The long and winding career path

by Grace aka costofcollege

When asked how she ended up as White House press secretary, Dana Perino explained that her career began with an unlikely job.

Well, it started with a job as an overnight country music DJ in southern Colorado. The truth is, there’s no clear path. Everything I did — taking lots of risks, getting over my fears — led me to be the right press secretary at the right time.

Many careers take a winding path.  My first job out of college was in the dusty oil fields of West Texas, and my last job was amid the skyscrapers of Wall Street.  I’m both delighted and nervous to observe the unlikely paths of my children’s careers,  As happens in many cases, the jobs they have now were not on their radar screen until very recently.

Has your career followed a straight and narrow path, or a crooked and winding one?  What do you observe around you?  What do you see or expect for your children?  What relevant career advice would you like to share?

Also notice that Perino’s big job required her to sacrifice work-life balance.

Q: How did you maintain a healthy work-life balance when you were working in the White House?

A: I didn’t. I ate little, slept terribly and was susceptible to migraines. But I got through it. I think it helped that there was an end date, so I could give my all for those days, knowing the best opportunity of my life wasn’t going to last forever.

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177 thoughts on “The long and winding career path

  1. I’ve had a great career path: I started as a sportswriter, then went into IT, then nursing and now nurse practitioner.

  2. I love CJ Cregg’s quote about giving it her all as White House Press Secretary, ” I am well aware that I am living the first line of my obituary right now. “

  3. It’s an interesting view of W as well… I never saw him the way she saw him.

    I’m still new to the career thing, but my path to where I’m sitting has had its share of detours. I started in consulting, then worked for a non-profit which serves girls as a program/training specialist, grad school (with two different degrees, one towards chemistry, and then one towards ecology… amazingly they meet somewhere in the middle), now work for another non-profit which takes the 50,000 foot view of my new home.

    After college, I thought I’d never leave NJ. Grad school almost didn’t happen (the school that accepted me was my last ditch effort), and my current job almost didn’t happen (in the first round, no one accepted the job offer, I was selected from the second round). Whole lotta luck going on over here.

  4. Ada, it seems that most doctors “always” wanted to be a doctor. One of my son’s high school friends had long planned to be a doctor, but now he’s studying dentistry. A bit of a switch, and I don’t know what precipitated his decision.

  5. Well, on the one hand, I’ve always been a lawyer. OTOH, I’ve been just about every version of lawyer except working for the gov’t — law firm associate/of counsel/partner, in-house lawyer, in office vs. telecommuting, part-time/full-time, big firm/small firm, etc.

    I never actually intended to veer off my path. But I got bored in my first job and took the leap of faith to the smaller firm; then was forced to quit that a year shy of partner thanks to the tech crash. Took the better part of a decade to find myself back where I started.

    I suspect my kids will have many more changes than I have. I think the meme of “we need to run X like a business” — which, I think, dates back to Reagan, but I could be wrong — took hold and really expanded into a lot of what used to be seen as “professions” (the, er, oldest one notwithstanding). Which means there’s a lot more focus on the bottom line, a lot more use of basically Sabermetrics to see how we can slice and dice people’s efficiency, and a perhaps not coincidental development of the divide between the worker bees and the power structure that mirrors what you see in society (e.g., the development of the “non-equity” partner tier, where you get promoted and get to call yourself a partner, but you’re still paid a salary and don’t share in the firm profits, which are reserved for the big business-developers; and then those power partners jump ship to another firm that will guarantee them more $$). This change of focus also means that there is more active weeding-out of people not pulling their weight, down to firms cutting entire practice groups.

    So, fundamentally, I think my kids will have to look out for themselves a lot more than I did. And that’s a different skill-set — you have to be comfortable with change and risk-taking, you need to know how to market yourself and show others what value you can bring to a given role (even if your background is in something else entirely), etc.

  6. Starting with my first full time job out of college with () for time out: paralegal, (MBA student), corporate finance entry level thru to senior director level in a big US corporation, (layoff/disclocation), corporate controller at a startup, (mutual decision to part ways), consulting gigs for startups, small companies, local gov’t agency; now a senior finance role at headquarters…but for a 990 filing entity vs a profit-seeking entity.

    Life is not lived linearly.

  7. I started college as an electrical engineering major and ran into some academic difficulties due to a variety of issues. I was working for the school newspaper and decided that would be a fun career (this was back in 1990 so newspapers were still viable). I graduated with a speech communication degree and got a job with a weekly community newspaper. After about 6 months, I decided I wasn’t really cut out for it, and it would be really difficult to get to a job that actually paid a living wage. So I took the totebag route and used a family connection to get an entry-level help desk job at a big six consulting firm. I worked up from there to consulting positions at some smaller firms and then internal development at a bank. But I started to get bored with it after about 10 years.

    I did some research and decided I wanted to become a physician assistant. I applied to PA school three times and didn’t get in, so I figured I could go to nursing school and become an NP, which is essentially the same thing. I got into an accelerated BSN program in 2010, graduated in 2011, and got a job in a nursing home. I started an NP program in fall 2012 and graduated this May. I wanted to go into pediatric orthopedics, but there are only two practices in town (I even did a rotation with one of them) and they prefer PAs over NPs because of their surgical training. Since I had the experience in LTC and did a couple of NP rotations there as well, I applied to a couple of geriatric practices and one of them actually hired me. I’m rounding in skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

  8. I found it really fascinating that there were people older than me in my undergrad nursing program (I was 40). There was a guy in his mid 50s (I don’t remember his previous job), another guy about 50 who owned a business who had this grand plan to become an NP and start a home health company, a former flight attendant, a SAH mom, and some other older people. There were also a surprising number of people in their mid 20s who realized pretty quickly their initial degrees weren’t what they wanted to do.

  9. I’ve always worked in computing, but the setting has varied quite a bit. I started my first real position at an R1, and after 3 years decided I couldn’t stand it (we were advised to limit contact with undergraduates as much as possible – find strategies to keep them from coming to office hours, for example), so I went to a public directional where ironically my research career flourished. But life as a state employee can be depressing and after the third year in a row in which the legislature voted to not fund our negotiated raises, and long hours including mandatory night classes, I realized we would never be able to buy a house or have kids if I stayed there. My DH had already left academia for industry and was working half the hours for twice the pay, so I decided to do the same. I worked for a software company, which was great, and even was able to go to 30hrs/week after I had kids – and I still got interesting cool projects.
    I might still be at that company but after a hostile takeover, most everyone was laid off. The job market in NYC for CS people was very depressing unless you wanted to work in the financial industry. The tech reboom hadn’t started yet, so the choices were pretty much working in a business suit at a financial or making webpages in the advertising industry. That is how I ended up in health IT – it wasn’t financial or advertising. That was such a mistake. The most depressing job, in the most depressing environment, with the most depressing clueless managers ever. So I was job hunting pretty much from the start. Sadly, the job market in CS in NYC was even worse than 2007, so I knew that if I wanted to end my career doing actual interesting computing work again, it would have to be academia. And that is how I ended up back in academia. The good news is that it is stable now that I have tenure, and the salaries in NYC for CS professors are much better than they were in the former state I was in. The hours are long but the work is interesting. And my kids love that I am teaching because they can relate to it.

