Business Expenses

From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant

I quit the PR assistant job after three weeks, and my dad said, “You should probably stop quitting jobs for a while.”


The Cost of Things: Freezing Your Eggs

Doree Shafrir has written a fascinating Buzzfeed confessional about deciding whether or not to freeze her eggs. One issue to consider: cost.

I told my therapist that I was considering freezing my eggs, and she said she thought it was a good idea if it would alleviate some of the anxiety I felt about dating, and I said it would but it would also cause me a different kind of anxiety because it was so expensive in New York City — thousands of dollars in tests, then thousands of dollars for the drugs to stimulate egg maturation, then thousands of dollars for the extraction of the eggs. All told I would be looking at close to $15,000 to buy myself a few years of reduced anxiety, plus $2,000 or so each year to keep them frozen. I told myself it could be amortized over, say, five years and then it didn’t seem so bad. Still, I needed to come up with the money, so I cashed in a couple of 401(k)s from short stints at other jobs that had a couple thousands dollars in them each, and put a freelance check in my savings account, and figured I would charge the rest.

How much is it worth to you to quell a real and debilitating anxiety? My mom always says, If you can solve a problem with money, it’s not a real problem. But if you have to cash in 401(K)s and run up credit card debt to give your fertility a fighting chance, you’re not solving a problem with money at all; you’re potentially impoverishing your future self to benefit your present, and trading one immediate anxiety for another eventual one.


When Life Sends You To Grenada, Make Grenadine!

A traveler who wanted to go to Granada, Spain, ended up in Grenada, the Caribbean island. He was not pleased.

After two years without a holiday and a lifetime of longing to see the architectural treasures of Granada, Edward Gamson felt he could at last relax as he sat back on a British Airways flight en route to the capital of Moorish Spain. It was only when the American dentist and his partner glanced at the electronic map on the in-flight entertainment system and noticed their plane was heading due west out of London that they became concerned something was not right. …

The mix-up initially resulted in apologies from BA staff on board the flight, and a promise that the couple would be put on the plane’s return trip to Gatwick en route to Granada. Instead, they were subjected to a further three-day ordeal which resulted in them never reaching Spain, and a refusal by BA to reimburse their £2,650 first-class tickets, and which is now the subject of a damages claim before the US courts. Mr Gamson told The Independent on Sunday: “I have a lifelong interest in Islamic art. I’m also of Spanish Jewish heritage so it was something I had always wanted to do to visit Granada and the Alhambra. I made it absolutely clear to the booking agent I wanted to go to Granada in Spain. Why on earth would I want to go to Grenada in the Caribbean if I was flying back to America from Lisbon?”

I feel you, British Airways. You just can’t please some people. Here you give them an exciting surprise, complete with beaches and sunsets and perfect weather, and they complain that they’re not touring ruins. They even refer to a spontaneous Caribbean vacation “a three-day ordeal.”

Things to do if you accidentally find yourself on some warm, heavenly shore: 1) Drink something fun. 2) Go swimming. 3) Thank your lucky stars you’re not in Jersey.


Runaway Shaming, Hair Chopping: Using Instagram For Evil

We tend to react badly when we’re denied something we’re owed. It brings out the angry toddler in us. For some enlightened Buddhist types, maybe, the tantrum takes place internally and lasts only from one breath to another. But not for most of us. If we’re lucky, no one sees the tantrum, or only a few select loving, forgiving individuals. If we’re unlucky and we can’t resist the pull of our iPhones, our tantrums make the rounds and get recorded for posterity.

Two recent news stories about people who felt cheated — and who posted their attempts to correct the injustice on Instagram – underline the way that social media can exacerbate and publicize our worst tendencies, especially when it comes to money. In one case, a hair stylist cut out a little girl’s braids after the girl’s mother gave the stylist the runaround, and then posted pictures of her handiwork, the little girl’s ravaged head. The action attracted widespread scorn because she took her anger out on the child, who wasn’t at fault, and because she put the evidence on the Internet. The stylist defended herself:

I cut the braids out and went on about my business. At the end of the day, I spent 9 hours away from my kids for nothing. Y’all wasn’t in my shoes or in my position. I have to take care of my three babies and I will do what I have to do to let it be known that I don’t play when it comes to my job or supporting my family.

Well, she has made her point: no one could mistake her for someone who messes around! In a similar vein, hopefully somehow people will also learn to avoid these employers, the Kuwaiti women who are using Instagram to track down, or at least stigmatize, their “runaway maids.”


CEO Wins Chance to get Killed By George RR Martin

In a perfect confluence of events, a wolf-loving Michigan CEO has won the right to be killed off by renowned wolf-aggrandizing author George R.R. Martin. Responding to a competitive fundraising call, Dr. Dave Cotton’s family made a $20,000 donation to a wolf-related charity in his honor — for father’s day. (Aww!)

Mike Cotton, chief operating officer of Meridian Health Plan and one of Dr. Cotton’s three sons, said his father had an affinity for wolves before he started reading Martin’s fantasy series, “A Song of Fire and Ice,” which was first published in 1996.

“We saw this crowdfunding come up online and we thought it would be perfect for his love of wolves,” Mike Cotton told ABC News. Mike’s brother, Sean, who is an administrative officer at the family-operated company, said their father loves the books and watches the HBO series “avidly.”

“He’s always referred to himself as a lone wolf,” he said of his father.


“Buy American”: Savvy or Sentimental?

