Shiftless Mommie

Because the kids' memories won't start for two years.

Question 1. 
I went to see this financial services speaker the other day and she said that I shouldn’t take out a loan to go to college. She says that I should save my money until I can pay tuition myself.
That’s easy for her to say, since she has a job—a job that I would hope she prepared for at some institute of higher learning, otherwise I hope you asked for your nickel back.

There was a time when a semester of college tuition could be earned during the summer. Chances are you earned it slinging soda pop at the drugstore. Heck, if you worked really hard, maybe you could even buy yourself a beat-up jalopy so that you could take Betty and Veronica to class with you. I mean, not to your math and sciences classes, of course. What business would they have there?

Is my disdain exaggerated? I’m sure this speaker would have you attend a more reasonably priced community college. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you want to be something ridiculous like a doctor. Perhaps this speaker would argue that until you have enough money saved, you shouldn’t be a doctor. Well, the problem with that is we (society) need doctors. See? And that’s from the Wall Street Journal.

It’s all well and good to lecture young people on the benefits of delayed gratification and living within one’s means when you are gainfully employed in a respectable profession.  The idea that the average student should pay out-of-pocket for school while facing increasing costs of living and decreasing wages is purely nostalgic fantasy. Alternatively, I guess we could continue to live with our parents. I’m sure they would love that.

What strikes me as odd is how many financial advisors are associated with banks. If everyone were to take their sage advice and live entirely on a cash system, we would no longer need auto loans or home loans or small business loans. They would continue to make their living pandering to our Social Security collecting grandparents, who think we are all a bunch of entitled whiners with our $5 lattes and iPods, but the banks wouldn’t be making any money. Keep in mind that every year you spend saving for college at a lower paying job, you are missing your higher earning potential and you are probably delaying retirement savings. Did she mention that?

What she is proposing is an investment without risk, but she’s neglecting to mention the reduced return. The problem is that no one pays to hear a preacher calmly admit that some of us may be going hell, but most of us won’t. We pay to hear about the sinfulness of our ways and our imminent damnation. Then we pay to hear about how much more sinful and damned other people are. There’s no money in preaching moderation and optimism, but there is money in living it.

Let her preach to the choir. She’s telling them what they want to hear and keeping them from watching Law & Order SVU for a few hours. Don’t let her doomsday scenario distract you from your purposeful goals. If nobody goes to college, who will write the wills that leave our grandparents’ hard-earned savings to their ingrate grandchildren? Think about that. You spend your life amassing wealth until you are too dead to enjoy it. Spend a little, save a little, enjoy a little. Not only is that what makes the economy work, but it’s what makes life worth living. That and cookies.

Question 2. 
Every time I make cookies, they end up flat and crispy. I can make them chewy, but then they almost taste raw. How can I make them soft?

Add a little more flour. Try about a ¼ cup per 36 tablespoon-sized cookies. Also, don’t over-bake them. Leave them on the tray for a minute after you take them out of the oven and they will continue to bake just a little.

Question 1.

I went to see this financial services speaker the other day and she said that I shouldn’t take out a loan to go to college. She says that I should save my money until I can pay tuition myself.

That’s easy for her to say, since she has a job—a job that I would hope she prepared for at some institute of higher learning, otherwise I hope you asked for your nickel back.

There was a time when a semester of college tuition could be earned during the summer. Chances are you earned it slinging soda pop at the drugstore. Heck, if you worked really hard, maybe you could even buy yourself a beat-up jalopy so that you could take Betty and Veronica to class with you. I mean, not to your math and sciences classes, of course. What business would they have there?

Is my disdain exaggerated? I’m sure this speaker would have you attend a more reasonably priced community college. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you want to be something ridiculous like a doctor. Perhaps this speaker would argue that until you have enough money saved, you shouldn’t be a doctor. Well, the problem with that is we (society) need doctors. See? And that’s from the Wall Street Journal.

It’s all well and good to lecture young people on the benefits of delayed gratification and living within one’s means when you are gainfully employed in a respectable profession.  The idea that the average student should pay out-of-pocket for school while facing increasing costs of living and decreasing wages is purely nostalgic fantasy. Alternatively, I guess we could continue to live with our parents. I’m sure they would love that.

What strikes me as odd is how many financial advisors are associated with banks. If everyone were to take their sage advice and live entirely on a cash system, we would no longer need auto loans or home loans or small business loans. They would continue to make their living pandering to our Social Security collecting grandparents, who think we are all a bunch of entitled whiners with our $5 lattes and iPods, but the banks wouldn’t be making any money. Keep in mind that every year you spend saving for college at a lower paying job, you are missing your higher earning potential and you are probably delaying retirement savings. Did she mention that?

What she is proposing is an investment without risk, but she’s neglecting to mention the reduced return. The problem is that no one pays to hear a preacher calmly admit that some of us may be going hell, but most of us won’t. We pay to hear about the sinfulness of our ways and our imminent damnation. Then we pay to hear about how much more sinful and damned other people are. There’s no money in preaching moderation and optimism, but there is money in living it.

