I am a little surprised by this angle on the story because I thought saving for your kids' college education wasn't such an all-or-nothing, rich-or-poor thing. Yes, saving hundreds of thousands for the entire bill, with no aid, is way beyond the reach of most middle class families. Definitely. But trying to put a few hundred or thousand away in a 529 that will hopefully make more than inflation (though not more than tuition increases!) is not THAT crazy for people in the middle class who have enough disposable income to save a little. No, it won't pay all the bills, but it will help supplement your income-based expected family contribution and maybe reduce loans. I was raised being told that was my duty to my kids, so we opened a 529 when our first was born and put any cash gifts he received from relatives in, even though we can't imagine ever saving up the entire tuition bill (we only make a few thousand over the cutoff for state aid programs, pay 60% for housing, and can't save anything on our current income, so I'd call us "lower middle"). Hopefully we will someday have more to contribute. Is the mere existence of college savings really only for the "pretty wealthy and disproportionately influential"? I'm not sure how I feel about Obama's proposal one way or another so this isn't a comment in opposition to it. Just saying that a) the NY Times is HORRIBLE at writing about the "middle class" and b) not saving for college unless you can pay for the whole thing in cash is pretty self defeating.
This week has been soooo expensive - medical copay, catching up on donations, finally giving in and buying ugly snow boots (I've been trying to get cute ones for two years but they seem to be out of stock by November and never come back), paying for 6 months of car insurance at almost twice the rate of our previous state, and buying a year's worth of renter's insurance because I actually know someone whose building caught on fire recently. WHEW. This weekend the spending continues. Tonight I'm just going to exercise, eat leftovers, and try to hit the sack early. Maybe pick up a book I requested at the library - my new library card is amazing, it's a passport to all this free entertainment! Saturday I need to run and shop and maybe make white turkey chili? I have a huge grocery list of fruits, vegetables, and stock up stuff for cooking projects ($100?). I also need a nice shirt for a Skype interview next week ($30? I don't know!), and we need gas ($35). Sunday I'm hoping to go to church for only the second time since having my kid...it's hard to get out the door, ok? Later we're going to a Superbowl party but I think we'll just bring chips and maybe beer - kid is an excuse for not cooking and I'm sure we'll leave after half time or earlier. Super Snacks Party FTW! Total estimate: $135. But I'd love to come in under!
@Wendy T I love the idea of turning this into a series!
@megra Buying books is exciting! A free flight is too :)
Airport snacks are such a ripoff, I always go to one of the other extremes - only packed snacks from home, or a hot meal that will only cost a little more than a $5 pack of nuts but be more satisfying. My husband actually looks forward to the "excuse" to eat fast food at airports though, so when we travel together we budget for that.
Small city is the way to go. I recently moved from one where my work, stores, friends, and downtown were mostly a .5-1.5 mile walk away. Now I live in a huge city, but I can't afford to live by a subway station, so it's a 1.5 mile walk or short bus ride to get there, then a 20 minute ride and 10 min walk to work downtown if there are no delays. EVERYTHING is more expensive and further away. If I could afford $2500 rent, I could live closer, but to me it seems like big city living is a hassle and a ripoff.
I wonder how much these ratings reflect "good food" alone versus "good food for the money." I definitely have higher expectations when I pay more, and get more excited about something cheap and really tasty than something expensive, because OF COURSE that should be great.
@ATF That sounds amazing. Went to Hen of the Woods on my honeymoon and it was such a memorable meal, I would love to go again someday. (Winter weekends in Vermont are such a thing for us, I am sort of still hoping to do one this year, bu we are plus baby and minus disposable income. Sigh.) Sorry you didn't find Heady Topper but I hope you made up for it with Hill Farmstead!
@LookUponMyWorks Well done you!
I spent $23 on used books Friday, $10 on pizza Saturday when we were hosting a game night, and groceries only came to $38, which is awesomely low (but we didn't get everything on the list - they were already running out of lots of stuff because people were buying it all before the storm hit). Total: $71. I'd estimated $100 on food plus the books, so pretty good! Things I forgot and still have to pay for, though: past 3 months of charitable donations ($300), and coffee and cocoa ($10-15?), which I MUST replenish before this blizzard hits, or life will not be complete. Guess I'll be walking to Whole Foods this afternoon, where the bulk coffee is cheap but the cocoa is a huge ripoff.