Money


I actually did my taxes five days early, on Wednesday. I haven’t done my taxes that early for years. Once I took them with me to a conference.

And then, last night, chatting with a friend about how she’d actually gotten paid for translation, and how I’d gotten a check for reviewing a textbook proposal—I realized, I had forgotten to report $250 of income I got for reviewing some grant applications.

Here’s the sad part. On Wednesday night, before doing my taxes, at dinner with a friend, I spent a good five minutes talking about how external academic income such as honorariums can be balanced against unreimbursed expenses.

My only hope was that I had received the check in January. Even though the grant application was due at Thanksgiving, I’d been slow about my paperwork.

Checked my bank history.

deposited 12/21.

ARGH.

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Things under, say $25, that just make life easier or happier or better:

  • cozy comfy slippers
  • spare phone chargers in car, house, office
  • quality supportive hiking socks (especially worn under dress conference boots)
  • ear tips to fix Apple’s terrible headphones (I just got these and not having to push on my headphones every 5 minutes on the way to school is awesome)
  • decorative switchplates (these make me happy every time I turn on a light)

Got any recommendations?

My tweet was kidding; I did not procrastinate on reading the New Yorker article on procrastination (which is dated 11 October so you probably already saw it, I just clicked on it now while procrastinating on reading Susan Orlean on social networking):

A two-stage experiment provides a classic illustration: In the first stage, people are offered the choice between a hundred dollars today or a hundred and ten dollars tomorrow; in the second stage, they choose between a hundred dollars a month from now or a hundred and ten dollars a month and a day from now. In substance, the two choices are identical: wait an extra day, get an extra ten bucks.

No, that’s not identical. In the first option, you are waiting twice as long as you would otherwise; in the second option, you are waiting an extra 3% as long. 3% is a marginal tax to pay in return for $10; $10 is not much to give up to cut your waiting time in half, or by even more than half. This sounds like a book written by economists; surely they know something about how money and time interrelate.

(I translate everything into percentages and sales. 10% is not much of a discount, but 25%? that’s a good sale, makes me consider buying something. 50% is a “buy-it-now” or “stock up” discount. Helps me figure out what’s worth being upset about.)

In other words, hyperbolic discounters are able to make the rational choice when they’re thinking about the future, but, as the present gets closer, short-term considerations overwhelm their long-term goals.

I don’t know. Taking the relative value of time into account sounds pretty rational to me, but I’m a procrastinator.

(And if it was a choice between getting $100 right then and sending in a form or having to make a trip or cash a check to get the $110 a month later—fuck, $10 ain’t worth paperwork or errands and I know that’s a rational choice.)

I have the knowledge to teach Shakespeare. I don’t have the wisdom to teach Basic Comp.

Fretful Porpentine at Quills

I’m not decided enough to put them in my calendar or actually sign up quite yet, but I don’t want to do all the work of re-reading the schedules all over again, only to realize I’ve missed something I wanted.

And, for the person who thinks, “oh, that sounds fun. I wish I could do that,” you can. Find room for creativity the same way you find the time and money for exercise—making things nourishes your soul.

My general guideline for classes is that I’m happy to pay about $10/hour to learn something from a skilled artisan (about twice the cost of a movie), but I’ve been paying $10/hour for a long time (since grad school in 1998? wait, really? what happened to inflation?), so it’s probably time to up that. Glass is the most expensive, and that comes in at no more than $15/hour, materials included. Yes, I’m taking advantage of some taxpayer subsidies before I leave this town.

(I don’t like to be mean, but I can’t help laughing to see that the city offers, for one hour at $7: “CD Burning on Your Computer: Learn how to save photos, music, and essential files onto blank CDs (two provided with class).” “Intro to Twitter” is two hours and $10. But they also have a lot of adaptive recreation classes for adults with disabilities, which is very cool.)

