Here Is Your Open Thread

I leave you with a headline that needs no further explanation: Should Paid ‘Menstrual Leave’ Be a Thing?

Okay fine there is also this, from a Russian lawmaker who proposed women get two days off a month:

During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance … Strong pain induces heightened fatigue, reduces memory and work-competence and leads to colorful expressions of emotional discomfort.

He had to go and ruin it with the “fair sex” thing!

Photo via poly_cotton


54 Comments / Post A Comment

callmeprufrock (#5,158)

Hi all! Not even going to comment on that headline.

Instead, a question. I just started my first full-time job, and my salary is generous. Still, my lifestyle is low-cost and I’ve always been frugal, so I expect to have a lot of extra money per month to allocate towards savings, investments, and loan repayments. Problem is, I don’t know how to split the money.

I plan to max my 401-K contribution, so that is a given. I also, naturally, need to pay my minimum loan payments. But how to balance investing and loan repaying? My loan debt is smallish, about 1/4 of my annual salary+bonus. My instinct is to pay it back as quickly as humanly possible because debt scares me, and I don’t want to work this corporate day job forever. AND YET. My loan interest rates are pretty low (half 4% and half 6.5%, adding up to about $2/day), lower than my expected rate of return on a 2/3 high-risk, 1/3 low-risk investment portfolio. While I’m young and living cheaply and have no dependents, I want to invest aggressively (a la Early Retirement Extreme, my personal finance book du jour). Should I split my surplus income equally between savings, extra loan payments, and investing? Some other balance? Pay down the loans as fast as possible and start investing later?

Your opinions are welcome!

Allison (#4,509)

@callmeprufrock this is a hard one! My first instinct is also pretty much KILL THE DEBT but that’s silly if the rates are significantly lower than your projected investment. It is nice to get rid of them though and once they’re gone that money is freed up every month.

And then there’s the question of how important liquidity is to you for regular savings etc. You could always do a 40/20/40 between investing, debt and savings and then if savings is looking super surplus-y, throw extra at your loans. (and take the tax credit on the interest paid off)

tl;dr WHO KNOWS, try stuff, if it doesn’t feel right, try different stuff?

callmeprufrock (#5,158)

@Allison Good advice, all! Liquidity isn’t a top priority since I have family nearby to assist in case of an emergency, but I do want to achieve a 3-months-of-expenses nest egg in cash savings over the next year or two.

peutetre (#2,641)

@callmeprufrock Congrats on the job! Totally agree that it makes sense to have a little nest egg/for comfort levels before you get too worried about the debt/investment split.

As for that, you might want to consider how much the peace of mind having your debt repaid is worth to you, personally. This is something I think about a lot. Of course you want to split it somewhat, but there’s something to be said about knocking out your debt while you’re sure you have a well-paying job (which you hope lasts a long time, but who knows?), known expenses (in the future you may have, like, a surprise kid, or surprise other expenses that force you to reallocate your money), etc. Another thing to consider is that while the money you’ll earn investing in your preferred split on average, over a long enough period of time, is PROBABLY X%, your debt is DEFINITELY going to be Y%, over a known period of time. On the other hand, the earlier you invest, the more time you have to earn your return on that. But it sounds like your debt would take you a short enough period of time to repay that you could throw (making up percentages here) 70% of your money at it and 30% at investments after you get to your savings goals, and soon be able to throw 100% of your money at investments while you’re still young.

Sorry that this was all over the place! Those are some of the things I’ve personally been considering lately, since I’m in a similar decision-making spot.

callmeprufrock (#5,158)

@peutetre This is a super helpful, thank you! I definitely need to keep in mind the potential for surprises–kid, job loss, other life changes. Assuming that I will be investing for a long time over my life (inshallah), the difference between starting in 2014 and 2015 isn’t that huge. But being debt-free in 2015 versus, like, 2018? That is kind of big, to me anyway.

