Link love

We have so many money posts in the queue that if you want to hear #2’s amazing news and how #1 is dealing with her move to paradise, we’re going to have to double up on money posts next week.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading about the exciting options for dealing with #1’s commute until a month had passed which would be silly.  (Though perhaps Tuesday is where such an entrancing topic belongs anyway.)

Also headsup to blogspot bloggers– we’ve been having really spotty luck with being able to comment on blogspot sites.  If the wordpress option is the only option we have to leave a comment, it seems like this week we’re allowed one wordpress blogspot comment with the I am not a robot checkbox and then *never again*.  So it’s not that we don’t want to talk about your awesome post or answer your questions, blogspot just won’t approve the comment.  We do seem to be able to leave comments with the Name/Website option and if there’s no spam filter of any kind.  :(

Ok, links this week!  The internet has answered the call for more budgeting posts.  And there are some really good ones.  (Our modo-budgeting post will be up the Monday after next, and at some point #2 will discuss how she and her partner deal with joint finances after having gone through several life changes.)  Here’s a taste of what’s out there:

We LOVED this one by ana about how budgets can be freeing and the steps that she took to get her budgeting situation set up.  A really great post all around.  She’s been on a roll this week with great posts, so check her out if you’re not already a regular (which we are sure you are).

Similarly, Not a Wasted Word has had post after post of great thinky posts this week, so check her out too.  Here’s one that we really liked.

How Budget Blonde finally decided it’s ok to spend money.

Leigh and her budgeting system.

Solitary Diner has also been talking about money lately.  I wanted to tell her that I like to talk about money too, but blogspot wouldn’t let me.  :(  I did get one comment in on this post that was a comment to the Ana post we linked to above.  (I love conversations about doing good stuff with money!)

In other news:

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg’s awkward interview.

A little summary of #Ilooklikeanengineer

So glad I am not a teacher

Did you know that breaking cat news has an insta?

Can’t unsee this.

YES YES YES to the last paragraph of this post.  You know, you can want more time not working without being a @#$#ing martyr.  It’s ok to want it for whatever reason without guilt being involved in the equation at all.  (Assuming you don’t like torture animals or people or something in  your spare time, obviously.)

Bleh for beautiful closets!  Hilarious illustration with the glass canning jars.

Sending out a novel under a male name.

Awesome response to criticism of how female voices sound on podcasts.

Oh man, the lineup here is stellar.  Too bad I’ll be in ITALY on my HONEYMOON.

We LOVE THIS CARD so much.

Andrew Ti is awesome.

#fieldworkfail

link lovington

HLNTV blogger on the convention:

Ultimately then, what should be the most troubling aspect of Ms. Romney’s speech and the GOP’s attempt to reach out to women voters in general, is their embracing the narrative of women as eternal martyrs.  In claiming that moms “always have to work a little harder,” and then following up with “and that’s fine,” this ultra-wealthy stay-at-home mom is valorizing the status quo—in which many women are indeed getting the shaft — even as much of society is moving beyond it.

Gifted exchange with the sweet question, What are your hopes for the school year?

Stolen from wandering scientist, Anyone can get a bug bite–and everyone is better off when that risk is shared.

This post from Wil Wheaton reminded me why NPR annoyed me this morning.  They had some commentator come on to say that Obama’s speech failed because she didn’t think it was as good as Michelle Obama’s or Clinton’s.  Even if that’s true (and I think the speeches were all good but they were focused on different aspects of the message), I wasn’t aware that Obama was running against Clinton and Michelle Obama.  I thought he was running against Romney.  Heck, I thought Michelle Obama came with the Obama package.  In any case, I’d hoped to hear some legitimate reporting, not the opinion of how the speech made some person I could not care less about feel.  But opinions are easier than facts.  Cheaper.

I continue to be in love with The Daily Show.  And, you know, math.

We endorse this solution by itsprobablymephd to the lots of books conundrum.

Why you can’t just block internet stalking from DC Women Kicking Ass.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

Google questions that keep you up at night

Q:  why don’t college teachers check their email in summer

A:  Because we do not get paid to.

Also, because your grade is final and no amount of whining from you will change that.  Unless a mistake has actually been made, but that’s not your argument.  Your argument is that you worked “real hard” even though the grade book shows otherwise.  You gotsta turn in assignments to get credit for them and you can’t get extra credit after the fact.  In other words, college teachers do check their email in the summer but chose not to reply to yours because there was no reason to.

