Re: The Practical Money Skills Budget Journal

1

Ezra Klein is being near-Yglesian in missing the point.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 2:44 PM
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Reading this at other place, was trying to remember what my budget was like the first time I was really out on my own. I believe it was something like:

~100 hrs/month @ $7.50 temping in a hospital cafeteria= $750

Taxes=$80
Rent=$225
Phone=$30
Gas=$15
Electricity=$20
Bus fare=$30
Laundry=$10
...leaving me about $70/week for food, long distance phone cards, liquor, entertainment, etc. So I had to steal A LOT of food from the cafeteria, especially when my friend got off the Greyhound with $1.75 to his name and started living in my skid-row studio apartment.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 2:49 PM
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Come to think of it, I might have been making more like $6.00/hr, as this was awhile ago.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 2:54 PM
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This seems . . . extremely optimistic. If you have a car loan (on a $5,000 car, it seems), you usually have to carry much more insurance than state minimum. I seem to remember this was something like $150/month in TX, where everything is cheap. Renter's insurance was $15/month. The only time I've ever had cable+phone cost $100 was when I paid $9/month to get network TV and had only a landline. Food budget is where I always fell on my face. I like food. They should have encouraged employees to save 10% of their income in order to retire comfortably, though.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 2:56 PM
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I love the smell of incentive in the morning!


Posted by: OPINIONATED KIDS TODAY DON'T KNOW WHAT WORK IS | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 3:05 PM
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1: link?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 3:10 PM
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If you like.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 3:38 PM
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8

That's a guest post.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 3:49 PM
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9

"Have you vomited today?"


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:01 PM
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Oh, that's weird, I thought I specifically looked at the byline before and saw Klein's name.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:03 PM
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1, 7, 8: that's kind of painful to read, because I know the author slightly, and he's quite good on his usual beat. But, yes, he seems to be completely missing the point: at the likely wage for a McDonald's job, and whatever second job a McDonald's worker is likely to be getting, especially in any area where the housing costs are like those quoted, you'd need to work truly insane hours, and you'd still be poor as fuck, completely unable to afford such luxuries as, say, having a child, or getting sick.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:08 PM
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Adjunct scholar at Cato Institute. FUCK YOU.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:10 PM
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afford such luxuries as, say, having a child, or getting sick.

Man am I aware of how lucky I am in this regard lately. Short term disability insurance through my work means I won't even have to burn hours from my sick bank to stay home for a few weeks. And then I will be able to go on desk duty for months if need be until my arm's back up to par.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:17 PM
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I haven't been following the online reaction, but I assume one key "missing the point" thing is that if you're making $1105/month from your first job, and paying 600 in rent, your *effective* wage rate on a second job is probably peanuts when you look at ACA subsidy, EITC, foodstamp, &c. phaseouts--which makes the cruelty of the demand that someone "support themselves" by giving up essentially all leisure time in order to work two full-time jobs even greater.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:17 PM
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11: He notes that in some parts of the country not budgeting for heating isn't so bad, because you don't really need heat anyway (like if you were living in La Jolla).

But what he didn't note is that in some parts of the country where you do need heat, it's illegal for the heat to be shut off in the winter anyway.* So basically, either you don't need heat, in which case you don't need to budget for it, or you do, in which case when you do you don't need to pay for it, so what's the problem?

* on the one hand, it's good, isn't it, that the state has decided that nonpayment of gas bills shouldn't give the gas company the right to consign you to hypothermia. On the other hand, you need some things, e.g. food, all year round, and it's not as if it's illegal for grocery stores to stop supplying you with food for reason of nonpayment.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:18 PM
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I believe around here they will cut your gas bill for non-payment -- they'll just wait until May. I don't think there's a rule that says that they have to turn it back on after that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:26 PM
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I suspected as much but decided not to let that stop me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:27 PM
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I mean, I've been spending approximately $1700/month for the last 6 months, and that's including $240/mo in health insurance premiums, and $120/mo for therapy, and it's a reasonably okay lifestyle. But that's because I'm single, with an insanely cheap apartment thanks to Grumbles and rent control (generalizing: I have the connections of someone of my education and social class, rather than someone of my income level), with no debt, basically no transportation expenses (because I live in a very bike-friendly city), no childcare or dependents, or anything serious like that. In short: no mandatory expenses. And I'm not budgeting any savings, because my current income is, I hope, a fraction of my near-future income.

But most importantly: if something big comes up--like needing $15k for tuition and living expenses for some software developer bootcamp, as I'm doing in two months--I can ask my parents, and probably get an interest-free loan. Like Romney. I'm not going to be ruined by sudden expenses. There's just no comparison to someone who's making similar money, but doing it at McDonald's, with no friend/family safety net, and no likely prospects of escaping. And it would be incredibly offensive for me to use my experience as a valid source of insight about the latter.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:32 PM
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16: Yes, low-income people of my acquaintance generally have to do a bunch of check juggling in May and September to get caught back up on the gas bill, so that they can have hot water in the summer, and then when winter bills hit, they are paid up and can't be shut off. Those are "the kinds of choices" people have to make.

The budget basically assumes a 25 year old, single, very healthy person with no bad credit or significant debt or kids or unusual expenses. I'm sure that describes a non-trivial demographic, but it's pretty absurd to claim that the 5% of USians who work two (or more) jobs are typical of the working class. Far more typical is the early-20s single parent perhaps with a chronic health condition, some bad debt, some school debt and a precarious employment situation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:35 PM
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So this isn't so bad-the advice is sound. The health insurance number is bananas low...

So, also lead abatement is getting schwacked in the House Appn. that sucks ass. Why must everything be so sad?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:35 PM
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19.last puts it much better than I did.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:36 PM
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19.2para
Or it assumes two people in a family working, living with or utilizing family caregivers. Like many do.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:37 PM
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20.2: But hey, at least the Dems didn't pass up yet another opportunity to kill the filibuster! Oh wait, yes they did.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:40 PM
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Isn't a big part of the way this is unrealistic that almost nobody could do two McDonald's-type jobs, both full-time, because neither of them would give you anywhere near enough scheduling flexibility to make room for the other? (Even aside from the point above, that it seems like you'd be giving up much more in gov't benefits and the ability to, say, take care of your child than you'd be making from your minimum-wage job once you get above 50 or 60 hours.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:45 PM
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22: Right, well, those are the lucky ones. How many low-end service economy jobs even offer the potential of a 40-hour work week? The majority of people I know in that sector often don't even max out the whatever-the-minimum-hours-below-which-you-aren't-a-real-employee shifts.

