link love

Our ability to comment on blogspot blogs is still really sporadic.  So it isn’t that we don’t want to comment, omdg, we just can’t :( .

Another week, another awful police story.  :(

white male privilege twitter

Ever notice how pc is “bad” when intellectuals do it but “good” when corporations do it?

Related:  the definition of irony

when rick perry says something is nuts…

the real reason American public transportation is such a disaster

the war of the closes

Good tips for list haters and lovers alike from wandering scientist

Cuddle a kitty!

fill your heart with music!

Ask the grumpies: When bullies bully through tone-policing

Oldmdgirl asks:

[A]ny advice on how to handle the following scenario: Say, someone tries to bully you into doing something and you hold your ground patiently but firmly — often they will claim you were “rude” in order to try to get you in trouble with your superiors. I’m not sure how to handle this type of feedback since a) complying with their request may not have been reasonable/safe/possible in any way, b) you provided a completely reasonable alternative that they rejected without listening, c) they actually tried to bully you and were rude to you. Do you stand your ground? Do you defend yourself? What is the best way to handle this sort of scenario? I had something like this happen recently, and I was wondering if there was any merit to proactively seeking out feedback about how the situation could have been handled differently in order to have avoided the frustration on everybody’s part. Thoughts?

Crucial conversations tends to suggest you pretend they’re not bullying you and to reframe what they’re saying to make sure you understand etc. etc. etc.  You would then proactively seek feedback as you suggest, following their instructions on keeping the other party safe and focusing on the situation, not anything personal.  But Crucial Conversations also doesn’t really get that women are treated differently than men. Some of their afterwards from the updated edition get into this idea a little bit but don’t offer any solutions, just say that although their recommendations usually work with even difficult people, they don’t always work with all bullies.

With bullies, I have found that what often works the best (as a woman in a male-dominated field) is to channel your inner mom/kindergarten teacher/nun (your choice) and sigh a bit, and then talk in your disappointed voice. “I wish we could do that, but you know that isn’t safe/wasn’t reasonable/could hurt someone.” “Oh, [name], I did give you a suggestion, but …” “I don’t like being treated this way/Did you just say [x] to me? Why did you say [x]?  That wasn’t very nice/constructive/etc.” Some of my female heroes have this really cool way of being firm and disappointed at the same time. I’m mostly just disappointed– I’m working on getting more moxy so I can add just the right amount of underlying “they shoulda known better”.

People seem to be able to defer to a woman when reminded of a woman who once had power over them and you address them as if they’re naughty toddlers or elementary schoolers, especially when that’s what they’re acting like.  Students stopped trying to bully me pretty much entirely once I had a toddler of my own and started treating them like preschoolers instead of adults.  The same treatment works with overbearing white guys as well.

Grumpy Nation, do you have any suggestions from the trenches?

What is the path to perfection?

Sometimes it seems like people think their lives will be some sort of perfect ideal, for example, if I can run marathons or keep my house clean or organize the crap out of every minute of the day… or whatever the latest fad is.  (I guess those fads were several iterations ago… as I finish this post it’s minimalism and Frugalwoods-style frugality… can you tell we’ve been finishing up and scheduling old drafts?)

But these internet fads aren’t magic bullets.   Some people love marathon training and some people don’t.  Some people enjoy cleaning and some people don’t.  Some people need more organization than others or have situations that make compartmentalization necessary or optimal.  It’s great to try these things out, but if they don’t bring the solutions you were looking for, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with *you*.  Even if they work for someone else whose blog you read, especially someone who is trying to sell products along with that perfect lifestyle.  They are they (them?) and you are you.  Different strokes.

It’s important to realize that choices are choices and not referenda on what your values are or maps to what other people should be doing (unless that map inspires you).

Enjoy the journey, and reach for the destination, even if you never get there.  Or if you like where you are, enjoy that too!

