Dear Younger Me / Future Self

by minca

Have we done an “advice to my younger self” topic recently? Could also be “things I hope I remember 10 years from now.” I’ve learned a lot from everyone here over the years and am grateful as it has definitely expanded my general POV and improved my parenting style, but I’m sure some of the most needed words of wisdom will go out the window when faced with the reality of a 16-year-old (vs my current sweet kindergartener). What approaches to life do you want to hold on to? What would you advise younger you to have done (consistently or differently)?

And Rocky Mountain Stepmom adds this:

This might be something to combine with Minca’s suggestion at 12:49. The title is “The Algebra of Wealth”, but it’s really Galloway’s reflections on how to live and how to choose your path in life, with special emphasis on how to be rich(er).

Successful people often unwittingly head fake young people with the humblebrags of ‘follow your passion’ and ‘don’t think about money.’ This is (mostly) bullshit. Achieving economic security requires hard work, talent, and a tremendous amount of focus on . . . money. Yes, some people’s genius will be a tsunami that overwhelms a lack of focus and discipline. Assume you are not that person.

The Algebra of Wealth

130 thoughts on “Dear Younger Me / Future Self

  1. Achieving economic security requires hard work, talent, and a tremendous amount of focus on . . . money.

    Is he doing more harm than good with that kind of talk? If you put a reasonable amount in your 401k when you get your first adult job and don’t think about it again, it will pretty much take care of itself.

  2. Right, but that assumes you have a job that has a 401k available and is paying enough so that you can afford to put a reasonable amount in it. If you are following your passion of being an artist and are working a couple of part-time jobs and just scraping by, that’s not going to work.

  3. It depends on how you interpret that. A tremendous focus on money could mean getting a job that “pays well” and making sure you consistently invest in your 401k. Especially the 401k part can require a great deal of focus for some people who are constantly tempted to fritter away their money.

  4. I think poorer people are incredibly focused on money – because they have to be. It’s much harder to deal with “not enough”. There’s this weird view out there that poorer people are not making rationale money choices, when really they are but their constraints are different and are often more focussed on the short term.

  5. “I bargained with Life for a penny,
    And Life would pay no more,
    However I begged at evening
    When I counted my scanty store.

    For Life is a just employer,
    He gives you what you ask,
    But once you have set the wages,
    Why, you must bear the task.

    I worked for a menial’s hire,
    Only to learn, dismayed,
    That any wage I had asked of Life,
    Life would have willingly paid.”

  6. Advice to my college-age children:
    1. To be successful, you need “hard” skills and “soft” skills and the more you fill your toolbox with skills the more flexibility you have to steer yourself into new positions. Don’t think being kind or blowing off thank-you notes isn’t important.
    2. Think about a job like a three-legged stool – the actual work you do; the people you do it with; and the environment you do it in. You will be more successful if these three things are in balance. You can always handle a little wobble, but if one leg is broken or breaking, it’s time to look for a new stool before you fall off.
    3. Compensation is first about money – you need an appropriate base salary, but look at other components as well and negotiate on both. Gaining experience in a new area is another ways to build that toolbox.
    4. Listen to and solicit feedback from appropriate people in your network. Watch what the successful people in the organization do and incorporate it into your work style where appropriate.
    5. Be a humble problem-solver. Yes, let people know it was your solution or your contribution, but don’t make other’s look bad or throw them under the bus. Karma is a b*t@&.

  7. Rocky tells me that my response to Rhett on yesterday’s post is relevant to today’s post, and lo and behold, it is. So repeating here.

    “Given your CO experience, would you advise the kid to buy a home? IIRC you would have been better off blowing the money on a Porsche than buying a place at that age.”

    Rhett, I would NOT advise that a single 20-something prioritize buying a house. I view a house as a lifestyle choice, not an investment. I would tell him to mazimize his investments in the market instead.

    Actually, I would advise him to go ahead and blow some cash on a fun vehicle or whatever floats his boat. I do wish I had been a little looser with money on completely frivolous things when I was in his position. BUT I’d tell him to get an apartment first. In short, my advice would be:

    1. Move out.
    2. Buy a toy, live your life to a reasonable extent, consistent with maxing your retirement accounts.
    3. Throw the rest of your money at investments.

    Or: Live at home, and use your extra money in a parentally-approved way.

  8. Advice I’ve given to my kids: I’ve given them both MMM’s “Shockingly Simple Math” article. They are of course at the phase of being excited to find what their job/career path would be and so poo-poohed the idea of focusing on early retirement. But we talked about it in terms of giving yourself power to decide without considering money — like, say, you have an opportunity to go to work for a really exciting new company that might go under, or take a job that pays a lot less; if your expenses are low and you have saved up a nice emergency fund, you have a lot more freedom to take chances on interesting ideas — or to quit a job where you end up working for a jerk.

    The advice I’d have given younger me is to let go of the money anxiety. Not forget about *money*, but to stop worrying about it so much, and to have a little more optimism that I will be able to make the money I will need. Not to go hog-wild, but say don’t pass on the trip to Switzerland when I was studying in France because I was afraid of running out of money. Or buy the totally impractical sports car at 22 or 30 instead of the more practical hatchback.

  9. Austin – I like your list.

    LfB – I wish I had enjoyed my time in London more, spending a bit more on fun things, especially after I’d paid off my school loans. OTOH I paid off my school loans and saved for a downpayment on my first apartment (which I loved). Hard to Monday quarterback those decisions.

    HFN – YES!

