RBOC

  • Someday I will figure out the light switches in the house I’ve been living in for 10 years.
  • the best thing about dc1’s after school care at this public school is that they provide extra time on early dismissal days so we can pick hir up after a full days work.
  • hibiscus mint is my new favorite tea
  • I ate moose.  I like elk better, but it’s still pretty good.  I like elk better than venison and venison better than beef, but beef better than moose.
  • Over Christmas, the next oldest cousin (~2 years younger than DC1) was literally bouncing off of walls, so I started quizzing hir on hir multiplication tables.  It worked to calm hir down just like it does with my kids.  Hir father looked at me a little oddly though.  :/
  • Dear conference organizer, if you want me to pay attention to specific parts of your email and get back to you in a short time frame, WRITE SHORTER EMAILS.  I don’t actually have to do anything until the end of next month so I’m not going to read your multi-page email now.  If you have responses that you need before then, you need to put them and their deadlines at the top of the email in an itemized list, and, if there is information in your lengthy screed that I need to get you those responses, either tell me where to find it or repost it.
  • DC2 was getting hives on hir face at night and sometimes in the morning.  We think we’ve narrowed it down to hir toothpaste (it’s either that or the water or the towel she had been using).  We’ve switched from toothpastes with red dye to those without (and rewashed all the clean hand towels, just in case) and it seems to have gone away which suggests it’s not the water.  Zie was also a bit hyperactive and defiant the weekend that was the worst rash-wise, so I’m kind of wondering if zie has that red dye allergy that people talk about on mommy forums.  (Hives also happened in conjunction with hir deciding zie only wanted bubble-gum flavored toothpaste, not mint.  Now we’re using Tom’s of Maine strawberry and it seems to be ok though DC2 is upset that it is strawberry and not mango.)
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How do you account for big purchases in your budget/cash flow/etc.?

Stacking Pennies recently asked on her blog how she should account in her budget for spending on a new car.   She’s taken out a 0% loan (that she doesn’t need) in order to take advantage of the ability to leverage that money at no risk.  There are also complications involving getting a buyback on her previous car.

She wonders if she should put the 20K in a separate account both physically and mentally as if she hadn’t gotten a loan at all, or if she should incorporate the buyback and payments into her regular budget, and if so, how?

Now, there’s a proper accounting way to answer these questions, using assumptions about depreciating assets and so on, but proper accounting methods aren’t necessarily that helpful in personal finance where we aren’t getting tax breaks on rates of depreciation (meaning you should still do them for rental property or small businesses).

Instead what matters is that you get the information that you need to get a handle on your spending and your savings so that you’re taking care of your future self, saving for things you want to save for, and not penalizing yourself unnecessarily in the now.

There’s no one right way to deal with large lump purchases in your budget.  It’s whatever helps you keep track and make decisions.

I tend to think of things just in terms of my “emergency” fund (really it’s a slush fund since it includes money both for emergencies and for regular lumpy expenses) and how much it is growing or shrinking each month.  Whenever we have to decide on housing expenses like rent or a house purchase I’ll look at the whole fiscal picture and map out what we can afford, but in generally I’m really lazy about keeping track of our money, so just looking at the size of our slush fund each month.  We can do that because in general we spend a lot less than we earn each month.  So in the new car case, the car purchase might deplete our slush fund below levels that I felt comfortable with, meaning more of each month’s excess would need to be diverted to savings, and any monthly car payment would make it more difficult to refill the slush fund.

Another common strategy is instead of having one “emergency/slush” fund is to have specific separate accounts.  So car spending would come out of the “car” fund and anything not accounted for with the car fund would have to come out of the actual “emergency” fund (or luxuries fund or what have you).  Then you’d take into account the inflows and sizes of each of those accounts each month.  This method is similar to my lazy method but allows for more control.  You can better fine-tune your monthly spending and tracking of monthly spending so that you don’t have to have such a big gap between your take-home income and your spending.

How do you account for vehicle purchases (both with and without loans) in your budgeting?

Link Love

I’ve been busy this week with activism (and class prep and research, but lots of activism).  I’ve been calling and talking and doing my best to protect the affordable care act.  Don’t let anybody tell you that your calls don’t matter.  THEY MATTER.  If you’re in a blue state, your representatives want your calls and letters and emails.  This information helps bolster their claims about what their constituents want and really care about.  So don’t think, well I know my reps are in favor of this so I don’t need to call.  Call.  Leave a message, or talk briefly with a staffer.  Email or fax if you can’t call.  If you’re in a red or purple state, your calls and faxes really matter.  I have been amazed how my senators’ staffers message has changed just over the course of two weeks from of course we will repeal immediately without replacing to… well, people will still have the ACA for 2 years.  Similarly on getting in ethics reviews before hearings.  We are pushing that dial and we can keep pushing it.  Bad legislation is still going to get passed.  People are still going to die, but if we are vocal and continue being vocal, we will drown out some of the voices of evil (I’ve recently started believing evil exists again).  Bad legislation will be passed, but it will be less bad than the legislation that would have been passed without our efforts.  Let them know we’re watching.  Keep them accountable.  We are saving lives.