As I've said before, one of the most pernicious aspects of the way the life of the working poor is constituted in this society is this idea that because you're poor, you've got nothing but time on your hands. Of course, exactly the opposite is true when you depend on the bus for transport, and you're juggling caregiving for several small children and elders, and there's like ONE clinic that will take your shitty insurance, and they fuck up your appointment so that you just wasted TWO HOURS getting downtown, and got a dirty look from your boss when you asked to leave half an hour early, and the landlord called up at 9 pm last night to tell you they were roach-bombing the place tomorrow, so you had to pack up a bunch of your shit so it wouldn't get covered in toxins, and you've got like 12 minutes left on your phone for the next three days -- fuck it, you're really better off dead, but who can afford a funeral?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:52 PM
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26

24.1 certainly, but two people in a family *could* work two full-time mcdonald's style jobs. As happens a lot.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:53 PM
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25.2: Yeah, that's a fair point--far too many can't get the hours. A lot do, or almost do, still.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:55 PM
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28

A family of two can also economize on heat by bundling.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 4:58 PM
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29

I am kind of curious if this is just an inept let's-give-our-employees-tips-on-budgeting internal thing by McDonald's that everyone seized on or if it was actually put out for public consumption and overtoning.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:14 PM
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28: not without violating antitrust laws.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:21 PM
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31

Overtoning? Like, resonance?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:24 PM
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Could we make benefits linearly proportional to hours worked? can that be done without just treating them like wages? (Well, it could: if I work 2/3 of FTE, and get sick, I roll a die and if I beat 2/3 odds I'm covered. Creepy, but better than the current nothing.)

Related problem, jobs with giant increases in retirement benefits at the end of an official career. Employers have a motive to fire experienced workers, people who now hate the job have a motive to linger.

Is there a third one? I can't make a Grand Plan with Pronouncements if I don't have three examples.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:36 PM
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33

Maybe the $20/month health insurance is an announcement that McDonalds is going to start supplying generous health care subsidies to employees thanks to Obamacare.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:37 PM
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34

Trapnel, did I miss the announcement that you were planning to do this software bootcamp? I admit, I was still kinda hoping you we're going to take our advice and become a cop.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:52 PM
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35

The McDonald's budget is fascinating. It's just too tempting to write up my own existing budget:

Savings: whatever's left over

Rent: $500
Car Payment: $0 but for occasional repairs/maintenance
Car Insurance: $50
Health Insurance:$525
Heating: $50
Cable/Phone: $65
Electric: $50
Other: hard to say

TOTAL: $1240 without considering food etc.

- Sorry, I'm just walking through the McDonald's budget. Some of what Klein says seems correct.

Worth noting that my budget above is only *with* sharing a house (so half utilities, half rent), and with having finally paid off my student loans.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:55 PM
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36

Very parsimonious.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 5:56 PM
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37

18/19.2, I've heard this referred to as "grad school poor." All the social capital, plus hope about the future. I remember joking about being at poverty level, but then looking it up and realizing that I was still above poverty level for a family of four and that I'm a privileged ass.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:05 PM
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38

TOTAL: $1240

Which is smaller than my rent alone by... an amount I find kinda disturbing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:11 PM
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39

1: Meanwhile Yglesias himself is properly disdainful.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:18 PM
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37: Yeah, it is sobering to realize I don't know how to live on minimum wage, because I've never been in that situation of having no money, no family, and no better combination of skills and job availability.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:32 PM
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41

To be fair being grad school poor is still being poor.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:32 PM
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42

37: just think about the effective hourly wage you made.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:33 PM
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43

38: My house, while it is a free-standing house with driveway and garage and large yards, enough for 2 gardens even, is pretty run-down, and there's no heat on the second floor where the bedrooms are. The no-heat upstairs doesn't really bother me. I'd upgrade to a less run-down place if I felt it made financial sense, but it doesn't.

I left out, in my accounting in 35, miscellaneous like the pay-as-you-go dumbphone, which is about $200/year. For that miscellany, plus assorted medical expenses, plus the "other" category, to include food and drink, tack on probably another $1000/month.

Never mind all that: as noted, the hideous problem with the McDonald's account is the two fucking jobs insult.

I also duly note that the Wonkblog post is not by Klein but by Timothy Lee. Who I'm gathering is at Cato.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:33 PM
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42: $6/hr. I did have health insurance, though and no car payment, plus pretty cheap rent. I did manage savings, occasional plane tickets, etc., but it's really not the same thing as making $19,000/year with no big payoff at the end.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 6:48 PM
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45

Which is smaller than my rent child care for just one of the two kids currently in daycare alone by... an amount I find kinda disturbing.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:13 PM
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12: Adjunct scholar at Cato Institute. FUCK YOU.

Okay, on this, I find this profile on Timothy Lee. He's written for Reason, and I generally retch in their direction, it's true. Halford, he writes on copyright reform.

Um, I am trying to be fair to Reason writers, but it's really difficult.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:18 PM
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45: Is it really disturbing? I'm not sure I understand why.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:30 PM
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My wife just took a new teaching job that's $15k more than her previous job, and her salary will maybe cover child care for the two younger kids for the year (depends on taxes, credit phaseouts, etc.) MA childcare costs are ridiculous, roughly the entire income of someone working at, say, McDonalds plus a second job.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:39 PM
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45 -- total "day care" costs for the child's day, including school+after school nanny (needed for me to work), are substantially more than double that for me. Just in the interests of full disclosure/warning you not to have kids in LA.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:45 PM
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49 was not a complaint, more a reflection on the new incredibly stupid guilded age and my even more stupid and inevitably doomed attempts to keep up with the child rearing aspects of it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:47 PM
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Quick, someone make a joke about "guilded age".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:48 PM
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God damn it. Where the fuck are my crocodiles. Teela, Angel, it is time to slay the grammarian.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:51 PM
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Or I guess really the Orthographanarian. Whatever, crocodiles!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 7:52 PM
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Bear in mind that in 43 I did add on another $1000 for other expenses, but still, yeah, my monthly expenses aren't much more than $2500.

I'm not sure what to say: people here know that they're in the top 10% for the most part. Some straying down into the top 20%. There are exceptions.

People make career choices based on the lifestyles they wish to enjoy, don't they?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:00 PM
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People make career choices based on the lifestyles they wish to enjoy, don't they?

