What It Costs [Me] to Apply to Grad School

I am applying to grad school for the Fall 2014 semester, and therefore am losing / have lost my mind. In lieu of a nervous breakdown, here is a financial one

I’m Paying $2,600 a Year to Park at Work

I work at a very large public research university in a very car-centric city. When I joined the university as a staff member, I was informed that I would need to purchase a parking pass. I know many universities have very strange and specific parking policies, for not just students but also faculty and staff. This seemed normal. "Okay," I thought.

The Price of Abortion Restrictions in Oklahoma

Jessica Davis is a mother of three who lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She was pregnant with her fourth child when her doctors discovered a severe brain malformation called oloprosencephaly, which would prevent her son from living past a year old, if at all. Due to abortion restriction in Oklahoma, the Davis family had to travel to Dallas, Texas, to prevent undue suffering for their unborn child:

The Davises, who are both unemployed and live on Jessica’s $700 a month in disability payments and food stamps, came home to unpaid bills. The electricity was slated to be turned off the next day. Eric sold off scrap metal he found to pay the bill, but there was no money left for gas and water.

Oklahoma law had barred Jessica from using state Medicaid to cover the cost, so the couple had borrowed some money from relatives to cover the $2,800 procedure. In total, the trip set them back $3,500. “It took everything we had so that our son would not suffer,” Jessica said.

Photo: Photography by Hank

School District Saves Money By Giving Free Lunches to All Students

All students will now receive free lunches in the Dallas Independent School District, because that’s cheaper than having the state process paperwork for just some students to get free lunches based on family income: “The district made the move anticipating that it will end up saving it money in the long run. As more students qualified for the subsidized breakfast and lunch programs, the district had to hire more workers to keep up with the paperwork while sending out more information and making more calls to families. All of that cost it about $300,000 a year.” This sounds smart. Well done. Bravo.

The $984 Haircut

With their unparalleled eye and broad-reaching sense of fashion, what they offer isn’t just technical skill, but a certain transformative promise; a clear vision of the way you want to look right now and the ability to make it happen. The Duchess of Cambridge’s newly darkened hair and side-swept layer of fringe may not involve such a radical change—but after seeing it crowned by a diamond tiara en route to a diplomatic reception last night, it’s hard to argue with the politics of her unfailing royal polish.

The cost of Kate Middleton’s haircut + coloring: $984. Vogue comes to the Duchess’s defense by arguing that Middleton is a high-profile person who is in front of a lot of cameras and since she visits a high-profile hair professional, the costs are just what they are.

I am no stranger to expensive haircuts—my own costs $50—but besides the professional cutting your hair with the clear vision and all that, what else goes into a $984 haircut? The serum made from a flower that grows in a single place in the Amazon rainforest? Shampoo made from kitten tears? I’d like to know.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Cost of Being a Derby Girl

How derby changed the way I think about money.

The Cost of Texting and Driving

Texting while driving is the leading cause of death among teenagers, which is why 46 states have banned texting while driving and have imposed penalties on drivers who break the law. In California, the maximum penalty for a first-time offender is $20, which may not be so much of a deterrent for drivers there. In Alaska, the penalty is $10,000 plus a year in prison, which, wow, yes—sounds like a major incentive not to text and drive. Mother Jones has a state-by-state list of fines for texting and driving here.

Why You’ll Pay $10 for a Small Popcorn at the Movies (Tradition!)

This story from Smithsonian Mag (not shut down?) about why we eat popcorn at the movies is a real delight. You see: popcorn used to be THE snack of the world (Snickers bars didn’t exist yet I guess?), but it wasn’t allowed in movie theaters because theaters were classy establishments and popcorn was messy. (“Early movie theaters literally had signs hung outside their coatrooms, requesting that patrons check their popcorn with their coats.”)

Eventually, theater owners realized that they had to sell snacks and sure, go ahead, have your beloved popcorn. Also the margin is insane. It’s all air! Anyway, now “movie theaters make an estimated 85 percent profit off of concession sales, and those sales constitute 46 percent of a movie theater’s overall profits.”