Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset

by Minca

I have an enduring scarcity mentality, which I have to actively fight against. I’m generally happier when I maintain an abundance mindset (I can be more generous, decisive, and less caught up in optimally managing “stuff” if I have faith that the resources needed will be there in future and I can “spend out”/don’t need to “hoard” them now—because I’m still saving and am confident in my own resourcefulness if things hit the fan). But I still worry that this attitude is environmentally and economic irresponsible. Temporally, I can be a procrastinator—which may be consistent: time is scarce, so delay and (theoretically) compress the unpleasant tasks (assuming you can still enjoy leisure with to-dos hanging over your head). Are you naturally more “abundance” or “scarcity” oriented and how does it impact your decisions?

181 thoughts on “Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset

  1. I know where the OP wants us to go. But the term “scarcity” piques an economist’s interest since it’s the first concept we cover. Scarcity (for us) is “unlimited wants and limited resources”– which drives choices, trade-offs, opportunity costs, etc. So, the first thing we want people to do is acknowledge scarcity, since it’s at the heart of economics. Moreover, the failure to do so (explicitly or implicitly) leads to all sorts of problems. In public policy, Thomas Sowell is really useful here, having distinguished between the unconstrained and constrained “visions”– those who propose policy as if constraints don’t exist vs. those who understand. (Today, we see it most prominently in those who are apathetic about govt deficit/debt and are giddy about the minimum wage.)

    As for the OP, I try to live out of an abundance mindset while aware of “scarcity” (the econ term and its more popular use).

  2. I wouldn’t call it a scarcity mindset. It’d call it more of a risk aware mindset. An example might be that home and stock prices are high because interest rates are low. What would happen if rates went back up to a 1990s average of 7 or 8 percent? What are the chances that COVID mutates into something that’s vaccine and previous exposure resistant and more fatal? It’s not zero.

  3. we see it most prominently in those who are apathetic about govt deficit/debt

    On the other hand those who have worried have been proven wrong decade after decade. At what point do the worriers have to acknowledge that they are missing something?

  4. Agreed in principle. One sees a stronger example of this in simplistic apocalyptic about resource depletion– while better theory and all of the evidence so far shows otherwise. (Google “betting the planet” for a really nice example: the famous Simon/Ehrlich debate from decades ago.) But the myth persists decade after decade.

    In the case of govt debt (and liabilities like SS, Medicare, pensions), the difficulty is in knowing what amount of borrowing would tip us over the edge– where lenders say “no thanks”. (In personal finance, it’s easier since the variables are fewer and easier to estimate.) We’re heading towards a cliff at increasing speed. But we could be minutes or miles away.

    What we do know: with the debt, we’re forcing the future to enhance our prosperity today, which brings up both ethical and practical considerations. A scarcity mindset– of the OP sense and the Econ sense– would help us wrestle with this more carefully.

  5. What we do know: with the debt, we’re forcing the future to enhance our prosperity today,

    How do you figure? The debt of the future will be owned by those alive in the future. Any debt is someone else’s asset.

  6. Interesting topic, minca. I definitely have to remind myself that we’re probably fine, we’re probably not going to end up eating out of dumpsters. Since DH went senior status this year, he’ll be bringing in less money and we will have to start drawing down assets, and that gives both him and me hives.

    A couple that we are friends with have also decided to retire this spring. They’ve been inclined to very expensive travel and expensive bicycles and expensive everything. I’m very curious to see how retirement affects their spending. Maybe the four of us will be shopping at the day-old bread place and having companionable dinners of peanut butter and jelly and beans and rice.

  7. It’s possible that current taxpayers would pay back the debts/liabilities incurred by politicians largely on behalf of current citizens. If not, future taxpayers will pick up the tab. Of course, they might push some/much of that debt to further-future taxpayers or it might manifest as default on the debt of some sort.

  8. @RMS – I wouldn’t go that far. Maybe you’ll go to dinner during “happy hour” for the specials.

    I go back & forth between reminding myself that we aren’t going to end up on the street no matter what (that’s middle of the night worrying me) AND that the way we got to the point where we won’t end up on the street is purposely holding back on fulfilling my every want (that’s the me that shops online during conference calls).

    Frugality doesn’t come super easy to me – I definitely am not in the “Oh I only bought 2 articles of clothing this whole year” camp. I will want a 20th sweatshirt in a slightly different color and style.

    I’m also not really a hoarder though – mostly because I hate clutter – although those tendencies have come out a bit with the pandemic. Yes, I bought too many hand wipes and still haven’t used all the canned tomatoes I bought last spring. But I also go through and throw away without much guilt things that I don’t like/don’t use.

  9. Great topic. One of my DH’s most endearing traits is his abundance mindset. He’s incredibly generous, and has an unshakeable faith that we’ll always have enough. He tips well, he gives great gifts, he doesn’t worry when something goes wrong and costs $$. He would give you the shirt off his back because he figures he has plenty more shirts at home. I don’t mean to say he spends lavishly, because he doesn’t, it’s more of a life outlook.

    I don’t think I have a scarcity mindset but I definitely don’t have his same abundance mindset.

  10. I’m more of a scarcity mindset, which explains why the coat closet has about a hundred paper bags from Target. I can’t get myself to throw them away,

  11. Of course, they might push some/much of that debt to further-future taxpayers or it might manifest as default on the debt of some sort.

    The Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Japan now both have balances sheets that are larger than their respective economies. Isn’t the most likely outcome of governments owing themselves money that the debt will continue as an accounting fiction in perpetuity?

  12. DH and I were talking about private high schools last night. We can afford to send the kids there but prefer not spending that kind of money on high school. To DH the absolute amount is galling. We both are still surprised by how much things cost here.

    Years ago we drove to DC and knew there were tolls along the way. We brought quarters. We had to laugh at how much we underestimate the cost of tolls.

  13. Lemon Tree – years ago I hired someone to help me organize my home to better deal with all the kids’ stuff we were so overwhelmed and our place is not large. I found myself asking her questions like – can I throw away this collection of rubber bands? Is that OK? You’d think I had grown up during the Depression.

    And address labels? I have gazillions of those. So many places send them to you for free. I will never in my lifetime send enough mail to use them all up.

  14. RMS,

    When you’re in your 20s the grandparents of people you know start to die. When you’re in your 40s the parents of people you know start to die. In your sixties friends start to die. And it gradually transitions from “OMG what a tragedy” to “Their life has come to its natural end.” I can certainly imagine the purse strings loosening as the reality that you only have a few more years left becomes more and more real.

  15. I can certainly imagine the purse strings loosening as the reality that you only have a few more years left becomes more and more real.

    But I have to put my granddaughter through college! And what if she needs to go to private school (though her parents are firm that public schools were good enough for them and are good enough for their own children.)

  16. And I’m practically the only person in my cohort with two deceased parents. My parents were old when I was born. Most of my friends are coping with declining (but not dead!) parents in their 80s.

  17. The govts owe money to “investors” who finance the debt (and they “owe” in liabilities, to those they’ve made promises). Unlike the (eminently useful) analogy to personal finance, govt can default (akin to bankruptcy, sticking investors) or print more money (devaluing the debt, again sticking it to investors)– with ripple effects to boot.

  18. The govts owe money to “investors” who finance the debt

    As I mentioned that’s not true for large portions of the debt.

    As for investors being stuck with something. If, as is likely, a low birth rate is highly deflationary than printing money just maintains stable prices and no one gets “stuck” with anything.

  19. “:And I’m practically the only person in my cohort with two deceased parents. My parents were old when I was born.”

    Wow. about half of my real life friends have any living parents. A little bit ago, there was talk that our friends could have the annual Easter picnic this year. Left unsaid was that there weren’t the old folks to protect anymore. Not Covid, but other age related illnesses.

    Then again, I do have a same age friend with two living grandmothers.

  20. RMS,

    Wasn’t she born like a year ago? What are the chances you’ll even be alive when she goes to college? 2 out of 3?

  21. Back to the topic…it is easy to fall into the scarcity mindset. My brother was here over the weekend. We were discussing subscription services. DH had wanted to watch Yellowstone but was appalled at the $4.99 price for the first season. SIL had recently told my brother and nephew that they couldn’t afford “all these subscription services”

    Brother and SIL in started out with no assets and student loans. Now they are incredibly successful, a couple vacation homes, trying to find ways to cut their tax bill, but no, can’t afford HBO. I recently figured out that in about seven years our retirement accounts could actually pay off all the mortgages, we would then have rental income from the ranch, plus some pensions. But no, can’t afford a to pay for a season of a show.

    Routines and habits are really easy to establish, but hard to undo. At one point in our lives, both those expenses would have to have been seriously thought out, but not anymore.

    I have also found acting as if we are in a state of abundance is helpful in getting to that state of mind. Throwing away clutter is a way to stating that if I need something, I will be able to acquire it. I find it emotionally draining to declutter, but I’m so much happier when I do.

  22. I’ve been reading some books on real estate investing. I know I’ve talked about this over the years but have never done it, and I’m sure people are sick of hearing about it. But it’s been interesting to me reading and thinking about it again.

    There are a few factors pushing me toward it.

    1) The current SP500 PE ratio is around 40, at least according to Google. Although I have no intention of selling and taking profits, that’s…high. It makes me interested in growing some diversified streams of earnings.

    2) NFCU credit union is advertising 15 year mortgage rates at 1.65%. Not a typo. 0.500 discount points for that rate. 30 year at 2.25 with .75 discount points. Yes, this is on primary residence, but I could borrow against that for the better rate and buy a townhouse in “cash.” The only consideration I’m trying to figure out is whether that would be a mistake for tax purposes. Does it somehow make the loan fees or interest not a legitimate expense for profit/loss whatever on my tax return?

    3) I’m generally risk averse (scarcity mindset), but the dividends alone on our non-retirement brokerage account exceed what would be the monthly mortgage payment on this balance. So that seems pretty conservative and safe.

