Find Your Inner Minimalist: One Is Enough

one-is-enoughLast week we were talking about buying enough of what you need.  But sometimes, having just ONE of something is the only right amount.  We’ve all had the experience where we try to purchase more of something only to find that the purchase kind of ruined the original thing we were trying to magnify/multiply.  Here are 3 examples of times when you only need 1.

1) You have a pen that you love, your favorite pen.  It’s pretty easy to keep track of.  But then you extrapolate that you should buy three identical pens so that you have four of your favorite pens.  But then, almost immediately, you start losing your favorite pens.  You can never seem to find one of your favorite pens.  It’s one of the cruel tricks of plenty.

2) We had one bottle for our baby for months and months.  I felt like that was too risky, so I bought three more bottles so we wouldn’t be caught without one.  Sure enough, within one week it seemed like we could never find a bottle.  They were treated carelessly, stashed in various places, forgotten then found with curdled milk in a corner of the couch.  Now, because we have lost all of the extra bottles, we are back to just one.  And, go figure, we always know where it is.

3) If a child has a stuffed dog, say, that he just adores.  But if you respond to that adoration by purchasing more stuffed dogs for him, it takes away the singularity of the original.  Having too many literally dilutes his love for the original, and most of the time he will stop playing with the dogs altogether.  It’s almost like having too much makes it worthless.

(Note: does this double as an ode to monogamy? Maybe.)  Drawing here.

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Prenuptials

output_NkhbTdWeddings are expensive, marriage is cheap, divorce is a bitch.

I was chatting (socially!) with a divorce lawyer recently, and she said that you usually see prenups only in second marriages, because nobody wants to see their wealth divided twice.

You might think in a divorce settlement one person is paying (and losing) and the other person is getting paid (and winning).  But that’s not how it goes; everyone who goes through a divorce ends up feeling hosed, financially.  Marriage is a joining of your finances so it raises your financial standing by splitting your mortgage and doubling your earnings.  Not to mention the tax breaks and other financial efficiencies of marriage.  So when you have to split that back out five or ten or twenty years later, it’s going to be bleak for both of you.

When I got married I was 22, so a prenuptial agreement seemed outlandish both because I was naive and because my sale-able assets included exactly one convertible with an overheating engine.  But in retrospect (and I’m still happily married, btw) I think a prenup should be a must particularly for people like me who had no real assets to divide when we got married.  If you marry young, or poor, or both, a prenuptial agreement is usually not done, but it would be so EASY.  And since divorce laws vary so widely from state to state, it would simply maintain your sense of how wealth should be divided in the case of a divorce.  It could just say “if we get a divorce we will split all jointly held wealth and assets 50/50 and in the case that one of us is the primary earner for more than five sequential years, the primary earner will support the non-earner for five years following divorce.”  Is that even fair?  I just made that up…but the point is it can be simple.

When you get married as an adult, when you have children and businesses and investments to protect, a prenup is considered essential and common.  So why, when you get married young, is it so hard to imagine that children and businesses and investments to protect are just around the corner?

Prenuptial agreements should just be a standard part of wedding planning.  We shy away from it because it seems pessimistic or grabby or cold-hearted.  But it’s in the same vein as how we sit down and write a will, or take out life-insurance, or buckle our seat-belt when we get into the car.  There’s no shame in planning for the unexpected.

[The spooning spoons should be famous, they’re so cute]

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Where to go for Financial Advice? + Pensions

financial-advice-aThis article in The Atlantic culled together a variety of recent studies to deliver this sad financial news: people under 35 have a savings rate of NEGATIVE TWO PERCENT, dislike the financial industry more than any other industry, spend more than half of their paycheck on debt payments, are twice as likely to turn to their parents for financial advice over a banker, feel like financial institutions do not cater to them, and have terrible financial literacy.  Terrible financial literacy as in they don’t know what a pension is.  Is one day having a pension so outlandish that we don’t even know what it IS anymore?  You guys, pensions are awesome.**

financial-adviceSo what about financial advice?  Where are we getting that, because we obviously need it.  Between the internet, the financial industry’s bad rap, and a lack of funds to invest, most young people turn to their parents instead of a financial adviser for advice.  Here’s what I think we want in a financial adviser: accessible (easy to reach), relevant (branded right and asking the right questions), integrated (an app that keeps it simple and synched up), affordable (with transparent fees), and trustworthy (a social mission helps).

