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.

The Benefits, Both Economic and Emotional, of A (Relatively) Minimalist Christmas

My family’s yearly Christmas ritual is relatively benign.

The Sandwich Generation

The "sandwich generation" is not a generation that likes sandwiches (that's pretty much every generation), but a generation of older working adults who are supporting both their adult children and their parents.

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. 

My Father Developed Alzheimer’s Disease and Lost the Ability to Manage Money

In February 2012 we received an unofficial Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and my father’s ability to manage money quickly eroded.

Watching Our Parents Earn a Living

David Ritz wrote a very lovely essay about watching his father struggling to provide for his family in Dallas, Texas for the latest issue of D Magazine, which just hit newsstands yesterday.

My Mother Stole My Car And Got Rid of It

"You’ll notice your car is not in the driveway," my mother said, as soon as my dad left.

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.

With a Little Help From Our Family?

Undercover Economist Tim Hartford looked at a little-noticed survey by the US Census looking at household experiencing hardships in 2011 (like having your phone disconnected, missing utility payments and rent and mortgage payments, and not seeing a doctor or dentist when needed), and who helped when times were tough. He found that more than half of households expected help from family members, but not too many received it.

Flynt vs. Flynt

Jimmy Flynt had a terrible falling out with his infamous brother Larry a few years ago (over business and money, which unfortunately happens sometimes when family members work together), but has reinvented himself as a seller of "sexy gifts."