Do Schools ‘Require’ Helicopter Parenting?

by saacnmama

Teacher sends father a stern note scolding him for his daughter’s ‘unhealthy’ pack lunch of ‘chocolate, marshmallows, a cracker and a pickle’ – unfortunately for the school, dad’s a doctor

We’ve had lots of sideline chatter about “requirements” to be helicopter parents recently. If we want to bring it front and center, this is as good a starting place as any.


231 thoughts on “Do Schools ‘Require’ Helicopter Parenting?

  1. Both of these are examples of over reach by “authorities” and the government.

    Why does this happen? Is it after decades of suburban living some people in positions of power feel we have become so unskilled as a species as to be able to walk through that same suburbia a whole mile even at the age of 10? (btw was it because one of the kids in Milo’s article was only 6 that CPS got involved?). Is it because we have so many police they need to find something to do in low crime areas?

    Though our town is a suburb, second ring, I truly cannot imagine one of our county deputy sheriffs (no town police force) stopping a 10 and 6 yo walking home, assuming there wasn’t some obvious threat of peril to them.

    As to the lunch, I agree with the parents, and it probably would have driven me to provide even more inappropriate lunches for my kid(s) had I received such a note.

  2. I think in both cases your have a certain type of busybody nutter. I’m almost certain that the teacher who sent the note is a gluten free, non-gmo, pink Tibetan sea salt, food nut. In the case of the couple in Maryland, the person who reported the kids to the police is likely a safety nut, convinced that in every car is a drunk driver and behind every tree is some predator ready to pounce.

  3. I’m curious if this rings more true for private vs. public, as well between totebaggy and nontotebaggy. I have a story about a grandfather who received a letter from his grandchild’s private school indicating that one of the jokes he said was repeated by the grandchild in school and that this behavior cannot be tolerated. The teacher requested he contact her for further discussion. The grandfather ignored the letter. For the record, the joke was a pun on the teachers’ name (and not an vulgar nor racist). To me, that seems a bit of a reach to try to reprimand the extended family.

  4. Darn, Milo, I just sent that to CoC as its own topic! But we can discuss if you want.

    The preschool I send the kids to absolutely takes stuff out of their lunch if it looks too much like candy (like a chocolate granola bar) or if it is suspected of having nuts. I am surprised that a public school cares so much – probably one particular busy-body. If Rhett were in charge, assuming no union restrictions, he would fire all the dead weight!

  5. I would love to hear so done chime in who is a bit more fluent in legalese, but I think the slate article (and the parent) really misunderstand the meaning of the word “unsubstantiated”. I also understand that they may have a record with CPS, but that is not a public ally accessible record of abuse (I.e. Not discoverable by a background check, google search).

  6. “I am surprised that a public school cares so much”

    Well, the school doesn’t care. Everyone apologized to the parents. It’s just some crazy substitute teacher, which is kind of funny, in a way.

    The Maryland case is more worrisome.

  7. Rhett, people can be just as dogmatic about “a meat, a veg; & a starch” as others are about the things you mention. I’m a GMO & gluten free vegetarian, but it would never occur to me to tell someone else what they should be eating. I buy (freerange) chicken & (grassfed) beef for my son. If he wants to drop them from his diet, it’ll be his choice.

  8. If Rhett were in charge, assuming no union restrictions, he would fire all the dead weight!

    Well, in their defense, being a good first grade teacher and being a nut isn’t mutually exclusive.

  9. but it would never occur to me to tell someone else what they should be eating.

    Because you’re not also a busybody.

    Rhett, people can be just as dogmatic about “a meat, a veg; & a starch” as others are about the things you mention.

    Oh, I totally agree. I’ve mentioned before friends of friends who are dangerously overweight and their kids are dangerously overweight but they are militantly opposed to any efforts to be healthy. Someone here mentioned the red peppers, hummus and watered down OJ type parents and to these people they are deliriously opposed to that kind of parenting.

  10. speaking of packed lunches, I’ve been very impressed with Campbells’ new line of “Slow Kettle Style” soups (non-concentrated, individual portions). I’ve had the crab and corn chowder and the New England clam chowder. Although I don’t know what a “slow kettle” is; maybe it’s like “slow churned” ice cream.

  11. My risk question of the day is whether it’s OK to take kids to the children’s resale shop that shares a wall with the medical marijuana establishment and so sometimes has strong marijuana odors- the store posted today that they’re rearranging to limit the marijuana odor in the children’s section. I don’t shop there much myself, but few stores in a college town sell moderately priced children’s clothes so lots of locals shop at the resale shop. (No Old Navy, Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, mall with children’s stores, etc. due to zoning/lack of demand in a college town.)

  12. WCE – I wouldn’t think twice about taking them. Maybe they will all be nice and chill later in the day :)

  13. I just re-read my 10:54 response. So many mistakes! Responds not response. Add a comma to the last sentence. Sorry.

  14. I made it to page 2 of DCUM. Apparently I’m trailer trash. Yikes.
    On the original post, at least once a year I complain to a school that if they’re going to reward the kids who have helicopter parents, they really can’t complain about having helicopter parents.

  15. Cat – Oh for the love of Christ, these comments:

    “Are gogurts considered processed? It’s yogurt, just in a tube…

    Well, they have ingredients that aren’t great: modified corn starch (likely GMO), artificial colors like red #40, carrageenan. Non organic milk used to make the yogurt, so they likely come from cows treated with antibiotics and hormones. ”

    and even the people who think they are the balanced and moderate ones are just insufferably obsessed with food:

    “Eh–Doesn’t sound that bad to me. Seems heavy on the protein (peanut butter/yoghurt/milk) and carbs, but besides needing some fiber and vitamins/minerals from a serving or two of veggies (fruit will give the finer but also more sugar) there is nothing that is awful about the lunch.”

  16. When I was in first grade, my teacher sent home a note to my mother stating that if she could not provide a whole sandwich for me for lunch, that I could be eligible for free/reduced lunch. My mom sent me a half sandwich because that is how much I ate along with whatever else was in there. My mom was insulted, but is non-confrontational, so she sent me a whole sandwich every day for the rest of the year even though I brought half home each day.

    Places I have felt my kids’ schools or other organizations have pushed us to helicopter:
    1. Check the kids homework and have them correct it before turning it in. I never minded checking that they did it or helping them if needed, but this seemed like I was doing the teacher’s work. Also, the teacher didn’t know what they got wrong and if you didn’t comply, then if you said anything about the kid’s grade the teacher would say well they should all have 100 on their homework, while quietly implying it was your fault your kid’s grade was low.
    2. Sending everything electronically to parents so that kids do have to be responsible. In general, if my kid wants to go on the field trip, to have a yearbook, or participate in Valentine’s Day, she needs to be the one to say – Mom, I want X and I need you to do Y by Z date for that to happen. Granted, this is for older kids, but many groups don’t start out with small things so by MS the kids are responsible.
    3. The threat of calling CPS if you do any number of unacceptable things that were “normal” when we were kids. I do some of these things anyway, but the thought always crosses my mind!

  17. I would be in trouble if my school district checked anything except banned foods due to peanut or tree nut allergies. MY DD is a terrible eater, and I take full responsibility. I wish I had listened to many of you on TOS about kids menus, and just eating kid foods. I received the same advice from my ped…don’t let them just eat kid menu items. It is tough to transition from a very limited diet once a child reaches tween years. I try to send a healthy lunch, but it isn’t balanced.

    I DO think there are some things that teachers, or lunch monitors should watch for – such as no lunch or missing lunch. Some families don’t know they are eligible for free or reduced lunch, or they might be too embarrassed to sign up if very few kids qualify. for example, the annual “by the numbers” was recently published in a magazine about the county. According to their stats, no kids qualify for free lunch in CoC and MM town, but a single digit % qualify in my town.

  18. On the DCUM board – oh my word. That is unbelievable.I had no idea there was so much hatred for PB&J.

  19. Lauren,

    Most children who are picky eaters will grow out of it. They start trying new foods during the early school years because of peer pressure. The voracious appetite during the teen years also increases the willingness to experiment. If you try to force your child to eat a food he doesn’t like, he may gag or even vomit. Forced feedings always interfere with the normal pleasure of eating and eventually decreases the appetite. Learning to accept new foods should not be expected before the teenage years.

  20. This makes me think about my best friend in high school who would just eat four snacks from the vending machine every day for lunch. I think one might have been a fruit roll up, one was pb crackers and the other two varied depending on her mood. The DCUM people would be appalled. She was very slim, but this was back in the day when we could choose what we wanted to eat and there were vending machines in the cafeteria.

    Anyway, I do get judgey about what other people feed their kids but would never say anything about it and don’t believe that it’s the school’s or other parents’ job to opine on what someone else’s kid is eating. I also get irritated about the stuff my oldest DD’s school teaches them about nutrition but I can’t imagine them sending a note home about the nutritional content of someone’s lunch.

  21. “Some families don’t know they are eligible for free or reduced lunch, or they might be too embarrassed to sign up if very few kids qualify.”

    I could understand that from the parents’ perspective, but unlike when I was in school, our kids never actually have “lunch money.” We just pre-load their accounts and they enter a code at the register to debit their purchases. With this system, I don’t think there’s any way for kids to know whose accounts are pre-loaded, and whose accounts are covered by the state.

    I think if I pack lunches tonight, I’m going to make PB and Fluff sandwiches. Let me see if I can post something to that effect on DCUM.

  22. “I also get irritated about the stuff my oldest DD’s school teaches them about nutrition but I can’t imagine them sending a note home about the nutritional content of someone’s lunch.”

