you trying to do some Adam Sandler bit or are you asking for a raise?
Michelle Hammer: I love money, and I love Adam Sandler, he has a lot of money. Can he give me money?
Gabe Howard: And that brings us to our show topic today. We’re going to be talking about serious and persistent mental illness and managing money
Michelle Hammer: I want to wear money as clothing.
Gabe Howard: I don’t think that’s an impossible goal, Michelle. Lady Gaga wore meat as clothing you can make duct tape dresses.
Michelle Hammer: Do you think Lady Gaga cooked the meat after? Otherwise, that’s just a waste of meat.
Gabe Howard: That’s where you went with this?
Michelle Hammer: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: It’s a waste of meat. Woman wears an all-beef dress and you’re just like, Listen, I don’t know if I like wasting food in this manner.
Michelle Hammer: Well, that’s a waste of money. Yeah. I like money, and I want to be like Scrooge McDuck, who used to dive into all of his money like that.
Gabe Howard: You know, Mental Floss did a article about what would happen if you actually jumped into the money from like that height and everything, and the answer is you break every bone in your body and die.
Michelle Hammer: Well, why do you have to kill my childhood dreams like that?
Gabe Howard: You need better childhood dreams, Michelle. Besides, you’re not a duck.
Michelle Hammer: I’m not a duck.
Gabe Howard: You’re not a duck.
Michelle Hammer: Shoot.
Gabe Howard: Michelle, we want to talk about managing money and mania because people with mania, I hate to say that we’re bad with money when we’re manic, but it’s talked about a lot. Overspending. It’s a big, big, big, big part of mania. A huge part.
Michelle Hammer: As huge as my jew nose.
Gabe Howard: I don’t even know what to say to that, so we’re just going to segue right past that and talk about money again, let’s just keep it on money, Michelle.
Michelle Hammer: Dollars, cents?
Gabe Howard: Yes.
Michelle Hammer: The euro,
Gabe Howard: Yes.
Michelle Hammer: The pound.
Gabe Howard: Yes. For our Britain fans, it would be pounds. Michelle, have you had trouble managing money?
Michelle Hammer: Here’s the thing, Gabe.
Gabe Howard: I love it when it starts this way.
Michelle Hammer: The thing is, my parents look at all of my credit cards and bank statements, yet I am over 30 years old.
Gabe Howard: But that is that is a piece of advice, though.
Michelle Hammer: But number one.
Gabe Howard: But, it’s not a bad thing. You allow them to do it.
Michelle Hammer: I know I allow them because I can’t do it myself. My dad’s a CPA. And the second thing is that I’m Jewish, so they’re all over money management all the time asking Why did you spend this here? Well, I just spend this there first when I moved to the city. Mom said, you know, wait a minute, why do I see on your credit card? You take taxis, don’t you pay for an unlimited metro card? And I’m like, you want me to take the subway at midnight or one a.m. or are you serious? She’s like, well, I don’t know what you’re doing managing your money. I didn’t take taxis when I was young, and I’m like, what are you talking about where you was yelling at me for spending money?
Gabe Howard: You mentioned this is because you’re Jewish, do you feel that there is a cultural component to this or is this just overbearing parents because my family does not manage my money anymore, but if my mom found out that I had an unlimited metro card and I was taking a taxi, she would react the exact same way and we’re Catholic.
Michelle Hammer: Well, I don’t know, it’s like a very big stereotype, but for one example, I’ll tell you that my mom saves her tea. She uses one tea bag to make two different cups of tea
Gabe Howard: That’s very sensible.
Michelle Hammer: That? You agree? You think that’s sensible?
Gabe Howard: I do think it’s sensible.
Michelle Hammer: You?
Gabe Howard: Didn’t your grandma order the matzo ball soup with the matzo ball on the side so that she would get more broth? I think that’s genius.
Michelle Hammer: Oh, my god, are you are an old Jewish woman.
Gabe Howard: Listen, of all the things that you have ever called me, old Jewish woman is frankly the most flattering. So I think I’m just going to take it. But let’s focus in on the part where you said that you have trouble managing money because of your mental illness. So you have enlisted the help of your father. Now I know that this brings up unhappiness in your family, where your mom is commenting on the things that you buy. But other than that? Is it going well?
Michelle Hammer: I think it’s going well. I think so.
Gabe Howard: You seem happy with this arrangement.
Michelle Hammer: Well, it’s handy that I have somebody doing my taxes for me.
Gabe Howard: But it’s more than just your taxes, right? Doesn’t your father help keep your spending in line because otherwise it would just be unchecked and you would buy everything and you couldn’t pay your rent?