My local legislators are undecided on a couple of extremely vile bills coming through the pipeline.  That means that they’re waiting to hear which direction their vocal constituents are leaning.  Be those vocal constituents.  (Today one staffer told me she agreed with me, but the legislator had not talked with staff about his view yet.  She hoped he voted no.  The staffer for my other guy ended saying he was excited to pass along my thoughts and my argument.  They’re both against evil too.  But they need our voices to add to theirs.)

And if you don’t want to make calls, don’t tell people calls don’t matter.  That’s the same mistake anti-vaxxers make– if you truly believe that you don’t want your kid vaccinated, you should want everyone else to vaccinate their kids in order to keep your kid safe.  Instead, do what you can (which hopefully is faxing or letter writing or emailing or limiting to 15 min per week of activism or whatever it is you are doing to protect your time and sanity) and praise the person who is trying to get you to pick up the phone for what they’re doing on your behalf.  People will understand that you need to get tenure or you’re dealing with grief or your children need your attention but you’re doing what you can.  And you know, three years ago, your lone voice might not have mattered.  But that’s the thing.  With the Trump presidency, people like me who only vaguely knew the names of their representative or that other senator are making phone calls *every single day*.  People like my sister are calling AND are organizing local groups to meet each other and talk to each other and get things done.  People like wandsci are keeping us aware of what is going on via social media and are calling too.  That means your voice isn’t the only voice.  It’s one of many, but of a small enough of many that your voice still matters.  You need to keep calling because your voice amplifies other people’s voices.  And there are enough other people’s voices that we can get change.  Your voice can be that voice that causes more change.  Even if it’s just 15 min a week.

How to best use your activism time? 

If you have a lot of energy, get with other groups and help them organize.  Figure out what issues to address and how to address them.  Then get the message out.  However, most of us have jobs that make doing all of that difficult.  (DH and I are mostly lending support on this front, though we are trying to find a group to be active with!)

If you only have a little time or a little mental energy, do one of two things.

1.  Check in your area to see if there’s an indivisible group in your state that is organized enough to have a mailing list or online webpage of weekly items.  This is ideal for you because they will be covering state and local issues as well, and your voice has a lot more power, even if you’re gerrymandered, on state and local issues.  And, of course, state and local affects federal.  There may not be one in your city, but check the biggest city in your state and the most liberal city in your state to see what their indivisible group is up to.  You may also have an indivisible group in your district.  Many of these smaller groups are going to die from disuse, some will merge, etc.  But if they’re giving action items each week you’re golden.

OR

2.  If 1 isn’t working out for you or if you want a sure thing, go to our activism tab and pick one of the (now 5) different list-serves of action items.  My favorites are still Actions for Americans and Wall of Us, but they all have their own styles and you may prefer a different one.  After having done that, pick which 15 min you’re going to use to do phone calls (Moral Mondays are a good time) and do their items using their scripts each week.  If you don’t want to talk to a staffer, do it after hours and leave messages.  If you want to make the most impact use a more combative script if your representative is making a bad decision.  If you have extreme phone phobia, fax instead.  Get that box checked and if you have more energy, make some noise while doing it.  Most of us will probably have brief and polite conversations where we read off a script and the staffer says “Thank you I will pass that along”.

Next weekend I’m going to the women’s march in the city near me.  Is there one in a city near you?  If so, there may be bus transportation.  Several of our local churches have buses and our local dems office does as well.  If you call, you may be able to reserve a slot.  Men are included too– my whole family will be going, even though the shirts I got for the DCs are too big.

And now for some links.

If you’re calling and the vm box is always full and you can’t get through to a person, tell David Yankovich.  Stonewalling is illegal and he’s doing a story on it.  In retrospect, I suspect this is why one of my senators’ aides kept me on the phone for 30 min the other morning.  (Note:  You do not get the 30 min response unless you’re combative with them which I was because they were spreading falsehoods about the ACA– so don’t let that keep you from calling and voicing your opinion!)

You can call the leader of a senate committee even if you’re not a constituent in that senator’s state.

Interesting Times Suck.

Federal bill introduced in the house to prohibit abortions at the time of heartbeat.  Kentucky also enacts bad anti-abortion legislation.

Breitbart alumni are creating a pro-fascist group.

