Confused money feelings

This summer has been full of contrasting monetary feelings.

Last school year we were starting to feel pretty wealthy until we bought a car.  We have not yet completely refilled the emergency fund, but it is close.

Now this summer I’m not being paid because it is summer (disclaimer:  I will get some summer grant money, but closer to fall), so I see the check register balance (where his paycheck is deposited) going down each month instead of up.  Twice a month the balance goes up when DH gets his paycheck, but the end number is lower than it was a month prior because we spend more than his take-home pay.  So when I see that, I don’t feel rich and I start cutting back on spending or at least questioning purchases.  The Disney vacation also put a pretty big dent into our buffer, even though DH’s parents paid for Disney itself and housing.

Meanwhile DH still feels wealthy and keeps buying stuff without questioning as the household needs/wants it (things like electric toothbrushes or new ballasts for the kitchen light), and we *are* still wealthy and he doesn’t need to question about stuff like that.  But it’s weird how I have a hard time thinking about annual income instead of monthly income.

I’ve still been making myself donate to something #resist-worthy for each weekday I don’t get an action in.  If I don’t make my phonecalls or do some other real form of activism, then I have to find someplace to give $25 to.  Should that $25 feel like a real sacrifice or should it be a bagatelle?  I don’t know.

Maybe it’s good to have a 9 month salary because it causes me to reset my spending ideas each summer.  Or maybe we’re meant to be spending more (though we would seriously regret getting used to 2x my income if DH lost his job).

I don’t really know how to feel about money amounts this summer.

How are you feeling about your income/saving/spending balance right now?

Links we’ve loved and not lost

Here are some links for your perusal:

This book looks neat and you should check it out.  Books are great!  You can donate some.

On reviewing articles.  How words mean things.  Don’t email academics in July, we’re not getting paid.

Have you got any hang-ups about money?  Or collaborating with others?

Sad?  Or furiousOrganize.  Or do this.  Everything is terrible.

This person is trash.  Are your senators?  This one might be, I dunno.

And here are all the tweets that #2 sent me that I haven’t looked at because I can’t stand twitter:

Welcome to our blog, now you feel bad. Congratulations, if I have to look at it you do too.

We’re never going to get to stop talking about Russia, are we.


Movie goofs

Ask the grumpies: teen drivers

omdg asks:

How do you feel about teenagers and driving?

#1:  Terrified.

#2:  They have to learn sometime, right?  Kids today don’t seem super eager to get behind the wheel like kids in my generation (#notallkids).  Most of my friends with older kids report forcing their teenagers to get learning permits.  I’m not sure what the change is.  It’s not like we’re living someplace with great public transportation.  Maybe it’s more of the kids spending time with parents and enjoying doing so and not being off on their own much thing that’s been happening.

Do you twirl your spaghetti?

And if you do, do you use a spoon to assist with the twirls?

What are your thoughts on cutting spaghetti noodles?  Pro/Con/Ambivalent?

#1:  I twirl but don’t use a spoon. A very small part of me cringes at the thought of cutting spaghetti noodles, but the bulk of me thinks it makes total sense.  This is somewhere around the level of split infinitives for me, maybe some other grammar thing that I don’t do in formal writing myself but don’t mind when others do it.  (I’m pretty sure I occasionally split infinitives in formal writing.)

#2:  Yes twirl, no on the spoon, I think cutting it is wrong but my dad does it (and I continually give him [excrement] for it)

Do you track your net worth?

#1:  I really don’t.  Our long-term finances are kind of a mess.  We have so many different accounts with different providers.  (The paranoid part of me thinks this might be a benefit if the fascist government cracks down on dissidents– we might be able to get to Canada or another safe harbor and transfer at least a subset of our accounts before they figure out all of them… hopefully.  We’ll see.  Or hopefully this won’t actually happen.)  I do track some of our accounts on mint (but mint often double-counts things or can’t log into things, so even that number isn’t accurate) and I monthly track our savings and checking account because I need to know whether or not we’re on track for the unpaid summer.

I think I’ve calculated our entire net worth 3 times in the past 11 years.  (Back in graduate school it was easier– our networth was just our checking and saving (and DH’s student loans…) and then later a few etrade accounts).  Each time it’s come as a bit of a pleasant shock.  I think that’s what happens when you wait a long time between calculations and keep spending less than you earn.  (Markets going up has also helped.)  Knowing it is above a number has helped me loosen up on spending, so it’s probably just as well I don’t look more often (assuming it is going to keep going up… I might need to recheck in case of a major market meltdown).

