Paying for college

by Sheep Farmer

High school seniors are excited about college acceptances, and their parents are worrying about how they are going to finance the next four years. DD will be attending an Expensive Private College (EPC) starting in August. Luckily, she was awarded a merit scholarship that cuts tuition in half. Both sets of grandparents have generously contributed to a 529. I plan to pay the rest out of pocket. We have talked to her about working during the school year, but I told her that she could wait until after the first semester before deciding whether or not that is something that she wants to pursue. What are others doing to finance their children’s education, especially ones that will be attending EPCs? Have any of your kids considered the ROTC route? Are you going to encourage them to work during the school year? Are you willing to pay the full fare for an EPC?

Shopping across the gender divide

by S&M

Most of us would have no problem stepping across the baby blue/pink divide to pick up an item for our children, but for ourselves, as adults? Have you purchased or do you use items not designed for your gender? Why or why not?

My feet are size 10 in women’s, size 8 in men’s. I’ve bought men’s shoes twice: my leather Converse for high school basketball and a pair of oxfords. The BB shoes were ok, but the others never felt right on my feet. Maybe it was just the shoes, I don’t know, but that put me off buying men’s shoes. 20 or 30 years ago, I bought “men’s” bikes because the crossbar made them more stabile. I consider the tools I own to be gender neutral. Some were my grandfather’s. When I chose the others, color was not a consideration.

5 Items You Should Buy From the Men’s Section

So how about it? What do you own that might be considered not gender-appropriate? How did you make the choice to buy or use it? Do you feel any repercussions from either crossing that line or following it too closely?

Foods and Health

by Louise

I have become interested in the many people I meet who are careful about what they eat.  Lots of people have reduced or cut out gluten from their diets as well as diary.  Teens now go vegan.

What has been your experience with cutting out certain foods? Do you feel better in your gut, have you lost weight and feel healthier overall?

14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

What Does Your State Shop For?

by Honolulu Mother

Estately (a real estate blog I guess?) put together a map showing what item each state shops for more frequently than any other state:

Thrillist also wrote it up here:

THIS MAP SHOWS THE MOST COMMON ONLINE SHOPPING SEARCHES IN ALL 50 STATES

You can scroll down to see the complete list from each state. Hawaii’s looks mostly right, though I’m not sure what’s up with that Flowbee. Some other states have explaining to do — Colorado and Kansas, is it the long winters? Rhode Island, I feel your pain.

How about your state — does the list surprise you?

Taking a career pause

by Up North

While scrolling through a list of new books available at my local library, I came across “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career” by Lisen Stromberg. I was intrigued to find out what the author meant by a work pause and if it may be applicable to my own career path.

The author defines a pause as “temporarily reframing of one’s priorities to place the personal before the professional.” Stromberg notes there are different kinds of pauses that she labels Cruisers: staying in the paid work force with a downshift to part time work or a flexible work arrangement, Boomerangs: leave the workplace completely and then recommit to their careers by returning to their previous industry, and Pivoters: leave the workplace completely and pivot to a new profession. She notes a pause can happen with young children, older children, or when one is taking care of a parent.

The book gives a name to the career/life path I’ve chosen to take and discusses many others who are also creating their own path. Stromberg states that we have a bias against caregiving in this country and that often a career pause isn’t the “choice” it’s often made out to be.

I have downshifted my career to be my children’s primary caregiver. I started my career at a large firm, worked PT at a smaller firm for a couple of years, was primarily a SAHM for 1.5 years, and now work at a large firm with a flexible work arrangement. There are trade-offs to the path I’ve taken. On the plus side, I’ve had more time with my children, more time for my own interests, and have been able to “stay in the game” professionally. Some of the downsides are having less challenging assignments than I would likely be given if I didn’t have a FWA, having others assume I am not as committed to my career, and watching others pass me by career-wise. I enjoy working and would like to focus more on my career when my kids are a bit older. I hope that reading this book will help me to do so.

Here’s a link to a review of the book:

Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

If you’ve taken a pause in your career, in what way did you pause? How has it worked out for you?

For those of you who haven’t taken a career pause, what do you think of those who pause? Should work places do more to accommodate caregiving pauses?

Trade-offs between privacy and security

by S&M

The first half of page 68 could be fodder for discussion of the trade-offs between privacy and security.

The Wealth Report 2017

Privacy is rapidly becoming an unattainable luxury

Most people value privacy and, understandably, prefer to keep information about their investments and assets to themselves.

The unrealistic nature of this aspiration was highlighted early last year when nearly 12 million documents, including private financial information relating to more than 200,000 individuals and entities – the so-called Panama papers – were leaked to the media. It was proof, if proof were needed, that no data can be truly secure.

However, concerted international co-operation aimed at helping governments understand and track the global movement of wealth and assets may soon render such unofficial leaks redundant. The
US started the process in 2010 with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which led to a unilateral demand for foreign financial institutions to report details of accounts and investments held by US citizens.