Michelle Hammer: Well, he likes to call me every month and say, well, this was your credit card bill. You know, this is what you spent this month. So we’re taking this out of your bank account to pay this bill. Things like that, he likes. And, you know, he likes to say, Do you ever check your accounts? Do you look at your accounts? Do you see what’s in your accounts? And you know, your Uncle Pete has this and this and this. And then because my Uncle Pete, he’s in investments, so he does that. And then I have this there, this that this that, oh, this whole big thing. I don’t really even know. You know, when you got family members in the money business, things do things. And I don’t even know. I don’t even know. I honestly, I don’t know, even know what’s going on with my money because everybody that I’m related to that’s over the age of 50 is apparently managing my money.
Gabe Howard: But it is your money. One of the things that I really want to drive home is it’s not that your family is paying your bills with their money,
Michelle Hammer: Yes.
Gabe Howard: You’re working, you’re earning money and they’re helping you. So you’ve set up a system where you earn money, give it to them and they make sure that you’re not destitute.
Michelle Hammer: Yes, that is the truth.
Gabe Howard: Right, so how did you set that up? Is this just something that that they set up for you and you’re just like, Hey, you know, I could bitch about this, but ultimately it’s not so bad. Did they come to you and say, Look, you keep blowing all your money on garbage, so we’re going to take over or to just sort of naturally occur? Because there’s many people in our position that we’re just not doing a good job managing our own money. And I used to be one of those people. I filed bankruptcy. I’m not giving you shit, Michel, I. I literally filed bankruptcy. You’ve never filed bankruptcy. So whatever system you got going is way better than the system that Gabe used 25 years ago that landed me in bankruptcy court. But inquiring minds want to know how did this whole thing come about?
Michelle Hammer: I just grew up with my parents managing my money, and it never ended.
Gabe Howard: All right.
Michelle Hammer: That’s how it happened.
Gabe Howard: But you’re over 30 years old, you could end this if you wanted to.
Michelle Hammer: No, I could not, definitely not
Gabe Howard: Why not?
Michelle Hammer: Because there’s it’s too it’s too involved from what I know.
Gabe Howard: Ok, but but when I say that you could end this if you wanted to. It’s not a conservatorship, you’re not doing like the Britney Spears thing where your parents have control over you legally, you’re a grown ass woman. You could cut them off completely from your money and do whatever you wanted. You’re saying it’s too involved because there’s family dynamics, but it’s not too involved from a legal perspective. Right? Legally, the only rights they have are rights that you bestowed upon them that you can therefore un bestow.
Michelle Hammer: I suppose, but it’s more of a complicated situation.
Gabe Howard: But it’s complicated because you don’t understand it.
Michelle Hammer: Yes.
Gabe Howard: It’s not complicated because you’re Britney Spears.
Michelle Hammer: Right, it’s because I am incapable of doing this myself.
Gabe Howard: And you trust your family.
Michelle Hammer: Yes, they’re not stealing it for me.
Gabe Howard: Are you sure?
Michelle Hammer: Yes.
Gabe Howard: You just said it was so complicated, you don’t understand it, but also they’re not stealing from you. How do you know, Michelle?
Michelle Hammer: They have more money than me, why would they be stealing from me?
Gabe Howard: Michelle, we’ve talked before about how lucky we are that our families really are looking out for us, but not everybody has this. Not everybody has a mom and a dad that are looking out for us. I mean, while my family taught me a lot about money, they were not able to stop me from blowing all of my money and ending up in bankruptcy court. My spending was so out of control that I once paid off an entire bars tab like literally all. It was thousands upon thousands of dollars, but I wanted to be a big shot, so I just whipped out the credit card the credit card went through and I don’t even remember it. But then the bill came in and I was like, oh yeah, I did that.
Michelle Hammer: Why did you do that?
Gabe Howard: That’s what mania did, so one of the things that we put into place after that happened and it wasn’t my family, it was just me and the people around me and my therapist. We really lowered the limit on my credit card. I keep my credit card limits very low. You know, they keep trying to raise it there. Like, we’ll give you a $10000 limit. I was like $2000. I would like a $2000 limit. They’re like why, you can. You can have so much more because this means that if mania occurs, the most damage that I can do is $2000 and you’ve got to decide where that number fits for you. Maybe it’s 500, maybe it’s 250, maybe it’s whatever. But I think it’s really important that in controlling our spending, we limit how much money we can get access to during those manic times.
Michelle Hammer: That makes sense to me, I have no idea what the limit is on my credit card, but I don’t spend like a ridiculous amount, so I’m just not really a huge spender.