#2:  I have never done so before. Well, back before retirement accounts I guess I did because there wasn’t anything to track. Retirement accounts are worth such a varying amount from month to month. Thinking about retirement account balances is stressful, so I just put money in and don’t think about it too much.

Do you track your net worth? If so, how often?

Link Love

Drinking toilet water and more torture stories about abuse for child detainees in the US

Even more horrible stories about immigrant children being tortured after being separated from their parents at the US border.

Dark money groups no longer need to disclose donor groups to the IRS with new Treasury rule

Official Whitehouse transcript is missing most explosive part of the Trump-Putin press conference.

But when a *man* says it…

1985 death row final statement

Another white US terrorist that barely makes the news

Republican men on paying for their mistresses’ abortion and similar things

Leigh discusses her current career situation and women in tech

Women in tech and money

In case you were wondering who the women in the Maroon 5 video are

She did not buy a new car

Debt free!

How to restart your writing practice

library reopens after 9 months

What is the lioness and the cheese grater? (NSFW, maybe?  though you could read a 22 page scholarly article on the topic…)

Sleepless fantasy comic

An apple for a dollar

Clawsome humble bumble

Beth Stern’s cat foster home

Sooo cute


Ask the Grumpies: Update from Finally Facing it

Here’s an update from last week’s ask the grumpies!

FFI says:

I’m appreciating reading folks’ comments!

I’ve done all the paperwork for a home equity loan and am hoping it will be finalized by the end of next week. Our credit score was better than I’d anticipated (our bank takes the middle of the three scores, and ours was a 767, which felt good). We therefore got an interest rate of 5.38% on a loan of $50,000, which was more than we needed, but borrowing the extra amount lowered the interest rate further, and I will simply take the extra and pay it immediately back to the loan against the principle. It’s a ten-year loan, but the loan officer (whom I liked and had a very frank and informative conversation with) calculated that putting the extra money directly back into the loan and then paying just the standard payment would have us paying off the loan in 8 years. And of course paying extra would make that go even faster. And I made sure that there were no closing costs and no prepayment penalty on the home equity loan and that it was for a fixed rate. So prepaying on a regular basis is definitely part of the plan.

I’ve got the budgeting app Honeydue set up and am working on a household budget, and my partner called and got our cable bill reduced by $50/month. It will take a couple of months for us to get a workable budget, I think — figuring out what we currently spend on what and where we want to make changes — but we’ve started on the process. And I’m reading Elizabeth Warren’s All Your Worth.

Also, re: side gigs: I’m starting a 3-week summer gig on Monday, and I just responded to a call for SAT proctors for the coming year. The latter doesn’t pay much, but it’s easy (other than getting up early on a Saturday), and I can send the $$ directly to the equity loan. I’m actually feeling pretty excited about these side gigs, since it’s a way I can directly get more income to pay down the loan. I like the suggestions people made for gamifying this process, and I’m going to play around and find one that works for us.

I hadn’t actually thought about taking that “found” $50 from the cable and automatically adding that to the monthly loan repayment; I was just thinking about its being a good thing in general principle. So perhaps this is where I need to change my thinking around budgeting and paying things off! But I definitely was thinking about continuing to pay the $791 we’re already paying so that we’re making more progress (because the monthly payment the loan will require is in the $500’s). Also, I’ll get a small pay raise that kicks in in September, so that’s some more $$ — not much more, but every little bit counts if I concentrate on making it count.

That all sounds great!

Isn’t it crazy how the cable company was just like, sure, here’s $50/mo? We try to call around about once every two or three years just to ask for discounts.  (If you’re not using Ting or a similar discount service, the cell company is usually pretty eager to give big discounts as well.)

Note that All Your Worth has really great advice for long-term planning and getting your fixed and variable expenses about right.  Her savings number is a lower bound and her spending number is an upper bound.  When you’re in a temporary savings blitz, it’s ok to be way out of whack with increased savings vs. decreased spending.  The key word there is “temporary”–  I do think she’s right that you shouldn’t have to feel deprived long-term if you have the income not to be, but for a short-term blitz so that you can get those fixed expenses down (which is what debt repayment does), a little pain earlier makes for more freedom later.  Dave Ramsey’s “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else” hits that idea hard.

