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Open Thread

This seemed to work last week, so we’re going to try having this again!


Photo: jfrancis


43 Comments / Post A Comment

Amanda T (#1,842)

This was mentioned last week, but in case someone missed it:

If you are interested in meal-planning, food, recipes, and food budgeting, please feel welcome to come join us at the Billfold Meal-Planning Google Group!

Part of the reason we started this is because most menu/meal planning sites seem to be pretty disappointing/aimed at a different demographic, so if you feel the same and would like a place to share ideas with other people similar to you (single/couple, no kids, on a budget, like exciting/good food), please feel welcome to come join us and take ideas/share your ideas ad nauseum :)

alpacasloth (#108)

@Amanda T Thanks to everyone who posted recipes – I bookmarked a bunch last weekend and made two for lunch and dinners this week!

Grant@twitter (#978)

So. Engagement. How does this work? When do we combine our finances? Do we combine our finances?

@Grant@twitter My fiance and I set up a joint account for rent and bills, and we’re building from there. It works pretty well — I set up my my share of rent plus a little extra to go out of my paycheck immediately, something I was never successfully able to do on my own. I might up my contribution and start doing groceries from there soon, too.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

@Grant@twitter You should read this great Slate series from awhile ago: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/home_economics/2011/01/our_newlywed_money_dilemma.html
I’m not in a relationship but I found it totally fascinating.

Mike Dang (#2)

@Grant@twitter This piece by Bowen was also very good and helpful.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@stuffisthings Nosy, I know, but when did you get engaged?? I recently remember your lady being referred to as “girlfriend”…

Morbo (#1,236)

You don’t. Been married for ten years, never did.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Morbo Oh thank goodness, someone after my own heart. (To be fair, my complete lack of desire to merge finances with my partner might be influenced by how badly it went for me when I merged finances with my ex-husband…)

OhMarie (#299)

@Grant@twitter I think stuffisthings has good advice. Personally, my husband and I have 100% combined finances at this point, and that works wonderfully for us. However, I think it’s more practical to combine finances gradually. It’s both easier from a simple having to open and close accounts perspective and lets you guys kind of ease into it to figure out what level of financial intermingling you want.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@Grant@twitter We have mostly separate finances, but a joint account for rent, groceries, etc. We’re pretty happy with our system. Do whatever you feel comfortable with!

readyornot (#816)

@Grant@twitter You totally make the call whether you combine finances, and I think the some-shared, some-separate advice above makes for a good first step. I’m here to endorse the eventual, fully combined finances. It’s what my husband and I do, it’s extremely simple, and it makes us a unit. Financially. Emotionally came already. We merged while we were engaged.

Joint checking account, two joint savings accounts, joint brokerage account, two joint credit cards (for different rewards). Both salaries go into the joint checking account, out of which we pay credit card bills, rent, utilities. Bimonthly automatic transfers into each of the savings accounts. Pre-tax withholding for retirement savings accounts.

Before we merged, we sat down with, like, bank statements and pay stubs. We figured up our monthly necessary-for-living expenses, which was about half of our take-home. Purchases beyond what’s necessary? I dunno, we’re pretty in sync. We talk about anything big, durable or consumable, like furnishings, electronics, celebratory meals, or travel. We track in Mint, and we check in with a spreadsheet around the end of the calendar year.

I think it’s worth noting that neither of us had any debt (credit card, student, or car) before we married. Together we earn more than we need. We save a lot. I think it’s probably a smoother transition to all-one-pot finances when the pot is comfortably sized.

@Lauren Getting married Feb. 8, thanks! (We’ve been talking about it for a while.)

My boss scheduled a Friday happy hour on Monday afternoon — it was already clear it was going to be that kind of week. So I think it’s time to go drink!

ThatJenn (#916)

I’m trying to implement a rule of one fun, free thing with friends every weekend. The good thing is my friends are all also low on cash and also into board games and light snacks, literally every weekend, which is what I like, but I’m also trying to figure out other fun things to do that are basically free. (It’s okay if there are some small supplies to buy, like food ingredients.) Bonus points if it can be done at home, since we have multiple small children/babies involved and that means being out in public for long periods of time is a little more stressful, but we do also all like being outside.

readyornot (#816)

@ThatJenn Music swap? Marmalade making? Valentine cookie decorating? Watch the inauguration (except I think you might be Canadian, but I forget.)

In my town, in this season, everyone piles in to watch a screener. Or goes to the park because it’s going to be highs of 80 degrees F this weekend!

