Soliciting more ask the grumpies

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.

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.


29 Responses to “Soliciting more ask the grumpies”

  1. chrisinny Says:

    Ok- contemplating retirement in 12 months. It is recommended to have a plan for your life when work no longer fills so much time. Well, work (and raising a child) pretty much filled most/all of my spare time, with a little left over for reading and quilting (neither of which can I really use to fill a day). So any recommendations for new interests to take up? I may try some volunteering (which had done at the library in the past) but need to find where I can make a contribution (but have no interest in being in charge, of anything). Live in a rural area with access to a tertiary city- so apps like “meetup” are ok for occasional, but not daily activities. I do have a spouse but he has been retired for years so he already has his own routine(s).

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    One of my sons is going to come into a temporary cache of a lot of (for him) money: he’ll be getting something like $700-$800 each month for about a year. Where should he put this money?

    He is 18 and lives at home — and will continue to be living at home, in high school, until he’s 20 (by which point, the money will have stopped coming in. We’d like him to set the money aside so that he can use it when he starts out on his own, by which we mean post-secondary education (most likely, a school of technology, where he’ll learn something like welding — not a 4-year college).

    He has a savings account at our credit union, but that earns like zero-point-zero-zero-something interest, PLUS it’s accessible via his ATM card, which is a remote temptation for him. CDs? E-banking? Roth IRA?

    I should mention that he has 529 plans and UGMA accounts that will *more* than pay for his education, so the money will eventually just be spending money. Or possibly the seeds of his retirement account.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Quick answer (since it may be a while before we get to it on the blog): CD (or term share) to open when he needs rental deposit age 20 or Roth (assuming it is earned income) so he has it when he retires (which may be earlier than when SS ERA is if he continues in a job requiring physical labor– but who knows what life will be like in 3-4 decades). Which to choose depends on whether or not you plan to help him with his housing when he starts post-secondary education.

      If you’re definitely planning on having him use it at age 20 even if it gets used for housing, then choose the CD/termshare option.

      Reasoning behind this in a later post.

      • Miser Mom Says:

        So a Roth is only for earned income, eh? And then there’s the question of whether Social Security payments count as earned income . . . sounds like we’re going the CD route. At any rate, I look forward to eventually seeing your reasoning.

        [Hidden back story: my husband signing up for Social Security early has turned into a Rube Goldberg contraption of financial assistance. Ugh. Should have waited until he was 70!]

      • Leah Says:

        The income you put in the Roth doesn’t have to be earned, but the person needs some earned income. There’s some stipulations to it, so it’s worth reading about. I think if, say, he earns $3k this year, you are allowed to put in $3k as a parent so you can help jumpstart retirement.

        The downside to a Roth is that it’s retirement money and not money to help him out a few years in the future.

        CDs have low rates right now. Look around and try to find the highest rate savings account you can. Make it remote, and if you’re worried about him trying to access, maybe even don’t give him the login until you want him to use the account.

  3. Linda Says:

    I decided yesterday that I need to give up on Mint so I’m looking at replacements. I don’t really need a “budgeting” app. I use Mint mainly to track my spending, look at trends/patterns so I can make adjustments as needed to meet goals, and export reports for taxes. Doing some searches has led me to CountAbout as an option. It’s not free, and it seems that in order to get the automatic downloading of account data you have to pay $39.99 a year.

    What do Grumpy Nation folks use? I’m open for suggestions.

    The reason I’m giving up on Mint is that it simply will not connect to my mortgage or Ally Cashback credit card. I just get vague messages about security, although I can’t understand why there are problems since the security on these accounts don’t seem very different than others. I’ve tried their customer service chat more than once, and each time has ended with a “I’m sorry it’s not working” message. Ugh! These aren’t tiny financial institutions, and they are pulled up in the Add Account drop down, so some people must be able to get their accounts synced. I’m so tired of entering these transactions manually as “cash” transactions.

  4. Zenmoo Says:

    An American food store has opened in my town – they import products on request. I’ve got a few foods I like but don’t know good brands- so suggestions wanted for products in the following categories: dark chocolate peanut butter cups, white or yellow cornmeal muffin or cornbread mixes, healthier boxed mac & cheese …

    • Leah Says:

      Annie’s mac & cheese is yummy! I think it’s healthier than Kraft.