Let her preach to the choir. She’s telling them what they want to hear and keeping them from watching Law & Order SVU for a few hours. Don’t let her doomsday scenario distract you from your purposeful goals. If nobody goes to college, who will write the wills that leave our grandparents’ hard-earned savings to their ingrate grandchildren? Think about that. You spend your life amassing wealth until you are too dead to enjoy it. Spend a little, save a little, enjoy a little. Not only is that what makes the economy work, but it’s what makes life worth living. That and cookies.

Question 2.

Every time I make cookies, they end up flat and crispy. I can make them chewy, but then they almost taste raw. How can I make them soft?

Add a little more flour. Try about a ¼ cup per 36 tablespoon-sized cookies. Also, don’t over-bake them. Leave them on the tray for a minute after you take them out of the oven and they will continue to bake just a little.

Question 1.
My boyfriend seems completely at a loss for what to do with his life. He’s a smart guy and he works hard, but he just can’t find his niche. In this economy, he really can’t afford to be switching jobs a lot. Now he wants to go back to school. I’m nervous about him spending the money, but I really want to help him.

Yeah, but you can’t. You have great intentions, and they are worth absolutely nothing. 
Case in point: My first baby started to crawl fairly late based on what all the books were telling me. I was irritated at what I perceived to be infantile slacking and complete disregard for professional authority. She would roll on her belly with her arms tucked underneath her and just rock like a seal. It was annoying. I thought, “If she could just get her arms out in front of her, she would crawl.” So, like any responsible parent, I helped my child by twisting her arms out in front of her. I set her up in the crawl pose, and then I let her go. She responded by flailing her arms and allowing her head to hit the floor with a negligent-parent thud. I was horrified and she was screaming. Really, no one came out the winner. 
The same thing will happen with you and your formerly enchanting with his many talents boyfriend. You will put him in the proper pose for success like a pensive Ken doll and he will inevitably flail…and you can’t spell “flail” without “fail.” 
He isn’t ready to make a decision yet. He may think that by going back to school he will bide himself some time until the economy improves and people with no marketable skills can get work again. Or he may want to improve his chances of getting a job. You didn’t mention what he wants to study. If he’s planning to take out thousands of dollars in loans to be a pastry chef, I would say you should probably cut your losses and either accept that you will be supporting him (and managing the money) for the rest of your lives or find someone else. If he’s planning to study something that leads directly to a career (teaching, accounting, nursing, etc.), then it may be worth the investment. Even if it turns out that he hates teaching/accounting/nursing, he will at least be able to support himself while he pursues his actual passion for producing documentaries about wood furniture styles of the 1800’s or whatever.
This leads me to my final point. He does not get to sit around and find himself on your dime. The right job is the job he can get. The right time is now. Perhaps it was insulting that in explaining my advice I chose to refer to my child. Your boyfriend is an adult. Well, adults have jobs, even jobs we don’t like. The best way to help him is to not let him take advantage of you. It’s up to him to figure out how to get his arms out in front of him. 

Question 2.
I just found out that my family does not think my new business will be a success. I’ve had some false starts in the past and I guess they think this will just be another failed project. It really hurts me that they don’t believe in me. 

By virtue of your phrasing, I assume that they have been keeping this from you and now it has come out at some awkward meal or during a car ride. It may seem hard to believe, but the fact that your family has chosen to hide their opinion that you are a reliable provider of relief from their own feelings of failure and insecurity probably means they love you enough to let you cling to your misguided dream of owning a store devoted to left-handed cats. 
If you have tried numerous business ideas, I’m sure you are highly motivated, optimistic and completely devoid of realistic expectations. This is why your family is an invaluable resource. A family’s job is to be a living reminder of all our past failings, lest the original documents be lost in a fire. Learn from their concerns and criticisms, even if they aren’t constructive. You don’t have to follow their advice, but you should ask yourself if adding a pinch of their prevention could save you a pound of bankruptcy.  
After that, stop relying on their approval. You can’t control their opinion of you and your past. When “South Paws” opens it’s 100th location, they will change their minds. Or maybe they won’t. Luckily, you will be too rich to care.  

Question 1.

My boyfriend seems completely at a loss for what to do with his life. He’s a smart guy and he works hard, but he just can’t find his niche. In this economy, he really can’t afford to be switching jobs a lot. Now he wants to go back to school. I’m nervous about him spending the money, but I really want to help him.

Yeah, but you can’t. You have great intentions, and they are worth absolutely nothing. 

Case in point: My first baby started to crawl fairly late based on what all the books were telling me. I was irritated at what I perceived to be infantile slacking and complete disregard for professional authority. She would roll on her belly with her arms tucked underneath her and just rock like a seal. It was annoying. I thought, “If she could just get her arms out in front of her, she would crawl.” So, like any responsible parent, I helped my child by twisting her arms out in front of her. I set her up in the crawl pose, and then I let her go. She responded by flailing her arms and allowing her head to hit the floor with a negligent-parent thud. I was horrified and she was screaming. Really, no one came out the winner. 

