Life Insurance Ugh Why

Life-insurance payouts do not count as gross income and do not need to be reported to the IRS. Maybe that's why they're so appealing to potential murderers?

My Not-So-Great Grandfather And The Great Depression

As a 19 year old, he was the main breadwinner for the family.

How Grandparents Do Money

My grandma is 101-and-a-half. (With centenarians, like toddlers, you have to be exact.) Most likely, she is NYU’s oldest living alumnus. She graduated with a degree in Journalism during the Depression, back when Journalism was an actual career people had. Born in what’s now Bed Stuy, she has lived in the same cushy DC two-bedroom high-rise condo for several decades, with a view out onto the pool. From the time my grandpa died in the early aughts until this past October, she had only MSNBC for company. Now she has a live-in nurse. Still, she reads, and knits, and does her exercises, and she could teach me lots of lessons about life and finances, if only she remembered things anymore.

My grandpa handled the money over their 55+ years of marriage. Once he was gone, my mother had to teach my grandma how to use an ATM. Money in the abstract makes her nervous: she has very little sense of what things cost anymore, prefers to spend as little as possible, frets about whether she has enough. She does. Though my grandpa was born in a tenement building on the Lower East Side, in a family so large and poor he didn’t have a bed to sleep in let alone a bedroom, he too went to college — CCNY, baby! — and then to war and to work, hoisting his own family into the middle class, and then further up, because why stop there?

What he made, he invested, and the stock market treated him well. Though there was that one time he had the opportunity to buy a plot of land next to what was going to be Disney World and he was like, “A movie-themed amusement park? Why would anyone think that crazy idea is going to take off?” But the same gene that kept him from making the occasional good risky investment kept him from making lots of bad ones, too. 

Our Debt to Our Parents

A few Billfold pals and I went for a drink after last night's event and we got to talking about our parents and the complicated relationships we have with them.

How Money Moves Between Generations (Not The Way You Expect)

At 80, since she has run through her own cash, the mom thinks it's fair to spend her daughter's. Meanwhile the daughter keeps cycling through the five stages of grief: denial, resentment, anger, guilt, giving in.

The Haves and the Have-nots

I was raised in a family where talking about money was not taboo. My father did a good job of raising two girls on a variety of incomes—money, was tight, and because of this, I was always aware of what we did and didn’t have.

How People Without Parents Do Money

Theoretically, it’s our parents who teach us about money, the technicalities of how to handle it, but also how we might feel about it as a concept and approach it through a moral lens. But what about when our parents die before they can teach us anything?

Why I Had Kids

Following on Meaghan’s meditation on childrearing and work and the putting-together of grown-up puzzle pieces, commenter Vanderlyn asked the following not-crazy question: "Why do people still yearn to have biological children? Especially when doing so will render one’s life (more) financially tenuous, when there are so many unwanted children already out there, and when the world is already straining under the load of 7 billion of us?"

On Children and Happiness

In the past few years, various studies have come out asking whether or not having children makes people happier. A 2004 study by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman involving 900 working women in Texas who were asked questions like, "How happy are you when you're taking care of your kids?" found that the parents were very happy. Children are expensive! Raising children is not an easy thing. And yet some of us choose to do so.