Decisions! Good luck with your own.

boringbunny (#3,260)

@callmeprufrock You’re maxing out your 401k so you’re already investing (~$18k/year pretax is nothing to sneeze at). You just started your job so I would build a nest egg first – 1 month of living expenses – because why live paycheck to paycheck if you don’t have to? The economy is still volatile and emergencies come up, even if you have family nearby. After that, I would pay off the 6.5% loan. 6.5% is a pretty high interest rate and it would be hard to beat in the market. After that, I would split the money between saving to have 3 months of expenses and a Roth IRA, assuming your salary isn’t too high to qualify and chip slowly away at the 4% loan. Investing is great but again, you’re already investing by contributing to your 401k. Try to make your money make your life less stressful before you put it in volatile markets.

sherlock (#3,599)

@callmeprufrock Your situation is pretty similar to mine, though my debt was a little bit higher (more like 50% of annual salary.) I took a similar approach to what it sounds like you’re doing and other are suggesting. I started out contributing 10% to my 401k, and saved up $10k in emergency savings. From there, I started aggressively paying off the debt, not adding to savings at all except the 401k. Once my debt was gone (after about two years), I kicked up my 401k contributions to 15%, and put a few thousand dollars in a high-yield fund to start getting the benefits of compounding as soon as possible. Since then, I’ve been pretty conservative with investing my additional savings, but that’s mainly because I’ll be going back to school soon so will need to access that money.

I know that wasn’t specific advice, but hopefully it will be somewhat applicable to the situation!

@fo (#839)

@callmeprufrock: “My loan interest rates are pretty low (half 4% and half 6.5%, adding up to about $2/day), lower than my expected rate of return on a 2/3 high-risk, 1/3 low-risk investment portfolio.”

You expect that a blended risk investment portfolio will return over 6.5% *after tax*, *after fees* (ie around 9%) on a reliable, multi-year basis? Paying off debt is like getting a tax- and fee-free return equal to your interest rate.

That said, I would *strongly* suggest not putting 100% of your “investment” funds into early payoff of the 6.5% loan. If I could go back in time, I would re-allocate some debt-repayment to investment making, even if only ~10% of the total annual “savings” piece of the pie.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

Hey Guys! This is related to nothing but now that the weather is improving (today notwithstanding for those in the northeast) Is there any interest in doing a Billfold meetup. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I think it’d be fun to informally get together some afternoon and grab a frugal drink somewhere. Anyone else down? I’m in the New York area.

Julie (#5,374)

@EvanDeSimone I’m in Chicago, but I’ve thought about this, too — the people here are pretty awesome, and I’d love to see Billfold meetups become a thing.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Julie We’ve had them in the past once or twice but I wasn’t able to go. It would be great to see it start up again.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Julie That would be amazing… you know, in case I’m ever in an area where I’m not the only Billfold reader for 100 miles.

Cash 4 Cats (#6,089)

@EvanDeSimone I’m in NY as well and would definitely go to a meetup! Depending on where everyone is coming from, we could easily find a cheap happy hour with $1 oysters or some such treats.

calamity (#2,577)

@EvanDeSimone I’m in DC and I really want to go to a meetup. It’s come up in the comment section a couple times and honestly, at this point I’d even organize it myself …

heygirl (#4,726)

@Julie I’m also in Chicago!

Julie (#5,374)

@heygirl Hey, what’s up, fellow Chicagoan!

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Cash 4 Cats My thoughts exactly! Unless you want to roadtrip it to Chicago since apparently that’s where everyone else lives :P

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@EvanDeSimone @all Yes, a meet up would be fun! I’m also in DC.

Cash 4 Cats (#6,089)

@EvanDeSimone Think of all the $$ we’d save on a Billfold road trip! It would be a voyage home for me since I, too, am from Chicago :P

aproprose (#1,832)

@EvanDeSimone Chicagooooooooooooo!