The same thing will happen with you and your formerly enchanting with his many talents boyfriend. You will put him in the proper pose for success like a pensive Ken doll and he will inevitably flail…and you can’t spell “flail” without “fail.” 

He isn’t ready to make a decision yet. He may think that by going back to school he will bide himself some time until the economy improves and people with no marketable skills can get work again. Or he may want to improve his chances of getting a job. You didn’t mention what he wants to study. If he’s planning to take out thousands of dollars in loans to be a pastry chef, I would say you should probably cut your losses and either accept that you will be supporting him (and managing the money) for the rest of your lives or find someone else. If he’s planning to study something that leads directly to a career (teaching, accounting, nursing, etc.), then it may be worth the investment. Even if it turns out that he hates teaching/accounting/nursing, he will at least be able to support himself while he pursues his actual passion for producing documentaries about wood furniture styles of the 1800’s or whatever.

This leads me to my final point. He does not get to sit around and find himself on your dime. The right job is the job he can get. The right time is now. Perhaps it was insulting that in explaining my advice I chose to refer to my child. Your boyfriend is an adult. Well, adults have jobs, even jobs we don’t like. The best way to help him is to not let him take advantage of you. It’s up to him to figure out how to get his arms out in front of him. 

Question 2.

I just found out that my family does not think my new business will be a success. I’ve had some false starts in the past and I guess they think this will just be another failed project. It really hurts me that they don’t believe in me. 

By virtue of your phrasing, I assume that they have been keeping this from you and now it has come out at some awkward meal or during a car ride. It may seem hard to believe, but the fact that your family has chosen to hide their opinion that you are a reliable provider of relief from their own feelings of failure and insecurity probably means they love you enough to let you cling to your misguided dream of owning a store devoted to left-handed cats. 

If you have tried numerous business ideas, I’m sure you are highly motivated, optimistic and completely devoid of realistic expectations. This is why your family is an invaluable resource. A family’s job is to be a living reminder of all our past failings, lest the original documents be lost in a fire. Learn from their concerns and criticisms, even if they aren’t constructive. You don’t have to follow their advice, but you should ask yourself if adding a pinch of their prevention could save you a pound of bankruptcy.  

After that, stop relying on their approval. You can’t control their opinion of you and your past. When “South Paws” opens it’s 100th location, they will change their minds. Or maybe they won’t. Luckily, you will be too rich to care.  

Family Tied
Question 1.
My husband has just informed me that my sister-in-law is coming to stay with us. She just got divorced and will be bringing her infant son. She had expressed how nice it would be to not have to send him to day-care, because I will be home to watch him, along with my young children. I can barely speak, I’m so angry. She’s not the easiest person to live with (we tried this before when she started having problems with her marriage), but now she will be staying with us indefinitely?! I tried expressing my disapproval of watching her son and she blew me off with some comment about “looking for someone else to watch him.” I’ve heard that line before and I don’t buy it.
Nor should you. She would have to be exceedingly stupid or overwhelmingly considerate to pass up free childcare when the going rate in my area is 70 pieces of silver a day, not including before- or after-care.
I’m going to go on the record as the radical that I am and declare that I am completely opposed to family charity. I’m not against generosity or favors, both of which imply willingness on the part of the giver, gratitude from the receiver and, most importantly, finite sums of resources. However, the whole popular notion that “charity should begin at home” is a sham perpetrated on working class people by rich, white men who never had to share a bathroom with four adults.  I’ll go even further and add that it is working women (and I include child-rearing moms) who are bearing the brunt of this renewed adulation for family support.
Providing assistance for discount childcare, food, housing—this is the government’s job.  I’ll allow non-profit organizations to pick up some slack, right up to the point when I’m being shamed into buying frozen “dessert pizzas” and working at a concession stand. Society needs an objective system to dispense assistance, free from familial conflicts and psychological burdens. I don’t want to hear complaints about a welfare state from anyone who isn’t actively supporting a family member, because it’s really easy to rail against the unworthy poor and their negligent kin when grandma isn’t knocking at your door with her hobo pack. I understand that it is a tough economy and people are going to need help, but why are we requiring families to both fund and manage it?
The person determining whether a loved one’s rent gets paid should not be the same person determining who gets the drumsticks at Thanksgiving. It’s just a conflict of interest. Emotions run high; someone always feels coerced by guilt and eventually it’s the giver that gets—the shaft.
Back to the issue at hand, your sister-in-law is in a difficult situation. You can empathize with that. You cannot, however, let her move in. You will never be able to set any sort of boundaries with her, because she seems impervious to both your discomforts and polite expectations.  Whether she plans to or not (and I’m pretty sure she does) she will play your husband against you. It will put immeasurable stress on your family and she will take advantage of the melee. Explain to your husband that you want to help her, but that this is too much. He will probably get defensive. That’s fine. Reiterate that you want to help her and list the many reasonable ways that are appropriate to the situation. Maybe you could offer to watch her son a couple days a week for a reasonable fee. Maybe you could lend (read: give, because you shouldn’t expect to see it again) her money towards a new apartment. Do not co-sign for her lease. Do not make any long-term financial obligations. 
I expect this will make your husband unhappy. He is welcome to let me know how unfair and heartless I am and how much I “don’t understand” where he’s coming from…because unlike the rest of humanity, I was raised by a pack of extremely socially liberal wolves who favor big government.
The difficult truth is that unless your sister-in-law and her son are currently living in an Oldsmobile, which you didn’t mention, they have a place, at least for a little while. Maybe that place is uncomfortable. Maybe they are being forced to leave in 30 days. There are a lot of “maybe’s.” The only thing that is certain is that neither you nor your husband nor the government can solve your sister-in-law’s problems for her. She needs to craft a workable plan that is acceptable to everyone involved and that has to involve someone besides you.
Freeloading is not acceptable. See how much easier it is when a neutral third-party says it?

