On When Your Paycheck Is What Keeps You From Achieving Your Goals

@ronswansonluva Yup - during college, I was on that tight of a budget both during and not during the school year (different jobs and living situations). It was particularly hard because I had friends who weren't on a budget at all, and didn't understand why I never went to restaurants with them. It definitely sucks, and I'm not trying to suggest it's easy or that they have brought all their hardships on themselves or whatever - I'm saying $15/hr is a living wage, but only if you have your sh*t together ($7.50/hr isn't a living wage regardless). The people profiled in the article, for the most part, are not making sound financial choices; therefore, what's holding them back is not just (or possibly even primarily) the wage that they're making. Possibly I find this sort of 'they're totally fine, just give them more money!' type article particularly annoying because my brother works for a non-profit that actually does try to address some of the other issues - financial literacy, mental health services, child care, transportation - and articles like this tend to undermine support for his type of organization. ETA: I'm also the sort of person for whom budgets come naturally, and who would sell decorations at yard sales as a child, and then hoard the quarters I made. Living frugally is just kind of how I roll, plus I had no dependents, so I understand that this was easier for me than it is for many people.

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm 0

On When Your Paycheck Is What Keeps You From Achieving Your Goals

@apples and oranges Actually, yeah. The couple who is spending all that candy money claims that what they need to move somewhere with better jobs is (a) repair a truck (b) save up 'some money' If we say that (a) and (b) are each around $1000 (which seems reasonable for truck repairs and saving a security deposit plus gas money), they need to save $2000. With the $200 tattoo, probably 20/week for cigarettes, 20-30 a week for DVDs, candy, and fast food, I think they could save up the money to move in about 6-8 months if they cut that stuff out. Which is to say, what they need is the ability to budget, as well as more money. I'm sure that you could increase their wages enough to compensate for inability to budget, but it would be to more than $15/hour (a number tossed around recently as a living wage). Similarly, while it's fine if people want to have 6 kids, that's going to require a lot more than a single wage earner pulling in $15/hr to make it work well.

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm 0

On When Your Paycheck Is What Keeps You From Achieving Your Goals

@SterlingCooper05 I don't think it's reasonable to say that their wages are the *only* thing holding them back. Most of the profiled folks had either fairly irresponsible spending (ie, the couple that somehow never has money to fix their truck, but can afford tattoos, candy, cigarettes, and lots of fast food; this is also the couple that tends to show up late), a large number of children (6 under the age of 10!), or had been teenage moms. The remaining two seem to be working there while they put themselves through college. I don't think the solution is to say 'oh, these are bad people, their problems are their own fault', but to pretend like giving them a few hundred dollars a week more, without any sort of information around budgeting & family planning, or more support for those who already have kids, seems a bit reductionist.

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm 3

On Gold Diggers And Deadbeat Dads

@thirtysum This +10000. I also dated someone who had several "cute" lies when we first met - should have been a giant red flag that he had only a passing acquaintance with reality, which led to huge problems down the road. Anyone who finds it easy to lie, and does so when it's convenient, is not someone you can ever trust.

Posted on March 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm 0

On An Interview With a Wealthy Retiree About His Taxes

@Theestablishment Agree that that would be interesting to know, but I sort of like the 'So! You donate nearly twice as much of your money to charity as you pay in taxes. What are the best ways to do that?' line of questioning. I've never heard much about that subject, and he has some very interesting suggestions (or at least, ones I haven't heard of before). Slightly less applicable given my current donation budget, but maybe someday...

Posted on March 24, 2015 at 6:52 pm 0

On Talking to Your CPA About Estimated Income

@Kate You can still get a fine, but it's not set at $1000 - that's a number that the IRS picked as a 'if you underpaid by less than this amount, we don't care'. So if you wind up owing 20k in taxes, and you only paid 19.5k throughout the year (so you write a $500 check this April), then you're fine. If you owe 20k in taxes and paid less than 19k throughout the year (so you're writing a check for more than $1,000 in April), then you have to delve further into whether or not you owe additional penalties. Basically, the IRS says that you owe them taxes at the time you make the money, not the end of the year, and if it turns out you were late paying them taxes, they charge you interest and fees. For W-2 income, that's why they withhold from each paycheck. For 1099 income, you have to manage that yourself. Standard disclaimer: I am not an accountant, this is not tax advice.

Posted on March 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm 0

On I 'Leaned In' at My Nanny Job—and Got Fired

I think this is an object lesson in the dangers of echo chambers online. Turns out, if you ask a bunch of women who all want to be supportive and who are all also freelancers if your boss will mind if you ask for a raise, you don't get the most reliable answers. A better tactic would be to go to a mommy blog and ask the moms there if they would mind if their nanny asked for a raise (particularly a brand new nanny). Also, what's with the click-baity titles recently? By no reasonable definition was this 'leaning in'. If she'd offered to read to their daughter for an extra 30 minutes a day and been fired over *that*, then that would have been being fired over leaning in. This was just being fired for doing a mediocre job for a few weeks, then asking for a raise. I don't blame the mom one bit, I'd have done the same - if during the first 3 weeks, someone's already having issues with tardiness (late 3 times in 3 weeks), shows some moral flexibility about money (sent out to buy a snack for the kid, and rather than returning the change, buys herself something), and then asks to be paid for time not worked, backing off to being moved from hourly to a flat rate? Sure sign of trouble and headaches that even as a perfectly healthy able-bodied person I wouldn't want to deal with.

Posted on March 13, 2015 at 8:18 pm 1

On Women At Work, At Home, & At Rest -- JK, At Work Again

To me, it sounds like she just doesn't want to live with him again, and has come up with plausible excuses to avoid just saying 'You're a bad roommate, and I don't want to live with someone who acts like a lazy teenager, and will only lift a finger if I nag.' It sounds petty, but having been there a number of times, it's actually a huge quality of life issue. Not to mention that it makes it really obvious that if they had kids, she would wind up being the nigh-sole-caregiver, which is not how most people would choose to raise offspring.

Posted on March 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm 2

On Today, In "Things David Brooks Doesn't Understand": Poverty

@boringbunny I don't think anyone's opposed to having good norms. However, as the linked article points out, research shows that we're already there - the poor generally have about the same norms as the rich, but lack the ability to follow through. So pretending that the 'norms' issue is (a) not a solved problem and (b) the best thing to focus on is (a) disingenuous and (b) wrong.

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm 0

On Paying Taxes on My Amazon Purchases and Clearing My Conscience

Online retailers (well, any retailers), including Amazon, will only collect sales tax if they have a physical presence in the same state as your shipping address. Amazon opened a bunch of centers for next-day shipping a few years back, which is why they charge most folks sales tax now. If a seller collects sales tax, you're good, otherwise you technically need to pay a 'use tax' to your state.

Posted on March 6, 2015 at 11:12 am 0