No, or I would have been an heiress.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:06 PM
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56

Yes, if they're lucky enough to be reasonably able to, which is pretty lucky.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:07 PM
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57

Actually, to be honest, my career choice doesn't have much to do with the lifestyle I wish to enjoy. My fantasy life, though, is perfectly calibrated to my intended lifestyle.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:08 PM
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56 is right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:11 PM
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57: You enjoy watching crocodiles eat.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:13 PM
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Drum read it, sympathetically, as proposing a second wage-earner in the household, not a second job for the McDonald's employee. Yummvee.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:32 PM
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61

Drum read it


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:32 PM
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Drum read it, sympathetically, as proposing a second wage-earner in the household

I think that is sympathetic to the point of fantasy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:33 PM
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63

and I think he's wrong, now that I look at the actual graphic.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 8:33 PM
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64

Jim Henley has a good post on this up now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 10:00 PM
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65

I think it might be a second person. Though I don't know why they couldn't make that clearer if it were supposed to be. It says later on (if you download the whole booklet) in the FAQs, what if my partner and I are using separate journals? - which could be an indication that the assumption is that you are combining your info?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:18 AM
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've heard this referred to as "grad school poor." All the social capital, plus hope about the future. I remember joking about being at poverty level, but then looking it up and realizing that I was still above poverty level for a family of four and that I'm a privileged ass.

Yeah, this. I am dirt poor compared to my lawyer and doctor friends, but with our stipends pooled together, my partner and I are almost at the median income of US households.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:12 AM
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I want to play the budget game! Here's my monthly budget:

Rent= $162 (inc. utilities and free yoga)
Transportation=$10
Food= ~$100 (could be cut down but I like eating cheese and buy expensive brands of milk and yogurt)
Misc.= $100

See? I live on less than $500/month. McDonald's employees can do it too, as long as they move to a poor area of a developing country. WHY DIDN'T THEY THINK OF THIS SOONER??*

*There is one small flaw, which is there is no McDonald's where I live. Also healthcare and tuition required for my visa are paid for by a scholarship.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:22 AM
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I dread to think how the budget game would work out for me. It'd start:

Rent: $1600
Utilities: $225
Council tax: $225
Transport: $450
Phone(s)/Internet/TV: $225
Car insurance: $60

And then you can start piling expenses onto that. And that's right at the bottom end of the rental market for private rent in London. Transport is high, as I work in Oxford, but even if I worked in central London it'd be over $300.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 3:30 AM
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Rent: £1400 (living alone in London is crazy expensive)
Council tax: £100
Utilities: £120
Line rental+internet: £30
Transport: £115

You could add another £30 for mobile phone bill, but that's a high-end unlimited data tariff, so it's not so much a budget item as a luxury.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 3:54 AM
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Central Berlin in a historically poor but rapidly gentrifying neighourhood, $1.30 to 1€ conversion rate

Rent: $315
Nebenkosten (water, heating, building costs): $110
Electricity: $60
Health Insurance: $230*
Pension: $230
Internet, TV, & phone: $60
Transport: $45
Sallie Mae: $526.64 (Yes, I know that figure down to the penny.)

Also: Ha, I do not miss living in England. How did I ever afford it...

* I'm in the public system, which simply charges a fixed % of income. So something between a premium and a tax.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:44 AM
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71

I should stop paying my student loans.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:07 AM
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72

I get a free bus pass from my employer and own a house that costs me less to pay the note on than rent on a small apartment in London.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:16 AM
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If I could find another similar job outside the SE property-insanity belt, I'd probably take it, because I can't see how anyone can actually afford it long-term unless they are on 'City' money.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:21 AM
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Yea, you could buy a decent 3 bed mid terrace in a reasonable neighbourhood for around 150 here.

What gets to me about all the articles about white from London is that they fail to take into account that nobody of any ethnicity in their right mind is ever going to move to London if there's any alternative until the property market stops taking the piss.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:32 AM
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72, but as a tradeoff for low cost of living, you have to listen to yinz as a pronoun.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:43 AM
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76

s/b "white flight"


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:43 AM
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75: Right. Plus hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:49 AM
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As God as my witness, I thought whites could fly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:53 AM
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Whites can fly unless Chicago has 'weather.'


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:00 AM
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nobody of any ethnicity in their right mind is ever going to move to London if there's any alternative until the property market stops taking the piss.

But there's an unlimited number of foreign criminals who can sustain the condo market, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:10 AM
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People move to London because it's the only place they can find a job. As far as I can see because people who make £1 million a year put their companies in London (thereby raising their overheads by an order of magnitude) so they an go drinking with their buddies who also make £1 million a year. Because there's no electronic media and if you lived in Stoke you couldn't possibly talk business to somebody in Exeter or draw up agreements with somebody in Cupar or manage somebody shuffling paper in Aberystwyth. Beause.

London is fine if you're young and have no plans to start a family and don't have to find much beyond the exorbitant rents. Or if you're happy about paying £2,000 p.a. for a train ticket to commute for 1 1/2 hours each way.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:30 AM
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re: 81

The annual train ticket for me to commute [approx 1 hour, and around 50 miles, ffs] would over £4000 quid. I only do it cheaper because I work flexible hours so can just buy an off-peak ticket over the counter [which is far cheaper], and I work from home 4 or 5 days a month.

Travel costs in the SE are insane. It's fucking absurd that the walk-up price for a London to Oxford ticket, travelling in peak hours, is something like 2 - 3 times the cost of driving.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:01 AM
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83

And per 82.last, the service is fucking embarrassingly bad, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:11 AM
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84

Let's see. House payment, $3100; day care, $2500; everything else seems pretty pitiful by comparison. Car costs are down to insurance and a pretty low level of repairs, because we have a reliable mid-age car (okay, hm, 15 years old) and don't drive it regularly.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:21 AM
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85

Mortgage + property tax: $2744
Child care (starting in September): $3942
Cell phones: $110
Car (just insurance): $72
Health +dental insurance (employee portion, family): $325
Electric & Gas: $160
Internet/landline: $64

So yeah, the child care is pretty disturbing, more than everything else combined.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:45 AM
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84,85 Maybe not viable for you guys, but An au pair is much cheaper if you have an extra bedroom.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:50 AM
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87

That childcare number is astounding.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:50 AM
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88

Number(s).


