Friday, May 28, 2021

Books I Read (May)

 Books I Read in May: 5

I had some really amazing 5-star review books this month 
(and a dud, but whatever). 
A deeply satisfying month of reading. 

The Midnight Library 

By Matt Haig

This was a special little unicorn book 
where it was a fast, easy read 
but also a really deep thinking book. 
It was a wonderfully unique premise, 
very interesting but still moved along quickly. 

I thoroughly enjoyed, 
as I expected to. 
Somehow any book with "library" or "book" 
in the title is always a winner. 
I can't think of any exception?  

A Place for Us 
by Fatima Faheen Mirza

This is a very beautiful book 
but it is also verrrrrrrry long 
and it gets very slow in the middle. 

It's also a great reminder 
that you can think you're doing everything right as a parent 
and still have a royally messed up kid. 

Hell Week: Seven Days to be Your Best Self 
By Erik Bertrand Larssen 

The concept is cool, 
but the poor organization of the book turned me off. 
I wish there had been some more lists 
and bullet points. 

It would be good for someone stuck in a rut, 
spinning the hamster wheel of life, 
but for me it was just meh. 

By Mindy McGinnis 

Such a great YA novel. 
Immediately sucks you in, 
so easy to read, 
and just a thrilling story. 

Many YA novels  
start with a hot mess protagonist 
who slowly finds their way in life 
(I believe this term is "Coming of Age" story)

This book is the opposite. 
A protagonist on top of the world 
who slowly descends into the blackness. 

Is it a scary and sad topic? 
But knowledge = power 
and reading this book (although fiction) 
was a great way to educate myself. 

Further reading: 
Highly highly recommend Dopesick by Beth Macy
(reviewed here)

by Glennon Doyle 

She is truly a gifted writer 
and I think anything she writes is amazing. 
(I hold her in the same category as Roxanne Gay, 
truly phenomenal writers.) 

I read her book "Love Memoir" a few months ago (review here
and while I loved it, I didn't relate much to her. 

This book, however, 
I REALLY related to. 
Maybe not right away, 
but about middle-to-end I felt like this was MY BOOK. 
In fact, I even photocopied certain pages 
before returning to the library. 
I don't think I've ever done that with a book before!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

10 Questions on Money

 As someone who majored in Accounting 
and LOVES tracking finances, 
this survey could not be more perfect.  
Stolen from Natasha who got from here

1) What was your first job?  
How old where you when you started working? 

Technically, my first job was babysitting and I started at age 11.  
By 12, I was babysitting families of 4-5 kids that included babies a few months old.  
For one particular family, I would regularly take all 4 kids down to the local pool 
and sit on the edge with their 6 month old baby watching the other 3.  
Now, as a mom, entrusting a 12 year old to this... uh no thanks.  

First paycheck, I spent ONE DAY working in retail for a shop opening.  
Not my thing. 

First consistent paycheck, I catered for 5 years
 (senior year of highschool through all 4 years of college).  
Mostly weddings
 (a few expensive holiday parties) 
and I loved it.  
I loved that I could pick my own schedule, 
made great money, 
and I loved the progression of the evening
 (setup, cocktail hour, dinner service, cleanup).  
I couldn't understand how my friends could stand at a cash register for 8 hours; 
my mind would implode from boredom. 

2) Tell us about the best and worst job you ever had. 

It was the same job. 

I started working at global helicopter manufacturing company. 
My job was in helicopter pricing. 
(E.g. "We sold the helicopter for $35 Million. What did it cost us to build it?") 

It started out my favorite job I'd ever had. 
It was exciting, engaging, 
and I worked for one of the best executives ever. 
He had the highest of high standard for his employees 
but when you met his very-high standards 
(which I sure as shit did), 
he made sure you were recognized and rewarded. 
It was a deeply satisfying working environment. 
He was truly a phenomenal leader 
and I hope he's making millions as a CEO somewhere. 

at the time, the world's fastest helicopter

Then, it all turned. 
That phenomenal executive moved within the company 
to another location. 
A new leader was brought in who was, by far, 
the worst person I ever worked for in my life
She embodied everything about bad leadership. 
Her presence turned the place into straight up hell, 
a Toxic Work Environment.
I got so anxious I developed severe insomnia. 
The day I quit, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. 

I will never forget how horrible that experience was.  
In fact, I still suffer from management-change-PTSD. 
When Oliver's preschool had a management turnover last year, 
I felt near panic, constantly emailing his teachers 
to see if they would stay
 (they did, and the school remained the same). 

3). Are you a saver or a spender?  What about your significant other?  

Adam and I both lean heavily to saving. 

We have a "safety nest" untouchable fund, 
equal to 6 months' salary, 
to be used only in the event of unexpected job loss 
(so far, never have had to use it). 
This was a great source of mental relief during COVID uncertainty. 

We also put 15% of all paychecks to 401K/investments, 
which means our retirement accounts are fat and healthy. 

We also are extremely debt averse. 
The only debt we have is our mortgage 
(and we just refinanced to 15 years at 2.5%!!!!). 
We save for our cars years in advance so we can pay in cash. 
We have never carried a balance on our credit card. 

I acknowledge this financial freedom has a deep root in privilege. 
I know this and I am very aware of this. 
I also know people who make much much more than us 
who are in far worse financial shape. 

