Big change can be ok too

Recently we talked about how small change is ok.  Sometimes you can’t save the world, but you can make your small part of the world a little bit better.

Today we’re going to talk about the flip side.  Sometimes you want or need to make a big change.  And that can be scary.

If you have a lot of high-interest debt, it might be the best idea to do the unthinkable and down-size to a smaller house.  Or drop down to one car.  At least until you get your finances in order again.  That big change might eliminate years of horrible stress.  The one-time cut in lifestyle might even be better for your kids than the repeated stresses of financial difficulty.

If your career is making you miserable, it might be time to find a new one.  If you hate where you live, it might be time to leave.  Even if you’re tenured.  Even if you’ve never known or wanted anything other than academia.

Sometimes relationships just don’t work out and it’s more productive to be alone than to keep trying to stay together, especially if the relationship is in any way abusive, but even if you’ve just grown apart.  Obviously this is a very personal decision and can be a scary step to take, but cutting ties might be better than staying just for the sake of staying.  Think of the children!  Studies show that kids are much happier when their parents have a polite divorce than when they have a craptacular marriage.

One of my students recently told me that except for having children, most decisions can eventually be reversed.  That may not be completely true.  Although you can often buy a new car to replace an old one, you may not be able to do the same for the house you shouldn’t have bought in the first place.  An ex-significant-other may marry someone else or just no longer be interested (though who knows if you would have stayed together anyway).  You generally can’t get back tenure at the place you left (though, oddly, one of my recently hired colleagues used to work in my department something like 2o years ago).  But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find amazing housing.  Or a partner you love who will love and cherish you. (Or the happiness of being on your own without a partner.)  Or a job that brings you fulfillment and isn’t just golden (or brass) handcuffs.

Sometimes a big change will make a big difference.  And sometimes it’s a mistake in retrospect, but mistakes can be learned from and overcome.  Sometimes it’s better to take the chance and see what comes next than to live with the status quo.

Big changes can be ok too.

The toddler and the ipad

The shu box was recently talking about how she lets her two year old watch limited tv these days.

Even with our first baby (as opposed to our second whatever keeps hir from destroying things baby), screen time has been a part of our kids lives.  DC1 used to nurse to Comedy Central and showed a distinct preference for Stephen Colbert over Jon Stewart.

We just give the IPad to our 20 month old and have been doing this for quite some time. We have a little box that ze can press to get all the apps we’ve downloaded specifically for hir, though ze also plays in the main section with some of daddy’s games (we just deleted Pitfall because ze kept getting irritated when it would ask hir to buy diamonds since ze doesn’t have the password to do that) and also the photo center.

Ze finds PBS kids on hir own. Ze’s not much for watching complete episodes of anything (other than Curious George, oddly, which isn’t what I would have picked out as being attention keeping) but does enjoy theme songs. And the “How did I ever get into this mess” intro of one of the shows. My favorite new themesong is Peg + Cat. (Nah nah nah nah nah.) Sometimes at work I find it on Youtube because I have the earworm.

Fisher Price also has some good free interactive IPad stuff that you can go to their app store and download.  That’s probably the best of the free stuff.  Other apps that ze has liked include: The wheels on the bus by kids game club, Funny animals, G’night Safari, EduRoom, KidsDoodle, and Magic Piano.

With the Ipad ze isn’t, say, climbing up DC1′s closet shelves in an effort to get the crayons and markers we took away from hir the last time ze drew on the walls. It gives us a chance to clean up the last mess ze made without hir making a new one!

What are your favorite IPad apps (or what are the favorite apps of someone you love)?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 16 Comments »

How would you do the division?

I was recently reading the comments section of an advice column (linked from that bad advice) and read this:

I figured this out after doing an activity in a personality styles class where I got people into groups of 10 and handed out a bag with 8 mini candy bars. I told them that the store didn’t have enough so that they’ll need to figure out how to divide them up.

It was fascinating to me as I watched class after class do the following: Group A (the group that was more people-focused in their preferences) would often try to solve this problem by first trying to figure out if anyone cannot eat candy (medical reasons or diet); then when a few dropped out that way, the others would often dither about and defer to others before they would take their own. I observed this type of personality continually considering individual circumstances in their quest for fairly dividing up the candy.

Group B, on the other hand (and these were the people that identified more as task-focused individuals), almost always used math or some really black and white tool to equally divide up the candy. There was no discussion about individual preferences, individual circumstances – they just figured everyone got the same side sliver as everyone else. End of story. It was amazing to watch.

I definitely fit into Group B here.  I think of the candy as an endowment, and they should be allowed to exchange their piece for goodwill or money or whatever it is they want, even if they don’t want to eat the candy themselves.  I’m not sure you get the same goodwill for saying in advance that you can’t have the candy because you’re diabetic as you do for giving someone else your piece.

