On A Decision to Settle

That phrase, "money well spent," is such a red flag to me. My mother and my sister both say it all the time, and they would say it means something like, "This thing I am buying is an excellent value. What it is worth to me is so much more than what I am paying for it that there can be no question of not getting it." It can mean something is deeply discounted, or so great that they'll wear it for years, or just, perfect. Really it means they want it and they're going to buy it and they are suspending any consideration of whether they have the money to pay for it, or ever will. They are both getting themselves into serious trouble, and they do not see any of the money that was well spent on great shoes, or cabs when it's raining, or plane tickets when the trip was fun, as part of the problem. Their saying money well spent is a perfect indicator that something is money for something they can't afford and should not buy. They say it with total confidence, all the time. I worry because they won't.

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm 1

On Help, a Direct Mailing For a Cleaning Service Actually Worked On Me And I'm Worried It Will Ruin My Relationship

Of all the intractable issues of adult relationships, housecleaning is the easiest. You cannot hire someone to have sex more often for you, or go to dinner with in-laws, or listen to the same story over and over, but if someone wants to spend their money instead of their time to get a clean house, and the other party objects, no.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm 10

On The Real World Cost of a $22 Gadget

Guy puts this thing on his seat, woman in front objects, attendant is made aware of the situation and uses his basically supreme authority to tell the guy he has to take it off, and _then_ the woman throws water. As soon as airplane guy said do this, and passenger said no, passenger was on his way to getting arrested. Water woman could have sat back and enjoyed her victory and gotten where she was going.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 11:50 am 0

On It Has Been Made Clear to Me That I Cannot Have It All

I always thought the Never Wake rule was about being able to use that time, and you'll be sorry. Not that it will explode or be broken. I woke a sleeping baby all the time, when he'd been asleep long enough and I needed to get his breakfast into him and be ready to jet when the babykeeper arrived. Do it. And, get a pump.

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm 0

On "Secrets" to Buying a House Without Getting Hosed

Not using a realtor makes more sense for sellers than buyers, because sellers pay the brokers' commissions. My seller was buying a new place, and part of her negotiations with her seller was that their agent would to do the paperwork for our sale as well, for nothing. Saved my seller the broker's %. And, a thing I saw over and over living in San Francisco was agents who played their buyers into spending more than they'd intended by letting them make lowball (really just not far enough over asking price) offers on a few places when they started out, and then when they were frustrated by losing them, saying something like, "If you really want this one, we could go on and offer $75,000 over asking." But without that intermediate step of, "Since houses are going for 15-20% over asking, we need to be looking at places listing for 15-20% less than your budget."

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 11:22 am 0

On Saying Yes to the Dress! (For Other People)

A friend was on the Yes to the Dress show with her sister, and described sitting in a studio on camera with the producers asking her, "Weren't you just furious that she didn't pick the one you liked?" And she was all, "Oh, you know, it was ok. The dress she got was really pretty, and she's happy, so I'm good." And the show people were like, "NO. What about that bitch from her sorority? Did you know she said the dress you wanted was ho-bag? Your dress was so much better than hers. Aren't you pissed?" And finally she said, "You're not letting me out of this room until I throw a tantrum for you, huh?" An they said, "Finally, you get it, you nitwit." So she ranted and raved and they loved it and she got to leave and have something to eat. Then she emailed a disclaimer to about 300 people explaining that she was like one of those hostages who has to read what they gave her, and just couldn't blink out the morse code for T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 7:46 am 6

On On Class Rage And Green Juice

Oh I don't think it's having no desires left that rots their souls, I think it's knowing they still have limits. A friend of mine was kind of an estate manager for some crazy-rich (also crazy, rich) people who would have her do things like survey the CDs that they'd been listening to lately, and buy duplicates to go in each of their cars, and pack two boxes to take to the beach house and the mountain house. They literally could not think of enough ways to spend money. Lady would buy furniture and forget, and then buy something else, so when the extra sofa's delivered, oops! But they were not happy, at all, and it wasn't because they had all the couches, or their immediate environment was completely perfect and there was nothing else to make better, with my poor friend stockpiling bananas in her office so that there would always be four (not three, not five) in the fruit bowl at the exact peak of ripeness. It was because while they were filthy, filthy rich, there were still things they couldn't have. They had a jet share, but people who actually owned their own planes could have custom paint jobs on them. They had some nice art, but there was art in the world that they couldn't buy. It killed them. And they craved, CRAVED the company of people with both money AND fame, who wouldn't give them the time of day and didn't come to their parties.

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm 1

On Going Without Health Insurance

I hope all of these people have no living relatives, because when they wind up in the hospital, they will be dunned in an incredibly aggressive and threatening way. A friend of mine suddenly found himself in intensive care without insurance. He wouldn't give them a next of kin, so they took his wallet and got on the web. They called his parents and told them if someone didn't show up with a certified check for thousands and thousands of dollars, they'd basically unhook him from the machines and leave him at the bus stop. They were vicious. If I had a relative who wouldn't buy their own insurance I'd buy it for them but not tell them. I wonder if you can do that, like life insurance. Also, I liked the bit where the uninsured woman stopped for coffee. Slipping in the how many lattes reference.

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm 1

On Why Is Everyone Getting Acquihired Without Me

Second. Designers are not the same as coders, nor the product guys, since they were the ones doing the negotiating. Sounds like they didn't value her much, since they weren't paying her much. Yes, they could have insisted that she was part of the deal, but I have never noticed that "Making offers to four-fifths of a company as part of an acqui-hire, while legal, is nearly unheard of in Silicon Valley..." Google had seen her work and interviewed her. I'm sorry to see this spun so hard as sexism on so little. If they'd had an engineering department of ten, and five were women, and they'd hired the five guys, maybe. You'd still have to see their resumés. And their code.

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm 3

On When One Person Earns More Than the Other in a Relationship

Next Month on the Billfold: I am engaged to a person who works at home on his own schedule, but doesn't make very much money. Not nearly as much as I do. I work really hard at a tough job, and we have a pretty nice lifestyle, but now that we're getting married, and I'm thinking about children. Kid expenses would kibosh a lot of our nice extras like takeout and longer vacations, and it's pretty much impossible for me to take any time off work, since I'm the one with the steady paying gig. Unfortunately I'm also the one with the uterus and breasts. My partner is one of those people who thinks he's got the system beat. He's a writer. Spends a lot of time puttering around the house, doing that writerly procrastination thing. It's great that he gets things done around the house, but it's not like if he had to go to the office the garbage would never go out again. He doesn't even try to assert that he does more than 50%. When I talk about his trying to earn more money, he points out that we don't really need as much as we have. He's big on the virtue of frugality. But I'd infinitely prefer that he compromise his high ideals and earn more than 25% of the household budget. Oh well. I haven't married him yet.

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 7:40 pm 13