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Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

by Prince Of Petworth February 24, 2017 at 9:25 am 96 Comments

dc_neighborhood_news
Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe Flood

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

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  • blues

    Rave: Down 10.6 lbs since January 5. 1/4 of the way to my goal to lose 40 by 40, which is in September. I feel great.
    *
    Rant: Work has this InBody Test machine, which I tried out for the first time. The numbers can only get better, but oh man my %s are crazy. Will not let it deter me.
    *
    Rave: Husband had a great job interview yesterday.
    *
    Rave: MIL in town this weekend. Hello, free babysitting.

    • kharr89

      Congrats! What are doing for weight loss? I’m just getting started and also have a goal of 40 lbs.

      • blues

        Thanks! A combination of a concerted effort to exercise and Weight Watchers, with a focus on more whole foods. Still enjoying things like chicken parm and garlic knots (this weekend was a particularly delicious one) but trying to balance that with more vegetables, fewer refined carbs etc. on a weekly basis. I’d rather have real ice cream once a week than fake crap every night, if that makes sense.

  • Quotia Zelda

    Rant: An idea I came up with is being implemented agency-wide, with no acknowledgement. Not that I expect a parade, but a simple “Great idea, we’re moving forward with it” would be nice.
    Rave: Going to a lecture tonight on Emancipation in Maryland.
    Rave: Plans to go hiking with some friends tomorrow morning, before the cold front comes through.

    • eggs

      That sucks, but congrats on your great idea!!

      • Quotia Zelda

        Thanks!

  • Anonamom

    Rave: How on earth do I have an 11 year old?! Today is oldest Anonachild’s birthday. We are throwing him a surprise party tomorrow to celebrate. Does anyone have any good books suggestions for a budding historian? Something along the lines of A People’s History of the United States… he got this for Christmas and devoured it. He is particularity interested in the Civil Right movement.
    Rant: It’s freaking gorgeous out and I am stuck in an office all day. WHAH!

    • SBinDC

      Anonamom, congratulations on raising (someone who seems like) a great kid–the idea of having an 11-year old who devours A People’s History is my parenting DREAM. How do you raise such a conscious kid?

      • artemis

        +1.

      • Anonamom

        Thanks, he really is a special kid.
        I think the simple answer, is that he’s a really compassionate kid who has been raised to recognize and celebrate diversity and to question the world around him. I’ve always encouraged the kids to observe their world and ask questions, and to try to find compassion for everyone. He also had some amazing teachers in school and in aftercare (he was in programs associated with LAYC and DC Scores). He has a natural interest in history, and I think this combined with his exposure to social issues made A People’s History set a fire in him. It’s awesome that he’s at the age where he’s not just listening but engaging in discussions about the world around him. I’m insanely proud that he’s the kind of kid who would take a lower grade on a test about Marijuana because he will argue the benefits of it, for example. I’m sure this will lead to many, many discussions with future teachers considering we are now in a much more traditional learning environment, but I’m that parent who will fight alongside him, so it’s cool.

        • LittleBluePenguin

          This makes my heart burst with happiness! What a great kiddo, and a great mom! I hope you both continue being awesome!

    • skj84

      Congrats on Anonachilds bday! How about the March Trilogy? They are graphic novel account of John Lewis’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

      • Anonamom

        Great suggestion!! He would love this!

    • Quotia Zelda
      • Anonamom

        This is an awesome list, thank you! He has read a few, but I see a lot on here that would really interest him.

    • zeep

      What about the “March” graphic novel trilogy about John Lewis?

      • zeep

        Roops, just saw you already got this suggestion!

  • dcd

    Rant: There’s a planned re-development of a “shopping center” – read as one story strip mall with a grocery store, the typical ancillary tenants, and a *mammoth* surface parking area in Bethesda (the Westbard Giant) – really the worst kind of 50s era development that should have been torn down ages ago. Many of the neighbors are bitterly opposed to it because of all the ostensible excuses – traffic, congestion, overcrowding at schools (which is a concern, but one that can be remedied), etc. Dig a little deeper, and the concern really is about apartments, and the people who live in apartments. Now, they’ve glommed onto the issue of an African American cemetery on the site (as I understand it, on land that already has been developed). Even the members of the church don’t want the project terminated (per the article in the Post yesterday) – they want the remains treated decently, and some recognition of the historical nature and use of the property. But the anti-development people see the issue as a means to scuttle the project altogether.
    .
    The irony is so thick you can taste it. They’re terribly concerned about the cemetery, but apartments where lower SES people could live (maybe even descendants of those buried in the cemetery)? No way. Effin’ hypocrites. God, I hate suburbanites sometimes.

