Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Living that #ebird365 life


This year, I'm participating in the eBird 2017 Checklist-a-Day Challenge, aka #ebird365, where birdwatchers are challenged to submit 365 birding checklists within the year 2017. (I think--I hope--that you just have to end the year with 365 checklists, not necessarily one per day. If you need one per day, I'm already out, since I didn't start until January 12.)

To participate, you just submit your lists of seen birds on eBird.org, a neat website which helps you track all kinds of stats. More importantly, the data submitted by amateur birdwatchers worldwide is helpful in tracking migration patterns and bird populations. It's basically a giant, crowdsourced, citizen science project.

365 checklists for the year is a huge increase for me. In 2016, I submitted 74 checklists total. That's about 290 short of my goal this year! But it's turning out to be a lot easier than I thought to stay on track. As I writing this on the 45th day of the 2017, I have submitted 50 checklists year-to-date. I'm ahead of the game, despite my late-ish start!

So, I think it's definitely do-able even if you start now. You just have to get in the right mindset. Here are some tips.

Expand Your Definition of "Checklist-Worthy" Birding


Before this challenge, I would only submit a checklist to eBird if something "checklist-worthy" happened. That is, in one of two circumstances:

(1) If went out specifically for birdwatching, say to a park or nature reserve.

(2) If, in the course of keeping my eyes open in my everyday life, say on my commute or in my backyard, I saw a somewhat unusual or interesting bird.

Now, my definition of a checklistworthy event is:

(1) Keeping my eyes open in my everyday life, even if I don't see any unusual or interesting birds!

I'm pretty sure this is the point of the challenge, from the eBird scientists' point of view. Say in the course of a month I submit two checklists for a certain park, and both times there's a Downy Woodpecker on my list. The folks at eBird don't know if that means there's always a Downy Woodpecker in that park, but I only go there twice a month; or if I go to the park every day, but I only bother to submit a checklist when I see a Downy Woodpecker. If I'm doing the eBird 365 challenge, you better believe I'm submitting a checklist every time I go to the park, even on those days when I only see boring old House Sparrows and European Starlings. Even though I consider those checklists dull, they're still useful data.

The folks at eBird have even confirmed that checklist with no birds counts toward the challenge, assuming you went out and looked and just didn't see anything.

Make Frequent, Short Trips


These days, most of my checklists report only about 5-10 minutes' worth of birdwatching at a time. The instructions for the challenge specify that you can go out for as little as three minutes at a time. This is really helpful when it's cold out!

Work Birding Into Your Everyday Life


The majority of my checklists occur at the same four places, all of which I'd go anyway in the course of a typical weekday:

(1) The backyard behind my building. Specifically, the portion of my backyard that I can see from my window while sipping my tea in the morning.

(2) A little mini-parklet that I pass through on my walk to the subway in the morning. If I'm not running late and it's not too cold, I can linger here a few minutes. I've seen a surprising diversity of species in this tiny oasis of trees and grass.

(3) My subway stop. A small strip of scrubby woods can be seen from a particular spot on the platform, and occasionally there are birds there. I haven't gotten up the nerve to actually whip out my binoculars on the subway platform, but maybe in migration season, I'll have to!

(4) The park near my office, which I can drop by at lunch.

On weekends, I can visit more intentional and interesting places for longer stretches at a time, but I wouldn't be able to make the 365 without the four biggies above. I don't submit a checklist for each place each day, but between these four, I can usually manage one or two a day.

Learn to Estimate Flock Sizes

The rules for having your checklist "count" are pretty relaxed, but the one kind of technical thing is that you have to say how many of each species you saw; you can't just say "check, I saw some Grackles." This can be tough when you see large flocks, or when the birds keep moving around. With flocks, the easiest thing to do is to try to get a sense of what 10 birds looks like, then count the approximate number of tens. Make your best guess; an estimate that's a little off but in the right general magnitude is better than nothing.

Keep Your Tools On You


Here are the tools I try to have on me most of the time when I could be birding (which is all the time):

(1) My smartphone. This is the most important thing. eBird has a checklist app which is helpful for submitting checklists on the go, and means I don't need to remember to submit anything later. If I need to identify a bird, I use the Merlin app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. With Merlin, I don't feel I need to carry a guidebook.

(2) A compact pair of binoculars. I have a full-size pair which I leave by my backyard window, and carry when I'm going on my big weekend trips, but for everyday on the go, a $40 compact pair lives in my purse.