Plus I’m not scared of doing things like figuring out how much 8/10 is (though cutting into fifths is a PITA).  All we need to make sure we have is a good clean knife and something to cut on.  I figure chocolate probably isn’t worth doing the extended fair division problem with.  (The one where one person cuts and the other person chooses the piece.  Actually, I think the process might be that 9 of the people make cuts, then the 1oth person chooses, then the 9th, and so on until the last person gets the dregs.  But that still sounds like too much hassle.)

Of course, it is possible that the person who drops the number from 9 to 8 gets everyone’s gratitude for not actually having to do the math or the cutting, even if the person who brings the number down from 10 to 9 isn’t worth much.

#2 notes:  I guess it would depend on context.  Are these people strangers? [So cultural expectations regarding first meetings are important!]  Are they going to have to work together again?  [So this is a repeated game!]

#1 agrees: I just assumed it was a class that was going to meet all semester.  And maybe you don’t want to be the person who pretends not to like chocolate when you really do because then you’re going to be a doormat the rest of the semester.  People take advantage of easy-going folks.  Better to show you’re giving a sacrifice, or a one-time sacrifice.

So, which type are you?

Link love (and bonus bookish video)

Book hoarding 10th century style.

Show me the money or at least the course release.

Minimizing costs for last minute travel.

have you seen this website?

On not being good enough.  Another response here.

another reason not to dabble in real estate

did we link love this yet? I feel like maybe we did, but maybe not: stop telling women to smile

Paul Ryan, still a douchebagge

Merging bookshelves

Saw something said something

I agree with the last panel 

And finally, an adorable video called: The Girl Who Hated Books. Delightful!

Thank goodness for Google (and for us too)

Q:  .047 is written as what percent

A:  You need to know what the base number is.  Otherwise you can’t get a percent.  You can get a percentage point, and that would be .047* 100 = 4.7.  But that’s different than percent.

Q:  why is doing traditional computation not doing mathematics

A:  It is, just not much mathematics.

Q:  what percent of 5.036 is .047

A:  MATH.  [#2 adds:  is/(%|of) *100 ... so .047/5.036 = .00933 *100 = 0.933]

Q:  why do humans do things thwy shouldnt do

A:  MATH.

Q:  what i can do after payoff mortgage to protect from collector

A:  Consult a bankruptcy attorney about the laws in your state.

Q:  why are teenagers forced to do things they don’t want to do

A:  For their own good or for the good of society?  Unless they’re in a bad situation and that just sucks.  :(

Q:  i work out and i feel fit but i am not losing any weight. should that bother me?

A:  Probably not.  (We are not a physician, but we play one on TV.)

#2 notes:  muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space.

Q:  best part time jobs to pay off deb

A:  could you go to work for Deb directly?

Q:  what do people rather prefer pepperoni or cheese

A:  Both, and sausage too.

Q:  what’s your least favorite chore game

A:  Clean the Toilet.

Radical Self-Love: the feels.

I have feelings about this.

In this society, loving yourself is a radical act (for a woman).

I don’t have to have a flat tummy in order to love my body!  Rubens would love me.

The Three Graces

I used to have hangups, for a long long time, about not having a body that is sexy.  You know who to blame.  (#2 notes that, according to some popular science studies she’s read and chosen to believe, men either prefer meaty, or they really don’t care one way or the other.  I would be seriously surprised if #1′s SO didn’t find #1 incredibly sexy.  And that’s the only person who matters in a monogamous relationship.)  Shout out to my partner for always saying nice things about my body!

Now I’m too old for self-loathing or really any other shame.  I’m ready to change my mind.

I am thinking, NOT: “I am awesome anyway,” but rather: “I am awesome, yeah I am!”

I don’t have to have my stuff together in order to be awesome.  I am awesome independently of my career.

Also, this blog post resonated with me.  Don’t forget that The F-Off Fairy can help you, too!

#2 had a brief bout with imposter syndrome in grad school.  She didn’t like it.  Yay for therapy and for being unapologetically awesome.  I have occasionally wondered if it’s better to err on the side of Dunning-Kruger or the side of imposter syndrome and refer myself to the literature on how over-confidence helps people get ahead.  So I figure there’s no need to check my ego, thank you very much.  I probably deserve to have a much bigger one, what with being female and having society against me and all.  I credit my mother for my healthy self-esteem.  I would also credit my awesomeness, but I know plenty of people at least equally awesome who do not have the self-esteems they deserve.  For them, I blame the patriarchy.  (Also with weight I focus on health rather than body image, and with make-up and hair, I find that ‘frumpy’ helps people take me more seriously in my specific profession.  Also I am incredibly lazy.)

