Soliciting more ask the grumpies

Turns out when you run ask the grumpies almost every week instead of every other week, you run out of them a lot faster!

Ask the grumpies is a feature we run every Friday or every other Friday depending (sometimes it alternates with the less-popular but still fascinating google questions).  You ask, we answer, or we punt and ask the grumpy nation to answer.  In any case, you get the benefit of not only our wisdom but the collective wisdom of the far wiser grumpy nation.

Any lurkers have questions they’ve been wanting to get answered?  How about our regulars?

What questions do you have for us?  What can we bring clarity or further confusion to?  What can the grumpy nation ponder and discuss on your behalf?  Ask in the comments below or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com.

How many steps: February challenge update

I spent the week trying to do better about carrying my phone so I’d have a baseline step information.  This was complicated by two factors:

  1. Not all of my pants pockets are cell-phone compatible.
  2. At the end of the day I need to plug my phone in so it can eat yummy electricity (I usually do this as soon as I get home so I don’t forget).

Add to that that my DH and I did the exact same hike on Saturday but somehow he ended up walking considerably “longer” in miles according to his phone than I did in addition to taking “more” steps even though I’m much shorter (probably because his was in his pants pocket and mine varied between my jacket and a bag used to carry jackets), and I’m fairly sure that the actual number of steps is incorrect.

However, incorrect they may be, so long as they’re consistently incorrect that’s a reasonable baseline.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Jan 25: 1761
Jan 26: 2127
Jan 27: 1519 (incompatible pants day)
Jan 28: 2134
Jan 29: 2362
Jan 30: 10862
Jan 31: 6430

So that tells me that I can get 2000 steps per day pretty easily.  Here’s my plan for the month (minimums):

Week 1: 2500 steps/day
Week 2: 3000 steps/day
Week 3: 3500 steps/day
Week 4: 4000 steps/day

I know it seems pretty modest, but it did take a 2 hour hike plus grocery shopping and walking to the library to get that 10,862 step number and I have some deadlines this month so two hours+ of exercise each day just isn’t feasible.  Plus I don’t wear the phone all day, though I bet by week 4 I’ll be better about remembering it during the day even if I still plug it in when getting home at night.

I will allow myself to take a break if I am genuinely sick (not the irritating cold I’m nursing). If I break my leg or something I’ll find an alternative exercise.

Wish me luck and a lack of broken limbs!

Who to vote for in the primary: In which the grumpies disagree even though they agree

#1:  All three candidates are perfectly acceptable.

#2:  Given the choice I’ll vote Sanders; if it’s only Clinton on the ticket I will happily vote for her and think it’s a good choice!

#1: I’m voting for Clinton, but I’m totally fine with Sanders. In a different world, I’d be more for Sanders, but in this world, I’m for Clinton.  I tend to vote for the pragmatic candidate–I knew underneath Obama’s idealism beat a heart of pure pragmatism (he won me over with his specific wooing of the economist vote). I think Clinton has a better shot of getting ‘er done.  Everyone I’ve met who has worked with/for her says she’s a great boss and extremely competent and has a big public service motivation (not ambition like SNL wants you to think) and thinks she’s the best person for the job *and she’s right to think that.*  (They also say she’s unexciting and kind of a bureaucrat, but I’m totally fine with that.)  She was wonderful at that Benghazi hearing.

#2: I have differences of opinion with Clinton. However, if it’s Clinton vs. Republicans, I am Clinton all the way! My differences with her are much less than my differences with anyone else (except Sanders). My issues with Clinton are small in the grand scheme of things.

#1: What are your differences of opinion? I am curious if I also have them or if I agree with her.

#2: I think she wants to be more involved in the middle east and more explodey than I want.

#1: oh, I have no idea about foreign policy

#2: also more drones spying on other leaders

#1: yeah, all of that is out of my wheelhouse

#2: in the grand scheme of things, foreign policy isn’t the most important to me.

#1: I know enough about that stuff to not have an opinion! it’s like, who the hell knows what is the right thing to do

#2: i would rather cut military spending and fund education and healthcare. But I’m some sort of commie or something.

#1: in the perfect world, I would agree with that

#2: there is too darn much military spending, but it’s our own fault

#1: I do think we need to do a better job getting other countries to pay for foreign interventions.

#2: I see how we can’t vanish it all overnight, that would be ridiculous

#1: it still sits with me wrong

#2: YES

#1: they’re really hard questions and I’m glad I don’t study them

#2: I think she may be also more drill-for-oil than I agree with, but I’d have to check

#1: mainly I want people to stop dying and for women and minorities to have human rights and so on

#2: YES

#1: anybody who wants to drill baby drill right now is STUPID– the low cost of oil is destabilizing

#2: reproductive rights! healthcare! social justice!

