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Christine Lagarde, first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn from the Smith College 2014 graduation where she was slated to be the commencement speaker after students and faculty began protesting her inclusion in the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.


How Do Couples Use Joint Accounts?

The problem is how to use the joint account. Just bills? Groceries? Do groceries include beer from the liquor store?


Banking Using GameStop

Jason Kottke writes that an anonymous 4chan user has come up with a scheme to use video game retailer GameStop as a bank:

Does anyone else use Gamestop as a bank?

I got really pissed off with US Bank because I kept overdrafting my account even though I opted out, and the same thing happened with my credit union when I got a debit card.

Now whenever I get paid I go preorder a whole shitload of games. Whenever I need money, I go to the nearest gamestop and ask for my money back on a game I don’t want and make a withdrawal. The lines are shorter at gamestop than at the bank and I can trade in old games and have money go straight to my savings account. Gamestops are just as prevalent as banks in my town and I work at a mall so it’s even more convenient than running an errand to the bank or using an ATM and getting charged.

There are a lot of reasons why you should not do this. For one, as Bloomberg Businessweek points out, GameStops are not FDIC-insured, meaning if the company goes out of business there’s no guarantee a customer would get her money back. Other obvious problems: You could only take out money during store hours, and if you write a rent check you’ll still need a regular bank to process it. Plus, it’s just really weird for you to use a video game store as your bank.

Photo: Stephan Mosel


Meet John Munson, a Man Behind the Man Behind @GSElevator

Those who watch Twitter from a certain, occasionally perplexed vantage point took note recently as a long-running mystery was solved. John LeFevre, a former bond trader living in Texas, “was exposed” as the creator of @GSElevator (Goldman Sachs Elevator Gossip). The account passed along supposedly overheard sour nothings (more braggadocio and bon mots than actual gossip) straight from the black heart of America’s favorite financial institution to 647,000 followers. According to Dealbook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, the identity of the gossip monger became the subject of a Wall Street “parlor game”: just who was GSElevator, and why would he risk his no-doubt lucrative career by sharing co-workers’s private (if insensitive) musings?


Nothing Leprechaun Gold Can Stay: Financial Lessons From “Harry Potter”

• Witches and wizards apparently operate in a cash only society. Maybe you too can get by without a credit card!

• “One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” –Dumbledore, who should start celebrating Hannukah

• The wizarding world does not seem capitalist; in fact, it seems barely post-industrial, perhaps in line with JRR Tolkien’s shire. Everyone is pretty happy even though no one makes it onto Forbes’ Fictional 15. More leaning back, drinking butterbeer, and watching Quidditch for us all.

• 1 Galleon = 17 Sickles = 493 Knuts. This must be mocking the pre-1971 British currency system, where 2 farthings = 1 half-penny, 12 pence = 1 shilling, 5 shillings = 1 Crown, and so on. Decimalization FTW.

• Keep your money safe by hiding it in a locked vault at the bottom of a goblin bank protected by blind dragons. Or the modern equivalent: a CD.