  10. Buy the house?

    DS1 can probably afford to buy and qualify for a mortgage on a (starter) house in a decent neighborhood near where he lives & works. He’s talked about it, sent us listings, asked us for our advice. We were straight up, provided fact-based consulting opinions on the properties considered. We realize it’s his decision and money and he’s not going to knuckle under if he wants to go a different direction than we recommend. One thing we made clear is (in a +1 to Lfb) a house [is] a lifestyle choice and he’s probably too young to say very often to his friends who want to go golfing on a beautiful weekend day “I have to work on the house” or perhaps “gotta watch my nickels” before they stop asking him to join them. He’s moving into a newer/better apartment next month.

  11. It’s hard to tell what advice would be useful, because some of it is colored by experiences relating to events that one has no control over, and that you’d only know with hindsight. I certainly didn’t predict the 08 recession.

    But the best thing I did when young, was save in a 401k and spend less than I earned. But I can see how young people without solid advice on that topic can falter — it took work. I had no one to ask, target date funds didn’t exist, and it was opt-in at work and not opt-out. Other people in the same job were all in the same boat and just didn’t care enough to fill out the paperwork to get the 401k (and eventual profit sharing, no match). So much paperwork! And that was the best situation too — I didn’t lose a job, I wasn’t working multiple jobs with no 401ks at any of them. I tell all of our interns this now, and sometimes they humor me — I make them look at compound interest graphs if they save whatever amount today.

    Also, don’t believe the follow your passion garbage. That’s for people with money and parental backup. Or a willingness to live in their van.

    But I’d also tell myself as a young person to not wait — don’t wait to do anything you truly want to do, but find a way to make it work. So many things were easier than they seemed, once you tried them. Traveling on your own, taking random classes just for fun, trying for that reach job, moving. A willingness to fail really helps you have fun experiences in life.

  12. I like the “algebra” article (though isn’t it just basic multiplication?), but I don’t get his comment that, among other things, low interest rates have facilitated a massive transfer of wealth from the young to the old. I agree that various other decisions have done so. But the low interest rates seem to be the other way around: older people on fixed incomes or trying to live on interest alone complain all. the. time. about how low their payouts are as compared to the cost of goods/services they need; meanwhile, younger people — who are more likely to need loans to buy a car or a home or go to school — can borrow what they need at much more affordable rates. Not to mention that if you want to start your own business, the low-rate environment seems to be ideal for getting startup funds. What am I missing?

  13. LfB,

    The only thing I can think of is if you think about it from the perspective of someone who took out a 30 year mortgage 30 years ago. In 1991 30 year mortgage rates were 10%. There was a lid on prices as at those rates $100k was $848 a month. Over the past 30 years rates have slowly drifted down. Today $848/month gets you a $200k mortgage. The fall in rates has meant a rise in prices as buyers are usually buying the payment not the actual amount.

    That’s not going to happen for todays buyers unless we somehow ended up with negative interest rate mortgages. Today’s buyers wont experience the joy the 1991 buyer did as they refinanced down to 8%, 6%, 4% etc.

  14. I guess in theory today’s buyers could see the opposite if interest rates creeped up to 4, 6, or 8%. Prices would fall as buyers again are buying the payment. $848/month at 2% is $225k. At 4% 175K at 6% $140k etc.

  15. DW is a 401k trustee for her employer, and just this week, is initiating the process to offer the Roth option. At my suggestion, she’s adding the option to convert existing balances.

    I prepared our tax returns this morning. I’m trying to listen to the advice of my 72.5-year-old self, and to that end, we’re going to start making all her contributions Roth, (employer contribution and profit sharing will remain traditional) and then initiate an ongoing conversion process for some of our existing funds.

    I’d been holding off for a few reasons, some logical, some emotional, and a lot of inertia. Logically I kept thinking that DW’s continued employment was contingent on the continued existence of her desired PT WAH arrangement, and when that stopped, we’d use a lower tax bracket to start the transfers.

    Emotionally, I can’t bring myself to reduce current allocation amounts in order to cover the increased tax liabilities, even though I know that makes no sense mathematically. (Dave Ramsey is absolutely correct when he says Roth is always better for the simple [behavioral economics] reason that you’re wired to make X contributions regardless of type, so you might as well go with the one that actually represents more [net of tax liability] money.”

    But overall, we were looking at our current return, and some Excel projections, plus considering the national debt, and it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever enjoy a marginal tax rate lower than our current one.

  16. “Today’s buyers wont experience the joy the 1991 buyer did as they refinanced down to 8%, 6%, 4% etc.”

    No, they’ll experience the joy of holding a 2- or 2.5% mortgage thru to maturity as mortgage interest rates grow to more normal rates of 5-7% over the next 25-30yrs.

    I think I’m too conservative to actually pull the trigger but every so often I think about doing a fixed-rate cash-out refi on my paid-off house at today’s low interest rates and investing the principal.

  17. Compared with all the other cash-back credit cards I’ve seen, the way Capital One (Quicksilver, 1.5% cash back on everything) structures it seems best for the user. As soon as a charge hits the account*, the 1.5% cash back goes into my rewards “bank” and is immediately accessible to credit my account or use a few other ways. Many places, incl AMEX, BA, Citi make you have $25 in your rewards “bank” before you can access them. And some limit you to $25 increments. According to my kids Discover doesn’t have a minimum hurdle to use, but you have to wait till the charge shows up on the end of month statement (which I think is reasonable, just that C1 is more generous).

    * even before I’ve gotten an official end-of-month statement or paid the bill

  18. No, they’ll experience the joy of holding a 2- or 2.5% mortgage thru to maturity as mortgage interest rates grow to more normal rates of 5-7% over the next 25-30yrs.

    Why would that be a joy? A person buying in 5 years when interest rates were 6% would have the same payment as home prices would have to fall 40% to compensate.