#1: I wish the democratic debates were better publicized.  They actually talk about issues and sound professional and stuff.  Debbie Wassaman is doing a terrible terrible job.

#2: is a good way to figure out who you side with. They don’t have complete info for anyone on every single question, but you can break it down by the areas that are most important to you. I agree with Bernie on almost all things, but lots and lots of them are less-important things. I agree with Clinton on a few large, important things but disagree with her on some less-important things. SO…. enh?  “Less-important” meaning TO ME of course.

#1: wow, these questions have gotten crazier since I last took the test– some of the republican candidates really are batexcrement evil crazy–it says I’m 95% bernie, 92% hillary, 78% O’Malley… then Chris Christie and John Kasiach and Jeb Bush. Apparently I’m “Left-Wing Authoritarian”

“Your political beliefs would be considered strongly Left-Wing and moderately Authoritarian on an ideological scale, meaning you tend to stand up and protect those who are oppressed or taken advantage of and believe the government should do the same.” Down with oppression!

I’m still voting for Hillary. Assuming I can get my voter registration reinstated (the post office sent my registration check card back to the voter office, even though they delivered DH’s). (Why yes, the Voter Rights Act did affect my state and its absence is being noticed.)

So yeah– the primary season has started!  Vote for your favorite democrat.  Even if you live in a red state.  Especially if you live in a red state!  There’s something wonderful about discovering you’re not the only democrat in your town.  If you’re not a democrat then, um, vote for Kasich?

February Mortgage Update: Mortgage misconceptions or why you should not get your financial advice from the MMM forum

Last month (January):
Years left: 1.166667
P =$1,147.93, I =$66.47, Escrow =$809.48

This month (February):
Years left: 1.083333333
P =$1,152.47, I =$61.93, Escrow =$809.48

Amount saved from prepayment:  $0

Because of my addictive personality, I’m not allowed to join any forums.  That doesn’t mean though that I don’t occasionally read fora even though I can’t participate.  Occasionally I have to say something, and since I’m not allowed to join, the something gets to spill over onto the blog.

In this case the forum in question is Mr. Money Moustache’s, and the “someone is wrong” thing is a few misconceptions about mortgages.  I know we’ve written about them before, but they obviously bear repeating!

  1. Mortgages work differently than student loans or credit card debt because they keep the payment the same each month and just remove months off the end with pre-payments.  That means that payments early in your mortgage are worth more than payments later in your mortgage because the mortgage, unlike other investments, doesn’t reamortize each month.  That means the amount you’re saving from pre-paying is different depending at what point you’re at in the mortgage.  You can see this by looking at an amortization spreadsheet, like this one from GRS.
  2. A common misconception is that you are increasing your risk pre-paying the mortgage because you can’t get the money back in an emergency unless and until you pay the entire thing off (and thus finish your mortgage payments).  That’s not actually true.  If you prepay your mortgage, you can, in an emergency, re-cast/re-amortize for a small fee (usually ~$250) and get lower monthly payments by lengthening the amount of time that you continue paying on the mortgage.  For example, right now my mortgage payment is a little over $2000/mo with 1.08333 years left.  If I re-amortized, my payment would be just a little bit more than what I’m paying for escrow, but I would be paying that sum over 13.4 years instead.  (And I have to pay for escrow even if the mortgage is gone!)  All that pre-payment means that in an emergency I can cut my monthly required payment, even though there’s still time left on the mortgage.  You don’t end up with quite as much ready cash so if you’re expecting an emergency you should keep it, but if the emergency is a low-probability event that may happen after years of pre-payment, you can likely recoup enough in lowered payments to get you through for quite a while.  [note that if you have a nonstandard mortgage, the rules may be different — you may not be able to as easily reamortize an adjustable rate mortgage.  Check with your lender if this is a concern. ]

Are there any money misconceptions that bother you?  What do you do when someone is wrong on the internet?  Do you belong to any fora?

Link Love

#realacademicbios   Also :(

I thought the comments on this one were especially clever (disclaimer:  half of them are mine…)

Birth of a Nation

Disney princesses and talking (I also wonder what it would look like if they took out the villains!)

glad to see I’m not the only one who thought Love Actually was really creepy

Also creepy

What has Obama ever done for us (with apologies to John Cleese)

This comment from quixote

Also this comment from Delia Harrington


Sheldon gets into the konmari thing

A good explanation of how the lead in pipes thing works with ph and stuff.  Water filters (note:  we do not get $ from this– I’m not exactly sure why #2 sent it?) (Because we should think about water sometimes, is why.)

