On The Year I Saved $10,000

@jquick I actually view not having to care what others think as a remarkable privilege of my line of work - if I were in another field, I would probably spend more, because the opinions of clients and bosses is actually very important. Striking it rich is called making 'f*ck you' money for a reason... I think the one insight I could provide is that being able to avoid a scarcity mindset around money is actually really helpful for spending less - because I know I have the option to buy thing X later, it's less important that I buy it now, which helps me spend less overall. The other, less-generally-helpful, motivation is that I have hoarder tendencies, and the best way to keep them at bay is to just not have things in the first place =).

Posted on July 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm 0

On The Year I Saved $10,000

@ECW I think that still makes my story, at least, fairly boring - I save about 50% of my income, but I can live perfectly reasonably on the other half; I budget because I like data (and also I have career-changing plans that require a certain amount of savings), but I haven't had to adhere to spending limits since college, and there's a big difference between 'I make frugal decisions because I kind of prefer a spartan lifestyle and also am saving up for this giant thing' and 'I do not have this money to spend'.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm 1

On The Billfold Book Club Discusses Helaine Olen's 'Pound Foolish'

There's a couple things that you can do to make the retirement equation work out a little better: 1) Live on less than your income - if you contribute 20% of your income to retirement, then you actually only need 80% of your salary, so it's not 5=1, it's 4=1. 2) Reasonable investments - not savings accounts. If you have a while until you retire, 6% returns are not crazy (although they do involve more aggressive, and thus more volatile, investments - that's why you don't want these if you might need to pull the money out at a specific time, since cashing out at one of the 'valleys' is a bad idea). Factoring in 2% average inflation, with an average investment time of 20 years (over a 40 year savings timeframe), you will get a little over 2x growth in what you save. Now it's down to 2=1, so after 40 years, you'll have enough for 20 years of retirement, which gets you past average life expectancy. As far as savings go, I've found a focus on housing is more effective than a focus on lattes - housing is about 30-50% of the typical budget, and while cutting back usually does mean some effect on your quality of life, it can be helpful to run the numbers (adding a roommate, smaller place, longer commute) and see if it's worth it. For me, I moved to a place with a 30 minute longer commute, but the savings mean I earn an effective pre-tax wage of $30/hr while commuting; on the one hand, the commute is gross and terrible, on the other hand, that's not a bad wage for dealing with traffic.

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 10:51 pm 0

On Ask A Human Who Actually Practices GTD ('Getting Things Done')

I use a pretty similar system, and I've found ColorNote on my phone invaluable for this. I have a list for everything, all in one place: Packing For a Trip, Groceries, Daily Tasks (Water the plants, Feed the cats, etc), Long Term Projects, All The Things, and Do Today. Rather than overwhelming, I find it calming - not only do I not have to remember all of these things, but I also have a rule that if I do all the things on Do Today + Daily Tasks, I am done, and don't have to do anything else. This keeps me from getting into a 'clean all the things'-esque stressful cycle. Do Today is also how I break down projects - large tasks and projects get curated into small steps that go on the Do Today list, which for me is a nice combination (small steps to do immediately, larger/clearer goal for motivation).

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm 0

On America Arrests Working Mom. Good Job, America!

@Josh Michtom@facebook Thanks for the correction =) Naturally, I now can't find the website that gave me that info, but it looks like it may have been incorrect/out-of-date in other ways as well. For the curious, what looks like a more complete list is here: http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm (and agrees that Connecticut doesn't have a minimum age, so more complete and more accurate). It ranges from minimum alone age of 6 in Kansas to 14 in Illinois.

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm 0

On America Arrests Working Mom. Good Job, America!

@Kimberly Alison Why is it irresponsible? Or more specifically, what's the standard for irresponsible? It seems like there are 3 ways to decide that: 1) Leave it up to the parents, who actually know their child, and who presumably are more genuinely interested in their child's welfare than the average passer-by 2) Decide ex post facto: if something went wrong, then the parent was being irresponsible 3) Come up with clear guidelines - 3 states currently have ages at which a child can be left alone (Maryland - 8, Oregon - 12, Connecticut - 14). 1 & 2 work well most of the time, but do fail in particular cases (child neglect & freak accidents, respectively). Some combination of 1 & 3 seems like a better system than what we have now (2 & what judgemental, usually white, strangers think). From my perspective, this 9 year old in this situation seemed completely fine, but there are probably other 9 year olds in other situations who wouldn't be.

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm 5

On How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Dawn

So, I know this is fictional, but in case there are any real-life Dawns reading this: Move to the East Bay! It is much, much cheaper, bikable in most areas, has good public transit to the city, and 'that bus' runs there as well. And by much cheaper: an average 3 bedroom house rents for 36k a year less than an average 3 bedroom apartment in SF.

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm 1

On Let Google Send You To Tech School, Because Otherwise You'll Starve

+1 to Google's numbers being waaaay better than average. A place I recently worked, if you added together every hispanic, african-american, or female engineer (there was no overlap), we came to a grand total of 6% of the engineering team; that seems more the norm in the industry than Google.

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 3:18 am 0

On The Last Word of the Day: Take Your Vacations

Hmm, Bloomberg seems to misquote. From the study: "U.S. employees used 84 percent of earned PTO in 2013, leaving an average of 3.2 days on the table (among those with PTO). For the entire work force, this underutilization of PTO amounts to 429 million unused days, or 2.4 days per employee." The 8.1 days is only of workers who didn't use all their days, and many of these workers said they were saving the days for the future. I for one get antsy if I have no days banked - occasionally life takes an unexpected turn, and I need a day or two off on short notice. Other things I learned: apparently the average amount of time off (among those who get it, about 2/3 of the workforce) is 4 weeks - I had thought it was much less.

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm 0

On Measure Your Life in Birth Control

I'm very grateful that the first doctor I talked to prescribed the pill that she did - I've since discovered (due to various pharmacy snafus) that most other formulations make me feel drugged-in-a-bad-way or suicidal, and if I'd had any of those first, I wouldn't have ever thought about trying the one I take (interestingly, the generic version also makes me loopy - after much incredulous googling, I found out that one of the 'inactive' ingredients that differs between the two is used to cause a time-delay-release of the active ingredients. Shockingly, the rate at which you dump hormones into your system affects how you react to them).

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm 0