    • anonymous

      I am someone who lives in an apartment. However, I also understand homeowners’ concerns about property values and quality of life concerns (i.e., more congestion). I know some people love greater density- a certain other DC blog is all about that, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. They probably have some valid points as current residents just as people who would like to live in the future apartments have their own interests. I wouldn’t demonize them, but rather, try to understand where they’re coming from.

      • anon

        Thank you for this! I live in the area and think it is really unfair of dcd to make so many assumptions about something I don’t think they have much knowledge about.

        • dcd

          Please. I live in the area too (likely closer to Westbard than you do), and I’m very well-informed about both the project and the objections to it. it. Just because I don’t agree with them doesn’t mean I lack knowledge – frankly, it’s likely that I know more about it. The “Save Westbard” emails are full of ridiculous mischaracterizations and over-the-top, fear-mongering hyperbole. I’ll grant you that – perhaps – I was a little unfair in characterizing the underlying motivations of *everyone* opposed to the project, but I have had plenty of conversations with people about this issue, and it’s really disheartening how many of them are reflexively anti-apartment because of the “class” of people involved. (If you pretend to be against the project, it’s astonishing how many people will show you a glimpse of really ugly opinions.) And it simply is indisputable, and despicable, that the Save Westbard Crowd is using the Macedonia Baptist Church cemetery issue for their own purposes, without regard for what the church members want.

  • Luckycat

    RAVE: Super-hero day at daycare – all the little kiddies looked so darn cute!
    RAVE: This weather on a Friday! Must find way to flee work early.
    RANT: Work is so boring and frustrating right now.
    RAVE: I have a job that pays well and is somewhat flexible.
    RANT: House are so expensive in DC. I love my neighborhood, but me, Mr. Cat and our kitten may need to look elsewhere if we want to buy anytime in the future.

    • rss

      Mr. s and I are on a 5 year plan in DC and then we plan to relocate so we can buy something. (and he has lived in DC for like 25 years and I’ve been here 11.5 years.) we are thinking Richmond, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh (or similar) but it’s far enough down the road that anything is possible. or maybe we’ll win the powerball between now and then and stay!

      • Formerly ParkViewRes

        I know SO MANY people who left DC for Richmond. It’s a great little city.

        • LittleBluePenguin

          When I was down there in October for my kitty’s oral surgery, I was surprised by how much I liked it – they seem like they’re having a real renaissance or at least in some areas. Granted, this is as far south as I’m going, but Richmond sure seemed like a pretty nice little city.

        • dcd

          I went to college in Richmond, and almost moved there about 12 years ago for a job (wow, it’s been a long time). I really like it, and the COL difference is astonishing. And, while I know this isn’t a universally held position, as someone born and bred in NJ, if I’m moving for a lower COL and choosing between the Midwest and an east coast southern city, I’m staying on the east coast every time.

      • J

        Richmond is fantastic and extremely affordable (grew up there, still visit frequently). My parents still live there and are looking to downsize and the amount of SUPER nice condos you can get for under $200k is astonishing.

      • Effie

        I am originally from the DC area and went to college down in Richmond. The thing that people need to remember is that it is indeed the South. I do love certain things about Richmond still to this day… but people tend to forget it is a southern SMALL city before moving out there, and then ask so many questions later and/or are surprised as to why things are the way that they are. Yes the homes are relatively cheaper, but keep in mind that’s because you won’t be making as much money as in DC ( entirely depending on exactly what job you are doing in rva).

        • dcd

          Spider or Ram?

    • artemis

      We were priced out of DC and ended up buying in Maryland. I miss our old neighborhood, but having the extra space was worth the adjustment.