    My friend whom I’ve mentioned before owns 17 properties now in Boston, but with a good amount of debt (50%?). It makes me nervous, but he has no family or obligations, so he’s not really worried. His advice was to borrow that money against my house, then use it to buy five properties right off the bat that are themselves financed with 20% down.

    The hard part is inertia and puling the trigger. Also, there’s practically nothing for sale right now, and what is seems kind of expensive. There’s a local real estate investing group that a friend of mine, who’s an investor, is about to form. I’m signed up to join that, and I’m thinking there will be some insight there on where and how to find local opportunities, good agents, whatever.

    I think it would be nice to go into retirement with four or five paid off properties sending me $8 – $10k per month, and that are all still depreciating on my taxes. I also think about the possibility of starting and growing a sort of family side business that my kids could ultimately take over, to the extent that they want, or at least have a perpetual, growing stream of income. I feel like I want to build something.

  23. Milo,

    It seems like the only risk is subpar returns. Real estate prices are high for the same reason stock prices are high – low interest rates. If interest rates rise stock and real estate prices would fall. But if you don’t need to sell under any circumstances then there is little risk. It’s just that in 20 years you’d be on your boat and your 5 townhouses would be worth $2 million throwing off $60k a year whereas if you’d left it in SPY those funds would be worth $3 million throwing off 90k a year in dividends.

  24. I think it would be nice to go into retirement with four or five paid off properties sending me $8 – $10k per month

    This is political, so should probably not be on this page, but there is such a push against landlords, and so much anger, that I’d expect some regulations in the future. California is a harbinger in this regard. If you want to get someone out of your property, you’re looking at at least $20K to $25K for legal fees and payoff to the tenants to get them out.

  25. In the non-economic sense: yes, this is something I have struggled with my whole life. I developed the view early on that the deck was stacked and that I was on the losing end, so I learned to be very risk-averse and to hoard whatever I could, because you never knew if it would be there tomorrow. And thanks to confirmation bias, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because life will always send bad stuff your way, so if you see that as evidence that you were right, you perpetuate the cycle.

    Luckily, life — and a lot of inner work — gave me the tools to fight it. Things like marrying DH, who grew up just assuming that if he needed more money, he’d go out and make it. Or realizing I can’t say “we can’t afford it” to my DD when she was little, because we clearly could. Or Rhett telling me that I’m not poor or even MC and that I should stop being so tightfisted.

    The biggest one, though, was reading MMM. Honestly, in some ways he annoys the crap out of me; that sort of smug, master-of-the-universe version of optimism that assumes that everything is in his control, without seeming to recognize that he’s a very smart, driven, well-educated, UMC white guy who got to start on at least second base. I mean, I don’t want to take anything away from what he accomplished at all, because the vast majority of people with all his privileges couldn’t do what he did. I just get annoyed at the super-optimism that assumes everyone can do the same thing he did, without actually seeming to understand that it’s a lot harder for some people through no fault of their own, or that even he could get slammed by something he never anticipated.

    BUT. When I make myself look beyond that part, that optimism is contagious. Because it’s built in stoicism — the idea that all this stuff that we worry and fret about is not actually necessary for us to be safe, healthy, and happy. The more you need to define yourself or your place in society, the more stress you have to obtain all that stuff, and so the more vulnerable you are to bad stuff happening. When we were in CO, DH’s job loss and losing the house was one of the most stressful things we’ve dealt with, because I *loved* that house, and the circumstances that forced us to sell and move were beyond our control. So the day that I realized that we could both lose our jobs here and NOT lose the house was incredibly freeing. Unlike MMM, I have no intention of ever cleaning my house again myself, or eating all my meals at home, etc. But I know that I *can* do those things if I need to for some reason, and I’d find a way to be content with it, because I am stronger and more resilient than I give myself credit for.

    The mental shift has been not so much optimist vs. pessimist but the focus on everything being a choice: the idea that I can have anything I (reasonably) want, IF I am willing to accept the tradeoffs that go with it. And conversely, that when I am not happy with the way my life currently is, I have the power to change it by doing something different — again, IF the tradeoffs are worth it. Often just being conscious that everything is a choice, and reviewing why I made the decision I did and what the tradeoffs are for the other choices, is enough to make me happy with my current choice again.

  26. But even if I’m dead I need to leave money for her.

    Then she (or her dad) has a 25% chance of inheriting quite a bit.

  27. Ivy – I feel similar re: clothes! But I am also pretty good at getting rid of things (except formal wear. Never get rid of those!).

    I mostly see scarcity vs abundance referred to in the context of work. I am pretty abundance-minded at work – I share with colleagues and don’t mind helping others out, etc., and that doesn’t affect what happens to my own bottom line. I have colleagues that are more hoard-y or scarcity mentality, and they are a huge PITA to work with and will drive associates away, etc.

  28. “But I have to put my granddaughter through college!”

    Yes. Yes you do. That child is too smart and adorable to have anything but the best! Stock up on cat food and tarps for the park bench if you need to — baby girl will NOT go without.

  29. Rhett – yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. the returns might be subpar. for that reason, it pains me to imagine selling equity shares, even at 40 times earnings, to buy it. I’d be obsessed with whether it was the right choice or not. And for as long as I’ve been considering this, in hindsight, it’s never been the right call.

    But whether it makes sense or not, I could see myself borrowing for this investment, but not for additional stock investment. So if, for example, I can borrow 250k that generates 1600 per month, and the monthly payment is 800 or 900 per month, that’s like free money right off the bat (plus, when you’re at 2% interest on a 30-year loan, the majority of your mortgage payment is principle. Even the very first payment.)

    So the alternative for me isn’t necessarily more stocks, it’s just nothing.

  30. “If you want to get someone out of your property, you’re looking at at least $20K to $25K for legal fees and payoff to the tenants to get them out.”


  31. We’ll get a sense of where we are financially heading into retirement once we done with paying for college. Our day to day doesn’t involve any expensive items and everything is paid off. I would like to redo our home, so we will have have to put off thoughts of jet setting to expensive places till that expense is behind us. I think we are in decent shape. I don’t think I am going to eat cat food though I do like fish.

  32. Milo – have you ever asked your friend if he has a good estate plan? ;) I have seen MANY of these estates from the other side of things. The estate admin is a huge PITA if he owns all the properties individually (and if he has mortgages on them, they’re probably held individually) rather than through a trust or LLC.

  33. I think you could find a deal buying some downtown condos or townhouses somewhere. Eventually the pendulum will swing back, and people will be moving back downtown.

    We have friends that buy and sell real estate as a fulltime job. They are constantly telling us to at least give it a try, think of it like a hobby, but I get so much anxiety just thinking about it, we aren’t doing anything.

  34. @ Milo – what about real estate from a VRBO/AirBnB stand point, rather than long term renters? Although I suppose in some markets there’s a fair amount of regulation there, too.

  35. LT – there’s some major federal spending coming to our immediate area in the next couple of years; the kind of thing that will never go away. I should have made that Factor #4 above.

    L – The possibility of his untimely death crossed my mind when we were texting. I envisioned his parents and sister getting these 17 properties and all this paperwork. I met his parents a few times when we were young lieutenants (junior grade). They’re a couple of very nice Totebaggers in a very Totebaggy New England suburb.

  36. Lark – that would be more fun. We could do it on the lake, and use it ourselves at times, but the entry cost is a lot higher. At least 600k or 700k. So it’s just more intimidating. And people here have talked about VRBO horror stories. (I know there are horror stories with everything, but still).

  37. ““If you want to get someone out of your property, you’re looking at at least $20K to $25K for legal fees and payoff to the tenants to get them out.”


    And that is if you can get them out at all. Right now there is an eviction moratorium.

  38. So if, for example, I can borrow 250k that generates 1600 per month, and the monthly payment is 800 or 900 per month, that’s like free money right off the bat

    Are you sure about that? Do you have a property in mind that costs X and rents for Y and you’ve included all expenses? Those MMM posts from people who do it professionally always said the actual long term costs are much higher than people think.

  39. “Are you sure about that? Do you have a property in mind that costs X and rents for Y and you’ve included all expenses? Those MMM posts from people who do it professionally always said the actual long term costs are much higher than people think.”

    No, I was definitely thinking much more roughly than that. Like I’ll see places listed for rent on a website that I would use (and used when I was looking to rent a place), then I’ll look up what it’s worth on Zillow, which sometimes includes a recent transaction price.

    I know there’s still taxes, insurance, vacancy rate, repairs and maintenance.

    But that’s all a write-off, as Kramer says.

    I’ll keep thinking about it. I’ll see what I glean from this investor group. It’s not escaping me, as I’ve reasoned some of it out here, that I could borrow $300k against the house at 1.6% and put it in a high-dividend stock index fund on Vanguard that’s paying a dividend over 3%. It would be kind of fun to actually let the dividends make the mortgage payments, even if it’s not the ideal tax strategy, because I could move the equivalent amount into the dividend fun but within a retirement account. The worst that happens is the market crashes and dividends are cut, but they probably wouldn’t be cut to nothing. So worst case scenario is that I have to come up with half the mortgage payment? Even at the minimum payment, it would be finished when I’m 55.

    These rates just seem so ridiculously low, I’m starting to feel like a sucker to not take it.

  40. “hi Milo! How’s it going?”

    Good. Our life plugs on as normal. In laws have both received their first shots, which has been an enormous relief to them, and to DW. Like visbile, physical relief. We mentioned to them that we booked a place in the Florida Keys this summer, and rented a boat there for the week. They said looks like fun. Then an hour later something crossed my mind and I texted them back “umm, would you want to join us? here’s a listing that the guy we rented from also owns” in the same resort, and an hour after that they texted back “thanks. We just booked that house. We’re going.”

    And I’m like “alright then. nice.” They’ve been very cooped up.

