Ask the grumpies: When to upsize or downsize a house

First Gen American asks:

When do you downsize, upsize, etc. When you can no longer afford the house you live in, how long do wait until you make the decision to sell. (Due to a life change..job loss, stay home with kids, etc)

We got nuthin’ for this one.  We’ve never been in that situation and never wanting to be in that situation means we haven’t bought as much house as we could afford or bought a house at all and we’ve always had lots of money in the bank.

So yeah, we’re not the people to answer this question.

The people we know who have been in this situation have generally not made the decision to sell at all– just the decision to short-sell or foreclose when forced.  On the internet, we’ve seen people take in housemates to help pay the rent, though IRL I don’t really know of this happening.  People we know tend to upsize over time and only downsize when their kids go to college or they get divorced.

It’s a good reason to live under your means and to lifestyle inflate slower than you can afford to!

#2 notes:

I have definitely moved, but not for can’t-afford-it reasons.

I got a bigger place when my partner joined me in Blasted Place after three years there alone; my place was fine for me but wouldn’t have been enough room for the two of us. We downsized when we moved to Paradise because Paradise is expensive.

#1 says:

Yeah, when moving across country we’ve sometimes moved into smaller but more expensive places (see: our current rental).  But we’ve never sold a house!

Once again, does the grumpy nation have a better response than our poor one?  It must…

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Ask the grumpies: Not as good as ask a manager

Rented life asks:

Tips on “managing” bosses who need to be reigned in when they are over excited about projects you’re in charge of–especially since the excitement means he’s worrying about things 15 steps ahead of where we really are. I need the info for step 1! (He means well, just not good at focusing.)

Obligatory reference to Ask A Manager.

Maybe Wandering Scientist would be a better person to ask this question?

Man, if I figure this out I won’t be stressed at work anymore.  My boss is a great, great guy.  And kinda like this.  :)

#2 says… maybe checklists?  Yeah, I got nuthin’.

Does anybody in the greater grumpy nation have better advice for Rented Life?

Ask the grumpies: Smart phone etiquette?

Debbie M asks:

How do I deal with having a smart phone? How to I carry it? Where do I bring it? When do I have it on? I don’t want to turn into one of those people who’s always attached to the phone even when I’m socializing with actual people in person, or watching a movie with them, or attending class with them, etc. And I don’t want to mess it up or be uncomfortable carrying it in my pants pocket. I don’t always have a purse or wear a blazer.

In the interest of full disclosure neither #2 nor I have a smart phone, but we can still opine! And, of course, the grumpy nation knows best.

If it won’t fit in your pocket, get a different phone.  My opinion would be to leave it on vibrate and leave it in your pocket and don’t use it unless you have to.  You can stick it in your bookbag or something.  Everyone’s always losing theirs too, or spending a lot of brain time making sure it isn’t lost, so… ugh.  Why not just put it right next to your wallet and treat it just like your wallet?  Wherever you carry your keys & ID, just carry it in there and ignore it like you ignore those things, is my totally-made-up advice.

#2 tends to leave her flip phone places and then it runs out of batteries and she finds it days later and oops, she’s missed a text or a voice-mail that she got days ago and has to call back and apologize.  That’s kind of bad etiquette too, except the apologizing part.  She does let people know that her DH is MUCH better about keeping his phone on him and energized so he’s a better person to contact.  Sadly, moms wanting to do playdates will dig up her phone number even when she’s only given them DH’s.  *sigh*

Other (better) thoughts?

Ask the grumpies: Recommendations for post-maternity leave

Slightly Anonymous asks:

My department is writing a policy for what they do to support new parents post-parental leave.  I’m on the committee that is supposed to come up with this.  I think this is great:  if somebody misses a year or a semester with a new baby, then it makes sense that they might need some time or extra support to come back up to speed.  But what should our committee recommend?

I’m wondering if you or any of your readers have ideas?

I’m at a UK university, which means that academic staff at my university are either on short-term temporary contracts — think postdoc — or have permanent positions.  In most UK universities “lecturer” is the equivalent of “assistant professor with tenure.”  At my university there is a 1 year probationary period before your job is officially permanent, but passing probation is pretty much a formality.  There is still stress about being promoted, but much less than what comes with trying to get tenure in a US university.

Being in the US and not having been at coastal or ultra-prestigious schools, our own experience is pretty pathetic.  That whole “missing a year or a semester with a new baby” thing … not something we’re used to.  In my department we’re still trying to get something consistent in place that doesn’t involve begging other people in the department to cover your classes for a couple of weeks after the baby is born.

Off the top of my head, all I can think of is adding a year to the tenure clock for those without tenure, but that is mostly irrelevant in the UK context.  Surely someone out there has a better idea of what best practices are?  #2 has only seen terrible practices.  My poor poor colleagues.

Grumpy Nation, please weigh in with your suggestions!

Ask the grumpies: graphs for retired folk?

Debbie M asks:

I want to make a cool graph like the one in Your Money or Your Life that shows a) income, b) spending, and c) the amount of income you could get from your investments. The first goal is to get b) lower than a). Then it’s super fun when it is also lower than c). But I’m retired now. Is there a super fun graph for me, too? Or do I have to settle for just income and spending now?

Have you tried Leigh?  She knows everything.  Or you could get on one of those early retirement forums– they probably have things to suggest.

I mean, I guess you could graph a) income + 4% withdrawal from investments against b) spending.  Though that 4% withdrawal rate is kind of difficult to predict.

Doesn’t Larry Kotlikoff have some ridiculous retirement calculator that requires a million and one variables?