  19. And of course the person buying at 6% would be able to refinance as rates came down and prices went up.

  20. I think pretty much any advice I would give to my younger self, my younger self wouldn’t listen to!

    Let me think of something….
    Record your small children’s voices, because those voices will be gone soon. My oldest used to regularly sing snuggle puppy to me at night from around age 3 to 5, and then he never did it again. He would have let me record him and I wish I had.

    Appreciate your parents and talk to them as much as you can, because sooner than you wish, they will be gone too.

    I know you won’t believe it, but Bayesian statistics will be the most important branch of math in the future so learn it now.

    Keep up the cardio and strength building exercise because your 80 year old self will appreciate it.

  21. But you said “buyers again are buying the payment”. So they’re no better off month-to-month if the interest rate : home value axiom holds true.

    Me? I’ve got a fixed cost of funds of 2.25% when, on average over the long term, I can expect to pocket 6-8%/yr (incl dividends) from my SP500 index fund. The joy of interest rate arbitrage.

  22. So they’re no better off month-to-month if the interest rate : home value axiom holds true.

    They are trapped in a house they can’t sell because it’s worth 40% less than they paid. At least for a while.

  23. Fred,

    Wouldn’t stock prices tend to fall as interest rates rose? 10 year treasuries at 6% or 8% would pull a lot of money out of the market.

  24. I just walked outside. I have 1-3″ tall daffodil stems and 1″ crocuses up. No blooms yet. This is only a month+ early. Harbingers of a huge end-of-March snowstorm!

  25. Milo,
    Completely agree with your analysis re: Roths. And I also think the best position will be to have some in both buckets – after tax and tax deferred and since my 401k is well funded 30 years in, I have the base covered already. In the same vein about marginal tax rates, I’ve also ceased deferring parts of my compensation (other than the normal Roth/401k contributions). I’m just taking all my cash now, paying the taxes and adding to our after tax investments.

  26. I’m thinking more 1966 to 1982 as the prime rate went from 5% to 20%. It was a crushing bear market.

  27. My man Guillermo came through! They had a cancelation and I grabbed DH by the ear and dragged him to the pharmacy for his vaccine. He has Type 1 diabetes; I don’t.

    What I do have is a sore throat…

  28. Meh, I’ve actually been persuaded by the MMM contributors who argue that a traditional 401(k) is better for most — IF you’re paying attention to a budget and not just spending the extra, of course. If you assume the same expenses, the tIRA leaves you with more money in your pocket now to invest. Plus when you withdraw, the first @$10K(??) of income is totally tax-free — and if your AGI is below $35K(???), you pay 0% on CGs. So if you can manage your conversions in future, you can do some serious minimization of your future tax bills.

    That said, all our current 401(k)s are going to Roths (profit-sharing is automatically traditional, though), largely because all of our earlier-career $$ is in traditional accounts (and also because I have to believe that taxes will go up, and I know we are prime targets). I figure having big chunks in traditional 401(k)s, Roth 401(k)s, post-tax investments, and cash will give us maximum flexibility to adjust strategies based on whatever happens to the tax code. Plus we’re not planning to be in the low tax brackets that most MMMers are. ;-)

  29. Yeah, from Jan 1969 – July 1982, 13.5yrs, the SP500 declined 62.5%, from 766 (a record not broken till Aug 1991) ==> 287 (last seen 28yrs earlier in August 1954).

  30. Yeah, from Jan 1969 – July 1982, 13.5yrs, the SP500 declined 62.5%,

    And that’s not inflation adjusted, right? The dollar lost 60% of its value between 1969 and 1982.

  31. Rapid test for me came back negative. I went and got a PCR test too; should have that in a few days. Meanwhile I’m hiding up in the guest room and wearing one of my obscenely expensive N95s every time I need to get a diet Coke from the basement.

  32. RMS -I missed something. We’re you exposed? My nephew is on day 2 of a 10 day quarantine in his room. My sister has stocked a mini fridge for him with snacks and drinks.

  33. “ MMM contributors who argue that a traditional 401(k) is better for most”

    I actually agree with them that traditional is better for most, because most contributors are contributing the bulk of their money in their 50s at the highest marginal rates they’ll ever see. And what’s more, if they’re doing Roth, they’re paying marginal rates on the contributions just to avoid effective rates on the distributions.

    Likewise for the stereotypical MMM’er, they’re earning software engineer pay for 10 – 15 years so that they can live in idle, genteel poverty for the rest of their lives thereafter. Definitely defer the taxes flow when they’re living on $40k annually.

    But our situation is evolving to be very different.

    And I agree with Sunshine that you wouldn’t want everything in Roth. There’s no sense in paying even 24% taxes on all the contributions for 30 years so that you can have absolutely no taxable income from 60-90. That’s not spreading it out efficiently, either.

    My real estate friend in Boston earns about $200k at his day job, is single with no dependents, and claims about $36k in taxable income. (He was like “they better give me more stimulus checks, I’m the working poor!”) Whet he’s doing is enjoying the depreciation on his 17 rental units.

    Where can I find tax losses like that, but without the leverage and risk. There should be a REIT fund that passes on the depreciation, no?

  34. Kerri, I haven’t read the NYT article, and I’m not sure if I can (DD’s NYT account hasn’t been working lately for reasons we haven’t figured out).

    How will Carranza leaving affect the exam schools? He was pushing big time to change the admissions process, but de Blasio was also behind that push; do you think it will continue?

  35. Finn – Neither Carranza nor DeBlasio can changed the exam schools; only Cuomo and the NYS Regents can. DeBlasio and Carranza are busy dismantling G&T programs in elementary schools and arguing with each other (and others) about school re-openings.

  36. “I’m thinking more 1966 to 1982 as the prime rate went from 5% to 20%. It was a crushing bear market.”

    That time window includes the stagflation era.

    Attitudes toward inflation have changed greatly since then.