Be who you want to be.  Find *your* bliss or just live out your life — not every life has to waste time worrying about bliss or optimization.  Make your choices your own and don’t be bound by what the patriarchy or society or your parental unit has been telling you all your life unless you want to be.

And of course, “an it hurts no-one, do what you will.”  There’s limits to freedom, even in touchy-feely posts.

RBOC that has been lurking in the draft archive like a swamp zombie

  • Sometimes, in professional settings, it is best to keep the real authentic you to yourself.  Because the real you is crazy.  Authentic can be over-rated.
  • I’ve taken to shutting the door of our home office to keep the baby from destroying my stuff when we’re not in there.  Recently ze stopped by while I was trying to work and dragged me into DC1’s room, made sure I was distracted with DC1, and high-tailed it away without me noticing until I heard the sound of my papers crumpling.  [Wow, said baby is now 3 years old…this must be an old RBOC]
  • We were driving in a city and there was a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic with the tagline “Real Options”.  Next door was a Hanger store.  That seems about right.  I feel like I should have gotten a picture.
  • I learned a moderately expensive lesson– at a conference I went to Sephora with a friend.  My regular sunblock must have expired because I was getting sunburn walking between the conference area and my hotel, so I picked up a very small “travel-friendly” sunblock for $20 instead of dragging said friend to CVS to get the sunblock I use that doesn’t cause me to break out (and then possibly having to toss it at airport security), figuring at that price and “for the face” it would probably be fine.  The sunblock did work at blocking the sun, but also caused enormous break-outs on my face, possibly because in addition to its million other ingredients, there’s a heavy scent to it.   Note to self:  more expensive “face-only” beauty products aren’t necessarily better than mainstream what you get at the drugstore.
  • Speaking of old things lurking, who here has kept a journal?  And who has then gone back and read it later in life?  That’s a baaaaaaad trip.
  • I like cheese.
  • Sorry.
  • There is no #8.

Not *every* blog post can be pure gold… What’s your favorite kind of cheese?

Nicole and Maggie discuss budgeting (both individual and family) and link a lot

I hate budgeting so much, as you will read in one of these links.  Basically I pay to not have to budget by saving a huge amount extra so that there’s always slush.  Technically, our spending is always one month behind our income, so what we did last month determines what we do this next month.  I can look into my check register and go, yep, we can afford more stuff, or nope, we need to cut back.  This only works because even when we were in graduate school and spent 40-60% of our income on rent for a 300 sq ft apartment, we spent a lot less than we earned and had a relatively large emergency fund (compared to our income).  Some of the sacrifices included not buying meat for so long that the first time I had a steak (to celebrate paying off DH’s student loans), I threw up.  That’s not normal.

What I’m saying here with this illustration is that 1.  I don’t do detailed budgets, and 2.  There are a lot of different ways to spend less than you earn and keep on firm financial footing for different people.  If one method just does not work for you, you can sacrifice in a different direction and try a different type of budget.

What you shouldn’t do, though, is to keep going into more and more debt (or not doing any saving for future you) through inattention to your finances.  Some system is necessary, even if that “system” is always to spend far less than you bring in.  Most people want to spend a bit more than we did while we were in graduate school at that income, and there’s no reason not to if you want to unless you really value not budgeting, which I apparently value more than I do red meat (at least on a graduate student stipend).

For a third note, 3.  Your system may change with your income levels and required expenses, and that is AOK.

Here’s where to start if you’re in debt.

Posts on whether or not to have a detailed budget:

Do you budget?  MSN Money used to have a fantastic post of Liz Pulliam Weston’s about when it’s ok to ditch the budget, but unfortunately that post has gone to the ether.  Nick from Step Away From the Mall did a nice summary of her post that you can read here, though he notes that this list is really a general budget, just not a detailed one. And here’s bit of a personal post (from when DH was unemployed and we had to keep a tighter rein on spending) in which I talk about how much I hate budgeting.  You can also combine a loose budget with tighter monitoring of spending as Leigh (who doesn’t need a detailed budget but enjoys tracking her money) discusses in this recent post.