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:51 AM
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89

How much doesn't it cost to care for an au pair?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:53 AM
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90

Even if it is cheaper, it's just not the same as a child.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:53 AM
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91

It depends on whether you listen when she starts going on about her needs and feelings and stuff.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:54 AM
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Actually, when we did that, about every eighth au pair was male. The guys probably just need beer rather than beer and makeup.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:55 AM
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93

Mortgage: $1250
Gas + Electric: $150-200
Cell phones: $180
Car insurance: $75
Take home police car (for commuting only): $80
DSL Internet: $75
Student loans: $165

So yeah, not a high paying part of the country, but definitely not high cost of living and thank god the kids are in school.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:06 AM
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Can anybody pay $80 for a police car to take home?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:08 AM
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Can anybody pay $80 for a police car to take home?
Usually it's fifty dollars and time served.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:11 AM
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I know a guy who moved the cop's car. He got away with it because he only moved it out of sight and then ran.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:16 AM
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Mortgage+TI:$1100
Gas+electric: ~$110
Cell: $115
Car insurance: ~$60
Internet/cable: ~$60
Groceries: $500 (we like to cook.)
student loans: PAID OFF!

shiv is going to be a stay-at-home-dad, and we are going to see how that works out for us.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:21 AM
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thank god the kids are in school

Word. That alone amounts to a truly massive pay raise.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:28 AM
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The take home car fee is totally worth it just for gas and wear and tear alone. The city is kind of screwing us though. Our union has maintained for years that us taking the cars home actually saves the city money when you factor in a storage lot, cost of security for the lot, etc. The city kept scoffing at that but finally spent six figures to have a firm do a study and that study said exactly what the union had been saying. The city's response was a statement of "we disagree with that study" and continued to charge us. Supposedly there's a compromise in the works where the city will still charge us but we'll be allowed to run errands and stuff in the car within the county we live in or whatever. Which would be a better deal if I was in detectives and had an unmarked car but I have zero desire to go to tooling around in my off time in a marked police car.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:33 AM
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You all are totally neglecting to post your salaries along with your monthly expenses so we can get a good idea of what you're working with here.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:36 AM
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(Somewhat on-topic: depressing but with interesting graphics).

Yes, if they're lucky enough to be reasonably able to, which is pretty lucky.

Ta-Nehisi Coates had a nice version of that recently, "I would say that it is earned, except that many people earn many things which they never receive. So I shall say that it was earned and I was lucky."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:42 AM
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Not going to play along with this one, because it will expose me as a total prick. But I will note that I was struck by the fact that the monthly cost of the stable for Fleur's horse is more than Parsimon's rent (though, in fairness, the stable fee is inclusive of hay and shavings, which I'm willing to bet Parsimon's rent is not).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:53 AM
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Didn't parsi say she was looking for a roommate? I see some synergy here.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:54 AM
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Knecht is Mitt?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:55 AM
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Knecht is Mitt?

K-sky was on to me a while ago.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:04 AM
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Salary? That child care number is going to be slightly above wife's entire take home pay, depending on where we end up with tax rates/credits.
We looked into au pairs, but 1) don't have the extra room, and 2) it's a bit nerve-wracking relying on one person for child care as far as illness, etc. Plus I don't want to deal with the employment taxes, I did that for a couple part-time babysitters and it was a pain- that's when I discovered that state-run websites apparently have hours when they're "closed"?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:10 AM
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Yeah, single-point-of-failure considerations were one of the things that steered us towards day care centers and away from nannies or au pairs (The flipside is that the child's illnesses are now a point of failure).

Also, we're procedural liberals at heart, in that we trust state regulation of a facility more than we trust ourselves to evaluate an individual caregiver we might hire.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:39 AM
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Groceries: $500 (we like to cook.)

Man, we easily spend $800+ at the grocery store each month. I tend to think "As long as it's not eating out, it's sound" but it's easy to spend a lot, eating in.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:45 AM
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I'm exactly the kind of "grad school poor" that trapnel describes in 18, except I do save a lot. I have roommates and live in an inexpensive city, and health insurance is provided by my school. Also I put considerable effort into being a cheapskate, especially in terms of meal planning and shopping at a lot of different stores to get the best deal.

Rent: $500
Car: $0
Internet: $22
Cable: $0
Phone: $0, I'm still on my parents' family plan
Electric: $30
Gas: $10
Food/household items: $160

The amounts listed here total to about half my pay.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:47 AM
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I should add that I realize my situation is not remotely similar to that of the hypothetical McDonald's employee. I'm lucky to have excellent health coverage, stable (in the short term) employment, and the equipment/time/skills/resources to eat as well and as cheaply as I do.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:53 AM
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it's easy to spend a lot, eating in.

Particularly if you like fresh vegetables (or fish). Starch is cheap, there are plenty of cheap meat options, but fresh vegetables add up (and don't last that long in the fridge).

OTOH, I made houmous last night and was reminded how easy it is to make something that's way better than a store-bought version.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:54 AM
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The married people upthread posting their budgets including mortgage, child care, car and health insurance, and so on, sound like they're reporting the whole-family household expense. Not a per-person (or per-adult) expense.

I was halving the household cost of rent, utilities, cable/internet -- since my housemate and I split those costs 50/50.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:54 AM
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I spend as much on food and booze as I do on rent. I'm pretty sure this was true even in "grad student poor" days.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:58 AM
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We easily spend over $800 per month at the supermarket. Family of five, but the eldest child has fled the nest. the other kids are teenagers, and the boy will be taller than me by the end of summer if present trends continue.

Teenagers seem akin to babies, in that they are either sleeping or eating. Thank God the third part of a baby's routine doesn't enter into it for teens.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:05 AM
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Trapnel, did I miss the announcement that you were planning to do this software bootcamp? I admit, I was still kinda hoping you we're going to take our advice and become a cop.

Oh, no, I don't think I had previously announced it here. (And I did put my email on the list to be notified the next time SFPD opens up hiring.) I progressed quite quickly from "yay, I'm finally taking concrete steps to move beyond this problematic identity/self-narrative as a failed academic" to "I'm already behind preparing for this thing", besides which the fact that it doesn't start for two months makes it easy to think it's not real (yet).


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:07 AM
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115: Congrats on making a decision, trapnel, and good luck!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:12 AM
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115: What peep said.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:13 AM
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Eh. It was a decision I'd made 8 months or more ago; I just finally did something that entailed a bit of commitment.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:13 AM
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... but, err, thanks, both of you.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:14 AM
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Let me be the first to wish you good luck.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:19 AM
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Maybe you could become a cop AND a programmer. Copgrammer. Progrofficer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:22 AM
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On the OP budgeting thing: OMG, I just realized I forgot about gas! Petrol. Add about $150 per month.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:31 AM
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Poligrammer?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:33 AM
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(I am reading Henley's follow-up post to his initial one on the McDonald's budget. Gas! Oh, right!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:34 AM
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I'm so grateful that people mention it when Henley posts, because there's no way I'd wade through his blog nowadays.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:41 AM
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Trapnel, even if you do not know the language C, I would strongly urge you to read as much of Sedgewick's Algorithms in C as you can before getting dropped into problem solving.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:46 AM
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Isn't 121 just a fancy way of saying spook?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:47 AM
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I'm so grateful that people mention it when Henley posts, because there's no way I'd wade through his blog nowadays.

