November mortgage update and dealing with escrow after the mortgage is gone

Last month (October)
Balance:$5,107.51
Years left: 0.416666667
P =$1,189.48, I =$24.93, Escrow =$812.79

This month (November)
Balance:$3,913.33
Years left: 0.333333333
P =$1,194.19, I =$20.22, Escrow =$812.79

Right now we spend $812.79 each month in escrow.  After the mortgage is gone we will be paying property taxes and insurance directly.

There are a number of different options for how to pay for these.  I could continue saving $812.79 each month.  I could pay the insurance monthly via credit card (for a small “processing” fee), and the property taxes in two lump sums.  Or I could save up an additional 10k in our all-purpose emergency fund and pay each of the bills once a year when they’re due.

The last option seems the least hassle, mental and otherwise for me.  Starting in March I will aim to keep our savings account at 31k (though it may take a few months to get there).  In July we pay insurance and in December we pay property tax.  Then we’ll refill as we get paid.  We’ll lose some in say, stock market gains, but it’ll be safer in case DH loses his job.  (Dear Hillary Clinton, please get congress to fund research.)

It is possible that if we both continue to have high incomes that I’ll start playing the pay property taxes twice in one year (and itemizing) and zero times the next (and taking the standard deduction) game and time donations to match, but we don’t have to worry about that this year given my leave last year.

Do any of you pay house insurance and property taxes directly?  How do you save for them?  How do you time payments?

link love

Donald Trump down to last six horocruxes.

ICYMI:  Donald Trump demeans and sexually assaults a former Miss Universe on video in front of a large audience.

ICYMI (and you probably did):  Donald Trump’s campaign caught soliciting illegal foreign donations.

No seriously, it isn’t economic anxiety.

seriously

Clarence Thomas, sexual harasser.

George W. Bush “lost” 22 million emails

Wisconsin

Voter intimidation

#notyourmascot

Seth Meyers is spot on

trying to erase what they did to clinton

If we wrote men like we write women

It should not be controversial to say that black lives matter.  Should not.

I can’t tell if this is anti-Trump or anti-McCain

so do I

virtual assistants and sexual harassment

forthcoming in chronicle vitae

chelsea

election and productivity

this is a good bernie sanders ad

leftist case for clinton

Cosmo’s case

markets move quickly

irony

If you want to throw a creator some money this week

living an authentic life

pantry challenge

early retirement

faculty attitudes of technology

cubs

I could only watch some of these.  Scrabble

Just so it’s clear.

glass ceilings

do want

The ravens.

awww

cats

kittens

puppy


Ask the grumpies: Should I get a phd? And if so, should I do it in CS or linguistics?

To PhD or not to PhD?

I’m currently between programming jobs, having been laid off from my last job with a good severance package, healthy savings, and a spouse with a high paying job.  I haven’t yet started job hunting and instead have been focusing on getting a masters degree part-time in a program related to artificial intelligence and I’ve been working as a TA for the program.  I have enjoyed the TAing.

I have been thinking off and on throughout my career about switching from industry to a PhD program.  What things should I consider to help me make this decision?

My area of interest is Computational Linguistics. If I go for a PhD, should I apply to CS or Linguistics departments?  Should I apply broadly across the US or stick with the local program here (given I own a house and have a dual-body problem and the local program, though not a top 5 in my field, is decent)?

Should I take an industry job in this subfield prior to applying for a PhD or should I apply for a PhD first?  I love tech jobs, but I’m tired of being a generalist.

Our answer for the first, “should I get a phd” question is similar to our answer for the accountant who wrote in with the same question, with one important exception.  Salaries for accounting phds are higher than for those of accountants.  Salaries of CS PhDs are not that different than salaries of highly skilled programmers without a degree.  The main difference in our experience is in levels of specialization.  (Note:  this is based more on personal experience than on hard data, but there are also a lot of not so great and poorly paid programmers who would be unlikely to get a PhD.  I don’t think anything has been done looking at wages controlling for underlying ability.)  So yes, there’s still demand for CS professors, but there’s also demand for CS PhDs in industry and for programmers without degrees as well.  (My DH with the PhD makes a little less than #2’s DH who dropped out of college to become a programmer.  They both make very nice salaries.)