Q:  my kid has mandarin enrichment, math enrichment, gymnastic, piano lessons and swimming lessons and she is d till asking for dancing and skating, is it too much for a 6 year old

A:  Probably not– 6 year olds are pretty flexible, especially if ze is asking for more.  HOWEVER, it sounds like too much for any sane parent, unless you’ve got a chauffeur who isn’t you.  And no, you don’t need to find an excuse that it’s not in the kid’s best interest in order to say no.  You can say, “Mommy and daddy aren’t martyrs and we already take you to 5 extracurricular activities and we don’t want to do any more driving.”  That way when (if) your 6 year old is a parent, she doesn’t feel like she has to sacrifice everything for her kids either.

Q:  who is an ideal student?

A:  We were.

Q:  should i buy a house in december

A:  why not?  There’s less supply and less demand in the winter compared to the summer, so you may be able to get a bargain or you may have to keep looking until Spring when people start putting homes on the market.  Also, some areas have more seasonal housing markets than others (college towns will have very limited supply in December, but also very desperate sellers).

Q:  is a second job at minimum wage worth it

A:  Not to us, but it might be to you.

Q:  do 2 year olds know how to manipulate their parents?

A:  Depends on the kid.  Generally we like to assume that kids want to do what is right, and when we do that, they tend to believe it too.

Q: what is level 3 monitoring in the emergency room visit

A:  Extremely expensive.

Q:  how tosay i can be shy at first then warm up

A:  with a t-shirt.

Q:  is it silly to have a full length blind on a half window

A:  A little bit, but we don’t judge you for it.

Q:  being grumpy pros and cons?

A:  Only pros.  (We lost our amateur status.)  [Not actually true– we’re not getting paid for our grumpiness.  We can still compete in the grumpy olympics, and not just in the off-season.]

Should kids come first? A deliberately controversial post.

My kids don’t come first. My FAMILY comes first. Kids who come first end up being entitled little pricks with helicopter parents who are PITA in the classroom and in life until they get beaten down when they’re finally away from their parents. Our family is a team with all members equally important (based on need and so on) and all members pulling their weight. My family has produced generations of strong successful responsible middle-class working women and men who are proud of their parents and siblings with this strategy.

You can try to guilt me into thinking I’m a terrible mother, but what I do worked for my mother and her mother and her mother before her and so on. I turned out perfect, as did my sister (as did my mom and aunts). My kid is turning out perfect. If I changed anything, then we might move away from that optimum. My kid is strong and independent and loved and ze’s not going to be the one who is helpless at college when it comes to taking care of hirself. Ze’ll be the one showing other kids how to do their laundry or grocery shop and so on, just like I was. There’s a satisfaction in being able to do things yourself.

You can try to make me feel guilty for being selfish instead of selfless.  You can quote Horatio Storer at me, that 19th century intellectual who worked tirelessly to ban abortion, among other things.  This ideal that the angelic innocent mother should sacrifice herself for her children (her sons, really… daughters are only important if they’re going to bear grandsons) is an upper-middle-class Victorian ideal made possible only on the backs of the starving working class of an industrializing society.  They’re the products of modern surplus.  And one that my family has never bought into– we were too tied to the land at that time, traveling across the Western US in covered wagons.  Pioneer women don’t have time to stand on pedestals or to raise Little Lord Fauntleroys.

And because we all had to pull our fair shares, whether to stay alive or just to make the work-life balance work for everyone, we perhaps grew up thinking that we should spoil our parents rather than the other way around.  We should do chores without being asked.  We should do our best to behave and entertain ourselves.  And it’s much more pleasant spending decades as a mom being treated a little bit like a princess by spouse and progeny after waiting on one’s own mother (though we call it “helping out” and “being thoughtful”), than it would be having to reverse that.  It’s nice having something to look forward to rather than something to dread.  (Guilt-free too!)

And that is definitely not to say that SAHP are, by definition, helicopter parents. They’re not. Most of them have lives outside their children. Most of them know how to discipline their children so they don’t try to brain other kids with tool-boxes. But folks who try to lecture me on being a bad person because I don’t have to work but I do anyway (or who were passive-aggressive at my mom growing up)– IRL at least, their kids tend to be spoiled brats incapable of polite relations with society.  That probably has nothing to do with their choice in work-status.  But the idea that they have to martyr themselves because the children come first and all mothers who aren’t martyrs are, by extension, miserable sinners… well, that’s not really healthy for anyone.  Especially not their daughters.  Or for their sons…

Bottom line:  Family first as a team.  Children first makes for a pretty depressing adulthood for the kids to look forward to and may result in a lack of  grandchildren.