You don't like reading post after post of a physics professor complaining about being surrounded by idiots?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:47 AM
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Robocop. Or at least his software developer.
I think we're relatively low for food, although I'm sure I'm missing spot purchases here and there. But we spend about $100/week at Costco (although that often includes some non-food items) plus maybe $60 at Trader Joes, plus say $20 at farmer's markets, picking up a fresh bread, etc. So for a family of 6 $800/month at most, although the baby doesn't eat very much yet.
I buy lunch 1-2 times a week at work but I'd put that in the eating out category.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:49 AM
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126: as opposed to his "Algorithms, 4e", and/or trying to catch up to this class?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:50 AM
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I am parsing progrofficer as prog rock officer. Policing volume or quality?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:51 AM
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The former surely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:55 AM
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"Do you know why I pulled you over? Your song is only four minutes long, and this is a fifteen-minute zone."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 11:58 AM
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130. Sedgewick lays material out IMO very clearly, nice blend of examples and generalization, hard to find in people writing about CS. Don't know the other author. Good luck


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:05 PM
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I'm reminded of an exercise we did in home ec in middle school. We were given a supermarket flyer and told that we had to plan a weekly food budget for a family of four with $25 ($45 in 2013 dollars.) The food had to cover all the food groups. Everyone decided the best deal was to buy frozen pepperoni pizzas for every meal since that met the criteria.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:06 PM
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||
Does anyone have experience buying Adobe software and getting a nonprofit discount? Their site is the most CONFUSING THING EVAR!!!

Sigh.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:12 PM
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128: I want to make a joke about essear, but I think it'll come off as too mean.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:17 PM
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Get this: Somebody BUTTED IN LINE AHEAD OF ME on the Adobe customer service chat queue! How the fuck does that even work?!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:23 PM
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They paid 4000 CreativeSweets to jump the line (5000 for $10!). You thought you were in a skill game, but you were really in a money game.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:27 PM
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136: Witt would be the person to ask, I guess.

Oh, and I would never try to do a chat queue to get my questions answered. Silly you, Natilo. (Teasing - don't they have a real-people telephone line? Or no?)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:31 PM
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139: I was actually going to make that joke, but I couldn't figure out what would be funny.

140: I have had mixed results with them in the past -- usually only try out of desperation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:32 PM
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134: According to the intro to A4e, "Sedgewick's current Algorithms in C/C++/Java, Third Edition is more appropriate as a reference or a text for an advanced course; this book [A4e] is specifically designed to be a textbook for a one-semester course for first- or second-year college students and as a modern introduction to the basics and a reference for use by working programmers." So I think I'll stick with A4e, especially since I already acquired an unlicensed copy of the ebook a few months back when I intended to take Sedgewick's Coursera Algorithms class.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:34 PM
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Bat signal has been put out to Witt.

In the meantime, do you know: if you put an ice cube in a cat's water dish (because it's very hot, you know), the cat will become fascinated by the bobbing cube, and dip his paws repeatedly in the dish, trying to capture the cube, now melting, and while he would never voluntarily dip his feet in water in normal circumstances, here he will will gladly keep at it with wet paws and all. He's trying to bite it.

This is one of the greatest things I've witnessed in a long time. Really it's just good for him to cool off his feet.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:42 PM
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Cats: not too smart. In other cat-related news, the neighborhood feral cat colony has exploded to the point that there were six! cats sleeping in my front yard this morning.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:46 PM
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This thread is making me think I might have the dubious distinction of paying more for housing than any other unfoggeder who lives alone.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:52 PM
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137 128: I want to make a joke about essear, but I think it'll come off as too mean.

I'm sorry. I know I complain too much.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:53 PM
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Have you considered getting a cat?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:53 PM
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Only if the cat had an income.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:54 PM
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And given Nathan and SP's comments, it looks like I would never be able to afford to have a kid.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:55 PM
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149: Kids don't typically have much income either.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 12:57 PM
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And if they do, and the income is from movies, California has laws about how much of it their parents can spend.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:05 PM
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146: Don't apologize. If you can't vent by making thinly anonymized, potentially career damaging remarks about your coworkers here, where can you?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:09 PM
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144: Cats: not too smart.

I beg your pardon! How on earth is the cat to know what an ice cube is? The next time you stalk and capture a bird, I'll listen to how smart you are, smart boy.

Whew.

We're -- my bookshop -- is trying to finalize a $3000 sale to some guy at Yale who seems slightly nutty. It's mostly amusing, but man, his FB page shows friends who are, um, eastern European women in provocative poses, but also shows people who are clearly family members. Maybe that's just one way people interact with FB.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:11 PM
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thinly anonymized, potentially career damaging remarks about your coworkers here

You make it sound so... um, well, I guess that's exactly what it is. I should stop doing that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:19 PM
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152. The Hip hop beef tradition: dissing colleagues in song is a good way to escalate. ALternately, workplace theatrical events with thinly veiled satirical performance. Really, anything that lets the sucker MC hear about his weak flow and tired rhymes.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:33 PM
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Somebody BUTTED IN LINE AHEAD OF ME on the Adobe customer service chat queue!

No butts, no cuts, no coconuts


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:45 PM
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||

Off Topic: I love the wikipedia example explaining a Single Transferable Vote system.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 1:57 PM
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||

In the last 24 hours I've received three emails from different people that contain sentences ending with no punctuation except the letter "J" in a context where a smiley face or wink might not be unexpected. Is this a new thing now? "J" as emoticon? Did it just start, like, yesterday?

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 2:28 PM
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I think "J" may be short for the Spanish equivalent of "LOL", which is "jajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 2:36 PM
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I've seen emails composed in formatted text turn smiley faces into "J"s in unformatted text.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 2:39 PM
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136: I use TechSoup.org but honestly I do find their website/order process terribly frustrating. The only thing that makes it worth while is that the prices are SO good. We would honestly never ever be able to afford the software we have at my job if we didn't have TS.

159 and 160 are both true IME.

and +1 to Eggplant's comment about Henley.

There is definitely something wrong when you go on vacation to Arizona in July and it is much cooler than Pennsylvania. Like, 12 degrees cooler (and of course way less humid). But I'm not complaining. YAY VACATION.


Posted by: Wtt | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 2:54 PM
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158. Yeah. And that is probably on your mail client.

