Feeling Generous On Easter Sunday

For a few hours, I didn’t think about the fact that today was the third anniversary of the day I returned to Sacramento after my three months of homelessness in Los Angeles.


What Do We Pay For Vs What Do We Ask For

When do you ask your friends or family to help you move rather than hire movers? Only when you’re in early-to-mid twenties? And/or only when you’re seriously broke, or you seriously don’t care if something gets broken?


Paying to Belong

There’s a religious Jewish movement called Chabad, which is famous for being pretty aggressive about outreach. When my family was visiting Italy one fall, it was members of Chabad that spotted us and welcomed us, inviting us to join them for services and dinner. Their energy can also be alienating: if you so much as walk on the streets of Brooklyn on a holiday like Passover with brown hair, or hey even with hair, period, a Chabadnik will probably approach you and ask if you’re Jewish. But Chabad, unlike other more dour and insular Hasidic groups, puts an emphasis on DIY, populist joy — dancing, singing — and bringing people together. That’s one of the reasons it’s growing. The other reason? It doesn’t charge membership dues.

As their website puts it, “Most often a Chabad House does not charge membership–if you are Jewish, you are a member.”

It’s a nice idea! It’s also the kind of idea that makes most rabbis go, “Oy vey.”

Most synagogues rely on annual membership dues which, for families, are in the four-figures. Most American Jews don’t belong to synagogues. The NYT this week connected the dots and, in the process, started a much needed conversation about paying to belong


Revenge Giving, or Giving Out Of Spite

When you give money to a cause you know a person would hate, and you do it in their name.


The Cheapest Generation Goes Generous for the Holidays

we miserly Millennials are having spendy holiday seasons


How Much Do You Spend on Tattoos

If someone is holding a very sharp implement against your skin, that’s not a time to act like you’re in a flea market.


Honey, Sweetie, Chief, Boss: How We Talk to Strangers

You might call a man you don’t know “chief,” but when that man is a judge and you are the defendant, you should probably go with “Your Honor.”


WWYD: Bring Bottles In Yourself Or Leave Them for the Less Fortunate

The obvious thing to do is to trot down to the store with the bag of empties and exchange them for money, right?


Unnecessary, Compulsive Frugality

I am not uniformly miserly. I allow myself the pleasure of good beer, periodic meals out at places where the entrees cost more than ten dollars, and, now and again, a vacation. But waste still feels deeply difficult.