Am proud that Massachusetts (where I live) is actually trying to do something about the healthcare transparency problem: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/11/05/360351551/how-much-is-that-mri-really-massachusetts-shines-a-light
1999 - I was 14 years old in India, starting to gear up for the grueling last couple years of high school. I loved science, particularly biology, and envisioned myself as a professor. Income $0 2007 - I graduated college, and left India for the US, to enroll in an Ivy League grad school for my PhD in a science-y thing. Year of big dreams. Income $30,000/year 2013 - I dropped out of grad school with my Masters and started at an entry-level actuarial job. After the uncertainty of my graduate work, it was a relief to not have to worry about my research any longer. I enjoyed the work (mostly) and enjoyed the workplace (mostly). Income: $70,000 or so.
Add me to the list of people who enjoys cooking and planning menus. I also need a large amount of variety in my diet - there are maybe 10 things or so that remain the same every time we shop, but everything else changes based on the recipes I plan on making. When I make a new recipe, my husband and I rate it and add it to a database of recipes I keep on Google Drive. Currently we have about 125 recipes. Usually I make about half old favorites from the database and half new things I want to try. I'm constantly bookmarking interesting looking recipes and borrowing cookbooks from the library, so there's always a list of things I mean to try soon. For the current two week period, I plan on making (or have made) chicken and ricotta dumplings in broth, cheesy chicken stuffed poblano peppers, zaatar roasted carrots, shakshuka, old bay chicken wings, roasted spaghetti squash with sausage and kale, caesar salad, meatballs and blackberry clafoutis. I tend to eat pretty low-carb (though my husband loves his bread), so that drives up grocery costs some. Still, we eat out only 3 or 4 times a month, including lunches, so I feel we still do pretty well.
For a second there I thought I read Cambridge, MA and my heart skipped a beat.
@polka dots vs stripes I have almost exactly the same issues with this - thanks for articulating it so well. Still, overall, it probably is a net positive.
@Stina Oooh that sucks! I recently visited my husband's mother in Belarus (he's from there) and there was a chance that the hot water would get cut off for maintenance for two weeks! Luckily it turned out the notice applied to a different set of apartments than hers, but we went a week or so expecting the hot water to get turned off any day. It sure made me appreciate it more!
@Stina Thanks! Am excited! @BillfoldMonkey I have been considering YNAB, but my husband is against the idea of paying for budgeting software. I also wonder if it would be overkill. Correct me if I'm wrong, I get the sense that it asks you to budget within different categories? For me, that doesn't seem to work because if I'm super careful about bringing lunch, I randomly go and buy a dress one evening, or something like that. I feel I do best if I have a pool of fungible "fun money" that I can choose how to allocate each day.
For the first time ever, I can join you all in this exercise as I've started budgeting my spending so thaT I can figure out exactly where all my money is going. We've been using Mint but somehow the reactive nature of it (you only see where your money went after you spend it) doesn't help me. I realized that if, barring rent and a few other recurring expenses, my husband and I spent only $50 a day between us, we'd have a hefty chunk left at the end of the month out of our take-home pay (we already save a fair bit, and have 401Ks, but we want to take the saving to the next level). So I just created a simple Excel worksheet and have been tracking how much I spend each day, trying to stay within $50. Anything that carries over, I can use to justify large purchases. We barely spent anything this week, so I feel fine about the spendy weekend we're going to have. The numbers below are for both my husband and me. On Saturday I'm going to have a long overdue haircut ($90) and then we'll probably go hiking (let's say $10 just in case). On Sunday we're going to sign up for sailing for a month ($100 each = $200) and go for our first sailing lessons at Community Boating. Then in the evening we're having a friend over for dinner and board games, but the fridge is well-stocked so I'll just have to cook, not spend anything. So all told ~$300. Worth it for such a fun weekend! And I don't feel guilty because I know that if I don't spend anything on Monday, I'll be back on track with our $50 a day budget.
Yeah I reject this framing of the question as big government vs. small. That plays into the hands of those people who would like to cut social services, while continuing to fund expensive wars and massive defense spending.