(3) Lightweight touchscreen-friendly gloves, in winter. Even in temps as high as the 50s, my hands get cold if I have them out a lot because I'm using binoculars on a phone. In summer: sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.

(4) (Optional) A small pad and pen. As nice as the eBird app is, pen and paper is usually faster.


If you're not already into birding but you're curious, I think this challenge would be a great start because it allows you to consistently work on your skills without feeling like you need to see something amazing. If you live in a city like me, most of what you will see will be typical urban birds such as Rock Pigeons and Herring Gulls, but you may be surprised by what you can find in tiny corners of nature when you keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Divest from DAPL the Fun and Easy Way

Where do you want your money to go?

The Dakota Access Pipeline is back in the news after Trump signed an executive order smoothing the way to building it. A number of sources have reported on the banks that are supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline. These include the biggest banks in the U.S. and Canada. Most of us probably bank at one of these institutions in some fashion:


  • Bank of America
  • Citibank
  • Credit Suisse
  • HSBC
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Wells Fargo


… and a number of other smaller banks. (Source: Snopes)


My wife and I have decided to cut ties with these institutions.


Our day-to-day banking is already all set. We used to be Bank of America customers, but in the past few years, we have moved all of our banking to a credit union. We're really happy with it. Credit unions tend to have better policies because they're member-owned and exist for us, the members, the actual people who bank there. We have two credit union memberships. We primarily use one we chose because it has a ton of great online features (I've never had any need to go to a branch, which is handy, since there are none around here). And we keep a nominal amount at a small local one, in case we need a local branch for some reason. (We actually haven't so far.)


But we still had credit cards from Chase and Bank of America. We had opened them for various reasons. One has great rewards. One is a store card for a store we use a lot. One is simply my oldest card, opened when I was in college, so it gives me a longer credit history.

We decided we still need and want to use a credit card; they offer rewards, make our budgeting simpler, and offers certain protections for online shopping and travel. So, we opened a new credit card account at our big online credit union. I initially said that I would close the other accounts by the end of January, but it's taking longer than I thought to get a handle on the recurring payments and returns--realistically, we'll close them by the end of this month, instead.


Process
It's not hard to switch banking institutions, but it can take some time to actually execute the process. Here are the basic steps:


  1. Research your options.
  2. Open the new account.
  3. Move the balance from the old account(s) to the new (or pay it off, for credit cards).
  4. Update recurring payments, such as automatic bill pay.
  5. Delete saved payment information for the old account from online stores.
  6. Wait about a month to make sure everything is moved over. There could be recurring payments you forgot about, or returns that haven't posted. (This is the step I'm on now.)
  7. Close the old account.


For more detail on this process, my old post How to Change Banks might be helpful.


Disadvantages
Before deciding to close our big-bank credit card accounts, we considered the disadvantages.
  • Inconvenience. That is, just the hassle of following the process above. Honestly, it is not really a huge deal.
  • Lower cashback rewards. The credit cards we're closing had between 1-5% cashback rewards, depending on the type of purchase; the new card offers a flat 1%.
  • Credit score hit.  I don't think this will have a huge impact on my credit score, but closing my oldest account does mean my credit history will shorten. Also, our credit limit will go down overall since the credit limit on the new card is less than the combined limit on the old cards (though I can probably apply for a higher credit limit on my new card after my other accounts close).


Overall we decided that these issues were not as important as the conscience boost for not banking with horrible people.


Other Advantages
Aside from the conscience reasons, we're looking forward to a few other minor perks for making the changeover.


  • Lower interest rate. Credit union credit cards almost always have a lower long-term (not just introductory) interest rate than those offered by for-profit banks. Typically this is offset by the lower rewards points. Since we pay off our bill in full each month, the interest rate isn't super meaningful to us, but it's still nice to have a lower one in case there's a month where we can't or forget to pay on time.
  • Less draconian late fees. The late fees are lower, too. In general, you're less likely to get slammed with bullshit fees at a credit union (You can compare fees by looking at the Fee Schedule, which should be available online for any bank or credit union without making an account there.)
  • Simplicity. Since all our accounts are now at one credit union (except the token local account), it's really easy to see all our activity in one place. Financial simplicity is something I didn't value much when I was single, but when you have two people trying to coordinate one set of finances, simpler is better.
  • Opportunity to review. The process of moving our recurring and saved payments to the new credit card is also an opportunity to decide which payments are truly necessary. It's good to do this every so often, and I feel like I never do as good of a job as I do when I'm changing accounts. It forces me to make a decision about each payment, instead of ignoring some out of boredom/inertia/forgetting.

