Oh jeez. This chat was stressful! But cathartic and kind of fun. I have three miserable DMV experiences. Number 1, DC, just moved, was just an eight hour blur in terror of rules about acceptable forms of identity verification not made clear on the website (though that eight hours was actually spread out running all over town, only four hours spent in the office itself). Number 2, Connecticut, involved unsympathetic policing of emissions check lines and certain personnel taking their job way too seriously. Number 3, California, involved retaking the written test and being called four hours after a timed appointment I had made online because it was the height of the budget crisis and staffing was way too lean. But I think it's actually easier on me psychologically after a harrowing experience like that to do work! I can't relax into a TV show or book, for example.
sometimes posts about the cost of things make me feel like i'm doing everything wrong! i'm pretty sure i spent around $6000 applying to grad school the first time around, including application fees which were around $150-175, the portion of admitted student visits not covered by the institution, regular transcripts from my BA and additional transcripts from post-bac coursework, etc. oh and of course overnight express postage for the occasional mishap. ha. similarly, a long-ago comment thread about attending weddings as a guest had most people spending sensible amounts like $300 per wedding, a couple thousand total, but i started thinking about it and my number was more like $15000. over many years. TOTALLY WORTH IT. anyway. i'm happy in grad school now, those costs start to slip away.
@jquick I always interpreted these columns to be the last hundred bucks of cash which left your wallet. And though I have automatic transfers into employer retirement accounts, a brokerage account, and a high-yield savings account, we regularly spend our cash on food and drink. So I don't think that's mutually exclusive with financial prudence? And everyone has different preferences.
I usually think about the giving we do in three levels: local, national, international. Local: network of homeless shelters, the local food bank, and two local NPR affiliates National: National Institute of Mental Health and Planned Parenthood International: CARE International, Doctors without Borders, Deworm the World, and the World Wildlife Federation Making those donations is far and away my favorite part of the holiday season.
Yaaaaaaay Logan! Bust that debt up. Yaaaaaaay Mike! Glad you get to go home for the holidays. That is a very sensible ticket. For my husband and me to visit both sets of parents in a three-city itinerary was $2300.
Late comment, I finally listened to the TAL episode. Fascinating! But the crass-ness or difficulty was not the only reason they did not include the money segment. The reason was also that the mother admitted she talked about money all the time. Which I thought was funny! I do think it is difficult to talk about money, though, for all the reasons that the comments sometimes get heated and a handful of mean readers sometimes take it out on Logan. Differences in income, family resources, individually accumulated wealth can make people uncomfortable, especially when they're equated with self-worth. Also, different spending priorities make people uncomfortable. There are so many people out there who get defensive just when their friends choose to do zipcar and public transit rather than buy a car, y'know? And I will never forget the comments on the interview with the man who made $570K. He saw some expenses as built-in or not quite optional that many readers saw as incredible luxuries. Money can also be a signal of other things. For instance, my husband and I live in a rented apartment, but higher ups in his firm think we would be househunting if he were serious about making a go of it there for the long term...dress for the job you want, or something. So I don't blame people for trying to avoid money discussion with strangers, sometimes, or people of another generation, but I think it is important to talk with your coworkers and your good, close friends, to build a sense of your worth and your goals.
Just returned from a long international vacation (including destination wedding), so my husband and I are staying put in LA this weekend and seeing parents for a week, each set at the end of December. This is the first time we have spent the holiday without at least one set of parents, ups and downs. Miss the family, don't miss the travel. Plan for tomorrow is to go to the home of the friend who just got married. We're bringing sweet potatoes, stuffing, and wine. I estimate $100 for all that. Also going to see either Enough Said or Blue Jasmine $30. (miraculously still playing here, saving me from regret about two months of being busy.) And then going to the symphony on Saturday, but those are season tickets and already paid for. I also have plans for gifts for my sisters ($300) and niece ($75) which I hope to execute this weekend. Top it off with brunch with some friends ($40) and then a ton of holiday card writing, tree buying ($75), and a little bit of catch-up work. Total estimate: $620
@Cup of T i would take your department's TA/RA rate. i don't know about lowballing, i would like to urge you to negotiate for what you're worth. the budget might go a couple of rounds of negotiations anyway, and you can always shave hours instead of rate. fwiw, students at my school in policy analysis charge $50/hour. for the transportation and lodging, you can just multiply something like the government's reimbursement rate for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. and multiply it by the number of trips you need.
@aetataureate hmm. the context in my head was those who do not know anyone who goes in for the deals and cannot imagine doing it themselves, then judging those who do, via the b-roll of the crazed scrum of people at some local best buy or toys 'r' us. it's relatively easy for someone who can afford to pay full price to say, who would do this? it's crazy. simply because they don't identify with those consumer preferences/holiday wishes/social norms. i make no pronouncements about the actual demographic profile of the shoppers, though last year's gallup poll of intended shoppers skewed young, midwestern, nonwhite, and a little bit away from incomes>$75K. i don't really know the people who go shopping, either, so i couldn't say whether the more obnoxious ones are wealthy or not. @notpollyanna that sounds like a wonderful idea, what a great gesture from your workplace.