There’s a lot of Republican hypocrisy on Obamacare.   Also, one of my senator’s current lines is that the ACA shouldn’t have been passed without GOP votes.  I told one staffer who tried to push this harder that made total sense and that the Republicans should stop voting on partisan legislation RIGHT NOW.  If they can’t get full democratic buy-in, then they shouldn’t be passing any laws.  He was a political science major and I’m a lowly economist so I deferred to him on that one.

My senator’s staffer told me that hospitals are closing because of the Affordable Care Act.  That’s not true.  And more rural hospitals will close if the ACA goes away.  The only part that’s true is the effect of decreases in Medicare payments which were put in mostly in an attempt to get the GOP on board with the ACA.

Similarly, why did insurers withdraw from state marketplaces?  Because the GOP did things to get that outcome.  GOP who support these things care about politics over people.  They’re willing to let people die in order to gain political power.  And one wonders why I’m beginning to believe that evil exists.

What health policy experts think of Lamar Alexander’s plan for O’Care transition.  The answer may not surprise you.

A TX congressman calls for silencing of the press.  Let’s vote out the fascists.  I want to see primary challenges in Red districts.  Republicans against fascism!

Map of Trump’s Russian Connections.

Stories to watch.

Congress passes rule to allow house members to hide records from ethics probes.

Trump national security pick is a serial plagiarist.  (The linked story is an early one from this week, later stories find her dissertation and other articles.)

Trump has more debt than expected.  Breathtaking conflicts of interest.

Pay black women.

What it’s like to be at the center of a fake news conspiracy.

Presidential reading.

Trump vs. Plato.  Indeed, this seems to be the strategy of one of my senators’ offices.  They tell me so many lies when I call (and when DH calls and so on).

Poe’s Law?

Mommmma

Who is in a bubble?  What is the real bubble?  Who are the elitists?

When smart people get politically active you end up with something like this.

Do they want us to get into a war with China?

Mystery dot for twitter

Obama successes in tweetstorm form.

Gigzig is a fun way to come up with career path possibilities.

We have a potty tag.  If you have small children and are interested in the science of potty-ing.  Or just reading potty jokes.

Wall E

Ask the Grumpies: How to teach organization and time management to a middle schooler.

First Gen American asks:

How [does one] teach organization and time management to a middle schooler.

We have had some luck with putting a checklist on the fridge that DC1 has to go through every night, but it isn’t foolproof. If it were, DC1 would be getting an A in orchestra because zie wouldn’t have forgotten to log hir practice.  How do you remember to practice but not remember to log the practice?  It boggles the mind.

Does anyone else have more/better suggestions?

DC1 is starting to read grown up books

It’s so exciting!

There is a little bit of bridging going on.  Technically the books zie is reading are probably YA that just haven’t been classified as YA.

The first one, of course, was a Tiffany Aching by Terry Pratchett.  Specifically The Wee Free Men (only $1.99 on Kindle which is a steal!).  Zie followed that up with A Hatful of Sky, which is the second in the Tiffany Aching series.

Then zie read the first 4 books in the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (zie means to read the fifth, but sort of lost interest, which is understandable since the fourth and fifth books aren’t as good as the original three).

Then, because zie was rereading Meeting and Threshholds I offered up my favorite Nina Kiriki Hoffman, A Fistful of Sky (which DC1 noted has a remarkably similar name to that second Tiffany Aching book, but the Hoffman book came first).  (Don’t read the second in the LaZelle series though– it has a rape and victim blaming which is so uncool.)

Grown-up books are a whole new world of fun.  I’m pretty sure I first started with Agatha Christies as my first fiction experience (prior to that I read the humor section from non-fiction), but once I realized that adult fantasy novels existed, I was hooked on going upstairs to the adult area each week at the library.  Even though a lot of what I read up there wasn’t actually very good.  But some of it was.

What were your first adult fiction books?  What grown-up books would you recommend for a precocious 10 year old?