    What do you say/how do you handle strange/wrong/bizarre nutrition education coming home from the school? All of my kids’ P.E. teachers have taken it on themselves to dispense “healthy” eating advice. One teacher told the kids they should eat lots of saturated fats. Another told the kids that people were not getting enough of a specific type of nutrient because they had to wash their produce so much to get the pesticides off.

    I have just gotten to the point of saying that we all know that Mr. X really doesn’t know that much about nutrition, keep an innocuous look on your face and just don’t engage. What do you guys do?

  23. “I could understand that from the parents’ perspective, but unlike when I was in school, our kids never actually have “lunch money.” We just pre-load their accounts and they enter a code at the register to debit their purchases. With this system, I don’t think there’s any way for kids to know whose accounts are pre-loaded, and whose accounts are covered by the state.”

    Kids know when pretty much only the kids who are on the free/reduced lunch program eat the school lunch.

  24. In my house, PB and fluff runs a close second to PB and Nutella (the food of the gods).

  25. I am done with trying to get one of my kids to eat a packed lunch. Actually waiting for next year when kid has access to a bunch of reasonably healthy choices from the school cafeteria and can choose what they want. My kids school says to avoid sending in candy and soda at lunch. I have been in compliance with this, so no issues. If schools want to police in minute detail, they should forbid home packed lunches and provide all students with the same menu at school.
    My kids are old enough to walk short distances home by themselves. They are also old enough to be left in the car by themselves while I do a quick store run. I had to pause and think on the weekend as DD had been crying over her tangled hair – I got impatient with the drama and l just did my store run. Now someone who saw her in the car, may have jumped to the conclusion that she was crying because she was alone.

  26. Oh yeah, schools expect helicopters, and then complain when they get what they asked for. Anecdata:

    — ES homework: I assumed the teachers assigned homework so they could review it and see what the kids were missing and fill in any gaps, especially where the whole class was missing something. I was informed that it was *my* job to check the homework every night and to provide remedial instruction for things they were missing.

    — ES math: I was directly informed at parent-teacher night that it was our responsibility to drill our kids in the multiplication tables, because they had all of one week to devote to the topic, but the kids still needed to know those “math facts.”

    — Every. Single. Project. Ever. My nephew was showing us recently his pictures of the dinner he made from XX country for school; all I could say was, “oh, so your school assigns parental homework, too?” DD’s most recent history project involved creating a website — did they learn to create a website in class? Hahahahaha.

    And yet:

    — When the kids forget to turn something in, there is zero teacher slack, because they are “teaching independence and responsibility”; any suggestion of, say, communication with the parent when there is an issue gets The Look (“oh, she’s THAT parent”). (I was going to say any suggestions without an IEP/504 plan, but from what I’ve heard, the same teachers consider those parents to be uber-hoverers who just know how to work the system).

    — For important stuff, like “what classes do you want to register for in HS,” I find out after the fact that the teachers are talking directly to my kid about whether she is interested in GT vs. AP, with absolutely no parental involvement whatsoever.

  27. Preschool has definitely sent home handbooks about no candy or sweets in the lunches — and that they will remove offending food (this has been more than one preschool). That makes a little more sense — harder for 3 year olds to understand while only some kids get cookies at lunch. My five-year old has had a rough time sorting through this at kindergarten — why does Theo’s mother always send him with a chocolate bar and she never gets one????

    I had an interaction with a patient this week who wanted to argue that it wasn’t fair he was having some joint pain. He was in his mid 60’s, and this was only surprising to him – he even angrily demanded — “What are you saying, the body just wears out over time???!! I was sorely tempted to answer him in very explicit detail. (YES. WE ARE ALL DYING). Anyway, he argued – he lived a clean life, he was not as fat as some people, he doesn’t drink and smoke, he doesn’t deskjob — it went on and on. I reflectively listened, tried to be patient and sympathetic and kept repeating, “It’s just not fair, is it? Wow, that’s really not fair. Just not fair”. Parenting a 5 year old has really improved my game.

  28. Cat – My oldest eats PB and nutella almost every day. .

    Murphy – I just reiterate what we believe to be the healthiest way to eat (fruits, veggies, meat/fish, nuts most of the time). I have the opposite problem – there’s a lot of emphasis on low fat foods which I believe are unhealthy, and they were teaching them to look at box labels for fat content. It will be interesting to see what the party line is next year now that the government is ok with saturated fat.

  29. Milo – there is a place near us that does a PB/Fluff sandwich and they butter the bread and grill it like grilled cheese. It is amazing!

  30. “only the kids who are on the free/reduced lunch program eat the school lunch.”

    That’s not the case at my kids’ school. And I eat lunch there sometimes.

  31. It will be interesting to see what the party line is next year now that the government is ok with saturated fat.

    And, cholesterol isn’t a thing anymore.

  32. I can’t do the food conversation. As to child supervision, I am ready to allow for lots of differences.

  33. A friend of my DD’s is on FRL at her public HS. The FRL is a “plate lunch” that is “balanced” nutrition as the program requires as it may be the only meal the child gets. The non FRL kids have a much wider selection in the cafeteria and very few eat the “plate lunch”. In contrast, when they were in private MS together the lunches were all the same – you basically either got the hot lunch or not, with a few exceptions made for allergies.

    However, this family wears the “we qualify” badge of honor. The mom is almost proud of everything her child can get free or reduced price. It is almost like those folks on TV who bought $500 in groceries, but only paid $5.

    My kids’ lunches are a mixed bag, in part because they make them themselves. Always have protein, but after that its iffy. One day DD#1 takes chicken and rice, another she takes ham lunch meat, an apple sauce and a pudding. No one has ever said a word. But, they like and eat a wide range of foods at home, but school lunch is short and not enough microwaves to heat up foods they’d prefer. School lunch is often hamburgers, pizza or lasagna, or breaded chicken parts that don’t appeal much to them.

  34. Ditto on the food issues. Our school now requires all “treats” to be pre-packaged, thus forcing everything to prepackaged cupcakes and Goldfish. So if they decide to turn around and give me grief about sending “processed” foods in my kids’ lunches, they can bite my shiny metal ass.

    My current bigger issue is that DS frequently comes home hungry from daycare, because they have moved to healthier snacks and so serve only fruit several days a week. DS has a major issue with fruit and other “gushy” stuff; we battled for several years until I realized it was doing more harm than good (this year has been a huge breakthrough: he will now eat apple slices (Honeycrisp) if they are cold and fresh enough). All of which puts me in the very weird position of wanting *less* healthy snacks. :-)

  35. I also detect a hint of upper middle class white women disordered eating sneaking into some of these discussions. You have your GL550 driving yummy mummies* who been obsessing over food since they were 11 and that obsession extends to what their kids are eating.

    * Like that actress that plays Claire on Modern Family, they have the look that says they are putting significant effort into forcing their weight significantly below it’s natural set point.

  36. Milo, I think it varies by school. In my current town, it would be difficult for the other kids to know because our whole system is automated, and the food is the same for all in the cafeteria. When I was a kid, ONLY the free or reduced lunch kids got the school lunch. Everyone else brought their lunch from home.

    Even the PTA does not know the names of the kids that it provides funds for – music instrument rentals, book fair money, costume money etc. One guidance counselor in each of our three schools have the names of the kids on free lunch. The guidance counselor works privately with the parents of those kids to see if they need funds for school supplies, book fair, halloween costume, music instrument rental or class trip. It is generally anything that might cost a little extra that the family might not be able to afford. They will contact the PTA and a check is written to directly to the person that purchased the goods on behalf of that family.

  37. I must really be trailer trash, because whenever I see the abbreviation “DCUM”, our nation’s capital is not anywhere near the first thing that springs to my mind.

    WCE, when my son’s hair is big, the only place to get hate for him is a head shop. In Florida, he’s not permitted on the premises, but we have bought them together in Ohio. No, the air doesn’t have the lovely sweet fragrance to which you refer, but many of the items for sale endorse a lifestyle in which we do not partake.

  38. I can’t comment rationally on this subject. I have been the recipient of so many notes about healthy lunches and parenting skills from school that I could just… well, I don’t know what I could do, but I’d do it. It really pisses me off because about half of the kids at that school and all the female teachers range from fluffy, to bovine to Michelin Man. The kid’s parents are generally thin, though, so I guess the focus is on gym memberships and personal trainers for the parents and healthy snacks and lunches for the kids.

  39. “I have been the recipient of so many notes about healthy lunches and parenting skills from school that I could just . . .”

    You know, this is the kind of thing that brings out my inner contrarian. If I had time/energy, I would be sorely tempted to read up on every study that is anti-whatever-the-school-is-promoting, and then to meet every comment/request with a very earnest plea/demand that they pay attention to the “real” science, which says that [insert favored item here] is killing us and that everyone needs to eat fresh honeycomb and coconut oil, etc. (the weirder and more earnest, the better) At the very least, I’d think people would leave you alone — there’s nothing like out-proselytizing the proselytizers to get them to shut up.

  40. Oh, man — the grilled cheese store near us makes a dessert grilled cheese with brie, raspberry jam, and chocolate chips. Freaking awesome.

    Nutella is also excellent bribery — works very well to convince DS to eat some other desired food first. :-)

  41. “Fluffy, to bovine, to Michelin Man” is even better than the Midwestern women broader than the barns that dot their lnasscape. Beautiful!

  42. PTM, is your son’s school religiously affiliated? I think you should send him with locusts and wild honey…

  43. WCE, he could just reply with the story about Peter’s dream, where the picnic on the tablecloth comes down from the sky & he can eat EVERYTHING.

