Grumpy Rumblings 2016 Year in blogging

Looks like traffic is down from 2014 and 2015– we’re about at the same level as 2013, but with fewer unique visitors.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2016.

[Ed: Note that only one of these is from 2016! The #1 post is from students trying to plagiarize a really common composition assignment.  Not sure about the popularity of the other posts.

According to our stats, here’s the most popular 2016 posts:

What happened when I complained about my low salary

March mortgage update:  Why we bought a huge house and why we shouldn’t have

Getting an oxygen mask on:  Protecting oneself monetarily

In which I DGAF

Money => security => easier to save money

The one after that and the one after that are also money posts… I guess money posts were popular this year?


The top referring sites in 2016 were:


Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & United Kingdom were not far behind.

The most commented on post in 2016 was Why I want to make enough money to support myself (and my family) even though I’m a woman with a high earning husband

Ugh, I can’t get the most active commenters for the year, only for some undetermined amount of time.  :(  These were the 5 most active commenters on that unspecified amount of time:

Also if I search comments, chacha has 16 pages worth in 2016 and Leah has 10 pages (Debbie M has 7).  I’m too lazy to count them all up, but that’s enough to make me confident that chacha is this year’s winner.

Yay Chacha!  This means you get to tell us where to donate our most recent month’s proceeds from amazon sales.  Either tell us and link up in the comments (if you want more exposure) or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail if you want it to be more secret-like.

Any blog commentary or highlights from the grumpy gallery?  Also, congratulate Chacha in the comments.  :)

January Mortgage Update and Wells Fargo thinks we’re ready to buy a new home

Last month (December)
Years left: 0.25
P =$1,198.91, I =$15.49, Escrow =$812.79

This month (January)
Years left: 0.166666667
P =$1,214.40, I =$10.74, Escrow =$812.79

For the past few months our mortgage statement has come with a sheet not about the usual refinancing or home equity line of credit options, but about getting a new mortgage on a new home.  We must have clicked into the “almost done with the mortgage” advertising.

This thought of being ready for a new loan once you’ve finished the old mortgage must be appealing.  With increased incomes over time folks can afford a larger monthly housing payment.  Why go from a small payment to no payment when you could just pay a little more and get a bigger house to go with it?  Many of my colleagues bought much larger homes when they got tenured or promoted, effectively doubling the cost of their housing.

That same thought process can go along with car loans.  Buy a new car after 5 years when your loan is done.  You’re used to the payment, why not get something nicer for about the same cost or only a little more?

We’re a bit odd– most tenured faculty in my department started out with houses under 3K sq feet and now have houses more than 4K sq feet… we have 3K sq ft exactly.  No starter home, no McMansion, just a big house.  While we occasionally think about down-sizing because it means paying less for all the services and upkeep that come with a house, we never think about up-sizing.  Given that we have no need/desire for a larger house than the one we’ve got, it really doesn’t make sense to get a new mortgage.  Maybe there was a benefit to not getting a starter home, even if we ended up paying more for utilities and property tax and so on, because it means we didn’t go crazy with custom-building something even bigger.

We’ve also never gotten used to having a car loan.  Our first car that we owned jointly and paid the insurance on was a graduation/wedding gift/hand-me-down.  We paid for our next car with cash.  We’ve only had a short car loan for the third car that was paid off in well under a year.  So the thought of starting another required monthly payment for a car seems odd.  Going from not paying anything to a regular monthly payment seems painful to us.  But if we’d had a long-term loan, maybe it would seem like business as usual.  Why not get a nicer car for a monthly payment we can afford?

I wonder how much of this buying bigger and better is partly habitual.  You get into the habit of monthly payments, so you don’t think about what you were paying before as a loss, even if you wouldn’t have to pay it anymore if you didn’t buy the shiny new thing.  You compare the additional monthly payment to the niceness of having something new, rather than comparing the full cost of all payments to the increase in niceness over what you already have.

In other words, it feels like the original payment is a sunk cost even if it isn’t because you’re already used to paying it.  We fell prey to this miscalculation ourselves when we bought our house– part of why we didn’t get a starter home was because the mortgage payment for our big house was about the same size as what we had been used to paying in rent for our grad school apartment!

One problem with not having the habit of regular payments is that we’re also in the situation where if we want to buy a new car, we have to come up with 20-30K in a relatively short time-frame to keep up with our usual not having a car payment.  That’s a bit of a spending shock.  Still, it’s one that can be put to rest with a large enough emergency fund and/or a willingness to take on a short temporary loan if it takes time to move around/accumulate assets.  Even if the larger emergency fund isn’t the best use of money, it’s still more efficient in terms of savings than buying a new car every few years would be.

Fortunately one generally doesn’t have to replace a house like one replaces a car (and we’re keeping our home insurance in case of a catastrophic event).  We won’t be buying a new house any time soon.  Even if Wells Fargo wants us to.

How do you think about revolving debt and new purchases?  When do you/have you decide(d) to buy a new house or car?

Link love link love roly poly link love


2016 in harassment

GOP readies swift ACA repeal with no replacement

GOP to punish filming on the house floor.

Professors receive emails from fake students asking about their courses.

Trump voters live in a crazy alternate reality

Post-election anxiety is real.

Things could be worse so don’t complain is a way to keep the oppressed down.

Hope is something you create.

Missoula Montanans put menorahs in business and home windows to show solidarity with the Jewish community after anti-Semitic rhetoric.

“It’s Ben and Jerry, not Ben and Mary”

The real danger of treating people with respect.

Do your syllabi approach gender equity?  Do you represent the under-represented?

Wealth, risk, and stuff.