  41. “Throwing away clutter is a way to stating that if I need something, I will be able to acquire it.”

    Yes! I also try to make this my packing mindset. No, I don’t need to bring everything I own because – guess what – there are stores where I am going. It is actually DH that always says that & it’s gotten drilled into my mind. “We’re not going to the wilderness, we’re going to NYC for God’s sake. You can buy anything you need or forgot.” When have I ever been upset that I had to run to Sephora or a drug store or a clothing store for something that I forgot? NEVER. I like doing it!

    “the idea that I can have anything I (reasonably) want, IF I am willing to accept the tradeoffs that go with it. And conversely, that when I am not happy with the way my life currently is, I have the power to change it by doing something different — again, IF the tradeoffs are worth it. Often just being conscious that everything is a choice, and reviewing why I made the decision I did and what the tradeoffs are for the other choices, is enough to make me happy with my current choice again.”

    @LfB – I think this is why I am so much happier the older I get. It’s the real benefit of being in a more comfortable financial position and the perspective of life experience too. Yes, I still need to work for a living if I don’t want to be a spartan FIRE blogger, but do I need THIS job? No, probably not. Is this job still worth the tradeoff between pay, frustration, and satisfaction? Yes – it’s probably the best I could currently hope for.

    @RMS – Your DSS can afford college for her on his own, you know. :)

  42. Being a landlord is absolutely not a “hobby” I have any interest in at all. It just sounds like so much hassle. I’d be pissed off every time something went wrong & interrupted my day, and that’s just with the good tenants. UGH.

    I see how it’s good for people who like have lots of “projects” to do though.

  43. Another update for Rhett and Finn and LfB. My car’s 1.5 kW*hr lithium battery does not like the cold. and it’s NOT even been all that cold. But the 40-42 mpgs I generally saw in September and October are now like 32-34.

    She sleeps in the garage every night, so it’s not like she’s even starting at 30 degrees in the morning. More like 50-60 deg F. I don’t have the heat cranked up. I’ve checked the tire pressure and made sure that’s around 38 psig. I drive the same. And the battery is ventilated from the passenger compartment — there’s a little vent to the right of the backseat. I drive the same. The battery is just less efficient, and it runs the engine a lot more for to keep itself warm, and for passenger heat.

    Oh, my brother just ordered a Tesla Model 3. So that will be interesting to drive.

  44. lake/waterfront/vacation type home prices are through the roof right now.

    I’m curious what the buyers of this place are thinking. It last sold in 2019 for $575k. It has obviously been renovated and the sale is now pending at $1.15 million. Presumably some buyers are thinking, “We totally need this as we can work from home for the summer.” “At 1.99% the payment is only is only $4k a month.” Etc.

    I’d think of possible scenarios that would include -inflation spikes and the fed raises interest rates triggering a recession. A recession and high interest rates hammer the summer home market. If you lose your job can you make the $4k/month payment? You’re employed but they called you back into the office and you find yourself staying home because you don’t want to brave the Cape traffic. So you’re spending $50k a year and not using and you can’t sell it because it would only go for $725k.

    I get the sense that people don’t think that way. They figure it will all work out.


  45. I think I operate with an abundance/generosity mindset.

    DH has a mantra of “it’s just money”, which we both say to each other about a lot of things both big and small. DH doesn’t comparison shop. If a purchase is within an expected range, then he is fine with it and doesn’t bother with trying to find the best deal. He doesn’t stress out about finances.

    I used to stress more about finances, but a few things, in addition to DH, have helped me. First, my church preaches a lot about generosity. By practicing generosity through giving our time, talent, and treasures we start living with an abundance versus scarcity mindset. One mantra I picked up from church is “enough”. I have enough already. Also, it helps having a financial advisor in reducing my stress as he says we are on track to have enough to retire. It helps to hear that from a professional.

    Covid has made me realize that I would be perfectly happy living a “small” lifestyle in retirement. It would be nice to travel more or go out to eat more, but I like my life pretty well as it is. Things change and everything can go awry, but for now I’m mostly content.

  46. Rhett – that place is very appealing. Every single thing looks brand new, including windows, doors, and siding. I don’t know how it compares to the neighbors….

    “I get the sense that people don’t think that way. They figure it will all work out.”

    I think a lot of people just want projects and new things, or something to occupy their attention. I see it very strongly in my mom, and it’s a good thing she’s still teaching and having to prepare new courses, because otherwise she would get bored and just piss away more money.

    I’m sort of the same way. Hence this current discussion I brought up today — I’m trying to orient it toward something financially productive vs. draining.

  47. Oh, my brother just ordered a Tesla Model 3. So that will be interesting to drive.

    I rented one for the weekend a few weeks ago to test out. I was concerned about build quality so I thought a longer term test drive was a good idea. The one I had was two years old with 30k miles and had been rented out and it was totally tight and looked pristine. I was very impressed. It also snowed and I swear in the snow it felt like I was on dry pavement.

    It’s totally the next car. No doubt about it.

  48. Milo,

    Does it have the ability to generate heat without running the engine? If that’s the case it could be that rather than the battery being cold.

  49. “It’s totally the next car. No doubt about it.”

    They’re on the S&P now, I think. So we’re all rooting for them.

  50. RMS, if you are seriously planning on paying for college for your adorable, cuter than average, grandchild, please be sure to let your DSS aware, so they don’t become like me and scrimp and save money and worry about money because they just spent $24,000 a year in daycare. Well, I wasn’t quite like that, but still, I do have an unreasonable fear that I’ll be poor. My parents told us when each child was born that they are covering half the cost of instate tuition. So that was a nice relief. DH’s parents are mum about it, and when I brought it up once I was told “you’ll make more money as you get older and things will work out”. It wasn’t helpful advice back when I needed it most.

  51. “Does it have the ability to generate heat without running the engine?”

    No I don’t believe so. As far as I can tell, in the summer it will run the A/C compressor electrically, not off some kind of belt like a regular car. But there’s no heat pump, as in an EV. It needs waste engine heat.

    At a stoplight, you can often turn the engine on or off with the thermostat dial.

  52. “how are you?”

    As good as could reasonably be expected, thanks. Everyone healthy so far, all still employed, the extroverts have to go do work/school outside the house, the introverts don’t. Definitely cabin-feverish and awaiting vaccine, because I want to go out to dinner and want the fun of an actual vacation to look forward to! And DD is in thermodynamics this semester and griping, but OTOH she has a paid internship for the summer.

    Missed your voice around here!

  53. Oh, and my mom just got her second shot (or is getting it this week), and we are both *thrilled* that she will shortly be able to travel again for work.

  54. Over Christmas, my in-laws talked about paying for college for their now five grandkids and they’re talking about “generational wealth” in terms of that and down payments for the grandkids’ houses. (Perhaps they don’t 100% trust me or sister-in-law. Not the bloodline.)

    But nothing more specific than that, nothing has been transferred to us, nothing in writing, no details on timeline. So DW and I are not doing anything differently. It’s their money, they can do whatever they want with it, you never know what would happen if an 80-year-old widower takes up with a 25-year-old. When my oldest starts college in four years, if they want to send us a check, great.

    But we’re proceeding as normal without any consideration for it.

  55. You can rent Teslas?!

    I think JUST LIKE Rhett’s hypothetical. Like I pretty much spun that disaster scenario in my head as soon as Milo mentioned buying a rental property. DH is more of an abundance thinker, so that helps balance me out and tamp down the crazy a bit.

  56. Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll look to pop in more often.

    I always get off the threads early though, because they often/always devolve off-topic– although I didn’t help here…LOL!

  57. Diversion: I had been casually looking at an internal job posting, significant promotion, for a while (it went up before New Years). Maybe 2-3 weeks ago a close colleague called and asked if I had put my hat in the ring and if not, why not? So I re-looked it, told my manager I was probably going to go for it, he said he’d support me for it if I did, and actually applied a couple of days ago. My background is at least an 80% match to the listed requirements, and I know all the players, hiring manager, so I figured I’d at least get the first screening call. The HR person emailed me a little while ago and said she’s passing my paperwork on the the person I’d work for, whom I know decently enough.
    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  58. Back when we were young with babies, and day care, diapers, formula expense, and saving for retirement, and saving for college it was mentally a lot of stress for me. Now, our financial advisor advised us to stop contributing to the 529 (we don’t get a tax benefit from the state) and just found our retirement. The 529 is growing nicely, but our retirement accounts are doing even better. If we do get additional funding from the MIL it will be the cherry on top.

    With my scarcity mindset, and that I always think we are poor, DH and I were talking about cars the other day and I told him that I thought the cost of a mini cooper was too high (my car of choice if I never needed to drive kids around). He told me that although we drive Chevys and Chryslers, we could afford higher end. Maybe someday I’ll give in….or just get a corvette.

  59. I haven’t been renting cars, but BMW and and Lexus gave us the cars to borrow. We took them for a day, but they would have let us keep the cars overnight. The opposite was true at Audi where they didn’t want us to leave the parking lot unless we were willing to go with the salesperson. even Mazda and Subaru didn’t make us take a salesperson on our test drives due to Covid.

    We took a break this week since DD is using my car, but next week I am going to look at more cars including the Tesla.

    This car is my version of abundance vs. scarcity because we are careful to avoid the phrase, “we can’t afford” in front of DD. That was my go to phrase and then DH reminded me that isn’t true and we should have another go to phrase when we are speaking to DD about why we aren’t going to buy something that she wants to buy. This happened when we told her that we weren’t getting her a car until we actually need a third car. We could afford ten cars, but we don’t want to spend the money on a third car when it will just sit in the garage. The opposite is true about the amount that I am finally willing to spend on myself for my own car.

  60. “if they want to send us a check, great.”

    The estate planning people would say it’d be better if they wrote the check directly to the college so not subject to the annual gift limitation, and separately gave the grandkids cash in an investment account to help them launch upon graduation.