I’ve had a question that I’ve been waiting to crowdsource on the Billfold all week! One of my co-workers is selling Girl Scout cookies at the office on behalf of his daughter. So, I went googling to see what varieties they have out this year, and on the Girl Scouts website they really encourage you to buy directly from Girl Scouts and specifically NOT their parents. I mean, I get it, Girl Scouts is about making girls skilled and independent and selling cookies teaches them how to manage money. But, as a child, I was painfully shy and HATED talking to strange adults, and I’ve grown out of it and turned into a perfectly normal talkative person. I guess my question is: should I just go ahead and buy them from the co-worker, or is it really important to seek out a real, live Girl Scout?

cryptolect (#1,135)

@eternaloctopus Maybe his daughter could come in on Monday and make the rounds? That is, if you don’t have the day off.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@eternaloctopus I don’t know the answer, but I feel you! I just ordered one box from a coworker, so I’m sure to have them, but also semi-plan to get at least one more from Actual Girls on the street at some point. (They often set up in/near subway stations here.)

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@eternaloctopus They’re Girl Scout cookies. Get them however you can! Buy cases! Hide them from your children! CHERISH THESE GIFTS.

@cryptolect I did consider that option, but we do have Monday off, mostly because I live in DC and commuting in from the ‘burbs will be a nightmare. I don’t feel any particular loyalty to buying from him/his daughter, I’m more just wondering in general how much I should support parents doing these things for their kids. On the one hand, it’s great and easy and benefits us as co-workers. On the other hand, I think there is a lesson of independence to be learned by doing it yourself. My parents were big proponents of me doing things by myself, but then again I was terrified to even order pizza until I was about 16, so they were probably desperately trying to pull me out of my shell.

I looked online and there are several places and times around where I live where Actual Girls will be selling, so I will probably end up doing that. I’m just interested to hear others’ opinions!

@MuffyStJohn Oh man, that is so true. Luckily I don’t have kids and my boyfriend doesn’t like sweets (muahaha more for me).

@eternaloctopus As a former Girl Scout and now leader I have to say: buy them.

One of the ideas behind cookie sales (besides making $$ for the troop) is for the girls to get out there and interact with adults and handle money and all that jazz. But it is pretty much universally acknowledged that every parent takes their girl’s cookie form to work. My parents did, for sure, but then I also walked around the neighborhood and called relatives on the phone. Ideally, this isn’t the only selling the girl is doing, so yeah, go for it and order them from your coworker.

alpacasloth (#108)

@eternaloctopus Buy a box or two (or three or four…) from the coworker, then buy another box or two from a real live girl scout. They’re usually outside grocery stores for a few weekends or going door to door. As a former girl scout, I was really thankful that my parents took their forms to work and hawked them there. I hated selling door to door.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@MuffyStJohn @eternaloctopus, I second that. Acquire cookies at all costs. Seriously though, I appreciate that the GSA want Girls Scouts to actually sell the cookies themselves, but venues for that are really limited since they also discourage them going door to door for safety reasons. To be honest, when i buy something from my coworkers kids it’s more me trying to do a solid for my coworker than for their kids anyway.

sparrow303 (#1,641)

@eternaloctopus As a kid, my mom wouldn’t bring the form around for me– I had to sell all of my own cookies. When I moved to Chicago as an adult, I felt like parents who were selling for their kids were cheating, as I’d been told as a child– until our secretary informed me that it’s a very common practice in Chicago, since in many neighborhoods it’s not safe for the children to go door-to-door.

TLDR: Buy moar cookies!

blueblazes (#1,798)

@eternaloctopus I’m right there with you. I remember dreading cookie season each year because I HATED going door to door and talking to strangers and asking for money. Still do, which is why I am a writer and not in retail.I always get that “this is cheating” vibe when parents do the shilling for the kids, but the truth is that I wish my parents had done it for me. And it’s not like I am going to Not Eat Thin Mints just because people aren’t forcing their kids to sell them to me directly. Some painfully shy child will thank you in years to come for buying from her parents and saving her from the panic attacks.

readyornot (#816)

Does the Open Thread mean no more Real Talk with Mike and Logan, or was that just superseded this week by Logan and “Martha?” It’s, like, my favorite thing on the site. Also just one thing. Logan, are you still sick? Feel better! Everyone else had better sick secrets than I do. Mine is just loads of zinc, loads of sleep, and an excuse to have ginger ale and matzo ball soup from the Jewish deli.

Harriet Welch (#127)

It’s going to be an expensive weekend in the Welch household.