What say you?  Kids first?  Family first?  Furbabies first?

When a mom says she’d love to stay at home but she needs the money

She might be lying because it’s easier than politely telling you to STFU.*

Sometimes working mom wants to work, regardless of her husband’s goals for income.  Some women do, even mothers.  Unnatural, I know.

When her husband says he can’t have more kids because they can’t afford them, well, he might not be telling the truth either.  I imagine the wife also has some say in the additional children question… she may even not want more kids!  But when a woman says she’s done with kids, that never goes over well.  People always feel like they have to say, “Oh, you’ll change your mind” or “I’m sure if you had another one you’d be happier.”

I find the question really intrusive (although we do plan to have a second some day) and wish people would stop asking me about my fertility plans at work.  Nothing I say ever satisfies them.  Finally one well-meaning gentleman has stopped pressuring me (about 4 years of this, including in front of job candidates) to have another kid when I explained in detail the kinds of infertility treatment I had to go through to get the first one.   Much easier to say it’s about money than whatever is actually going on, especially when it’s none of the questioner’s business in the first place.

Same thing with the working mom, we’re allowed to say we’d love to stay at home but we need the money but we’re not allowed to say we love our children to pieces but staying home with them would DRIVE US CRAZY.  Coming off a week with DC in daycare and DH at a conference, I know that would definitely be true in my case.

The woman in question might not even realize that she prefers working and having a smaller number of kids because we’re so brainwashed into believing that the ideal of womanhood is staying at home and sacrificing ourselves for the Victorian ideal of the next generation.  All those little boy chillin’s we ought to be martyring ourselves for (and boy grandbabies our daughters will be raising).  So we say one thing to people who need to mind their own business, but deep down in our heart of hearts, may actually feel another, even if we don’t realize it ourselves.  Oh, if only we didn’t have this mortgage, these schooling expenses etc, then we’d love to have 15 kids and no job other than to watch after them.  Maybe not.

Not to say that there aren’t people who really would choose to stay at home or have more children if they had more money, but I bet those folks make a lot less money than most folks who answer the question in exactly the same way.  (Not because of any SES reason, but because people who  genuinely need 2 incomes to make ends meet are a subset of the people who say they do.)

Are you ever asked intrusive questions?  Do you always answer them honestly?

*This is paraphrased from a reply I made on someone’s blog post I can’t find again.  The point of the post was the blogger knows this guy who isn’t having any more kids and his wife works instead of staying home because the husband wants additional income.  If they just lived super-frugal lives then they could instead have a SAHM and a dozen kids.  Because that’s everybody’s ideal goal.

Why do I have everything?

I’m so sick of posts talking about how women can have everything, just not at the same time (a Claudia Goldin quote, I believe… she was talking about the generation of women who are now retiring).

I especially hate the way that disagreeing and saying, “Hey, I have everything” makes me look like a jerk.  Folks should be able to say, “I have everything and you can too.  You may not have it now, but if you keep trying it can happen.”  People shouldn’t have to apologize for being awesome.  People shouldn’t have to say, “The only reason I’m awesome is because I have had advantages that you don’t (so don’t even bother trying).”  The truth is that we can all be awesome, or at least awesomer than we are now, but some of us have to work harder than others at becoming awesome because of differences in advantages.

Here’s why I have everything.

I’m smart.  I have good genetic material.  A family that values intelligence.  My mom ate crazy healthy when I was in the womb.  My parents were active with me as a baby.  My house was full of books.  But smart isn’t just an inborn trait, it’s something you have to use and nurture by growing dendrites and taking on challenges.  You can become even smarter, starting now.  (Read Mindset by Carol Dweck.)

I’m focused.  I know what I want and I make plans on how to get there.

I’m well-prepared.  I’ve sought out and taken many educational opportunities.  I understand the culture I’m working in (I didn’t at first, but I learned and changed).  I had solid training.  My parents also gave me tools to navigate the adult world… I can budget, invest etc.  If I can’t do something I know how to find out what to do.  The best thing my mother ever taught me was how to use the library.

