On The Beach: A Bargain or A Bummer?

@jenny0 Not only that, but nearly everyone is vitamin D deficient, and I spent too many years afraid of skin cancer and loaded on spf that i ended up with critically low D levels (we're talking a 7, my doctor had never seen a level so low). The darker one's skin, the more time in the sun needed to get beneficial levels of natural D. In the summer, I strive to get 20 to 30 minutes of "unsafe sun exposure" on days when the sun is out, cutting down my need to take supplements, but together (sun and supplements) my life has completely changed for the better. There is something to that idea that a tan on someone makes them look "healthier," when balanced and done so intelligently, they often are...

Posted on July 28, 2014 at 12:46 pm 0

On How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing

Serious question - do Jews tithe?

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 8:59 am 0

On A Pick-Your-Brain Fee?

Related, I have been in transition/trying to figure out my next step for a the last six months or so, and thought I had a really great idea that I discussed with some people close to me (my roommate/bestie, my other bestie, my sister) and decided to ask another close friend - like hang out several times a month, know each other's inner thoughts, way more than just acquaintance kind of friend, but still new (known each other less than a year). He joked over text that his consultation fee was 10%, then when we got together for drinks mentioned it again, and this time made it pretty clear he wasn't kidding, that his feedback on the skeleton of an idea I had would be 10% of the resulting business. I was miffed - are we not allowed to run ideas past our closest friends for their thoughts and opinions?!

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm 0

On Is Air Conditioning Worth It?

@Josh Michtom - bear with me, it may sound ludicrous at first, but your argument assumes that the way you deal with heat and humidity is the norm, and that the only thing outside of this norm is infants/old people/"unhealthy" people, whatever that may mean. This argument starts to sound like those people who are like "look, I get that diets are hard, but I'm just saying it's not impossible to eat less and exercise more and not be a fatty." There's a tinge of moralizing, whether you intended or not. I'm a healthy human, slightly chubbs as Americans are wont to be, but not obese, no major or minor health issues other than seasonal allergies (for which an AC and closed window is a godsend). What I am, though, is "very sensitive to heat" and "mega-gross hyper sweater." My roommate can walk around the city at 80+ degrees and 50%+ humidity and he looks and feels just fine - he is comfortable, or at most "a little warm," no visible sweat or other physical markers of hot or overheated. I walk two blocks in the same weather, I have visible sweat pouring down my face. Just last weekend, just standing in less than described weather, I had sweat dripping down my back into my ass crack - tmi? That's just the point. My body physically reacts, and what can I do? Not much, other than get naked or retreat to some air conditioning. The reason I bring up my roommate is that when he first moved in, our only source of contention was the AC - he was like you, content to live without it, having done so for many years, and not keen to pay for the added expense either. We worked on compromising constantly, allowing for warmer days and cooler nights, finding the right temp where we can both function, and you know what? He hasn't changed his preference, he could still live without it, but he has seen that I'm not some lazy person who doesn't care about the environment and loves to burn money. I'm just trying to not look like a beet red faced, covered in sweat person, trying to find my breath in my day to day. I need to look professional for work, I'd like to look attractive to my dates, and I'd like to sleep and live in an environment that doesn't oppress me. Maybe natural selection would have phased me out. I grew up in the South, so maybe I would have been a worthless human who died in a heat wave because they "just couldn't take it." But thankfully we have the technology to allow me to be a more productive human.

Posted on June 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm 0

On The Art of Asking for a Discount

Ugh, this rubs me the wrong way. In reflection I think I come from a very different pole of this retail sphere, where the examples above are mostly related to a) larger stores/companies and b) larger, one time purchases. Whereas I spent years managing a fine wine shop where a) we were small and independently owned and b) we were looking to cultivate repeat customers on (relatively) smaller purchases. But that does make me want to point out this difference, that maybe there's room for asking and discounting in some areas of commerce, but not all. I completely resented the people who asked for freebies or discounts or what have you. The majority of them ask in a way that is entitled, arrogant, and really hammers down exactly where I stand in their hierarchy - at the bottom, at their service. When the owners take home as much money as the customers (or less), and they're often in the shop themselves, there is something not just rude, but downright personal about asking for special treatment for no reason other than because you're a "good guy" or just because you have the gall to ask. But you know who does get perks and such? Actual good guys. You become a regular, you treat me like a human, you're kind and considerate to the people who work at the store and other customers alike, guess what? You get free bottles, you get a "just because" discount, you get a free wine key, you get to sample the stupidly expensive bottle we have open in the kitchen, you get let in after hours to grab a few extra bottles for your party and you get to take them on the honor system because I truly know and believe you're a good guy who's good for it. Again, I realize it's a different world from the Best Buys and Nordstroms out there, but some people need reminding of that, and perhaps should consider the benefits of shopping small.