Bankrate has a LOC repayment calculator.  If I did everything right (and assuming it matches the type of loan you have), it looks like you might be able to knock the HELOC out in under 6 years just keeping your current monthly payment of $791/month. A single pre-payment of $50 in the first month knocks off more than a month of payments. Applying all of your cable savings each month in addition to the $791 you were originally paying gets you to a payoff date of 63 months, or 5.25 years. You can play around and see what kinds of benefits your side-gigs add.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if in 2 or 3 years you could call that $841/month plus any raises you get your own income to spend and save as you please?  Even 6 years isn’t so bad compared to the dread you were initially feeling.  This is totally doable!


Have any of  you just called to get a discount?  How did it feel when you paid off a major debt? 

How to talk about how awesome your work is without sounding like a jerk (in an academic paper)

Being a woman, and a woman not at a top 10 institution, in a field in which there is little to no double-blind reviewing, I have to walk a very fine line when promoting what is novel and new about my work compared to previous work.  This is especially hard because I do really innovative work that ends up getting cited a lot and taught in classes but faces a huge amount of push-back from the people who don’t think that way.  (When I put it like that, maybe I’m not the best person for giving advice given my lack of top general interest journal publications.)

Anyway, don’t say that you’re the first person to do something unless you’re an asshole at a top school.  They are always wrong.  They have always not done enough literature review.  But that doesn’t kill them whereas it is the death knell for the rest of us.  Don’t do it.  (I review a lot of papers and see this dichotomy in action– asshole reviewers are so pleased to bring their work to the attention of the famous white dudes, but are insulted that junior scholars should not know their important paper published 30+ years ago.)

When you’re an asshole at a top school, a good strategy is to do an extremely light literature that only cites top general interest journals.  That makes it look like your paper is new and innovative.  And people believe it is because your work doesn’t get sent out to the other people (women, junior scholars, people not at top 10 schools) who have worked on the same question because the editor doesn’t know they worked on it and you didn’t cite them, so how is the editor supposed to know.  Yes I am still really bitter about this.

When you’re not that asshole, you have to do a really complete literature review because if you don’t cite someone, the reviewers take offense and think you haven’t done a thorough lit review.  You can get away with not citing things that aren’t in your field (but I cite people outside anyway because they do work I think economists should know about– this is part of why my way of thinking about things is so innovative– innovation in economics is what another field discovered 30-50 years ago…).  You can get away with not citing things that got published in second tier field journals or lower, but if it was in a top field journal, it needs to be in your list of works cited.

Now, if you’re a white male asshole at a top school, you can make your career out of proving another top economist’s top general interest paper was wrong.  Or, if it’s a female top economist, all you really have to do is harshly question it.  If you’re female and you do this, it can destroy your budding career unless you coauthor with a senior top male economist or two who will take the credit and shift the blame to the bad paper author.

All of that aside… and back to the topic that inspired this post.

If you are a woman/non-famous person, how do you make it clear that your paper is doing new stuff without insulting your potential reviewers?  The answer, my friend, is data limitations.  Or, if it is much older work, new technology.  They *couldn’t* answer the question you’re answering because their dataset wasn’t good enough.  No fault of theirs.  You have something new to add because of your great luck or your hard work.  This probably explains why I am forever amassing new datasets instead of writing papers with the sets I already have.  (That and I’m a dilettante).

So, is this good advice?  I don’t know.  My career looks like a glass ceiling– I am very good at publishing at top field journals, but have yet to hit a top general interest journal.  Some of this is because other than my job market paper I didn’t send my work to top field journals until after tenure, but some of it is that I still don’t know how to play the game perfectly and my reputation is not such that I get the benefit of the doubt.  I still get desk rejects with useless comments for papers that end up getting accepted with minor revisions at similar journals.  There’s a lot of crap shooting going on.

(Disclaimer:  #notalleconomists are assholes, #notalltopeconomists are assholes.  Some are really nice and are generous with their citations and work and try to write the best papers they can because they care about economics and policy.  Others care a lot about playing the publication game.  I’m sure it’s similar in many lines of work.)

Pondering getting a new mattress: Any advice?

I love my DH very much.  But I think I would love him even more if we had a king-sized bed.