I’m determined.  I’m not a shrinking violet.  I know I’m valuable.  If I’m not getting what I want, I figure out how to get it.  I don’t have everything I want, but I’m going to keep trying until either I do or I decide I want to try a different game.  I realize that often opportunities don’t fall into my lap, but I can ask for them (firmly and politely).  And if some people think I’m not staying in my place, that’s their problem, not mine.  Sometimes I strike out, but I still go up to bat.

I’m hardworking.  I no longer work 80 hour weeks, but I sure don’t work less than 40 hrs/week either.

I have a growth mindset.  Set-backs are simply set-backs.  We learn from them and work harder to get ahead.

I have the perfect partner.  We don’t fight.  We don’t guilt.  We shoulder the load.  We comfort.  We support.  We look for solutions together.

I’m not a martyr.  I don’t see any reason that I should have to sacrifice myself for anybody or anything.  Yes, I did all the “right” things when DC was a baby, but never at huge sacrifice to myself, and I got to decide what was “right,” after a lot of research.  I did what I did because that was what I wanted to do because I thought it was the right thing, not because I wanted people to think I was a saint or because I was trying to convince myself not to feel guilty for whatever reason.

I’m lucky.  Also privileged by geographic and demographic virtue.  I have to work harder than a white male from a tony family but I don’t have to work as hard as an equally perfect female from an underrepresented minority family would to get to the same place.  I don’t have to work as hard as someone from another country, and being an American gives me untold advantages and safety.

Perhaps most importantly:  I get to define “everything.”  My goals are achievable.  I don’t want to work 80hrs/week and be at home for my child 168hrs/week.  I want a happy independent kid who works to hir own chosen potential.  I want to be respected in my career and to do good work.  I want to be continually growing.  I want to make enough money (and spend reasonably enough) not to have to think about it unless I want to.    (#2 thinks that the ability to have it all depends on how you define “it” and “have”.  Do I sound Presidential?)

Anyhow.  If you’re feeling unhappy about your lot in life, instead of complaining about how women just can’t have everything in yet another blog post… well, ask yourself what you can do to get what you want.  Changing the game is difficult, but there are still strategies you can use to get ahead as a player.  And it’s not fair that it takes more effort for some groups than others, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s something you can do.

What can you do to make your life better?  Are you trapped?

Is there anything wrong with choice feminism?

This post was inspired by a recent discussion at Historiann’s.  It’s a bit scattered and should probably be two posts…

There are a lot of different definitions of choice feminism floating around on the internet, but no wikipedia article to arbitrate.  So for the purposes of this post, I will define choice feminism as being consistent with the idea that women should be allowed to choose between having careers and being housewives or stay-at-home parents without guilt or judgment.  I am not defining it as a feminism that allows women to choose to defer to their husbands at all times for religious reasons (though some folks on the internet do include that definition).  I’m sticking to this labor market definition.

Note it is a middle-class debate, mostly upper-middle-class.  Folks making less money or who have less education make choices much more defined by salary, job options, and daycare costs– their constraints are more binding.  Of course, the guilt and the cultural ethos still spills over.  It’s easier to justify being in the labor force in order to pay a mortgage or rent in a safer neighborhood etc. if the cultural ethos is telling you you’re also striking a blow for feminism and being a strong role model for your children.  It’s more difficult if the cultural ethos is telling you you’re abandoning your kids (whom you’re supposed to be waiting on hand and foot 24/7) to strangers.  [Note:  You’re not.]

The idea is that 1970s feminism was more of the former.  We, the privileged, the smart, educated, determined, middle class owed it to all women to show our female power, to break glass ceilings, to open up opportunities for the next generation.  By not opting out, we were making it better for those who did not have a choice because we were changing culture, and we had the imprimatur to do it.  (Of course, I’m willing to bet that there’s some selective memory going on, and it was still much more acceptable to stay at home rather than break those barriers.  Also, I think we could have a whole ‘nother blog post about how it is no longer popular to claim that the privileged have any responsibility to society…)  Today, the argument goes, the pendulum has ticked the other way and this current generation gives equal merit to the choice to stay at home, and in doing so, they’re hurting current and future generations of women.

A logical conclusion from the above is that men and women should be working for pay in the labor market in high impact jobs even if their family income is enough that they do not need to in order to meet their monetary needs.  But… what if you’re the recipient of an inheritance?  What if you worked a few years at a high-paying job and saved diligently and are doing early retirement extreme?   What if your IPO from the company you slaved over for a few years made you a millionaire and now you want to relax?