  10. Both DH and I are in jobs related to the majors we had in college. This was not the case with my parents who started in a job after college but then saw/heard of a better opportunity and switched successfully. I was talking with MIL this morning. In the 70s in the home country, lots of people went to work for the government because the jobs came with a pension that is indexed to the cost of living. The pay was low compared to private firms but a private job was more risky. Now, the government has stopped offering pensions, because they didn’t anticipate people living so much longer.

  11. Louise said “he pay was low compared to private firms but a private job was more risky. Now, the government has stopped offering pensions, because they didn’t anticipate people living so much longer.”

    Are the salaries still low? I have heard that in some countries, low civil service salaries lead to increased corruption as officials try to turn their positions into a living wage. I have also heard this about teaching positions in African countries.

  12. I am on my third firm but otherwise have had the same job since law school. So…boring!

    When I met DH he was on his 3rd job in 5 years, so my parents thought that made him “unstable”. Since then he has switched jobs several more times, but he has also been accumulating jobs – he is still an outside director at a job from 15 years ago and gets revenue from the next job after that, etc.

  13. I started out as a bank examiner, was terribly bored, then got a job as a produce buyer for a major grocery chain, after a few years, I realized I did not want to do that job forever, especially since I noticed that many people in that industry had a substance abuse problem and/or divorce by the time they were forty. I went back to grad school, and ended up with a state job. The job provided health benefits and a minimum income for the family. In the meantime, DH and I grew the farm until it became large and successful enough that I could ditch the day job. The farm has transitioned from a livestock operation to row and field crops to orchards.

  14. I think the reason that it seems like physicians “always wanted to be physicians” is because the path is not so friendly for people who are not marching lock step up from high school to college to medical school to residency. (I would say this is in direct contrast to PA or NP tracks.) There are a small handful of people who are “non-traditional”, but they are a very small percentage of total graduates.

    I have expressed this before, but I am somewhat frustrated by my inability to take a winding career path. I am highly skilled at delivering a certain type of care. I am somewhat skilled at documenting that care. Those skills are not particularly transferable. While I can change the environment I work in (urban, rural, entitled, etc.) in the end, the vast majority of positions available to me involve me delivering healthcare. This wasn’t at all obvious to 17-year-old me. There are a few physicians who go on to work in administration. This is relatively rare, and at most levels, poorly compensated compared to delivery of medicine.

    This is in pretty sharp contrast to DH’s path; he has worked in many different environments, as a manager, as an individual contributor, working from home, exclusively traveling.

    I think my problems are applicable to any vocational training. The difference is that I spent 11 years and several hundred thousand dollars to train in my profession. A plumber may spend a few years, and very little of their own money. If the Plumber decides that she would rather be a schoolteacher, she is not so fully vested in her field.

  15. @Mooshi – they are still low compared to private firms. At the time (70s) the two sectors were closer but now the private sector has vastly outpaced the government sector. There is still demand for government jobs because of the huge population but it is not desirable as it once was.

  16. Dh and I have both been in the same jobs for ten years – it is really time for a change for both of us and I’m fascinated by people who do so many different things. We aspire to do that but both of us want to have more money in the bank before taking any sort of leap.

    Ada – I have an uncle who was a general practitioner, but he then transitioned into hospital administration (think he got some sort of MBA for physicians along the way). He’s now the CMO of some hospital system in Houston and they have moved around a lot the past few years as he’s taken better and better jobs.

  17. “it seems that most doctors “always” wanted to be a doctor. One of my son’s high school friends had long planned to be a doctor, but now he’s studying dentistry.”

    I think I’ve related the story of DS’ chemistry class self-polling itself during a break one day, and nearly all of the kids in that class were planning on becoming MDs. DS was one of the exceptions, and is still, to my knowledge, unsure of what he wants to be when he grows up.

  18. I started as an intern in a mega-corporation, then two years as a management consultant. I left because I realized I would hate being on the road four days a week once I had children, and I hadn’t even met DH yet :)

    After law school I clerked and then went to BigLaw in litigation, which I quit after the second kid arrived.

    I’m looking at going back to a local firm.

    Ada, around here I know several doctors in their 50s who have transitioned out of practice to working for 501(c)(3)s that focus on health as advisers. I’m not sure what they do in a typical workday, but they do not see patients anymore.

    It may require a spouse that earns enough to pay most of the household expenses, though….

  19. “lots of people went to work for the government because the jobs came with a pension that is indexed to the cost of living. The pay was low compared to private firms but a private job was more risky.”

    That’s the case where I live too, and apparently in many locations in the US. It was a way to put off paying those government workers, but those chickens are coming home to roost, and in many cases the pensions are now at risk.

  20. Here is the bullet point version of my oft repeated story. It really starts in 8th grade.
    1. Insisted that my mom move to Bethesda so that I could leave inferior private school (her reasonable choice for her snowflake when I was 4) for good public school.
    2. Exhausted high school offerings and went to college after junior year.
    3. Undergrad degree, followed by same institution grad program in history of science.
    4. Frequent babies, death of second child, drop out before dissertation completed to keep house.
    5. Family breakdown, need to learn a trade, grad school program in Accounting (profs wanted me to get a PhD – no dice).
    6. No job at graduation, prof called in a favor to get me an interview, Big 6 entry level job in tax.
    7. Jobs in international tax at public accounting firm and big corporate until 2009 recession.
    8. Contract jobs/consulting at hourly wage until retirement after 22 years in the profession.

  21. Ada, look into medical informatics. The top people in that field are usually MDs who then do graduate work in informatics. It can be either researchy or managerial depending on which way you want to go. Nurses also often move into the field, but they usually work in lower level positions (clinical analyst for example)

  22. I’m basically doing the same job I’ve done since college. The who, where and how much has changed but the job description is basically the same. On one hand, I like it and it pays well, so that’s a plus. On the other hand, it would be interesting to try something new.

  23. Meme, thanks for retelling. I somehow had missed the part about you working for a big 6 firm. My H started out at a big 8 (on his second career), and over about 25 years never switched firms, but the firms switched around him. So it turns out he’s worked for about half a dozen different companies by staying in the same place, due to acquisitions and mergers.

  24. “On one hand, I like it and it pays well, so that’s a plus. On the other hand, it would be interesting to try something new.”

    That’s exactly how I feel.

  25. DD, that’s very interesting. I think it’s a rare person who can do both the science/engineering/math and the reading/writing/journalism thing–you must have that gift.

    What is your opinion about an accelerated BSN after earning a degree vs going into a direct-admit BSN out of HS, or even a nursing program that one enters in sophomore year. Six of one? Or do you think one has a benefit over the other in some way?

  26. Tee hee. My career has been completely linear: Take a mergers and acquisitions book and hurl it off the top floor of the tallest building on Wall Street and see the result.

    Yet I am happier now.

  27. I’ve told my story too often, so I’ll try to do the short version.
    * Major in philosophy at state school
    * Get a 12-month MLS at same state school
    * Get a job as an indexer at a big publishing house
    * Flee to grad school in philosophy on opposite coast
    * Do a one-year lectureship gig at U. of AZ while finishing dissertation
    * Get tenure-track job at Chico
    * Become unable to tolerate academia, and unable to tolerate being far away from DH (also in academia)
    * Flee to Chicago for DH’s law school, teach for a year at a branch of IU, then work as librarian at Illinois Institute of Technology. While there, take various programming and tech classes because they were free to employees and I was super bored.
    * Follow DH to Denver for his first law job at Large Regional Mountain West / Southwest firm. He’s now an equity partner. That was 20 years ago.
    * Work with weird, highly dysfunctional library-related nonprofit as head of IT, grant-writer, project coordinator, occasional trainer, and oh yeah, sometimes it was my turn to clean the fridge. But it paid ridiculously well for what it was.