  44. WCE, locusts would be okay if pre-wrapped in a bento box but anything with the word “honey” in it would be banned.

  45. L – have I shared my favorite snack (other than cheese, crackers, apples): really thick cashew butter with Nestle chocolate chips. It’s my own version of a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

    (And yes this is probably why I can’t lose these d@@! last 10 (who am I kidding 15) lbs.)

  46. I’m going to be a party pooper here and cut the people on that forum some slack. Chez nous, Gogurt is treated the same as ice cream, lucky charms, and gummy bears, because of the sugar content. Most people who know me don’t know that because I am indeed not a busybody (probably related to how quickly I can feel others are all up in my business). But if you were to ask me, I do have an opinion. If people in that conversation feel they are just responding to a writing prompt that asks them to find fault with the lunches, then they’re simply completing the assignment. Thoroughly.

  47. Articles on health benefits of honey, as per LfB’s comment, are easy to come by, particularly if the honey is local & the kid has any allergic tendencies. Would you like a fistful of them?

  48. Julie Bowen has chosen body over face, she just looks hungry.

    Saac, I feel the same about Gogurt but would keep my opinion to myself.

  49. Julie Bowen has chosen body over face, she just looks hungry.

    Neil Patrick Harris has the same issue. I have a friend who is the same age who does cross fit and he has that same look.

  50. I’d say the same about Phil (Claire’s husband). He is thin! And what is the real color of his face? It changes from shades of greenish yellow to overly tan or his makeup was applied to heavily.

  51. “Gogurt is treated the same as ice cream, lucky charms, and gummy bears, because of the sugar content.”

    OK, but then Stonybrook Farm Organic Blueberry Yougurt should be treated the same, too, since it has the same amount of sugar per mass. I just compared the first two I picked: blueberry gogurt and blueberry Stonybrook. What a GoGurt tube has going for it is that it is only 64 grams total, whereas the cup of Stonbrook Organic is 227 grams (and if you read the nutrition label, you’ll realize that it’s supposed to be four servings).

    So GoGurt is the same amount of sugar as the fancier organic, and it’s packaged in appropriate sized container. Win win.

  52. “Articles on health benefits of honey, as per LfB’s comment, are easy to come by, particularly if the honey is local”

    Local to whom?

  53. And when I say “the same amount of sugar” I mean same concentration. If you’re comparing a tube of Gogurt to a cup of Stonybrook organic, you’re actually getting 75% less sugar with the Gogurt.

  54. I have never purchased GoGurt, but all yogurt with fruit is pretty sugary. I think the greek kind is a bit better than ice cream and the other things because it does have a lot of protein, which kind of smooths out a glucose spike. But regardless, this isn’t an area that should cause a teacher to comment. If the child doesn’t have a lunch or each day eats on Pixy Stix and the like, sure. But a PB sandwich, yogurt and some crackers? No way. Teachers should focus on teaching.

  55. Rhett, I think the disordered eating yummy mummies are the crux of it, at least in my corner of Totebagland.

    Once after the children (including the newborn) and I were all hit by a flu virus and I couldn’t get to the store, I sent DD to school with a less-than-optimal lunch: chocolate pudding, a hi-c juice box, a string cheese, and some fruit snacks. She came home crying because the paraprofessional supervising lunch had scolded her.

    I was very close to calling the woman and suggesting she could either stop at trader joes for me or hold the feverish baby while I went.

    But I shut up after considering how many years I have left in the system unless I homeschool :)

    DD comes home with all sorts of nutrition fleas in her ear from the school, and I repeat : “are there kids in your class who weigh twice as much of you? Most of them? So eat the blasted cupcake, it’s not your problem.”

  56. Saac, it would be hard but I would really try. I’d probably try to be nice and say something along the lines of “oh we just buy plain yogurt.” Milo I agree with you on the GoGurt/Stoneyfield comparison, both are just junk food masquerading as health food.

  57. “it would be hard but I would really try” — Ditto. I say all sorts of stuff on here that I can only think IRL. At least, if I want to keep any friends. . . .

  58. “both are just junk food masquerading as health food.”

    Does that mean plain yogurt is the only acceptable yogurt now?

  59. “What do you say/how do you handle strange/wrong/bizarre nutrition education coming home from the school? All of my kids’ P.E. teachers have taken it on themselves to dispense “healthy” eating advice….

    What do you guys do?”

    What I hope I would do is to use it as a teaching moment. I would tell my kids that nutrition is not an exact science, and that ideas of what kinds of food are good for us and what are bad for us are evolving, so moderation is key, and that many types of food will provide sustenance and not kill them.

    I also hope I’d use it as an opportunity to teach them about having a healthy skepticism, and, in general, to consider the source.

    I’d also discuss the difference between “eat healthy” and “eat healthily,” and between “healthy” and “healthful.”

  60. I would say I don’t mean to quibble, but I actually do.

    A reasonable serving of yogurt is 227g (8 oz) – the nutrition facts you are referring to are for a quart container, which does has 32oz in it/4 servings.

    The Stoneyfield has 30g sugar/227g yogurt (13% by weight). The Gogurt has 12g sugar/64g yogurt (19%). The fat and protein concentrations are about the same (0.5% and 4% respectiviely).

    I am happy to see the federal nutrition standards change — maybe there will be a little less promotion of fat-free chocolate milk in schools. As Atlanta mentioned, I am much more concerned with my children’s sugar intake than I am with their fat intake.

    I buy the kids’s yogurt at Trader Joe’s — it is the only place I can find that has a reasonable amount of fat to go with the sugar mix — per 120g has 17g sugar, 6g fat and 4g protein (14%, 5%, 5%).

  61. My kids’ PE teacher likes to demonize sugar. Winning!

    I buy the kids the squeezy yogurts (like go gurt or the twisty top kind) and greek yogurt, no ‘regular’ yogurt. When they go to their cousins’ house they eat soy yogurt, which is (1) disgusting and (2) a giant sugar bomb. Blech!

  62. “Does that mean plain yogurt is the only acceptable yogurt now?” Most of the time yes. My kids like it and I am so nice that I let them drizzle honey on it.:)

    Ada’s right, it is really hard to find full fat yogurt without a ton of sugar in the regular grocery store. We buy a quart of full fat plain greek yogurt every week but the only place I can find it is Whole Foods.

  63. Growing up there was home made yogurt. It was something most families always had on hand. Even then kids got yogurt sweetened with sugar. There were kids who didn’t like sugar and added salt. So, you fell either in the sweet or salty camp. As you grew up you ate the plain version. One use of yogurt was lassi…

  64. Ada, I would love it if you’d comment here, or post on a separate day sometime, about your thoughts on paleo and modified paleo and other low carb strategies. The whole Wheat Belly thing — real or hype? In your opinion, is it best to just cut out refined sugar and non-whole grains and call it a day?

  65. My kindergartner did come home the other day saying that one of the kids at school likes to play “diet” at lunch. I asked what that meant –“Not eat sugar so you don’t get fat”. This is a class where not a single child is overweight (let alone obese). The child (a boy) has the heaviest mother in the class. Totally agree that this is about parents sharing their disordered eating.

  66. “The Stoneyfield has 30g sugar/227g yogurt (13% by weight). The Gogurt has 12g sugar/64g yogurt (19%). ”

    The Gogurt that I saw was 9 g / 64g, so 14%. That’s why I said it’s the same as the Stoneybrook.

  67. Why is Greek yogurt so popular ?

    It come across as more sophisticated than yoplait? It also has IIRC more protein so it tends to keep you fuller longer.

  68. When my kids come home with “nutrition” advice from the variety of others who try to influence their eating habits. Our family mantra – unless you have a diagnosed medical condition or a religious belief, nothing I have read and nothing your pediatrician has said precludes you from consuming anything in moderation. Eating a wide variety of foods across all categories of food is better than consuming large quantities of one type of food to the exclusion of others.

    To others, who tout a gluten-free lifestyle for all or any other across-the-board nutrition advice, like the mom who won’t let her kids have cake at a birthday party because is has too much sugar and basically accused me of child abuse by serving it, I say something along the lines of – Our family believes that any one meal or snack will not harm our children’s health or undermine their overall nutrution. Healthy eating is about eating a wide variety of foods day-in and day-out.

  69. I have been swayed by the paleo arguments. I believe that milk products, grains, legumes, some types of oil, concentrated sugars are sometimes bad for some people. Meaning, they induce inflammation, hormonal dysregulation (leading to overeating, weight gain, etc), allergenic responses, disrupt normal flora, etc. Not all people, not all of those foods.

    Ideally, I (and my family) would eat a diet of meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables. That is pretty impractical – for school lunch, for eating at a restaurant, birthday party, work event. The reality is that my kids eat pretty standard diet (more crackers and bread than I would like, but at least a decent amount of meat and vegetables). However, if we were dealing with significant health issues, I would clean up the diet before doing some other interventions.

  70. Milo, pretty funny of you to pick apart the example I gave of a thing I wouldn’t talk about unless someone were to silicate my opinion. Whatever yogurt you want to eat is fine by me. At my house, we have plain Greek yogurt, but if my kid goes to someone else’s house, I’ve decided that I trust their parenting and my child’ enough that they’ll be fine. Not only is whatever they feed the kids “acceptable”, but I’ll say thank you for the Mac n cheese with the Orange powder, & expect my kid to say the same.

    When my son was having such a rough time at a school that he couldn’t eat his lunch, he started requesting protein shakes. Odd for him, but we got some. Eventually I found out that instead of dealing with what was really going on, they had suggested supplemental nutrition. That was offensive to me, in more than one way.