If you've been on the fence about divesting from the big banks, I say go for it: it's not too hard and I have had a fabulous experience with credit unions so far! And don't forget to send a letter telling them just why you're breaking up with them.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January 2017 Month in Review


I always think, "This month I'm not going to spend a lot of money, because the world is in turmoil and no purchase could possibly seem important," and then I spend a lot of money.

Misc Office Stuff - $40
Toward the beginning of the year, I decided to spiff up my work space a little. I have a metal wall, so I got some magnets to put on it, including rainbow-colored glass magnets, magnetic hooks, and dry-erase magnets. They didn't cost a lot, but I like them a lot; they make things more colorful and useful.

2 Fashion Scarves - $21
I wear these at work. They're inexpensive, but cute. I keep them at work and therefore end up wearing them more often than the ones I keep at home.

5 Scoop Neck Cotton T-shirts - $75
I decided I was going to do a new thing where I'd wear scoop neck T-shirts as undershirts underneath my work sweaters, instead of spaghetti-strap tank tops. It's a little harder to make the necklines look good together, but I was hoping the existence of sleeves in the underarm area would absorb more sweat and protect my wool sweaters so I can wear them more than once between washes. I think they do! It's going pretty well. I don't know if this will help me get more than $75 worth of wear out of my sweaters, though. It would probably be a better deal if I hadn't already bought a bunch of tank tops, which are now mostly obsolete under The New System.

Canvas Bird Tote - $22
An impulse purchase from the online Audubon Society web store after I found out my membership gives me 10% off. It's nice to have a big tote that I like (it's teal! with a bird on it!) but yeah, probably not needed.

Merino Hoody - $80
I gave my wife my blessing to wear my merino hoody as much as she wanted, and she wears it a lot. I wore it a lot over the summer, not so much in the winter, so I don't mind… but when I saw the same model in one of My Colors on sale at Sierra Trading Post, I got another one IN CASE WE BOTH WANT TO WEAR IT AT THE SAME TIME. This is a classic Not Urgent & Probably Not Necessary Purchase. But I know I like this hoody.

Down Coat - $172
Another Probably Not Urgent purchase, but again: sale. And this time, the purchase was more arguably needed as my current coat is slowly falling apart. I could probably have gotten another few months out of it, though.

Nylon Shorts - $49
What a lot of money for shorts! And it's a weird purchase for January, too. I actually bought these after resolving to only buy things I'm going to use right away, but I promoted these from the "For Summer" wishlist to the "Right Now" wishlist after I found myself searching for a pair of exercise shorts I could wear for indoor workouts. These are relaxed fit but stretchy nylon shorts and I think they are going to be really good for a ton of use cases: workouts, running, summer hiking, going to the beach, and so on. But we will see in my One Year Purchase Review how often I ended up using them.

Wool Lounge Pants - $60
I was hoping to find pants that would bridge the gap between around-the-house pants and could-wear-out casual pants. When I got these, the cut definitely looked way more sweatpantsy than I expected, with the odd twist that they were made of a woven wool material that reminded me a bit of unlined suit pants. They should be the worst of both worlds, but I loved them and didn't want to take them off. My wife says she wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with me in person when I'm wearing them, and I think she might be lying but I don't care. I'm probably wearing them as you read this.

Ebooks - $40
I keep buying baby-sitters club books help

Botany Books - $40
Some physical books! I signed up to volunteer as a rare plant finder, and while I still don't know if they will select me -- prooobably not given my lack of experience or knowledge -- I figured I'd brush up on my plant-finding. This hobby will definitely get more play in spring and beyond, but I can use winter months to read.

Total Spend - $609

Another stay-under-$500 fail!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One-Year Purchase Review: January 2016


It's that time again. What was I buying one year ago?

I made several small clothing purchases, so I'm just going to group it by "clothes I still have" and "clothes I don't still have."


Clothes I Still Have - $92
  • Bra, $46 from a Polish online store. You know it was worth it.
  • Hot pink sweater for work, $5 from a thrift shop. I think this is one I wear all the time. Definitely worth it.
  • Teal plaid pajama pants, $14 used from eBay. I've gotten a ton of use out of these in the last year, although I may have just surpassed them in comfort with a new pair of wool lounge pants. Still, I'll hold onto these for now.
  • Green plaid summer shirt, $27 new from eBay. I got this because I have another plaid shirt of the same brand which I wear a lot in summer. This one isn't quite as good though, it's too long on me. I wear it sometimes, especially if I've already worn my better one, but it wouldn't make the cut if I had to pick my favorite things. I'm not sure why I was buying this in January.
I think clothes I've had for a year are generally worth it by definition, but as you can see, I'm on the fence about a few of these items.


