Ask A Human Who Actually Practices GTD (‘Getting Things Done’)

Here is an real tweet that I really tweeted yesterday:

My inbox may be zero, but my GTD list is spiraling out of control. Time to reconfigure my Horizons of Responsibility or something. #GTD

— Nicole (@HelloTheFuture) July 21, 2014

I meant every word of it.

I’ve been practicing GTD, or David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, since 2008. That’s well over 300 Weekly Reviews. An uncountable number of Ubiquitous Capture Devices. The regular, systemic processing of my Inboxes to Zero.

What does this have to do with personal finance, you might ask? When I was working as an executive assistant, practicing GTD didn’t have all that much to do with finance except for the part where it helped me pay my bills on time. It was only when I switched to the freelance world that GTD became an essential part of my money management.

It’s probably time for a quick update of what “GTD” is. At its core, “practicing GTD” means sorting through all of the various inputs that come at you every day — email inboxes, Twitter feeds, online chats with editors, personal conversations — and isolating every task that you have agreed to complete onto a single list. Then, you organize the list into completable chunks of action items, and you get things done.

Blame the Patriarchy For Your Lack of Social Mobility

You’d be forgiven if you saw today’s The Atlantic article “What’s In a Name? Everything.” and thought it was another Freakonomics-style piece about how passing along certain surnames to your children can inhibit their social mobility because we as Americans are presumptive and racist jerks.

Well, passing along certain surnames can inhibit social mobility, and we as Americans are often presumptive and racist jerks, but that’s not why these two items are necessarily connected—not according to UC-Davis economic historian Gregory Clark’s new research, anyway.

Gregory Clark’s new book The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility examines how wealth, status, and opportunity are passed down from parents to children, and how likely it is that a family—not an individual, but an entire family—is able to rise socially and economically over time.

Reminder: The Billfold Book Club Will Discuss Helaine Olen’s ‘Pound Foolish’ on Wednesday, July 23

I am literally drinking a Starbucks Tall Java Chip Frappuccino as I write this.

Thank goodness Helaine Olen and I both know that this single indulgence won’t ruin my capacity to save for tomorrow or save for retirement. My “capacity to save” has much more to do with large-scale economic forces than with my individual financial choices. Hooray!

Are you ready to discuss Pound Foolish next Wednesday? I have no idea what I’m going to write about this book yet. I might just post a picture of me looking terrified. I might type “I knew it!” in 100-pt font. Or maybe I’ll write a song titled “Benjamin Franklin Does Not Think 1.5% Compound Interest Is All That Magical.”

We’ll talk soon. If you haven’t read Pound Foolish yet, you still have time before Wednesday.

You should also read Mike Dang’s interview with Helaine Olen, “A Conversation with Helaine Olen About the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industrial Complex,” because it is both an excellent companion to the book and an excellent interview.

(In fact, you could probably participate fully in the book club discussion by reading the interview in lieu of the book. Not that I’m suggesting you do that. But it is an option.)

The “I Got a CPA” Update

A little over a month ago, I wrote about how I finally went out and got a CPA after a CSR working for an automated tax software program told me “you really need a professional to do your taxes.”

Here is how my CPA experience went! I am curious if it was anything like other people’s experiences with CPAs and financial advisers.

1. I had no idea how much it was going to cost. 

My CPA’s website didn’t have any rates listed, which is fine, but it took me to the end of our first in-person meeting (after a few phone conversations) to finally say “um… what do you charge, and is it by hour or by project?”

It was per hour, and since some of those hours happened without me in the room I really didn’t have any idea what my bill would be until I received it. That, of course, made me nervous because I like to plan things in advance, but it turned out fine.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Karen

Karen is 35 this year, six years younger than her step-sister Kristy and the other members of the BSC. Karen realizes just how lucky being 35 makes her.

Got an Extra $500? Buy Jibo, the Family Robot

Jibo just launched. This robot is essentially a smartphone on a stick, but with the addition of an Uncanny Valley voice and a few “facial features,” Jibo becomes a fully-fledged, fully-creepy member of your family. (Watch the YouTube video above to see exactly what Jibo can do.)

The strangest and most interesting part about Jibo is that Jibo only costs $500. It’s a price point that makes Jibo feel extremely accessible — something that’s probably less money than a lot of other family or personal expenses. Some people might save up for a Jibo, but for a lot of families (as well as, say, people living in studio apartments who have dreamed about the robot future for years), Jibo can be an impulse buy.

And that “impulse buy” feeling was exactly what I had after watching to the end of the commercial. Jibo is hilariously unnerving, but I have an extra $500 and I really want to blow it on a Jibo.

The first thing I would do would be to tell it to answer to “Pintsize.”

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Abby

Abby Stevenson lies about her age. She’s about to turn 41, like the other members of the BSC, but she’s always felt years younger. She posts her Buzzfeed “How Big of a ‘90s Kid Are You?” quiz results to Facebook, as if to claim her space in the generation below her.

“If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl.”

There is so much to love about The Atlantic’s article “The Myth of Wealthy Men and Beautiful Women.” It reports on a new study by University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock which states that romantic pairings are more likely to be people who are closely matched in terms of compatibility and values than people who are exchanging one type of scarce resource for another (e.g. “wealth” for “beauty”).

Read the whole piece, because the way Atlantic writer James Hamblin gets to the conclusion is delightful — he invokes the Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Rival” and suggests that some of the scarce resources couples could swap might be “graduate degrees” and “marketable skills” — and make sure you read every single quote from his interview with Dr. McClintock:

“Women spend a lot more time trying to look good than men do. That creates a lot of mess in this data. If you don’t take that into account then you actually see there’s a lot of these guys who are partnered with women who are better looking than them, which is just because, on average, women are better looking.”

“If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl.”

“It’s not just this trade of his money for her beauty, and he’s going to dump her as soon as she starts to get some wrinkles around her eyes.”

(And now, the question for y’all: is your romantic pairing based solely on compatibility and values, or did you take into account resource-swapping — even a little bit — when you built your partnership?)


How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Dawn

Dawn never saw herself as living in “that part” of San Francisco, but there she is. She never thought of herself as being a full-time stay-at-home mom to two children on the autism spectrum, but there she is. She never, ever thought that a family could be earning more money than most people on the planet and still be in debt beyond their capacity to ever pay it back, not to mention the general paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, but there she is.

How President Obama Does Credit Cards

Last Thursday, President Obama visited Austin’s Franklin Barbecue and committed two minor breaches of etiquette.

The first is that he cut the line. Reportedly, he is the first person in history to cut the Franklin Barbecue line, which often requires patrons to wait for up to three hours. If you would like to read angry tweets about Obama’s line-cutting, Eater Austin has collected several, such as:

apparently Obama skipped the line at Franklin's BBQ today. DICK move, bro!

— Ben (@BensWJ) July 10, 2014

The second breach of etiquette is that he flashed his JP Morgan Select credit card in front of everybody. Literally held it up for all to see, right before paying for his own food as well as at least one other patron’s meal.

So now there are images of President Obama’s credit card bouncing around the internet. (I hope he got someone on his staff to request a new credit card number.)

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Jessi

Jessi knows what her students call her. She can tell by the way they look at her, most of them, the ones that don’t take her class seriously.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Mary Anne

It was a shock to everybody. A pleasant shock, or at least a “let’s pretend we think this is a good idea” shock, and in fact their wedding, which took place during the summer after Mary Anne’s freshman year of college, was the last time the entire BSC was together.

They’re still married. They still live in Stoneybrook, or technically just outside of Stoneybrook, in an old farmhouse that they remodeled together, nearly from the ground up.