@ATF Yup. I have a dear friend who married someone everyone she knows thinks is deeply, deeply wrong for her. They had had an extremely acrimonious breakup where he said things to her and about her that if someone said those things regarding me, it's a toss-up whether or not I'd henceforth make a phone call if they were on fire, let alone get back together by getting engaged. She moved out of our city to be with him, and they threw a small engagement/going away party for their close friends, and as we left, her high school bff stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk and goes "Well, I'll say it. This is a TERRIBLE idea. What can we do?" The fervid consensus, after a lot of discussion, was nothing. And at that moment, I decided to get 100% on board, because he was already so suspicious of our friend group that anything less would almost certainly result in being cut off. It was an extremely sad feeling watching her walk down the aisle--like watching a car wreck in slow motion. And it felt weird to sit there at the reception thinking "I'm not here for the wedding, I'm here for the divorce." But that's kind of the deal. I was there that day to ensure that I'm able to be there for her someday in the future. It won't be the most fun wedding you ever attend, but let that give you a sense of purpose, at least?
I dream about winning the lottery (not the giant interstate jackpots, just like, a regular $8-$10 million would be plenty) and buying a beautiful apartment. I would take the lump sum, so realistically we are looking at like, $5-$8 million to play with. I would buy a place in the West Village--not a whole townhouse, but definitely a big enough space to entertain, and a second bedroom that I would rent to a friend at a reasonable price just for company and to pay the utilities for as long as I felt like it. And I would buy a nice two-bedroom place uptown for my parents so they would have somewhere really comfortable to stay when they were in town, and my brother could stay there too. And we would visit each other, and I don't even know if I would own a car, but I would definitely finally get ZipCar, and I could just zip up and down the West Side Highway in a lovely real estate fantasy. I would pay for these places in cash, and I would have plenty of time to find nice places with low maintenance fees, and I would not be crazy about buying all new fancy things to fill them. I would just have two very nice apartments, and a nice little million-dollar nest egg to generate enough interest to pay for them in a pinch. I would keep my job and everything; I don't think my life would change that much. I would just have a much nicer apartment that was really mine to house my slightly-nicer shoes. As Dorothy Parker once said, "I've never been a millionaire, but I bet I'd be a darling at it." The major flaw in this plan is that I do not buy lottery tickets because they are a fantastic waste of money.
@Katni That is adorable. I was checking my bank balance on my phone the other day in front of my mom and she was like "Why do you have to do that? When's the last time you balanced your checkbook?" and this was clearly going to be a Big Discussion until I burst out laughing and was like "3rd grade, when you made me learn how, and the same goes for everyone under 30."
@Katni My emergency fund is currently at $8000 and that's only because I am in a bad job situation and had to use some of it. We're Jewish, he's definitely not a Ramseyite, but I think it's fairly sound advice.
@bgprincipessa Oh no definitely meaning credit card debt, unpaid bills, etc. A response to my first encounter with a credit card at age 18, when I kept letting a balance roll over month to month while still putting money away for savings.
I have no idea what parenting book my parents got this from, but when we started getting an allowance (1st grade, and we got a dollar amount that matched our age, so $6) we were given four piggy banks. We labeled them long-term savings, short-term savings, spending, and charity. And we sat down with our parents to decide how what percent of our allowance we wanted to go into each piggy bank. We had a long talk about what someone might buy over the long term, what you might need to save for in the short term, how if you spend all your money you won't be able to do any of those things, and how everyone has to give something to charity. We talked about how the amount we gave could shift as different things we wanted or needed came up, and we were given our allowance in singles so we could physically divide it for ourselves. It worked pretty effectively. The methods and products are a little more sophisticated now, but that's still basically how I organize my personal finances, making sure something is allotted for every category. I think the best habit it taught us was that saving was an expectation, not an optional thing; I sometimes get stressed as an adult when I feel like I'm not able to save enough, but I think that's better than the stress that would come with getting old and discovering I'd not saved at all. As for less formal lessons: -Cars are not an investment. -No matter what Vogue says, clothing is not an investment. At the very best, it is a worthwhile purchase. -Leftovers are good and will be eaten. If you think you can't eat it again, put it in a sandwich. -If you have debt, you don't have savings. Pay your bills first.
The London Review of Books started coming to my apartment for no reason and for no money, so I shall continue to read it, but I will say that having started reading it recently with no particular sense of what it was like, it is the WHITEST, MALEST thing ever. Like, it is really striking. I would feel obligated to boycott except that I don't pay for it.
Did someone forget to mark this "sponsored"? What is this shit?
@Adam Speaking as someone who lives in New York City (where the author lives) our options are quite a bit different. Even if you chose to own a car here (which, with a parking garage around $300 a month is an extremely expensive proposition) you wouldn't use it to commute, except in a few cases of reverse commuting to NJ or Long Island. An unlimited monthly Metrocard costs $120 and that is the longest-term option; there is no annual. The cost is justified if you use it twice per day. An annual Citibike membership is $100, assuming you both live and work near a Citibike station. There is a huge aftermarket in bikes here, but I am with Mr. Benson on this one: biking in the greatest city in the world is not for everyone. I found that the health and cost benefits were deeply impacted by a) confronting death every morning before work riding up 6th Avenue (and that was IN A BIKE LANE) and b) having my bike stolen once, backed over by a truck once (bending the front wheel and requiring an expensive cab ride home plus the cost of replacement) and scraping my leg until it bled every day after I started carrying it into my apartment so it wouldn't get stolen again. Some buildings here have bike storage; that is usually also not free. Or, you can run/walk. Which I did for years when my commute was a 30 minute walk; it's now about an hour-long walk. I might try again, but how the hell do you make the logistics of getting dressed for work make sense? I am a woman; I need to pack heels and delicate fabrics and if my hair gets sweaty, it will not just dry right away. Do you run with a backpack? Where do you shower? For now, I'm sticking with the gym membership and the monthly Metrocard but it is killing me after years of not paying for one.
I will say, I do not understand people who do not answer blocked or unfamiliar numbers out of some sense of principle. The annoyance I feel at encountering a robocaller telling me I've won a cruise (and that happens a lot) is so FAR, FAR outweighed by the times I have a) found out that there were unauthorized charges on my card b) found out that my roommate was mugged while out (this was before she got home; I was the last number she'd called and the police had arrested the people who attacked her and found her phone) c) found out that my brother was in the hospital (I was his emergency contact) that I will never not pick up. Your friends and family are NOT the people you need to worry about. If they need to reach you, they probably have multiple ways to do it. The really important calls will come from a number you don't know, and they will not send you a text afterwards to tell you "this is important, please pick up."