There are a bunch of companies trying to meet the new needs or a new generation of investors.  One such rising star is LearnVest, another is Aspiration.

**PENSIONS: First, get a job with benefits.  Once you retire you start to receive once your pension, which is calculated as a percentage of your salary during your peak earning years.  You collect this magical check each year, for the rest of your life.  It usually includes health benefits for you and your spouse.  Pensions also act as insurance during your earning years since you can collect if you become disabled from your job, and if you die first your spouse is able to collect your pension for the remainder of his or her life.  I would love a pension, but I guess I’m not the only millennial who thinks the prospects are not so good on that front.  Anyway, at least I know what it is;)

[bag pic, bedroom pic]

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Creative Boost

creativity

Oh hey there, Tuesday.  The north winds are blowing, the children are squabbling, and I would like to crawl back into bed.  You can buy coffee, which helps, but you can’t just buy inspiration.  What do you do for a creative boost?  If you need some get-up-and-go, this video montage (IT HAS MUSIC!!!) by the ad group StarWorks Group might wake you up. It’s a hot, amped-up, dreamy, indulgent, and slick antidote to a cold and tired Tuesday.  We are playing hookey today and heading to the museum of natural history to look at dinosaurs.  You have to take inspiration where you can get it; today I’m taking it from what promises to be some very excited boys and some very big dinos.  Back tomorrow with content that’s at least tangentially related to finance;)

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Bone Broth

bone-brothBetween pressed green juice, almond butter, artisanal honey, cacoa nibs, and hemp seeds, eating like Gweneth Paltrow can lead you straight to the poor house.  Finally there is a Gweneth-approved East-village-endorsed superfood trend that’s actually thrifty: bone broth. You can make it yourself, or make your way to Brodo: a new bone broth takeout window in the east village started by the James Beard winning chef Marco Canora. Have you tried this?  Would you? Here’s a recipe for making your own bone broth from Hemsley and Hemsley.  It’s supposed to be all sorts of amazing for you.

[top pics from Hemsley and Hemsley, bottom pics from Canora and Brodo]

 

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WORK!!!!

workIsn’t a little oppressive to have the expectation that your work should be principally fulfilling and meaningful?  That it should be personally as well as literally enriching?  It’s too much.

Let’s recognize and honor the intrinsic value of working:  serving others, providing for our families, being useful, creating financial security, fixing problems, being part of a community…

If you are not happy at work, here are some things to try before you start job searching or career searching or soul searching:  Take a class after work.  Take your vacation days. Exercise.  Get more sleep.  Make friends with your co-workers.  Stop complaining (out loud and in your head). Choose something draining to cut out (facebook? tv? alcohol?).

Lots of attention gets paid to this “you have to love yourself before you can love someone else” concept.  But maybe it’s also “you have to be awesome before your job will be awesome / you have to be happy before you can be happy at work”

[image by David Duval for Berluti]

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Chef Watson on What’s For Dinner

chef-watsonI consider myself talented and gifted, if you will, when it comes to making a good dinner out of a bare pantry and an empty refrigerator.  But not supercomputer-gifted.  Chef Watson, in beta, is a partnership between Bon Appetit and IBM’s supercomputer.

Chef Watson uses crazy algorithms about flavor combinations along with the bon appetit recipe archive to make recipes based on what you already have in your kitchen.  You basically type in the ingredients you have on hand as well as optional inputs like what style of dish you want to make, and Chef Watson provides you with recipe options.  The fun part is that since the recipes are generated by a computer and based on the data of flavors and cooking styles, they aren’t restricted by our preconceptions about what goes together.  The review so far say even the unusual recipes are turning out well. The technology is still in beta, and you have to apply to be a tester.  Doesn’t that sound fun, though?  Here’s more about how it works.  It’s those nights when I just don’t know what to cook when I often end up calling for takeout; Chef Watson could totally change that.

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