    I couldn’t really advance in the general field because we had settled on DH’s career being primary, so I couldn’t move geographically. Sometimes I got really furiously resentful about that. Sometimes I wondered what I would have done if I’d had any kind of decent advice from my parents (my mother believed it was sullying to work in “the trades”, i.e., anything that actually makes money.) Sometimes I wonder if I want to start over. Sometimes I just binge-watch Archer and don’t worry about it.

  28. “Take a mergers and acquisitions book and hurl it off the top floor of the tallest building on Wall Street and see the result.”

    I feel almost exactly like Rhett and Milo. I admire PTM and Risley for actually doing something about it.

  29. What is your opinion about an accelerated BSN after earning a degree vs going into a direct-admit BSN out of HS, or even a nursing program that one enters in sophomore year. Six of one? Or do you think one has a benefit over the other in some way?

    If you know you want to be a nurse in HS, do a standard BSN program. There’s no benefit to getting a different degree and then doing an accelerated BSN. It just takes longer and costs more money, and the first degree isn’t going to benefit you in the job market.

  30. @ SWVA – are you reading today? I saw your post on yesterday’s thread about the past 6 months and having to learn your way in your new life…wanted to let you know I have been thinking about you.

    I am looking forward to football on Saturday :)

  31. BS in civil engineering, then straight to work for a family friend’s small design firm (20-30 employees). Relocated to a larger firm (ranged from 100-200 employees over 13 years) in a smaller town, earned my PE license, and got interested in management. Went to business school part-time for 4 years while working full-time and got my MBA 6 weeks after DD was born. After 16 years moving up the food chain, I had a mid-life career crisis. Because of our public agency client list, the recession didn’t really affect us until 2010-11. I was laid off because my position had become mostly overhead, yet I wasn’t a rainmaker (in a field that had become highly competitive because of the recession). Landed at a big corporation, coordinating their strategic relationship (research, recruiting, partnering) with my university. Loved that until the big corporation eliminated that program in a corporate restructuring. Next landed at a small website design firm, thinking my project management experience would translate…but it didn’t. Now I’m coming up on my 1-year anniversary working for the university. I like the work I’m doing but don’t want to get too specific. I’m hoping the less-than-ideal office environment will catch up as our new administration kicks in – new VP of my administrative division to be hired soon.

  32. @Lark, Haha, I was just typing when you posted. I’m looking forward to football on Saturday too – it’s a HUGE day here!

  33. My undergrad degree was accounting, but my internships exposed me to people who had been doing the same job for 40 years, and I panicked, thinking I had made a big mistake. So I went straight into an MBA program, and sat for the CPA exam my 2nd semester.

    When I got out I went into a rotational program in oil and gas, but left after a year because I was getting married and we were going to be living in another city. I worked then as a bank examiner, but discovered I hated that city. So after 18 months I got a chance to move into a Big 6 firm as a senior because they had a large banking practice and had just lost some experienced people. I love that, but traveled a lot to small towns in my mid-America state, and we wanted to have kids. So I left and went to work for a bank, finding out I was pregnant the day before I started. I really liked that job and was having a lot of success, but my husband got the offer to transfer to Houston. I initially said no, but they came back and met every one of his requests and then some.

    So I landed at a major manufacturer in the general suburban area where we decide to live, and that has worked out. I have been able to move around to different roles without having to leave the company, starting in accounting then moving into a decade of accounting system design, a lot of project work, and now in a pure finance role that I will try to leverage back into process or system design.

    I have been fortunate to work in companies that attract strong employees, so have typically enjoyed my work environment. That is something that some of my friends comment on when they leave – they didn’t realize that coworkers would be so different at other places.

  34. I am looking forward to doing something creative when my kids go off to college. At some level, I am still uncomfortable with not bringing in any income doing said creative thing, so I’d have to start a small business. I would be interested in something like jewelery making.

  35. I’ve been working in Corporate Finance, for almost 20 years now in a fairly linear, upward path. I don’t think that it will stay that way for another 20 years, nor do I necessarily want it to. In a way, I am living the first half of of Fred’s career, I think.

    I don’t have a burning desire to switch paths or anything else that pays the bills that really interests me, so I don’t have plans in the next 5-10 years to deviate voluntarily from this linear path. That said, depending how my career/the economy/external factors go, I would like to have the choice to do something different or nothing at all in 10-15 years. We’ll see. Life happens.

  36. Sorry we’re going to ruin it for you.

    Well, you never know what the emotional component will do in college football. We could dominate – or collapse. That’s why they play the games instead of just handing out the trophy in August!. ;-)

  37. Sorry we’re going to ruin it for you.

    Well, you never know what the emotional component will do in college football. We could dominate – or collapse.”

    Oh who cares. Neither of you are in the top 16 right now. ;)

    (How the h3ll did that happen, btw???)

  38. “I think it’s a rare person who can do both the science/engineering/math and the reading/writing/journalism thing”

    Really? I like to think that I could’ve done the writing thing, and science and writing are two things, among others, that DS is considering.

    OTOH, I’ve encountered many engineers who are very poor writers, and I also guess that’s why tech writers are well paid (at least to my limited knowledge).

    But OTTH (on the third hand), I’ve also encountered many non-engineers who are poor writers.

  39. (How the h3ll did that happen, btw???)</i)

    Excellent question, and the reason for regime change

  40. what regime change? And are we doomed after Reynolds graduates? That’s a serious question, I don’t know anything about football.

  41. “My H started out at a big 8 (on his second career), and over about 25 years never switched firms, but the firms switched around him.”

    DW and I both started at different parts of the same very large company, but over time, without changing jobs, reorgs brought our jobs closer and closer until we were in the same department (not the same boss, but both our bosses had the same boss).

    That provided some impetus for DW to change jobs, in the interest of diversification. So she wasn’t affected when the bubble burst and my entire department was eliminated.

    Between jobs, I took a test to determine what jobs would be a good match for me, and the top match was engineer, followed closely by programmer and actuary.

  42. Jared Fogle just get sentenced to 15 years in jail, despite of his attorney’s defense that “Fogle’s weight loss, prompted by the Subway diet that was once his claim to fame, caused him to become “hypersexual.”

    So many jokes, so little time.

  43. Milo, don’t you think part of Reynolds’ success is the excellent coaching he gets?

    BTW, his head coach and position coach/OC are both former QBs at local flagship U.

  44. “don’t you think part of Reynolds’ success is the excellent coaching he gets? ”

    How would I know? I’m sure it’s part of it, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been a Top 20 team. Was it the 1960s?