That last question went on a bit so let’s have a nice, easy follow-up…

Question 2.
What do you say when someone compliments you on your appearance but you know they are just being nice because you actually look awful?
“Thank you.”

Family Tied

Question 1.

My husband has just informed me that my sister-in-law is coming to stay with us. She just got divorced and will be bringing her infant son. She had expressed how nice it would be to not have to send him to day-care, because I will be home to watch him, along with my young children. I can barely speak, I’m so angry. She’s not the easiest person to live with (we tried this before when she started having problems with her marriage), but now she will be staying with us indefinitely?! I tried expressing my disapproval of watching her son and she blew me off with some comment about “looking for someone else to watch him.” I’ve heard that line before and I don’t buy it.

Nor should you. She would have to be exceedingly stupid or overwhelmingly considerate to pass up free childcare when the going rate in my area is 70 pieces of silver a day, not including before- or after-care.

I’m going to go on the record as the radical that I am and declare that I am completely opposed to family charity. I’m not against generosity or favors, both of which imply willingness on the part of the giver, gratitude from the receiver and, most importantly, finite sums of resources. However, the whole popular notion that “charity should begin at home” is a sham perpetrated on working class people by rich, white men who never had to share a bathroom with four adults.  I’ll go even further and add that it is working women (and I include child-rearing moms) who are bearing the brunt of this renewed adulation for family support.

Providing assistance for discount childcare, food, housing—this is the government’s job.  I’ll allow non-profit organizations to pick up some slack, right up to the point when I’m being shamed into buying frozen “dessert pizzas” and working at a concession stand. Society needs an objective system to dispense assistance, free from familial conflicts and psychological burdens. I don’t want to hear complaints about a welfare state from anyone who isn’t actively supporting a family member, because it’s really easy to rail against the unworthy poor and their negligent kin when grandma isn’t knocking at your door with her hobo pack. I understand that it is a tough economy and people are going to need help, but why are we requiring families to both fund and manage it?

The person determining whether a loved one’s rent gets paid should not be the same person determining who gets the drumsticks at Thanksgiving. It’s just a conflict of interest. Emotions run high; someone always feels coerced by guilt and eventually it’s the giver that gets—the shaft.

Back to the issue at hand, your sister-in-law is in a difficult situation. You can empathize with that. You cannot, however, let her move in. You will never be able to set any sort of boundaries with her, because she seems impervious to both your discomforts and polite expectations.  Whether she plans to or not (and I’m pretty sure she does) she will play your husband against you. It will put immeasurable stress on your family and she will take advantage of the melee. Explain to your husband that you want to help her, but that this is too much. He will probably get defensive. That’s fine. Reiterate that you want to help her and list the many reasonable ways that are appropriate to the situation. Maybe you could offer to watch her son a couple days a week for a reasonable fee. Maybe you could lend (read: give, because you shouldn’t expect to see it again) her money towards a new apartment. Do not co-sign for her lease. Do not make any long-term financial obligations. 

I expect this will make your husband unhappy. He is welcome to let me know how unfair and heartless I am and how much I “don’t understand” where he’s coming from…because unlike the rest of humanity, I was raised by a pack of extremely socially liberal wolves who favor big government.

The difficult truth is that unless your sister-in-law and her son are currently living in an Oldsmobile, which you didn’t mention, they have a place, at least for a little while. Maybe that place is uncomfortable. Maybe they are being forced to leave in 30 days. There are a lot of “maybe’s.” The only thing that is certain is that neither you nor your husband nor the government can solve your sister-in-law’s problems for her. She needs to craft a workable plan that is acceptable to everyone involved and that has to involve someone besides you.

Freeloading is not acceptable. See how much easier it is when a neutral third-party says it?

That last question went on a bit so let’s have a nice, easy follow-up…

Question 2.

