The Cost of Things

Visiting Hogwarts When You’re Broke

Yeah, I paid $31.12 for an enchanted (discounted) piece of plastic. But *it* chose *me.*

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The Cost of Missing Your Flight

I spent a week in Seattle recently – my sister had a wedding to attend, and I tagged along to shop and explore the city. The wedding was on a Saturday night. Our flight home was booked for the following day, connecting through O’Hare, and we were scheduled to arrive home just in time for her to get a full night’s sleep before her nursing shift early Monday morning.

We ended up missing our connection because we were stupid enough to think we had enough time between flights to go to the bathroom and get something to eat without running through O’Hare like romantic comedy heroines chasing after Chris Pine or whatever. We showed up at the gate two minutes after our plane finished boarding, and we knew it was the last flight home to Montreal that day.

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Producing a Beyoncé-themed Burlesque Show on a Budget: Part III

Turns out, people were ready for this jelly. “All the Single Ladies” sold out! My co-producer Calamity Chang and I didn’t just break even—we made some money, too. At the end of the night, I video-chatted with my boyfriend in LA to show him my wig and makeup, gently made it rain in my living room, and stumbled into bed. Within 24 hours, I was thinking the same thing I do when I turn in a piece of writing: “That was fun. Glad it’s over. What’s next?”

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Sleep Gadgets That Work?

Recent events have established the crucial importance of sleep: we, especially those of us in lower income brackets, don’t get enough of it, and the lack of it can contribute to our untimely deaths. But even if we do have or make the time, and invest in a good mattress, and practice appropriate sleep hygiene (no laptops in bed, guys), sometimes sleep remains elusive.

Refinery 29 has rounded up seven sleep gadgets that are effective and worth the money.

Sleep feels like a college I will never get into. Like, my teachers are all, “Sure, apply to Sleep. You never know!” But then they leave brochures for Insomniac online night classes on my desk, because who are we kidding? Over the past few months, I decided to throw some technology at the problem. Don’t get me wrong; I’m well-versed in natural remedies and the importance of sleep hygiene. I work out, my supplements are stocked, and my phone is chock-full of guided sleep meditations. Usually, that stuff (plus, some classic breathing techniques) does the trick. Sometimes, though, I need a little extra help. 

These range from goggles that counterintuitively pulse lights at you called “Glo to Sleep” ($30) to a “Serene House Angel Ultrasonic Scentilizer Aromatherapy Diffuser” ($191) which sounds like it should do your laundry for you and then dip your feet in oil. Babygirl is also a fan of a white noise app I downloaded for free from iTunes so, you know. For what that’s worth.

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Saying Yes to the Dress, Pt 2: KLEINFELD’S

Ringing the Universe Room were more racks of dresses than there are stars in the heavens: ivory dresses, cream dresses, dusky rose dresses, apricot dresses, even a couple of goth-style black dresses for effect. (No one tried them on.)

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The True Value of One Banana (In A Second World Country Without Running Water)

When I accepted a position to teach English in Georgia, my life was ideal on paper. I had friends and a full time job in a city I didn’t mind, with a Chipotle right around the corner from my reasonably priced apartment. Everything was fairly good, but there was no sparkle. I refused to settle. I had a healthy savings account and the teaching position provided room, board, transportation, a monthly stipend, and the opportunity to gain teaching experience to the benefit of my career. I threw caution and reason to the wind and embarked on my adventure, fearless, naïve, and blissfully happy.

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Savvy Drinking: Is the Smart Buy the Best Value?

This Business Insider video (via Slate) points out that since cheap liquor is marked up more than pricier liquor at bars, it makes more sense to buy the expensive stuff. You’re spending more money but you’re getting a better value for your dollar.

It is true that knowing how much a draft is marked up (456%!?!) could really affect your ability to enjoy that glass of swill. (Sorry, beer.) But will you appreciate an expensive bottle of wine more because you feel like a savvy spender as well as a fancy-pants connoisseur? It probably depends on whether you enjoy expensive wine more than the regular stuff to begin with, and can afford it.

Beer is not only cheaper than a glass of wine, usually, it’s also less of a rip-off. Now if only it tasted better.

Bottom-shelf mixed drinks are as much of a rip off as draft beers. Good to know.

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All the Single Ladies, Which is Everyone, Put Your Hands Up

America is now majority single-people for the first time in recorded history. Cue Beyonce!

Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report. That percentage had been hovering just below 50 percent since about the beginning of 2013 before edging above it in July and August. In 1976, it was 37.4 percent and has been trending upward since. … The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent, according to the economist.

This is great! The more single people there are, the more normal being single is and the less I have to worry about accidentally offending my friends who are dating by seeming either too excited about their romantic prospects or not excited enough, or somehow both at the same time. (Though I mean well, I am constantly messing up. In this way, having single friends is kind of like life!)

But now that we’re an early-Bridget-Jones-type singleton as a nation, what does that mean for us financially? Unencumbered folks have fewer young children to oversee, take out fewer mortgages, and so on. Since basically the only real downside to remaining independent is the fear and expense of dying alone, Bloomberg suggests investing in long-term care insurance while you’re still young because “in most of the U.S., a private room in a nursing home can cost more than $100,000 per year” (!!!) and after you hit 40 or 50, insurers are likely to decline you because you’re already too close to the chasm. Be clear about your end-of-life plans and choices. And enjoy your awesome DINKy lives! Don’t forget to babysit.

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An Illustrated True Saga of Costly Car Repair

At Coney Island on the last weekend of my kids’ summer vacation, we rode the Cyclone, which has been operating under electric power since 1927.

When we started our long journey home, it was on the subway, which has more than a century of electrically powered travel under its belt.

From there, we got on a Metro North commuter train, another shining example of electric locomotion. Our car was in the parking garage at the station in New Haven, waiting to carry us on the final leg of our journey.

But alas, the last bit of our electric journey was ill-fated: our little ’02 Prius, reliable in its first decade and, thereafter, in its first year with us, greeted us with a dashboard full of automotive alarm. The central feature was an icon of an exclamation point inside the silhouette of a car. Traditionally, this symbol appears as a very small light on the dashboard of gas cars and means “check tire pressure” (even though it seems like it should mean, simply, “Car!”). But in a Prius, according to our owner’s manual, it means, “Hybrid system error. TAKE CAR TO TOYOTA DEALER IMMEDIATELY.”

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Crowdfunding Your Life, Including Your Abortion

What can we crowdfund and what can’t we? Where are the lines?

Last week, VICE published an interview with a 23-year-old woman in need of, and crowdsourcing funds for, an abortion. In her state, the procedure would cost about $2,500 and take two days.

Her GoFundMe page, originally titled the “Stop Bailey From Breeding Fund,” informs visitors that “Bailey is currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.” Having just moved to Chicago from Phoenix, Arizona, Bailey says she’s 23, likes to read and go to shows, and really, really doesn’t want to be a mom.

In the past, GoFundMe has been used for some pretty noble projects, such as collecting donations for one of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and helping raise money to operate on the brain tumor of a morbidly obese 12-year-old. Somewhat more controversially, GoFundMe was used recently to support Officer Darren Wilson, who famously shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown, resulting in the Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations. I guess you could say the operators of GoFundMe aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Except that they are, after all: Bailey’s GoFundMe page has been taken down permanently. 

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