Different types of budgets:

General guidelines

The general idea behind a budget is to allow you to balance all of your spending/saving needs and goals.  In general you will want to balance saving for long-term goals like retirement with medium goals like automobile replacement and with short-term goals like eating.  You want to do it in such a way that keeps you out of high interest debt and allows you to save for the future while still enjoying today as much as being a responsible adult will allow.

A good general guideline for people who don’t want or need to retire early is the Balanced Money Formula by Elizabeth Warren.  This is really  just the idea that you spend 50% of your income or less on fixed expenses (she calls these “needs”), things you would have to pay whether or not you have income.  Then 30% goes towards variable expenses (she calls these “wants”) that you could cut if you lost your job and 20% or more goes towards savings.  These percentages don’t have to be perfect, but if you’re a member of a dual income family then keeping to these guidelines will put you on a good track for the future while insuring against catastrophe if there’s a job loss in the family.  If you’re interested in the balanced money formula, Get Rich Slowly has some really great posts on it, including this nice worksheet from back in the day when JD Roth was figuring things out.

Another possibility to get those percentages for yourself for a general budget is to look at your specific circumstances in the case of a job loss or other emergency and do a financial fire drill. Think of the worst case scenario and run numbers for that, then based on that set your major recurring expenses like housing, car, etc.  It will also show you if you need to target debts or sell things you couldn’t really afford to get rid of regular payments and so on.

Some people argue that you should target only big expenses and let the little ones figure themselves out.  Others argue that the latte factor, money you spend on little things, adds up and is important.  Both these arguments have elements of truth and elements of untruth.  We talk about these two belief systems in this post on the latte factor vs. big item spending.  Here we address gazingus pins, which is a type of latte factor.

Detailed Budgets

As much as I dislike them personally, detailed budgets are incredibly useful and a really healthy thing to have.  Probably the most popular method of doing a detailed budget on the PF blogosphere is YNAB (You Need a Budget).  Some people prefer Quicken or make their own spreadsheets.  Some people just use MINT, though many people use MINT in conjunction with YNAB or Quicken.  MINT is great for tracking your expenditures by category and if you’re new to finances and use a lot of credit cards, it’s a great thing to just do.  However it’s not as good a budgeting software as YNAB or Quicken.  Ana talks about how she makes a budget here.

A zero-sum budget is one in which every dollar is accounted for.

Some people have strict envelope budgets.  Instead of dealing with spreadsheets and so on, they will have cash-only budgets.  This is especially useful if you truly have a limited amount you are able to spend without going into debt.  Once the cash is gone for the month, you’re done.  Some people allow you to take cash from one variable spending budget to add it to another (ex. if you spend less than expected on food, you can add the additional money to fun) and some people don’t.

One way to allocate “fun” money for non-necessities is the use of an adult allowance.  Adult allowances are also great for balancing “fun” spending between partners while keeping below a budgeted sum and removing resentment.  Here’s two posts on adult allowances:  In praise of DH’sHow they work.

What about that nebulous idea of “savings” and “emergency fund”?  Some people will include things like vacations and so on in “targeted savings” either virtually or in actual separate accounts and others will include all short-term savings into one general fun.  We talk about when to use targeted savings in this post.

For people who don’t use detailed budgets and can wing things because they’re already saving a large portion of their earnings, it may still be useful to compare the cost of things when trying to decide whether to, for example, hire a house-cleaner.  This post discusses how to make those kinds of comparisons.

Special budgetary topics:

Financial Independence

A good heuristic to reach financial independence, definition here is to “simply” save 70% of your income until early retirement (there are more complicated formulae as well, but they all require a lot of saving or a lot of luck).  Partial financial independence can be achieved at a lower savings rate and is a wonderful thing to have even when you’re still working.  We talk about how having partial financial independence as a goal can make your life a lot less stressful because you will not be trapped by a bad job.

