Thursday open thread

What’s on your mind?


Charging Your Kids Room and Board

by Ginger

My daughter, a recent college graduate, moved back home after graduation. She has a well-paying job and she’s living at home to build up her savings. She has no student loans. DH and I discussed that once DD starts working full time, she should contribute to household expenses, and we agreed on a monthly amount for room and board.

We broached the topic with DD a couple of months before she started her job. She was angry and offended. She’s reluctantly paying room and board while slowly getting used to the idea. She’s also finding out that some of her friends are paying room and board, too, as well making student loan payments.

DH and I both paid room and board for the short time that we lived at home after college. Totebaggers, did you pay room and board if/when you moved back home after college? Do you plan on asking your kids to contribute to household expenses if they live with you post-graduation?

My grown kid lives at home. How much rent should I charge?

Why you should consider charging your kids board

Tuesday open thread

We can discuss whatever’s on our mind today.

Soup is on my mind.  Some of you have recently mentioned making soup.  Care to share recipes?  (I still make and enjoy Lark’s easy white bean soup, spiced up for our tastes.)

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Charging Your Kids Room and Board   (Ginger)
Thursday  —  Open thread
Friday  —  Weird news from New Jersey  (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Admissions lottery for college

by North of Boston

When we’ve talked about the admissions process for highly-selective colleges in the past, people here have remarked that choosing randomly from amongst a college’s applicant pool would probably be just as good as a big, high-priced admissions committee hand-picking individuals from that pool. Well, apparently some people who study such things agree that a lottery system would be a good idea:

Why elite colleges should use a lottery to admit students

So, Totebaggers, what do you think? For any college (not just the elite ones), do you like the idea that applicants should just have to show a baseline level of academic proficiency, and then just have a lottery determine who gets in?

Utilities failure

by WCE

Pacific Gas and Electric may declare bankruptcy over liability for California wildfires. Given that utilities are heavily regulated and limited to ~5% profitability by those regulators and that trimming trees and burying power lines are both expensive, I’m not sure that having some other company owning the pipelines and power lines in California will make much of a difference. Based on maintenance of school buildings and public housing, I suspect state or federal governments would do a worse job of funding routine maintenance if government owned utilities outright.

PG&E to file for bankruptcy following devastating California wildfires WaPo

MLK Day open thread

What’s on your mind today?

Upcoming topics:

Tuesday  —  Put out to pasture too soon   (Rocky Mountain Stepmom)
Wednesday  —  Pantry pests!  (Rhode)
Thursday  —  Utilities failure   (WCE)
Friday  —  Admissions lottery for college  (North of Boston)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Tips for Aging Well

by Seattle Soccer Mom

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and then was inspired by Scarlett’s question of why people don’t plan for older folks who are likely to have sudden medical crises (my answer – living in denial (about my father) seems easier in the short run than actually dealing with it; also there do not appear to be any good options).

Here are my thoughts on what I plan to do as I get older – but I’d also greatly appreciate tips on dealing with aging parents who have little financial resources and have not done any planning.

  • Exercise so I can maintain mobility for as long as possible. My mother a) did not exercise and b) was quite heavy the combination of which made her final years when she was dealing with cancer even more difficult. And even before the cancer diagnosis she would complain about all the stairs in our house or if she had to walk a couple blocks or walk up hill. This was in her 60s. When she was understandably quite weak from cancer, the fire dept. had to be called a couple times to help lift her as she was too heavy for her caregivers to lift.
  • If I’m going to relocate, try to do so when I’m in my 60’s and still have the capacity to make friends and develop a social network. My father relocated to Seattle when he was 77. He has short term memory issues which makes connecting with people and making new friends difficult. He is quite lonely as I am his only social support. My MIL, on the other hand, has lived in Tacoma almost her entire left and has a great support network.
  • Aging in a city seems or in a small/mid-size town where you can walk everywhere seems much easier than in a rural area (or a suburban area that requires driving). The plus of my dad moving to Seattle from Palm Springs is that he can walk to the grocery story and the gym and then take Uber and/or bus/train to places outside of his walking zone.
  • If you relocate, consider how easy it is for family to visit. My mom relocated in her 50s to Northwest Arkansas – beautiful area (Ozarks) – but it required 2 plane rides followed by a 2 ½ hour drive for any of us to visit her. She had to drive to go anywhere. When she got sick with pneumonia she was stuck (we rotated flying out to stay with her but that wasn’t a practical long-term solution). This experience caused my mom to relocate outside of Sacramento – easy airport access for the rest of us.
  • Move out of our current house (not at all age friendly and not really possible to make it age friendly) into a more age friendly house in our 60’s. Don’t wait until we are 83 and need a walker to realize that our current house isn’t age friendly.
  • Try to be proactive in planning for my old age and not just wait for a crisis that forces my kids to deal with it (aka my father’s approach).

Fellow totebaggers – what tips do you have? And I’d greatly appreciate any that have to do with aging parents who are stuck in denial (and don’t have the assets to move into a retirement community). And/or lessons learned from working with your parents.