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Cash 4 Cats Well I’ve never been to Chicago…So i guess I’m down? We could write about our Billfold roadtrip…for THE BILLFOLD!

Cash 4 Cats (#6,089)

@EvanDeSimone Haha, possibly! I thought that there were more NY-based Billfolders. Where are you guys??

Ron White (#6,684)

@EvanDeSimone cheers Evan, longtime reader here in Mareeba QLD would love to meet up with bilfold readers in oz, maybe crack some tinnies and have a chinwag about all the 1 things we never accomplished haha alright well this has been fun. cheers, Ron.

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

@EvanDeSimone Oh, meetups. I’d love a DC one, DC friends.

joyballz (#2,000)

@EvanDeSimone I’m in Chicago. I will come to or help plan a meetup!

Julie (#5,374)

@joyballz Hey, I think you, me, @heygirl, and @aproprose were the Chicagoans that commented on this thread. I’m totally down to help plan a meetup.

joyballz (#2,000)

@Julie @heygirl @apropose weekday evenings after work and sunday afternoons work best for me. I work in the west loop and live in lakeview, but I’m willing to travel to the land of wickerpark/bucktown/elsewhere if it’s most convenient.

A sort of central location suggestion that has patio seating is Zella’s. I know nothing about their deals/specials though.

Julie (#5,374)

@joyballz @heygirl @apropose Sunday afternoons are good for me, too. I live in Lincoln Square and work out in the suburbs, so usually after work it’s hard for me to go out. I’ve never been to Zella’s, but it’s within walking distance of the Brown Line, which works for me!

Allison (#4,509)

I had a moment today where I thought about how cool the modern banking/payment processing system is and felt like a giant nerd, so naturally I thought of The Billfold.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Allison Electronic banking as a whole has made money so ephemeral, it really underscores the fact that its value is arbitrary and imaginary.

Allison (#4,509)

@EvanDeSimone my thought was literally something along the lines of “man, you used to not be able to write a check outside of your home state!” and I was thinking really old timey, until I remembered that my mom had her driver’s license number memorized to write on checks, because I guess they used that to hunt you down if it bounced?

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Allison That was definitely a thing. I used to work in a bank, we still have outstanding files of customers the wrote bad checks in the 70′s.

burdock (#771)

I just want to note that in Zambia, “women’s day” is a thing. It’s an extra day off that women get to take once a month. Traditionally it’s the first day of your period, but people just tack it on as an extra holiday.

callmeprufrock (#5,158)

@burdock I had no idea! Thanks for teaching me something new.

Conks (#6,679)

I made an account just to pose this question! Also, I love The Billfold.

I remember reading something about free credit checks that won’t affect your credit score, something like you can do it once a year. Does anyone remember that resource?

Thank you!

beet hummus (#946)

I believe you want


Conks (#6,679)

Ah, thank you, Beet Hummus! I’m getting ready to move back to NYC and freaking out a bit. This is helpful!

callmeprufrock (#5,158)

@Conks *opens arms* Welcome back!

Conks (#6,679)

Thanks, CallMePrufrock. I like your name:)

sarahsayssoo (#4,237)

Did y’all all read this article from earlier today?

sarahsayssoo (#4,237)

@garli but i didn’t find it depressing. i found it so hopeful. these tiny, small, cheap changes can be made and it will change everything for lots and lots of kids.

also, i sometimes forget but i shouldn’t, to be proud of my state for the top 10% rule. it really is an ingenious piece of legislation

hopeyglass (#3,298)

Hi Billfold, been a while!

Basically I just graduated with my Master’s and all of a sudden I’m freaking out. I’m contract with the university until the end of June, not making too much but definitely enough to survive and maybe make a little pocket money. Before I started this program, I worked and due to obscenely cheap living expenses as well as miserhood, managed to save up a bunch and threw about 8 grand into a Roth IRA.