  • silk painting teaser, 29 Sept. I love painted silk scarves, but I’m a crap artist. Hmm.
  • fused glass magnets, 30 Sept. I’m not really that into fusing, but I do love magnets. Although I’m pretty oversupplied. Should skip.
  • weaving, from 11 Oct. Unfortunately on Monday nights, conflicts with hula.
  • glassblowing: ornaments, 11 Oct or 16 Nov. DEFINITELY. Sad I have to wait until November because of hula.
  • soaps, lotion, and lip balms, from 20 Oct. Wait, I don’t even buy that stuff. Why would I want to make it? Getting carried away.
  • photographing fall colors, from 20 Oct. DEFINITELY. A classroom session, then a trip where presumably you get hands-on advice in the field, then show&tell in the classroom. I’ve been looking for a class that would help me set up better pictures and adjust on the fly (as opposed to “how to use your digital camera”) for forever, and I almost missed it because I misremembered my teaching schedule.
  • glassblowing: paperweights, 22 Oct. I did last spring, but enjoyed, could get better, paperweights are functional gifts and acceptable clutter.
  • finishes for sewn knit tops, 28 Oct. DEFINITELY. My favorite type of sewing class—here’s a bunch of skills to practice and we’ll talk about some ways you might apply them.
  • supervised glassblowing, from 2 Nov. Would be good, but I need to think about what I want to make. I won’t yet have learned to do ornaments, which leaves me with a repertoire of paperweights, useless misshapen flowers, and totally unsymmetrical cups. But the class is smaller and I’d get more focused time (two evenings) to get better, against the one-evening paperweights class. That would be three straight Tuesdays of glassblowing.
  • purse organizer, 9 Nov. Really don’t need a purse organizer but these are made out of plastic pet screen, and learning how to sew that could be handy. Re-examine the demo next time I’m in the fabric shop.
  • wire and glass pendant, 18 Nov. Not sure about having the metalworking skills for that. Beginning metalworking conflicts with hula, although metal jewelry/wirework would probably be a more long-lasting skill than glassblowing, which I really don’t have a knack for.

Still pending: class schedule from the other sewing shop.

Quicken snarks at me when I try to record things without a category, and I’d rather not, myself.
But under which financial categories does one record things such as passport renewal fees, cost of new bank checks, fees for e-filing taxes, and similar accoutrements of doing business in the modern world?

Accidental late payment fees, etc, go under Bank Charges—which is also where I put rebates from credit cards, etc (although I noticed that banks counts a new account bonus as interest income for taxable purposes, which makes sense). I figure as long as the total account under Bank Charges comes up positive it’s all fine. But the cost of new checks doesn’t really seem to figure into my long-standing obsession of getting the better of the banks (did you realize that if you always pay off your credit cards, you can turn the usual three-week interest free loan into a SIX-week interest free loan by strategically charging things at the beginning of your credit card cycle instead of the end? Seriously, y’all, when I bought a new car in 2002 on a no-interest-for-five-years deal, it was like I had won a war).

Also, finances are currently a complete mess, with piles upon piles of receipts waiting on me to enter them. Seeing as how I have two un-activated ATM cards floating around (one is stuck to the fridge, the other is in my laptop bag in case I needed to activate it in Hawaii), I think I’m approaching the same nadir of disorganization that previously saw me trying to leave the country with expired credit and ATM cards. Must balance accounts soon, particularly since I don’t get paid again until September.

Must go pay my rent.

If you are in the grocery store, wearing a backpack, it’s because you don’t have a car. Took me a while to realize this, really, as I didn’t start driving until my second year of grad school. Since I had spent the last several years wearing a backpack, wearing it to the grocery (to be carefully packed with the heavy milk and orange juice) seemed totally normal. Once I started driving, I saw other people wearing backpacks in the grocery store and said, “hey, that looks odd.”

If you don’t bother with a bag when you are buying several items, it’s because all you are going to do is walk a few feet to a car, drive it home, and walk a few feet into your home—which means you have not only a car, but a house with a driveway. Most Monday nights on the way home from hula, I stop at the natural foods store on the corner and overpay for groceries to eat for dinner (I consider this my contribution to the depressed economy). I always buy three to five items—I never need a bag. That’s a luxury.

Marginally and tangentially inspired by The Rebel Letter.

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