All that said, we do LOVE to spend money 
on fun things that bring us joy
 or make our lives easier. 
E.g. Adam just got a new electric mower. 
and I just got a new expensive blender. 

4) Have you ever played the stock market? 
Do you play the lottery? 
Ever gambled? 
Ever won big? 

We invest in the stock market, 
but we don't "play" the stock market. 
As I said, we put 15% of our salary into retirement funds 
which we will not touch for another 30 years. 

I used to play the lottery with coworkers for fun. 
If the pot got big enough, we'd all throw in $5 
and someone would go buy tickets for the group. 
I put in not because I expected to win, 
but because if everyone in the department won, 
I didn't want to be the only one left in the office! 

Aside from the lottery pool above, 
I do not gamble. 
I have tried it twice 
(once in Vegas, once in Atlantic City) 
and HATED IT. 
My mind cannot comprehend "wasting" money. 
"There goes $50 I could have spent on shoes. 
There goes $20 I could have bought a cute shirt. 
There goes ...
You get the point. 

Vegas 2010.  Spent most of my money on booze

5) What is your favorite way to splurge? 
What do you dislike spending money on most?

Adam's splurges are mostly golf related, 
but also really nice brand-name home equipment
(e.g. that new electric mower)

My biggest splurges are purses, shoes, and jeans. 
I also love spending money on babysitters. 
My 13yo sitter who watches the kids while I get a pedicure. 
The 11yo sitter who plays with Carson in the basement 
while I reorganize a closet or clean out the car. 
Best money spent ever

I dislike spending money on restaurants and fast food. 
Yes I do enjoy a nice dinner out, 
but for me to spend money on restaurant, 
it damn well better be a very memorable meal. 
Most times, the food is great and all 
but I'd rather spend that money elsewhere. 

out to dinner for our 10th anniversary 
(hooray full vaccination status!)

6) How do you save money? 

First of all, 15% is taken out of our paycheck to retirement investments. 
(I often forget about this because we never even see it.)

For big yearly expenses (insurance, vacations, etc),
 I devised a spreadsheet system to save and spend.  

Every month, our bank automatically transfers
 a certain amount of money
from our checking to our savings account. 

As we pay for these big expenses, 
I withdrawal from the saving account back to checking
 during the month the credit card is paid. 
These categories accumulate 
and excess spills over to following years 
(mostly vacation). 

This ensures we have the money to pay 
for the things we want without constricting our bank account 
during the time being paid. 

When I started doing this in college, 
I transferred about $200 dollars a month, 
to cover insurance and gifts. 

With income and privilege increases, the savings increases. 
Now, we transfer $1,120. 
This amount is subdivided into: 
$140 car insurance ($1,680 per year)
$160 charity (about $2,000 per year)
$410 gifts  (about $5,000 per year)
$350 vacation ($4,200 per year)
$60 swim club ($720 per year)

To clarify, the gifts account covers the full year, 
with about half being birthdays, weddings, and events during the year 
and half being spent at Christmas/Hanukkah. 
It includes gifts for our kids and each other 
but also extended family, 
kids' friends, adult friends, coworkers, etc. 
I never wanted to worry
about my credit card bill in December, 
so this is how I've taken care of that. 

7) Who pays the bills?  Who does the taxes?

We are a single-income household so if you mean 
"whose paycheck pays the bills," 
well then that's Adam for everything. 
As to who actually makes sure bills get paid
that is 100% me. 
Adam has no idea what or when anything is due. 
I run our finances out of Quicken for the last 10 years. 

We do taxes together. 
We download Turbo Tax and spend a night doing it together. 
I feed him the numbers to enter into the software
and we check everything together. 

8) Name brand or generic?  Favorite stores to shop at? 
Grocery delivery? Pickup? Coupons? 

We are probably 50/50 generic / name brand. 
Things like Cheerios, Heinz ketchup, and Philadelphia cream cheese 
are non-negotiable brands. 
Rice, flour, butter, milk... couldn't care less. 

We shop at Wegman weekly 
and I supplement with Whole Foods 
and our local generic grocery store as needed. 

We don't do grocery delivery or pickup because I am too damn picky. 
It took Adam months during COVID to get the hang of my grocery habits, 
but he has finally got it. 
He knows what can be substituted and what can't. 
He knows when to text me if something is out, 
because that may be a main meal staple 
and will require list adjustments elsewhere. 

I don't coupon. 
The short answer is too much time, not enough money saved. 
The long answer is that my mom's couponing habit 
contributed greatly to my parent's hoarding habit, 
and thus I have a strong aversion to the pitfalls of coupon adrenaline rush.

first family grocery shop trip after Carson born. 
then covid hit and we never went again!

9) Do you shop thrift stores or yard sales? 
Ever use Poshmark or ebay? 


I recognize the vital role these stores and industries play 
in environmental conservation. 
Our excess materialism has lead to the climate crisis we have now. 
I encourage everyone to use these resources. 
But... I am not there... yet. 

10) Is there anything you collect or save 
thinking it may be valuable some day? 

Collecting = clutter, the bane of my existence. 
I will collect things I use and that bring me joy 
(purses and shoes) 
but I do not collect for investment purposes.