If you are using Outlook, at the top of your message there may be a banner that says the message has been changed to plain text. Right click and choose Display as HTML. You'll see the smiley and any other formatting that the conversion dropped.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 3:07 PM
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read as much of Sedgewick's Algorithms in C as you can before getting dropped into problem solving.

Or maybe Kleinberg and Tardos' "Algorithm Design"? I haven't read it, but it seems to have a nice problem-solving approach. What I remember of Sedgewick is an unhealthy obsession with sorting and searching.

And you totally can become a programmer for Robocop!


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 3:47 PM
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Now Facebook has decided to show me an ad for a $3200/month apartment. Is it reading this thread? My rent isn't that high, Facebook.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:13 PM
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It's fucking absurd that the walk-up price for a London to Oxford ticket, travelling in peak hours, is something like 2 - 3 times the cost of driving.

I'm sure the conversation has moved on, but this has really kept me from exploring London in any real way* since even non-peak hour train trips are incredibly expensive. We'd drive, but parking costs are even more exorbitant.

*On reflection, that, and not having two days off in a row.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:14 PM
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even non-peak hour train trips are incredibly expensive.

Is this all Thatcher's fault, or no?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:21 PM
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||Slate accuses The Atlantic of slatepitching|>


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:46 PM
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161.1: We're on TechSoup, but they're all out of Adobe.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 4:59 PM
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re: 165

Off-peak trains can be half the price of peak tickets. Depending where you are travelling from there may be a decent bus service, too. The Oxford bus to London is OK, for example.

re: 166

Probably.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 5:27 PM
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This thread is making me think I might have the dubious distinction of paying more for housing than any other unfoggeder who lives alone.

Quite possible. Does unimaginative live alone?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:17 PM
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145: the best candidates I can think of are Halford and Josh but I'm not sure either of them lives alone technically. nosflow?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:33 PM
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161: What part of Arizona?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:42 PM
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172: Somewhere not Phoenix, if it's cooler than PA. I'm guessing Flagstaff.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:58 PM
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168: Argh, that's so annoying. My sympathies.

171: Tucson. It just poured rain in the midst of sunshine, and now there's a rainbow.

Later on I'm going to Payson (?) or maybe Payton?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 6:58 PM
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I recently turned down the chance to move to Tucson.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:04 PM
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174: Huh, interesting. Tucson's not a place known for being cooler than anywhere, of course. Payson will be totally different, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:14 PM
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I always liked Tuscon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:21 PM
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What about Tucson?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:46 PM
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I used to live alone in a studio apartment for $1400 per month. That did include utilities, though.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 7:54 PM
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For two people we pay about $1900 for rent, $1000 - 2000 for food including meals out and drinks. Probably 400 on transport, most of the rest is much smaller but adds up to another thousand or so at a guess.

I often think we spend too much on food, but can't imagine e changes needed to really shift it, we cook a lot with fresh produce, like real cheeses, tend to buy from local producers.


Posted by: Dee Lurking | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:09 PM
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174, 176: Today 96 in Philly, 98 Tucson, Yestrday 94 Philly, 92 Tucson (normal high is 100, so relatively "cool" ). Big difference of course is dewpoints in the low 50s versus low 70s back east.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:20 PM
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I rocked it in grad school- I bought into the real estate market relatively low (1999) so I was paying a modest sized mortgage (maybe $700 including taxes) instead of rent. Then, because I had an outside fellowship, when I was teaching in years 1-2 I got to keep the teaching stipend on top of my fellowship so I was making in the $30s. Then when I graduated and sold my apartment near the peak I made $100k profit (which I unfortunately plowed right back into a larger place near the peak- should have rented for a few years.)
There was another guy in the lab who had two kids while still in school and they qualified for SNAP. Grad school poor indeed.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:26 PM
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I may have the highest student loan payments. My rent's not that low but I've never had this much space to myself. The only issue is no AC. I started to install a window unit yesterday but the window sashes see, too wide for the top clamp thingy to work. So I'm going to return it. I'm getting by, with window fans, but it's tough. And before anyone says anything about sleeping, I'm not having trouble with that. The trouble is anything that involves motion while conscious.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:32 PM
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Let "seem" be finale of "see,"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:33 PM
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Get one of those rolling ones where just the vent attaches to the window.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:35 PM
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185: I was just going to say. Was at someone's place recently and it seemed to work quite well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:36 PM
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186: The one they owned that is; I didn't bring one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:37 PM
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I'm thinking about it, but last place I rented I used the one the guy I was renting from had and I didn't think it worked well enough to justify the noise. I think I'm just going to muddle through the summer. Or die.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:39 PM
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Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places but the quality ones I've seen online aren't cheap and my budget is going to other things.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:42 PM
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178: fuck no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:43 PM
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179: Yikes, we pay less than that for a six-bedroom house, though I suppose with all the utilities and insurance we're higher some months. The girls' YMCA camp is $350/week or so for the two of them, but comparing our expenses always feels like cheating because the state will reimburse quite a bit of that and Nia gets free lunch even in the summer while she's in foster care. It's annoyng that water and sewer fees are each 30-40/month and that we have to pay to recycle, though we do it anyway, but the reason we're here is that the cost of living is low and this conversation has really driven that home yet again.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 8:45 PM
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I just discovered that in some places there's a meter you can put on your outflow so they bill you only for sewer you actually use. Typically they assume water in equals water out, so they bill sewer based on water meter readings. Basically if you have a garden or lawn you're getting fucked. I don't know if we can do it here but my in-laws just had one installed and their sewer bill dropped several hundred per month, cost of installing the meter was ~$1500 so paid off in a few summer months.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 9:23 PM
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I've never even heard of metered sewer. Water is of course metered but our sewer is flat rate, like 25 bucks a month.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:25 PM
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Here both water and sewer are metered for commercial and multifamily residential, and flat-rate for single-family residential.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-13 10:50 PM
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There's a huge outcry on the neighborhood listserv at the moment because the sewer district decided that rather than monitoring specific use every month, they'll do it based on your use in October-December last year, so everyone who had relatives in for Thanksgiving or Christmas is livid. If you have a problem with their bill, they'll do some sort of analysis to tell you whether the problem is a leak, but apparently they always claim there's no leak. Ours didn't change significantly (and there are people with smaller families being charged three times as much as we are, though maybe they're also clean families or something) and so I haven't gotten too caught up in the complaints.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 3:14 AM
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When it comes to utilities, PDBS is like Ezra Klein's wet dream. Our residential water rates are graduated - modest up to the level of a normal family's consumption, then sharply increased for heavy users (i.e. swimming pools or extensive irrigated grounds). Residential lawn irrigation systems require a permit, which specifies that the system has to incorporate a moisture sensor and automatic cutoff switch (so that it won't run when it rains). You get unlimited recycling pickup for semiannual fee, but every bag or barrel of trash costs extra. Oh, and that's for the public option (which itself is contracted out to a private vendor); you can also opt out and use your own private contractor. The town-controlled electrical utility subsidizes solar panels and has a feed-in tariff. It's like municipal government by Brad DeLong (except for one controversial environmental policy that I suspect the good professor would oppose).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:40 AM
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Speaking of utilities, City Hall recently informed me that someone else had closed my water account and taken over the bill. I'm guessing it's the sub-letting undergrads who moved into the big main house in front of my little house (both houses share a single connection to the main), and I'm also guessing they don't realize they're paying for my water. Consequently: free water!