Not spending can be hard, even if you know you have to not spend now that you’ve looked at your budget.  Here’s some recommendations for how to delay gratification.  One that works really well for me is telling myself I can have it later!

Blitzing with a spending challenge

Some people do spending challenges for various time-lengths.  I love reading about these and they can make really big changes to people’s mindsets.  (Please link in the comments for spending challenges you enjoy reading.  I also really like reading about “the compact.”  Here’s our challenge tag, but we do more than just money challenges and we’re not that interesting.)  They’re really great for stopping an addictive behavior or bad habit, such as buying clothing every weekend because you’re bored even though your closet is already full of things you never wear.  Here we talk about how maybe no-spend days aren’t really the appropriate length of time unless you have real problems.

How to deal with joint finances

We at grumpy rumblings are not going to take a stand on whether you should fully merge your finances with your partner or not.  There are a lot of different methods for sharing finances that we discuss here.

Ok, Grumpy Nation.  What have we missed?  What do you want to know more about?

link love

When #1 last heard from #2 she was being worked hard at her new job.  It sounds like they really need her and they really do need someone at her exact level of expertise, even though that’s not what they advertised for.  Hopefully she’ll emerge from work exhaustion to say more than “BCN fuzzfeed” :).  It sounds like she has a lot of stuff to figure out and a lot of processes to sort out and make consistent (as part of her job) and then her job will get less crazy.   She sounded really happy but pretty tired last I heard from her (other than “oh man the Buzzfeed BCN”).  So we may be a bit light on links this week.  Also I am not sure why she learned the word skeuomorph, but she did.

Apparently Ana wants everybody to subscribe to her website because she keeps writing amazing posts.  Here’s one weekend two ways.

Wanted: One Op-Ed Writer, “The University”

So not worth it.

Beware the narrative. Also Cloud’s publishing company has a new book out.

Target removes gender-based toy signs.

awww

I know this is from last month but the interview with Eminem is so funny it put tears in my eyes.

Fox News picked Trump over Kelly.  Check out the hilarious conversation on this twitter thread.

Cool

Here are three links that I think were supposed to go up last week, but I’m not sure if they did and I’m too lazy to check:  Women and police violence , numbers 3 and 4 especially on point (though, #1 notes that there is some luck involved in other people changing culture too– there’s only so much one woman can do.. #1 thinks 5 is on point), this is awesome

Ask the grumpies: How to deal with anticipating/receiving difficult feedback

MidA asks:

[D]o you have any favorite past posts on receiving difficult feedback? I think some may be coming my way (though not sure what precisely–I’ll spare the backstory but suffice it to say that this is a surprise) and if I don’t have a gameplan, I’m afraid I may be noticeably holding back tears.

I don’t think we do have any favorite posts on that topic.

What I usually do that works for me (but may not work for you) is to go through every possible scenario including the worst possible ones, and then think about what I’ve learned and how not do do the bad thing again, how to put a plan in place, what larger problems does this highlight, are there structural changes to be made etc.

Usually the feedback isn’t as bad as my worst imaginings. And having a growth mindset helps to think of screw-ups as chances to change/grow/fix stuff.  Sure, maybe I did something stupid, but it was a temporary stupidity that has resulted in a learning experience for me or highlighted something that needs to be changed structurally.

As a warning though, admin often doesn’t like structural changes (even something as simple as getting a coffee maker that doesn’t set the office on fire when someone leaves a burner on) and sometimes will attack rather than explore their feasibility. That’s a sign of bad admin.

Oldmdgirl added this for when you don’t think the feedback you’re getting is actually worthwhile:

[E]ven if the negative feedback is a bunch of baloney, I recommend saying, “Thank you for taking the time to tell me your concerns. Do you have any suggestions on how I might avoid this happening in the future/ things that I can work on so that this doesn’t happen again?” Try to focus on what you can DO differently in the future. Take the focus off of who you are as a person. Depersonalize it. Then you can go stick pins in the voodoo doll you created for that purpose.

What do you do/suggest, grumpy nation?

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