What do you say when someone compliments you on your appearance but you know they are just being nice because you actually look awful?

“Thank you.”

Lingering Stink
Question 1.
This girl at work is driving me crazy. Everything I say is wrong. I don’t even think she knows she is criticizing me. No matter what I say, “in her opinion” the exact opposite is true. I’m not sure how to get her to stop without overreacting. 
Let me allay you fears. She knows exactly what she is doing. I assume we are talking about subjective topics, not your insistence on using a metal knife to extract your bagel from the toaster. Right. She’s doing it on purpose. This is not to say there aren’t women who genuinely don’t know when they are making hurtful comments or don’t realize when criticism has become excessive. It’s just that most of the time, they are called “men.” (Before I get bombarded with emails accusing me of promoting gender stereotypes, I just want to say that I can’t believe that many people actually read this blog that I could provoke a bombardment.)
So now we’ve established, by virtue of my completely unsubstantiated judgment, that she is lobbing these petty critiques at you avec malice. The most common reason women do this to other women is because of some real or imagined power-struggle. Here’s a simple severity test: One disagreement means she respects and trusts you enough to be honest. Two disagreements means the two of you will probably not be in each others’ weddings. Three disagreements means that she has made it her mission in life to slowly erode your self-esteem at every possible opportunity. 
Your options are limited, especially since this is occurring at work and dueling is not and never was an acceptable mitigation tool for women. The important thing to remember is that you were chosen due to your perceived weakness. Your best solution is to remedy her erroneous perception by making her appear foolish. You need to master the “Victrola Dog” look. Remember those ads with the dog looking quizzically into the victrola? Of course you don’t because by virtue of your question, you are not retired from a WWII missile factory. Look it up. That’s the look you want to give her the next time she announces that your opinions and feelings are wrong. No comment, just a look that implies she is no longer speaking English. Since humans abhor silence the way nature abhors a vacuum, she will eventually blabber out an explanation of her comment, rendering it impotent. You will emerge the victor and she will sulk away until she finds someone willing to indulge her. The silence and her response may make you feel uncomfortable if you are not a naturally assertive person. You will be tempted to speak, laugh, or, even worse, assist her. Don’t give her the satisfaction. If you must change your expression, lest you fear your face will freeze that way, smile sympathetically and raise your eyebrows to indicate you deem the conversation complete. 
Question 2.
How do I clean plastic cups that have been sitting around with milk in them?
You don’t. Throw them away. The hard plastic may be salvageable, but the soft rubbery parts (immature laugh) will always smell odd and be susceptible to mold (second immature laugh). I’m not an advocate of throwing things away, but given the choice between scrubbing “yogurt” out of every nook of a sippy cup and shelling out $2 for another, I’m willing to compromise my value system.

Lingering Stink

Question 1.

This girl at work is driving me crazy. Everything I say is wrong. I don’t even think she knows she is criticizing me. No matter what I say, “in her opinion” the exact opposite is true. I’m not sure how to get her to stop without overreacting. 

Let me allay you fears. She knows exactly what she is doing. I assume we are talking about subjective topics, not your insistence on using a metal knife to extract your bagel from the toaster. Right. She’s doing it on purpose. This is not to say there aren’t women who genuinely don’t know when they are making hurtful comments or don’t realize when criticism has become excessive. It’s just that most of the time, they are called “men.” (Before I get bombarded with emails accusing me of promoting gender stereotypes, I just want to say that I can’t believe that many people actually read this blog that I could provoke a bombardment.)

So now we’ve established, by virtue of my completely unsubstantiated judgment, that she is lobbing these petty critiques at you avec malice. The most common reason women do this to other women is because of some real or imagined power-struggle. Here’s a simple severity test: One disagreement means she respects and trusts you enough to be honest. Two disagreements means the two of you will probably not be in each others’ weddings. Three disagreements means that she has made it her mission in life to slowly erode your self-esteem at every possible opportunity. 

Your options are limited, especially since this is occurring at work and dueling is not and never was an acceptable mitigation tool for women. The important thing to remember is that you were chosen due to your perceived weakness. Your best solution is to remedy her erroneous perception by making her appear foolish. You need to master the “Victrola Dog” look. Remember those ads with the dog looking quizzically into the victrola? Of course you don’t because by virtue of your question, you are not retired from a WWII missile factory. Look it up. That’s the look you want to give her the next time she announces that your opinions and feelings are wrong. No comment, just a look that implies she is no longer speaking English. Since humans abhor silence the way nature abhors a vacuum, she will eventually blabber out an explanation of her comment, rendering it impotent. You will emerge the victor and she will sulk away until she finds someone willing to indulge her. The silence and her response may make you feel uncomfortable if you are not a naturally assertive person. You will be tempted to speak, laugh, or, even worse, assist her. Don’t give her the satisfaction. If you must change your expression, lest you fear your face will freeze that way, smile sympathetically and raise your eyebrows to indicate you deem the conversation complete. 