      Do you want nice cornmuffin mix or basic? Jiffy mix is basic but can be doctored up with diced peppers, cheese, frozen corn, creamed corn, etc. It’s a pantry staple for us.

      No idea on dark chocolate . . .

    • ChrisinNY Says:

      It’s not highest end, but good- Ghiradelli dark chocolate.

  5. Leah Says:

    I may have asked these before, so feel free to ignore any repeats:

    – fave books for kids not quite ready to read? We’re rocking a lot of Curious George, Corduroy, and Pout Pout Fish. Just looking for new library reads for my 2.5 year old who LOVES books.

    – What are your favorite places to travel? What are your main priorities in places you travel?

    – Do you have to dress up for work? When you do, have you found any brands/stores with a good balance of comfortable and work-appropriate? I am a fan of the dressed up look that doesn’t require any pain.

    – I’d love to learn some basic econ. Where’s a good place to start that is not too arduous but is also accurate?

    • Rented life Says:

      My kid, same age, loves books too. I second that question.

    • Allyson Says:

      I also have a two-year-old and we could use good library reads, lots of books in the house already. Her fave is Where is Spot? and we have it in English and Spanish. Lift-the-flap books are big in my house. Can I add a request for recommendations of classic children’s books in Spanish that may be easy to find? Some translations seem to work with the rhythm of the originals and some are more literal and not as much fun to read.

  6. Anu Says:

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

  7. First Gen American Says:

    1. Seems the last two go to weekend adventures have been dubbed as “for babies” by my tween. (They were a fall foliage historic train ride and corn maze/pumpkin fest in case you are wondering).

    Wondering what new outings I can add that would hold the interest of the older one as I think we are outgrowing the zoo, museum phase of fun weekend activities.

    2. Things to think about/do now when you are ~10 years from retirement…assuming the cash side is all set.

    3. what can you do for people who have lost a loved one after the funeral.

    4. Small easy habits that can lead to healthier living.

  8. SP Says:

    Thoughts how an ideal university would function, use of adjuncts, what is the purpose of a university? Is it to educate students and conduct research, and what is the weight of these functions.

    I read occasional news media about these topics, and they hit similar themes that sometimes don’t ring true. Most recent example article (posted in my FB news feed by a former adjunct english professor at a university):

  9. Nanani Says:

    Opinions on the merits of raising the credit limit on one’s credit cards?
    I am at the point where both my credit cards (a VISA and an MC, in different currencies; I have lived in multiple countries) have a balance of essentially zero. I use them every month to pay subscriptions and occasional online purchases, but I pay the full balance every month now.

    Since I’ve reached the point where I can regularly do that, the credit card companies have been sending me offers to increase my credit limit at a greater frequency.
    Right now it’s ~10K (thumb conversion to USD) and I don’t feel the need for more, but I thought I’d ask and see what the prevailing wisdom is.

    TL;DR: Raise credit card limit: YES/NO? Why/not?

  10. Steph Says:

    Assuming I get my dream post-doc next year, I will be making 2x my grad salary…and none of it will be eligible for retirement savings because it will be a stipend instead of wages. That will be my life for at least 3 years, though hopefully not much more than that. I want to start saving for retirement in earnest – how would you do that in my situation?

    This won’t matter too much until 2018, because in 2017 I’ll have earned income as a grad student that will let me max out my Roth, at least.

  11. Chelsea Says:

    Soliciting advice for a good unsweetened non-dairy creamer. Right now I just use whole milk in my coffee, but would like to experiment with going dairy free for awhile. I looked at my local grocery store, and almost all the options were sweetened somehow, and I really don’t like sweet coffee. I’d probably prefer coconut or almond-based rather than soy, but would try soy if that tasted the best. I don’t like alt-milks, but I’m hopeful I could come up with a creamer solution.

    Also, I’d love to hear people’s favorite audiobooks. Right now I’m 1/2 way through the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, which is fantastic, but in a mere 200-ish more hours, I’ll be done. What should I listen to next?

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