  45. Milo, Regime change in my town due to the head coach retiring, and this Saturday is his last home game. I know nothing about Lark’s team except that they could ruin our day and end the 22-season bowl streak. We collapsed when the star QB went down in 2nd half of 1st game this season. Things had been going downhill for a few years, especially when coach had health issues. Time for a change-up in the coaching staff, but we’re giving the winningest and longest tenured active coach in NCAA Division I FBS the send-off he deserves. And he got a hotdog named after him:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/11/19/virginia-tech-didnt-get-college-gameday-but-frank-beamer-got-his-own-hot-dog/

  46. I have great respect for Frank Beamer. It’s too bad they’re not playing Dook this weekend. But IF we win against VaTech, and IF we win against NC State, and IF we win against Clemson in the ACC championship, we could go to the playoffs.

    That’s amazing for us, a basketball school. And we’re going to be a final 4 contender this year. It’s a good time to be a UNC fan, my friends.

    (I bow before you, ye Gods of Sports, in all humbleness and do not intend my words here to bring curses upon my Heels, Amen.)

  47. (I bow before you, ye Gods of Sports, in all humbleness and do not intend my words here to bring curses upon my Heels, Amen.)

    Yeah, good luck with that. :-)

  48. I’m on metro north because I’m going to a holiday party. This post made me realize that my career has a lot of six degrees of separation in NY

    The law firm party is with people that I met during an on campus recruiting interview in college. I was an accounting major, but I didn’t want to work for the Big 8! I’m obviously older than some of you. I jumped back into interviews, and was hired with the finance majors to work in a training program for a bank. I rotated through several divisions, but I worked there for 10 years. They paid for my MBA in finance. I went part time at night, and then another bank hired me into a global training program. I was very single, so I took a chance and went to London. Some of my peers ended up in Singapore, and other great cities. I landed in Florida. It was nice, but I was bored. I called my old colleagues, and I got back into a large NYC bank.

    The same people that hired me out of college recommended me for a new product in their bank. I moved into this product, and it was investment banking. Long hours, but much more money than commercial bank.

    Two bank mergers later, I moved across the avenue to a small foreign bank. Same product, but much better hours.

    Then the financial crisis hit, and my product was part of the crisis. Long, long hours and a lot of stress. Low pay and little future in this product.

    Quit!! Working on compliance projects and uber volunteer for my local schools and undergrad university.

    I love finance, but I hate the hours. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the same people for over 25 years. We all work for different banks now, but the law firm party is almost like a reunion. We’re all clients or former clients of the law firm. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone.

  49. Milo, Rhett and anyone else still around, I’m going to hijack my friend Ris tomorrow. My car blew up. Irreparable at a reasonable cost. I am in the unexpected and unfortunate position of needing an interim car (junior’s future car) until I can bet my Lincoln. I’ll be asking for advice and let you know what I am thinking.

    But I will not hijack on the first day of a post so please don’t reply to this.

  50. There should have been a question mark after “Junior’s future car” That was a question. I don’t know yet.

  51. PTM – Tomorrow I’m taking a kid to the doctor’s for some weird rash, attending two parent-teacher conferences, then putting up the Christmas tree.

    “Christmas tree???” I said to DW incredulously. “Yes,” she replied. “Because next weekend we’re away the whole time. The following weekend my parents are coming, and we have my work party. And the weekend after that, your parents are here and we have your work party.” It’s true. It’s all on Cozi.

    So Christmas tree it is. At least I’ll feel justified in trying out the Christmas albums on the piano. I’ll check in about your car question, though.

  52. PTM – The Friday post is, IIRC, submitted by me, a very light topic that will carry over easily across the weekend, so feel free to hijack that one if you decide to wait until 11.

  53. DD – we could, but homework for my older two often requires some sort of parental participation, and then it’s nice to not completely ignore my three-year-old every night.

    Also, I’ve learned enough about DW over the years to understand that there are certain things that are just better to get off of her mental to do list. If this is out-of-the-way, she’s less likely to be waking me up at 3 AM feeling some undefinable stress.

  54. PTM – this is Grace’s post today. Interesting topic, btw, CofC!

    Sorry about your car. I can totally see you and Junior rolling through Miami in a Brinks Armored vehicle, music so loud people can feel it before they hear it. Too bad they don’t sell those commercially (anymore. The Hummer was close).

  55. That didn’t save my configuration exactly. I was going with white with the linen interior fully loaded including the V8 which was 48k.

  56. “I’ve learned enough about DW over the years to understand that there are certain things that are just better to get off of her mental to do list.”

    Milo, good for you to learn this so young! I (apparently, based on last night’s Christmas card ‘conversation’) have yet to internalize this aspect of partnership.

  57. Ris, thanks for pointing my error out. Sorry, CofC. You’re a good friend, too, and I won’t hijack you on the first day either. It”s just a protocol I observe. You posters deserve their time.

    Anyway, thanks for the interest. I’ll post something after midnight.

  58. Has anyone ever used an MBA to switch careers just because you are bored? It seems like an expensive boredom buster, but school is fun and work has gotten routine.

    I’ve looked into part time MBAs, and they do look interesting. But would a career switch work afterwards, or would employers not take a chance on a field-switcher?

  59. “Your time” in last sentence, first para. My next hijack will be on how to proof read before hitting send.

  60. PTM – the ride Rhett picked for you is showing $7225 under list on Truecar using the 331xx zip code. $40,450 with the less expensive option set. There’s one with a 5.7L hemi for $5k more. I’ll be happy to broker it for you.

  61. Oh, oh, if we’re doing cars, help me decide between a new Camry Hybrid and a new Impreza.

  62. Rocky,
    the camry if you’re mostly staying on the flat ground around Denver. The Subaru if you’re actually heading into the mountains to your west during winter. just my view.

  63. I hate the spoilers on the WRX. I want to take a torch to them and burn them off.

  64. “Has anyone ever used an MBA to switch careers just because you are bored?”

    DH did this. He got an MBA and left academia because he didn’t want to be stuck doing research for his whole career. Very smart move for him.

  65. PTM: What’s your price point for a car? I’d advise that you get a used Accord or Camry, but I’m boring like that.

  66. PTM, we’re (almost) always off-topic by 5 pm your time anyway, so spare us your humility!

  67. I see PTM and Junior in a car with a lot of pizzaz. If it is going to be Junior’s future car, it had better be good.

  68. OT – Business undergrad and MBA back to back due to recession at the time. Went to work in government in a job I loved and without a CEO change that made it unbearable, would have stayed munch longer.

    Next job (JOB 2), different and much bigger organization,but still in government. The same kind of work, same customers with a slightly different flavor. Moved within the organization to a similar job (JOB 3), but different type of customer, then was recruited back to JOB 2, but more money and specific project. CEO change coincided with DD#1 and within 3 months moved within the same organiation to JOB 4, which was more family friendly. JOB 4 was a tangent, but I learned a TON of stuff. New boss in JOB 4, who was very sexist and was pushing me into a role I didn’t want.

    So, onto JOB 5, in a different and still big organization in government and was the most different of any of the previous ones. I thought this job would be a good job to retire from as it had some pathways to part-time contract work that was attractive. Was going OK until we had a management change. New manager was systematically going through and getting rid of staff. The pattern of what was going on was clear. I should have seen it coming sooner, but I was too focused on my mom’s serious health problems at the time. After a stressful few months and just before the s*!t hit the fan, I made it to JOB 6.