  71. And I agree with AustinMom. While I think imparting healthy eating habits is an important job as a parent, my best tactic is to keep healthy food available and model good choices. When my kids are old enough, I hope they will choose to eat paleo-ish (particularly low in processed grains and sugars). In the meantime, they should partake in the occasional cupcake (or half-cookie).

  72. Ada, you should try Noosa. It is not cheap by any means, but it is so delicious. It comes in 4oz serving sizes 113 g = fat 6g, sugar 15g, protein 7g.

  73. Greek yogurt is simply strained yogurt. It is tastier as long as it is fullfat, so I eat it. I used to strain yogurt myself – just buy StonyField Plain Fullfat, put it in a strainer with a bowl or cup underneat, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. If you are making things like tzatziki, you really need the strained yoguurt.
    I think it is called Greek yogurt because Greeks like their yogurt thicker than we usually do.

  74. Man, no paleo for me! I like my pasta and rice and beans too much. Best part of the meal…

  75. I am glad that people are now thinking that butter isn’t so bad, because I like certain veggies with lots of butter.

  76. “Does that mean plain yogurt is the only acceptable yogurt now?”

    If you ask my former dentist, the acids in yogurt are the primary cause of all poor dental health in America. (Yes, there’s a reason he’s my former dentist — only so much of that one can take while immobilized and unable to speak).

    The difference between “Greek” yogurt as sold in the US and regular yogurt is that the Greek version strains out more of the liquid (whey), giving it a thicker/richer feel. It’s not better or worse, just more concentrated (i.e., more calories per unit, because some of the water has been removed). The thickness makes nonfat/lowfat yogurt seem less skimpy/richer, and it substitutes decently for sour cream in some dips and sauces (I mix with lime and cilantro to top chili, for ex).

    But, gah, I’d never eat any of them straight-up plain — it always needs a little sweetness to me. FWIW, a little vanilla can help things taste sweeter, so you don’t need as much sugar. We do a summer fruit dip with greek yogurt, vanilla, and a little brown sugar — heaven with fresh ripe berries of any stripe. Of course you could use honey or another alternative for thems that thinks it makes a difference.

  77. Actually, there is no regulation on what is “greek” yogurt. It tends to have more protein and less sugar, but it also may just be regular yogurt with stabilizers in it.

    I kind of have a yogurt obsession. I think it is the Sunny D of our children’s generation — an unhealthy food (at least in the way that 95% of it is packaged) with the veneer of good nutrition.

  78. Honest question here: If a kid is slim and active, and doesn’t have any metabolic disorders, and eats a diet that includes enough “quality” stuff (e.g. protein and vitamins) to keep him or her healthy, why is it bad for that kid to also eat foods that contain sugar? And what is it that people think is inherently bad about sugar, such that an otherwise healthy adult of normal weight shouldn’t consume any of it? (I will admit to feeding my kids flavored yogurt, PB&J, and a number of other things that would get me excoriated by the DCUM group.)

    Lauren, regarding picky eaters: I was a really picky eater as a kid. I wasn’t trying to be difficult or willful, or to get attention — I just truly didn’t like a lot of foods. A lot of things quite literally made me gag. Around college and a couple of years thereafter, though, my taste buds sort of exploded; I started liking all kinds of foods that I wouldn’t touch before. So I wouldn’t beat yourself up over your DD’s picky eating — it’s likely not anything that you did or didn’t do that made her that way, and there’s a good chance that she will grow out of it eventually.

  79. North of Boston, I operate on the theory that slim active kids who are getting adequate nutrition can eat whatever sugar they come by. I don’t limit their candy intake.

    On the general topic of nutrition, I continue to follow the Julia Child diet and am pleased that science is coming back around to acknowledging the healthful properties of eggs and butter.

    I agree with LfB and others that the schools — especially at the elementary and middle school level — really want helicopter parents, but they want the helicoptering well enough hidden that they can boast about how they produce responsible and independent young citizens.

  80. “why is it bad for that kid to also eat foods that contain sugar?”

    It’s a variable within our control that makes us feel that our parenting is adding value to induce a positive outcome above and beyond our kids’ competitors. There’s only so much to be gained by homework monitoring.

  81. saac, and admittedly without reading your link or anything else, I see the fundamental difference between overreach in the public sphere (e.g. public schools & lunches, busy bodies thinking a 10 & 6 yo walking home are cause for the cops/cps to be involved) and Facebook or any other tech company is that one is opting in to participate in Facebook by agreeing to their ts & cs. WRT schools and public places, we are not.
    (ok we also have to private/homeschool options and staying at home vs going out)

  82. Because cavities? Because hyperactivity (just kidding, just trolling Rhett). Because habits? Because cancer? Because sugary foods replace foods with fiber/vitamins/etc?

    Healthy food choices are not just for the sake of being skinny. Most overweight/obese adults were skinny kids.

  83. Ugh I hate when schools overreach about nutrition. This was already a thing even in the 90s when I was in school. I remember my brother had this stupid Kindergarten assignment where the parents had to sign off that the kids had tasted something like 20 different vegetables. My brother was a super picky eater and it was causing nightly meltdowns. My parents didn’t want to lie for him, but they thought the whole thing was ridiculous. Grandma created the solution by making a pot of vegetable soup containing trace amounts of the offending ingredients and having him taste the broth.

    More seriously though, classroom lessons demonizing fat and sugar helped set up my sister for anorexia starting in grade school. I remember in only around 3rd grade she asked my mom to eliminate dessert from her lunches because she wanted to “be good” and “eat healthy.” That was the first step in a disorder that has basically ruined her life for the last 15+ years. Basically the last kids who need to hear about healthy eating are the ones who take those lessons to heart.

    So I can’t say that the nutrition talks (or serious ballet training) definitively caused her eating disorder (there’s pretty strong evidence that it’s a highly heritable, brain-based illness) but it certainly didn’t help. And the “healthy eating” veneer made it harder for adults to detect that it had crossed the line. She got SO much praise for being lean and “healthy,” even after she was dangerously underweight.

  84. +1 Ada.

    My kids eat sugar but I think the amount in which most adults/kids eat it is toxic. It is not a skinny v. overweight thing for me. I want my kids to grow up healthy and strong and not have fertility problems and autoimmune diseases, etc. So I concentrate on feeding them the most nutritious foods I can and limit sugar, vegetable oils, etc (things I believe to be toxic). That gives them the latitude to have junk food in all the other places that offer them junk food.

  85. NoB and HM – +100.

    We put a lot of things in front of our kids as soon as they were physically able to eat them. For some kids it is a texture thing. As a kid I hated cooked cauliflower, zuchinni and carrots, but would eat them raw. Spinach was the opposite, loved cooked, hated raw.

    We experimented with texture and when we found things that were OK one way, but not another, would allow them to have the preferred texture.

    Day care had a rule – you must always take at least a “No Thank You” helping, which was the size of a marble – think about 3 peas, and try it. They told the kids that your taste buds change and just because you didn’t like it last month, doesn’t mean you won’t like it this month. I realize that is a bit of a stretch, but I think it was more about texture than anything else with most kids.

    My kids thought they said “taste BUGS” and thought it was so cool to have bugs in your mouth that might like something new. We still ask them periodically to take a No Thank You helping.

  86. +1 on Modern Family’s Claire- her weight just does not look natural. It actually feel like most adult women I know are either overweight, or chronically dieting and crossfitting/marathon training to remain at the bare minimum of the “healthy BMI” category, under their natural set point. It’s tough to be “healthy” in moderation in our society I guess.

  87. “Because cavities? Because hyperactivity (just kidding, just trolling Rhett). Because habits? Because cancer? Because sugary foods replace foods with fiber/vitamins/etc?”

    I’m convinced susceptibility to tooth decay is based on the strength of your teeth, and there’s not much to be done about it. Plus, it’s carbs that decay teeth, not specifically sugar.

    Good habits are everything in moderation. Fiber/vitamins? Assuming everyone’s “regular” and not vitamin-deficient, who cares?

    Cancer? This sounds like the patient you were just mocking who felt that he he’s entitled to not age since he lives “clean.”

  88. I’ll say thank you for the Mac n cheese with the Orange powder

    That’s the best kind.

  89. The orange powder mac n cheese is fine, but I prefer the one that comes with the orange sludge in a foil pouch. I think it is Kraft “Deluxe”. Dump a can of tuna in, and you have a fine dinner.

  90. One issue we have been facing is getting our kids to drink more water. Previously DH had loosely interpreted water to mean non soda, so that meant Gatorade at our house. Well, Gatorade is not that great in the quantity that our kids were drinking it, so it’s been drink water, drink water…..

  91. When my son was 2ish in daycare, I got a note reminding me what a healthy lunch consisted of. I thought everyone got the note, but nope, just me. But like LfB, they were serving “healthy” snacks (black olives from a can – yuck) that my son wouldn’t eat. So I was sending him food I knew he would eat. I worked on introducing new foods and a more balanced diet at dinner.

  92. I didn’t like broccoli until I got to college and realized it could prepared other ways besides boiled (by my mom).

  93. Milo, I thought the received wisdom was that tooth decay depended on the kind of bacteria you have in your mouth. Some people have the tooth-decay kind and some people have gum-disease kind.

  94. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I bought both of the Dinner A love Story books because I started to read her blog after some of your positive comments.

    I’m going to make an effort to try some of Jenny’s ideas, and I hope she’ll try new foods as she matures.

  95. Oh, Lauren, I was the world’s pickiest eater. For six years straight, I kid you not, every single day at elementary school I had a tuna sandwich on whole wheat, a banana, and a milk. The tuna was just plain, trained tuna on the bread. Every day. Starting in college I began eating all kinds of stuff and now I enjoy all kinds of cuisines. And I’m quite healthy.