Question 2.

How do I clean plastic cups that have been sitting around with milk in them?

You don’t. Throw them away. The hard plastic may be salvageable, but the soft rubbery parts (immature laugh) will always smell odd and be susceptible to mold (second immature laugh). I’m not an advocate of throwing things away, but given the choice between scrubbing “yogurt” out of every nook of a sippy cup and shelling out $2 for another, I’m willing to compromise my value system.

Pre-existing Poof
Question 1. Ok, how does one choose health insurance?
What a completely unexpected question. Remember that scene in 300 where the young warrior was sent out into the woods alone to be hunted by some animal that I never saw because I had my eyes closed? That’s what picking health insurance is like, in that it will thoroughly test your maturity and if you don’t do it right, your death will be both ignominious and painful.  I’m just kidding. Of course that would never happen in an industrialized, wealthy nation such as ours. So clearly you don’t really need to worry, but just for fun, the first thing you should do is go over all your medical expenses from the last year. This should be easy because you already organized them when you went over your deductible medical expenses at tax time, right? Deductible medical expenses? Yeah. 
Looking at your expenses, decide how extensively you use medical services. Do you have a chronic condition that requires frequent visits to a doctor or specialist? Or did you only remember where the nearest clinic was after you accidentally Little Debbie’d your way into a temporary diabetic coma? If you are regular at your doctor’s office (meaning you probably know the billing manager’s name and personal extension), look into a plan with a low deductible and low co-pays. Since you probably can’t afford that, go for a higher deductible and 80/20 or 90/10 co-insurance. This means that after you meet your deductible, the insurance company will pay a percent of services and you will pay the remainder. If you stay in-network you will most likely still get a discount while you are paying down the deductible. In the meantime, ask for a payment plan and remember that out-of-pocket expenses are usually deductible if you itemize.
On the other hand, if you are unnaturally healthy and really only need insurance in the event of an emergency, you may be accepted into a “healthy” plan. These plans give special rates for people who, frankly, don’t use insurance. You may pay a low co-pay for a yearly physical and if something catastrophic happens you will still be covered. Always check your plan for your out-of-pocket costs. Also, be aware that your robustness is annoying.
If you are a woman or have a woman on your plan, pay special attention to your plan’s maternity coverage. As of right now maternity coverage can still be a separate policy. I don’t care if your pregnancy would signal the Second Coming. You don’t want to be caught providing sub-par prenatal care to little Baby Jesus, not right before the Apocalypse.
Finally, none of these plans are perfect. Unlike the Spartan, you will never completely slay your opponent. You will need to keep outsmarting it and reevaluating until you land that cushy job with wonderful benefits or move to Canada. Oh, and don’t be lured by some cheap, fly-by-night company because chances are their network will include Dr. Nick Riviera and that hospital on the other side of the state that made the news recently. Go with the devils everybody knows. 
Question 2. How do I stop staring at my co-worker’s Jersey poof?
Why would you want to stop? Jersey poofs are miraculous works of art symbolizing a woman’s triumph over gravity and nature. They are the vainglorious, Gothic cathedrals of our time. 

Pre-existing Poof

Question 1. Ok, how does one choose health insurance?

What a completely unexpected question. Remember that scene in 300 where the young warrior was sent out into the woods alone to be hunted by some animal that I never saw because I had my eyes closed? That’s what picking health insurance is like, in that it will thoroughly test your maturity and if you don’t do it right, your death will be both ignominious and painful.  I’m just kidding. Of course that would never happen in an industrialized, wealthy nation such as ours. So clearly you don’t really need to worry, but just for fun, the first thing you should do is go over all your medical expenses from the last year. This should be easy because you already organized them when you went over your deductible medical expenses at tax time, right? Deductible medical expenses? Yeah. 

Looking at your expenses, decide how extensively you use medical services. Do you have a chronic condition that requires frequent visits to a doctor or specialist? Or did you only remember where the nearest clinic was after you accidentally Little Debbie’d your way into a temporary diabetic coma? If you are regular at your doctor’s office (meaning you probably know the billing manager’s name and personal extension), look into a plan with a low deductible and low co-pays. Since you probably can’t afford that, go for a higher deductible and 80/20 or 90/10 co-insurance. This means that after you meet your deductible, the insurance company will pay a percent of services and you will pay the remainder. If you stay in-network you will most likely still get a discount while you are paying down the deductible. In the meantime, ask for a payment plan and remember that out-of-pocket expenses are usually deductible if you itemize.

On the other hand, if you are unnaturally healthy and really only need insurance in the event of an emergency, you may be accepted into a “healthy” plan. These plans give special rates for people who, frankly, don’t use insurance. You may pay a low co-pay for a yearly physical and if something catastrophic happens you will still be covered. Always check your plan for your out-of-pocket costs. Also, be aware that your robustness is annoying.