    JOB 6, still in government, 4th organization and much smaller than prior two. I was on the other side of JOBs 1, 2 and 4. Stayed there until I retired…so total of 25 years. Retired early mainly due to parent’s health and DD#2’s needs and JOB 6 would not let me work part time. After retirement, I am now on JOB 7, with the same employer as JOB 6, but doing something completely different and part-time.

    JOBs 3, 4, 5 and 7 were all jobs where I had applicable skills, but not the job specific knowledge. I have heard the term “sponsor” vs. “mentor”. Sponsor is the one in the room who advocates for you, who thinks you can do the job even when you don’t have a specific track record in that area. All these jobs were the result of having a sponsor at the right place at the right time.

  69. I am back on the train. Great to catch up with old friends. I think a room full of 100% finance and legal types doesn’t sound fun to many of you, but it was great to catch up.

    Skip the BMW. I like it, but I don’t get the hype. I wonder if I should test drive a higher (more $) model to understand the supposed luxury thing. It’s much quieter than my Subaru, but it doesn’t even feel as nice as my Acura. Drinks, snacks and waiting room are 100% better than Acura, but that’s it.

    I was in a Range Rover today with a neighbor. I checked when I got home and it is very expensive. Interiors and ride didn’t feel special to me. I don’t understand the price of that car.

  70. Lauren,

    I think you want something smooth, comfortable and luxurious like a Mercedes (c-class or higher). BMW’s are traditionally more sporty than luxurious so the ride is less plush.

  71. ” I think a room full of 100% finance and legal types doesn’t sound fun to many of you”

    Yeah, a room full of engineers sounds like a lot more fun.

  72. I recently got a BMW. It isn’t luxurious. It is pretty utilitarian looking. But it is so much fun to drive. I have never really been a car person. But I love this car.

  73. For those who want a car that’s fun to drive, but for less than a BMW, I suggest test driving a Mazda. My Mazda is as much fun to drive as any car other car I can remember driving.

  74. Finn, after suffering weak gain at the poles, the National Transistor Party has been trying to energize their base.

  75. As I warned, this is my hijack. CofC, I am genuinely sorry, but I really need the help of the folks here who actually know something about cars. I don’t. I beg your indulgence, and thank all of you in advance.

    Anyway, my car bit the dust. Inexplicably, I managed to seize up the engine (zero warning signs). I am definitely going to need to buy a new car when I return from Junior’s annual birthday party avoidance tour. I have no thoughts on this—I wasn’t expecting this need to arise—and as you know, my next car is going to be a Lincoln Continental (aftershopped, if necessary, to get it in baby blue with a white naugahiyde top.)

    So this is a stop gap car, and I don’t have much money.

    Actually, it may not be a stop gap car. Junior is soon going to be driving—one can get a learners permit at 15 down here—and because I fully intend to stop driving when Junior starts, he will soon need a car. So what to get?

    I want it to be very, very safe for Junior and comfortable for me and something I can respectably be seen in before I pawn the thing off on Junior when the new Continentals come out. This week I have been renting a VW Passat which I kind of like, but I have no idea of its reliability or safety record. But that’s the price point I’m looking at. I really want it to be south of $30kl.

    Any thoughts? I really appreciate them. I really want a reliable, safe car—really safe—car for Junior, but okay for me to drive in until Ford gets its act together and puts out my Lincoln. Ris—can your BIL or whomever do something about getting Ford moving?

    But come hell or high water, I need to buy a new car the week after next.

  76. PTM – one factor to consider w/ this car could be insurance. Your broker/agent should be able to tell you the relative rates of insuring Junior on model X or model Y. Might not be a deal-breaking factor, but maybe one phone call to make before you sign anything at a dealership.

    Beyond that, I’ll let the car folks here advise–lots of good advice to be had from others in the this group.

    (I did ask DH just now about the latest friends&family discount if you decide to go domestic. He says TRUECar has a direct deal right now that’s better than F&F, so better to go through them. And I think the F&F rates have recently been offered nationally anyway–perhaps to compete w/ TRUECar. But when your new Lincoln rolls out, we’ll talk again to see if we can get one of the limited gold-plated ones tagged and set aside for you. :) )

  77. Thanks, Ris. Yes. I absolutely should call my insurance guy first. I can’t imagine, however, that any dorky car that I would get for myself would trigger any kind of insurance premium, but who knows. I appreciate the advice.

  78. PTM, I can’t believe I’m giving car advice, but here’s my two cents. Subaru models, at least both the Impreza and Forester, have the highest safety ratings. After considering both those models, I decided upon the Forester. It offers the Eyesight safety system, including automatic braking for anticipated front-end collisions and warnings if you stray out of your lane. Plus, important for me, it has wonderful visibility, better than other small SUVs and other cars in general. Bonus for me, a vertically challenged driver, is that the driver’s seat can be adjusted up and down. I love that. Plus I just like sitting up higher in general. It’s not a luxury car, and depending on the model you can probably buy for under or near $30,000. It’s also highly rated on other features, including reliability and customer satisfaction. I’m not sure if the AWD is as important for FL driving, but I believe it’s an advantage in wet weather.

    Oh, and official hijacking time is 4:pm EST, earlier for urgent matters. That’s my executive decision based on my blog admin. role, so it’s “official”. :)

  79. One of the staffers who helped us in buying our new Forester is president of the Westchester Subaru fan club. He drives an Impreza, and has photos on his desk showing his car in various locales challenging the elements. He really, really loves Subarus.

  80. PTM,

    Safe, reliable, under $30k, comfortable with cheap insurance for junior? The Toyota Avalon! They start at $32k but people pay about $5k less than that so you cold get a decently equipped one for ~$30k.

  81. PTM,
    No, No, No, on the Passat! It is a fun to drive money pit. The Hyundai Elantra, on the other hand, has been the perfect car. And the 10 year 100,000 mile warranty can’t be beat. Or should that be beaten? Finn? RMS?

  82. That said, I think the Azera’s corporate twin the Kia Cadenza is a better looking car and also comes with a 10 year warranty:

  83. PTM – south of $30k, reliable, safe, and something practical for Jr. to load all his belongings for college or the military or vocational training…no surprise here, I’d just get a CR-V.

  84. @PTM: Since you are going for safety, I started with the IIHS top picks list. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/TSP-List. I think you like larger cars, yes? So I would start with the Genesis, which is a “Top Safety Pick+”; Edmunds says you can get it for around $37K. Lincoln MKZ is a standard TSP for around $37K. Since it’s the end of the year AND the end of the month, you might be able to cut a screaming deal on a leftover 2015 model (this is about the time of year I got an awesome deal on my TL, because it was one of 4 2008s left on the lot).

    One problem, though, is that the large car with good power can be harder for a kid to learn to drive, just because there’s so much more to control. So I think there’s a tradeoff between your comfort/style/etc. and Junior’s ability to manage the car reliably under difficult circumstances, at least for the first couple of years. That said, I wouldn’t want to go teeny, because I know where you drive, and the idea of a little tin box on those freeways, well, it brings the word “chum” to mind.

    Which brings me to suggesting you look at slightly smaller, less powerful cars, at the expense of luxury. The incredibly boring and generic 2015 Camry ranges from $24-32K, and is a TSP+ if you get it with the optional front crash protection. I had one on a recent trip, and it was very roomy (caveat that I consider my TL “big” and the Mustang “huge”). In my experience, Toyota designs for comfort over driving experience, so I would choose them over Honda if you are going to be a passenger (though my mom just got a new Accord, and it is very nice). Or how about the Chrysler 200? TSP+ with the front crash protection, and also seems to run between $22-30K.