Gabe Howard: You were getting ready to say, I don’t spend like a crazy person, weren’t you?
Michelle Hammer: I was going to say that
Gabe Howard: [Laughter]
Michelle Hammer: The dumbest thing I ever bought was a hammock to go inside my apartment. Like that was just so stupid.
Gabe Howard: You live in New York City and you bought a hammock?
Michelle Hammer: No, that was a college.
Gabe Howard: So that’s even worse. Like, like what for your dorm?
Michelle Hammer: No, I had it a house.
Gabe Howard: You lived in a house in college?
Michelle Hammer: It was a split up house. That’s how they did it then.
Gabe Howard: That’s how they did it then? Yeah, nobody lives in a house with roommates and goes to college now. This was a magical time when multiple people were living in one dwelling, just it’s not done anymore.
Michelle Hammer: Shut up, whatever.
Gabe Howard: [Laughter]
Michelle Hammer: What I want to talk about for mental illness and money is like, you know, we didn’t even discuss disability and benefits.
Gabe Howard: Let’s talk about disability and benefits, because for some of us, that is how we, it’s how we survive. Now.
Michelle Hammer: It is how you survive, but it’s the ultimate screw over too.
Gabe Howard: Now, that’s interesting. Explain that.
Michelle Hammer: Ok. You get disability in benefits, say you get what, $1000 a month, which is sort of in the middleish to the high end depends how much you get if you get SSI or SSD. So then if say you’re two people, you’re both on SSD or both on SSI and you want to get married, you can’t get married. If you get married, then you both lower your benefits. Or if you get married to someone who’s not on SSI/SSD and they don’t make tons of money, you’ll lose your benefits because then you make too much money as a combined couple. If you make too much money, then you can lose your health insurance because you can’t be on Medicaid or Medicare anymore, so you cannot get married if you don’t have a partner that makes a lot of money at all. You see where you’re kind of stuck now.
Gabe Howard: Let’s remove romantic entanglements from the situation. Let’s just say that you have you’re on disability and you want to get back to work. Now you’re allowed to earn a certain amount of money while on disability.
Michelle Hammer: Not enough.
Gabe Howard: Right, and then you try to cross over that, so somebody’s like, Hey, I want to give you a job, but it pays X and you’re like. But it’s a part time job, meaning it has no benefits and it pays too much. And I’ll lose my disability. And because you’re not offering benefits for your part time job, which many part time jobs don’t offer benefits. You’re stuck in this situation where you’re like, Look, I can’t take the part time job that you’re offering because I’ll lose my benefits. And if I lose my benefits, I can’t manage my illness. And if I can’t manage my illness, I’ll be sick again, and I don’t want that. And they tell you to slowly build up, right? Get the part time job that turns into the full time job that turns into the promotion, but that’s not reasonable for people who live with disability. Now
Michelle Hammer: Exactly.
Gabe Howard: I feel that people are listening to this and they’re just like, All right, Gabe and Michelle are telling me, I’m screwed.
Michelle Hammer: That’s the thing, though, you are screwed. It’s supposed to help you. Yes, yes, it is better. You’ve been beneficial. But oh no, if you make over 16 grand a year at some job, you’re going to lose your benefits. Oh no. If you have more than 20 grand in the bank account, you can’t be on Medicare. Oh, no. What are you going to do now? Oh no, I got to spend all my money, so I don’t have that in my bank account. So then I can be on Medicare again. What am I going to do? So it’s like spend your money, have less money, get on Medicare or have more money in my bank account, have no health insurance.
Michelle Hammer: It doesn’t make any sense. You’re stuck in an endless cycle.
Gabe Howard: People look down their nose at us. They look down their nose at us and like, you’re on welfare. It’s a derogatory term that they give to the very thing, the very safety net that we need in order to move forward. And we’re trying, we’re trying to get jobs, we’re trying to work. But it’s incentivized. It’s this endless loop where no matter what we do, we’re insulted, we’re insulted no matter what.
Michelle Hammer: You can’t even get married, you can’t unless you’re marrying a bazillionaire.
Gabe Howard: Oh, oh, Michelle.
Michelle Hammer: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: You fixed it.
Michelle Hammer: Listen, if there’s any bazillionaires.
Gabe Howard: The message from A bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast is if you live with mental illness and you are on disability and you want to get off disability, be a gold digger.
Michelle Hammer: That’s right. If anybody, anybody rich people out there, holler at your girl.
Gabe Howard: And this works for men and women, I’m not gender-zing this. Listen, I don’t care who you marry, find a rich woman. Also, you can find a rich man. Whatever works, just make sure that the person that you are marrying male or female has tons of cash.