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 11:11 am 5

On Our Problem With Being Overworked

I wish there was a little more coworker solidarity on this front. I've always struggled with being the only one in a small business or on a small team who takes sick days or outright refuse to do unnecessary extra work, even though I know my coworkers complain about not being "able" to do those things. We all drive around (outside sales) and when it's going to drop a foot of snow starting at 2pm, I have the attitude that I'm not a hero, and I'm not saving lives, so I take myself off the road before the snow starts, and do what I can from home. My coworkers, on the other hand, keep working and end up stuck on the highway for three hours trying to get home. They all call me, bored and angry in their cars, but there's direct and indirect pressure to work work work and very few are willing to stand up to that and say enough is enough. Therefore I end up looking like the only one who isn't "working," and my manager gets angry that I'm not "putting in as much" as the others, despite the fact that my numbers are fantastic. He can't just look at the numbers and be happy that I'm up up up, he needs to believe I'm putting in the hours.

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm 1

On The Specter of Our Horrible Bosses

Did you know that I'm going through this right this very moment?! I see myself in almost every story above, most recently telling someone that my top need for a new job is to work for "good people." I'm interviewing a little and trying my best to not let the crazy come out, but my current manager has warped my thinking and I know I'm in the danger zone, mentally and emotionally. As a 100% sales commissioned salesperson, and my direct manager having power over my accounts, it's gone beyond bullying and is affecting my paycheck - he's sabotaging some accounts, unfairly taking me out of others, and to top it off when he's at his worse and I'm having a low point, I have panic attacks that sideline me and only make the money situation bleaker. What's the worst, though? Not having HR at my company, knowing that the majority of upper management will not my sympathetic, and essentially having no support at work other than my colleagues. It's also not easy looking for a job when you're this desperate, thankfully I've got a lot of smart friends, both in my industry and outside of it, who help keep me objective, encouraged, and healthy.

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm 0

On Four Years of Part-Time Retail Work

Post grad-school, fall of 2008, when it became painfully obvious that job searching was a joke, I began my three years of retail management. I had always worked retail and service jobs through high school and college, but always part-time, no more than 20 hours a week unless school was out and demand was high. Now I was working 45+ hours a week, and managing that puzzle of a schedule. I, too, view my leaving as an escape, and the thought of returning to it is akin to failure. I hated how people reacted when I told them what I did, real or perceived judgment feels the same. You start to surround yourself with similar people because 1) the hours and 2) because they "got it," but it doesn't allow you to network for potential "real" jobs and you feel like you're falling down a retail rabbit hole. Not all of it was bad. I took pride in helping people solve their own problems, large and small. I met some really great people between employees, customers, venders, etc. Once I settled into the job I enjoyed having a mental break compared to grad school. But it doesn't pay enough, there's never the budget for enough staff, corporate stores will suck out your soul, and customers will break you.

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm 0

On The Other Side of One Latte a Day

I had to have a sort of breakup with my bodega when I moved to a new neighborhood. He always had my wine, cold cans of diet coke, and other specialities for me, and noticed every time I backed off for a few days. I thought about disappearing, but felt that I owed him a goodbye after three mostly pleasant years. He still gets excited and gives me hugs when we run into each other, thankfully that's a once a year occurrence, if that.

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm 0

On How Having an Allowance as a Kid Governed the Way I Save Money as an Adult

I had a similar allowance structure, with some key differences. After my childhood having a chore system where I got paid a quarter to unload the dishes, or a $1 for cleaning the kitty litter, by late middle school my parents actually made me make a budget of sorts. I had to estimate what I needed for a year, how much I would spend on clothing, toiletries, entertainment, etc. The only thing not included would be food, as food was a family expense, and anything "educationally related," like school trips and clarinet things. (reeds are expensive) This budget went through several drafts - do you really need this much money for shoes? why is your hair cut so expensive? you're not taking into consideration this for your entertainment budget - and when the parents were happy with the budget, we essentially broke that down to a biweekly allowance and it, more or less, became my allowance. It wasn't enough to cover everything to the penny what I written down in the budget projection, but it was more than plenty. And no joke, I was on my own. When we went shopping, it was my money. When I wanted to dye my hair some stupid color, I paid for it. I'm definitely more of a spender than a saver, and that was established way before I started my allowance, and I think they hoped this arrangement would make me understand savings better. I would say that it helped me understand how to get everything I wanted and needed and not be broke, i.e. to be creative with my spending, but savings was then and still is a challenge to me. I think the key factor that screwed me up, though, is that the cost of living - rent, utilities, etc - came into play far too late in the game. I went to a school with housing on campus for all four years, and then went straight into grad school where my parents still paid my housing (cause they are amazing). So well into my 20s, even as I phased out of the allowance and phased in part-time jobs, I still never understood that a good chunk of my money would very soon be going toward rent. My mother was gracious enough to outline a goal of when to start paying my rent after grad school, so I didn't fall off the cliff, but even still I was so used to the idea that $500 of a paycheck is $450 I can spend as I please. It's weird to think of it now, how my family was doing everything possible to set me up for an independent life apart from them, but paying for your home whether rent or mortgage was the one thing very much absent from my financial teaching and upbringing. For the record, my younger sister was put on a similar allowance, and she saved every stupid penny. Naturally, I hate her.

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 9:17 am 1