    I also bet you could get a screaming deal on a VW now. :-) But my experience with them is that they tend more toward the utilitarian/drivability vs. luxury/comfort. (My favorite moderately-priced brands are Mazda, Subaru, and VW, for the zippiness and handling; I am steering you away from them because the tradeoff tends to be a firmer ride and more plasticy interior feel).

  85. Rhett, the ride is exactly what I was looking for when I bought the BMW. I wanted a small car that is fun to drive. I loved driving my Subaru, and I was looking for the same type of ride with nicer interiors. I am 100% satisfied with how the BMW drives. I had to drive it home last night in really bad weather, and the handling is excellent. I just wish the interiors were nicer. I have no complaints about the car, but I just don’t think the cheaper models are worth the money.

    I

  86. I’d just get a CR-V.

    I noticed you didn’t say comfortable. They also start at $23,500 these days. The gap between a heavily discounted Avalon and a lightly discounted C-RV is going to be very small. Given his stated preference for full size Anerican luxury and the giant trunk and folding seats in the Avalon – I stand by the Avalon.

  87. Lauren,

    Did you look at the Audi or Mercedes? The new C-Class has the highest rated interior with the Audi a close second.

  88. It’s his kid’s car. PTM is just borrowing it. No 16-year-old wants an Avalon, and it’s not as practical for someone who will be moving around a little bit.

  89. Okay. Thanks for the advice, everyone. And CofC, thanks for establishing a hijacking policy.

    All this advice is good. Whoever warned me off the Passat, thank you. I have been liking it this week.

    I’m not fond of the Camry’s because they don’t look the part. I have to get the car into an executive parking lot and look like I belong there– cheap, but discerning.

    I hadn’t thought of the Subarus. I will look them up.

    Rhett, I simply cannot drive a KIA down here. Entry level mail room workers drive BMWs. No. Somebody would think I worked for the Miami Heard or something. However, I’m going to take a serious look at the Avalon. Is it good for safety, Rhett?

    Milo, I’m not crazy about the CRX, but I’ll take a look.

    Again, I really appreciate all your suggestions, folks. I am keeping a list of suggestions and I will track them all down. Oh, I am absolutely not going to get a baby Lincoln or for that matter spend $37k for a gap car or Junior’s first car.

    Thanks everybody.

  90. And I know what Junior wants. He wants either a Mustang or one of those Chrysler muscle cars. That is not going to happen. I’d look as ridiculous as I am in one of those, and I have absolutely zero desire to recapture my youth.

    I couldn’t care less whether Junior wants to drive an Avalon.

  91. No 16-year-old wants an Avalon

    They want a loud, cramped, rough riding, slow CR-V when they could have the sumptuous ride, vast space and effortless whisper quiet waftability of the 280bhp 3.5L Toyota V6 all available as standard on the 2016 Avalon?

  92. DH has a 2014 Forester, and while it does have some of the advantages CoC mentions, we both find it a bit uncomfortable for long drives. If we’re going somewhere that takes more than an hour, we always use the Camry.

  93. You might check to see if your local library has online access to Consumer Reports.

  94. I’m late to the car party, but I just drove a 2015 Corolla for a week. It was… OK… at best. It handled well enough and had decent pick up, but I could never get comfortable. Maybe because it’s a sedan, and I’m driving trucks and SUVs. That experience would set me apart from Toyota.

    I also test drove the CRV and couldn’t stand it. It was very utilitarian. But YMMV.

    I have to disagree with LfB. I find Mazda to be zippy, fun to drive, and comfortable. I drove a Mazda 6 for a week and found it very luxurious. It was a boat for me, but I did like it. If you want something Junior is going to like driving, I say the Mazda CX5. It’s roomy, zippy, fun, and a “cool” car (what kid doesn’t like an SUV?). A decently equipped one in my neck of the woods costs about $25-35K. Mazda is releasing a redesigned CX5 for 2016 (Motor Trend says it’s a major overhaul, but I haven’t seen one or investigated myself), so the 2015s will be discounted heavily to make room. Plus the added height will be a good feature when Miami starts to sink.

  95. For instance, Consumer Reports says:

    With its 2013 redesign, the Avalon strives to become more stylish and engaging to drive. This rethought big sedan is impressive in many ways, with a spacious interior, improved handling, and powerful yet efficient powertrains. But some of the changes eroded the car’s luxurious and easy-going nature. It no longer has the pillow-soft ride of its predecessor, which was one of its more remarkable features. The sharp new styling also took its toll on visibility, access, and the notably large backseat, which is now narrower and has less leg room.

    Since comfortable ride and visibility are critical to me, I’d drift away from it.

  96. PTM – my membership to consumer reports is still active. I’ll gladly look up anything you want and send you PDFs.

  97. Consumer Reports on the smoothest riding car you can buy:

    Mercedes S550

    Ride comfort is truly extraordinary in the S550. Even compared to its direct competitors, it stands out with remarkable absorption and a steady, calm and stately demeanor. Bumps and ruts disappear under the S550’s 19-inch tires and standard AirMatic suspension as if they weren’t even there. Ride motions are small yet slow, imparting a feeling of steadiness and composure that persists regardless of surface or speed. The highway ride is a serene, smooth glide.

    Sigh….

  98. Rhett, thanks for your offer. I may take you up on that when we get back. Also, I like the looks of the Avalon. I also like your suggestion of the Azera.

    I am keeping a list of all the suggestions and will look at all of them. Thanks, everybody. The input is really welcome because I’m really buying a car suddenly.

  99. PTM,
    Would you consider buying a used car? Unless you are a driver who dings his new car in a parking lot during the first month, you might find that Junior is too nervous to learn to drive because he doesn’t want to put the first dent in Dad’s new car. I can’t recall how close he is to permit age. All three of our kids learned to drive on a car (an Avalon) that had already been broken in, so to speak.

  100. I picked a car for my teen driver entirely for safety, after two friends/acquaintances were killed the same day in car accidents. We got an Altima, which had many more airbags and safety features than the 8 year old Miata she had been driving. We have had no issues with it, and it’s priced right. I’m not sure it meets your non-mailroom guy test, though.

    I agree with Scarlett on a pre-broken in car. Teen drivers are pretty brutal on vehicles. It needs to not be something you love if Jr is going to drive it. (Some of our car’s issues were just from parking it around other teens – got hit in the school parking lot, etc).

  101. We had a Ford Escape as a rental car recently, and it was great. I thought to myself it would be a perfect first car for a kid. I think it’s similar to the Honda CRV. No idea about safety ratings for it though.

    I love my minivan, but it will hit 100,000 in the next year, and that’s about all the attention span I have for a car. Am actively saving for its replacement – thinking Toyota Sequoia?

  102. MBT & Scarlett,

    It’s an Avalon not a Duesenberg. I don’t think PTM is going to mind a few dents and dings.

    When he gets this of course, I doubt junior will be able to drive it:

  103. I actually really like the Altima, too, at least in the world of “larger cars I get stuck with as rentals.” And it’s a TSP for 2015. But at least the ones I’ve rented haven’t been very luxurious.