  37. “spend less than I earned”

    Yes, one of the two things I think and hope I’ve tried to drill into my kids is this.

    The other is, be nice (along with its flip side, don’t be an asshole).

  38. “Neither Carranza nor DeBlasio can changed the exam schools; only Cuomo and the NYS Regents can.”

    But weren’t Carranza and de Blasio both trying to push change at the state level? OTOH, they didn’t seem to have much support there.

    My understanding is also that only is true for some of the exam schools; some of them could be changed at the city level.

  39. “I prepared our tax returns this morning.”

    Wow. It took you that little time?

    Perhaps DW’s and mine might not take very long. Since the Trump tax cuts, they’ve been a lot easier.

    OTOH, DS’ have been a pain, with earnings in two states.

  40. Sunshine, I did go to the dental school for an appointment, but they’re all vaccinated.

    My rapid test came back negative.

    Then Guillermo called and said they had another cancelation so I’m sitting here waiting my 15 minutes after my first Pfizer shot.

    Kids! Put yourselves on every waiting list you can find. People do cancel.

  41. “Compared with all the other cash-back credit cards I’ve seen, the way Capital One (Quicksilver, 1.5% cash back on everything) structures it seems best for the user… Discover doesn’t have a minimum hurdle to use, but you have to wait till the charge shows up on the end of month statement”

    We use our Discover a fair amount (I’ve had one since Sears first created it). We let our rewards accumulate, and cash out the rewards in the form of discounted gift cards.

    There are quite a few offers with discounts in the range of 5% to 20%. We’ve bought a bunch of clothes from Old Navy and Gap using $50 gift cards we got for $40 in reward money. Once we paid for part of a trip using $100 hotel gift cards for $60 of rewards (I forget which chain, and that offer isn’t there any more).

  42. Finn- Yes they tried but failed. Cuomo doesn’t get along with DeBlasio. (It’s a soap opera.) De Blasio did success in eliminating some screens (geography, testing, etc.) for very highly regarded public schools (not the SHSAT test-in schools). In the long run, I think those changes will be a positive. It’s turned this year into a scramble. Without some of the screens I imagine the schools with good reputations will get flooded with applicants, turning the system into a lottery, basically (with worse odds than previous years). Some schools do still have some screens – essay, auditions, school administered test – but many others dropped them altogether and/or set aside a certain percentage of seats for historically disadvantaged kids. With COVID, a lot of the traditional screens were meaningless any way – attendance, 7th grade state test scores (there are none), 7th grade grades (not available for full year), etc – but those changes may become permanent.

  43. Finn – we don’t have any complicating factors. It’s remarkably easy, in fact. We’re regular employees. We never sell anything. Outside of retirement tax shelters, we own shares of exactly one Vanguard fund that generates a single 1099-DIV.

  44. This fight between Carranza and deBlasio is the same fight that the mayor and schools chancellor have been having since I was a kid because there is no easy fix for the the NYC school system. Also, I have friends in Brooklyn that dislike the plan to desegregate the schools because their son (second born) didn’t get to attend the same great middle school that his sister was able to attend. A lottery was system was introduced that didn’t exist when his older sister was able to just go to her zoned school. Both of my friends grew up in NYC and benefited from G & T programs from 2-8th grades. They also attended one of the test schools so they benefited from all of the programs in the 70s and 80s. They wanted those same programs for their kids – even though it didn’t help the majority of the kids in the city.

    Finn, there is very mixed support in Albany for overhauling the test system for the handful of NYC high schools that are decided by an entrance exam. State legislators from other parts of state don’t have a vested interest in the outcome. Even my HS Facebook class page is full of discussion when there is a new article in the NYT or other news organization about making a change. Some people are passionate that they want change and there other people (like me) that think the test is an objective way to to determine entrance to those high schools. I have come to this conclusion because I continue to meet current and recent graduates through some of the alumni mentoring programs. IMHO, just because the majority of the students are from Asia or Southeast Asia – this doesn’t mean that they are so different than other immigrants or first gen students from prior generations. My father and his cousins also attended these test high schools in the 50s/60s. I attended in the 80s. My dad’s family was poor because my grandma was a single mom. She came to the US when she was around 20 and she didn’t speak English. My dad’s life was changed by having the opportunity to attend this high school and a simple test was the entry. If my grandmother and my dad had to some how put together an application and a package for admission – or figure out how to persuade an 8th grade teacher to pick him – he probably wouldn’t have gained admission to one of the three test schools.

  45. Great news, RMS!

    I find it so encouraging to read the posts about folks actually getting the vaccine.

  46. RMS, Woo Hoo!! Great to hear about you and your DH.

    What about your 2nd shots? Now that you’ve both received your 1st shots, does that put you in line for your 2nd?

  47. Too bad. I think desegregation is a good thing. Aren’t NY schools the most segregated in the nation? How do people justify that?

  48. So Kerri and Lauren, are you in disagreement about this? Sorry, I’m just trying to sort out the strands of the argument.

    I certainly can relate to Lauren’s point that if the family has to put together an application, which can always be gamed, that’s a significant barrier.

  49. I was not impressed with Carranza when he came in, and did not think he would do a good job. I think I posted that opinion here at the time. He was not a good fit for NYC. Not that I think much of DeBlasio’s efforts either.

  50. Isn’t this very similar to the issue of whether universities should consider SAT scores? I mean obviously there are differences but the general point seems the same. If you consider SAT scores in admissions, you’re going to have a more homogeneous group at your university. There will be fewer Black students, fewer low-income students, etc.

  51. I think desegregation is a good thing and NYC schools are segregated. What I was trying to say is that the way to solve it is from the bottom up starting in pre K. The entrance exam schools are just a handful high schools. They need to have better access to good schools at earlier ages. The schools also have to be safe and I am not talking about covid.