  96. The actress who played Ethel had to stay heavier to help her look older than Lucy.

  97. Rocky,

    I don’t know, it’s more a look. On vacation it became a running joke how all the sales douche wives have that same skeleton with breast implants look.

  98. Lauren, eventually (like by later high school / college) the peer pressure will switch to valuing interest in trying different foods / ability to tolerate spiciness and to eat weird stuff (let’s try the new pop-up Salvadorean fusion place for lunch . . . ugh, but don’t bring so-and-so, he complains about anything that’s not a chicken nugget) rather than valuing conformity of foods (we’re all eating pizza, what the heck is that stuff you have?).

  99. Sure, that’s possible, Rhett, but as GB noted, it wouldn’t be the first time a show’s producers insisted on a weight differential to emphasize the character’s differences.

  100. “I didn’t like broccoli until I got to college and realized it could prepared other ways besides boiled (by my mom).”

    I still don’t “like” broccoli in any way, shape, or form. I have just learned to tolerate it by the liberal addition of salt, butter, and/or cheese. Which apparently is not as unhealthy as we thought two weeks ago, so go figure.

    People’s taste buds are different (*love* “taste bugs” btw). No, I won’t like it if I “just try,” or if I have it “fresh,” or prepared the “right” way. I really do throw up if you make me eat peas, and DS really will starve himself to the misery stage (for all of us) before eating an orange slice, and salmon really does makes my throat close up involuntarily, and most red wine really does taste as bitter as an aspirin pill. So if you don’t like that my kid eats Nutella and Fiber One bars, and that we call juice a “fruit,” well, tant pis. As a lifelong picky eater who Really Is Not Making This Shit Up As Some Sort of Passive-Aggressive Power Play, I kinda have a reflexive response to that. (Which begins with “bite” and ends with “ass,” just in case there was anyone left in the Western Hemisphere who wasn’t quite sure what that might be).

  101. People’s taste buds are different.

    There are people who are really, really into what other people eat. I don’t like tomatoes. I don’t like them fresh, I don’t like them canned. I don’t like them mixed with other stuff into salsa. I don’t like them processed into ketchup. I most assuredly will not like them if they taste more like a real tomato.

    It is not a value judgment on anyone else who likes tomatoes.

  102. Rocky Mountain Stepmom

    “I wonder if the producers tell Julie Bowen to stay a little too thin so that she seems less competitive with Sofia Vergara?”

    It might be related the fact that she has had a pacemaker since her early twenties due to heart problems.

  103. Off-topic to tax people (Meme, are you online?): I am at my $%!&$@ wits’ end with trying to do this rollover from an old IRA into my current 401(k). The new guys will happily take the money; the old guys insist on a “gold medallion” super-notary or something on the paperwork to ensure that it’s a legit rollover; but my bank won’t give me the stupid gold medallion thingy — despite my alleged “Platinum Privileges” — because I do not have an investment account with them (apparently, “Platinum Privileges” means “we like to suck up to you because we think you have money but won’t actually do anything useful”). My other investment accounts are online, so I can’t walk in to an office, and I don’t have days to troll from bank to bank to see if one of them will take a flyer on someone they’ve never met who needs a super-notary that her own bank with her assets in it won’t give. And the stupid IRA people will not even accept a notarized letter from me requesting this rollover — it’s gold medallion doohickey or bust. Not that I’m frustrated or anything.

    So the only remaining option appears to be to do an indirect rollover. The IRA people are willing to cut a check directly to me as a “premature distribution.” The new account people have told me they can accept that, I just need to write “60-day rollover” or something like that on the form with the check. So my question: is there a potential tax downfall associated with me receiving a distribution, depositing it in my bank account, and writing a new check to my 401(k) people, assuming I transfer the entire account balance and make the 60-day window? I know the old guys might have to withhold $$ for taxes, and that I need to write the new check for the entire account balance, even if that is more than the $$ I actually get. But assuming I do transfer the entire amount within the 60-day window, is there something I’m missing that could be a tax issue?

    FWIW, this is all so I can get rid of the IRA so I can create a new one and roll it over into a Roth, without having to pay taxes for converting pre-existing IRAs. And the level of effort and annoyance that is going into this has already outweighed whatever small $$ benefit I might get, even assuming the backdoor Roth option isn’t gone by the time I get the rollover done. But I am so PO’d at my current IRA company for making my life unnecessarily difficult that I am determined to get my $$ out of their clutches regardless.

  104. “I most assuredly will not like them if they taste more like a real tomato.”

    This. Exactly.

    PS — sorry to be pissy today. The early-closing + fruitless-phone-tree-tag + bank-treks-through-sleet have apparently not left me in the best of all possible moods. Time to go hug a kid or something.

  105. “I don’t like them fresh, I don’t like them canned. I don’t like them mixed with other stuff into salsa. I don’t like them processed into ketchup. I most assuredly will not like them if they taste more like a real tomato.”

    I would not like them here or there. I do not like them, Murphy-I-am.

  106. trying to do this rollover from an old IRA into my current 401(k)

    Why would you want to do that?

  107. Not here, not there, not poached, not boiled, not in a car, not with a star, not in an 80’s movie, nor in a documentary masquerading as a horror flick. (attack of the killer tomatoes)

  108. I can’t stand Goldfish crackers. One of my friends tends to bring them to our playdates. I can’t figure out why I get irritated over this. Totally irrational. I don’t say anything and I let the kids have it, but clearly, it bothers me enough to talk about it here. Even though we do eat a pretty healthy diet, there is a constant internal dialogue and decision tree about the “healthfulness” of certain foods, the appropriate portions, and the message I’m sending. I think this is the real issue for me-this constant analysis. Really exhausting and probably unnecessary.

    (Longtime reader since the TOS days but got lost since the migration to this place because of minor upheavals in family life.)

  109. She doesn’t even like a dessert tomato!

    Speaking of dessert tomatoes, my daughter has been on a kick of snacking on mini peppers. We always have a bag down in the tv room for the guinea pigs, who adore them, and I guess she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Which is fine, as long as we know to get extra so the guinea pigs don’t end up pepper-less.

  110. I think Goldfish crackers are colored with natural ingredients now (beets instead of red #40 or whatever).

  111. Thanks Grocery Bags. The thing is, I don’t think they’re all that bad! I probably have weird issues with food and snacks.

  112. “Honest question here: If a kid is slim and active, and doesn’t have any metabolic disorders, and eats a diet that includes enough “quality” stuff (e.g. protein and vitamins) to keep him or her healthy, why is it bad for that kid to also eat foods that contain sugar? And what is it that people think is inherently bad about sugar, such that an otherwise healthy adult of normal weight shouldn’t consume any of it?”

    Perhaps because they will develop a love for sweets that will be detrimental later in life when they may not be slim and active, or have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels, and the love for sweets makes it difficult to cut back on sugars, resulting in a higher likelihood of diabetes, which can have a deleterious effect on QOL?

  113. I’m not into competitive child-rearing, as far as I can tell. I get competitive on a sports field or at game board, but otherwise think I generally prefer not to do well by seeing others fail. I love a challenge, but if I get 100 on a hard test, I’ll probably enjoy it more than getting an A, graded on a curve, & others fail. I also enjoy relationships with people who I feel challenge me to be my best, and celebrate with me when I do.

    My dad’s dentist when he was a kid thought fluoride was not going to prove beneficial, so he told the family not to bother. My dad has a metal mouth in back. Mom did brush, with fluoride, still got some cavities, but not as many. Of their 3 children, one has had a cavity. My kiddo is terrible about brushing, and eats more candy than he used to. So far he’s had one cavity. I think brushing with fluoride makes a difference. We have lived in several municipalities with fluoridated water, so that probably helps him out.

  114. LfB, why even deposit the IRA payout check? Why not take the check you receive from your current IRA custodian, and deposit that check directly into your 401k? That would seem to eliminate the possibility of any question of commingling of funds.

  115. Rhett, I think she wants to open a backdoor IRA. You can’t do that without triggering tax consequences if you have any money in an existing IRA containing pre-tax funds.

  116. LfB –

    I had a similar problem with one of my mother’s accounts as she was in decline. I was the successor trustee on her revocable living trust, and one account would not accept the two year old notarized letter declaring me the new trustee, and required a medallion signature from the orginal trustee, mom, to appoint me. I was just trying to close it out and consolidate. She did have a bank account at BoA by then, and I think I could have dragged her over to the branch and convinced the manager to certify her signature despite her mental confusion, but finally I said to Nuveen, okay, so you insist that she is still the trustee. I’ll put her on the phone and she’ll give you the instructions, which she repeated after me. That was okay, apparently.

    Don’t do what you propose. I believe that a 401k plan can only accept a trustee to trustee transfer, which is is not technically a rollover (term of art). Just get a bank account at a major national/international bank such as BoA or HSBC where this is a routine service. (I deleted my rant about the UMC clinging to vestiges of their self perceived status as “just folks” and continuing to bank at local or regional banks).

    However, I am not entirely sure you can roll over an appreciated IRA in 2015 into the 401k, and later this calendar year contribute new non deductible money to an IRA and roll over this balance shortly after into a Roth. I am researching this right now, but I don’t have my subscription any longer so it is taking a bit of digging into primary authority

  117. Finn – is there any reason to believe that people who are forced to refrain from eating sweets do not like them later in life? Couldn’t I just as easily argue that those for whom sweets are prohibited are more likely to overindulge later in life?