    I’d also consider the Buick Verano — you can get it in leather for $30K. I think Buick does a great job of making their vehicles feel pretty plush for a reasonable price (our Encore has been awesome, especially as a passenger). Plus it’s a smaller engine and FWD so less like to get Junior flattened while learning to handle it.

  104. I have no problem with a used car. I worry about the timing with that, though. And that is a good thought, Scarlett, about the inevitable dings the car will get once Junior takes possession.

  105. PTM,
    Another thing to consider is the expected life span of this car. Junior will need it while he is in high school. Beyond that, you may not be certain whether he will want, need, or be permitted to have a car. You don’t want to be stuck babysitting “his” car (or driving it) while he is off studying or working in a car-free environment.

  106. Mercedes S550…I wonder how much money I’d have to have in order to feel comfortable buying a $230K car. I think we’re talking Powerball money.

  107. Mercedes S550…I wonder how much money I’d have to have in order to feel comfortable buying a $230K car.

    They start well equipped at $94,500. The $230k one is the V12 S600 Maybach long wheel base which is marketed to heads of state.

  108. “Has anyone ever used an MBA to switch careers just because you are bored?”

    Anon – I can’t say I was bored when I got my MBA, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to, or even would be able to, stay in my industry long-term. I figured I could use what I learned to move up (and I did, rather quickly), but also to be more versatile when the time came for a change (it did, and I was). If I had not had the choice to go another direction when I was laid off, I’d probably be in a cubicle at the department of transportation right now tweaking CAD models of highway improvements.

  109. Saturdays are always a fun day to ride around here because those who have nicer or vintage cars take them out for a spin. DS is always going “Mom, did you see that ?” and then we’ll have a nice chat about what we liked about it about the car. DS loves blingy wheels.

  110. Louise,

    That’s the 2017 Lincoln Continental that PTM is desperate to buy just as soon as it comes out.

  111. Rhett
    Yes. Audi was already selected and Fred even helped with pricing.

    A report came out from the government that the A4 failed a driver collision test. It wasn’t a minor flaw and I couldn’t wait a year for the new model to correct problem.

    I test drive lots of Japanese cars and I didn’t like the way they drove. I liked the Subaru and Mazda, but still stuck on wanting something nicer. The BMW is a great drive (for me). I live off a very curvy main road. I really enjoy driving the car. I thought the interior of Audi was nicer for similar price. I just couldn’t buy the A4 when it just failed such a major test.

    My husband likes the BMW more than the Subaru, but he just likes it for local driving. If we drive an hour or more, he prefers Acura due to comfort. I know more expensive BMWs have much nicer leather and finishes. I just don’t want to spend that much in 2018 when I’m off lease. I’ll still be in recovery mode from the bat/bar mitzvah year.

  112. Scarlett, this is Florida. There are no car free zones just as there are no gun free zones. Junior will always have a car and a semi-automatic.

  113. RMS,

    So, I decided to run the numbers. According to the Google your total automotive PITI shouldn’t exceed 10% of your gross income. So, let’s say you’re a typical totebagger but you decided to trade the TL and the MDX in for an S550 and an X5. Getting 25k for the Acuras, the payments on the Mercedes and the BMW would be $1923.25/month. Add in say another $250 a month for insurance and you’re at $2173 a month implying a gross income of $21,730 a month or $260,760 a year or almost $10k below the totebag median income.

  114. @Rhett – it is a beautiful car. I want a nice car when I get rid of my current vehicle. I really don’t think I should pass it along to DS. It will kill his image :-).

  115. “the payments on the Mercedes and the BMW would be $1923.25/month.”

    Holy hell, Batman. I’ve never had a car payment above $300 (so, inflating to 2015, maybe $500-600).

  116. Holy hell, Batman. I’ve never had a car payment above $300 (so, inflating to 2015, maybe $500-600).

    What was that as a percentage of your gross income at the time?

  117. HM – I enjoyed the Back in Time for Dinner – 50s. I’ll watch the rest of the series. It was interesting to see the food and what wartime rationing allowed you to eat. I had no idea that it went on for so long.

  118. Rhett,

    Could we do it without going bankrupt? Yes. But it’s so far out of my middle-class comfort range. It’s all about value for the dollar. If someone said, “hey, there’s a nice house in Palo Alto on a big lot for $240K, do you want it?” I’d crawl over broken glass all the way to California dragging the entire amount behind me in pennies. But for a car? No. No way.

  119. At its highest point, I think it was $289/mo on a 3-year loan, right out of law school, when I made $57K + small bonus. So what’s that, 5-6%?

  120. “thinking Toyota Sequoia?”

    Actually, so am I. After I get my boat, if I decide that we want to take it different places, I want a 13-year-old Sequoia with a tow hitch, a V8 engine, auxiliary transmission cooler, cloth seats, and no fewer than 150,000 miles.

    Other than for towing, I figure I’ll drive it to work once a month. It will last forever.

    For the right price, an Expedition or Suburban or Tahoe will fit the bill, too.

  121. The payment on our minivan is $515, and that was after putting $5,000 on the credit card. One more year of that, and we can call Dave Ramsey and scream “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!”

  122. LfB,

    Including insurance maybe 7%?

    I’ve noticed the continual increase in affluence since we all started here back in the day at TOS. I’ll be fascinated to learn what everyone will end up doing when: the kids are out of college, the house is paid off, the retirement accounts are funded and they we’re 55 with $25k a month (or more) in gross income.

  123. Do not get a VW. They are expensive to fix. I had them for many years and do not regret switching to Toyota at all. My Camry is starting to need more repairs that I like after 11 years parked outdoors in this climate. Since I just put a new set of tires on it in April, I want to get 18 more mos out of it before buying a new car (it is not sensible to purchase a car in the fall unless there is a huge deal), but I told my mechanic that we are getting to the tipping point very quickly. However, after each repair, it starts to drive like new, it already has its dings, and it only has 81k on it. Maybe 1.5k per year in repairs isn’t so bad. Rhett’s advice on the Avalon is sounding better by the minute, although I prefer a slightly smaller car so the souped up Camry, which is almost the same, might be my choice unless the Avalon is significantly cheaper. Leather heated seats and dual climate controls are a must. The Corolla is slightly too small for my taste and does not have enough pick up for a driver whose reflexes are no longer the fastest. I also live in a very hilly town.

  124. “I’ll be fascinated to learn what everyone will end up doing when: the kids are out of college, the house is paid off, the retirement accounts are funded and they we’re 55 with $25k a month (or more) in gross income.”

    My current plan is to shriek “free at last,” quit my job, and not come home for at least a year while I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

  125. “I’ve noticed the continual increase in affluence since we all started here back in the day at TOS.”

    Really? I thought it was our friend who always contrasted the $1,000 bday parties with the post-Recession penury.

    The first part must have been before my time here. I don’t remember any of it.

  126. Really? I thought it was our friend who always contrasted the $1,000 bday parties with the post-Recession penury.

    I think that was a general cultural criticism vs. something specifically targeted at us.

  127. Oh it was definitely targeted at “us.” At whom, specifically, I’m not sure. Maybe Ellie? I miss her.

  128. Geez, that car payment Rhett proposes is double my mortgage payment! I just made the last $520 payment on my Highlander, now just need to get H to go to the DMV with me to take each other off our respective titles.