If you are a woman or have a woman on your plan, pay special attention to your plan’s maternity coverage. As of right now maternity coverage can still be a separate policy. I don’t care if your pregnancy would signal the Second Coming. You don’t want to be caught providing sub-par prenatal care to little Baby Jesus, not right before the Apocalypse.

Finally, none of these plans are perfect. Unlike the Spartan, you will never completely slay your opponent. You will need to keep outsmarting it and reevaluating until you land that cushy job with wonderful benefits or move to Canada. Oh, and don’t be lured by some cheap, fly-by-night company because chances are their network will include Dr. Nick Riviera and that hospital on the other side of the state that made the news recently. Go with the devils everybody knows. 

Question 2. How do I stop staring at my co-worker’s Jersey poof?

Why would you want to stop? Jersey poofs are miraculous works of art symbolizing a woman’s triumph over gravity and nature. They are the vainglorious, Gothic cathedrals of our time. 

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
— William Hazlitt, “Lectures on the English Comic Writers”
Trust me.
As the photo above clearly proves, I am more than qualified to solve your problems.
I’m married, which means that I understand both compromise and the inevitable soul-crushing promise of life. 
I lighten my hair, which means I’m exceedingly vain. There is a direct relationship between the unnatural lightness of hair and the self-consciousness of the personality underneath.
I drink, which means as far as I’m concerned, nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. 
I’m a college graduate (twice over) which means you can bet I’ve made my share of poor life choices. 
In an effort to streamline my life, which is what this blog is really all about, I’ll be combining the two activities that I find most time-consuming: Giving people advice and complaining about my own problems. Feel free to send me questions however you want (email, FB or comment). I will assume everyone wants to be anonymous since we all think we are the only ones with our particular problems. If I don’t get any questions, rest assured that I will be asking and answering myself, which doesn’t seem that unusual the more I learn about blogging.
Question 1. 
I’ve been offered two jobs, one that has benefits and one that doesn’t. How do I choose which one to take?
The correct answer to this question is, assuming you like the work equally and they have equal opportunities to grow, etc., the one that pays the most. The trick is that you can’t compare them based on salary alone. Unless Job No Benefits is especially ballsy, they are going to offer you more because they aren’t giving you any benefits. So let’s say Job Benefits is offering four weeks paid vacation and full, paid health insurance. The first thing you should do is tell no one that such a miraculous company is hiring. Second, you look at the salary offered by Job No Benefits. Divide it by 52 weeks. Then multiply that by 4. That’s how much you would be losing if you bought the 4 weeks vacation by taking them without pay. So subtract that from the salary of Job No Benefits. Next, get a quote for comparable health insurance if you were to self-pay. If you haven’t ever done this, wait 20 minutes after eating. Assuming you are reasonably healthy and single, “comparable” may range from $200-$500 a month. Multiply that by 12 and subtract from Job No Benefits. Don’t forget to subtract the deductible and do a reasonable estimate of yearly co-pays and co-insurance (someone should ask me a question about picking health insurance). Now you can compare the two salaries.
But wait, you are probably thinking, “I don’t need to take the vacation without pay. I will just save up the hours by working 60 hour weeks. And I don’t need ‘comparable’ health insurance. I can take this high-deductible plan without the maternity rider.” This may be true, right now. The problem is that you will get accustom to a certain amount of cash in your interest-accruing checking account and forget to make adjustments when you get married, have kids or go back to school (or in my case, do all three at once). Any of these events will detour your plan to work until you keel over from exhaustion, despite your apparent self-regenerative powers that require no medical care.
This is not to say you shouldn’t take Job No Benefits, but if you do, set up yourself up for success by checking your expectations. Start an automatic savings account and don’t skimp on health insurance. Also, we haven’t even touched retirement, mostly because I haven’t either and I’m wrong. Start saving for retirement. 
Question 2. 
How do I get that horrible smell out of my clothes when I leave them in the washer too long?
First, wash them again in the hot cycle with an extra rinse. If you have it, use an additive like Smelly Washer, which probably has instructions for proper use, but I just dump about a capful into my HE washer with the detergent. Once the cycle is done, if the clothes still smell, hang them outside to dry. If you live in one of those ridiculous places that bans this practice, you should move.
If the washer smells, run an old towel through the process again. Then let the tub dry with the door open. 

Trust me.

As the photo above clearly proves, I am more than qualified to solve your problems.

  • I’m married, which means that I understand both compromise and the inevitable soul-crushing promise of life. 
  • I lighten my hair, which means I’m exceedingly vain. There is a direct relationship between the unnatural lightness of hair and the self-consciousness of the personality underneath.
  • I drink, which means as far as I’m concerned, nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. 
  • I’m a college graduate (twice over) which means you can bet I’ve made my share of poor life choices. 

In an effort to streamline my life, which is what this blog is really all about, I’ll be combining the two activities that I find most time-consuming: Giving people advice and complaining about my own problems. Feel free to send me questions however you want (email, FB or comment). I will assume everyone wants to be anonymous since we all think we are the only ones with our particular problems. If I don’t get any questions, rest assured that I will be asking and answering myself, which doesn’t seem that unusual the more I learn about blogging.