A windy city gal needs your help for a reading thing

Stacking pennies discusses her minimum spend to be comfortable and breaks it out.

dear debt: what you don’t understand is that my husband and I are a TEAM. We tackle things together, both of us against you. You’re outnumbered. You can’t win. Scram.

When keeping chickens was patriotic

self driving cars and the future

Reading the people’s stories here is heartbreaking.



Google questions: When you suck at answering ask the grumpies

Q:  should i roll my 401k plan at tiaa cref over to edward d jones

A:  No!  NO!  A thousand times no!!!  OMG that is a horrible terrible idea.  Don’t do it!  You will lose so much money.  AIEEEEE!

Q:  when is a second job not worth it

A:  When the marginal cost outweighs the marginal benefit?  Or maybe when the present discounted value of the job is not worth your next choice option?

Q:  do they give phd for accounting

A:  Yes

Q:  do smart toddlers sleep less

A:  On average, yes, according to survey evidence.

Q:  what happens if house is condemned still owe money it

A:  You still owe money on it.  (Consult your local regulations and lawyer.)

Q:  do nursing faculty usually get summers off?

A:  Depends on the school.  The ones I know teach year round, but that may just be school specific.

Q:  why is it superstitious not to sleep with any body parts hanging off the bed

A:  Because that’s not a real thing to worry about unless you keep your bed over like crocodiles or piranha or something.

Q:  can a tired gifted child do badly in iq test

A:  Yes.

Q:  who is mados

A:  maybe a cousin of Manos?

Q:  why are dentists weird

A:  Nobody knows, but damn are there some odd ducks.

February is Challenge Month

So I’ve been feeling awfully tired and out of shape recently.  That means this year’s February challenge should either be exercise or food related.  (Since I have PCOS, eating sugary/refined carb foods can have an especially detrimental effect on my health and moods.)

Last year I tried the 7 min workout and I hated it so very much.  I got stronger but I dreaded that part of each day.  So that didn’t last past February.

I’ve been debating two different things.

First, I could do a healthy-eating challenge to reset my diet.  Basically this means I eliminate sugar and refined carbs entirely for the month.  No pastries, no white bread, no white pasta, no white rice, no more TJ’s orange chicken.  I know this works out pretty well for me and I tend to feel more energetic and healthier and so on and so forth.  But it removes a lot of the minor joys in my life which seems especially hard when we’re temporarily living someplace with good bakeries.  So I’m trying to cut back on the lower quality stuff, but I don’t think I want to go straight-up cold turkey.  I at least want to be able to partake at work functions, even though I know we can do better at home.

Second, and what I’m going to go with, is an exercise challenge.  After some conversation with DH, I’ve decided I should do a step challenge, as in, walk at least X steps per day.  Now, the standard step challenge is to do 10,000 steps/day.  (Or to average that per week.)  There’s not really anything scientific about that number based on my quick internet search (if anything, the “scientific” number is 7-8K, but more doesn’t hurt).  I’m not sure how realistic 10K would be for me, so what I’m doing this week is actually carrying my phone around with me and using the iPhone health app to see what my regular step usage is according to the phone.  After doing that, I’ll see what a reasonable number to up it to would be.  (It’s not as good as a fit-bit, but if I use it as a baseline against itself hopefully that will be reasonable.)  I don’t normally carry around my phone, so it says silly things like I’ve done 20 steps/day on the weekends.  The most recent time that I was carrying around my phone was at a conference where all the hotels were far away from each other, and on those days I did average more than 10K, but I did what seems like a lot of walking on those days.

A problem I’m not sure what to do about is the weather.  It has been unpredictable.  On days like today it’s easy to say, oh yeah, if I didn’t get enough walking in during the day I will totally go on a long walk after work.  But that’s a bit harder to commit to when it’s pouring rain.  Maybe I’ll have to look into youtube aerobics or something.  (Yech.)

The end goal is to feel more energetic.  If walking more doesn’t work, then I probably will have to do more than just vaguely try to eat healthier.

The plan going forward is to check how much I’ve been walking per day during a regular week, like this one, and then to set a goal for walking that is bigger than that number.  If it is embarrassingly low, I will put in an increase to a less embarrassing number each week goes on in February.

(What happened to biking or taking public transportation, you ask?  Winter + DH being willing to drive me! And deeply enjoying spending that time talking with DH instead of being on the bus by myself.  And one of the bus drivers being kind of a jerk.) (Thank goodness we’ve passed the solstice and it’s started to stay light after work.  Still probably gonna stay with the car.)

For those who haven’t been following us forever, why February?  Because February is the best month for challenges!  January may have that post-holiday guilt and new year optimism, but February has the bigger benefit of being shorter.

How do you exercise/stay healthy?


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