Clothes I Don't Still Have - $40
  • Cheap tank tops from Forever 21 - $27. I went a bit overboard since these were like $2-$3 each. Predictably, they were terrible.
  • Sleeveless shell top for work, $2 from a thrift store. Again, not a huge expenditure, but not a great idea nonetheless. It turns out I don't really use sleeveless shells, since I feel like I need to wear sleeves at work. I'd only use sleeveless things for undershirts, so they don't need to be fancy. I'm even moving away from sleeveless undershirts now, since I think undershirt sleeves protect my sweaters better.
  • T-shirt on sale from a going-out-of-business sale, $11. Again, I was wowed by the DEAL$ (which weren't actually that great tbh). This was a "burnout" style T-shirt which turned out to be basically see-through, so I never found a way to wear it without being self-conscious.


I'd say clothes I don't have one year later were, by definition, poor purchases. It looks like in most of these cases, I was more excited about the DEAL than the actual item, which is a recipe for losing money in dribs and drabs.


Bass Guitar - $197
This is for the actual bass, the stand, and a digital copy of Garage Band (which I never used because I couldn't figure out how to hook up my bass to my computer). I wrote about the bass in my March 2016 post, I Rebought Things I Decluttered! I'd previously had my brother's bass on long term loan. After I returned it to him, I went without a bass for about six months, then bought a new one, which, mostly, has gathered dust. I think I like the idea of being "a person who plays bass" more than I like actually playing? I mean, I enjoyed playing when it was something I did with my brother, but when left to my own devices, I don't play very often. After one year and only playing it a few times--and then, just playing the same songs I know, not adding new skills--I've decided to donate it to a girls' summer rock'n'roll camp.


So, I guess I have to say that this experiment was not worth it, since it was ultimately a failure. But I do kind of feel like, if I hadn't done it, I'd still be wondering if I would play the bass if I had one.


Earbuds - $25
I got these to replace an almost identical pair that had broken after 1 year. So I guess I should watch out that these might break now! But they seem to be doing fine. I don't carry or use these often, but I couldn't run without them. Worth it.


Summary
Total Self-Spend: $354
Total Worth It: $117
Total Not Worth It: $237


The overall spend wasn't too high (compared to other months) and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping expenses down aside from the bass. Like I said, I don't really begrudge myself that experiment, since I think music is a constructive hobby. It just didn't turn out to be the one I have a consistent, lasting interest in. For comparison, other things I mentioned in my "Rebought Things I Decluttered" post, the art supplies, have seen a lot of use. I think I'm just more of a drawing person than a music person.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Organizing After January 20: The Best Tools I've Found So Far


This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

We are all citizen-activists now.

How have the last few days been for you? For me, it's been a struggle to keep up with it all, and figure out what to do and what actions to take.

Here are some guidelines I'm trying to remember:

1. You don't have to do everything. 

2. Something is better than nothing. 

3. Take breaks. The goal isn't political action all the time, or in all your free time. Self-care is necessary. Getting sucked into a news anxiety hole to the point where you're paralyzed is unhelpful. In How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind on Medium, Mirah Curzer points out that taking breaks can actually help prevent you from adapting to all this as the new normal. 

4. The best defense is a good offense. In A 10-Point Plan from Waging Nonviolence, George Lakey points out that desperately trying to maintain status quo is a poor negotation strategy when the other side is demanding the moon. We should, instead, try to make progress in the right direction, instead of simply struggling against the wrong. For example, instead of trying to protect ACA, we could be demanding Medicare coverage for all. I'm trying to get out of a defensive mindset and focus on my asks for Senators, etc. on things I want, not simply things I don't want. But, again...

5. You don't have to do everything. I, personally, don't have to fight on every front. To prevent burnout, we each need to pick the front(s) that matter most to us and go there.

So, how do we decide what and how much to do, and how to focus our efforts when we do? Here are some resources I've found recently that help keep it organized. 

Started just after the election, this is a document from former congressional staffers that explains which actions are most politicially useful (e.g. calling, not tweeting; going to town hall meetings; etc.) The idea is to take the lessons that made the Tea Party so powerful and harness it for progressives. There's also now a part of the website where you can search for an in-person meetup group near you.