My husband is out of town on a bachelor party trip. I kind of hate that his social circle INSISTS on this stupid thing. We’ve spent more than 1k on trips where they drink at bars and go to strip clubs. WHY do 10 dudes need to sleep in a multi-thousand dollar rental home to do this? I am a little resentful of so much of our travel/entertainment budget going to this.

So, the deal is that $500 can go to the trip, but I get $100 to blow on pedicures and booze so that I can more happily deal with being left alone with my crazy MIL for four days.

Er… um, I hate to be that Gawker recently-illuminated niece who’s learned about her aunt’s recent amaaazing biz endeavor and want’s to share the info with you….!!!

buuuuut, I’ve um, had an idea I’ve been kicking around and I need a business-minded partner to work with.

I’ll post on the Hairpin, too (sorry ladies, I hope you don’t mind too much!) since that seems to be a niche pocket on the ‘nets for me [smart, overeducated, not-too-self-seriously-taking women, basically civilized, intelligent, open-minded and discerning] but seems approps (in the same, inappropriate, way) on the billfold, too.

I can do the biz proposal thing (with varying degrees of success, not that I have done, I just know my skill set). I have knows some quite charismatic people, friends from high school became a disability rights activist and a human rights activist (incorporating agit-prop) in a troubled country, respectively (yes, I only had two friends), adult bfs have travelled world with famous international underground/backpack hip-hop mc, shown in moma, and a few other notable accomplishments (still have like 5 friends). Friends of friends are mostly artist types so I’m taking it to the www to seek out an ethical business or “systems theory” type person interested/in need of a new project.

Ha ha, not like I’ll necessarily find it (though if you know anybody who might fit the bill, any oddball characters who have been seeking some collaborations generally, or, if perhaps you’re interested….)

My extended network contains mostly artist-types, but this effort needs a more pragmatic sort of person, and it’s not something I’ll follow-thru/carry off by myself. I personally don’t find money very motivating, but I’m highly motivated by creativity. I’m sane, got people who will vouch for me, try to be a reasonable person, and I’m smartish. Impetus behind this particular biz idea is not primarily money, that’s more of an offshoot, however it’s purely business-oriented.

I realize it’s bad form to solicit business partners off the internet on a more social media/content type site (yes, I’m calling the billfold et al social media/new media), but I hope you will forgive me for breaking protocol in an ernest attempt to take the internet offline into real life (j/k, it’s still totally online – but I’m located in nyc and it’d be cool to meet someone local -tho totally not crucial).

My other avenue is local meetups; so far have had super-awesome results with coding meetups, and horrible results with a philosophy meetup, so mixed results. I can only imagine what the entrepreneurial-type meetups are like with some trepidation…! But generally timing can always make things work. Speaking of which, this idea is very time-relevant.

So, here’s hoping, fingers crossed… you can contact me at my user name at the google mail.


Or, I should amend that and say, please contact me at the above address if you are in any way interested or know someone who might be. While I personally am not very motivated by money, it is [insert pithy comment here about the relevance/importance of money]

Here’s my quick google search:

“As a financial advisor, money is certainly something I spend a lot of time thinking about. In many ways, it has become, perhaps erroneously, the ultimate measuring stick for just about everything in our culture. When I give financial seminars, I often ask people what money means to them, and I usually get a similar range of replies: freedom … security … opportunity … power. I rarely ever hear the standard dictionary definition, which is that money is simply a means of exchange, or that money is meant to be the current, or currency, by which productivity flows. By this definition, one could argue that the movement of money is much more important than its acquisition.

I recently learned that the root word for money in the Hebrew language is flow. That really blew me away, because it was something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. There is nothing we can really do to create money because money is just a flow. This flow is what lies at the root of capitalism—but capitalism and money in and of themselves are neutral. There is no inherent action to either of them. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t have money, but we all know of plenty of people that are miserable and have more money than they know what to do with. So for us as a society, perhaps the measure of money as success is really our own fault. ”

(Haven’t read the rest yet, but it’s a niceish start to a blog post)…

so anyways, call me (email me) maybe?


aetataureate (#1,310)

@anamnesisExegesis It seems like low-hanging fruit, but if you’re seriously looking to find partners (or investors or job opportunities or anything, really), I would demonstrate that by writing a serious, thoughtful, well constructed proposition. It shouldn’t be far from a cover letter in terms of grammar and clarity.


I was hoping that I could “be sincere” (rather than “highly constructed”) and that would hit a note with someone.