  129. @Milo – whenever my kids are dressed poorly to go out in public, I always think of Ellie and her standards for kid’s dress. I am nowhere close, the least I can do is say “comb your hair”.

  130. Louise -I don’t remember that. That must have been before I got here.

    I remember the FIL who referred to her finance job that kept the family afloat for several years after her DH’s job evaporated as her “little gig.”

  131. @Milo – from what I recall, she had a high powered job, two kids in private school. They may have lived close to the water, because they belonged to a boat club and the kids went sailing.

  132. PTM, I’m late to this party, but my Dad (late sixties) just went through the car buying process. He and his brother both had worsening arthritis during their sixties and both settled on a mid-height vehicle (minivan for my uncle, Equinox for my Dad, both are over 6′ tall). Will getting into and out of a sedan be comfortable for you in the next few years?

    My Dad, who is cheap and puts lots of miles on his cars visiting grandchildren, also made sure he had a backup camera, because it’s getting harder for him to see. We have a right-side camera on our minivan and that’s nice as well. I suspect any vehicle that meets the mailroom test will have these cameras, but I wanted to make the comment, based on the observations of my Dad/uncle.

  133. Louise – Darien, near Long Island Sound and Connectitcut’s infamously exclusive “town beaches.”

    “Will getting into and out of a sedan be comfortable for you in the next few years?”

    Ouch. WCE with the slam.

  134. I’m guilty of hosting expensive bday parties. I don’t think Ellie did expensive parties, or she didn’t mention it. I miss her voice. I’m happy to be out of the inviting the whole preschool/neighborhood to the Little Gym parties. It was expensive to try and be inclusive.

  135. Tee, hee, Milo. Yes, WCE. I’m okay getting of low seated cars. It was not a bad question to ask if you were serious. If it was a slam, it was brilliant! Worthy of the hall of fame.

  136. “One more year of that, and we can call Dave Ramsey and scream “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!””

    No mortgage?

  137. “Will getting into and out of a sedan be comfortable for you in the next few years?”

    My new SUV has an a power rear door. My thinking was that having to manually open that door would while trying to maneuver around with my walker would be challenging. :)

  138. “Maybe 1.5k per year in repairs isn’t so bad.”

    No, the cost isn’t bad compared to the annual depreciation of a relatively new car. For me, it would be the hassle factor and the reduced reliability, as well as the new safety features, that would push me toward a new car at that point.

    “it is not sensible to purchase a car in the fall unless there is a huge deal”

    There are often moderately large deals in fall, as dealers clear space for the new model year, especially models that are getting a total upgrade.

    “My Camry is starting to need more repairs that I like after 11 years parked outdoors in this climate.”

    Any thought to using a car cover? Probably not year round, but from late spring to early fall, and especially when you don’t plan to drive for a full day or more.

  139. That is nice, Rhett. Too rich for my blood.

    Finn, that’s correct. I was joking about calling Ramsey’s show, though.

    I just spent $800 on my old, loud, slow CR-V for new front brake calipers and pads, and the previously discussed dashboard light repair. My mechanic expressed surprise at how expensive the replacement calipers were.

  140. “I’ll be fascinated to learn what everyone will end up doing when: the kids are out of college, the house is paid off, the retirement accounts are funded and they we’re 55 with $25k a month (or more) in gross income.”

    I’ll be well past 55 when the kids are out of college, and I don’t see us ever getting to $25k/mo, but two things I definitely will be doing are sleeping more and exercising more. Probably reading more too.

  141. PTM, it was not a slam. Except for the time I teased you about my Dad the exterminator refusing to hang out with you in Florida, all my slams against you have been accidental.

    I was trying really hard NOT to slam you this time.

    I think back pain/arthritis is common in tall men. Among the men I know around 6′ 6″, the problems are getting bad around 50.

  142. Damn, WCE! It would have been such a marvelous slam. Keep it for further use! It’s a good one.

    I do have a problem with some cars, so thanks for your concern. Almost 20 years ago, I was in an auto accident and I had real nerve damage to one of my legs. That ended my running career and biking and any possibility of being a decent father to Junior, but I don’t walk with a limp and I am very lucky to have that part of my leg.

    Generally, however, I’m okay with getting into and out of cars.

  143. Houston and SWVA, thanks for the mba comments. It sounds like it worked out for everyone! It’s just nerve-wracking to think about taking years now to pay for the privelege of potentially making less once I graduate! I hope that median salary information was skewed by the average age and amount of experience of the students.

    PTM, I apologize…I drive a honda fit and until recently, my requirements for a car were that it had 4 doors and brakes. The Fit doesn’t pass the mailroom test, but I can tell you that it can almost fit as much cargo as a Lexus lx. You wouldn’t have believed that until you saw it! I also fit a loveseat in there once, which was only possible because the seats fold perfectly flush with the trunk.

  144. Houston and SWVA, thanks for the mba comments. It sounds like it worked out for everyone! It’s just nerve-wracking to think about taking years now to pay for the privilege of potentially making less once I graduate! I hope that median salary information was skewed by the average age and amount of experience of the students.

    PTM, I apologize…I drive a honda fit and until recently, my requirements for a car were that it had 4 doors and brakes. The Fit doesn’t pass the mailroom test, but I can tell you that it can almost fit as much cargo as a Lexus lx. You wouldn’t have believed that until you saw it! I also fit a loveseat in there once, which was only possible because the seats fold perfectly flush with the trunk.

  145. “what are you expecting a car cover to do in terms of longevity, other than cosmetic?”

    The same sort of benefits as covered parking, at reduced levels.

  146. Ha, I had meant to say that I apologize for having no car knowledge, not just a general random apology thrown in a sentence. Good thing you all have such great knowledge to share!

  147. “The same sort of benefits as covered parking, at reduced levels.”

    Which is what, other than reduced fading? I could see where an attached garage that stays about 15 degrees warmer than the outside air in the winter minimizes the severity of cold starts, but a cover (or even a carport) isn’t going to do that. Covered parking keeps your car dry from snow and ice, but an icy car cover is a nightmare (I used a car cover in college).

  148. The tropical sun will degrade plastic and rubber over time. Exposure to rainstorms will eventually corrode exposed metal. And salt air is hell on everything.

  149. Check out Costco Auto if you are looking at new/preowned cars. They have a negotiated deal on most car models. They refer you to a dealer in the area who is on the plan. I just got an Acura RDX for under the invoice price with no haggling required
    .

  150. Milo, Mémé had mentioned her car needing more repairs “after 11 years parked outdoors in this climate.”

    If being parked outdoors was contributing to the need for more repairs, I figured a car cover might mitigate that.

  151. Finn – It is the outdoor temperature swings from sunlight to darkness and/or weeks of below zero temperatures in the dead of winter that stress metal and rubber. I use my car on average once a day. A car cover is not worth the trouble unless you are leaving the car unused for weeks or months in blazing sunlight or under a mound of snow. What I was trying to say more exactly is that in this climate, constant weather related bumpiness in the roads and driveways and parking lots, salt in the winter that gets onto the car, plus the stresses of parking outside in freezing and snowy weather contribute to all of those noodgy 250 dollar repairs for deterioration of this or that gasket, suspension wear and tear, brake cleaning, wheel alignment, tire deterioration, etc.

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