  118. Ita with Finn re moderation on sugar being one of those life lessons that will pay off later on. My kid is still eating ToT candy (and gave a bunch of it to Popcorn Boy, who lost his), so really, it’s not as bad as I think it is. But once in a while he does something extreme; last weekend he ate an entire jar of maraschino cherries, and got a tummy ache. I think he learned a lesson there, but I generally try to keep the amount of added sugars low. There is plenty of info out on HFC, which is just concentrated sugar.

  119. @Finn — because I was assuming it would be made payable to me. But you mean I could just write “pay to the order of” the new custodian? Good question — I will have to ask them that.

    @Rhett: I want to do a Roth IRA so I can save more tax-sheltered. Our income levels exceed the tax limits for that, so I need to do a backdoor — open a regular IRA and immediately convert it to a Roth — nothing taxable, because you convert right away and so have no gains to tax. But I still have a regular IRA from an old job rollover. If I open a new IRA and convert, the IRS will assume that I am converting a part of that old IRA, and so I will have to pay taxes on that — so say it’s $45K, and I open a new one with $5K and convert to Roth, the IRS will assume that 90% of my Roth is a taxable conversion and 10% is “free” — so I pay taxes on the $4500 in “income,” and basically, the recordkeeping of all of that just scares me. And I don’t want to convert the whole thing and bump my income up by $45K.

    So the easy route is: roll the existing IRA into my 401(k). Now I have no other IRAs. I open a new IRA for $5K, immediately convert it to a Roth. The only IRA that must be considered for tax purposes is my new one — and there’s no taxes, because the immediate conversion means no time for gains, and no complicated recordkeeping over how much of that $45K IRA is tax-paid vs. tax-free.

    Or at least, that was the original “easy” route and original thinking. Now I just don’t want another penny of my $$ going to fund these guys.

  120. “I’m convinced susceptibility to tooth decay is based on the strength of your teeth, and there’s not much to be done about it.”

    Isn’t fluoridation mainly about making teeth less susceptible to decay?

    Perhaps someone with a good knowledge of chemistry (e.g., a degree in ChemE) can comment, but my understanding is that F bonds with Ca are much harder to break than Cl bonds with Ca, so having F in your tooth enamel rather than Cl makes them more resistant to decay, e.g., from acid, which could be present in the mouth as a result of sugar consumption.

  121. Milo – good question. I would like to know what happens to those poor kids who are never allowed to eat a piece of cake when they are little. Eventually they are going to get older and go to the mall and go to the houses of their friends – I can’t imagine they won’t be eating sugar. I guess the question is do they overdo it, or just have a little because they never acquired a taste for it?

  122. @Meme — Alas, my bank IS BoA. And apparently I have to open an investment account with Merrill Lynch to deserve the medallion guarantee. And I think you did research this last year and concluded that the IRS looked at the balance in IRAs at the end of the year, so as long as the old account is closed out by year-end, I’m good (you linked the actual IRS publication, which, being a geek, I pulled up). But in any event, I just want the first part of it all done, so I can figure out the second part later.

  123. LfB, you should be able to directly deposit a check payable to you into your account. You shouldn’t even need to endorse it if the account holder for the account into which the check is deposited is the same as the payee.

    My understanding is that the rules for depositing a check into an IRA are the same as for depositing a check into your checking account. Weren’t you planning to deposit the check payable to you into your checking account? Why would you be able to do that, but not deposit the same check into another account in your name?

  124. Murphy – I loved your posts on the tomatoes – that made me laugh.

    On candy/sweets – I’m trying the “let the kids have candy/sweets in moderation rather than making it a forbidden fruit (and therefore all the more sweeter)” approach. I’ll let you know in 20 years how it works out. We usually have cookies and ice cream in the house which they can have after dinner. All candy they receive (for holidays, from birthday parties, etc.) goes into containers (they each have one) – they are then free to have candy for dessert after lunch/dinner if they so desire.

    My brother was another super picky eater as a kid who now eats a wide variety of foods. DS is very similar – I call him a “pickatarian.” Texture is definitely an issue – he’ll eat crunchy fruits and veggies – but hates squishy fruits (e.g. soft ripe delicious peaches). The biggest challenge is finding protein that he will eat and that we can pack in his lunch (DS is allergic to nuts; only likes cheese if it’s melted (like a grilled cheese sandwich). We now send in bacon. I cook a batch of it on the weekend and then we include a couple pieces in his lunch.

  125. LfB – (1) you need to be platinum honors, not just regular old platinum :)

    (2) can’t your new guys facilitate this for you? That’s how it’s always worked for me…the new guys have the incentive to manage more assets.

    (3) aside from the documentation requirement (hassle) to prove you rolled over your old IRA there should be no tax consequences as long as you meet the 60-day window. The new place should send you a 5498(?) stating you rolled over the assets early in 2016. The old guys do not have to withhold for taxes; that’s your choice.

  126. LfB, why not just open an investment account, and put a small amount of money there?

    Another possible option is to roll your BoA IRA directly to an IRA with your 401k custodian.

  127. I did have a realization today that I actually need to be a bit more of a helicopter parent when it comes to helping 9 year old DS manage all the various papers from school. He used to do a decent job of this – but I realized that lately his approach is to let all the papers collect in his backpack; try to fish out completed pieces of homework to turn in; and then when the stack got big enough, put it all in the recycling. Regardless of whether the stack included homework that never got turned in or notices to parents or whatever.

  128. ssm “only likes cheese if it’s melted” how about a Rubbermaid container with some cheez-whiz (poured from the glass jar) into which he can dip bread/pretzel sticks? I would suggest the spray can of “cheese” except that would probably turn into a silly string fight in the cafeteria.

  129. Hijack if anyone’s game to for a shopping challenge.
    I’m driving myself crazy spending too much time trying to decide between one of two AT&T cordless phone systems. They both seem similar in every way except for appearances, and one allows you to dial from the base unit. Features like connect to cell, expandable to 12 handsets, digital answering machine, speaker phone, conferencing, etc. all seem the same. If anyone can find any material differences between the two, I’d appreciate knowing.

    AT&T TL92273 2 Handset Connect to Cell™ Phone and Digital Answering System with Caller ID

    AT&T TL96273 2 Handset Connect to Cell™ Cordless Phone and Answering System with Dual Caller ID

  130. I personally think Milo’s 4:05 is more likely–total restriction leads to an inability to self-regulate once the external restrictions are no longer being imposed. In my view, far better to learn how to moderate your intake from the beginning by learning to focus on how various foods make you feel.

    Regarding teeth, anecdotally, my siblings and I all got slightly too much fluoride as kids (in the city’s water but also in our vitamins), such that my tooth enamel is technically slightly discolored as a result. (Fortunately nothing like the extreme cases where the enamel can actually turn brown.) But our teeth are all rock solid–no cavities ever.

  131. coc – 92273 can accommodate up to 4 cell phones, the other one only 2 is what I see as the difference.

  132. I’ve always thought I had such a strong sweet tooth as an adult because I was “deprived” of sweets as a kid. Just a theory.

    MY DNA test showed I had the genetic variation that made me much more likely to tolerate bitter tastes.

    Best part of this thread was the trained tuna sandwich. lol

  133. LfB,

    I’m totally lost. Is it that you can’t convert if you have two IRAs open at the same time?

  134. I also imagine that junk food banning parents set their kids up for an inability to self-regulate. We knew a family that was vegetarian at home for vague ethical and frugality reasons, and their kids would always gorge themselves on burgers and chicken nuggets when they came to our house. Similar deal with childhood friends who never had dessert at home. On the other hand, expecting every meal to consist of gogurt, fruit snacks, capri sun, and ritz crackers doesn’t set kids up for healthy habits either.

    Tough to know where the middle ground is, when it feels like many people are at one extreme (gluten free, no sugar, no food additives, etc) and most of the rest are offering non-stop sugary, processed snacks and meals to their kids.

  135. “is there any reason to believe that people who are forced to refrain from eating sweets do not like them later in life? Couldn’t I just as easily argue that those for whom sweets are prohibited are more likely to overindulge later in life?”

    That was based on my experience. I was a skinny kid who grew into an adult with no problems seen in blood sugar tests, but MD is now telling me that A1C tests suggest I should cut back on sweets, which I find difficult after developing a love for them as a skinny kid.

    My nephews are two more data: Their mom strictly limited their intake of sweets when they were young, and now as a teenager and 20-something, they both find it very easy to refrain from sweets, e.g., when we eat with them at buffets, they typically don’t even look at the dessert table.

    BTW, I should’ve mentioned earlier that correlations have been found between dental health and vascular health, and more specifically, between dental inflammation and vascular inflammation, and I believe causal correlations have been established between vascular inflammation and heart attacks and strokes.

    So NoB, perhaps that’s the answer you were looking for– a high sugar diet could lead to an increased susceptibility to heart attack and stroke.

  136. CoC, just looking at the links, the “Dual caller ID” in the second link jumped out at me. It also made me wonder what Dual Caller ID actually means. Perhaps it’s a two-line phone, so it needs two caller IDs?

    Or maybe I could actually click the links.

  137. No dessert tomatoes at my house, but, we ALWAYS have ice cream in the freezer, generally several flavors. Even my kids’ friends comment that we have an unseemly/incredible amount of ice cream. My friend’s husbands have been amazed….but, not everyone likes the same flavor and no one really eats ice cream they don’t like. I grew up in a household where ice cream was just part of the background. DH grew up where it was a treat fought over by all the siblings.

    So, when my kids grow up, they will binge on tomatoes, but ice cream, take it or leave it.

  138. Yeah, I don’t know what “dual caller id” even is. Maybe I should just do eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

  139. LfB – Well, if I already did the research….

    That’s crazy about BoA. Apparently since the purchase of Merrill and the set up with Merrill Edge they will not do a medallion guarantee without a brokerage account. I confirmed that online. Mom’s business was before then. I disapprove, but that is the first consumer negative I have experienced with them.