Question 1. 

I’ve been offered two jobs, one that has benefits and one that doesn’t. How do I choose which one to take?

The correct answer to this question is, assuming you like the work equally and they have equal opportunities to grow, etc., the one that pays the most. The trick is that you can’t compare them based on salary alone. Unless Job No Benefits is especially ballsy, they are going to offer you more because they aren’t giving you any benefits. So let’s say Job Benefits is offering four weeks paid vacation and full, paid health insurance. The first thing you should do is tell no one that such a miraculous company is hiring. Second, you look at the salary offered by Job No Benefits. Divide it by 52 weeks. Then multiply that by 4. That’s how much you would be losing if you bought the 4 weeks vacation by taking them without pay. So subtract that from the salary of Job No Benefits. Next, get a quote for comparable health insurance if you were to self-pay. If you haven’t ever done this, wait 20 minutes after eating. Assuming you are reasonably healthy and single, “comparable” may range from $200-$500 a month. Multiply that by 12 and subtract from Job No Benefits. Don’t forget to subtract the deductible and do a reasonable estimate of yearly co-pays and co-insurance (someone should ask me a question about picking health insurance). Now you can compare the two salaries.

But wait, you are probably thinking, “I don’t need to take the vacation without pay. I will just save up the hours by working 60 hour weeks. And I don’t need ‘comparable’ health insurance. I can take this high-deductible plan without the maternity rider.” This may be true, right now. The problem is that you will get accustom to a certain amount of cash in your interest-accruing checking account and forget to make adjustments when you get married, have kids or go back to school (or in my case, do all three at once). Any of these events will detour your plan to work until you keel over from exhaustion, despite your apparent self-regenerative powers that require no medical care.

This is not to say you shouldn’t take Job No Benefits, but if you do, set up yourself up for success by checking your expectations. Start an automatic savings account and don’t skimp on health insurance. Also, we haven’t even touched retirement, mostly because I haven’t either and I’m wrong. Start saving for retirement. 

Question 2. 

How do I get that horrible smell out of my clothes when I leave them in the washer too long?

First, wash them again in the hot cycle with an extra rinse. If you have it, use an additive like Smelly Washer, which probably has instructions for proper use, but I just dump about a capful into my HE washer with the detergent. Once the cycle is done, if the clothes still smell, hang them outside to dry. If you live in one of those ridiculous places that bans this practice, you should move.

If the washer smells, run an old towel through the process again. Then let the tub dry with the door open. 

This is not about kids 
This site is not about kids because I am not about kids. I’m certainly not about your kids. This site is not about finding balance in your life or self-fulfillment through yoga because I suspect that both those topics and related themes are fantasies that moms created to get out of the house, either physically or mentally.
This site is about burning the candle at both ends: going to school, taking care of kids, being a wife who can’t be accused of Excessively Vicious Conduct, being an adequate friend, managing life’s general inanities and making money…by working, not by selling ribbon art. If I’ve offended ribbon artists, it’s probably for the best that we go our separate ways now before we became too intimately involved. The point is that I’m doing all those things and I refuse to stop doing any of them. If that means I accidentally wore pajama pants outside of the house today, then so be it.
Just to be clear, I’m a mom and I’m going to mention that fact occasionally, but if you want to read about how my toddler used a toilet brush as a magic wand, you will be disappointed. 
On the other hand, if deep down you hated the end of Spanglish, stick around.

This is not about kids

This site is not about kids because I am not about kids. I’m certainly not about your kids. This site is not about finding balance in your life or self-fulfillment through yoga because I suspect that both those topics and related themes are fantasies that moms created to get out of the house, either physically or mentally.

This site is about burning the candle at both ends: going to school, taking care of kids, being a wife who can’t be accused of Excessively Vicious Conduct, being an adequate friend, managing life’s general inanities and making money…by working, not by selling ribbon art. If I’ve offended ribbon artists, it’s probably for the best that we go our separate ways now before we became too intimately involved. The point is that I’m doing all those things and I refuse to stop doing any of them. If that means I accidentally wore pajama pants outside of the house today, then so be it.

Just to be clear, I’m a mom and I’m going to mention that fact occasionally, but if you want to read about how my toddler used a toilet brush as a magic wand, you will be disappointed. 

On the other hand, if deep down you hated the end of Spanglish, stick around.

Minimizing the Mommy Penalty

It seems women lawyers do better, but it doesn’t address whether they chose more family-friendly areas of practice.

brooklynsweetwater:

As if the gender pay gap wasn’t enough. Working moms are further penalized. Moms of one child earn 7 percent less than women without children. Have two children? Then the average working mother’s salary is a whopping 14 percent less.

Q
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST HUMAN MEMORY?
A

I clearly remember waking up this morning. Everything else could be completely fabricated.