    • JohnH

      The frustrating part with the DC area is that the areas outside of DC aren’t typically much cheaper, unless you start getting into less-‘desirable’ areas. So you may save a bit of money, but double or triple your commute. For me, I save a few hundred dollars/month living in DC not having to drive to work/park/Metro. I justified spending more than I wanted to in DC because of this – and negotiated with myself to walk/bike to work. That being said, that was a lil while back – the prices now are much more absurd. One area I don’t know a lot about, but the Waterfront area could be a good buy – they tended to be more affordable, they just are older buildings – similar to some in Dupont. But while Navy Yard area has developed a good amount, I think that entire area will start catching on fire especially as the waterfront stuff finishes.

      • Luckycat

        This is exactly right. We weren’t sure we would stay in DC so we didn’t buy anything and now prices are outrageous. We have friends who live in the burbs – everywhere from Silvery Spring to far out in VA but unless we go reasonably far out, the price difference isn’t terribly different. Plus, we both work in the city, so our commutes would become terrible. We have admittedly been spoiled being able to walk/bus/metro to work – but I drive now since LuckyKitten is in daycare. But on a normal day it’s literally 10 minutes door to door. I have no idea what our plan will be.

      • I have an interesting GDoN house in SW going up at 12pm today.

        • JohnH

          I’m sure some of the SW stuff is already inflated knowing the development that’s coming. Probably 1-2 years late on getting a pretty good long-term deal.

      • rss

        yeah I HATE commuting. I bike to work now (around 6 miles roundtrip…actually I can and do walk or jog some days). I just wouldn’t be able to stomach a long metro ride or worse, being stuck in traffic. that’s why when we buy, it’ll most likely be in a smaller, more affordable city. My vote is for Pittsburgh because I grew up there, but I would be open to somewhere similar if that’s where we found jobs.

        • LittleBluePenguin

          If you go for Pittsburgh, I hope you guys like snow and rain. Seriously, it’s insane how much snow/rain they get and how few sunny days they have (went to college in the area.) Prices of course are much better, and the city itself seems pretty cool, but factor the weather in!

          • LittleBluePenguin

            …..and I’m just now seeing you grew up in Pittsburgh. So yeah, you know what the weather is like, scratch my previous comment!

          • Jay

            Pittsburgh is notably cloudier than DC; there are a lot more overcast days… but Pittsburgh actually gets a little less rain than DC does annually and the snowfall – about 40 inches per year – is on par with Chicago, Detroit and Boston and isn’t really insane… or at least it doesn’t seem that way after having spent four years in Syracuse, NY…

          • Jay

            (source: statistics from the Internet, knowledge from 20+ years of growing up and living in Pittsburgh)

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Agreed 100%. I now live less than 9 miles from where I used to live, now outside the district, but the prices are still pretty bad unless you move into much less desirable parts. I (will hopefully) save a bit of money on rent and have a lot of nice space, but I’ve tripled my commuting costs and time. Blergh. I just assume I’ll never afford real estate in the area.

        • artemis

          LBP, look into the Selectpass for WMATA. I save about $90 a month on my commute by using it (I think you live one metro stop away from me). Greater Greater Washington has a calculator that you can use: https://ggwash.org/view/42669/how-much-could-you-save-with-a-metro-selectpass-use-our-updated-calculator-to-find-out

          • LittleBluePenguin

            Thanks, I’ll look into it – right now, I am in the process of having HR take the money pre-tax and load it onto my card, but I’ll definitely look into this!

          • artemis

            I do Smart Benefits (pre-tax) as well, and you can use it towards the Select Pass.

  • Anon Spock

    Rant: Heard a “friend” bad mouth me, but when confronted, she lied about it.
    Rant: Officemate is noisy…humming, singing, etc, and she interrupts me to tell me about the latest Trump related situation. I just don’t care.
    Rave: Switch to navy Fed has been painless.
    Rave: Massage tonight.
    Rave: Trump is boosting my ira. Highest roi to date.