  52. “I was not impressed with Carranza when he came in, and did not think he would do a good job.”

    I don’t think you were alone.

    He has a history of controversy. He also tried to change the admissions policies at Lowell HS in SF, which made him very unpopular with many people there.

    Perhaps Houston and Becky can comment on his stint in Houston.

  53. “Aren’t NY schools the most segregated in the nation? How do people justify that?”

    My understanding (and I welcome corrections) is that NYC schools are so segregated because its communities are segregated.

    Thus, desegregating their schools can take the approach of trying to desegregate communities, or it can try to move students to schools outside their communities.

  54. Denver Dad, it was the pharmacy at the King Sooper’s on Quebec. You can point people that way if they’re looking for a waiting list.

    Good to know. With the new plan Polis announced today, DW will be eligible in late March.

  55. Is NYC really that segregated in terms of where people live? Compared to what? Chicago seems far more segregated to me. In NYC, you can go from a Black or HIspanic neighborhood to a white one in a matter of 2 blocks.
    The real problem is that there just aren’t that many white kids in the school system. I think only 15% of the students are white.

  56. According to this site,more%20than%2050%25%20white%20students.
    40% of NYC school students are Hispanic, 25.5% are Black, 16.2% are Asian,and 15% are white. It is really hard to get a nice even desegregated mix with those kinds of numbers. And many of the measures proposed by Carranza would have driven whites and Asians out of the system, making the problem worse

  57. Yay RMS! I wish there were waiting lists here! (of course I don’t even qualify yet but…)

    We stopped contributing to IRAs a while back. I contribute to profit-sharing and DH has his SEP – both have super high limits.

  58. I think pharmacies here might have waiting lists, but you have to be over 65 to use pharmacies or private medical providers. Qualifying under-65s are relegated to the state and city sites.

  59. “The real problem is that there just aren’t that many white kids in the school system. I think only 15% of the students are white.”

    Perhaps, but the NYTimes’ Nice White Parents podcast left the impression that white parents were part of the problem.

    More broadly, I’m wondering why it’s a problem that only 15% of the students are white.
    Here, about 16% of public school students are Caucasian. I haven’t heard of that being a problem.

  60. At least one of the ‘segregation’ issues that Carranza and di Blasio wanted to address was in the exam schools, where students were mostly Asian and white. TMK, the ‘segregation’ problem there wasn’t too few white students.

  61. Back to Kim’s post yesterday about the 28yo who wanted to buy a Tesla Model 3, after reading the linked article, I’m inclined to tell the LW to go ahead an buy the Tesla.

    The LW mentioned that with incentives, the net final price of the car is around $27k, which is the same price range as a Prius or a hybrid Corolla. Throw in lower cost of operation if he has a place to charge with decent electricity rates for CA, and overall cost of ownership will probably be lower than the Prius or Corolla.

    IOW, the LW has a chance to simultaneously satisfy the desire to treat himself/herself to a highly desired toy while getting a practical car at a very good price (base Model 3 without the incentives starts at $37k; adding tax already puts net price over $40k).

    If I had a chance to buy a Model 3 for a final net price of $27k, I’d buy it.

  62. It depends on what desgregation means. If the goal is just to get more black students into a very few exam schools, then the fact that overall 15% of the students are white is not an issue. If the goal of desegregation is to have desegregated schools overall, then all schools will be mostly students of color, which still looks pretty segregated. In your state, I am betting that Black and Hispanic students do not make up the overwhelming majority, so the fact that only 16% of the students are white doesn’t look so bad

  63. “In your state, I am betting that Black and Hispanic students do not make up the overwhelming majority, so the fact that only 16% of the students are white doesn’t look so bad”

    OK, so I’m not sure I get that.

    Why is mostly Black/Hispanic worse than mostly Asian/Pacific Islander (which describes public schools here)?

  64. “Isn’t this very similar to the issue of whether universities should consider SAT scores?… There will be fewer Black students, fewer low-income students, etc.”

    I believe a high %age of the exam school students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, i.e., there are a lot of low-income students in their student bodies.

  65. Catching up now—

    Austin, I especially like your 3-legged stool analogy for work, will try to tuck that away mentally.

    MM, I’m going to see if DD will let me record a little concert/read aloud session this weekend.

    I also am grateful for whatever trend research assignment caused be to stumble on the Juggle way back when—you all have been a positive influence. :-)

    Excited to hear about more vaccinations across this group!

  66. RMS — I’m glad to hear your persistence paid off and you’ll be able to take your road trip soon!

    “Why is mostly Black/Hispanic worse than mostly Asian/Pacific Islander (which describes public schools here)?”

    The principal reason for this is the fact of Asian-American achievement. This is an embarrassment to progressives because it undermines the claim that structural racism dooms nonwhite citizens to the margins of the American dream. So Asian-American achievement must either be dismissed as somehow white or sacrificed at the altar of equity..

    Continued on the politics page.

  67. Speaking of charging stations:

    What’s Missing in the Electric-Vehicle Revolution: Enough Places to Plug In

    As dozens of new battery-powered, plug-in car models come to market, roadtrippers who bought anything but a Tesla are discovering that America’s charging infrastructure isn’t ready for prime time

    Bradley Wilkinson is the owner of a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, and the kind of electric-vehicle diehard who knows how to squeeze every last mile of range out of his vehicle.

    Even so, during his most recent road trip, from Tampa, Fla., back home to Fort Carson, Colo., he spent about 58 hours on the road. In a gasoline-powered vehicle, on average, the 1,900-mile journey would take about 30. His relatively sluggish pace was due to his need to regularly power up the Bolt’s battery at a “fast” charger—so called because they’re many times faster than typical home chargers.