Thoughts on the children’s Xmas haul this year

  • Our brothers and sisters in law spent less on our kids this year than in previous years.  This is a good thing.  Maybe next year we’ll also spend less on them (we spent about $50/kid, mostly on books), but probably not because I love picking out and buying books.
  • We spent Christmas at the in-laws’ this year, which means we opened presents there.  MIL is going to end up spending a ton to send the presents home.  I don’t really know of any way to suggest just letting amazon send the bigger stuff directly to us so she doesn’t have to do that.  But also she probably likes watching everybody open gifts.  And presumably she doesn’t want cousins to feel like they’re being treated differently.  But there are so many gifts that I’m not sure anybody notices.
  • DC1 got a Nintendo DS.  And since DH had mentioned earlier that it was probably too expensive for hir to take to school given the number of times DC1 has lost hir cheap flip-phone (that thankfully nobody wants to steal, so it has been recovered each time thus far), DC1 also got a Kindle Fire.
  • The problem of DC2 getting the same gifts as hir slightly older same-gendered cousin is getting worse.  And we couldn’t just confiscate those gifts either (for the most part) because DC2 saw them at Christmas and MIL is planning on taking them out of the packaging before sending.  Putting on the wish list what DC2 was into in general terms didn’t help much.  Zie got some stuff related to that, but still got lots of stuff zie isn’t interested in that hir cousin likes.  Nor did it help to say explicitly on the amazon list that DC2 wants what DC1 gets (though my mom paid attention to that and got both of them rubix cubes!)  One of the items was so bad that I actually did take it to MIL and tell her we couldn’t accept it– it had crossed a line (I didn’t say it like that though, it was more like could you give this to hir cousin, we don’t really approve of this show).  I know it’s easier to keep things even across grandkids if she’s getting the same stuff for them, but maybe she could match hir up with the opposite-gendered kid who is about the same age instead of the older same-gendered kid?
  • So we’re still struggling with what to do about our in-laws bounty, particularly for DC2.  They still get DC1 really cool stuff even if they’re over-generous (mostly things that hir somewhat younger cousin already owns and loves).  They did get some of the things off the amazon list for the children, but in the end my mom ended up buying most of it just before Christmas.  And that stuff, along with the stuff we got hir, has gotten a lot more playtime out of it.  DC2 just really isn’t into the same things hir same-gender older cousin is into.
  • One thing that did happen that I’m embarrassed about… I was talking to BIL about presents, I can’t remember what about exactly, as we were going up the stairs, but I mentioned that DC2 seemed to get the same stuff as his kid, and he said, “that’s good because they like the same stuff” and I was all, “well, not really, DC2 is really into what DC1 is into.”  At which point we turned the corner and saw my MIL.  So, uh, maybe this will resolve itself?
  • Why can’t the cousin be as into Bubble Guppies (and other gender-neutral stuff) as DC2 is?
  • Sometimes getting the same gendered stuff for both cousins works… DH’s sister got them both a gendered-craft kit that they both loved and spent many hours working on.
  • DC1 may have gotten all the cousins addicted to Batman.

Let’s get to Link Love

Next Wednesday the Republicans are going to shock and awe us through 6 highly controversial hearings about Trump’s cabinet.  They’re using all sorts of dirty tricks thinking they won’t get caught.  If you haven’t done any political activism yet, try to spare some time on Monday to make calls and/or leave messages today.  If you have been making calls, make some more.  Probably the best way to figure out who to call/what to say/what number to use is to go up to the Activism tab on the upper right then pick one or two of the newsletters and sign up for them.  My favorites are Wall of Us and Actions for Americans.  Each week they come out with specific action items and do all the figuring out details parts so you can focus on making your voice heard.  You can find contact information for your elected officials here.

It’s going to be a long slog going forward, but this coming week really is especially important.  They’re counting us to be caught off-guard and overwhelmed.  If you’re into twitter, @wandsci and @ActionsUSA have been tweeting out things to do sporadically during the week.  I’m sure there are other good twitter people who tweet specific and followable action items– let us know in the comments!

If you live in Iowa, contact your legislators about this Voter Suppression Bill.

Share your obamacare story.  I don’t know why McConnell is doing this.

Good headline, but the plan to defund Planned Parenthood is horrific.  If George HW Bush were dead, he would be spinning in his grave.

I hope TX legislators get a lot of angry letters and emails from Percy Jackson fans.  And, of course, if you live in Texas, you can tell your own state legislators that the Bathroom bill is ridiculous, cruel, and will cost Texas businesses a lot of money.  Just like in North Carolina.

House Republicans revive obscure rule that allows them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1.  Fascism here we come.

They also hope you forget about Russian influence on the election, now made public.

Cowards

Sit-in in Sessions office

The ACA did not increase premiums!  There was a pre-trend of rapid increases in premia and the ACA slowed that down.

More BS from the WSJ

#indivisible

Santa didn’t know

Just subscribed to Teen Vogue for DC1.  For the articles!

You are 16 going on 17

This year’s resolution

Like Scalzi says, the arc of time will not bend towards justice without us doing our part.

Verbal abuse is still abuse.

This meshes with some of my recent work

Twenty mighty girl classics

Are shopkins bad for your kids?

Is screen time bad for your kids?

I keep getting emails from these scam artists.

When you stop relying on resumes.  (Or:  why networking is so important given that most companies don’t do what this one does.)

Miser mom talks trash.

How to donate 100K.

Flavors of financial independence

Yuri on ice (review contains spoilers– you can watch Yuri on crunchyroll)

Calamity-ware.

all outliers

Harsh

Amazing

Missing kitty.  Found kitty.

Before and after being called a good boy