@mishaps Adding my voice to this chorus! I think the steps Logan has taken are great, but now it's time to add some more. They can still be small steps! "Buying groceries" doesn't have to mean major changes. You can start with one meal per day--and to make it even easier, let's take cooking out of the equation for now and just focus on the ready-to-eat foods. Like, instead of buying a single piece of fruit and granola bar in the morning, buy a bunch of fruit and a box of granola bars at a supermarket. The price difference is crazy, and it's the same damn stuff. Of course, buying fresh fruits and vegetables for just one person can be tricky, but that's an issue for another day. (And in response to your other posts: once a person does start to venture into cooking, I cannot urge them enough to buy tons of BEANS and EGGS. I eat so many beans and eggs.)
@jfruh Oh! Maybe someone reading this can answer a question. We all know it's easy to hate Wal-Mart, because killing small businesses and bad treatment of employees and stuff. But at the same time, everyone loves Target. Is Target really any different than Wal-Mart, or do we just forgive it more because the stuff is cuter? This is a legitimate question--I really don't know, and I've been vaguely trying to find out.
@OneTooManySpoons Just realize I should add--I do realize this is a bad, poorly-researched article. I'm not trying to defend it. I do think, however, that lots of men (including even Mike, who I think is just the awesomest), don't fully understand the "normal," not-frivolous expenses that come with being a woman who wants to look, you know, like a regular, nice, respectable person.
@londonistheplaceforme Yes--while there are many legitimate flaws with the piece, I didn't think the "normal" excerpt was one of them. I can see why some people might object to the use of the word "normal," but I don't think the semantics here are enough to invalidate the argument. As someone suggested downthread, if you replace "normal" with "professional" or "respectable," I think it IS a good point. A man can use the pieces of one suit to make an appropriate outfit for a wider range of occasions--a business meeting, wedding, nice dinner, etc. A woman, on the other hand, could not show up to a business meeting wearing a pretty dress, nor would she show up as a wedding guest wearing a suit. She needs a much more diverse wardrobe. And don't forget at least a little bit of jewelry. That's pretty standard, and is amazingly expensive, even if you're not buying fancy stuff. And how about bras--there's AT LEAST $30 for a piece of underwear, and for anyone with a sizeable bust, you're probably paying between $60-90 just for one bra. Multiply that by however many bras you need, and that's probably more than the cost of my boyfriend's entire wardrobe. Add in a haircut. That'll cost you whatever a man pays, times two. Throw in some basic cosmetics... (I use a men's razor, even though it's harder to control when shaving my legs, because even women's RAZOR BLADES are more expensive). No matter how you put it semantically, I don't think it's outrageous to say that it costs much, much more for a woman to make herself look put-together than it does for a man.
@OneTooManySpoons (I'm not very bright)
@Genghis Khat I thought that, too! I mean, I figured it out quickly (by the second coffee shop). But at first I thought she had just woken up and decided to apply for jobs as a barista.
I am so torn about couponing. On the one hand, I feel like it's a good thing for those who want to save/earn money for their families but for whom it might be difficult to have a full-time job away from home (like stay-at-home moms). On the other hand, as noted, there are not usually coupons for GOOD foods. It's always, like, frozen pizzas and candy. And oh god, the amount you have to buy in order to save a lot! Like, how are these families of four going through 60 jars of spaghetti sauce?? How??? Without eating spaghetti every single night? I think a nice option is to get a ton and then giving 70% of it to food banks. That way, you're still spending basically nothing but you end up with a REASONABLE amount of food, instead of too much that will go to waste.
@ghechr I was going to suggest this! I've never used a fancy program, just a spreadsheet, but I spent three months tracking EVERY penny and then putting my expenses into broad categories. It was tedious, of course, but helpful. From there, I looked to see if there were any surprises, and decide if I should adjust my expectations or adjust my spending. Like I spent a lot more than I thought on groceries... but it wasn't like there was a lot I could cut down on there; I was just really underestimating the cost of normal groceries. I did, however, find some other areas where I was overspending and tried to fix that (a little).
@Liz YES, THIS, ABSOLUTELY. I lived in Japan for five years and spent four of those years working in a proper company (in other words, not teaching). I find the Japanese working model just terrible. You spend your ENTIRE LIFE at the office, but half the time lots of people aren't doing anything. It's just the culture; you're not allowed to leave before your boss, it's career suicide to use up your vacation days, and you're expected to put in 14 hour days just so you can show your face at the office. Actually getting the work DONE has very little to do with it. Of course, that said, my company was owned by a foreigner and was a bit more relaxed--you could leave at the end of the day if you were done. However, it still differed from an average American office job in that the standard day was longer (9-6 was the absolute minimum), and you were preeeetttty much expected to do at least an hour or two of overtime. Not for the useless reasons described above, but because they simply assigned a ton of work to each person, and an average day for me usually meant working hard from about 8-8. (Not to insult American workers; I know tons of people who put in these kinds of hours. But this was a very low-level, unimpressive office job, and the employees in our US, Canadian, and Australian offices doing the exact same jobs always had 9-5 workdays and that was it. I think their offices were just much more highly staffed.)
@Katzen-party Oh man, I'm in Canada right now and just tried my first Smarties about two hours ago. Terrible, just terrible.