If I tore out my soul, I could put in the effort to package this “correctly” in your view. You may have noticed…. there’s tons of people who can do that? I can’t count the number of people who I’ve met who sell shitty products (software or otherwise), who know their products are crap, but who can word their crap in very pleasing saleable ways, and people will buys it (intentional sic).

While I see (and I guess appreciate?) your point about shaping a message, I think in the larger context here you are not actually trying to be “helpful” so much as expressing a wee bit of contempt (do you feel better after getting that out of your system?). Cover letters are the bullshittiest things ever, and grammar vs. typo’s are a pretty well-known phenomenon on the internet.

As for clarity, that’s all me. I am not known for my clarity but then again if you’re willing to travel with me on a rambly journey then you will (I can almost guarantee) find the journey pretty cool. I’ve got a great compass! (If not the most wonderful way with words….)

Still though, by downing me with your “helpful suggestion” you tip the scales against someone responding who might have. That kind of critique, in context, is not anything more than you expressing your displeasure at something that you view as substandard, and offends your sensibilities as such. Here’s my critique back to you. Actually, never mind, I doubt you’d hear it. Thanks for expressing yourself. Personally I would rather come across my honest if inept expression, than your “correct” but more wronger one. It’s just more interesting, even if there are a few errors in grammar. I kind of put myself out there, and I was embarrassed but risked it. Thanks for shooting me down! Or maybe you’re offering your services (or can point me to someone) who can “craft” my message? And I’ve totally misunderstood you and you are really a super supportive person? Your message sounded bitchy and not nurturing is what I’m saying. Which really isn’t the message you probably want to put out there. I’d rather be a hot mess full of interesting ideas than a bitchy critique of others’ maybe enfeebled efforts to engage with a world that’s basically pretty corrupt and founded on unsustainable practices (practices that one wouldn’t even want to sustain, that don’t create a happy, serious, thoughtful, well constructed citizenry, no matter how “professionally” their propositions are worded.)

By writing your helpful comment you have pretty much guaranteed that any random weirdo who might have thought hey! I’ll take a chance and reach out, will not do so because you’ve branded me unprofessional. Which: obvs. Was it really so necessary to state the obvious? Maybe I’m the weird creative type with a bangin idea who needs someone to help reign me in a bit? Oh why internet gods, did you send me this message? Forcing me to do this dry shit that I really cannot do? And no I’m not whining!


aetataureate (#1,310)

@anamnesisExegesis1 Whoa whoa whoa. I assumed you’d be making this proposal by other avenues too, and the advice is strictly constructive. You didn’t give a general explanation of what your idea is, any of the ballpark of what the other person is expected to do, etc. It’s certainly not about your spirit or expression or whatever. You have to say what you want or people won’t know what you want. Never said you were unprofessional, merely prompted you for clarity of language and message. I’m sorry you hate cover letters, which are the closest professional-world analogs to persuasive essays. If those things are the enemy, though, then anyone who’s discouraged by my comments probably isn’t your speed anyway. No harm no foul.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

<3 the actual thread.
OK - if it's not too late, can I create a thread for people who quit their jobs to study part-time and didn't have another job to go straight into?
I need uplifting stories/advice!

Lily Rowan (#70)

@TARDIStime This is not quite the same situation, but I got let go from my job when I was considering grad school, so I just went right away, full-time. The good news coming out was I had a shiny new credential AND lots of confidence from feeling smart in school. I basically got the first job I interviewed for, after. And it paid enough more than my previous job to allow me to pay off the grad school loans.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@TARDIStime When I went back to grad school, I was able to get a part time position with the company I had been working for full time. A semester in, I landed an assistantship and quit the part time job. Now I’m graduating in May and wondering if I should have stuck with the part time job since it was at least tangentially in my field, even though I would have needed to borrow more money without the assistantship tuition waiver. Oh, hindsight!

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@everyone Thanks!
How did you pay your bills while studying?
I don’t have the option of parental help or student welfare (I checked and I don’t qualify for student welfare because Mr TARDIStime makes too much money ["too much money" being minimum wage for one person - so not sure how that money's going to stretch to two]).
Really appreciating the input!

Lily Rowan (#70)

@TARDIStime As noted, I took out a crapload of loans, and also worked part-time.

BornSecular (#2,245)

So I’m late to this party again, but I need to know: how do I change my avatar on this site??

@BornSecular At the bottom of the comment box there’s a “Settings” link, you can change it there.

BornSecular (#2,245)

@backstagebethy Success! Thanks!

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