(No, not really. I'll go talk to the sub-letting undergrads. But last time I talked to them they were disappointed I wasn't the Comcast guy, so I'll have to work up to it.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 4:40 AM
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Tell them you'll be there between two and five, show up at seven, and don't fix anything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 5:33 AM
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I don't think our sewer even appears as a separate item on the bill. Supply is either flat rate or metered, depending where you live, and the price per unit is calculated to cover the rest of the service.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 5:53 AM
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Our sewer is the big problem because poop gets in the rivers when it rains a bunch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:02 AM
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197: But last time I talked to them they were disappointed I wasn't the Comcast guy

Don't be fatuous, Stanley.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:14 AM
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Our sewer is the big problem because poop gets in the rivers when it rains a bunch.

Dual-use drains for sewage and stormwater! The ultimate in penny-wise, pound-foolish municipal service provision! PDBS, as might be expected, has completely separate systems. (Every capital expenditure in the town budget seems to come with a helpful explanation that the asset in question "Costs a bit more in the construction phase, but will pay for itself in lower operating costs down the road." Which illustrates the truism that it costs a lot to be poor, whether collectively or individually. Thus re-establishing relevance to the OP.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:25 AM
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Back when the drains were built, putting shit in the river was water treatment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:29 AM
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It took the edge off the industrial pollution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:43 AM
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Our city is undergoing an extensive project to split the sewage and stormwater. Plumbers are going in to every single residence and installing separate pipes to the storm drains for downspouts and sumps. All expenses paid by the city. But when they come in I have to move all the crap in the basement to the middle of the room to give them 3 feet of access to all walls so I still get to complain about it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:44 AM
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Speaking of crap in the basement, we did have our combined line get blocked last year- some previous owner had left the cap off the clean out trap and eventually rocks and dirt filled it in- so I had a puddle of shit appear every time someone flushed a toilet or took a shower. I was very happy with my investment in a shopvac that day.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:45 AM
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Our city is undergoing an extensive project to split the sewage and stormwater. You can't sell a house that doesn't have them separated and have to fix the connection to the main at your own expense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:45 AM
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Also, if you get a rain barrel, you'll make various clean-river people happy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:04 AM
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If they aren't too fecal-focused to experience any joy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:13 AM
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The clean-river people also enjoy permeable driveways. And I hope that's about water drainage also, but I'm afraid to ask.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:42 AM
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Depending where you are travelling from there may be a decent bus service, too. The Oxford bus to London is OK, for example

Yeah, I almost always get the bus when I go to Oxford. It's way cheaper, especially if the trip is for a night or more. And given the relative locations of the stops/stations within the cities, it usually takes about the same time overall.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:57 AM
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This reminds me that I want to get a utility sink in the basement, but hooking up a drain to it will involve the sump pump plumbing, which is illegally draining into the regular sewer. On the other hand it never actually gets wet enough to run the pump, even in some of the torrential downpours of the last couple of years.

Also, I'm toying with the idea of spending money on a commercial kitchen-style sink and rinse faucet rather than whatever Lowes or Home Depot will sell me as a utility sink.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:58 AM
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Don't drain a sink into a sump. If it is going into whatever the sump pumps into, you're probably o.k.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:04 AM
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How many thumps can a sump pump whump?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:05 AM
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Assuming the sump isn't emptied into a pickle jar or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:05 AM
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212- Are you opening a dog grooming business in your basement?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:14 AM
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We had a utility sink in our basement that we used mostly for giving the dog a bath. Then the dog died.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:16 AM
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216: sysadmin grooming.

Or alternately carboy washery.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:17 AM
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sysadmin grooming.
That's such a bad business proposal I'm wondering if Curt Schilling is an investor.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:28 AM
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Sysadmin grooming sounds more like a recruitment strategy for luring young IT students into depraved practices.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:47 AM
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81. The lunacy that is the London property market, illustrated.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:50 AM
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Right, I don't want to drain the sink into the sump, but I will need to get a similar kind of pump to pump from the sink's drain up to the level of the main drain, like the sump pump does. The obvious-ish thing is to pipe the sink into where the sump pump connects and at the same time re-pipe the sump pump somewhere legal.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:25 AM
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Last night has me thinking I might need to rethink my hesitance to spend more for AC. Fans don't help when the outside air doesn't cool.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:32 AM
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Depending where you are travelling from there may be a decent bus service, too. The Oxford bus to London is OK, for example

Thanks for the tip. I haven't looked into the bus from my town to London, but I will now.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:45 AM
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Also, if you are getting the train, definitely look into off-peak travel [usually after 9:30, ish] and super-off-peak [usually later again].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:47 AM
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223: Oh yes, I do this as a matter of course. Even a super off-peak return ticket is over £20. I am sure that is close to the true cost of getting there but for a city only an hour away, it feels like a lot to my American sensibilities (and limited budget at the moment).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:56 AM
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Um, 225. But to 223: Get an AC. You'll be happier.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:57 AM
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Our city is undergoing an extensive project to split the sewage and stormwater.

Neat.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 11:20 AM
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The city of Victoria, Canada still flushes its untreated sewage directly into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 12:03 PM
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The city of Victoria, Canada still flushes its untreated sewage directly into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As memorialized in the band name of the Clover Point Drifters

We take our name from a magnificent point of land that overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca near "Mile Zero" in Beacon Hill Park, the first marker on a trek from Canada's west coast to the east.

Oh . . . and that's where our sewage pumping station delivers its load to the ocean.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 12:05 PM
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this has really kept me from exploring London in any real way*

It really shouldn't. Get an Oyster card, use buses (£2 for most things) and vastly better fares within London (half the tube cash fare), including on the trains. Use the Overground (municipal-run trains, a bit obscure, hugely cheaper and covering some routes that don't get served other ways).