    • JohnH

      Um, I would knock on wood with your last rave. The stock market will eventually face a reality check…

      • dcd

        Yeah, the question is not if, but whether it’s a correction, and bubble pop, or an outright crash. Protectionism does not make for continued bull markets.
        .
        Related question – in the near future, I am going to move several miscellaneous rollover IRAs from their current platform to Vanguard (something I should have done years ago, but better late than never). I know all the admonishments against market timing, and agree with them, but I can’t help but feel at least a little inclined to keep everything in a cash or similar no-rick fund, and either trickle it into our typical risk allocations or just wait for the inevitable correction/pop/crash and buy low. Any thoughts?

        • Irving Streete

          I’ve been thinking about that myself. My thoughts, for wherever they’re worth are:
          .
          Market-timing, if you’re doing a lot of it, has pretty much been proven to be a losing strategy. On the other hand, we’re in the second longest bull market in history, P/Es are near tech bubble levels, “irrational exuberance” is high. Wasn’t it Buffet who said”buy when everyone is selling, and sell when everyone is buying”? I have a bunch of funds in four different accounts, that have done really well over the last few years, but I think I’m going to start moving some of them into more conservative areas as the inevitable — though unshcheduleable — bears wake up. Generally speaking, especially at my age, it’s unwise not to diversify in this way, anyway.

          • dcd

            That’s pretty much what my thinking is. But if that’s the case, why should I do it with the small rollover accounts we have, and not do it with our much more substantial current 401ks? I can’t think of a single reason.

        • B

          I am not sure there is ever a correct answer, but I share your concern re: putting all in at once. I have been moving funds I received in an inheritance from a money market fund into a Vanguard Target Date fund on a regular monthly basis. Admittedly, I have missed out on the market upswing for the funds in the money market, but this “dollar cost averaging” method – which reduces some of the risk of putting all in at once – was better for my piece of mind.

    • wdc

      Yeah, it’s amazing how much more profitable everything is when you don’t have to worry about protecting trans kids, gay people, immigrants, religious minorities, school children, or the environment. Hooray for you!

      • dcd

        That’s pretty unfair, don’t you think?

  • Rant: the heat is on in my old-ass building with no way to turn it off. We are all sweating to death.
    Revel: lots of extra recess today because kids can’t learn when they’re boiling
    Revel: made &130 from a Lyft rider who piker in my car last week. Was easy to clean up but still gross.

    • J

      Ugh on your first rant – I’m in the same boat. I had to turn on my AC last night to cope.

  • bje22201

    I don’t understand how those delivery robots are street/sidewalk legal in DC. For a city that shuts blocks down for suspicious anything, and bans drones, one would think that they wouldn’t allow a mobile suitcase to roam the streets.

  • artemis

    Rave: Friday and sunshine!
    Rave: We have a house guest who loves babies, which means all the hands available for Baby Artie wrangling this weekend.
    Rave: The little guy seems to be readjusting to this time zone.
    Rant: I am still so tired. I have been mainlining coffee all week.

  • skj84

    Rave: Saw King Charles III at Shakespeare Theatre last night. What a riveting piece of theatre, and timely too. Strongly recommend.
    Rave: Busy weekend ahead. Bestie bday and a girlfriends brunch. Too bad the nice weather is taking a break.
    Rant: I decided to wear my contacts today and my eyes are already tired. Any drops recommendations?

    • Andie302

      We were in the audience last night too! I’m so curious if the royal family is aware of the production and has seen it. I enjoyed it, but I thought it was slow to build.

      • skj84

        I wondered the same thing, especially based off the characterizations. I liked the playwrights take on Kate. Her monologue in the second act was spot on.

  • rfff924

    Rave: baby F is 2 months old tomorrow. His smiles are exuberant and he is such an alert little thing. Being a parent is tough work so I’m glad he’s giving me some positive rewards like getting so excited when he sees me.
    Rave: He slept 6 hours last night which meant I got 5!!
    Rant: I’m not used to that amount of sleep so my body had lots of trouble falling back to sleep after feeding.
    Rave: what weird weather but I will take it!! I’m so happy to be able to get outside!

