Personal Stories

How A Sticky Note Helped Me Get Out of Debt

It did not take the newest financial planning app to get me out of debt. It did not take a large cash windfall or death of some mysterious, wealthy relative who I’d never met. It was a lot more low-tech than that.

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On My Own: Figuring Out How to Pay for College After My Parents Cut Me Off

I’m a rising sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which has an approximate yearly price tag of around $24,800. That, along with its good reputation, was why I decided to attend Cal Poly instead of an exotic, $60K-a-year-with-no-aid-package East Coast private school I had envisioned for myself since sixth grade.

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Everything You Need to Know About Diapers, Part 2

You need 10-12 cloth diapers ($180) just to get through a regular Monday — and that assumes you are then going to wash and dry the whole load to get it ready for Tuesday, and you will never do that, that’s insane. So really you need more like 25 ($250) at least, plus the liners, which are still necessary to keep the diapers from turning into a swamp.

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Everything You Need to Know About Diapers, Part 1

In 2012, Consumer Reports estimated that new parents will spend $2,500+ dealing with the aftereffects of one baby’s digestion. Because everything made by Proctor and Gamble is an environmental scourge, you can instead, if you like, spend $3,500+ on eco-friendly alternatives. (It’s not easy being green.)

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How Going Cash-Only Helped Me Curb My Spending

I never carry cash. This shouldn’t seem like a big deal, because debit cards can be cancelled if you lose them; parking meters, farmer’s markets, and even jukeboxes in the good dive-y bars all accept Visa these days.

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A Drunk Stole My Kale. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Today’s Link of the Day, a gripping tale of tragedy, redemption, and kale, comes from the vibrant, increasingly yuppie Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC.

About two weeks ago, my Tuscan kale plant disappeared. … we wrote it off as lost, a casualty of the urban environment in which we knew fenceless gardening to be a risk. And then, over the weekend, we found this wet note sticking out from under a flowerpot. [Note reads: "To: Wonderful Gardener. From: A Remorseful Kale Thief (I was drunk & I'm very sorry."] Attached to the back was a $25 gift card to Ace Hardware, where we plan to restock our gardening supplies in the spring. Never has my faith in humanity been more emphatically restored. Kale thief, if you’re reading this, all is forgiven and then some.

Back in the early days of our relationship, Ben borrowed my laptop and left it attended for a moment in the law school library. Some other enterprising law student, no doubt bound to be one of those shysters who advertises on billboards using dollar signs, made off with it. Ben was devastated — so upset, in fact, that I ended up calming down so that I could calm him down. (Good trick, btw, if you can pull it off.)

What’s the most valuable thing anyone has ever stolen from you? Did the thief make recompense somehow? Or have you ever had to express your remorse for taking something that wasn’t yours?

Photo via Washington City Paper

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‘Can We Talk Finances?’ ‘Not Tonight Dear I Have a Headache’

As it turns out, you can’t merely wave your hand in a languorous way and say, “Be a dear and invest it in low-cost index funds won’t you, Philip? There’s a good chap.” I mean, for one thing, who is Philip, is he the butler? And if so how does he have access to the accounts?

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Second Shifts: Finding Extra Income in the Side Hustle

Talking with my friends in similar positions to mine, it started to seem like having a job and a half at 25-ish was the norm, or at least a norm, rather than an anomaly. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2014, about 6.8 million people held more than one job. A little over half of those, 3.6 million people, had a secondary part-time job in addition to a primary full-time job. Although multiple job-holders only make up just 4.7 percent of the employed population, that adds up to more than the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago put together. Even for those with non-essential side hustles, it’s a response to wage stagnation, if nothing else; more is more, so work if you can get it.

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I Am Not My Resume

Between college and high school, I lived a dark, strange year at home, working a variety of serving jobs and moping around our house, a moppet of misery. I had to defer admission to college due to a financial aid keruffle, and I was full of vitriol; I was a miserable 18-year-old convinced that this minor injustice was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I don’t remember much about that year—maybe, because my memory is notoriously bad, or because I willfully tamped it down into the box of things I’d rather not think about—but at some point my father made me apply to a state school.

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Selling Sexless Sex at Abercombie & Fitch

One day in college, on what would have otherwise been a forgettable afternoon, two attractive people approached me outside of my department. The man, with his bionic back, parabolic pectorals and arms fixed at right angles, cut an intimidatingly precise figure. The woman was an implausible series of distends, curves and stares—all unnervingly suggestive. There were no introductions or pleasantries; instead, they presented me with a pristine white card. Looking down at it in hope of an explanation, I read, “Abercrombie and Fitch recruitment.” They stood back proudly and expectantly, letting what I suppose they thought was an honor sink-in. When I showed no response, they resorted to their pitch. They told me that they needed someone like me and that I would really enjoy working at the company. Everyone was exceedingly “cool” and, in fact, it “wouldn’t even seem like a job.”

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How to Ask for Money

Everyone resents being used; donors want to be seen as people, not purses, and good petitioners will treat them that way. Good petitioners will likewise make sure they are seen as people and not merely black holes of need.

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