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies

I got this for Christmas.

baby has a buddy

A while back, DH and I were watching an American songbook documentary and there were these two black tap dancers who were more amazing than Fred Astaire.  And we were like, who are these two guys and doesn’t it suck that we’ve never heard of them even though we have heard of Astaire.  Turns out they’re the Nicholas Brothers and Fred Astaire agrees that they had the greatest dance number of all time.



Ask the Grumpies: How to save for retirement with no earned income?

Steph asks:

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

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

Grad student finances, by evolvingpf is really the appropriate person for this question.  Here’s her answer from 2012 on her original website.  Her answers are what I first thought as well–

  1. Get married to someone with earned income
  2. Get some earned income (addendum to her recommendations:  if you do any consulting or freelance you can save that in a self-employed plan such as a SIMPLE IRA)
  3. Don’t save for retirement (do other saving money things instead).  Then start saving more than you would otherwise for retirement once you get earned income and a savings vehicle to use.

In graduate school I was married so if at least one of us had earned income for half the year we were ok for IRA/Roth IRA, especially since the contribution limit was much lower at the time ($3K).

In case evolvingpf’s post disappears, good recommendations for non-retirement savings include:

  1.  If you’re in the 15% income bracket (or lower) now is a good time to use taxable stocks, especially dividend heavy ones because of the preferential treatment of capital gains.  Put that money to work for you.  (Note though, it is unclear what will happen to taxes over the next few years.)
  2. Pay off all debt starting with high interest (I bet you’ve already done this)
  3. Bulk up your emergency fund
  4. Save for your next car or a house so you can pay in cash for the car and get beneficial interest rates (and no PMI) for a house

Grumpy Nation– what suggestions do you have for someone without earned income who wants to save?

Fanfic for star wars fans

[ed note:  this was scheduled to post before Carrie Fisher’s untimely death.  We are so saddened by her passing.]

In honor of the new movie out, here are some of my favorite light star wars (almost entirely Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan) fan fictions.

Twenty Questions

Rated NC-17:

I seem to have a thing for Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan erotic slash Lots and lots of slash. So much slash.

From the Temple Erotica Archives

This is the start of a series if you want something novel-length and more romance-focused (link to continuation is at the bottom).

Do you read fanfic?  Any recommendations?  Are you excited about the new Star Wars movie?

DH’s second December check was delayed a few days…

DH gets paid 2x a month.  The second check usually sometime between the 19th and the 23rd.  This month on the 21st, DH got an email saying his paycheck would be delayed for a few days waiting on a check from a couple of government agencies.  (Is this a good sign for the future of the company?  Probably not…)  Hopefully by the time this posts it’ll have cashed [update:  it did], but we’ll see.  Both agencies said that “the check is in the mail” and suggest the holidays have slowed transit down.  It’s possible.

I gotta say, I sure am glad that I keep a deep emergency fund and I’d already transferred 2K to checking to cover the late-month expenses.  We’re fine until Jan 6th at which point if he doesn’t get at least one of his paychecks I’ll have to transfer more money from savings.  (My paycheck posts to savings.)

I’m so glad we’ve kept our required expenses down low enough and our savings up high enough that we can handle this.  And that although I’m a little worried about DH being unemployed in April, give or take, we can handle it (and we can handle it partly because I argued for a raise last year and partly because we’re almost done with the principal and interest parts of the mortgage, among other things).  There are times in the past where this state of affairs would be pretty scary, but thankfully now it’s more of a meh, we’ll see what happens.

Also reminds me that I should process some dependent daycare account reimbursements, since that’s one of the ways I used to smooth out cash-flow problems, but I guess that will have to wait until January when school is back in session.

What do you do when a paycheck or reimbursement is slow to come?

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Link love Eve

There’s still a lot of horrible stuff in the news.  Donald Trump, apparently doesn’t celebrate the holidays.  Or rather, he celebrates them by increasing the probability of nuclear war.  But we have given up on sending each other links about such things this week.  Please do, however, click on the Activism tab, sign up for any one of the weekly newsletters or find an action group in your area, and if you can, talk with friends and family about what you can do and what they’re doing going forward.  Our combined actions will make a difference and every step we take has a positive probability of saving lives.  It can be scary and I know my DH is dreading bring up politics with his family because sometimes it is hard to do the right thing, but we all need to do the right thing as best we can.

Texas (illegally) kicks planned parenthood out of Medicaid

Treating people with respect


toxic, toxic masculinity in rural white men (whatta shock I know)

News organizations are so important.

nightmare fuel

in memoriam

bonus points for misunderestimate

Preschool is good for society?

higher priced majors => more financial aid => better representation of disadvantaged students


only if you move

Walking dresses


mouseover has a heartwarming story

stress and memory

escapetop five?



Seems like making the last mortgage payoff might not be as easy as writing the final check.

I want this, preferably filled with cherries and marzipan.

Fibonacci poem!

should not exist

Just for a tiny bit of joy, here’s a repost of a favorite Christmas post.



Also, for your enjoyment, a soliloquy from earlier this week:

I want more presents
like the order I bought for myself but it isn’t coming until Wednesday
we don’t have anybody picking up packages for us while we’re gone :(
so I am glad the order is taking less time than usual
I feel like I have become an IM advertisement for nuts.come except they’re not paying me!, the only place I know you can get dried dragonfruit, now with free holiday tin! home of delicious indian snackfood, where you can try bizarre superfoods you’ve never heard of
also they have these fruit gummies that are made out of actual fruit, they’re really really good but also just as bad for you as regular gummies,  so DH wanted to get some, but I was like, DH, the first ingredient is sugar.  Like, they take actual strawberries and shoot them up with the stuff fruit gummies are made out of.  They’re like frankenberries or zombieberries something like that unnatural [ed: embalmed mummy berries?], yet what gummy fruit wishes it could be. Also not as pretty as fruit-snacks because there’s no artificial coloring. /en fin