  • DJFinance

    Rave: The runner in the picture is kinda cute.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Rant: I am so tired, not sleepy just feeling run down and tired.
    Rave: Gorgeous weather.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    Rave: Loving this week’s Friday Question. It makes a larger point of highlighting the wonderful things about America’s historical waves of immigration (cultures and peoples who add so much to our society, esp. foods!), as well as starkly contrasting one person’s extensive genealogical knowledge with another person’s genealogical blank, because their ancestors were forcibly removed from their homelands and treated as chattel. Our country is a wonder and a horror simultaneously.
    Rant-ish: Last Friday’s question was so overwhelming to me. After I stopped feeling suicidal, I just felt overwhelmed (in an admiring way) by other people’s financial savvy. That is a skill set I don’t have and I want to throw up when I contemplate things like housing prices in this area, much less things like retirement! Does anyone have some really simple, step-by-step, blogs or books for financial dummies that they can recommend? I’d like to take steps to make myself more knowledgeable and make the right financial moves, but I get easily overwhelmed by this stuff, so it would need to be really nice, gentle, easy stuff!

    • Formerly ParkViewRes

      I read The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman around the age of 22. I can’t remember now how helpful it was, but I remember taking away a few things. For me I’ve always tried to minimize debt (ie don’t borrow unless you have to), which I realize is not possible for everyone. Pay down debt as fast as possible and always save. Even when I was only making $36k a year I put away $100 a month. And if you’re not contributing to a 401k or some retirement START NOW!

      • LittleBluePenguin

        I tried reading that ages ago and put it down almost instantly. She was too judgy. I need non-judgy, practical help. And paying down $120k in students loans as fast as I can is only going to happen if the PSLF program isn’t eliminated!

        • LittleBluePenguin

          (Sorry if that sounded mean, I do appreciate your suggestion, Formerly ParkViewRes! Maybe I’ll try reading it again…sigh….)

        • Formerly ParkViewRes

          Oh yeah I think that’s her style though. No worries, didn’t sound mean. Do you budget? I find that is very practical and so helpful. You can only do so much about 120k in student loans, but watching how much you eat out, make a grocery budget and stick to it, make coffee at home. You might already do these things, but just a few suggestions. I budget down to every $1 and have a budget for EVERYTHING–rent, renters insurance, taxis, public transportation, coffee, alcohol, television/internet, entertainment, alcohol, fast food, restaurants, groceries, dry cleaning, savings, pharmacy…you get the point.

          • LittleBluePenguin

            I used to, back when I lived in Philly, and I know I need to totally redo everything, so I’m sure that this is step one! I just used to get so anal about finding and tracking every penny when I was balancing my checkbook (back in the days of checks) that would give myself panic attacks. Now I’ve swung too far the other way, being laissez-faire (or just lazy!) about creating a real, trackable budget here. I do rarely go out, make my food and coffee at home, but I have a hard time with sticking to things – like, if I tell myself I have $100 to spend on groceries and eating out, I might spend $85 dollars on groceries but then a group of friends wants to go out and I tell myself I have $15 to spend but I actually spend $30. I should just not go out. And I don’t sometimes. But sometimes I do, and I go over my budget, and I shoot myself in the foot. Blah!

          • artemis

            I have that much in student debt too (without the option of loan forgiveness because of the industry I work in), and I had a ton of consumer debt by the time I left school (only $1k left to go on that). About seven years ago, several similarly situated friends and I formed a financial support group. That was a tremendous help. We totally opened the books on our debt, started budgets, and gained healthier relationships with money. If you have friends you trust in that way, I recommend it.

            I use Learnvest to budget. Having all my accounts in one place keeps me honest.

            In terms of paying down debt, attacking one bill and then using the snowball effect is the method that has helped me a lot.

          • LittleBluePenguin

            Wow, artemis, that sounds fantastic! what a wonderful support group you were able to form! That seems like such a great, yet intimidating, idea! I will look at Learnvest, I’ve never heard of it.
            .
            I guess it’s good that, even though I have a ton of student loan debt, that’s about it for debt. Now it’s mostly making rent, loan payments, and paying the usual culprits (utilities, phone bill, transportation, groceries). I have a few payment plans I’m working through with hospitals (thanks, $18,000 bill for 23 hr stay! -actually, thankfully my insurance paid most of it, they just made me pay the max out-of-pocket for the yr, $3500, which is way better!)