    Less experienced EV owners report far bigger inconveniences than Mr. Wilkinson’s. Those include: too few charging stations, too much demand at the stations that are available, broken chargers, confusing payment systems, exorbitant electricity rates, and uncertainty over how long their cars need to charge.

    While EVs can be powered up at home, industry analysts and academics believe that a fast-charging infrastructure is essential to getting beyond their current limited adoption. This next wave of slightly-less-early adopters is critical to a global automotive industry betting heavily on battery power.

    Yet so far, only one carmaker has offered a reassuring pitch about conveniently and reliably recharging on the go: Tesla. And Tesla’s fast-charging technology doesn’t work on non-Tesla cars.

    Building the requisite charging infrastructure for the rest of the EV universe will be expensive. The Biden administration has proposed building a network of 500,000 chargers in the next five years, which would cost billions. The fact that many believe such a government investment is required shows just how little faith many industry insiders have in the ability of private enterprise to solve this problem. One issue: Building out the nation’s charging infrastructure might not be profitable.

    Say what you will about the fit and finish of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s EVs, or his over-the-top promises of imminent self-driving technology, the one thing his company got right from its early days is charging, says Hemant K. Bhargava, director of the Center for Analytics and Technology at UC Davis. Tesla built a nationwide fast-charging infrastructure for its vehicles even before its cars were widely adopted.

    Tesla vehicles can charge at most non-Tesla charging stations, but the reverse isn’t true.

    During the development and rollout of Tesla’s car-and-charger platform, the company offered to allow other companies to use the patents on its charging standards and equipment, but none took it up on the offer. While Tesla offered “open source” charging technology, using it meant signing off on terms the world’s biggest automakers were unwilling to accept.

    The world’s automakers collectively adopted a competing standard in the U.S., making their vehicles incompatible with Tesla’s. (Notably, the reverse isn’t true: With an adapter, Teslas can charge at nearly all fast-charging stations.)

    In the automobile’s earliest days, motorists couldn’t always be sure a fueling station would be available when they needed it. But we no longer think about fuel availability when we shop for conventional cars. In 2019, there were approximately 128,000 retail gas stations in the U.S. Adding up every kind of fast-charging station in the U.S., there are still only 4,890 of them, according to the Department of Energy.

    Dude, Where’s My Charge?

    Populated areas and interstates tend to be equipped with public fast chargers available to non-Tesla electric vehicles, but stations are scarce through wide swaths of the country, complicating plans for roadtrippers.

    Traditional car makers, with their sights set on a battery-only future, are aware of the charging problem. One effort to match Tesla’s superchargers has resulted in Electrify America, a nationwide network of fast-charging stations. Its creator, Volkswagen, agreed to invest $2 billion as part of the settlement with the U.S. government and California over its Dieselgate emissions-testing scandal. Other nationwide networks such as ChargePoint and EVGo, which primarily offer the slower sort of chargers, are now adding fast-charge technology. (The kind of charging that happens at home tops out at a maximum of 7.2 kw. Fast charging is 50kw and up.)

    The result, for EV drivers who wish to take their vehicles on road trips—as well as the many city-dwelling EV owners who are unable to charge at home—is a patchwork of stations that many say is improving but still needs work.

    In a survey of 3,500 EV drivers conducted in September and October 2020 by EV advocacy group Plug In America, more than half reported having problems with public charging. These problems were worse for respondents who drove non-Tesla vehicles; almost 60% of those reported issues. The most common complaint was a non-functional charger.

    Drivers of electric vehicles who wish to take them on road trips need to plan ahead carefully. Here, an electric vehicle is plugged in at a charging station in a Walmart parking lot in Duarte, Calif.

    On a recent drive to Key West, Fla., from his home of Raleigh, N.C., Chris Maxwell found that out of 31 stops at fast chargers—all but one in the Electrify America network—one in five had problems, and were either completely inoperable or only charged at half their rated speed. (He was towing a heavy trailer, so he only got 120 miles per charge on his Audi e-tron SUV, hence all the stops.) Even with all the hiccups, the Electrify America network is far more reliable than it was even just a year ago, says Mr. Maxwell.

    Also, charging stations, unlike gas stations, aren’t designed to accommodate cars with trailers. “The charging station at Charlotte in particular is kind of the bane of my existence,” he says. Because of its physical configuration, this station is a tricky place to charge a vehicle that has a trailer attached.

    Think of Tesla, a vertically integrated platform in control of the technology in both its vehicles and chargers, like Apple, which controls everything from its microchips to its app store, says Prof. Bhargava. The rest of the automakers are like the many manufacturers of Android phones, he says.

    Only in the current charging environment, there’s no Google to direct all those manufacturers. For starters, each EV model’s battery can have a different capacity and charge time. In addition, every automaker must interpret a set of open standards for the plug type, charging protocols and payment methods. Even when chargers are fully functional, issues can arise such as plugs becoming unseated, chargers rebooting, and cars and chargers having trouble communicating, all of which can interrupt a charging session or lead to longer charge times.

    Robert Barrosa, senior director of sales and marketing at Electrify America, says his company registers every failed charging session initiated by a customer, and attempts to find patterns across different models of chargers and vehicles.

    Many stakeholders—from automakers and charging companies to utilities and state and federal agencies—have an interest in a reliable national network of fast chargers, says Mark Wakefield, a managing director and automotive consultant at AlixPartners. But if the sole source of income for these charging stations is from dispensing electricity, he adds, it doesn’t appear they’re a viable business.

    According to an analysis AlixPartners conducted last year, the average fast-charging station, charging market price for electricity, would take 20 to 25 years to pay off its initial investment. Part of the problem is that when in use, a single fast-charging stall can draw the equivalent of a whole neighborhood’s electricity needs. So it can be very expensive to connect a station with up to a dozen individual chargers to the local electrical grid, and secure enough energy supply.