  61. Good luck, Fred!

    “but our retirement accounts are doing even better”

    When we were first married, DW and I were both federal employees. She got me on the TSP like her. Then we both transitioned away from the government. We just left our TSPs there in stock funds. I certainly didn’t forget about them, but — this is really bad — I don’t have our account numbers or passwords or whatever you need to log in. And there’s a slight bit of an annoying process to get them, so even thought I started the process a few years ago, I did not see it through.

    On the first workday this year, I did up our spreadsheet of where we are in investments, and while I got the balances to the dollar for everything else, I just put in my best estimates for our TSPs, thinking about what I remembered they were a few years ago.

    Yesterday, they sent us our annual statements. I had underestimated the combined total by $100k.

    So I guess that’s one of those things that makes you feel like you’re not exactly where you once were, when you can kind of “find” $100k you didn’t know you had, as though it’s a $20 bill in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn in 6 months.

  62. “The estate planning people would say it’d be better if they wrote the check directly to the college so not subject to the annual gift limitation, and separately gave the grandkids cash in an investment account to help them launch upon graduation.”

    Whatevs. I really, REALLY have a strong aversion to the idea of being someone who’s sitting around waiting for my in-laws’ (or parents’ money). Send it or don’t, honestly. If they pay the college directly, fine. I’ll figure out what to do with the 529 funds, maybe just take the 10% penalty. Also, my oldest is talking about at least applying to my alma mater, or an equivalent route, so it may all be moot. Although I would imagine that if they’d still intended to pay for college, they’d transfer the equivalent to her somehow. I know I will be doing that.

  63. “Eric, please post more. It’s nice to have a new voice!”

    I also enjoy Eric’s posts. However, he’s not a new voice here. He’s been posting sporadically for many years.

  64. “please be sure to let your DSS aware”

    THat would feel like promising, and I don’t want to promise, because what if something horrible happens and we need the money? I do say things like “I hope we can help with college and other stuff in the future.”

  65. Total scarcity mindset here. I assume it’s imprinted in early childhood, and since mine revolved around screaming and drama whenever it was time to pay the credit card bill, well, there you have it. Although possibly, some people would have that experience and in my position flip completely to abundance. As in, I have more than I ever dreamed of and know that I could live on so much less. Interesting to consider.

  66. RMS – I would feel exactly the same. I think that is the scarcity mindset we share. MIL/FIL likely have more money than they will spend before they. I won’t consider it in our planning because what if they go into nursing homes and are people that live until they’re 110 and need the money? They are only mid-90s.

  67. “THat would feel like promising, and I don’t want to promise”

    The other issue that I can totally understand from the benefactor’s perspective is that if you promise it, the beneficiaries might account for it and take actions that don’t always align with your sense of hard-fought frugality and thrift. So if there plan was to be able to pay for Harvard or Middlebury, plus medical school, they might very well say “Oh, great, Rocky’s paying for it instead! Now we can put a down payment on that New Hampshire beach house Rhett showed us.”

    And accounting-wise, they wouldn’t be wrong, but it might still piss you off…just because, and that’s not wrong, either. That’s why I think these sorts of arrangements are best avoided. Don’t plan to receive until you see it in your bank account, and don’t make these promises until you’re ready to transfer it. Otherwise, there’s a power imbalance, and the beneficiaries are no longer fully independent adults.

  68. “Don’t plan to receive until you see it in your bank account, and don’t make these promises until you’re ready to transfer it.”


  69. Yeah, EXCEPT when there is significant wealth, then you should really tell the kids about it early. I see so many situations when lack of communication goes horribly wrong!

  70. I see so many situations when lack of communication goes horribly wrong!

    What kinds of things happen? How could the kids not know?

  71. My mother has said that she wants to help with the kids college. She had given them a gift in the past which I put into their college fund. I just want her to keep the money in case my parents live to great ages and need that money for their own care. We should be able to fund our kids education. I think it will balance out, one is likely to pick a more affordable college, the other might pick an expensive one.

  72. I’m intrigued! Trying to spin a scenario when an unexpectedly large inheritance “goes horribly wrong” for the recipient.

  73. “She had given them a gift in the past which I put into their college fund.”
    This seems reasonable. I think the issue is the “don’t worry about college, they can go anywhere they get accepted and we’ll pay for it” promise that creates a problem.

  74. Not exactly what HFN is saying, but I recently finished listening to John Grisham’s “the testament”

  75. Trying to spin a scenario when an unexpectedly large inheritance “goes horribly wrong” for the recipient.

    Maybe it can go wrong like a lottery win can go wrong? The recipient thinks that $10million is a lot more money than it actually is? At 4% that’s a slightly above a totebag level income. If you think you’re living like Tom and Giselle the money won’t last too long. Another option is they are terrible at investing and/or they get scammed by unscrupulous advisers?

  76. All of those things happen. Then also sibling rivalry because Mom and Dad told some (or one) of the siblings but not others (or the other), and then they fight over the stuff even though there is plenty of money. The $5-$10M range can be really difficult for the inheritors because they think it’s more than it is.

  77. Abundance and scarcity “should” just be descriptive terms, but the connotation of the former is almost entirely positive, without the taint of surfeit or rot and with potential for lack of worry and generosity, while the the latter implies fear, privation, and potential for inequity or hoarding. I found most of the FIRE movement to be firmly rooted in scarcity with hoarding, at least monetary hoarding, seemingly as a lifelong practice.

    I find the concept of stewardship to be more helpful to me, with a tilt toward abundance or perhaps more precisely to sharing for current use rather than putting aside against future catastrophe. It helps that my family is large enough and my resources of only limited abundance such that creation of dynastic wealth is not a lure (others might find that a reasonable objective)

  78. “I just want her to keep the money in case my parents live to great ages and need that money for their own care. We should be able to fund our kids education.”

    My dad insists on helping pay for DD’s college. He is also the only parent of all of ours who may well outspend his income long-term. We’ve tried telling him he doesn’t have to (especially since they are providing substantial support for their other granddaughter, the daughter of my fidgit brother). He won’t listen. So I am just mentally chalking it up as a debt I will repay later if he needs me to.

  79. I’m reading these stories about the terrible conditions in Texas, and it’s making me think that a generator that could power a couple of electric blankets would go a long way towards keeping you unfrozen for a few days.

  80. Trying to spin a scenario when an unexpectedly large inheritance “goes horribly wrong” for the recipient.

    Not an inheritance, but a windfall. Sometime back in the 90s, my in-laws were in a bad car accident and received several million in a lawsuit. Rather than having their son, who does this sort of thing for a living, manage the money, FIL insisted he could handle it. It was great until the tech bubble burst in 2000 and he lost just about all of it. Now MIL is still working full-time at 75 (FIL is unable to hold a job due to a head injury) because their retirement savings are gone.

  81. I also enjoy Eric’s posts. However, he’s not a new voice here. He’s been posting sporadically for many years.

    I know, but he only posts about once a year, if that.

  82. Yep. I understand not wanting to have to buy more stuff that you rarely use, but the ability to create alternating current when you don’t have any is really nice.

    Our fridge went tits up a couple weeks ago. When DW texted me about it, the first thing I did on the way home was buy a brand new, but dented chest freezer for the basement, something for which I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy for years.

    Now I can buy whatever the hell I want at Costco, and I know I’ll have room. Frozen French onion soup cylinders, Kirkland frozen pizzas, beer-battered cod, orange chicken, pot stickers. I’ve got it all.

  83. “Our fridge went tits up a couple weeks ago. When DW texted me about it, the first thing I did on the way home was buy a brand new, but dented chest freezer for the basement, something for which I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy for years.

    Now I can buy whatever the hell I want at Costco, and I know I’ll have room. Frozen French onion soup cylinders, Kirkland frozen pizzas, beer-battered cod, orange chicken, pot stickers. I’ve got it all.”

    This sounds remarkably similar to how I ended up with a garage fridge a few months ago. ;-) It is a nice feeling, isn’t it?

  84. Yes, it’s like a feeling of abundance that I hadn’t anticipated. The abundance of added refrigeration capacity.

    Also, I have for years given the side eye to French door fridges with the bottom freezer drawer, mainly because I thought their freezer space was inferior to side by side.

    BUT…French door is practically the only thing immediately available in Covid times, and it’s particularly difficult if you want black. So we got that style, and got “black stainless,” which is not a perfect match, but good enough for people like us. And it’s a way to transition to black stainless when something else breaks.

    But now I love the French door style because the refrigerator is ENORMOUS, and the freezer is fine, since we have the chest in the basement.

    Still set me back like $2400 all in.

  85. “DW and I were both federal employees. She got me on the TSP like her. “

    \You mean you weren’t participating in TSP? You weren’t even participating enough to collect the government match?

    I’m stunned.

  86. “my brother just ordered a Tesla Model 3. “

    Woo hoo!!

    “It’s totally the next car. “

    Really? No thought to getting the Model Y? I’m thinking that might be my next car.

    “So we’re all rooting for them. “

    Without them, the USA would be even further behind in battery production. Their health is pretty important strategically to us.

  87. Finn – No, i hadn’t gotten around to it. It was never a good time. I’ve long credited DW and her family with shifting my mindset from that of an employee to that of a capitalist. It’s a good thing I was married at 24.

    I used to think that you should work hard to try to earn more money, and that your house should reflect that.

  88. “But there’s no heat pump, as in an EV. It needs waste engine heat.”

    That seems pretty inefficient. I think the Tesla directly converts electricity to heat.

    Have you set up your charging such that you stop charging just before you leave home in the morning? Charging does heat up the battery, so you may as well take advantage of that heat.

    OTOH, the heat generated during charging can shorten battery life (a lot of people say that’s a problem with the Leaf), so there’s that benefit to the cold weather.

  89. “You can rent Teslas?! “

    Last time we took our car in for service, they mentioned that Enterprise rents Teslas.