    You could do the following. Set up a Merrill Edge IRA – self directed no fees. BofA will now give you the medallion guarantee to submit with the paperwork. No 60 day rule or one rollover per year because trustee to trustee transfers are not subject to the limitations. The trustee can then do a direct transfer, no withholding, and the 1099-R you get from the trustee will show that. Then after a month or so, have Merrill do a trustee to trustee transfer of the funds into your 401k. You can then close the Merrill Edge account and do the rest of your business online with your firm of choice.

    You would have to check with your 401k, but I don’t think they can accept a personal check from you even if it is the exact pretax balance from the recalcitrant fund. It is part of their controls to make sure that 100% of the money in your 401k account is legit.

  140. I would like to know what happens to those poor kids who are never allowed to eat a piece of cake when they are little.

    My great-grandmother was a health nut and new ager (she had a guru in the 20s or so) and forbade sweets, period. My grandfather as a boy would eat sugar straight out of the bag when he ever got the chance. As an adult he disliked cake due to a childhood incident where he ate an entire cake (shades of Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda), so his dessert of choice was always pie. He had a definite sweet tooth (always candy bowls around) as an adult but I guess the cake incident and similar overindulgences at least cured him of bingeing. (As a young man he would enter pie eating contests with no intention of winning — just eat a slice or two of pie at a civilized pace while the other competitors stuffed it in — because it was free pie.)

  141. CofC,

    The only two uses for a land line phone would be for emergencies or conference calls, in which cases you’d want hard wired(for emergencies) or a headset(for con calls).

  142. Rhett, for determining taxes due when converting from an IRA funded with pre-tax dollars to a Roth, the IRS looks at all of your pre-tax IRAs as a single account, and the taxes are based on the percentage of your total pre-tax funded IRA amount. So if you already have some money in a pre-tax funded IRA, an attempt to fund a back-door Roth will trigger taxes if you have any other pre-tax funded IRA.

    LfB is trying to get around this by moving her pre-tax funded IRA into a pre-tax funded 401k, thereby wiping clean her pre-tax funded slate. Once that is done, then there’s no tax consequence to the back-door Roth.

    That’s a strategy I mentioned here a while back (not sure if that’s where LfB got the idea). It only works if your 401k custodian will accept your IRA funds, and finding out if mine will do so has been on my todo list for a long time.

  143. I love sugar/candy and Mr WCE isn’t drawn to it. One of our three sons is like him and two are like me. Limitations are diet are similar for all three boys. My mom restricted sugar when I was a kid, but my siblings aren’t as drawn to it as I am, I don’t think.

    I think most adults eat somewhat different things than what they did as children.

    Other interesting aspects of the “healthy human diet” are 1) how should we eat given that there are 7 billion other people in the world (what trade-offs are appropriate given calories/acre limits?) and 2) Traditional Inuit diets contain almost no fruits or vegetables. I did some research on diet after our trip to Alaska and found a study of people on a Pacific atoll who ate coconut products and seafood and had almost no metabolic disease either, despite getting the overwhelming majority of calories from fat. (I learned that your body shuts down if you get too many calories from protein- even when people were starving, they learned not to eat the excessively lean animals they could hunt in the spring because they had too much protein and not enough fat.)

    Maybe if you limit yourself to a few dull foods, you are less tempted to overeat. Around Kotzebue, fish was about the only thing available, along with a few mammals like walrus that aren’t sustainable foods for a large population. Bird eggs were a primary source of vitamin C.

    L can move with their kids to Kotzebue, where they will be big fish in a small pond, and eat salmon.

  144. Rhett, I have a landline and a back-up hard wired phone that I use for emergencies, but I need the connect-to-cell cordless phone system so I won’t have to carry my cell phone all over the house to answer it. I’ll probably still keep my landline with the most basic service feature, at least for a while.

  145. LfB, I think if I were in your position, I would consider changing banks.

    But I’d also look into getting your funds from your current IRA as a check, and rolling that directly (without depositing the check into another account) into a new IRA that doesn’t put such restrictions on withdrawals, preferably (but not necessarily) with the company that is the custodian of your 401k, then do the direct rollover from IRA to 401k.

  146. Finn,

    So, let us say she has 35k in an old IRA and everything else in a 401k. She moves that money into her 401k and now has no IRAs anywhere. She then opens a traditional IRA and puts in 50k as there is no limit on no-deductible traditional IRA contributions and immediately converts it to a ROTH. She just made a $50k ROTH IRA contribution something not normally allowed.

    Is this something that can be done every year?

  147. I cop to being overweight, from birth to the present with only a few target BMI years in young adulthood. I am in great health otherwise, BTW, and have all my teeth. I never ate sweets or drank soda as a child, I don’t like desserts other than fruit pies or plain cakes/cookies, especially chocolate. Plain yogurt and salt lassi are perfect foods, in my book. The equivalent of the dessert tomato in my life is Passover matzoh spread with soft butter and sprinkled liberally with kosher salt.

  148. My 5 cent theory is that whether or not you have a sweet tooth is based more on genetics than on environment (bolstered by WCE’s anecdata of two kids being like her and one kid like her husband). If you do have a sweet tooth, I think your upbringing can play a role in how well you manage your sweet tooth (i.e. if it’s severely restricted in your house, are you more likely to binge at others/when you’re an adult).

  149. Rhett, to my knowledge, there is still a $5500/year ($6500/year if 50 or older) limit on IRA contributions, whether Roth or traditional, deductible or not.,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-IRA-Contribution-Limits

    But subject to those limits, my understanding is yes, you can do that every year.

    BTW, this reminds me that IRA contributions for 2014 must be made, I believe, by April 15. I need to take care of that soon. My understanding is that retirement accounts don’t count toward EFC.

  150. Funny WCE – I am not so far from Kotzebue today, treating a patient population that still gets a lot of its calories from salmon, herring and marine mammals, and still has a lower incidence of heart disease (though all that is changing). I am convinced of the benefits of “good fats”.

  151. You can change your tastes. Most of my life, my mom has had a sweet tooth. I believe we had dessert more often than not. In the first years of retirement, it seemed to me that dessert appeared at least once a day at their house, and that she really liked sweets. A few years back, her doc told her to watch her sugar intake as she was edging towards diabetes. Hearing the name of the disease implicated in her sister’s death got her attention; she began to literally have just a bite or two of someone else’s dessert. More recently I’ve noted that even on special occasions, like Thanksgiving dinner, she might take a dessert, but it is nbd, and there are plenty of times she doesn’t eat any at all. She recently told me that she doesn’t really like the taste of sweet as much as she used to.

  152. DH grew up in a family where there was healthy eating out of necessity. He was a skinny kid so never had to moderate his eating or watch what he ate. As an adult when he left home, he had to learn how much to eat of what when faced with a dazzling array of foods. In the meanwhile he packed on the pounds. Now that he is eating better and exercising, his weight has stabilized but to go back to his pre 30s weight means much more exercising and weight watching.
    This is why I would say even skinny kids need to learn to eat correctly because some may remain thin, some
    may not.
    In the home country the traditional way is to balance a meal. So there would be a portion each of rice/flat bread, vegetable, protein, a pickle, yogurt, sweet. Also you had to have spicy, sweet, salty, bitter tastes. The sweet dish is eaten as part of the meal. Not after and the serving size is small in proportion to the rest of the food.
    Families have moved away from the traditional way of eating but from a nutrition point of view it made a lot of sense.

  153. LfB, it’s getting much harder to get those damn Medallion guarantees anywhere. I use Wells Fargo, and I needed a bunch when I first took over Mom’s finances. No problemo. Within the last two years, however, they’ve cracked down hard. I have to go to the main downtown branch and wheedle and demand, and it’s still a crapshoot.

    Making it the receiving institution’s problem is not a bad idea. I did something similar with a rollover from VALIC to Vanguard. Also, my Everence account rep will just let me send the form in and they’ll guarantee it without my having to show up. But the Medallion guarantee system is crumbling rapidly. I’m not sure what they’re going to replace it with. But pretty soon you won’t be able to access your own money anymore.

  154. I used to have one the Medallion stamps in my desk! This was many years ago when I rotated through a corporate trust department as part of a training program. The corporate trust dept had physical security certificates in their vault. Eventually…most bonds became automated via the clearing system, but the bank was the trustee/ paying agent for some really old deals…especially the old railroad bonds. One of these gorgeous vaults is now part of an Equinox in NYC. many others are restaurants because there are so few physical certs now for any type of security.

  155. “The equivalent of the dessert tomato in my life is Passover matzoh spread with soft butter and sprinkled liberally with kosher salt.”


  156. WCE – there is a really great book called Deep Nutrition which explains that all healthy diets have four things in common (meat on the bone, organ meats, fermented foods, and I think the fourth was fresh veggies/fruits). I remember the author talking about the Intuit, the Masai, and even the traditional French diet. The percentages of protein/carbs/fats didn’t seem to matter but they all were basically free of modern disease.

  157. Atlanta, there are many vegetarian traditional diets that are healthy. For most of the world’s history, the overwhelming portion of the population ate meat only very rarely. There were some exceptions, such as the Calusa whose diet included large amounts of oysters.