    • I read a lot of financial advice/planning books and the ones I’ve found most useful are less about specific investing guidance, but really helping you look at how you view money and saving and spending. Along those lines, I’ve found the following good for this: The Millionaire Next Door, Your Money or Your Life, The Simple Dollar, and Michele Singletary’s columns/books.

      • dcd

        Michelle Singletary is a conundrum to me. Some of her advice is excellent, and encouragement to be frugal generally can’t be bad advice. However, just like any other area, hard and fast rules in personal finance are problematic. Contrary to what she says, sometimes debt is necessary, and sometimes it makes sense to prioritize other areas over paying off debt. Her dogmatic inflexibility on this point often leads to bad advice – even if she believes it, she should present the other side for balance. Even more infuriatingly, the only time she wavers on this is when the tacitly encourages people to tithe 10% of their income, even when I debt. So it’s OK to shake off 10% to a church, but it’s not OK to take that same 10% and infest it for your retirement? Come on. Finally, she moralizes about way too many things. Sometimes people live together, sometimes people don’t fully comingle heir finances, and that can be OK.

        • Oh, I agree on the tithing and co-mingling finances thing–I think like most financial authors, you need to take everything with a grain of salt, and disregard what’s not useful

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Thanks! I’ll check out these suggestions (and take them with a grain of salt!)

    • dcd

      Bogleheads has several fora that I have found helpful – in particular, personal finance, and, when you are reading to invest, the Investing forum. There are some incredibly judgy regulars, but there are a wide range of opinions and SES levels (although many of the most frequent commenters – and there are several with 5000+ comments) are old, rich retired people in low COL areas who insist that you should never spend more that $900 on rent, or other such idiocy). But after sifting through that, there’s some great chunks of advice, and it’s closely moderated.

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Thanks, dcd – I’ll check that out, even though it sounds scary to me! I can’t ever even imagine being in a position to invest – if I could get myself to sock away money in a savings account that would be awesome! – but maybe someday..?

    • kharr89

      LBP – I’m looking for similar advice and have struggled to find resources about saving that don’t go to the extremes. Even a reply I got on last week’s thread suggested many things that just aren’t feasible (sell your car, for example. well, I work in Fairfax, so…). It seems all the savings goals in a lot of resources are somehow about quitting your job and travelling the world instead of more pragmatic things like building an emergency fund. We recently bought (only thanks to down payment help from my parents), and what I’m trying to do is not let our lifestyle creep up with our income. Mint and other spending trackers have been helpful as well. It doesn’t necessarily tell you how to save money, but seeing how much you spend on certain things can be eye opening. LearnVest has some interesting articles that focus on real people (like talking about real salaries and savings strategies vs. abstract financial concepts). We’re looking into a financial planner (my parents have one and we plan to meet with him) to figure out more complicated stuff like investments and longer term goals. Good luck!

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Thanks kharr89! good luck to you too!

      • dcd

        I agree about tracking expenses. I *thought* I was a lot more frugal than I am, and then I got back a month’s worth of tracked expenses – eye-opening, to say the least. I’d love to say that I made wholesale changes, but they’re better characterized as minor.

        • Cleveland Park runner

          What do you use to track? I’ve not been happy with a few different methods I’ve tried.

          • I’ve found success with good ol’ pen & paper. My problem using Mint, etc. is that it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty. If I spend $50 at Target, I need to know what was spent on toilet paper (a necessity) versus say, a frivolous bag of candy. Usually I pick a 30-day window once a year to get super granular and write down everything I spend and then chart it in an Excel spreadsheet; it is super nerdy but I have learned so much about my spending habits that way.

          • LittleBluePenguin

            But how do you chose which month?! I mean, my spending on frivolities vs. necessities could vary significantly from month to month, depending on what was going on….I mean, I do like the idea of just sitting down with receipts, pen & paper, etc. That’s what I used to do. But I would get soooo sucked in and find myself going down a rabbit hole trying to account for every single penny that I would lose my mind eventually.

