The Cost of a Solo Trip to Montreal

I chose Montreal because I could get there by train: the trip is scenic in its own right, winding up through the Hudson Valley and traveling parallel to Lake Champlain.

How Much Should I Pay for a Star Chart? and Other Key Questions Answered

Rule No. 1: Don’t be afraid to haggle. These are psychics, fortune tellers and palm readers. Believe me, you won’t be the first person to haggle. Rule No. 2: Don’t do any of this “over the phone” or “online.” Did you learn nothing from Miss Cleo’s fall from grace?

The Cost of Accidentally Dropping Your Phone

My iPhone once survived a 10-foot drop off of a subway train platform. I was holding the phone in my right and trying to push it into my coat pocket before exiting the subway car. When it slipped out of my hand, I grasped for it, but only managed to grab onto my headphones and phone case.

How Much Would You Need to Earn to Afford a One-bedroom in Your County?

The National Low Income Housing Coalition looked at fair market rents (according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development), and calculated how much a worker would need to earn per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in their county (the "housing wage").

Is Air Conditioning Worth It?

I am the worst kind of curmudgeon, a scolding old man in a young man’s body, forever decrying the needless conveniences of the modern era. Not surprisingly, at this time of year, I turn my luddite ire on air conditioners, which have always struck me as the height of needless luxury, at least for those among us who are able-bodied and not afflicted with respiratory problems. As such, I have always happily and blithely assumed that air conditioners impose a crippling cost, but it turns out that it’s between $40 and $120 a month, which isn’t nothing, but isn’t plutocrat money either.

The Cost of Moving Your Stuff Across the Country

My trunk and back seat of my compact vehicle only allowed me to bring a fraction of my current possessions, so I dumped a lot of free and near-free furniture I’ve acquired over the years and any books I could get as e-books through the Los Angeles Public Library digital media borrowing program (hint: if you never turn your Kindle’s Wi-Fi on and just use the USB to transfer books onto your Kindle, you can never lose your "borrowed" books).

Median One-bedroom Rents in NYC Now As High As $4,210

Will future generations will look upon us City dwellers with pity or scorn? Actually, scratch “future generations.” How about “denizens of Pittsburgh, Denver, Lincoln, or pretty much any other damn place besides San Francisco”? Because the folly of living in New York City, it keeps getting more intense. According to Curbed, which gleaned data from Zumper, median rents for a one-bedroom in the City this past month leaped from “Astronomical” to “More Than Your Great-Grandpa Made in a Year.” They ranged from $1,200 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which is a place Lena Dunham never lived, to a whopping $4,210 in TriBeCa, in Manhattan, which is a place she did.

Apparently we can blame the Greenpoint price spike on her (a median one-bedroom now sets you back an exorbitant $2,275), since after she set her TV show “Girls” there, the neighborhood exploded. Of course, even the ‘point can’t compare to what I lovingly call “Barely Brooklyn,” the parts of the borough that may as well be Manhattan:

How Much Was Jane Austen Paid For Some of History’s Best Books?

Women have always faced the additional hurdle of being at the mercy of their reproductive systems, as well as by what society expected of them in terms of selflessness. Virginia Woolf famously said, not that long ago, that, in order to write fiction, "a woman must have money and a room of her own." Time and space, in other words. Drive, talent, and luck are pre-requisites too. That's such a high bar it's a wonder women ever put out novels before 1963. When they did, what did they get in exchange? Let's take the example of Jane Austen, one of the few pre-Woolf women who managed to unite all five attributes, and see how the world rewarded her for writing some of its best fiction.

What It Costs to DIY A First Book Tour

People take you seriously in the business world only when you take yourself seriously. By pouring my money and my life into this book tour, I was merely being my own best boss.

The Cost of Things: Beer for Life, $1000

Help crowdsource funding for a bar and in return, get free beer for life. Crazy? CRAZY LIKE A FOX. The strategy worked brilliantly for Northbound Brewpub in Minneapolis:

Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.

And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”

The Cost of Spring Break with School-Age Children, Illustrated and Annotated

Of all the coming sacrifices that you fail to consider when you have kids (so many!), the most insidious is how all the vacation time you accumulate will be divided in equal measure between staying home with them when they are sick and taking them places when they are on school vacation. This is not to say that raising kids isn’t wonderful and enriching and etc. etc., but for much of their lives, they are whiny travelers who insist on doing boring stuff. Important pleasures that they generally fail to appreciate include ocean sunsets, after-rain forest smell, and weekends walking around Philadelphia and getting drunk. Also, entertaining them costs money.

An Accident Paid Off My MFA Debt

Just over a month before I entered the graduate writing program at The New School I was struck by a car as I stepped into a crosswalk on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Along with minor abrasions, my left ear was mangled beyond repair, and as I faced a handful of surgeries in the months and years ahead, I worried how these might affect my expensive education.  I would plan each surgery around a break from school so that I could miss the least number of classes possible. At the time this was how I connected grad school to my accident, along with the knowledge that I would have to get the hell over it; I had an M.F.A. dream to fulfill.