Living Together to Save Money

Generally speaking, roommates expect to keep their money separate, since they know the arrangement is temporary. Romance, though, works like peanut butter, slathering everything -- especially money -- in a sticky layer of complexity that is hard to remove.

Tipping Housekeeping is Controversial? (No It Isn’t)

The Marriott hotel chain has begun to include empty envelopes in its rooms to encourage / remind guests to tip the workers who have been folding their towels, making their beds, emptying their trash, leaving mints on their pillows, and generally making everything look like it was arranged by magic elves.

Tipping housekeeping in the US is expected and oh hey more complicated than I realized: etiquette requires “$2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels. Also more if there are more than 3 people in a room or suite. Leave the tip on your pillow or in a similar obvious place with a note that says thank you. Leave the tip each day when you leave the room, rather than at the end of your stay, because your room might get cleaned by different people each day, depending on staff schedules. If you have additional items delivered to your room, such as extra pillows, hangers, luggage racks, tip the person who brings them $2 or $3.” Okay!

But now that Marriott has provided a convenient way to tip that also makes the practice increasingly explicit, some folks are like, what, you’re gonna guilt me into tipping? Others have even used the word blackmail because times are so hard folks can’t afford dictionaries. NPR explains:

not everyone is welcoming the plan to promote tipping. Some compare it to blackmail. And hard-core business travelers who rack up hundreds of nights in hotels per year say they don’t want to tip in cash, as is customary. Instead, they suggest, the company should let guests add a tip to their room bill. If Marriott wants to see the wide range of responses, it won’t have to look far — people in its rewards program have been debating the issue for the past day. … This is a bit over the top for Marriott to be doing this to us, almost like black mailing us into it. If they are so concerned they should pay these hard working people a better wage! Letting Maria Shriver have this much influence over them is a bit disturbing. – pdyer

What does Maria Shriver have to do with anything? Never mind, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS, sorry. Anyway, think of Jenny when you travel, or that first diner scene in Reservoir Dogs (nobody wants to be Mr. Pink), and tip generously. If you don’t want to tip, don’t travel, or stay in an AirBnB, where I think you can get away without paying a gratuity. At least for now.

Going to the Library Makes You $2,282 Happier Per Year

Via Annalise Quinn's Book News report for NPR, The UK government's "Department for Media, Culture & Sport" -- sounds like a fun department! -- has conducted a study to see just how much perceived value we get from participating in sports, the arts, and the library.

How Geena Davis Made Retail Work for Her

It is hard to imagine the superhuman Geena Davis doing something as mundane as working in retail. After all, she is six feet tall, with skin like living marble and eyes of fire. And yet this goddess, like so many of us earthworms, began her career behind a cash register at middle-of-the-road women’s clothing store Ann Taylor. It is what happened next that shows her supremacy:

“One time there was a window display where the mannequins were sitting at a table eating plastic food,” Davis tells NPR. “There was one empty chair, and I kept looking at the window.” She asked her co-workers if she should go sit in the empty chair. They advised against it. But Davis sat in the chair anyway.

“Somebody saw me do that, and then he stopped to see what was now going to happen. But I just froze,” Davis says. “I didn’t know, but I had an uncanny ability to be still.” Eventually, a crowd gathered on the sidewalk outside the window display. She could hear the comments from the onlookers, who couldn’t tell if she was real or fake. “When I felt like their attention was drifting, I would move kind of like a robot,” she says. “But then somebody said, ‘Well, that’s not an electric mannequin because it’s not plugged in.’ “

So the next time she sat in a window display, she put a tiny wire down her leg. “Because it was really subtle, it really worked,” she says.

The End of Signatures at the Checkout Counter

I have three different signatures that I use: • My full name in legible cursive, which I use when signing personal checks and legal documents • An abbreviated version of my name, which I use when signing anything digitally • A scribble, which I use when I'm signing receipts for various merchants

When We’re Better At Advocating For Our Friends Than Ourselves

In a simulation, she had men and women negotiate a starting salary for themselves. Then she had them negotiate on behalf of someone else. When the women negotiated for themselves, they asked for an average of $7,000 less than the men. But when they negotiated on behalf of a friend, they asked for just as much money as the men.
Emily Amanatullah, assistant professor of management at the University of Texas, makes an argument for treating ourselves like a very good friend.

My Summer As a Housekeeper

The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.

The Beach: A Bargain or A Bummer?

In this weekend’s New York Times, Roxane Gay gives a litany of reasons to hate the beach.

In Haiti, beach bodies are simply bodies, and beach reads are simply books, because the beach is all around you. … But for the rest of us, the beach exerts a different kind of gravitational pull. Sixty-one percent of Americans don’t live anywhere near a beach. We spend a surprising amount of time hearing about this place we will hardly ever see. We watch commercials, TV shows and movies in which nubile young women and their strapping male counterparts frolic on sand, their hair golden and sun-streaked. Long walks on the beach are the supposed holy grail of a romantic evening. The beach becomes a kind of utopia — the place where all our dreams come true.

Banning Laptops, Making More Money

August First Bakery & Café in Vermont used to offer free Wi-Fi to customers when it opened its doors four years ago, but it has figured out a better way to make money: get rid of Wi-Fi and implement a “no screens” policy during lunch hours (smartphones are okay):

“We saw a lot of customers come in, look for a table, not be able to find one and leave,” [owner Jody] Whalen says. “It was money flowing out the door for us.”

That’s why Whalen decided there’d be no more screens. It was a gradual move. She started by shutting down the Wi-Fi two years ago. Then, the cafe banned screens during lunch.

“A lot of people were disappointed,” Whalen says. “But we actually saw our sales increase.”

What’s socially acceptable when it comes to using a laptop in public, anyway? Student Luna Colt says it’s about how much money you spend.

But according to Whalen, it’s less about how much a laptop user buys and more about how much space and time they take up.

We recently got a new office, and while I waited for it to be ready, I worked from home and tried working at a coffee shop a few times. The Wi-Fi cut in and out and I didn’t want to feel like I was wearing out my welcome, so instead, I spent the month working from my couch.

Photo: Anthony Mayfield