    Tesla offsets the cost of its fast-charging network through sales of vehicles and lucrative regulatory credits, and has only recently started turning a profit after years of losses. And Electrify America’s network was part of Volkswagen’s settlement. But these two means of paying for a fast-charging network aren’t the only ones, says Katherine Stainken, policy director at Plug In America.

    An alternative is to use the federal grant money from the Biden administration to encourage private businesses to set up, and partially fund, their own charging stations. For example, a restaurant on an interstate or in an area with a high density of EVs could apply for funding, then chip in some of its own money, and perhaps also partner with a private fast-charging network company, in order to build a charging station. (The restaurant’s incentive would be that a fast charger could increase business while drivers wait.)

    EVs currently make up around 2% of vehicles sold each year in the U.S., and the Department of Energy says more than 80% of EV charging happens at home. More than half of Americans live in single-family dwellings where, in theory, an EV could be charged, and 63% of all U.S. housing units of every kind have a garage or carport. But any EV owners planning a trip far from home, or who can’t charge at home, must rely on apps to plot an efficient route and ensure they don’t get stranded.

    Chargeway, for instance, automatically calculates where drivers should stop on a given route in order to spend the least amount of time charging their vehicles. The company gathers detailed information about how fast chargers can “fuel” any given vehicle—which depends both on the type of vehicle and the capacity of the charger, says Chargeway Chief Executive Matt Teske, a veteran of the auto industry. Mr. Wilkinson, the Bolt driver, uses a similar, competing app, called A Better Route Planner.

    The mindset required to make EV road trips, or even just drive an EV regularly if you can’t charge it at home, is markedly different from what Americans are used to. And that probably won’t change until we have a critical mass of charging stations.

    “A gas-powered Mustang might get 350 miles to a tank,” says Mr. Teske, “but nobody talks about range anxiety in that vehicle.”

  68. The world’s automakers collectively adopted a competing standard in the U.S., making their vehicles incompatible with Tesla’s.

    That’s always the issue in the U.S. with new technologies. VHS/Beta, etc. Sometimes it’s better to set standards at the beginning instead of wasting time and money while the marketplace sorts it out.

  69. RMS, that’s why for many mainland families an electric car makes sense as the commute car in a 2-car family with a road trip car as the other car.

    IMO, electric car makers would sell more if they specifically targeted that niche (however they pronounce that word). One way they could do that is to offer smaller battery options at correspondingly lower price points.

  70. RMS — So nice to hear about the Guillermos of the world who go above and beyond to help people out! Glad to hear your DH and you got your shots.

  71. The charging station at Charlotte in particular is kind of the bane of my existence,” he says. Because of its physical configuration, this station is a tricky place to charge a vehicle that has a trailer attached.

    Ha ! Ha ! Yes, charging stations in the suburbs tend to be where Tesla owners and early adopters live, notably in nicer shopping centers. I don’t think you could charge anything other than a standard vehicle in the spot. And seeing the charging stations sparingly used other non EV vehicles are tempted to park there while their owners shop. Anyway, it’s a good strategy to have charging stations in our shopping plazas as most residential customers can charge their cars while they shop and there are shopping plazas every mile or so.

  72. “it’s a good strategy to have charging stations in our shopping plazas as most residential customers can charge their cars while they shop”

    A couple of the local Target stores have multiple charging stations that are rarely unoccupied, at least when we shop there (if there is an open station when we get there, it is quickly occupied by us). I think their model makes sense from their perspective– they offer two hours of free charging at a modest charging rate, and charge for charging beyond that. Or you can charge at a higher rate from the start, but pay for it.

  73. roadtrippers who bought anything but a Tesla are discovering that America’s charging infrastructure isn’t ready for prime time

    One of the main things that drive people nuts about Elon is that his business decisions make total sense in retrospect. The very best MBAs to look at the cost of the charger network per unit and say, “Never!” And then when Elon is the richest man in the world they shake the their fist at that the fairness of it all.

  74. I have an appointment to test drive the Tesla tomorrow. I asked Dh if he wants to look at their SUV at the same time and he said he doesn’t want the SUV since we intend to make long trips and it is too stressful to deal with the charging. I went in my friend’s car and I don’t like how everything is controlled on the screen, but it might be different when I am actually driving vs. just looking.

    I am starting to feel time crunched because our superintendent sent an email last night with a surprise about opening up to five days in April. We suddenly need two cars if this actually happens.

  75. At my house there are endless discussions about cars, energy sources, Tesla and Elon. It ties into what DS and DD are learning at school. I am surrounded by engineers.

    Lauren – definitely test drive the Tesla.

  76. Lauren, Tesla has two SUVs, the Model X and the Model Y. The model Y is pretty much the SUV version of the Model 3, so if you’re going to be test driving the Model 3, I strongly suggest that while you’re there you check out the Model Y.

    The Model 3 is currently available at a much lower price point than the Model Y, because it’s available in the base configuration. As they did when the Model 3 was first introduced, Tesla is only making the higher end configurations of the Model Y available now. The higher configurations of the Model 3 are very close in price to comparable configurations of the Model Y.

    We have some friends who got a Model Y last summer, and really like it.

  77. Highlight of the week: DH and I both got the vaccine. Lowlight: Was desperately looking forward to the installation of the hot water heater today and a nice long hot shower. Turning on the hot water again revealed a broken hot water pipe in our master bath. I had cancelled our regular plumber, who wanted $2200 just for labor to install the tank, and went with a company who just does tankless installations and was only charging me $950 for the < hour work, so they couldn't fix the leak. So, no shower yet. DH and I (obviously, mostly DH, with me doing scut work) have torn out sheetrock and cut the offending broken pipe, driven around to find appropriate plumbing supplies and he capped it. I do not want to have to call the expensive plumber back and ask for another spot in his schedule. Since we have it capped, I'm hoping to wait long enough for prices to go back to normal.