Michelle Hammer: Yes, yes.
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Michelle Hammer: I know a lot of people that are on disability because I, you know, I’m a member of Fountain House, I’ve mentioned that many times on this podcast previously and I have friends that said because they’re on SSI or SSD and they need to hide money, they’ve gone into sex work.
Gabe Howard: And that’s that’s such an interesting thing, because on one hand, we don’t want to make sex work sound like a bad thing. Sex work is work and it’s a choice that people have the right to make. However, it’s very stigmatized. Even if you go into legal sex work like if you become a stripper, it becomes this thing where your choices all suck. Because no matter what choice you make, somebody is going to be standing over you and telling you that you made an illegal one or that you made an immoral choice, or that you made an unethical choice. And all the time, they’re just like, Well, why didn’t you do X? And the X is impossible. It’s absolutely impossible, Michelle. And it’s unfair. It’s unfair. Now listen, you. I’m glad that you brought up Fountain House because Fountain House offers programs for people to work to get off disability. That does help smooth over some of these bumps, but I’d like to point out that there’s only one Fountain House.
Michelle Hammer: No, there’s many Fountain Houses.
Gabe Howard: There are? They’re many fountain houses?
Michelle Hammer: All around the world.
Gabe Howard: Are there fountain houses in every single place that people might be listening?
Michelle Hammer: No, no,
Gabe Howard: No.
Michelle Hammer: But I know there’s one in Poland.
Gabe Howard: Ok. Ok, so if you are a New York City or Poland. Well, while there are not that many Fountain Houses, I sincerely don’t know how many fountain houses that there are. I know that the flagship one is in
Michelle Hammer: Mm-hmm.
Gabe Howard: New York City, where the great Michelle Hammer is. I know there’s not one in Columbus, Ohio, but there are clubhouse models and there are programs for people to get back to work and you have to find those usually through jobs and family services, which can be a nightmare. There are just so many barriers between where we are today and where we want to be, and there’s so many eyes on us. There’s just so many eyes telling us that we suck. Here’s my message and Michelle back me up on this. You’re doing the best you can. You’re trying as hard as you can. And the majority of the criticism are from people who have no freaking idea what you’re going through. So their criticism is bullshit. It is bullshit because they don’t understand. Gabe and Michelle understand. We have come from again, I filed bankruptcy, I filed bankruptcy, which just it was huge. I stood in court and I was like, Yeah, I messed everything up. My family was disappointed in me. People like, looked down their nose at me as I was walking out of bankruptcy court. It was horrific. It was an absolutely horrific experience, but you know, it was the only one that I could make. So if you’re in that situation, I just want you to know that I understand, I understand that your choices were probably not that great to begin with and you made the best one you could. And you’re trying and you should be proud of yourself for trying because at least you’re not sitting around doing nothing and whining about it. You’re trying. And I respect that.
Michelle Hammer: I was at my cousin’s wedding a few years ago when we’re meeting some of, you know, now my cousin in law’s family and I guess her aunt or whoever it was asked me, Oh, what do you do for a living? And I said, I’m a mental health advocate. And she her response was, how do you make any money?
Gabe Howard: What do you mean, how do you make money, how do you, Michelle, make money?
Michelle Hammer: Yeah, that’s what she said to me, how do you make any money?
Gabe Howard: You own your own business.
Michelle Hammer: I was like, that is the rudest question she’s going to go. How do you make any money like we weren’t even in New York? And somebody asked me that kind of question.
Gabe Howard: There’s so much stigma surrounding people living with mental illness and our incomes, you know, many people believe that I am just living off of my wife. I know we were joking about, you know, find a sugar mama, be a gold digger. But so many people believe that Gabe Howard is just living off of his wife. I am a drain, and I just married a woman who has a good job and this hurts me so much because one I am not a drain to my wife that is just patently offensive, but to it’s not even true. I make more money than her. I make more money than her. But people are like, Well, do you? Look, I’m not saying this to be an asshole. I’m just pointing out that the only reason people think that I have no money is because of the bipolar diagnosis. If I did not have bipolar, nobody would think that I was just this drain on society.
Michelle Hammer: Look, you know, it’s funny, I get I get two kinds of responses, the first one is you don’t have schizophrenia; you’re just making tons of money off of all of us who have schizophrenia and you have a huge T-shirt factory and you’re rich because of it. That’s the one that I get or I get. Your parents are paying for everything for you. Neither of those are correct.
Gabe Howard: Obviously, we’re preaching to the choir. Anybody listening, we want you to know that we see you. We know how hard you’re working. We know what you’re doing and we know what the rest of the world doesn’t understand. And I got to imagine that’s probably why you’re tuning in because everybody else says stupid and mean things to you. Michelle, tell people that we understand.