#1 again:  I decided to feel sorry for people who fat-shame (Mom…), rather than angry at them, because their words are a reflection of feeling terrifyingly out-of-control when someone’s body appears to be out of control.  Don’t contradict me on this point, I’m just sayin’.

Various messages are coming from the universe that it’s time to be done with the emotional drain of not thinking I’m awesome.

(#2:  SRSLY.  Because why think sucky things that aren’t true when you can think awesome things that are?)

Tell us in the comments what is totally awesome about you!

Cat update

We still have 5 indoor cats.  No takers for the (3) kittens.  We’ve become attached to Garage Cat.  On top of that, outdoor Patio Cat has truly become our Patio Cat.  He mostly hangs out on our back porch and shelters in our patio when the weather is bad.  He loves pettings more than food.  He wishes he could come inside.  He’s good friends with outdoor Mamacat (who makes the occasional appearance to eat, and is usually on the porch in the wee hours quietly hanging with Patio Cat), but she still shies away from us.  He and Garage Cat are still mortal enemies and my hand got majorly scratched up (from Garage Cat) the one time Garage Cat and Patio Cat ended up on the patio at the same time.

The two little black kittens are both super loving and adorable, even the one who used to be mean kitty.  It seems like whenever I sit down I get covered in kitten(s), or occasionally by Garage Cat.  Boy kitten doesn’t like to be picked up, but is otherwise a sweetheart.  He’s almost as big as a full-sized cat, but the girl kittens are still smaller.

Garage cat and the kittens get along really well now.  They play together and Garage cat sometimes grooms the younger kitties.

My sister was going to take a kitten or two, but then her roommate got engaged and she’s waiting until she finds a new roommate to commit in case the new roommate is allergic or otherwise doesn’t like cats.  Really she should take Garage Cat because he’s so well-behaved and she’s not very experienced with pets, but Garage Cat is long-haired and she’s worried he will get hair on her furniture.  We believe this illustrates how she has No Idea about cats or kittens if a little fur is her biggest worry.

My MIL says she’ll take one, but just one, if we get it to her this summer.

One (or more) of the kittens, we’re not sure which one, occasionally pees on our bed.  I do not like this.  And I worry about said kitten ending up someplace that might not be as forgiving as we are.  At some point we’ll figure out which one it is and take it to the vet for a work-up to rule out physical causes.  It can’t be lack of litter boxes because we have 7 boxes for 5 cats, all of different shapes, sizes, and privacy, and they get cleaned out every day once or twice a day.  And they have no problem using them.  Just occasionally one will pee on the bed in addition to regular litter box use.

So that’s the cat update.  This time last year we had two middle-aged indoor cats.  Now we have 5 indoor cats and 2 outdoor cats.  That’s too many.  But that’s what we have for now.

Why I rent instead of buying

One of us owns a house and one of us doesn’t.  The one who doesn’t (me) is in a location where I *could* afford to buy, but I’m not.

Linda wanted a post on why I rent instead of buy, so here it is!  (Because Grumpy Rumblings aims to please!  Also, we needed a Monday Money post, so this seemed like a good idea.)

My first answer is, “Because I always planned on leaving this shit-hole of a state.”  I would like to own a house, but not here.

#2, however, points out that once I was more optimistic.  A little.  I thought that if my partner moved here we could buy a big house (instead of renting a tiny apartment) and we could try to be happy here.  After all I’ve always wanted to own my own house and paint my own walls and just own it.  (#2 thinks homeownership is over-rated, but #2 also doesn’t mind vertical blinds or wallpaper.)  It’s been so long since those days that I can’t remember them, but #2 swears we had those discussions.  [She may even have gchat proof that she's too lazy to search for, but totally could if she cared enough which she doesn't.]

At first I wasn’t living with my partner so there was no reason to buy.  Then I was saving up money.  Then, I never bought one because I didn’t want to have to sell it later, when I left.  By the time I had partner and down-payment, I wasn’t ready to commit to living in the house for at least 5 years.  And selling it later can be really obnoxious.  Who wants the hassle and the risk?

My friend did the buy-now-and-sell-when-you-leave route, and they took a bath on the finances because they had to unload it or else be long-distance landlords (NOOOOoooooo).  Personally, I would not have made the decision to buy when hir partner didn’t have a job here despite 2 years of looking, but oh well.  Now they are both employed and homeowners in a different state!

So, there you have it.

How did you make the rent vs. buy decision?

Link love

Hai controversies discusses white doctor coats.

Miser mom is a genius.

Healthy tipping point discusses ways to challenge unhealthy narratives.

Negotiating gender roles.

I just found this site which is medium-cool.

Editorial correspondence first paragraphs that kory stamper cannot send.

How much do professors work (at one school).

Don’t agree that spousal spats have to be normal, but the rest of this post is interesting.

Professional library literature.

You saw this, right?

