The End of Signatures at the Checkout Counter

I have three different signatures that I use:

• My full name in legible cursive, which I use when signing personal checks and legal documents
• An abbreviated version of my name, which I use when signing anything digitally
• A scribble, which I use when I’m signing receipts for various merchants


Russian Bank Loans Both Money and Cats

Here’s a heartwarming piece of financial news, which I also saw first on Jezebel:

In Russia, when you move into a new home, it is considered good luck if a cat is the first creature to cross the home’s threshold.

Russian bank Sberbank wants to make sure its customers are the luckiest people ever, so it is now loaning out cats to customers who take out new mortgages. You get the cat for two hours, during which time it crosses your threshold and gives you the good luck that all new homeowners deserve.

Even if you don’t speak or read Russian, take the time to check out the bank’s special “cat promotion” website. There’s an adorable video that explains the process:

There’s also a gallery of the 10 available cats and the number of thresholds each of them has crossed. (Yes, there is even a hairless cat for people who have allergies.)

Who here wishes their bank would also loan out cats? There was that time last year where Uber loaned people kittens, but we could all benefit from greater access to the cat loan economy.

Not to mention all that good luck.

Photo: Bob Mical


The Bank of America Has To Pay Actual America $17 Billion

Everyone’s least favorite bank (just me?) has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice, as the Wall Street Journal reports. It is the biggest effing settlement the U.S. has ever made with a single corporation, and is equal to three years of the bank’s profits.


The Language of Money

John Lanchaster wrote a novel called Capital, set in London before and after the 2008 financial crisis. As one would imagine, he learned a lot about finance in the writing of it. He has a very Billfold-y piece in this week’s New Yorker about decoding the alienating language of money: “It is potent and efficient, but also exclusive and excluding.”


The Fraud Alert Specialist Who Calmed My Nerves

I have it set up so that I receive an instant email alert any time I withdrawal more than $100 from an ATM, so you can imagine my horror when I received a few of these messages yesterday while I was at work and not withdrawing money from an ATM.


Account Joined

When we got home, though, I started to freak out. Not freak out because now our money was intertwined and swiftly dwindling and SOMEONE didn’t pay the electric bill for a few months and so one of the first charges was like $200, which was historically something I wouldn’t have been aware of. No, I decided to channel my anxiety of our ever-increasing co-dependence into the fact that this account was HIS account and not mine. I was simply on it.


How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing

He doesn’t need my money. The church will continue to exist without my measly portion of income. But my heart needs to give it.


My No-Bullshit Hiring History: Kitchens, Concert Halls, Banks and More

In addition to handing out programs, I scheduled the other ushers and occasionally ran the sound booth. Perks included choice hours and the ability to wear colors. The highlight of this job was meeting Aretha Franklin backstage. She called me Stewart and asked me to bring her a hamburger.


Another Commencement Speaker Down, Hundreds To Go

Smith College is the latest in a string of universities to scramble for a replacement commencement speaker after IMF director Christine Lagarde succumbed to pressure to back down:

Christine Lagarde, first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn from the Smith College 2014 graduation where she was slated to be the commencement speaker after students and faculty began protesting her inclusion in the ceremony. … Lagarde is one of many commencement speakers to get the boot in the past year. Recently, Condoleeza Rice canceled her Rutgers University commencement address after students protested her presence due to her involvement in the Iraq war and Brandeis University reneged on plans to award an honorary degree to women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsa Ali because of her controversial and negative stance on Islam.

This plague of, as Slate puts it, “elite college students protesting elite commencement speakers,” is not only toppling right-leaning ladies. Former chancellor of UC Berkeley Robert Birgeneau was slated to speak at Haverford before he withdrew.

Do you even remember your Commencement speaker? Did you feel entitled to have one you agreed with? Mine was the relatively low-profile but intelligent author of The Paradox of Choice and he gave a remarkably useful address about how we should make decisions over the rest of our lives. At my brothers’ various graduations, I’ve gotten to hear from Ted Kennedy (RIP) and James Carville. As much fun as those events were, neither man left me with anything I remembered the next day. I’m thrilled that when I wearing a cap and gown I got life advice from someone worth listening to.

photo via US Army


Dear Bank: I’m Breaking Up With You

Dear Marie:

It was with mixed emotions that I read your letter, in which you wrote that Liberty Bank values its relationship with me. I must confess to some serious misgivings concerning that relationship and the bank’s true feelings.