Aside from prompting several thousand Americans to renounce their citizenship including, reportedly, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and forcing the Swiss to evolve their banking secrecy rules, FATCA has prompted a global copycat move from the OECD. Its
decision to agree information sharing among 100 countries through the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) will trigger a data deluge later this year, as jurisdictions around the world begin the automatic exchange of information on their citizens’ financial information. The CRS promises a more efficient means of ensuring that appropriate tax is paid on wealth, wherever in the world it is created. Most of those affected by the new regulations will have no issues. But for some, unlimited data sharing will raise personal risk, especially if corruption enters the process.

As investment portfolios become more global and wealth moves more rapidly we should not be surprised that the direction of travel is towards “big data” capture. As Ian Bremmer notes on
page 9, governments will have to look for new metrics to accurately measure emerging wealth and economic trends which have significant political implications.

This points to an issue that runs throughout this year’s edition of The Wealth Report, which is that developed markets are seeing more politically inspired resistance to large inflows of capital from
emerging markets: witness responses in Vancouver, Hong Kong and more, as detailed on pages 18 and 19.

At the same time, emerging markets are concerned – increasingly so in the case of China – about outbound capital flows. This government desire to control wealth movements will inevitably necessitate a better understanding of where citizens hold their wealth.

Irrespective of current government initiatives, technological developments will make it increasingly difficult to hold assets and investments discreetly, even where the objective is to maintain privacy rather than to evade taxation. If the predictions on page 20 from one of our contributors, David Friedman, prove correct, technology is moving towards a future where the entire ownership of all global assets will be free to search in real time.

All this has profound implications for those jurisdictions that have built their business models around their ability to provide investment secrecy. Access to the likes of private aviation may allow the wealthy to continue enjoying a measure of personal privacy, but data privacy is set to become an increasingly rare commodity.

Taking Care of Elderly Relatives

by AustinMom

This topic was triggered by a question asked by a regular recently about what support do you really need to provide the “more healthy” elderly who have their mental capacity and sufficient financial resources. It reminded me that I had that similar question several years ago.

As regulars know, my dad passed away in May 2015 and my mom followed him in April 2016. My mom was 9 years older than my dad, but she was always the healthier one, per their doctors (shared same primary care, cardiologist, and ophthalmologist). My parents were open about discussing both their finances and health care information in the last 5 years before they passed. However, knowing information and stepping in to help or completely manage these things is a big step.

Since my mom passed, I have three acquaintances who have started down this similar path with one or both elderly parents. In each case, the point at which the family member(s) needed to consider downsizing was foreseeable, but then the switch to needing significant participation in caregiving was abrupt and not anticipated.

The “problem” I observed, in my own situation and in theirs, is that when that change takes place you aren’t as prepared as you’d like to be and you are too enmeshed that you don’t have the time to start doing the research. While there is tons of information out there, it all seems to be scattered like parts of a jigsaw puzzle dumped on the floor. No one seems to have that “complete checklist of elder care considerations”, either from the what to do in advance, what to do when you find yourself unexpectedly care-giving, or how to handle the estate upon passing.

From some of the comments on other posts, a number of Totebaggers have recently been, are in the midst of, or can see this coming in their families. If you were asked to contribute to that “complete checklist”, what would you put on it?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to discuss any topic at any time of the day.

Since tomorrow is tax filing deadline, maybe this is on your mind.  What do your tax habits say about you?

Your Accountant Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself
As tax deadlines near, one preparer explains how reading her clients helps their bottom lines

What personal hangups affect the way people manage their taxes?

Some people walk in the door saying, “I hate paperwork. I hate taxes.” These people are avoiders. They don’t seem to care that much about money. Even if avoiding tax planning costs them money, they’d rather not deal with it. They don’t see themselves as able to get ahead financially. They don’t feel like they have any control, when in fact they do.

Others are procrastinators who have fallen years behind on filing returns, and the onset of the tax season triggers guilt or anxiety. These clients need more structure from us. Before they leave the office, I suggest they set another appointment in advance. Or I say, “Here’s one action to take: When you go back to the office I want you to adjust your W-4 and have an additional $50 taken out of your paycheck.”

Gifted vs. high-achieving

by S&M

“Giftedness” does not mean “likely to come out ahead in any competition”. Gifted children often are non-neurotypical in other ways as well, in ways that make learning in standard classrooms difficult. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy (setting up classes according to it)?

The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

‘Locker room talk’

by L

“Locker room talk” and “boys will be boys” – in the wake of our current president’s words (and alleged sexual assaults), what solutions would Totebaggers suggest? Parents of boys, how would you feel if your son was one of the people scoring women?

2012 Harvard Men’s Soccer Team Produced Sexually Explicit ‘Scouting Report’ on Female Recruits

Stronger Together

WATCH: Harvard women’s soccer’s response to ‘scouting reports’ featured in Lifetime video

Surprised by Shaker style

by S&M

Whaaaaaat?