If by London you mean Britain, however...on the main rail system, well, expensive. Or are you talking about getting into town in the first place?

166: not Thatcher, John Major and the permanent-government.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 12:41 PM
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Meanwhile, I'm in the freie und Hansestadt Hamburg and boy, is it bürgerlich.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 12:42 PM
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the sewer district decided that rather than monitoring specific use every month

One of the services we offer to commercial property owners is to check their usage versus what the sanitation district is charging them as a direct assessment on the property tax. The sanitation district has been vastly overcharging most people, but there is a rebate if you know how to apply.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 12:56 PM
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This gaff has separate water meters for each room in which there is running water, one each for cold water and for city hot water. Nothing internet-of-things-ish, just a water meter, spinning wildly as the cistern refills.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 1:06 PM
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231: Yes, it's the getting to London in the first place that is at issue. I adore riding public transit in big cities (to the bemusement of family and friends) so once there I'm good with the various options. (Though I haven't been on the Overground; will have to check it out.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 1:52 PM
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Probably unsurprisingly, 235 was me.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 1:54 PM
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234: also neat.

Not quite tangential: _Cooking in a Bedsit_ was recommended to me here, and has been very useful during an extended kitchen remodel. I even have a square of linoleum to protect the floor.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 2:13 PM
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The thing I always notice on the Overground, and I don't use it that often [Acton to Hampstead, sometimes], is how big and pleasant the trains are compared to the Underground.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 2:31 PM
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From someplace completely else, a (furnished, plastered, plumbed, heatable) 19th c castle for the same rent as 2BR in London. Presumably this kind of comparison is a mainstay of UK slow day news?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 2:42 PM
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Update: Every store in the area I've asked has been out of freestanding air conditioners for a while.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:31 PM
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Related to the London thread, I thought I'd go to NYC more often, but it's more expensive than I thought it would be and 2 hours each way.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:35 PM
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240: Have you tried looking for the kind that goes in windows?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:42 PM
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The kind that I just returned owing to window-not-being-readiness?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:54 PM
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That sounds very zen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:56 PM
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"When the window is ready, the air conditioner will appear."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 6:57 PM
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I was afraid that, like water, the air conditioner in the window would naturally seek the lowest level.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:03 PM
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The weather people claim this heat wave will break on Saturday. So there's that to look forward to.

But really, there's gotta be a way to rig up a window unit. Maybe if you posted photos of the window to the Flickr group, we could come up with implausible suggestions.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:08 PM
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248: The heat wave repair mechanic is the least popular repair mechanic.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:09 PM
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whoops - 248 to 247.1


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:10 PM
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Meanwhile, I'm in the freie und Hansestadt Hamburg and boy, is it bürgerlich.

No gangs of junkies surrounding the train station any more?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:12 PM
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Oh, I'm sure there are ways of installing a window unit. I could call my landlord and see what they say. Many of the other apartments here have window units. It's even possible that the one I tried was fine, but I just don't know how ill-fitting they can be and still be ok. I'd definitely need to drill some holes to make the set up match the instructions, though.

Really, if the temperature stays under 90 during the day and gets into the 70s at night, I'm fine. But my window fans have thermostats and the last three days, if they're to be believed, the indoor temp has exceeded 100 in the late afternoon.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:16 PM
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I don't think there's a way to safely install a window unit without drilling a hole in something. What was going to hold it otherwise?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:18 PM
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Eagles.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:21 PM
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According to google, people just put sticks above the sash to jam it down.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:23 PM
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252: really? Ours are held in place by the upper sash. Seems safe enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:23 PM
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the indoor temp has exceeded 100 in the late afternoon.

Ow. (Also, fan death.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:24 PM
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Which, sure, but that would seem to be likely to make more noticeable damage than a screw.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:24 PM
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255: I've never seen a window that small or an air conditioner that big.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:25 PM
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255: Right. I don't know if the sashes are unusually thick on these windows (IYKWIM) or if the clampy piece on the unit I tried is narrow, but it definitely didn't fit around the whole sash and wouldn't make a clean fit into the open area in the middle of the sash. And given the weight of the thing, I'm not sure I could have clamped the sash down while steadying it by myself, anyway.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:28 PM
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I've never lived in a place with a window unit of any kind. At least not installed at the time I lived there. I stayed in a place where there was a window unit to be installed when needed, but I moved out before summer.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:30 PM
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Ours are literally just held in place by lowering the sash so it overlaps the flange on the inside top of the unit. No sticks, no holes in things. Just the window halfway closed to keep the air conditioner from falling out. This is how I have always known them to be installed. Am I just dealing with particularly small air conditioners or something?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:31 PM
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259: It really would be better to have somebody with you when installing it. Dropping it is kind of a big deal, especially if your window is near a sidewalk and above the first floor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:32 PM
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261: Gravity stays pretty constant, so I guess you'll be O.K.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:33 PM
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(Also, fan death.)

Fortunately, the windows are open. But I was thinking about my apartment as I read that post.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:34 PM
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Fan death.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:40 PM
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If Essear comes by, somebody have him check 263.1 because it's not my area.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 7:42 PM
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Fan death.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:04 PM
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Panned teff.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:09 PM
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261 is my experience. There are places you can drill and/or install screws to make it more secure, but it's only making it secure against the sash being lifted accidentally.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:10 PM
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261 is how mine are installed too. The instructions called for drilling holes and screwing it into the sash, but I wasn't sure if my landlord would charge me for holes in the window sash when I move out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:27 PM
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First you get the holes in the sash, then you get the money, then you get the women.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 8:37 PM
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241 I thought I'd go to NYC more often, but it's more expensive than I thought it would be and 2 hours each way.

Should I know where you live now? I somehow missed that you were on the east coast.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:07 PM
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We have 3 as described in 261. One is a heavy one that sticks out over the porch so I built a crappy wooden support to help hold it up from outside.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:36 PM
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Oh yay my weather alert was just updated to extend the heat advisory for another day. I'm on the third floor, so even though I'm not right next to a sidewalk, I'm pretty hesitant to put in an unstable AC installation. The unit I decided not to try wasn't even that big, but the weight was pretty uneven and it was still nearly 50 pounds. This also happens to be the top floor, so it's extra hot.

272: I don't know about "should" but I haven't been making much effort to obscure or announce the general location. I did more or less reveal that I was on the east coast when talking about the Unfoggedwhateverwesettledoncon because it would have been cost and possibly time-prohibitive for me to go if I hadn't already been in the east.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-18-13 9:51 PM
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