Don’t most people wish they could keep their American salaries with French working hours?  Rom coms sell balance for both genders, not just women.  It’s dad whose work causes him to miss the championship baseball game, signaling to the audience the need for whatever transformation is going to occur in the next 80 min.

This cult idea of the perfect career is also damaging.   Am I doing the right thing for women because I work on the fringes of the powerful and have a child, or should I instead be working harder to be at a top 10 or top 20 school?  If I worked more hours, my chances of being able to do so would be higher.  But I sure as heck wouldn’t have time to blog.  What about women who leave post-docs to work for industry?  Or decide they don’t want another year of adjuncting?  Or maybe a masters degree is enough higher education… there’s more money to be made on wall street anyway.

What are these high powered careers that highly educated women are dropping out of or phasing down?:  lawyering, doctoring, academia… who says these are a measure of success?  They’re pedestrian … they’re stereotypes.  What less-privileged parents see as entree into the upper middle class, and maybe they are, but the upper middle class don’t see them as the only option for their children.  Note that they’re becoming female dominated.

I don’t know any happy lawyers, at least not ones with kids.  Well, that’s not quite true.  My aunt and uncle have had fulfilling careers (while raising two children), but you know what?  They work for the government.  They exchanged smaller salaries for 40-50 hr/week jobs.  (#2 says, my aunt is a happy lawyer.  My cousin is a very busy lawyer.  Both have kids and pets.)  I know women who should not be SAHM who left stressful jobs as lawyers to “stay at home with their kids”… but that’s not really why they left, no matter what they try to convince themselves.  They discovered on maternity leave that they hated their jobs.  Like the Historiann post said, their job was not compelling enough to return to.  Are they failing the sisterhood?  If not, are they causing problems for all women when they insist that the reason they left the labor force was because their children needed them and they just could not farm their little spoiled hellions out to strangers (sorry… that’s one specific example!), and not because their job sucked?

Add to that, strong women will sometimes be only nominally SAHM.  They will engage in entrepreneurship, philanthropy, activism.  Businesses that are hidden until they start bringing in large sums of money (like Kate Middleton’s mom!) or that are high powered work without pay.  Is that less important than becoming a senior partner at a law firm or a senior full professor at a top 10 school?  What is the brass ring?

One of my big problems with this debate is how gendered it is.  Coming from a personal finance perspective, one of the great goals in life is financial independence.  When women opt-out, it’s called being a housewife.  When men opt-out, they’re “financially independent”, or “exploring their muse”.  Even when said housewives are running businesses or charitable organizations and said men aren’t breaking even.  If men call it SAHDing rather than something more euphemistic, their labor market outcomes take a bigger hit than an equivalent woman’s.

Is it right that men and women have different cultural expectations?  That it’s more ok for a woman to leave the labor force, that it’s easier for a man to succeed at a career job?  No.  Those little choices Historiann’s post talks about are also dangerous.

So that’s a lot of blathering.  I’ll end with a few summing paragraphs.

Big tenet of choice feminism:  individual women should not be made to bear society’s guilt.  I should not be feeling guilty for not being a professor at Stanford on top of having to live in a small town in a red state.  I made these trade-offs.  Most of us could do more.  But most of us also don’t want the health problems associated with stress.  Most of us want time for hobbies, even if the hobby is watching TV.

Bad part:  any idea that if you don’t choose to stay at home there’s something wrong with you.  Many women stay at home because their jobs sucked, but they don’t want to admit that.  They’d rather pretend to be martyrs, sacrificing for the good of the family.  I like the financial independence perspective.   Your job is a way to get money.  Your vocation is whatever you want to do with your time.  There’s no shame in not working (unless you’re serious about the Protestant work ethic like my mom… she believes people have a moral obligation to contribute to society), so long as you pay your bills and feed and clothe your kids.

Bottom line:  Let choice feminism win the day.  No need to feel guilty for choosing not to work if you don’t have to and you understand the risks you may be taking.  You’re not failing anyone.  BUT only on the condition that parents who choose to stay at home admit that they’re doing it for themselves, and not for their kids.  Let’s take the martyrdom out of feminism and allow true choice.

Note the deliberately controversial post tag… and … Go!  Hit us with your thoughts.

