I read one of the most fascinating comments sections in personal finance today in which Holly of Club Thrifty shared four reasons that she won't pay $15/hr for a babysitter. The article itself was decent, but that comments section is insane.
Seriously, if you think that I get worked up about Trump being the likely Republican Nominee, you should read how people feel about Holly's unwillingness to pay $15/hr for a babysitter.
In the comments section, many accused Holly of being elitist or tone deaf or undervaluing other people or failing to grasp supply and demand which seemed a little harsh since Holly's primary point of view is thrift (ie saving money). A few even said they unsubscribed from The Simple Dollar because Holly won't pay $15/hr an hour for a babysitter (or rather because she wrote about it with sincerity and conviction).
The funny thing about the whole "conversation" is that (as far as I could tell) nobody suggested that $15/hr was too little to pay for childcare in Central Indiana. Nobody suggested that childcare was worth more than $15/hr, but I think that if it came down to the safety or well-being of her children, Holly and Greg would probably pay hundreds of dollars an hour for their girls. On the other hand, many people suggested that childcare is worth less than $15/hr because they babysat for $10 or $12/hr.
So which is it? Should Holly pay $15/hr or not? Does it matter that she can find reliable alternatives for $8/hr? Does Holly pay her babysitters poorly or well? And does this matter to you?
I recently listened to an episode of the Martinis and your Money Podcast in which Shannon interviewed Adam Carroll, the author of a documentary on Student Loans called Broke, Busted and Disgusted.
From a macro perspective, Carroll is as familiar as anyone with the student loan debt situation in the United States, but what struck me about this interview is that Carroll isn't hopeless. Student loan debt is a $1.2 Trillion Dollar problem (6.7% of annual US GDP for perspective), but, at least according to the world's foremost expert on the matter, the problem can be solved.
Good news everyone! Student loans don't have to be a crisis! We can solve a big problem.
On average, American math teachers spend an average of $31.41 every March 14th to celebrate Pi Day*, and like all made up holidays, Pi Day has the potential to wreak havoc on your budget.
Holidays are a marketer's dream. During the "holiday" season, people are more willing to lie to themselves about their "normally pristine" behavior and indulge in spending excess.
Of course, holidays are also a personal finance blogger's dream. During the "holiday season" we come up with 101 ways in which we are morally superior to consumer suckers while also making money off said suckers by connecting to affiliate programs. Thankfully, being dignified humans, we disguise our moral superiority lists as "tips" for a frugal "Insert holiday here."
These lists are largely useless since they boil down to three obvious truths about spending money:
If you find the above tips hard to follow it means that lists of tips aren't going to help you out. In that case, you need a mindset change and a system rather than a list of tips. (Want my system? I call it a Manifesto, because I'm fancy)
Every once in a while, you'll read a heartfelt piece that speaks to the tension of spending money to preserve relationships verses the ideal of spending money on things that are personally more valuable. These stories are in fact fascinating and tend to lead to one of four conclusions.
I don't judge these posts since relationships are hard and vacations are as legitimate of a solution as any.
Last week, ten blocks from my house, Officer DC Twiddy killed Akiel Denkins while attempting an arrest. Denkins's funeral and associated vigils and peaceful protests have proceeded much more calmly than protests in other cities. Still, the level of hurt and mistrust in the community is palpable.
The community grieves not just the loss of Denkins, but they mourn his life of frustrated potential. A life of frustrated potential is one that is unfortunately all too common in my neighborhood. The local economy is fairly strong, but finding work without connections remains a challenge. Generational poverty, structural injustices (such as poor public transit and dubious utility companies), gang and drug related violence, and broken families disproportionately affect the neighborhood on East and Bragg street. At the same time, forces of rapidly rising wealth sweeping in from the downtown and West parts of the city are leading to rapidly rising rents in the suboptimal housing.
To put this another way, single family homes that were built in the late 50s and 60s are being gutted and renovated, and rented out to people who look like, talk like and earn like me, which is forcing more of the long term but poorer residents of the city into the East and Bragg and surrounding suburban neighborhoods.
Bluntly, people like me have a high potential for contributing to the life of frustration that my neighbors experience.
So, what is the appropriate response when a gentrifier sees hurt in her community? I don't know if these are right, but these are my thoughts.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.