Basically my parents, who my relationship with money came from (it is… not a good one) threw money in it before me. I do not like asking them for money. I am also feeling just… not great about the fact that I do not have a real job and like maybe it will be post college where I was unemployed for a long time. So I went to Schwab today and withdrew a big chunk to tide me over.

I didn’t tell anyone and I haven’t done anything with the Roth since I’ve had it, but somehow it feels better to be using my money right now? But then I was thinking, shit, maybe I should DO something with it because… I never have?

Anyway, I don’t know what advice I’m asking, but I kinda just needed to tell the internet. Also I started grad school to widen the job options and lately it feels like I’m exactly where I started. Yay cold Fridays.

boringbunny (#3,260)

@hopeyglass I withdrew a lot of money from my Roth IRA to pay for law school and it terrified me (the withdrawing and also how much law school cost). I wouldn’t necessarily listen to all those financial advice-givers who say “DON’T EVER TAKE MONEY FROM YOUR RETIREMENT!!” Sometimes it’s the right thing to do for your life.

I was underemployed for a while a year after college and it’s the worst but you have to have hope that it’ll get better. I laugh at myself sometimes about how I thought my life was over when I got a B in high school or when I had lost a library book (in my defense, that was in elementary school. I was an extremely anxious child). Time passes, your circumstances change. Often it improves.

Hang in there.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

It’s getting into layoff season at my employer, and I’m starting to feel really anxious. (Layoff season is not really a thing, but this is the time when they start projecting for FY 2015 and making decisions about who stays and who goes). I’m trying to remain calm and broaden my portfolio, but I’m still thinking about it. A lot.

I have enough in my savings account – finally! – to cover 3 months rent and basic expenses. I’ve been paying double or triple the minimum on my loans every month, but now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t go back to paying the minimum and stocking more away in my savings account. Thoughts?

Allison (#4,509)

@LookUponMyWorks going to be a broken record on this thread but: you can always save for now and when you go back to feeling job secure (fingers crossed) you can throw extra at your loans!

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

@LookUponMyWorks I always prioritize savings over loan repayment when the future feels insecure – mathematically it may not be optimal, but it helps a lot for peace of mind and flexibility.

garli (#4,150)

Regarding that link, if we’re all gonna make less money anyway I’d like some more paid days off with out touching my PTO.

@garli I like the way you think!

@fo (#839)

“He had to go and ruin it with the “fair sex” thing!”

Google translate sez there are two russian words/phrases which translate to “fair sex”, one of which also translates just as “women”, so it *may* be the translator who ruined it.

I’m applying for summer jobs at national parks and surrounding resorts/ranches(I know, it’s a bit late to start looking)and so far I’ve had a few phone interviews, mostly with smaller ranches in Utah and Colorado. I would love to go to Colorado, but I’m a little worried with the lack of diversity I’ve seen on the websites and Facebook pages of most of the places that have bothered to contact me. There are literally no people of color anywhere to be found. I’m black, and so far I’ve had one interview where the interviewer assumed I was white and said some questionable things about Latinos. Any tips on how to bring up the subject of diversity in phone interviews? Does anyone have experience with seasonal tourists jobs, specifically ones where you had to live in dorms?

@lizpurrtheteendream I can’t comment on the seasonal jobs, but my husband is black and foreign and he said the place he felt most comfortable in the USA on his first, multi-city trip there was Denver, for whatever thats worth. It may not be hugely diverse in rural areas but Denver has a fair amount of diversity (immigrants, academic community)…I guess he felt maybe it was less diverse than say, DC, where he also visited, but Walking Around While Black felt less freighted than certain areas of DC or LA.

As for the interview, my advice is go with your gut—obviously questionably racist guy you probably don’t want to work for if you can help it. Maybe other interviews it will feel natural to ask? I am thinking something like, “i’m curious about my potential colleagues – are they a pretty diverse group?” or “-what kind of backgrounds/experience do they have”? and let interviewer interpret that as they may. Curious what other Billfolders advise…


Great advice. Thanks.

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