When It Comes to Your 401(k), Don’t Just ‘Set It and Forget It’

A few years ago, my 401(k) started to exhibit strange behavior. I check my statement about once a week, and at the time, I noticed that my balance was dipping and rising, and I had no idea why.


Calling All Literary Agents, Via Your Blog

Miles Klee took to his Tumblr today to announce that he’s looking for a new literary agent:

“Representation for literary fiction is not typically secured through one’s blog, and I’ll be sending official query letters to several agencies that have expressed interest in my work; nevertheless, I feel it couldn’t hurt to have this pitch out there, on the open market, in case it strikes someone else’s fancy.”


What To Do When The Floor Caves In

Rebecca and Nate replace some floorboards.


The Luxury of Dental Insurance

Jess Stoner has a fascinating and cringe-inducing essay on The Morning News about dental insurance, or lack thereof. She talks a little about the history of dental care (ancient Egyptians! Keri Russell!), her own experiences with uninsured dental care, and how we’re all basically screwed:

“During my first appointment, there were 20 of us in one large room, like a field hospital. The days of a private space where I didn’t have to watch an elderly man’s dentures get refit while my own mouth was tended to seemed like a heady dream. Listening to the whimpers of pained strangers, I learned an incredibly important lesson I have never forgotten: We’re all fucked.

Or to rephrase: “Tooth decay is the province of the poor.” Or perhaps, to add an addendum to that rephrase: “Tooth decay is also the province of the somewhat privileged whose shallow pockets are filled with advances on school loans.”

Jess points out that the number of people without dental insurance is three times that of those without health insurance. It seems that I hear of more and more people who work full-time and have health benefits but not dental, so this doesn’t surprise me. When did dental benefits become a luxury?


Some Dudes in Washington Didn’t Get What They Want So You Can’t Leave Your Violent Husband, Sorry

At The Nation, Zoë Carpenter looks at how the government shutdown is affecting domestic violence shelters for women across the country. The verdict: The effect is not great! In fact it is pretty terrible. Many shelters operate with government funding and with no government there is no funding which means they are struggling to provide emergency services to women escaping violence. Some shelters have been able to make up the difference with private donations; some have not.

Carpenter also provides some really interesting insight into how those shelters operate: (“Even before the shutdown domestic violence programs across the country were both overfull and barely getting by financially. State and city governments cut funding for programs in almost 80 percent of states from 2011 to 2012, and nearly all states reported decreases in private donations. Meanwhile, more than half of shelters reported that abuse grew more violent during the economic downturn, and 45 percent of women said they stayed with their abuser longer for economic reasons.”)


How to Say No (Just Do It)

Sometimes a person gets asked to do something that a person should not do. For instance, I was recently asked to speak in front of some people. This is something I should not do. Another time, I was asked to go to a bar when I should have been working. This is also something I should not do. I said “yes” to both of these things. Mistakes, those yeses. But yes is so easy. It just rolls of the tongue. Yes. Yes. Yessssssss.

Perhaps you’ve also said “yes” when you should have said “no.” It happens to the very best of us. But let it never happen again.

Time to practice.

They say: “Will you speak in front of some people?”

You say: “No.”

They say: “Will you come to the bar with me?”

You say: “No.”

They say: “Will you do this project that you don’t want to do, but probably should do?”

You say: “No.”

Practice all day. No, no, no. What a word. (“Do you want some water?” “No.” “Can I hold this door for you?” “No.”) Once you master this very important skill, then perhaps you will be ready for the advanced technique of saying no to yourself.


A DIY Linen Closet For the Non-DIY Person

We haven’t contractually promised ourselves to each other in sickness and in health, sure, but we have financially committed to spend every weekend together working on home improvement projects until our backs give out. First on our DIY agenda: A linen closet.


Have a Bike, Lock a Bike; Need a Bike, Steal a Bike

If you have a bike and you would like to know how to not get it stolen, The Sweethome has an article with the info you need. Alteratively, if you don’t have a bike would like to know how to steal one, Sweethome has an article with the info you need. Same article.


A Very Practical Guide to Filing for Unemployment Benefits

Reach for a beer. It takes the focus off what you’re going to do with the shock of this day, and your skin crackling from dried tears. Very few things will taste as good as chugging that cold saltiness down, fast, barely blinking at the snow on the ground or the clock clicking to 10 a.m.


How to Get Your Security Deposit Back: Clean Your Filthy Apartment

Having evaluated the cleanliness of many an apartment and done the dirty work required to get it into shape for a new resident I know how to ensure nothing gets overlooked.


How to Enjoy Being Bad at Something

The basics of how to enjoy being bad are simple: Pick an activity you enjoy doing for fun but are pretty bad at, and laugh when you mess up.


How to Make a LinkedIn Profile That Will Actually Help You Get a Job

The one thing that makes LinkedIn better than a resume is that you can target it to the next thing you want to do in your career, make it dynamic, and passively share it in public for any recruiter to find. When you create a profile, you can fill in as much or as little as you want, and you can target the information you include to draw the eye of recruiters and business contacts from the industries that you want to notice you.