Something about robots and academia.

Ask the grumpies: How to deal with 9 month salaries?

Kaycookie asks:

My husband is new TT science faculty and I am also working part time teaching in a different department. Okay, very part time because we have 3 little kids. Anyways, any suggestions on dealing with a 9 month salary over 12 months, but then also getting summer support (he is guaranteed this for at least 4 years)? We budget just fine during the year, but not much left to save (about $300/month on top of mandatory retirement at about 13% salary with their match). Is it a bad time to just plan on saving mostly in the summer since we get almost half or our income then?

Hm, here’s another one we should have made an effort to answer earlier.

I’m assuming here that you’re saying that you can save $300/month during the school year but are expecting a deficit during the summer, not that you’re saving $300 on top of saving for the summer during your regular 9 months.

I was in a similar situation for two years (I had 9-months only, DH had summer salary for two years).
1. I sat down and figured out our actual expenses (these include the $1K “emergency” or forgotten fixed expense that we seem to get almost every single month) and our required expenses (mortgage, insurance, etc).
2. From that information, I figured out how much we spend each month and multiplied that by 3 to account for the summer months.
3. Then I subtracted DH’s salary for those three months.
4. Then I added a one month buffer for an emergency fund, just in case the university screwed something up with the summer salary or we had an emergency.  (They never screwed up his, but recently they totally screwed up mine two years in a row after they moved from decentralized grant administration to centralized.)
5. You could then divide that number by 9 to see how much you’d need to save each month not to feel a pinch during the summer. I didn’t do that, but instead looked at the whole number and put away the full amount– as soon as I got that amount I stopped putting money towards summer savings.

However, in my case we were making more than we were spending, which gave us an automatic buffer.  My calculations only told me how much money we could put away in extra retirement or (later) towards the mortgage.  You’re already spending almost exactly what you’re earning.  That doesn’t give you much room.  On top of that, it’s going to make cutting expenses in the summer especially difficult.  Instead of making little cuts throughout the school year, you risk being forced to eat rice and beans or carry a credit card balance (wasting money on interest) come August or September.  That’s not going to be pleasant, especially if you have to do any kind of back to school shopping.

So, what can you do?  One thing you can do is see if the university will prorate your salary to 12 months for free.  When they do that, they pay your 9 month salary as if it was a 12 month salary so you get the same amount each month.  That way you know exactly how much money you’re getting and it’s easier to force yourself to make those little cuts (so you don’t have to make big cuts later).  I think most places will do this if you ask.

You can also increase your earnings.  Even a temporary increase in earnings will allow you to put away extra money for summer.  You don’t have to put away the same amount each month so long as you have the full amount in May (or June or April, depending on when the last set of full paychecks comes).  You probably know better than we do how bringing in more income works in your situation.  Work more part-time hours, for example.  Your DH is probably submitting grants.  Perhaps you could babysit.  Etc.

And, of course, you can try cutting expenses.  A good place to start is to call up all your providers (cellphone, insurance, internet, etc.) and ask for discounts.  It’s amazing what just asking can cut off your monthly bills.  After that you may have to think about bigger cuts– where does your money go?  Setting up Mint.com for a few months may help if you don’t know.  For us when we need to cut, it’s eating out that’s the first big variable expense.  For others it may be clothing or wasting food or vacations etc.  You’ll need to look and see what you’re able to cut and what you’re willing to cut.  If you’re still having trouble you may need to think about larger cuts– housing, transportation, etc.

To make sure you aren’t tempted to touch the summer money before summer, you may want to put it in a separate (possibly online) saving account or put it into laddered CDs that mature and deposit in your checking right when you need them.  Back when interest rates were higher, this was a way to make a little extra money, but now it would just be mainly of use as a commitment device.

Longer-term you’ll have better information about raises, your part-time hours, grants, and so on.  It’s difficult to think about what life will be like without the summer money four years from now if there’s a chance for you to replace it.  Still, you really should think about the worst case scenario– what happens if you lose the summer money but don’t make it up another way?  What will you do to increase income, cut expenses, or save now so you can spend down later?  The less you spend now, the smaller the change to your lifestyle will be if that happens.

Sidenote:  Once the kids are older, you’ll want to up that retirement savings.  13% is fine for now, but you probably have some catch-up savings to do from graduate school.  Think about IRAs once your income goes up.

#2 has never gotten summer salary (boo) but I have my university spread the 9 month salary over 12 months.  I figured it out once, and it cost me literally less than $12 in interest that I could theoretically have earned.  I’m willing to pay $12 in order to get the same amount every month.  Maybe one day I’ll hit the big-time on a grant.  No luck yet.

Gumpeteers, have you been in this situation before?  What do you do with 9 month salaries?  What do you do when you’ve gotten used to summer money?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 180 other followers