Every once in a while, you learn something that turns your understanding of the world on its head. This article was like that for me. In my geography, PhD, the two-way, relationship between society and space was a major topic. One of my dissertation advisors ran a speaker series. He often took visiting speakers out to the Shaker site near campus, which he used to illustrate and further think through ideas about society and space. I went along a couple of times. Thinking of those theories always brings to mind the soothing spaces in those buildings. They are so serene that I picture people going about their tasks happily in a very orderly fashion, without loud noises or motions. The meeting hall has a large open space which was used for the movements the sect is named for. It is similarly pale and calming. I have always thought of those ecstatic dances as contrasting starkly with the gentle colors and perfect order.

Now comes this. The forms and measurements of those spaces doesn’t change because of it, but human perception of them would riotous color suggests a very different mood of the people who created it and lived there. I highly doubt that rethinking that space through brightly colored glasses will overturn my entire PhD, but it is still somehow unsettling to see such a change in something (a place) where many of those ideas came to life.

Or we could talk cupboards, if you want.

ARTS/ARTIFACTS;Even Before the Movies, the Shakers Had Technicolor

A Quick Fix for the Blues

by Honolulu Mother

This article in The Week offers a few quick ways to boost your happiness.  At the end of the article (which gives more detail on why and how this works), it sums them up thus:

Sum up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

1. Ask “what am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.

2. Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.

3. Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”

4. Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Are there mood-boosters we could add to this list? For me, I would add (1) Go for a walk and (2) Put on cheerful music. What suggestions do others have?

How would you cut your household spending?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Let’s look at the unpleasant version of a question that was posed here recently.  Instead of asking what you would do with an extra $2500 each month, today’s question is about tightening your belt.

How would you deal with being forced to trim $2500 (or another amount) from your monthly family budget?  The reason could be a job loss, new daycare or college expenses, or any number of other scenarios.

Pick a dollar amount or percentage, and tell us what you would cut from your budget.  Also, how could you boost your household income?  A side gig, SAHP returns to the work force, sell valuables, or other ways to “find money“?

To inspire you, take a look at this comparison of two very different family budgets.  How could an “average family” trim their budget?

Movie recommendations

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I just finally got around to seeing “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It was really cute, and it moved right along. There wasn’t too much embarrassment humor ( I HATE embarrassment humor) and really, you could watch it with kids over the age of 10 without too much cringing.

I do love a good romcom, and by “good”, I mean not sappy or horrifying or grotesquely embarrassing.

I guess some of my other romcom go-tos include “L.A. Story”, “It Happened One Night”, and “Philadelphia Story”. I think I have “Philadelphia Story” memorized.

What are your movie recommendations? What genres are your go-tos? What
have you seen lately that you recommend?

Should You Worry About the Person the Dog Dislikes?

by Honolulu Mother

I was intrigued by this Quora discussion on whether dogs’ and cats’ reactions to people are meaningful indicators. In other words, should you be wary of someone your pet avoids or dislikes, and be inclined to trust the person the pet takes an immediate shine to?

Do certain people give off an aura to animals? My cat hisses severely at this person, and my dog hides.

Gender imbalance in the workplace

by L

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

Totebaggers, how would you suggest decreasing sexism and increasing the number of women in tech? Law? Banking? Other fields? On the other side of the coin, how would you increase the number of men in “pink collar” jobs? Or would you rather leave well enough alone? If gender gaps in certain jobs/industries don’t bother you, why not?

Retail trends

by Grace aka costofcollege

When I think of my shopping habits 30, 20, or even five years ago I am astounded at how the retail landscape has changed.  And more changes are in store.  (Pun intended.)

Here are a few random stories that touch on different retail trends.

Sears Transformed America. It Deserves to Die With Dignity.

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands

Costco’s biggest mistake in 2016

Now’s the Time for Big-Box Stores to Embrace the 19th Century

For retailers and their landlords, the future lies in giving customers a place to socialize and learn. Spending time with friends, meeting new people, and acquiring hands-on skills aren’t as enjoyable online. The challenge today is to recreate the old excitement for a new era, selling not exotic merchandise and unfamiliar culture but the pleasures of human contact and physical presence.

Death of the Shoe Salesman, Finally

Payless is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.  And what’s the future for shopping malls?

Mall Closures Ripple Through Small Town America

Mall Owners Rush to Get Out of the Mall Business
Surge in store closures prompts some shopping-center owners to walk away from troubled locations

What are some important retail changes you have seen? Malls, clothing, shoes, homes, cars, appliances, groceries, and travel have all been affected.  What are the upsides and downsides?  What changes do you expect within the next five years and beyond?

Your retirement location and home

by S&M

The Wealth Report

Some people here are planning their retirement, while for others it is dreamily far off. What are your criteria for your retirement home? Can you picture yourself living outside the US? This chart shows how much floorspace can be purchased for $1 million in various cities around the world. (1 sq m=10.76 sq ft) Pages 20, 21, 25, & 26 at the link give thumbnail descriptions of neighborhoods ready to grow in transportation & infrastructure, tech & creative industries, and for bargain hunters, as well as neighborhoods feeling the aftermath of gentrification and “hot spots” around the world. Do any of them look like “home” to you?