Why I’m not a guilt-stricken mother and why I have it all and why the patriarchy sucks

I typed out an incredibly thoughtful and lengthy response to microdro’s repost of this post from Dr. Isis… but it got eaten by blogger, and when I hit the back button it was gone.  I hate when that happens.

Anyhow.  The post is one of those standard posts about how working moms’ lives suck because they’re doing all the housework on top of bringing home the bacon and feeling guilty because they’re not perfect housewives on top of everything else.  Yet another book has been written on the subject.  I think it’s some kind of Jungian internet archetype.  In her review post, Dr. Isis quotes the claim that we’re the first generation to experience this problem (though she notes that her husband does half the housework).

The NYTimes and mother’s forums etc. repeat this pattern as one of their incredibly popular and frequent pet rich people problems, and it strikes a chord with so very many married women with children, who share their own stories of woe (more so even than the sad stories about having to sell the French Villa).  Usually in these sad tales their husbands are more additional children than help-meets.

I just roll my eyes.

Yes.  I roll my eyes.  I roll my eyes at the pain that apparently millions of professional women are facing today.  I don’t even sympathize.  And I damn well don’t think this is the first generation where women both work and take care of things at home.  And if I didn’t read these stories from time to time and if I could just wean myself off the mother’s forums, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that these are actual issues that I was supposed to be worrying about.  (#2 continues to wonder why #1 keeps reading these fora.)  (#1 is working on it!  Addictions are hard!)

See, I come from a long long line of lower middle-class working women.  My mother was a (humanities) professor.  My grandmother was a nurse.  My great-grandmother was a widow and school principal (widowhood got around marriage bars).  Before that it was farm wives and pioneer wives and women who definitely put in a full day’s market work.

With each increasing generation we’ve married husbands more and more capable of helping out with the housework, even traditional woman’s chores.  My mom got oohs and aahs because my father cooks.  That wasn’t enough for me.  I married a husband who truly is an equal, who also had a working mom (who herself had a working mom) and a father who did his fair share of housework, even the stereotypically female stuff.

We’re not afraid to “hire good help” as my grandmother liked to say.  We don’t put up with doing everything ourselves.  Everybody has to pitch in.  Husbands.  Kids (including all 7 of my grandma’s).  Everyone.  Or else it doesn’t get done.

One of the most precious gifts my mother gave me was the gradual transition she made from one of these stereotypical Dr. Isis’s book’s guilt-mothers, first spending each Saturday cleaning (while I watched the original Star Trek) to a much happier more laid back mother who made sure that everyone pitched in when chores were to be done and only insisted on spotlessness if company were coming (because Cleaning for Company is Polite in the Midwest).  Not only can I live with clutter, but I don’t feel guilty about it (#2 doesn’t either!).  There’s many more important things to do than clean.  Like spend time with your kids, or work as an activist, or read mystery novels, or, sadly, grade papers.

When I bring homemade food to a function, it’s because my DH or I like to cook and we want people to have the pleasure of good food (because food is love in our Midwestern ways).  It would never ever cross our minds to bring homemade food so that people don’t look down on us or whatever.  I can’t imagine anybody but the smallest-minded person judging for bringing store-bought brownies, and who cares what small-minded people think?  Now that we’re out of middle school we don’t have to associate with them!  (Though now I feel guilty that maybe we’re making neurotic people feel bad about themselves.  Maybe they should just enjoy the cookie without taking it as a statement of their worthiness.)

Of course, lots of people are still hung up on working full time and being perceived as Martha Stewart on top of that.  They get decidedly uncomfortable when I say one of the most freeing things for me is the ability to live in squalor, so long as nothing is growing mold (I do insist on clean kitchens and bathrooms).  But that’s their problem, not mine.  The world would be a better place if nobody freaked out over a little clutter (and there would be less clutter if people didn’t spend so much time buying junk).  Married couples would get along better.  Families would spend more quality time together.

So yes, I have balance.  My husband does his fair share or more.  We all do chores together, because Carol Channing told me that’s the right thing to do.  Our work is important.  Our family time is important.  Good food is important.  Appearances are not.

So my advice:  If you’re middle class, partnered, and not balanced: hire a cleaning person, stop being a martyr, and loosen up.  Change what you don’t like or change your attitude.  Nobody (with means and health) has to be miserable.

I blame the patriarchy, but I don’t have to let it keep me down.  Fight!

Also, read Your Money or Your Life.  It will change your life for the better.