  90. Milo, IME being a landlord was a lot of work, and it can be stressful, because a bad tenant can easily cause many thousands of dollars of damage to your property. Perhaps consistent with today’s topic, I also considered the possibility of a bad tenant leading to asset forfeiture, and as RMS has pointed out, there are a lot of laws that favor tenants. I was fortunate to have a good tenant, and perhaps my conscientiousness in tenant screening paid off.

    I have no plans to ever be a landlord again, except perhaps to my kids.

    What I am open to is flipping homes. I enjoy that sort of work, so the renovation part of it could be something of a hobby for me.

  91. “i hadn’t gotten around to it. It was never a good time.”

    You make a good argument for default participation with opt out option.

  92. Finn, interesting. Thanks.

    As for the TSP, there was no match for active duty at the time. They were still focused on the traditional retirement system, so even offering the TSP was something that was considered a big extra.

    My car is not a plug-in.

  93. “for that reason, it pains me to imagine selling equity shares, even at 40 times earnings, to buy it. “

    What would pain me is the LTCG due.

  94. “what about real estate from a VRBO/AirBnB stand point, rather than long term renters? “

    At least locally, the risk with that approach is regulatory changes or enforcement that prevents properties from being rented out on short term bases.

    The other risk is that with so many people going through a property, the chance of a bad tenant increases.

  95. “People who found an extra $100k lying around.”

    More than enough to pay for a year of college.

  96. “We could do it on the lake, and use it ourselves at times “

    Ideally limited to 14 days per year.

    “lake/waterfront/vacation type home prices are through the roof right now. “

    I wonder if prices for such properties will drop when we get back closer to a pre-pandemic norm, and fewer people are WFH on a full-time basis and thus would want to live closer to their workplaces.

  97. Hi Milo: You frequently bring up the idea of purchasing rental property and all the naysayers will be unlikely to dent the allure for you, but nevertheless I will try to paint the alternative picture for you. I have owned a number of rental properties and can say with certainty I will not do it again, even for “free money”. One property was a 2 bedroom condo unit in a middle class town in a middle class neighborhood. I got an incredibly “good deal” as a young 20 something where I could “assume” the mortgage. I rented the property out and had a number of tenants, some were ok; some were not great; none were terrible. I could not afford the not great tenants who lost jobs, stopped paying rent, but ultimately left without having to be evicted. I needed the rent money to pay the mortgage. I could cover a month or two, but it was painful. The whole endeavor was a lot of hassle, a lot of stress. The real estate market tanked and I was upside down in the mortgage. Ultimately, I ended up renting the property out for almost another decade before the market recovered enough for me to sell the property at a loss I could absorb.
    Prior to this but during the same time frame, I had purchased a 2 family house with a sibling. We each lived in one unit with friends/roommates who helped us pay the mortgage with their rent. But…..sibling got married, had kid and moved out of the city to a suburb with backyards, playgrounds and good schools…..so we rented their unit. That tenant was a nightmare (even though we had run credit reports and checked references). She paid first, last and security and then never paid enough dime. We believed the “I’ll pay you tomorrow, I’ll pay you next week” and the sad stories about a lost job so we didn’t file for eviction the day she missed the first rent payment, but eventually we realized she was never going to pay us. Once we filed, it still took over a year of court hearings, filings, extensions, etc before we could actually get her evicted. In the meantime, we had to pay the mortgage, we had to pay for her utilities and heat (even though she was supposed to pay for those herself), we had to pay to have her stuff moved out and we had to pay to put it in storage, and we had to pay legal fees, lots of legal fees. Out of spite, she trashed the completely renovated unit before she was forcibly removed by the sheriff (once he finally had a eviction notice in hand), so we had to pay to renovate the unit.
    Many years later, I owned a fully paid for brownstone in the city that had appreciated over 100% during the decade I lived in it. When I was moving, friends said just rent it out—-it’s a great investment and it will continue to appreciate. I refused to deal with the headaches of being a landlord again. I sold the condo and put the proceeds in the stock market (straight index fund). That was 6 years ago. The money has appreciated much more than the over-heated housing market has and it has done so absent the headaches of dealing with tenants, good or bad; worrying about eviction moratoriums or recessions impacting tenant’s employment opportunities and/or their ability to pay the rent. It remains quite liquid and accessible and earns a better return with no effort on my part.

  98. Anon – that is sobering. Thanks.

    “ More than enough to pay for a year of college.”

    A year??? I’m thinking four.

  99. “But now I love the French door style because the refrigerator is ENORMOUS, and the freezer is fine, since we have the chest in the basement.”

    Us too. I was really unhappy with the space in the current model of my side-by-side, and the French door one was the only thing that looked even close to reasonable. We still don’t have massive freezer capacity (since our other one is a fridge with a freezer on top), but it’s still enough that I’m not worried about freezer space like I thought I’d be.

  100. Good article on the TX power problems. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/02/17/texas-power-winter-storm/. Sorry for the paywall; here’s most of it:

    First, the big picture: The grid is shorthand for a collection of technologies owned and operated by thousands of entities — from government agencies to homeowners with rooftop solar panels. There are, in the contiguous United States, three major interconnected systems — one covering everything east of the Rocky Mountains, one for everything west of the Rocky Mountains, one for Texas. The Eastern Interconnection and the Western Interconnection are made up of multiple grid operators and dozens of smaller networks that serve power needs through continuous coordination, across state lines when necessary. In Texas, we have one grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), one control area, hundreds of infrastructure owners and lots of coordination to make it work. So the casual use of the term “the grid” results in the common misconception that everything is under the control of, say, an electricity czar. But in the United States, even the federal government does not have that role. When something goes wrong, as happened here this week, it is a mistake to look in one direction for one culpable party.

    Then there’s the Texas picture. There are three things to remember: The power system that serves 95 percent of the state is intentionally isolated from the rest of the country; our competitive wholesale power market offers scant incentives for investment in backup power, and Texas generally does not have winter storms like this one.

    Let’s start 80 years ago. During World War II, America needed lots of power to build planes, tanks, bombs and other war materiel. Power companies and the federal government alike focused on expanding interconnections among power systems as the fastest and cheapest way to meet defense needs. In 1941, Texas investor-owned utilities did their part by connecting into two networks serving the northern and southern parts of the state. Congress had already given the Federal Power Commission (now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) authority to regulate interstate power sales. Texas didn’t have any state level regulation of power companies, and the utilities liked it that way. They also didn’t want federal regulation. So they were pretty careful to avoid selling or buying power across state lines. With two time zones, every type of generating resource and lots of different kinds of customers, Texas utilities were able to achieve economies of scale and power-sharing efficiencies — all within the state’s borders.
    In 1970, the Texas utilities formed ERCOT to comply with reliability guidelines established in the wake of the nation’s first devastating power failure — the 1965 Northeast Blackout. In 1981, ERCOT took over as the grid operator. Between 1996 and 2005, the state legislature passed laws to create a competitive wholesale power market, increase renewables with hard targets and invest in new transmission infrastructure. These decisions created a very friendly environment for renewables, and as a result, Texas leads the nation in wind power and in renewables of all kinds. But the success of these initiatives hinged somewhat on the autonomy of the Texas grid: The state could set goals, foster investment and expand transmission without input from other state or federal agencies. In a sense, this is the beauty of ERCOT’s isolation.

    Other factors also contribute to the unique characteristics of Texas’s power system. First, the state’s fleet of generators has been shifting gradually but steadily from coal-fired to natural gas-fired and wind-powered plants. This winter, Texans are depending far more on wind turbines and gas-fired power plants than on coal. Second, the way the state’s wholesale power market works, utilities have very few incentives for investment in backup power. The state does not say to a generator, “Please build us some extra backup power plants, and we will charge that cost to our customers.” Instead, the market allows a generator to charge excessively high prices when available supply falls short — which, for an investor, could be a long shot. As a result, ERCOT’s backup power, called the spinning reserve, is lower than most other areas in the United States.

    So this week, when temperatures dropped to all-time lows across the state, wind turbines that have not been winterized froze. Gas-fired plants tripped offline. And while ERCOT had anticipated rolling blackouts and warned customers to reduce power use and expect brief outages, the demand for power far exceeded the available supply, leaving millions of us stuck in the dark and the cold.

    Now where shall we point our frigid fingers?

    The highly centralized, isolated power grid has served Texas really well for many decades. It allowed us to accelerate renewables development and, notably, to avoid cascading blackouts — of the sort that plagued the Northeast in 1965, 1977 and 2003. But this week, it means we are unable to import large amounts of power from the gigantic eastern and western interconnections when we need it.

    We don’t have a large enough backup system for when power demand shoots way up, or when our regular generators go offline, as they did this week. It is a problem that plagues ERCOT every year as the hottest part of the summer approaches. This is the fault of our wholesale market structure. Of course, additional reserve power may not have been sufficient to offset our losses over the past two days, but surely it would have helped. The cost of these extra power plants that will sit idle for most of the time wouldn’t be so bad if shared by everyone connected to ERCOT. Instead, based on how the Texas wholesale market works, backup plants charged an eye-popping $9,000/mwh rate this week (the price was $30/mwh just six days ago, a more typical rate).

    Ultimately, this outage, like many of the biggest blackouts before it, reflects the challenge of unanticipated events and consequences. In 1965, power system experts felt sure they had built in enough redundancy to prevent any cascading power failure from ever happening. But they did not envision the way dozens of different operators would respond when one relay setting caused unexpected power movement across the networks. In Texas, we know that our summers will be exceedingly hot, pushing our power system to the limit, but the last time it was this cold was in 1989, and this year’s winter storms will last longer. Our wind turbines do not have the cold protection that turbines do in the cold north. Our overall system is not winterized. The conditions of this cold front and its effects on the power system were simply beyond what power experts generally planned for.