Silly Tricks for Budgeting

by Louise

Now, that Holiday shopping is coming to a close, let’s examine our spending. Did you spend too much and a fiscal shutdown is in order or are there still a few dollars in the piggy bank ? What are some of your budgeting tricks ? Putting money away in discretionary spending accounts, not going over a certain amount in your bank or credit card, waiting for returns to be credited before buying more, no more Amazon . Share with us your tricks for spending less.

Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

I’ve been wondering how people feel about this.

Is Marie Kondo Wrong About Books?

… The books you read convey meaning to you; the books you keep convey meaning to others. The best reason to keep books in your home is to show them off to other people.


More opinions:

Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo WaPo


Book people, especially, have balked at the idea that they should dispose of any books that don’t spark joy.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Silly Tricks for Budgeting  (Louise)
Thursday  —  Tips for Aging Well  (Seattle Soccer Mom)
Friday  —  Weird News: What about your town?   (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Hometown food favorites

by Cassandra

We recently picked up out of state DD from the airport with an In N Out milkshake in the car, tritip and crab on the dinner menus for her time with us. Other foods were also requested. What do your out of state kids want to eat when they get back? What foods sing to you of home? Do your children enjoy your childhood comfort foods?

It’s a small world

by Becky

I was in New Orleans recently for a long weekend, and it turned out that a good friend from high school and college who lives about 900 miles from me and whom I haven’t seen in at least a decade was staying in the same hotel as me. We were able to meet in the lobby for a drink and catch up. It was a delightful coincidence.

Share your “small world” stories!

Parenting teenagers

by S&M

Parents of current and former teens, please chime in! I understand that this curve represents the norm of teen years and parenting thereof, and now am experiencing it myself. Please post, in solidarity, stories of highs and lows, humorous or heart-tugging.

I don’t know which line is the parent and which is the kid, lol!

Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Here’s a starter topic if you’re interested.

Duvets and Comforters, recommendations

I’m sure some totebaggers have ideas on this, particularly on “the pros and cons” of duvet covers.  Apparently many people struggle to get a comforter inside a duvet cover and to make it stay in place.  But duvet covers do seem to fit in nicely with the idea of no top sheets.

I find a down comforter inside a white duvet cover just perfect.  What do you like?

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Parenting teenagers  (S&M)
Thursday  —  It’s a small world  (Becky)
Friday  —  Hometown food favorites  (Cassandra)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

‘Superstar’ cities

by Louise

Where You Should Move to Make the Most Money_ America_s Superstar Cities – WSJ

Totebaggers what do you think of where you are located in terms of jobs, opportunities and quality of life. Are you in one of the established metros or in an upcoming “hot” city. Do you want to move?

Let’s discuss location.

[Original WSJ link: Where You Should Move to Make the Most Money: America’s Superstar Cities]

What’s your spirit holiday?

by S&M

As was recently evident from my zealous posting (sorry!) on The Gift Post, I like selecting, wrapping, and giving presents. That makes Christmas a tough-to-beat holiday for me, although this buzz quiz says I’m not a total fanatic. I also love birthdays, gifts or not. My son and I lean heavily into “it’s your special day” whether that means an outing, a special supper, or simply granting wishes/following directions especially fast. This year he “gave” me dinner out, including him eating something he never would have tried another day.

What about you? What holiday do you like to get in the spirit of, and what is that “spirit”? Scaring people at Halloween? Partying like it’s 1999 on New Years Eve? Backyard glamping or a building a truly rustic booth for Sukkot? Bonus points for stories illustrative of your holiday spirit.

The value of a ‘super-selective’ college

by Fred

Does It Matter Where You Go to College?
Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy.

Key points:
(1) “The difference we found is that college selectivity does seem to matter, especially for married women, by raising earnings almost entirely through the channel of increased labor force participation,” she says.

If you’re not an economist, that might sound complicated. But it’s pretty simple. For the vast majority of women, the benefit of going to an elite college isn’t higher per-hour wages. It’s more hours of work. Women who graduate from elite schools delay marriage, delay having kids, and stay in the workforce longer than similar women who graduate from less-selective schools.

(2) ” lower-income students at an elite school such as Columbia University have a “much higher chance of reaching the [top 1 percent] of the earnings distribution” than those at an excellent public university, such as SUNY Stony Brook in Long Island”

(3) ” The simplest answer to the question “Do elite colleges matter?” is: It depends on who you are. In the big picture, elite colleges don’t seem to do much extra for rich white guys. But if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy, the elite-college effect is huge. It increases earnings for minorities and low-income students, and it encourages women to delay marriage and work more”

What do you think?


Calculating the Risk of College

(Original link from the WSJ:  Calculating the Risk of College)

A Retirement PhD

by Rhett

Totebaggers are generally very into learning. But mainly in the sense of acquiring knowledge that is already known. Calculus would be example #1. But what about discovering something that isn’t currently known? If you had the chance to investigate something – what would it be?

For me I have two possible topics.

1. PhD in Economics: What goes into a company’s decision to recruit at some schools and not others? Stanford vs. Berkeley vs. San Jose State vs. Chico State, etc.

2. PhD in Transportation Engineering: Traffic waves and how they can be reduced or eliminated.

What about you?