On The Business of Sitting on Airplanes

@guenna77 Huh, my experience with southwest has not been like that. Possibly you're remembering the bad old days 5+ years ago when you got a/b/c based on airport arrival times? These days, it's a fully ordered list based on who pays more/checks in online first, and people are generally very pleasant about respecting that boarding order. I've only ever found people in my seat on other airlines when they had made a mistake, and they generally apologize and move immediately. Except for one awesome time that it was the airline's fault, and we were both assigned the same seat. He'd gotten there first, so they upgraded me to first class.

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 12:02 am 0

On Getting Feedback After a Job Rejection

I've been asked this a couple times (usually for feedback right after an interview), and always give a vague-but-encouraging answer regardless of how the candidate did. This is for a couple reasons: 1) IANAL - I generally neither have nor want the authority to speak officially for my company, and definitely don't want to appear to be doing so in a situation that's likely to involve hurt feelings on someone's part. I simply don't know enough to know if I'm using some specially-defined term in a general, common-usage sense (like 'market', for instance) that might open the company up to an entirely spurious lawsuit. 2) If they did well, then vague-but-encouraging is pretty accurate. 3) If they did poorly, the interview is generally only long enough for me to figure out they can't demonstrate the skills they'd need to work at my company. It is not long enough to figure out why (concepts don't click? never learned it? freezes up in interviews? needs more practice?). Telling someone 'you are generally bad at your chosen field' is pretty mean and unhelpful, so if that's the only feedback I have, I'm not going to give it.

Posted on April 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm 0

On Here's A Foolproof Idea: Let's Pay Sarah Silverman Less Than A Dude!

So, I'm all for people asking for raises/negotiating, but I think it's worth pointing out that what women are concerned about here (58% were afraid of losing their job/offer; 55% didn’t want to come across as pushy) is actually a real problem. Plenty of research shows that women who negotiate are seen as less pleasant to work with (http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/lean-out-the-dangers-for-women-who-negotiate has a good summary of the research), so the choice is often between negotiating but starting out on a bad footing with your boss, or accepting a lower offer in exchange for a good rapport/chance of better performance evaluations down the line. I'd be a fan of seeing more companies follow Reddit's lead, given that this sort of unconscious bias is really difficult to eradicate.

Posted on April 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm 4

On "What About Presents?": How My Relationship Changed When We Merged Finances

@steponitvelma This is what my partner and I do (joint account that we each contribute to monthly for joint expenses, separate accounts for everything else). We're not as strict about accounting as the couple in the article, and we have about a 1 month buffer in the shared account, which makes this easier, since we can transfer in our half of a shared expense after the fact. If you're running the shared account pretty close to 0 each month, I can imagine it would be tricky to use it to pay for things like travel/dinners out where the price isn't completely known beforehand.

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm 0

On Last Minute Taxes Reminder! Complete With Help

@RocketSurgeon If he doesn't have the originals/only copies of the docs you need, just do your taxes online/somewhere else, and send him a short note saying that you don't need him to do them. You agreed to pay him so that things get done by a certain time, and if you haven't seen any drafts, I think it's fair to say that he's well past a reasonable deadline.

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm 0

On New Chart Lists Middle Class Income in Each State

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/15/business/one-percent-map.html is a great calculator that takes into account metro areas. For instance, using the above definitions and NYTimes data, the upper bound of middle class for the state is $91,800. For Nassau County (aka Long Island), it's $174,600. What I find really interesting is the fact that the number of households in that range is shrinking - it's not just that the rich are getting richer, or that the poor are getting poorer. It's that the folks in the middle are getting pushed into one bucket or the other (usually poorer). Also, fun fact: the upper bound of 'middle class' across the state of CA is equal to the median income for the San Jose metro (aka Silicon Valley).

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 11:36 pm 1

On How Do You Know When to Stop Spending?

@mado0205 @mado0205 We pay for almost nothing in cash, which helps, and I can bug him if the name of the company on the CC bill is cryptic. There is an 'other' category in the budget for things that are likely one-offs and don't fit anywhere else (like dry-cleaning, which I think we've done once in the last year?). I also tend to adjust categories based on what we're spending on (added a 'take-out' category when 'eating out' became too broad), which helps.

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm 0

On How Do You Know When to Stop Spending?

My budget is more descriptive than prescriptive, and I compare my spending against it every few weeks or so. If there's a big spike in one category, I'll tend to mentally mark that as do-not-spend until enough time has passed that the spike averages out (I keep a running 6-month tally of all my expenses, so that things like car repairs and insurance get averaged out appropriately). So if 'groceries' is way high, I'll switch to more beans/rice/veggies; if 'eating out' is high, I'll try coordinating more cost-effective hangouts with friends. My SO is notoriously bad at budgeting/finances, so I manage the money side of our relationship, and provide monthly updates that line up pretty closely with the above ('we're spending more than expected on these categories, and less than expected on these other categories'), and it works well for him, too - just from that mental expectation-setting, we've dropped our monthly expenses by about 20%, and are generally on-budget more often than not (we talk about major, >$200, purchases, but otherwise trust each other to only put reasonable shared expenses on the shared card - we've each got our own accounts for non-shared expenses).

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 12:18 pm 0

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 1

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 1