A package of bills approved by the New Jersey state Senate, and moving now to the Assembly, would, if approved, “require construction firms, suppliers and other vendors under public contracts to use or supply materials produced in the United States.” Reps want the state to buy American

“Requiring the purchase of U.S.A.-made goods for public contracts is just a matter of plain economic sense,” Sweeney said in a statement this afternoon. Sweeney, an iron worker and union official, said he began looking into the issue after The Star-Ledger reported in September that imported steel was being used to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, a $1.3 billion Port Authority project financed largely by toll revenues. The bridge project is one of dozens of Port Authority construction jobs included in a 10-year capital plan worth a total of $27.6 billion.

Popular? Sure. Logical and straightforward, even obvious? Not according to Fox News:

“Buy American” is a dumb idea.


Monday Link Round-Up: Class Matters; Are Belts (and Fathers) Undervalued?

Lots of fascinating money-related reads this weekend:

+ Start-up with a dumb name (“Beltology”) thinks it can make men’s belts the next pocket square:

Mr. Heffernan, 40, approached the exercise in a way that befits an M.B.A. who had spent a year working at Bain Consulting. “We looked at the numbers, which were just staggering,” he said. “Socks, particularly colored socks, were up, gloves were up, scarves were up, even ties were up.” Everything was up, that is, except belts. “We thought, surely this is a sleeping giant,” he said.

In January, the couple launched Beltology, an online-only brand devoted to giving the least-noticed, least-talked about and least-fetishized accessory in menswear its proper place of worship. “We want to do for belts what Swatch did for the wristwatch back in [1983],” said Mr. Heffernan.


+ Progressive Manhattan private school, one that is actually and not just theoretically multi-cultural, takes children on field trips to their own very different houses:


Penny For Your Thoughts?

Contest fees, usually small amounts that can still add up quickly, are often what keep small, worthy institutions like literary magazines in business. They cover the administrative and overhead costs that are hard to raise money for otherwise, and/or they go to pay for judges; more importantly, they also serve to keep the contest from getting inundated with inappropriate entries. The higher the fee, the more you have to ask yourself, as a aspirant, “Do I really think I have a shot at winning the 27th Annual American Kennel Club Fiction Contest when my story is only nominally about a Rottweiler?”

In a twist on the pay-to-play structure, Gigantic Magazine has announced a Penny-a-Word Flash Fiction Contest, wherein your entry fee depends entirely on the length of your submission:

we will be accepting submissions of one to 1,000 words with a submission fee of one penny per word (title included). For example, if the story is sixty-five words long (including the title), you pay sixty-five cents. If the story is 403 words, you pay $4.03. And who said a penny can’t buy anything these days?*

*Actually, it can’t buy anything here either: due to the PayPal constraints, the minimum amount for payment is ten cents.

An intriguing model! Go for brevity and save; or let your imagination run wild, but get ready to pay for the privilege. Does the penny-a-word gambit make you more or less likely to submit? And how much is too much to pay for the privilege of most likely getting a form letter rejection by email in two months? (I wonder this all the time.) Bear in mind, the Grand Prize is $100, presumably paid out in pennies.


The Cost of Writing Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles is for sale for $1.5M — is it strange to say “not bad”? — but my favorite part of that story in the Guardian is this:


Pay to Play in Business School

Business School is not just about the degree but about the experience, which means students shell out tens of thousands of dollars above and beyond tuition, whether they have the money or not. Are the extracurricular activities worth going (further) into debt for?

In many M.B.A. programs, lifestyle experiences are gaining on academic ones in importance, as seen in much busier evening and weekend schedules of bars, parties and trips, says Jeremy Shinewald, founder of mbaMission, an M.B.A. admissions consulting firm based in New York. “My father went to business school a generation ago as a married 25-year-old, and I can assure you he has no stories of jetting off to Vegas for the weekend,” says Mr. Shinewald, who is 38.

The trips usually aren’t free, often adding a shadow budget to an already expensive M.B.A. “I would say that $5,000 total for two years is a low to moderate budget, but is one that would still allow a student to experience significant social and academic travel opportunities,” says Mr. Shinewald, whose firm works with M.B.A. applicants. At the high end, $20,000 to $30,000 for two years is not uncommon, he says.

Some of the trips are vacations, excuses sponsored by Rolex for the rich, or proto-rich, to have fun. Still, even those are bonding-experiences; those trips, and the others that are more straightforwardly career-oriented, alike help students network with each other and with future employers. So plenty of students suck up the costs, thinking of them as an “investment.”

In 2003, Mr. Caballero, then a second-year student at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., received internship offers from Intel and Cisco Systems after leading a career trek to Silicon Valley. “I got interviews at firms, and I certainly feel more comfortable reaching out to the people I went on the career trek with for favors than the average classmate,” says Mr. Caballero, 36, now vice president for programming at the nonprofit Venture for America, based in New York.

Did you try B-school? Was this your experience? Or is it emblematic of why you’d rather get Rubella than an MBA?


Milk Money

Modern Farmer, aka my favorite internet destination for go-live-on-a-farm fantasy fodder, has gone “inside the milk machine” and reports on the modern state of dairy farming, both organic and industrial. It includes some quick “how we got to where we are now” history that helped both solidify my understanding of current affairs and affirm my decision to spend too much money on milk at the farmer’s market:


Who’s Exploiting What Now?

Fiona Duncan’s essay in Adult Mag (NSFW-ish, btw), “I am a Hysteric” is not really about money, or anything that can be nailed down, aside from perhaps a Hitachi Wand, but the opener is!