          • dcd

            “I’ve found success with good ol’ pen & paper. ”

            Me too. A notebook and a pen, saving receipts. The key for me was to do it every day (or when you make the purchase, ideally) – if you get behind, there’s no catching up, and you forget the small cash purchases.

          • dcd

            There’s also probably an app that does this, but I’m old enough that I do better with pen and paper. You, I think, may feel differently. : )

          • LBP–I make it random. I also flag anything that is particularly unusual (like emergency vet visit or surprise tax refund) & pro-rate things like haircuts that I get only a few times a year, and just divide that amount by 12 months. It’s an imperfect science, but you get an estimate of what amount you should figure is spent on those random items from month to month (like I average $150/mo on “unpredictable stuff that comes up”).

          • LittleBluePenguin

            dcd – I usually do better with pen and paper, but I’m bad at keeping it all in the same place, and if I’m trying to stay on top of things, I end up having bits of scrawled notes and numbers popping up in my pockets, purses, and all over….! I like the apps that can keep everything very neat and organized looking and it’s all in one spot, but yeah, it doesn’t usually let you get as detailed. Binntp, that’s a good suggestion to make it random, flag unusual spending, and prorate certain things, it would give a good idea of how much generally gets spent per month. Thanks!

    • CE

      LBP, try Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You to be Rich. Sounds scammy, but he has a different approach to money that has helped me feel a lot more in control (well, I haven’t implemented all of it yet, but I’m getting there!). Did a great job of teaching me about things like target-date funds without making me all panicky.

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Thanks! You’re right, the title isn’t the best, but I’ll check it out!

  • TX2DC

    Rave: I’m leaving for New Orleans tomorrow and will be there through Mardi Gras. This will be my first trip to The Big Easy. Anyone have recommendations for museums/restaurants/bars? Any survival tips for Mardi Gras? Any worthwhile side trips outside the city?

    • stacksp

      Drive to the outskirts and do a swamp tour
      Cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking
      Cafe Du Monde
      Charbroilled Oysters (Acme/Bourbon House)
      Biscuits, Buns, & Banks (Breakfast)
      Fat Tuesday (Bourbon St)
      Riverwalk (or whatever it is called by the casino)

    • textdoc

      There were a bunch of New Orleans recommendations just yesterday:
      https://www.popville.com/2017/02/random-reader-rant-andor-revel-1765/#comment-1243334

    • Mr. Magoo

      Mother’s: An old-old school New Orleans restaurant that’s casual with great food.
      Parade advice: Most of the parades go off in the afternoon, and then the locals go off to balls and the tourists pack into the French Quarter. The more “prestigious” parades are closer to Mardi Gras itself. If you want to catch a lot of “throws” (the stuff that they throw off of the parade floats), get on the parade route early so you’re close to the curb. Or find an elevated spot. I stood on a newspaper box and got a ton of throws. Also, bring along a plastic bag so you have somewhere to store your throws.
      It’s a mob scene for sure, but worth the experience (at least once).

      • stacksp

        I second Mothers. I could not think of the name of this place for the life of me. My wife and I got there 15/20 min before opening and the line was wrapped around the building lol. Definitely go to Mothers and go early

    • Emmaleigh504

      Tip for Mardi Gras: if you see a bathroom, use it.

  • textdoc

    Rant: I feel like I’m in a battle of wills with my cat, and I keep giving in much too easily.

    • dcd

      Every time I think I have won with my cat, she pees on the floor. She’s lucky she’s cute.

      • textdoc

        I guess I shouldn’t complain (or should at least count my blessings) — my cat isn’t doing anything destructive like peeing on the floor, but she is very demanding of my attention. I mean REALLY demanding.
        .
        I need to go back to my previous custom of shutting her in a bedroom when I’m teleworking, because she makes it really hard for me to get much done if I don’t. And I also need to shut her in the farthest-away bedroom, because if I shut her in the nearer one, I can hear her meowing and it breaks my heart..
        .
        It’s either that or get a dog to keep her company, and I suspect that would be sort of like having triplets to keep one’s firstborn child company. (She doesn’t like other cats, so getting her a kitty friend is not an option.)

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