On Broke With Bad Skin, UNTIL ...

@Elyse : That's awesome! I'm so glad this worked out -- there is nothing more frustrating than grudgingly paying a questionable bill just to get it over and done with. May this start you on a lifelong habit of calling up your insurance company about anything even remotely problematic!

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 11:34 pm 0

On Broke With Bad Skin, UNTIL ...

@polka dots vs stripes, @Elyse : This is exactly correct. Whenever you see a charge on a doctor's bill that you don't expect, call your friendly insurance company and just ask "hey, what's going on with this?" Considering the Byzantine tangle of insurance line-items and charges and doctors' office billing departments, it's almost more likely than not that something got screwed up, and the nice people on the other end of the phone are invariably happy to work through exactly what's going on. If the insurance folks offer no satisfaction, or if you just feel like sharpening your getting-stuff-done skills, you can additionally try calling the billing department who sent you the bill. I've had a couple of cases where a charge showed up that I didn't expect (from $20 to $150+) and one call to the billing department zeroed it right out, without even having to involve my insurance company. Good luck!

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm 0

On Are Business Cards Out of Style?

@garli : I think "Problem Solver" is a good tag line, if only because the "girl" in "Official Smart Girl" is kind of diminuitive ... which is too bad, because the cheekiness of it elevates it above "Problem Solver". How about "Official Smart Lady"? "Official Smart Person"? I'm 100% with your tag line having a grace-note of humor like that. My card's tag line is even more left-field, and I've hardly ever failed to get a good reaction with it.

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 11:45 am 0

On Are Business Cards Out of Style?

@garli : Haha, your dad and I think alike! Mine are virtually the same, except instead of "Expert," they say something slightly different, and I list my email rather than phone number. I figure I can always write my phone number on the back if I need to give it to someone. Super minimal, and people go absolutely nuts for them. My job gives me business cards too, but honestly? Unless I'm in a straight-up business-sponsored setting, I hardly ever use them. It's half "ugh, this is so formal" and the other half "do I really want to be defined by the company I work for?" Having personal cards has made it much easier to give out my contact info, whether or not it's job-related.

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 11:25 am 0

On Are Business Cards Out of Style?

@rhinoceranita : I sprang for the luxe cards, and I was a bit nervous because of the price point, but they are straight-up Worth It. That thick stock is super nice, and it really spiffs up my super-minimal card design. Also, about 50% of the time when I hand one out, the recipient says "oh, this is really nice ... are these the ones from Moo? I was thinking about getting these," so your name-brand-product-recognition is super high.

Posted on January 22, 2015 at 11:17 am 1

On Parents Send Invoice After 5-Year-Old Misses Their Child's Birthday Party

@therealjaygatsby : My favorite was actually how in elementary school kids would bring in cupcakes/rice krispy treats/whatever on their birthdays and hand them out... The grownup equivalent of this is the office kitchen. When I have extra cake (or Halloween candy, or Christmas cookies) that I don't want sitting around my fridge at home, I just leave it in the kitchen at work. It's usually gone before lunchtime. It's an office miracle!

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm 0

On Making Money in Real Estate: Crazy / Not Crazy / If Trump Can Do It ...

@garli : She is amazing, and I will be sure to pass on your sentiments to her. ;)

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 5:21 pm 0

On Making Money in Real Estate: Crazy / Not Crazy / If Trump Can Do It ...

@garli : Southeastern Connecticut. Recently, she and my father have moved to a different state, and she's already looking at new properties there.

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 11:48 am 0

On Making Money in Real Estate: Crazy / Not Crazy / If Trump Can Do It ...

Sure, people do this! And when I say "people," I mean "my mom." My mother has always been pretty conscientious with money. She maxed out her 401(k), put money in her IRA on a regular basis, and held a well-balanced portfolio of equities. But she's always viewed real estate as an important, useful investment, and she always allocates some of the family money toward buying properties specifically with an eye to renting them out. She did this even when we didn't have much money at all. Basically, her and my dad's credit was good enough that they could get a loan through the local credit union to buy a small property (using the investment $$$ they'd saved up as a down payment), spend a little sweat equity fixing it up, and then pay off the mortgage by essentially splitting the monthly payment 80/20 with whoever she rents it to. The way my mom figures it, she's getting a real return on her investment, and she ends up owning the property at the end of it. She's done this with maybe half a dozen properties over her career as a small-time real estate mogul, ranging from condominiums to single-family houses to small offices. It's kind of a snowball method : as soon as she pays off one rental in full, it becomes a 100% revenue-generating investment, and she takes that revenue and puts it into a down payment for another property. Two points to consider : 1. My mom does not use a property management company; instead, she has very good relationships with plumbers, general contractors, etc. Your mileage may vary. 2. She has always set the rent at about 10% less than the prevailing market rate for a comparable property. She feels this tends to keep tenants in the rental property longer, which is better for her method -- any time a tenant moves out, it's likely the property will be empty for at least a month, and that's a month that she has to cover the entire mortgage payment herself. Also, she feels that it brings in a wider variety of potential tenants, so she can be more selective about who she rents to. It seems to work -- there's one man who's been renting a condominium from her for almost ten years, now. Good luck!

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 11:44 am 2

On Ask An Assertive Person: Being Social While Being Frugal

@Katni : In NYC, there's always the Met! It's still free (well, it has a "suggested donation," but you can totally say "sorry, I don't have any money" and they will let you in). Also, it's a great place to go with other people -- you can wander together, or separately, and drag eachother to see the interesting thing you just discovered, and basically it adapts itself to your preferred level of sociability. When I go there with other people, I personally like to play the old curator's game of "if you could steal one thing from this museum, which would it be?" which is always good for heated discussions. Hooray for the Met.

Posted on January 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm 1