As with the accountant, we recommend that you work as a research assistant if you can.  This will probably be an enormous paycut from your last industry job, but it will give you a feel for the kind of work that PhDs do.

This paragraph is also still true, but replace “accounting” with “computer science”:

Even with an accounting degree, you get very little choice about where you move to after you’re done. We’re living in places we wouldn’t choose if it weren’t for the job. There’s a limited number of professor jobs in any discipline each year and you have to have a certain amount of flexibility. If you absolutely have to live in a specific city, it’s unlikely you’ll get a TT job there. It’s possible, but not likely. If you are location dependent, see what kind of jobs you can get with a PhD in accounting in industry and/or government (depending on the location).

which means lots of heart-to-heart talks with the other half of your two-body problem and you’ll have to consider selling/renting your house.

Also you will want to check how long it takes to get a CS PhD, especially given your masters work.  How many years are classes, how long do people generally take to finish the research portion?  And so on.

My general impression is that if you’re doing computational linguistics, you’re better off getting the CS degree (or one of the funky specific degrees you can get from places like MIT) than the linguistics degree for the same reason that people who do economic history are better off doing economics than history. The baseline of what you can do with the econ/CS is just so much higher than the baseline for history/linguistics that it’s better to go with the former even if you end up doing the same work with either label.  I could be totally wrong about this, so definitely talk with professors at these programs and look into job placement for people in the programs you’re considering.  But, I do have a friend who dropped out of a linguistics PhD program because she realized someone would have to die in order for her to find a job opening.

If you want to go the academic route, then you would most likely want to apply broadly and, if possible, to go to MIT or Stanford or another top school in your area because that will give you more options later. People at MIT are more likely to actually finish the PhD and go into academia (people at Stanford are more likely to drop out and do a startup and get really rich).  Stanford has better weather along with a higher cost of living.  The major problem with academia is that unless you are extremely good or extremely lucky it is very difficult to choose where you want to live with an academic job.  For industry, the local program is probably fine.

My husband prefers the work he does that requires a PhD to what the people in the same company/field without the advanced degree do.  Even in the tech industry the PhD does seem to be a gateway into less generalist work.  It sounds like you find that rewarding, which suggests that even if you do go into industry the PhD would not be wasted time.

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for To PhD or Not?

Early voting is happening now!

Have you voted yet?

Lots of web pages talk about early voting dates.

If you’re registered, you can vote today* in:

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California (some locations)
Colorado
DC (some locations)
Florida (some locations)
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho (some locations)
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Louisiana
Maine
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oregon
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin (some locations)
Wyoming

Maryland and West Virginia start tomorrow.

*not 100% sure these are accurate, but if you google “early voting”, Google will pop up with information for your state, so you can double check very easily.

#1 has already voted, but #2 is waiting until Saturday.

One week of spending with #1

Inspired by Yuppie Millenial’s post.  [link updated to refinery 29]

Saturday:
Grocery shopping: $176.56
Cream sodas and donuts for the kids (we went because I wanted a donut, but when I got there they were out of the kind I like so I didn’t get anything): $10.50
DH ordered a replacement door handle for my car since he broke one at the donut shop: $12.97
By dinner time I was really starting to feel under the weather, so DH picked up ramen from the new from-scratch ramen place in town (they make their own noodles! no msg! so good): $39.80

Sunday:
DH decided to try a new Mexican place with the kids. It was meh. (I stayed home and slept.): $34.06

Monday:
DC1’s after school care for the next month (paid early via credit card): $115
DH ordered replacement earphones for himself out of his allowance: $31.88

Tuesday:
DH put gas in the car: $15.55
DH also bought a ton of stuff for work that he’s getting reimbursed for, so I’m not going to count it. Our garage is gradually turning into a workshop. But that’s a trade-off for telecommuting.

