My sister and I are freakishly close (we've lived together as adults for nine years now), but last year we did our first big trip together. I've been calling it our Paris Grief Trek - our mom had always wanted to go to Paris but never had the chance. When she was diagnosed with brain cancer, we promised to take her as soon as she was well enough to travel; when she went off treatment, she made us promise to go together for her. So we did. (We brought her picture with us and took photos with it around the city. And we cried, a lot.) One lovely financial note - it was expensive, as you'd expect, but when Mom had been in hospice she'd given us her safety deposit box key and asked us to go through it for her. One thing we found stashed inside was a bond for me, from my great-uncle who'd passed away a decade ago. He and my aunt were huge travelers themselves (they had a huge map on the wall in their house with thumbtacks pressed in to every place they'd traveled to and pics of themselves at a lot of them around the map's edge -- very very cool). We had to ask my aunt for a copy of his death certificate to cash out the bond, which we used to pay for the hotel, and she noted that the trip was to honor my mother, but it also would have made my uncle very, very happy to help pay for it. ANYWAY, on a less depressing note, my sister and I decided to make sistercationing a regular thing. We decided on every other year, to give us time to save up for big trips. Next on the schedule is Greece, probably next spring.
Please buy the life insurance. I know I've said this in comments before, but having a life insurance payout (about $200,000) made an enormous difference when my mother died. My father - who was 78, retired, and they had been living solely on her salary + his social security - was able to pay off the mortgage and all of Mom's medical bills, hospice bills, funeral costs, etc. He invested a significant chunk with financial planners, and it's now set up that he gets a payout every month to supplement his social security, which gives him a decent income to live on - plus he can arrange for larger withdrawals, for things like a new car, upkeep on the house, etc. We didn't know Mom had that policy until she passed away, and my sister and I had been scrambling and terrified. How do you long-distance care for an aging parent with no income and no savings? Between the two of us, would we have enough to be able to send him money, would he have to move into a home and if so how would we pay for it, etc etc etc. Mom's life insurance had a HUGE impact on Dad's current quality of life and our peace of mind. If you've got family, please do this. (I also have life insurance for myself - the work policy that came free as one of our benefits, plus a policy mom had purchased for me. It's about $16/month and my sister/roommate is the beneficiary. It's not as dire, but it means that if something happens to me, she won't have to worry about moving to another apartment or anything like that immediately. It's not as large of a policy but would give her a cushion.)
My parents always pushed the line about everyone should work retail/food service/etc (and my sister and I both did). Their basic theory was that 1) working in it and seeing how much it can suck would cause people to be kinder to people who hold those jobs, and 2) if we didn't like it, more motivation to get "better" work. (Which falls into the whole "if you don't go to college, you'll end up flipping burgers!" trope, which I'm not fond of.)
My family has always done this. We're so-so on giving holiday/birthday presents (we're all very hard to shop for, so we mostly don't worry about it), but will occasionally send random gifts - the family line growing up was always "happy nothing special, this jumped off the shelf, yelling your name." (In those exact words.) Like, my sister knew I was traveling to visit our dad and sent me a new bag and a set of hand lotions, because she knew my bag strap had broken and that dad's house is very dry. They were nothing I desperately needed, nothing extravagant, but really nice of her to think of. I can see where the tension comes in, though. When I first moved to the city I dated a guy who had way more money than I did (via his family, we both worked retail but I had no real safety net). He almost always treated me when we went out together, and at one point paid for almost the entirety of a two-week road trip, because he really wanted to go on a trip together and knew I couldn't afford it. It was very sweet, but also really awkward. I knew he wasn't looking for reciprocity - he just wanted to be able to go out, have fun, and not worry - but it did make me very aware of how much he was spending on me and how vast the differences between what we could afford were. It did sometimes get uncomfortable and I made a point of insisting, every month or so, on taking *him* somewhere nice-ish (and saved for it, etc), even though he assured me he didn't expect that. It wasn't a huge dealbreaker or anything, but it was definitely something we had to navigate and neither one of us was very comfortable talking about how.
@Erica I could see her wanting a small, intimate wedding...but still with caviar.
I can't remember if it was in Yes Please! (which I'm currently reading) or an interview with Amy Poehler, but I definitely read something recently that touched on the evolution of Leslie's wardrobe - basically they wanted to start from it being relatively affordable and "normal" feeling, but as Leslie's successes grew, they allowed it to evolve to be a lot more sophisticated (and expensive). I haven't rewatched the first couple of seasons recently to see if that feels accurate, but it's interesting that they did have it in mind. They did have an episode about Ben freaking out about the cost of raising triplets - it had a miracle fix (the sale of Cones of Dunshire) and very vague talks about practicalities (along the lines of "our kids will obviously be geniuses who get free rides to college from grants and scholarships"). It pretty much gave them an out from freaking out over it the same way the time jump let them gloss over doing a(nother) set of pregnancy stories or dealing with the day to days of having three infants. But it makes sense that Ben, with his accountant's heart, was the one who (briefly) worried about it. I've always assumed, btw, that Donna is independently wealthy - I can't imagine the parks department paid that well, but she certainly seemed to have the most lavish lifestyle of any of the characters. (Not a complaint! The show's hints at Donna's life outside work were always hilarious and delightful.) It always felt to me like Tom was aspiring to what Donna already had.
Student loan, 2.1% interest. December 2014: $5,517.45 January 2015: $5,235.23
I got an internship that led to an entry level job at a magazine at 23-24. But the magazine folded within my first year working there. After that, I landed an entry level web production gig, which was still entry level but paid a bit better (mostly due to being more tech than editorial, I suspect...). After about a year, I was taking on more responsibility and got a raise - same job title, though. The year after that we were acquired by another company (I kept the same title/salary) and the year after that I got another raise and a title that matched my actual responsibilities. So I'd say that functionally it took me about a year to be compensated slightly above entry level, two years to "feel" like I was beyond entry level, and three years for that position to be official.
@ATF YES like, I don't want to have to drive 20 minutes if I want ice cream on a whim! I want to be able to go downstairs to my bodega and be back within five minutes! I did get to roam pretty freely as a kid. It was a pretty safe small town with nowhere to get lost (there were woods and whatnot, but I wasn't THAT adventurous or injury prone).
@JNC Musings Factory That's what seems like it would be hardest to me (aside from the money, dear god, I can't even imagine) - babies need a lot of *stuff* when they go out, how do you carry them plus all of that, plus, like, your groceries on the way home? (But again, this is just observation, not first-hand experience, so maybe it's not so bad.)