On "Choosing THE RIGHT School": BS or Total BS?

I transferred from my "the one" dream college, which was a small (smaller than my high school!) private school with a strong regional reputation, to a huge state school with a mostly-commuter student body and basically no reputation at all... and I was so much happier at the huge state school. I think I probably would have been equally happy at any large school -- the main problem I had at the small school was that I couldn't get away from the work that was stressing me out, because the campus was so small that no matter where I went I would run into someone from class who would want to talk about how hard and stressful the paper was. I think there probably isn't one Right School out there for everyone, but maybe there's a broader Right Category Of School?

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1

On The Billfold Book Club Discusses Helaine Olen's 'Pound Foolish'

@cjm Yep! The very cheapest* prepaid phone and plan I could find on my wireless company's website is $15 for the phone, $25/month for the plan (250 minutes, unlimited texting, no data). That cuts your savings down to $235 for the one-time phone purchase + $900/year on the plan. Which can still add up to a respectable amount -- invested at 6% over 30 years, you'd come out around $77k -- but 1) it's significantly less than the proposed $102k, and 2) that's still making a lot of assumptions about what will happen to phone costs and interest rates over the next 30 years. *Well, not exactly the very cheapest. There are pay-per-use plans that could be cheaper if you use your phone very infrequently. But they make the math unpredictable and complicated, so I'm going with the cheapest straightforward monthly plan.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm 0

On Which is Objectively Worse, Burger King or McDonalds, Sbarro or Pizza Hut?

@limenotapple I always leave Panera in a good mood, even though the meal itself may not have been particularly good, because the last thing I eat is the little mini-baguette that you get as a side. I think that's the answer. They're coasting on mini-baguettes.

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm 0

On Blame the Patriarchy For Your Lack of Social Mobility

@HelloTheFuture I'm curious about that, too, especially in the context of marriage-related changes in social status, as you brought up in the post. I'm also really curious about what kind of analysis the author has done and how confident he is that the groups he's tracking are actually meaningfully connected to each other, especially given the De Belcamp/Beauchamp/Beacham example cited in this article, where it sounds like he readily admits that, yeah, he can't really be that sure who's descended from whom in that sample. For what it's worth, in my own family history, there has definitely been upward social mobility within the last three or four generations -- but my great-grandparents also had recognizably Polish and Czech names that would have marked them as recent immigrants and probably carried associated class markers, and I don't, partly because of marriage and partly because someone on my father's side actually changed their surname, apparently for the specific purpose of obscuring their ethnic origins.

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 4:58 pm 0

On Fear-Based Spending

I think the only thing I've ever paid for extended protection on was my router, because the guy at the store explained to me that "these things tend to slow down over time, and it's basically undiagnosable and unfixable, so if you buy the 3-year protection plan and bring it in, like, 2 years and 10 months from now and tell us you're having connection issues, we'll just give you a new one." Joke's on me, I moved out of state after 2 and a half years and missed my chance at a free router.

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 11:01 pm 0

On How Grandparents Do Money

My grandfather grew up poor and (according to family legend, anyway) swore a vow to himself that, if he ever made it, he would have ice cream with dinner every night. He did make it; I don't think he stuck to the letter of the vow, but he did have some kind of dessert with dinner every night, and always had a tub of his favorite ice cream in the freezer. He was a notorious cheapskate in every other respect, and I'm sure he would hate to think that this was the main financial lesson I learned from his life, but he taught me that money exists to be used -- that, if you have enough money to spend a little on the things that make you happy, you should, because otherwise what's the use of having it at all.

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm 2

On How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Claudia

@HelloTheFuture Yeah, but it seems like she's living under a looming threat of financial instability if/when she and her husband split. (Of course, what looks like "financial instability" from where she's currently standing may actually be "oh no, now she only has as much money as Kristy, which I just said like 20 minutes ago seemed pretty stable". But it's unstable in the sense that she doesn't know where she'll stand six months from now, anyway.)

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm 0

On How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Claudia

@franklina Kristy and Mallory both read as pretty stable to me! Not so well-off that they can afford every luxury they might want, but I don't think "can't really afford a $60 Uber ride" or "works part-time because her family needs the money" really suggests financial instability.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm 0

On Are Land Lines Worth It?

@bowtiesarecool Yeah, this strikes me as a place where the idea that it's expensive to be poor* comes into play. A land line might be cheaper in absolute dollar terms, but when you factor in barriers to entry like the ones you listed, the advantage of portability, the ability to use it for internet access, etc., the cell phone becomes the "cheaper" choice. *Or, the Samuel Vimes Boots Theory of Economic Injustice: if an expensive pair of boots costs $50 and lasts 10 years, but a cheap pair costs $10 and lasts one year, you save money by buying the expensive pair... which isn't much help if you only have $10 and you need new boots right now.

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm 2

On What Did Your First Job Pay Then and What Does It Pay Now?

My first job was retail at a small store, in 2005. I made $6/hr, which in retrospect seems surprisingly generous since minimum wage was only $5.15 at the time and I was 19 years old, completely inexperienced, and basically useless. If I were taking the same job today, I'd expect to be paid minimum wage, now all the way up to $7.25/hr. The inflation calculator says that $6 in 2005 would get you $7.31 in 2014, so even over that short timespan I've lost 6 cents/hour. Bummer.

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm 0