  101. On fridge and freezer space, one of the obstacles I see to downsizing to a condo or townhouse is losing the garage fridge. It’s amazing what you get used to, but when the kids were here at Christmas, we had to plug in the dorm fridge we were storing to hold the drinks because both fridges were full.

  102. HFN – My in laws had 11 in the house for Christmas for seven days, and nobody was allowed to leave (except I made reservations for everyone to do a drive thru lights show one night), so all the food had to be there in advance. They already had an extra fridge/freezer in the garage, plus a drinks fridge at the wet bar, and another small fridge in one of the offices. But for Christmas I think they bought an additional garage freezer. The other issue is that they want to indulge everyone’s milk preferences. We normally buy 2%, right?, but we’re flexible. But they insist on having that for us. Then whole milk for the babies. Then they know my SIL likes soy milk. MIL can’t have any soy or dairy, so she has like almond or oat milk or something. And this is all just the first example of the craziness.

    My parents bought a garage chest freezer — something we never had when we were all living there — because the limited freezer space of the new French door fridge was driving my mom crazy.

    It’s very much the Rebound Effect of energy efficiency gains, alongside the explosion of product variety and selection. If a one-year-old suddenly likes avocadoes, now they feel obligated to stock a whole bunch of avocadoes. Not wrong, just…we never had no avocadoes.

  103. I have room in my garage for a fridge, but DH doesn’t want one because several of our neighbors have problems with the garage refrigerator when the temps are extreme in the summer and the winter. One neighbor has something rigged in his garage to make it work, but DH really doesn’t think we need the extra capacity. We have a side by side and the freezer is so narrow. The only good thing about that week long outage last year was that we got rid of a lot of old stuff in our freezer.

    HFN, my inlaws lived in a small townhouse with no garage. They kept a decent refrdige upstairs in their office. I was surprised at how much it held and it was larger than a typical dorm style refrigerator.

    Thinking of all of the Totebaggers that have no power or water this week because it is really the pits.

  104. Milo – I have some rental property back home. Today I assume they are a pile of soaking wet insulation and sheetrock from all the pipes bursting. One is vacant because the previous tenant moved out, and DH has been planning to “go home next month when things get a bit better” for the past year and get it ready for new tenants. The ones with tenants in them can let someone know if the pipes have burst, but who knows when we can get someone to check on the vacant one because everyone we know is just looking for water to drink at this point. It seems silly to ask them to venture out of their own disasters to check on ours. Then let’s say the broken pipes are identified. When do you think is the soonest I can get a plumber out to fix the mess? What is happening in Houston is semi-cataclysmic. Of course, you think, “that is a very special, isolated incident. I read LfB’s article. That would NEVER happen here.” I get it. I’m one of the most risk adverse people you’ll meet. Moving out of the country was the most throw-caution-to-wind thing I’ve ever done. And you know what I’ve learned? Sometimes the worst case scenario can happen EVERY. TIME. Who knew a global pandemic would hit and I’d be stuck here without being able to see my family for over a year? Who knew Texas would have the coldest temperatures in 125 years and my parents would be told to boil their water before they drink it. Not me.

    If you want to have rental properties, go for it. Just know that sometimes the worst case scenario does happen.

  105. lauren – FWIW, some of them are supposedly rated for garage temps. Mine is, as the guy at the discount/dented appliance store told me that all of the GEs are. I don’t know true that is, though.

  106. We have a garage fridge that is our old main fridge whose water dispenser stopped working. An additional fridge is more of a headache. MIL likes the idea of never running out of things but I have to make sure we are using the food and not just keep buying more while the older food sits in the freezer. Once the kids leave home, I see our food requirements plunging and hardly any need for an additional fridge. We had just one fridge for many years and managed fine.
    To Milo’s point the stocking of different items to please everyone takes up space in the fridges and pantry.

  107. JM – very good points. 100-year-storm and a 100-year global pandemic in your case. In the same year!!

  108. We’ve had a freezer in our garage for a few years with no problems.

    I’ve seen too many cases of problem tenants to ever consider becoming a landlord. The pandemic has made this even worse for some landlords. It also depends on local laws that may favor tenants. I was a absent landlord for a few years but lucked out with a great local manager and good tenants.

    Elderly NYC Landlords Say Eviction Moratorium Is Taking Away Income They Need To Live

  109. “Let’s start 80 years ago. During World War II, America needed lots of power to build planes, tanks, bombs and other war materiel.”

    Lol. I had an XO for a short period of time who *loved* to say “materiel.” Without any irony or wink or sarcasm.

  110. IIRC, Milo’s MIL and FIL have rental properties, and I guess it’s worked out very well for them? And the stories you get from the people standing right next to you are always more persuasive than the stories from strangers on the Internet. I understand that. I also understand that rental properties have worked well for some people. Sometimes I think there are real economies of scale. I knew a woman who inherited dozens of rental properties from her father and she retired to manage them. At that scale, you’ve got rental management people and full-time handyman on the payroll. You are also worth cultivating if you’re a contractor. Just owning one or two properties is sort of the sour spot. Again, just my opinion and experience from watching my father and a few other landlords.

  111. In addition to the french door fridge (bottom freezer drawers all the way!), we have a small chest freezer in the basement, and and a beverage fridge in a closet in our dining room. The chest freezer comes in handy for the bulk chicken and beef we buy from Costco. We have an abundance of condiments, and I wish I had a fridge drawer in my cabinets just for those. We have no less than seven types of mustards. We also have multiple BBQ sauce, salsas, and stuff like fish sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce.

    Just like Milo describes, my parents are the poster child for abundance in food. After the kids moved out, they bought the largest fridge possible, and have replaced it twice with an equal size. They also have a very large chest freezer in the basement…so large that my mom doesn’t use it because she can’t reach down into it, so unless the frozen food she needs is on the top, she does without. I honestly have no idea what is in the freezer, but suspect it is filled with frozen pizzas from neighbor kids fundraising sales. We visit once, maybe twice a year. My parents insist on buying rice milk for my kids, and then one likes 100% cranberry juice, once likes Florida’s Own orange juice. My parents drink generic brand OJ, so when we visit the fridge is filled with like 10 different types of juices and milks. On a normal day my kids drink about 6 oz of juice/milk combined, and water the rest of the time. One time my oldest said she’d like to have an orange…my parents ran out and bought like 10 pounds of oranges. She ate one.

  112. “Milo’s MIL and FIL have rental properties”

    Yeah. They never set out to be landlords in the sense of “let me buy a rental house.” They’re the kind who have simply never sold a house when they moved. And they seem to have had a pretty good experience overall. But again, they’ve never since said “Oh let’s pick up another couple houses.”

    My BIL bought a duplex and rented out the bottom and was relatively soon in the situation where the bottom tenants were covering the entire mortgage. Near a college and a hospital, so lots of clients and he seems to have been pretty lucky. He also got EXTREMELY lucky timing the gentrification of both the city and his particular neighborhood of MLK drive. After they had kids and realized that living with a child and a 60 lb dog in less than 1,000 sf is not fun, they moved and rented out the top unit, too. And that’s doing well.

    My brother became an accidental landlord when they were moving from the their single family home during the housing crisis and it wouldn’t sell. He’s got a property manager, and obviously that takes a percentage, but he’s had no drama.

    Now, everyone keeps insisting that I’m probably not going to listen to the horror stories on here, but that’s completely wrong. I’m totally listening and that’s why I haven’t done anything. It’s just been talk. But it keeps piquing my interest from time to time.

    Maybe I should buy storage units. Then if they don’t pay rent I’ll just throw away their shit. :)

  113. RMS: I’ll be very honest and open now because if you can’t be honest and open on an anonymous internet blog where can you?? I’ve been struggling A LOT yesterday and today. I’ve weathered the pandemic pretty well all things considered, but this situation in Texas is about to send me over the edge. EVERYONE I care deeply about is impacted. The fact that my parents can’t even drink their water, and I’m so far away is killing me. DH just got an e-mail from a plumbing company we’ve used in the past saying, “we know our voice mail is full. Fill out this on-line form, and we’ll get back to you.” Do you know what moisture in a house does in Houston?? It molds. I can’t even imagine what this is going to look like a week or 2 from now. Yeah, I’m probably catastrophizing all this, but this is where my head is today. Hopefully in a few days just like the Lone Star State I’ll have a much more sunny outlook.

  114. “Sometimes I think there are real economies of scale.”

    this is mentioned a lot on the bigger pockets podcasts. I was listening to an old one with a guy who was the second child in his family to go to college, and he picked a cheaper one than his older brother. so his parents figured they should make him whole and offered to buy him a car. when he got to the college in missouri, he was floored by how cheap the real estate was, so they helped him buy a house and he had a few roommates, of course. by the time he graduated, he owned five houses filled with students. he went to work in finance for 10 years writing algorithms, as he said, but he got bored with that.

    so he got a few partners, including his dad, and they own a couple hundred apartment units, mainly in South Bend, iirc. he’s not old.

    He was one who talked about the economy of scale for all your costs.

    A lot of military people traditionally did the thing where they’d buy a house wherever they were stationed, and rent it once they left. 20-30 years later, they’d have six or seven houses and a military pension. I know at least one classmate who’s doing that plan now.

  115. We have 3 fridge/freezers – the regular one, the one for the guest ‘apartment’ upstairs, and the one in DH’s office. The one in the kitchen is pretty big, 30″ fridge and 24″ freezer, both tall. We have been using the upstairs and office freezers pretty heavily during the pandemic to hold the extra frozen blueberries, butter, puff pastry, meats and fish, etc., that I have been buying in big quantities.

    Lemon Tree, we had that situation when DH’s family visited this summer – we had all the regular dairy products and then all of the non-dairy products for the kids (since our niece is allergic and we wanted our kids not to smear dairy all over the house) – almond milk for the kids to drink and then oat milk for me to bake with, since it tastes less weird than the almond milk.