Why a king?  I used to think king-sized beds were crazy and extravagant and unnecessary.  As DH has gotten older, he’s started to snore a bit.  He’s got some kind of nasal thing going on (the dentist has talked to him about it) in which if he gets overweight he has trouble doing nose breathing and to fix it he’d either need surgery, a CPAP, or to lose weight.  So far he’s been trying the lose weight option, but it never sticks long-term.  Also in the winter I love cuddling close to him through the night, but in the summer I’d rather be as far away as possible.  He has trouble sleeping without me, but I sleep way better when he’s gone.  That year in paradise where we had a king-sized bed I slept really well.  We also sleep well in hotels when we get a genuine king bed.

Right now our house has 3 queen sized beds of various ages and comfort levels and one twin bed.  The bed we’re currently sleeping on is 18 years old (and is a pretty high quality standard mattress), but spent quite a bit of the time in the interim as an extra bed in an empty room.  DC1 sleeps on an (extremely expensive organic) Omi Midori twin; it is about 10 years old.  DC2 sleeps on an (extremely expensive organic) Omi queen that used to be ours, though I forget what kind.  It is ~8 years old, and DC2 (age 5) has been using it by hirself for something like 3 or 4  years.  We were very worried about chemical off-gassing when they were little.  The guest bed was a $300 emergency buy– the cheapest full bed option for right after we’d bought the house, had no money, and DH’s parents were visiting.  It is not… uncomfortable… but it’s also not terribly comfortable either and it’s smaller than our other queens.

We have to flip the bed monthly or I wake up with my back hurting.  And sometimes flipping is not enough.  Often it is enough though.

There are two directions that I see we could go right now.

  1.  We could buy another OMI mattress for $4-8K.  These guys are supposed to last decades, but one of the reasons we gave ours to DC2 was that it wasn’t as comfy after 5 years, even with regular flipping.  I’m fairly sure we could talk them into giving us a platform bed for free (that’s one of their rotating specials).
  2. We could instead spend $700 on a Tuft and Needle online, and then buy a platform bed frame from Walmart or someplace similar for <$200.

Or, of course, we could continue to do nothing.


#2 says:  King-size is 100% worth it.  Just buy a Casper like everyone else, and then you’re done.  You need 2 twin box springs, or a platform.  Casper even sells a platform.

They did not pay me to say this, but you can always paypal to grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com.

Take one-quarter (or less!) of what you would spend on another mattress and buy a decent CPAP machine.  The difference in life quality (not to mention silence for your bedmate) once you get that sucker properly adjusted is mind-blowing.  Once you get used to it, you will wonder how anyone functioned without it.

What do you guys think?  What are your suggestions for mattress buying?  How did you buy your last bed?  Any suggestions for brands that are still comfortable after 10, 15 years?

Link Love

WordPress informs us this marks our 8th year of blogging.

Millions of dollars in ads are coming in to support the evil supreme court nomination, and we don’t know who is paying for them, and we won’t.

North Carolina early voting debuts a diabolical new republican ploy to suppress black turnout

Letters from moms whose children were taken away

Pregnant women miscarried in ICE detention and did not get care they needed

Migrants describe hunger and solitary confinement at for-profit detention center

Immigration policy change threatens non-citizens with deportation if they lose status — like, even if they’re on a student visa, if you ask to change your status and they say no, then they can rescind your student visa(!)

Only 57 kids have been reunited so far.

Investigative reporters find some of the girls.  Really amazing reporting.

Private prison company moves annual conference to Trump-owned golf resort

Judd Legum lays out Friday’s indictment in a few tweets

This graph.

Completely neutral race blind college admissions questions

Most racist moments in Disney movies and cartoons

Fired (Areanet) guild wars 2 writer was given no warning.

Game Workers Unite releases statement about areanet firings

Women developers are now being attacked en masse because of AreaNet’s decision.

Don’t sleep with your students!

This week in Not the Onion

Here’s Trump attacking George HW Bush’s call for volunteering... I just… why are we living in a super villain comic book without super heroes to save us?  (We must save ourselves.)

Yes, the number of food recalls has been much higher this year than in recent years.  Vegetable trays.  I don’t have a link, but also throw out your honey smacks cereal.

Money only buys happiness for a certain amount ($95K/person)

Ways to feel rich

She is interesting


Cold noodles in chilled broth

This is cute (though not 79 pounds plus work cute)

Texts from mittens

New orangutan

Gorilla first steps