A super-simple organized set of issues you can currently call your reps about, including phone scripts and phone numbers (it provides your senators' and representatives' numbers based on your zip code; no other information is required from you). This is a huge help if you want to call your reps, but you're daunted by the time it takes to organize the phone numbers, what issues are before the House vs the Senate, whether it's too late, etc. and especially if you have trouble coming up with the words to say on the phone.

I just found this, but I think this is basically an email list providing actions you can take, such as calls to make or demonstrations to attend. The idea is that you commit to spending 1 day a month (or whatever you can make time for), and you pick whichever action you feel you can take. I also like the idea of being part of a peaceful "guard." I hope there are badges. 

That's what I've got so far! If you have any resources you're finding especially helpful these days (not just overwhelming), please feel free to share. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scratching the Shopping Itch Without Shopping


Where can I get a teal coat like that? pinterest pinterest pinterest

On the recommendation of Debbie Roes from Recovering Shopaholic, I've been reading April Benson's To Buy or Not To Buy, a self-help book designed to help you get over a shopping addiction. I don't think I actually have a shopping addiction, but I'd say I do have a shopping habit. I habitually shop beyond my budget and rationalize purchases to myself in ways that betray slips in my self-control. So the thought exercises in the book have been an interesting and helpful experience.

One exercise has you explore the benefits you personally get out of shopping, and other ways you could get the same benefit. I've thought about this in the past, but the book pushes it a bit further and offers some additional reasons hadn't thought of. Using Benson's list as a jumping-off point, here are the attractions of shopping that I personally relate to, and some alternate ways to scratch the same itch.

Color

I've always loved color. Since the Color Revolution, my shopping has been quite singlemindedly centered on color, but my wife pointed out recently that I have always been excited about color when shopping. I usually have a pretty rational approach to wanting or not wanting things that only come in utilitarian colors, but I only have an emotional reaction "want it!!!" to items that come in a color that makes my heart sing. How else can I work with color?

  • Making art in color; working with colored pencil, marker, crayon, or paint. I have a tendency to stick with black & white because it's quicker and I'm better at it, but I have to remember that I love color and will really enjoy the result better when it's in color!
  • Taking photos/Instagram. I wasn't into Instagram until I got a phone with a decent camera, but now I love it (even though I'm not that good at it compared to any random 16-year-old!)
  • Looking at art including surfing Instagram, going to museums, getting graphic novels out of the library, watching classic films, and even doing jigsaw puzzles (which lets me engage with visual art in a very close way).
  • Going into nature to see flowers, sunsets, and other natural "paintings."
  • Decorating my environment. I usually think of decorating as a shopping activity, but it can often be done just by moving things around so that I see them in a new way or make better use of them. I recently hung up some of my scarves in my office, partly for utilitarian reasons (I like to wear scarves at work but often forget to put them on in the morning), but it also just makes me happy to have color surrounding me when I work. Similar reliable quick fixes include rotating the art I have hanging up, making reference charts and notes-to-self in pretty colored pen, and getting fresh flowers for the windowsill.

Thrill of the Hunt

A modern-day form of hunting, shopping allows you to search and find some elusive goal: the perfect item to fill a gap in your wardrobe, the perfect-condition brand-name item in a thrift store. It's incredibly satisfying to make a "find." Here are some alternate activities that I enjoy:

  • Taking photos/Instagram. Seeing something you want to take a picture of is a "find" moment, and the more you do it, the more photo ops you "find." It's about opening your mind.
  • Birdwatching gives you those "find" moments, especially when you see a new bird. Which happens a lot at the beginning! By the time new birds are rare, you're hooked.
  • Playing Pokemon Go leads to similar "find" moments - gotta catch em all!
  • Identifying wild plants. Benson's book actually suggests foraging for wild edibles, which I was briefly super into for similar reasons until I realized I don't actually want to eat any of the things I could forage (anyone for burdock root soup?) But it's still enjoyable to learn about plants (edible or not), and to identify that small subset of plants you know, and try to learn about the rest. It's endless because there are so many wild plants!