  116. Secondary fridges.

    When we were starting out and had decent income but no savings and almost no furniture of our own we moved into our first apartment and rented a fridge and some other furniture month-to-month. Pretty quickly we started buying used/flea market/garage sale furniture to replace the rented stuff. We bought a couch from Levitz, 6mos no interest, because the payments were about the same as what we were paying to rent the one we had. But we never bought/replaced the rental fridge (traditional freezer on top). So after 30 months we owned it. We moved it to the condo we bought. And we moved it here with us, even though I bought a huge fridge that would be our main kitchen fridge, and put it in the basement, plugged it in.

    It remains plugged in to this day. The freezer is almost always completely full of stuff we intentionally make (pasta sauces, lasagna, chili) or buy (large packs of meat that I break into individually usable portions for recipes). I am sure it’s a complete energy hog relatively speaking but it works great. And besides, even taking the doors off it’ll be a really tight squeeze to get it thru the doorway which divides the finished part of the basement from the natural state part so I have no incentive to move it.

    It’s great to have. Almost never filled to the gills, but the side-by-side we’ve now had for 20 years and I have always hated has less capacity and less convenience than what we really need even though it says it has 25 cu ft. The only reason I/we have not pulled the trigger on replacing it is just what Milo said: $2400. We just don’t feel like using our $ that way, and as much as I hate the current fridge, a new one won’t truly spark joy either.

  117. ” by the time he graduated, he owned five houses filled with students.”

    When I was a student, my housemates and I were great tenants. But hoo boy, living in Santa Cruz and listening to the stories the local landlords tell, students can really trash a house. Best not to rent to only young men. Try to get women or a mix. Of course that’s illegal.

  118. I have an upright freezer in the garage. It must be 25 years old, at least. Still works well, although it’s not self-defrosting so in the summer I have to try to empty it and defrost it and that’s a PITA.

    I had a second fridge in the basement, but when we renovated the basement the bitch architect smiled at me patronizingly and told me I didn’t need a second fridge, and DH went along with her, and we just got a drinks fridge. I’m still bitter. When DH dies I’m going to buy 10 refrigerators and put them all over the house. Fuck you, Diane the architect. I hope all your food spoils because you don’t have enough refrigerators.

  119. I think rental properties are fine until they aren’t. I know plenty of people that have had one or two rentals for years and have fantastic experiences. Our friends who do it has their fulltime job…they started off renting a condo they used to live in. The second tenant was a police officer, after six months or so he stopped paying rent. It took my friend a long time to get him out, and at one point brought his very pregnant wife along to try to collect rent, hoping that pregnant wife would make for a peaceful encounter (crazy, right!). After that the wife said we are done with rentals. Fast forward 10 years, my friend now has several apartment buildings and condo townhomes near a large hospital. It is his fulltime job and he loves it, and pays people to manage it. With economies of scale, he is able to handle the few tenants who don’t pay rent.

    I had a coworker who had a nonpaying tenant show up at our suburban office complex just to show him that he knew where he worked. It scared many of us, and HR had to get involved. That same tenant also threatened his family and they had to stay with family for a few weeks until things cooled down.

  120. I guess we are outliers in that we only have our one fridge/freezer. No second fridge and/or chest freezer. We don’t belong to any wholesale clubs, and the grocery store is only 1.5 miles away, so we just buy for a week at a time. Occasionally we’ll make a mid-week run if needed.

    JM — Thinking of you, and everyone else affected by what’s going on in Texas.

  121. “Sometimes I think there are real economies of scale.”

    Echoing what Milo said. To make a real go of it you need to get a big enough portfolio that it makes financial sense to hire somebody to be the full-time caretaker, whether that’s a property management co who has their own team of repair experts or you hire a handyman type and he goes around to all the properties keeping them in good shape and responding to all the always-untimely emergencies.

    Not wrt to the emergencies, but it’s no different than other businesses (assuming all legal, licensed, insured) like DayCare, Physical Therapy, Plumber/Electrician etc. You need to scale, with employees, to be able to make real money off your offering.

  122. we just buy for a week at a time.

    I can’t make that work. DH has such limits on what he can eat, and salad is one thing that he can eat, so he wants the lettuce/peppers/onions/tomatoes to be fresh. And despite making careful lists, I always forget the milk or something. And I prepare all three meals per day, partly for money, but mainly because you can’t get low-carb takeout. It doesn’t really exist. I could order a steak or something, but that’s stupid; it’s so easy to cook up a steak.

  123. J-M & others in TX affected by this weather, your northern Totebag friends are crossing our fingers for you for a quick return of power and no lasting ill effects. We know cold, and we don’t wish it on anyone.

  124. Thanks for everyone’s concern. I’m thinking of Houston, Becky and Austin Mom, too.

    In true Totebag fashion, back home we have a 15 year old refrigerator with the freezer on the top and the fridge portion on the bottom.

  125. We have a small top freezer (normal size from my childhood) fridge in our galley kitchen, and it was not adequate when we had a third adult in the house. Neither was the pantry space. For the two of us the freezer is fine, The pantry is ample, but after shopping day or veggie delivery I have trouble fitting in the produce. If anyone moves in again for any length of time we will set up a food area and get a dorm fridge.

  126. “A lot of military people traditionally did the thing where they’d buy a house wherever they were stationed, and rent it once they left. 20-30 years later, they’d have six or seven houses and a military pension. I know at least one classmate who’s doing that plan now.”

    BIL thought about doing this, but he didn’t. I bet he’s pretty glad he doesn’t own a house in Texas right now!

    Like RMS – most of the people I know who are happy with being landlords are either professionals or have one property – in fact, most of those are 2 or 3-flats where the owner lives in one of the units OR a vacation property in a high-rental vacation desintation where they give a cut to a local management company.

    @J-M – I am so, so sorry. I know it is really hard to be away – an ocean away – when your family is going through a crisis. I can’t even imagine how the pandemic adds to that.

    Our full sized french door fridge is fine – we considered getting a second one, but decided to wait to see if we would need it. We got a wine fridge and a deep freezer. Those are great & eliminate the need for a second fridge. We thought about getting a drinks fridge for one of the offices, but so far, we haven’t needed one. We did get a fancy cooler for parties which I think will come in just as handy & is more portable.

  127. We only have one fridge. As many of you know, we had to replace our old one under duress in the summer, and there was little selection. We needed a larger fridge and I wanted to move to the style with the freezer on the bottom. That is the kind of fridge I grew up with and I just like it better. The downside is that you have to fish through all the frozen stuff while bending over, but that is far better than fishing through the stuff on top and having a solid blob of frozen burger slide out and hit you in the head.
    I don’t really care for the fridge we ended up with because even though it is a little bit bigger than our old fridge, the new one feels like the fridge part is smaller. I think that is largely due to poor design. There are too many drawers and slats taking up space. But the big problem is that the two veggie drawers are too shallow for many of the veggies I buy. So I end up with piles of veggies on the open shelf above it. And why take up extra space with two side by side veggie drawers. Just have one that extends all the way across.

  128. Yeah, it’s kinda bad here. 40% of Houston has been without power. Water is in and out. Internet and cell service is spotty. We have been luckier than many and have had power the whole time. Once you’re warm, everything else is gravy.

  129. We have a side by side and the freezer is so narrow.

    That’s what we have. 20 years ago (shortly after we moved in and bought the fridge) we bought a second fridge for the basement with a top freezer.

  130. And why take up extra space with two side by side veggie drawers.

    So you have the option to take one out if you don’t need it. You do know that the shelves and drawers are all modular so you can configure them however you like, right?

  131. “When DH dies I’m going to buy 10 refrigerators and put them all over the house. Fuck you, Diane the architect. I hope all your food spoils because you don’t have enough refrigerators.”

    LOL. It’s like all the designer shows — I’m looking at you, Property Brothers — when parents of three kids are renovating a small house, and they say “we just desperately need more storage for the kids’ toys,” and the solution is two pretty baskets underneath a sofa table. Well of course your living room looks tons bigger if you take 90% of the crap out of it!

  132. Milo: I’m going to be contrarian and suggest you get a rental property when you can find a good one. I’ve owned rental property, and no, I have zero desire ever to do it for a living (our Taos condo is more a way to get someone to cover most of our costs vs. an investment). There are two main problems with “hobby” rental properties: (1) financial losses when tenants don’t pay or cause damage; and (2) the hassle of dealing with all of the “stuff” that goes along with it. You are ideally suited to handle both of those things. You have plenty of money and can cover the mortgage indefinitely if needed if you run into a horrible tenant, which is very different than when, say, you’ve had to rent because your job moved you but you can’t sell the old house. And you have a very level temperament that enjoys puttering and daily interactions with people and doesn’t seem to get thrown or bothered by “stuff” in the way some of us (a/k/a me) do. So why not give it a try? Maybe you’ll make a great return on your investment and discover this is a great sideline for you to do. But your worst-case scenario is a bad investment that loses you money that you can afford to lose and that teaches you it’s not your thing. There are worse things.

  133. DD, there would be no point to taking out one of the veggied drawers because there is another drawer (the meat drawer) right below. I could see if there was a shelf under it, because you would get space for taller jars, but not when there is another drawer under it

  134. Thanks all—I loved hearing everyone’s perspectives!

    We have a garage fridge that holds a few beverages and ice packs in the freezer; definitely underutilized, but unless we get a generator, I don’t want to have too much food stockpiled in a freezer that could go bad when power goes out.

    My heart goes out to all of you in TX…on top of the discomfort and inconvenience, it is disconcerting to find yourself back worrying about the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy.