Wednesday:
DH decided to get burgers for lunch and brought one to my office: $20.30
Replacement booster seat for the carseat that was in the accident (DC2 is big enough for this particular booster and refused the super expensive convertible one that I wanted to buy because zie didn’t like the cowmooflage, thus forcing me to look at other brands and saving us ~200): $53.01

Thursday:
No spending

Friday:
Paid violin teacher online (usually this is $80, but she’s taking a week off): $60

So is this a typical week?  Hard to say.  Usually we eat out as a family 2x/week and DH goes out for coffee or for lunch in order to get out of the house during the week.  Usually he doesn’t bring me any and pays for it out of his allowance.  Most weeks we spend ~$200 for groceries, but some weeks we spend more because we go into the city or we skip entirely because we’re too busy or need to eat the pantry down some.  Also this misses most of our major first of the month expenses like daycare, mortgage, and so on, though I guess I did pay for after school and violin a bit early.

Does anything surprise me?  I guess how many small purchases got made?  DH tends to buy things right away when he thinks we need them, but I tend to buy things in lumps.  His frequent buying of small things is definitely a function of having amazon prime.

But an interesting snapshot.

Have you ever tracked your spending?  Why or why not?  How in detail did you go?  Did you learn anything?

link love

Wandsci’s commentary is so true.

Debate analysis in terms of her strategy (actually interesting).  Don’t let yourself think that anyone would have won against Trump or that Hillary would have lost against anybody else.  She did what none of the Republicans could do and made it look easy.

Sigh

More voter suppression

Compare Trump and Clinton campaign followers by the words in their profiles.  The results will probably not surprise you.

What did trump know and when did he know it (7 days of scandal ago…)

It’s not economics

Triggering, but ICYMI, here’s Trump trying to force an unwanted kiss on a young girl

Black panthers fed kids

This is horrific and has a lot of triggers (how Trump supporters have harassed a journalist’s family)

sigh again

#grabyourwallet

Latest Clinton emails continue boring.

CNN’s trump surrogate problem

More Donald and John comics

So creepy.

Donald Trump book report.

Not sure how I feel about this.

Cards for humanity against Trump

Fun twitter feed

Have there been too many profiles of Huma Abedin?

Hillary contains multitudes.

The ignored, silent majority

Minimum payments and debt paydown in consumer credit cards

Orangutan safe Halloween candy.

Hamsters recreate the great british bakeoff

pet outhouses

Dame Eleanor discusses her revision strategy.

Full research mode

Interesting how different things work for different people in terms of productivity.

 

 

 

Ask the grumpies: Self-care during a bigoted election season

Anu asks:

What are your suggestions for self-care during this crazy election, particularly when there is rampant misogyny and racism in the air?

#1 and #2 have had two very different approaches to this.

#1 recommends ostriching.

#2 has been spending way too much time following things.  She strongly recommends reading docrocktex26.

She’s also been donating money, subversively wearing pro-Hillary shirts on weekends, and cheering on her sister’s volunteer efforts (and feeling slightly guilty for not volunteering herself).

Looks like the washington post reports that the APA also has those two suggestions— either limit your media reading or go do something about what’s bothering you.

[It should be noted that #1 seems to be in perfectly good health this election season and #2 keeps getting sick (currently with an upper respiratory infection).  So maybe ostriching is healthier.  Or maybe students are just foul vectors of disease during midterms.]

Also I like the Hillary Shimmy song and I watch a lot of Seth Meyers.  I watch other comics too but turn them off when they get sexist.  (Seth Meyers has been really good about that this election season… so, oddly, has been Bill Maher.  Colbert a bit of a disappointment in that respect, and Trevor Noah varies– sometimes he’s spot on with regards to misogyny and sometimes he completely misses.  And of course Samantha Bee.)

And, like HRC herself, we are big fans of cat videos.

There’s not that much time left until November 8th. So hang in there!

How about you, grumpy nation, what self-care tips do you have for this election season?