Problem Solving

Similar to the thrill of the hunt, shopping is often an intellectual exercise, allowing you to take a problem in your life and solve it with a product. I worry about carving too deep of a groove in my mind: problem = product. Many problems can't or shouldn't be solved by new products; other solutions can be just as satisfying! Here are problem-solving exercises which don't involve buying a new product.
  • Doing puzzles, including crosswords, Sudoku, word games, trivia, math and logic puzzlers, and jigsaws. I love all these things!
  • Learning something new. Benson's book suggests taking classes and going to lectures, but I hate anything that smacks of school, so realistically I'm not going to do that. What I do like, though, is reading nonfiction books. Or watching how-to videos. My wife and I have recently been enjoying Tony Zhou's Every Frame a Painting video series about film editing, something I knew nothing about. I can feel my mind expanding.
  • DIY home improvement. Part of what I like about shopping is going from "I have a problem" to "that is no longer a problem." Even if it's a small thing, it's just super satisfying. I can get the same effect from tiny fixes around the home, even things that cost little to no money, like tightening a drawer knob, hanging a picture, or organizing a shelf.

Summary

Activities that would satisfy more than one of my shopping motivators should be the most satisfying to me, and indeed, they are.
  • Birdwatching gives me the thrill of the hunt like nothing else. It often involves color directly (observing brightly colored birds like warblers and orioles) or indirectly (brings me into natural environments). It also dovetails [GET IT?] nicely with other activities, like:

  • Taking photos satisfies my drive to find and discover, and also allows me to work with color. My Instagram feed is filled with beautiful nature and bird images, many of which also please me, color-wise.
  • Jigsaw puzzles have everything: problem solving, thrill of the hunt (finding the right piece!), and working with color. The puzzles I like best are brightly-colored and allow me to get up close and personal with pretty art.
  • In another self-help book I'm reading, Marjorie Hillis's Live Alone and Like It (a charmingly dated 1936 manual for the single lady about town), she suggests having at least one hobby you can enjoy at home and one that takes you out, so I'm covered.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hypothetical Questions: How much can you spend without asking your spouse?

You can do whatever you want, as long as you agree.

Welcome to Hypothetical Questions, where Nut and Bagel scour the forums of the internet for quandaries at the intersection of personal finance and relationships. Today's question comes to this: when you have joint finances, at what point do you consult your partner to agree about spending?

Frugal Bagel
Here's the situation. It's a husband and wife with joined finances. Wife (OP) makes 1/2 what the husband makes; husband is in charge of finances; wife gets a lecture every time she spends more than $50 but the husband loaned $500 to a family member without asking her. She's like, just because I make less, should I have less say?

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
so you're in charge of your family's finances, right?

Frugal Bagel
yeah
I mean I'm the one who obsessively checks and categorizes everything
we each have our own money to spend however we want

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
under what circumstances could you see yourself giving/loaning $500 without running it by your wife?

Frugal Bagel
I could not see myself doing that

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
yeah me neither
not with the joint account
but i also can't imagine NOT having my own money
maybe you can?
if you didn't have your own fun money
everything is in one pool

Frugal Bagel
we need our own fun money
if we didn't have it, we'd HAVE to run everything by each other
the point of it is "a set amount of money you don't need to run by each other"
so without it, you are always in conference about every spend
I guess if I saved up $500 out of my fun money for the purpose of lending a family member, I technically wouldn't have to tell her but feel like I still would? for something like that?
but she definitely has the same right to spend her own fun money on whatever she wants. I guess the real problem in the letter is the double standard.

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
yes, but also i feel like a lack of treating her as a fellow human?
the double standard is one piece of evidence for that
but also the fact that he feels like he can just spend $500 of their joint funds is another

Frugal Bagel
yeah, it's like he thinks of all the money as his
even if she makes half of what he does, she contributes 1/3, which is not nothing. and even if she didn't earn any money at all, they're still a family who have made an agreement to share money and make decisions together. it's not just a guy with a hanger-on.

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
i think $500 is a big enough amount of money (though maybe that's personal) that if you don't consult your partner about it, why bother having a financial partner?

Frugal Bagel
yeah, I feel like $500 passes pretty much anyone's test of "how much do I spend before I ask my partner about it"

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
i would think so also

Frugal Bagel
it also says he recently got a bonus of the same amount, so maybe he feels like he "replaced" the money?
but it's still money they could have spent another way
you still have to explicitly make an agreement ahead of time with your partner that you will spend windfalls individually, or whatever

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
right, and if it's fun money that he wants to spend however he wants, then she should get an equal amount
but that clearly won't work since she gets lectured for spending $50
maybe he thinks it's not spending since he's sure he'll get it back?

Frugal Bagel
ohh maybe
but yeah they should still agree on loaning
realistically, he may not get it back (depending on the situation with the family member)
I mean, you can have any agreement you want, but you need to agree on it
The bottom line, as usual, the Need for Mutual Communication and Respect

Practical Cranberry Nut Roll
Just once, I'd like the bottom line to be the mutual need for SNAKES!