  135. @MM – When we got our new fridge, I was frustrated because there wasn’t enough good tall storage space. There was this goofy thing where one of the shelves slide halfway back to make more room for tall items, but it was so stupidly designed & not useful, I was getting really annoyed. I couldn’t figure out how to reconfigure the shelves better, but then I watched a You Tube video & realized that one of the other shelves hinged up & out of the way. And now I do love the fridge – although I have the same issue as you – the crisper drawers are a bit smaller than I’d like so I have to put veggies in the main part of the fridge. But there is plenty of space, so it’s not a huge deal. It is more than made up for by the fact that I absolutely love the “flex drawer” in the middle.

  136. thanks, Laura. Something to consider. I’ll let you know what I learn in my new investing group. it’s an interesting story about the guy who’s starting it, but too specific to share here.

    the only thing that I’m less than pleased about with the new fridge is the ice maker. You all may recall my fondness — some might say “obsession” — for lots of ice. Ice in drinks, and ice in coolers. I was adamant about ice through the door, and that was easy to find. But a lot of them are just putting these tiny little ice containers on the inside of the door. That’s just not going to do. So the one we found had the ice container in the fridge, going al the way to the back wall. Not quite as large as our old one, but still looked pretty big.

    it’s all well and good, but it seems to take forever to actually fill, and re-stock the drawer. I don’t know why. I keep it at -2 deg. The cubes are smaller, so, if anything, it should be faster.

    I’m worried about how this is going to perform when I’m filling a cooler for the lake this summer. I may just have to get an auxiliary ice maker for the basement to put next to the auxiliary chest freezer. :)

    I broke out the silicone ice trays for making those hipster cocktail ice cubes, the ones that are the size of a softball. I keep a gallon-sized ziplock bag of those at the ready in the freezer.

  137. We’re OK on tall items although we did use the feature where part of one shelf could be removed, which gives space for the milk jug. Other tall things like seltzer bottles can fit on the door. I just wish the veggie drawer was deeper and went all the way across, like the old fridge

  138. @Milo – You are going to need another ice maker or commit to buying ice for coolers. I say that with experience. We do keep old school ice cube trays and large cube silicone trays in the freezer for supplemental cocktail ice, but it’s not enough for a cooler.

  139. but it seems to take forever to actually fill, and re-stock the drawer. I don’t know why.

    When I had that problem it was due to a kinked supply hose.

  140. We have both power and water right now, and hopefully both will hold. I have a reservation at a hotel later so we can all take hot showers. I’d say 95% if the hotels are booked. We are under a boil water order. The roads are completely clear and dry in my area so I’m assuming the stores will restock quickly with bottled water and whatever else people need.

    JM – thinking of you. The wait for a plumber is indeed quite long. I can’t even get one to return our call yet, but I made clear on the phone we had capped our leak and have water, just no hot water heater. I won’t get to the top of the list for a bit.

    Houston that’s great that you never lost power! The listening all night for the sound of catastrophe when there was no power, then checking to see if we have power as it cycles off and on through the night has been draining. I’m getting desperate for a good night’s sleep.

  141. Ivy – :(

    Rhett – no the hose is fine. there’s enough pressure and flow for normal water dispensing. I realized after I posted that I was an idiot for saying that the freezer is at -2. While true, the ice maker is in the refrigerator. So I wonder if that’s the design limitation. It’s not as cold as if it were in the freezer, so it takes longer to freeze.

  142. Milo, our through-the-door dispenser has the same problem — small and S-L-O-W. I routinely run out over the course of a day. Luckily, thanks to advice here, I got a fridge with a second icemaker in the freezer drawer. I had hoped to use all of that space as freezer room, but I very quickly put the ice bucket back in there, as that one works perfectly well and makes normal ice cubes. (Thus again making me very happy for the extra garage freezer space)

  143. My neighbor has a standalone icemaker in their basement. They love lots of ice, and this was their solution to never running out. Also is great at neighbor parties (when we used to have those) because they also have a legit sno-cone maker.

  144. Milo, our fridge has a second icemaker in the freezer that makes larger cubes. We usually keep it off, but if we’re going to need more ice, like to fill a cooler, we’ll turn it on.

    I don’t remember who, but someone else here also got a fridge with 2 icemakers.

  145. The more I hear about what’s going on in TX, the more I think of WFI’s DH. He must be really busy now.

    Are you TX folks now thinking about some sort of backup system, perhaps a generator like Milo, or one like Louise, or PV? When you factor in the costs associated with frozen pipes, the case for something like that becomes stronger.

    I’m wondering how things are for people there with PV. From what I’ve read, there’s no reason to expect that PV systems wouldn’t be working, unlike other weather events like hurricanes that might cause physical damage to panels. As long as they’re configured to allow it, and the sun shines, those folks should still have some electricity during the day.

  146. We got a second fridge when our primary fridge was having problems, and were told it would be weeks before the necessary part would arrive. DW decided that was unacceptable, so we went to Sears and got the cheapest basic top freezer model they had in stock.

    It really was good having that 2nd fridge when all us were home all the time. It made it easy for us to go multiple weeks without shopping.

  147. Finn, the people in the neighborhood who had solar panels were unable to use them. I don’t know why. When I get time I’ll look for the posts. Could it be because the whole neighborhood was without power? Do they have to be on the grid to use them? I’ll follow up if I remember

  148. Becky, yeah, I think most systems are now hooked up to the grid, so that’s probably it. Now, if you had solar hot water, that should still work.

    Finn: remember that parts of TX get significant hailstorms pretty frequently. The solar systems may work now, but I’d think they’d also be subject to frequent damage in a number of areas.

  149. It was me that also got a refrigerator with two ice makers. We also have a small freezer (about 40” tall) in the garage and a full size side by side in the bar in our basement, that mainly has turned into drinks storage (extra milk, iced tea, beer, etc.). I’m too bad about letting things spoil to put any actual food in it.

    But back to ice, beyond my two ice makers in the primary fridge, I also got a nugget ice maker for Christmas. I love it

  150. Our old fridge didn’t have an icemaker. The new one has an icemaker that dispenses into a bin in the freezer but we never use it. The bin is filled with bags of frozen veggies

  151. I read L’s article and am now envisioning that countertop icemaker fitting nicely into the spot between my fridge and air fryer. . . .

  152. “the people in the neighborhood who had solar panels were unable to use them. I don’t know why”

    It probably depends on how they’re configured.

    Here, installation for systems that have net metering is typically very basic, and disconnects the PV from both the home and grid if the grid goes down. This protects utility workers who might need to work on grid wiring by keeping the PV from energizing the wiring, but also means the PV output can’t be used.

    I suspect this is how your neighbors’ panels were configured.

    Panels can be configured to deliver power for the home while disconnected from the grid. Our second set of panels is configured this way, and since we have batteries connected to them, we would still have access to whatever those panels generate when the grid is down.

    The electric utilities to which the panels are connected may have rules that disallow or make this sort of connection difficult or expensive. Our second set is not allowed to feed into the grid under any circumstances, so configuring it to allow use when the grid is down doesn’t violate and such rules.

    If the utilities have rules that prevent homes from using PV production in such situations, I hope this provides impetus to revisit such rules.

  153. “Then if they don’t pay rent I’ll just throw away their shit. :) “

    No, you auction it off.

    But I’ve ready multiple times that returns on storage are better than returns on residential housing, and not having the same type of tenant issue is a big part of that.

  154. “parts of TX get significant hailstorms pretty frequently.”

    Yeah, that could be a problem. We don’t often have that issue here (although there was some video of hail locally on the news).

    I wonder if they make panels out of uv-resistant plexiglass or some other plastic that can withstand that. IDK.

  155. ” envisioning that countertop icemaker”

    We saw one at Sam’s when we still had our previous fridge, that had problems with the icemaker.

    The problem with that one was that it didn’t have plumbing; you had to manually fill a reservoir with water to make ice.

  156. Actually, there’s a perfect spot for the icemaker right next to my tea setup (since it’s manual fill and so doesn’t need to be next to a water source, after all). I’ve just forwarded the link to DH, just in case he’s still looking for a birthday present for me. ;-)


  157. Thanks, L! I like articles and people that get obsessed over minutiae.

    While I’ve long heard from people who love Sonic ice, I’ve never understood it. And I like ice. The first Sonic I ever went to was when our boat pulled into Mayport, FL for a couple days. This guy in the wardroom from Texas insisted that we had to go, and I think Sonic was still a little more of a Texas thing and less of a national thing then. And he told me all about the ice and the limeades. They use real canned fruit in the limeades, which are ridiculously sweetened, but I feel like too much of the macerated fruit gets all stuck on the little ice pellets, which renders it practically unrecoverable, even with the lid removed.

    Chick-fil-A uses a form of pellet ice, but that seems inconsequential to me.

    This part of the New Yorker post is shoddy:
    “ and somehow, in a quirk of thermodynamics, [pellet ice] allegedly melts more slowly.”

    Maybe. I wouldn’t think so, because it has the most possible surface area. But my experience tends to support the myth, although Sonic and Chick fil A also used styrofoam cups.. Although, speculating, I could see that maybe it forms almost a snowball in the cup, so it sticks together and there’s not a lot of circulation (forced convection) past it. Unlike a bunch of cubes that get swirled around. I liked her mention of the red translucent pizza parlor reusable plastic cups. I can picture and taste the pellet ice in the root beer.

    I think she could have gone to a university website, dept of mechanical engineering, and emailed a couple professors who have focused on heat transfer.

    The article has an overarching theme that I think is insightful beyond the subject of ice. There are a thousand seemingly unremarkable, maybe unrecognized little aspects of certain experiences that we repeatedly enjoy, and many of them are lost when an alternative is thrust upon us for whatever reason. It can be personal finance (“you can make your coffee at home for 7 cents and save $5 every day and have $10 million in 20 years!”) or pandemic (“get the same food as takeout, stay the F home!”) and people may not even know within themselves why it doesn’t match up.

    Sometimes people want to sit *inside* Starbucks and suck the whipped cream atop a $5 Frappuccino through a God damned plastic straw.

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