  158. Re. fluoride: This has been a hot topic in the north-of-Boston area in recent years. A couple of years ago, a nearby town voted to stop putting fluoride into the town water supply. Just recently, some residents of another nearby town tried to get a question on the ballot so that residents could vote on whether to continue fluoridating the town water, but in that case the local town council shot down the motion. In both instances, the two sides of the debate argued passionately in favor of their side. The pro-fluoride people said that fluoridation of the water supply has been one of the great public-health triumphs of the past century. The anti-fluoride people said that fluoride in drinking water doesn’t provide much benefit for teeth, and that it causes all kinds of significant problems for other systems of the human body. Both sides offered up M.D,s and PhDs to advocate their positions in the local press. Personally, I don’t drink our local tap water, but only because it tastes horrible — not because of the fluoride.

  159. Until recently, a city near here had signs telling you that flouride was not added to the water. That’s because their water has a minimal level of it occuring naturally. In 2002, they started adding flouride to raise the level in the water to the “recommended” percentage. Just found the partly accurate signs funny.

  160. I looked at reviews of the book Deep Nutrition on Amazon and I’m pretty sure I would be too skeptical to enjoy it. My view of nutrition is that humans have had to thrive on suboptimal nutrition for millennia so going from “OK” to “great” has little impact for most of us. I also am skeptical of anyone claiming nutrition (rather than age, the PRIMARY statistical factor affecting miscarriage, twinning, and birth defects) is critical in pregnancy. Other than illegal drugs/excess alcohol/smoking, I see no evidence that diet has a significant role in pregnancy/birth outcomes.

    My ancestors were northern European- I read nutrition information and think about how glad my ancestors were to get ANY food long about March or April.

  161. NoB,

    I’m mortified. That such ignorant inbred hillbillism should manifest itself here. We might as well be in Texas… Or Florida even!

  162. WCE, interestingly enough it was July that was known as the “starving month.” Harvest was yet to come, and stored provisions from the last year were running very low by that point.

  163. HM, that’s interesting. My Dad thought that dandelions and rhubarb were notable because they are some of the first foods to appear in spring. Rhubarb was available on Kodiak Island (Alaska) around 4th of July- I don’t know when it would be available in Europe.

    I suppose eastern Europe was worse than western Europe, food-wise, because it’s so much colder.

  164. She recently told me that she doesn’t really like the taste of sweet as much as she used to.

    As we age, our sense of taste starts to fade in the same way our vision and hearing get worse, so that could be a lot of it.

  165. I always wondered if the origins of Lent were around trying to make dwindling food supplies last a bit longer

  166. As a Hindu Brahmin, I had to comment about our traditional eating habits. A very small sub-class of Brahmins typically eat non-vegetarian food, and it’s mostly fish. Majority of Brahmins are/were strict vegetarians. The daily meal (for both Brahmins and non-brahmins), is traditionally really simple with emphasis on vegetables and eating a variety of grains. Typically, any desert or sweet preparation and fried food was not part of daily diet, and a feast was warranted only on religious occasions and festivals. This simple diet combined with a ton of walking and physical activity throughout the day kept everyone mostly healthy till old age. Of course this has all changed now and fried and sugary food is consumed on a daily basis. Meat eating is also becoming more prevalent than before. Add to that the stresses of modern living and sedentary lifestyle, we can see explosion in diabetes and heart disease among the population.

  167. I sell whole lambs to my customers and take them to a local butcher to get them processed. This year for the first time I took a four intact males. The butcher carefully wrapped four packages of lamb fries. Everyone but one customer said no to them. After I told my elderly customer what lamb fries are she said that she would be willing to try them. So, she got four packages of them. If she had not taken them we would have feed them to our dogs. No lamb fries for us! I am interested to hear how she cooked them. Anyone else every try lamb fries or mountain oysters? I don’t eat the hearts, livers, or kidneys either, but I have some customers who love the innards.

  168. Mountain oysters, deep fried and flavored right, are not too bad. I used to enjoy liver and onions, but haven’t had that in years.

    We switched to whole milk products a while back, but I usually can’t find whole-milk Greek yogurt at my regular supermarket so I have to get it at Trader Joe’s. We bought no-fat half-and-half by mistake last week, and I noticed it left an unappealing residue at the bottom of my coffee cup after drinking. The second ingredient listed on it is corn syrup, and that’s probably in line with many no/low-fat products.

    Speaking of fermented food, in addition to laying off thousands of employees, Target “has also reportedly zeroed in on seven grocery categories, including yogurt and beer, to attract younger shoppers”.

  169. Milo/Cat S – recommendation needed for windshield replacement company in NoVA. In MA it is usually done by specialized companies because of the seals, or by the dealer. Local mechanics may not have the required equipment and certainly would have to special order the windshield. Do you have a regional company that specializes in this?

  170. Meme – All I know of is Safelite and my local mechanic. Safelite comes to your home or office, whereas my local mechanic took three or four days to get the windshield in stock, but only charged about a third of the price of Safelite.

  171. Kefir comes very highly recommended from a friend of a friend who is a nutritional researcher at MD Anderson. She has a very skinny, hard to keep weight on teen son, so is always searching for the best nutritional bang for the calorie (in addition to for her patients, obviously) – i think it is very high in probiotics. Kefir is at the top of her list of things she tries to get them all to consume. But I’m still like an 8 yr old kid at trying new things that seem like they might be gross. I have been buying kombucha tea, which gives off a weird witchy-like mist when opened, but it just tastes too vinegary to me. So kefir is on the list, but may have to get a family member to try it first.

  172. @Rio – I sent CoC an article about the Sweet Briar closing as a potential topic. So sad!

  173. Meme – I’ve only used Safelite. They came out quickly and to my work, so I was happy with them.

  174. MBT – we use kefir in smoothies and my kids drink it that way. Add some frozen berries, some veggies and a little honey, they love it. Oh I love kombucha but only the bucha brand (a little more sweet than the others).

  175. Sheep Farmer – we would eat the lamb fries. We buy whole lambs and half cows and although liver is not my favorite, I will eat it in a pate. I sneak beef liver into meatloaf.

  176. I agree (anecdotally) that taste for sugar and other things is largely genetic. Example, I looooooove bread, whereas DH hates bread, cereal, and all grains. My grandmother would not eat any candy or similar food because it was too sweet.

    I am trying to eat lower-carb-ish after seeing my mom’s attempts at “dieting” with smaller portions of meat/veg/carb and many low-fat things. She loves carbs, so would not cut them out. Result = no weight loss and she feels deprived/hungry, so she will take “little bites” of all carbs (like plain white rice!), and then gains weight again.

  177. If you like yogurt, you’ll like kefir. Kefir is milder, to my palate. You have to be careful, though, because a lot of mainstream bottled kefir is just thickened with starch and isn’t fermented. It’s really easy to make — lots easier than yogurt.

  178. A tip for those of you who have to get a credit card replacement because of unauthorized charges, or assumed that if the credit card at a merchant has expired, no further charges can be made. I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone about this over the past few weeks.

    My Amex had an issue. I got a new number. However, a month later a fraudulent charge appeared again from the same putative source with a slightly altered merchant number. When I called, they said it had come through on the old card. I said, how can that be? No coherent info provided. So I said, well, make sure the old card is completely dead. There are no remaining outstanding items. They said, yes ma’am. Two week later, an unwanted subscription annual charge appears. I check the vendor website and it has the old number. So i call AMEX again. After about five minutes of back and forth the woman says, well, we sent you an email to change all your recurring charges so that service would not be interrupted. I said, I did that for the ones I wanted to continue, but there were some from a long time ago that were no longer in use. She says, well, we don’t want anyone to have their utilities cut off, so if you EVER authorized a charge from this merchant it will still go through on the old card. And if the merchant won’t refund your money, you are out of luck. I was not amused. However, I got a very professional US based senior customer representative next who assured me all would be fine. We’ll see.

    So I call the merchant and it agreed to refund the money to the old card. Awaiting consummation of the transaction. However, I made the five day cutoff for cancellation because I have been monitoring the credit card account daily, so not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t been paying attention.

    As we often say about financial matters, if it takes this much diligence for someone like me to keep on top of things, how can we expect those with less time or fewer skills to manage at all?

  179. “this merchant”

    I don’t understand. Does Amex select certain merchants and let charges on the old card still go through?

  180. Meme, that must be an Amex thing because I’ve never had that happen with other cards. Once they cancel it, it’s totally dead.

  181. Mémé, you might consider asking your insurance company for a suggestion. A company getting your business through your insurance company has more incentive to please you as a customer than had you just shown up without a referral, since you can complain to your insurance company if the vendor’s service is unsatisfactory.

  182. Mémé’s experience is one reason I avoid using a credit card for automated payments, and in general, I avoid authorizing anyone access to my bank accounts for withdrawals as well. I prefer to push payments from my side, as opposed to letting a creditor pull funds from my account.

    For regular bills of the same amount, e.g., cable, phone, HOA, I have regular payments set up with my banks bill pay service. For bills that vary, e.g., water, electricity, I do have to send a payment for each bill, but I’d rather do that than go through what Mémé is currently experiencing.

    All the times recently that my card has been replaced and my account # changed, I’ve also gotten a warning from the credit card company to reschedule all regular payments, because any that had been scheduled with the old account# were cancelled when the card was cancelled.

  183. Oh! I need to disagree with Finn. We called our insurance once to see if our back window was covered (it had been broken over night). It wasn’t, and they were happy to send us a referral — and they marked it as a claim on our insurance, even though they didn’t pay anything. We were suddenly higher risk and our premiums went up. It was an awesome day.

  184. Ugh, Meme and Ada. Sorry for the experiences, but thanks for warning us! FWIW, I’ve not had problems with the many Chase cards I’ve had to cancel and have reissued due to fraud.

  185. Ada, good point– unless you have a good personal relationship with your insurance agent, you might not want to indicate that the repair work is for a car covered by them, e.g., make up a story that your kid’s car’s windshield needs to be replaced.

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