Michelle Hammer: We understand. I’m right here with you, and if they don’t understand you, let me know I’ll go to their house and just slap them.
Gabe Howard: But one of the things that they talk about here is that if you live with serious and persistent mental illness, you know, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, whatever, psychosis, and you’re worried about these things that there are ways to secure your assets and you do need to work with either an attorney, a financial planner. There’s conservatorships, which I don’t recommend. Again, Britney Spears had a conservatorship millionaire and look at all the problems that she had, so the rest of us are screwed. But there are things that you can do with your families, your spouses, even your friends. And when I say families, I don’t necessarily mean like mom and dad. Do you have a sibling that you trust? Do you have an aunt and uncle? And it’s boring legal bullshit mumbo jumbo. But it is worth sitting down and saying, Look, I want to make sure that I can pay my bills. I know that I have a good job, but when mental illness strikes, problems occur, or even with disability or a part time job or whatever needing help securing your assets, it’s smart to find somebody that you can trust whomever that person might be and find a lawyer. Find a way to secure it. Arrange for a power of attorney. It’s a tough conversation to have. But Gabe and Michelle are better off because of it. I have my wife watching over me. Before I was married, I had another family member watching over me. Michelle has her parents, and it sounds. I know. I hear how it sounds. People are watching over you. But you know what? I get by with a little help from my friends. It was good enough for the Beatles. It’s good enough for Gabe.
Michelle Hammer: One time my mom yelled at me because she was like, What are these charges at this place? And I was like, that was gas for the car.
Gabe Howard: The reason that she’s shocked is because you don’t own a car. You take the subway.
Michelle Hammer: That was years ago. It was years ago she starts yelling me, you spent 40 dollars here, I was like, that was for gasoline.
Gabe Howard: You were lying, weren’t you? You can’t. Yeah, I don’t even believe you.
Michelle Hammer: I wasn’t. It was gas.
Gabe Howard: You know, you sound like you sound like the husband who gets caught at the strip club trying to convince his wife that he bought her a present. No, no, honey, it’s a present for our anniversary. This says Hooters. No, no, no, no. It’s an owl. I bought you a glass owl.
Michelle Hammer: You know, it’s funny, I knew someone that worked at a strip club for like a week and they got caught because their step dad’s friend saw them walking into the strip club. Hmm. Their step dad’s friend or their stepdad? Hmm.
Gabe Howard: What does that have to do with managing your money?
Michelle Hammer: I’m just saying it’s kind of like that who really saw her walk into the strip club.
Gabe Howard: It does it does remind me of the asking for a friend. Uh huh.. Yeah,
Michelle Hammer: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: Yeah.
Michelle Hammer: Oh, my friend
Gabe Howard: Yeah.
Michelle Hammer: Wants to know what is that itching and burning sensation? My friend wants to know.
Gabe Howard: Sincerely, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have to have conversations about the things that might get us in trouble before they get us in trouble. And a big big takeaway from Gabe and Michele is that we have both screwed up so badly. There’s so much more that we could share. But do you have any like last minute like financial tips or advice to give to people that are listening something that maybe you wish you would have known before you made the mistake?
Michelle Hammer: I wish I would have communicated better with my parents about starting my business schizophrenic NYC, because when I spent $500 on getting shirts made, they called up my doctor and said, what is she doing? Why is she spending all of this money? If I just communicated, it really and was more articulate about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and the reasons for it. We would have avoided it. An entire argument.
Gabe Howard: So you’re saying that a little communication goes a long way.
Michelle Hammer: I would say so.
Gabe Howard: Isn’t that like the lamest exit ever? But it’s what we got. And it’s true.
Michelle Hammer: It’s true. What can I say, it’s true, things are true, things are true. Get a Jewish father and you’re set.
Gabe Howard: Right. Well, on that note, you have been listening to a bipolar, a schizophrenic and a podcast, wherever you downloaded this episode, please subscribe or follow. It is one hundred percent free and do Gabe and Michelle a favor and tell someone about our show. Word of mouth social media text messages share the show. If you’re interested in my book, “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” just go to gabehoward.com and you can get a signed copy with free swag.
Michelle Hammer: And if you’re interested in the first clothing line started by the most awesome schizophrenic chick, go to my website at Schizophrenic.NYC.
Gabe Howard: Michelle and I both travel nationally as speakers, you can find out more information on our respective websites and hey, you want to save 10 percent on your first month of online therapy? Check out BetterHelp by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22. We will see everybody next week.
Michelle Hammer: Money, money, money.