    But the break was at ceiling height in our master bath on an outside wall. (And we have some good construction – there was a metal plate in the wall protecting us from drilling into the pipes which made cutting them out an extra giant pain the neck). That means that the water ran down the pipe and soaked the insulation all the way to the floor, and in Houston that means mold. We pulled out all the wet insulation we could, but we really need to rip out the rest of the sheetrock, tile, tub and the adjoining shower to make sure there is not wet insulation just sitting in there molding. I'm just sick. We can't get a plumber to call us back, but I'm not interested in paying $950 an hour for demolition. If we do have to tear all that out and re-do the shower and sheetrock, then it will need to be an insurance claim. I can't even think straight at this point.

    Since it's capped, DH was able to turn the hot water back on. He's in the shower now, since he did all the hard work. I'm next, after the dinner delivery gets here. I have a FaceTime call with a friend at 8, and will have a giant glass of wine with that. In the middle of all the chaos, my closest friend in Houston was texting to tell me she has Covid and was in the ER last night. She has asthma worse than anyone I know, so I'm quite worried about her. I'm ready for today to end.

  78. Becky, I’m glad to hear about your shots. Were those your first shots? If so, are you scheduled for 2nd shots?

    Sorry to hear about your plumbing problems. But does that mean you’re operational now, as in having working plumbing? If so, perhaps you have the option of waiting out the highest demand/highest price period for someone to address your plumbing/demo/construction.

  79. Becky – I’m so sorry for everything you are going through. I hope you enjoyed talking to a friend with a giant glass of wine.

  80. Becky, I’m sending good thoughts for your friend.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with so many problems with regard to your plumbing and heat, yet it sounds as if there’s much more to do. Good luck. I feel some of your pain since I remember the time in Texas when a pipe in a outside wall burst during an unusual cold snap and flooded the entire first floor of my townhouse. Ugh, what a mess that was. Also, one time my upstairs neighbor’s bathtub overflowed and my apartment got soaked. The mold and roaches that ensued when my landlord was slow to make repairs caused me to move, after spending a week sleeping outside in my patio.

    The apartment fiasco occurred in Odessa, the topic of a NYT podcast. I agree with the top comment that the vocal fry is annoying.

    I really wanted to listen to this story because I love The Daily. I couldn’t do it. The host’s vocal fry at the end of almost every sentence turned me off.

  81. Becky, congrats on the shower! : )

    DS1 has COVID. He worked so hard to be safe, but roommate’s girlfriend got it and passed it along. Luckily, symptoms were not too bad–he is young and strong. He will also have natural immunity.

  82. My local group of friends and neighbors has almost all obtained vaccine appts. Appts to book 1st shots are only available one week in advance, but the second shot is then booked 3 or 4 wks out at the first shot appt.

    Becky, i hope you enjoyed both the shower and the glass of vino. My stove was repaired Friday, but my on again off again bedroom electric circuit seems to have finally bit the dust, so some tearing out of walls may be in my future, too. It is great that your family is so resilient, but I know how it feels to say, to paraphrase Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a *lucky* man?

  83. “The host’s vocal fry at the end of almost every sentence turned me off.”

    I usually don’t get the objection to vocal fry – I usually don’t hear it. But wow, is this narration in the Odessa piece annoying.

  84. Becky, good luck!!!

    Houston, best wishes to your DS, I hope he has a mild case.

    Kerri/Kim, +1000. I don’t like podcasts anyway, but the vocal fry makes it so much worse!

    Meme, my parents only managed to get on a waitlist for Greenfield – hopefully they will be able to get the shot in the next few weeks.

  85. So sorry at what you’re going through, Becky. It sounds really overwhelming.

    Houston — I wish your DS a full and quick recovery.

  86. I got an appointment!!!! Javits opened a bunch of slots for this coming week, and I snagged one for Tuesday afternoon, and DS2 got one for Wednesday. Yay!!!!

  87. Ugh, I just realized this is probably going to be J&J vaccine. I am not big on being the guinea pig for a completely new vaccine, plus I was all excited about being able to go back to the gym and do indoor dining, but I don’t think I would if I get J&J. Oh well, there isn’t much I can do.

  88. MM, my DH went to Javits earlier today and it was Pfizer. So far, the large state run sites were all Pfizer because they are the capacity for the freezers.

  89. Yes, but I just read that NY is expecting a large delivery of J&J on Tuesday. That corresponds to the fact that Javits added hundreds of appointment sfor Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday

  90. I was at Javits this morning and there is a giant billboard on 11th ave that says Pfizer only at this location. The state and the city already have other plans for J and J because it can be brought directly to people that can’t leave their homes and small pharmacies. The state has a lot of Pfizer doses, but not as many facilities can administer Pfizer. They are not switching at this location to J and J for next week. Possibly some day, but not next week.

    I shared multiple facebook groups and tips with you a couple of weeks ago because I am part of an angels group that helps people register for vaccines. The drop you saw today for Javits is what happened almost every Sunday in Feb and multiple times during the week.

  91. Houston – hope DS recovers quickly!

    Sorry, all – vented here at the height of frustration. Our situation will be fine.

    Sounds like the vaccines continue to become more accessible. I am so optimistic that by late summer we can all enjoy some semblance of the Before Times!

  92. Lauren, I am on one of those groups, but they posted about Javits after I had already gotten the appointment. I had gone on the vaccine finder site this morning because I was checking to see if Yonkers had dropped its zip code restrictions yet, so it was pure luck. I have found that by the time people are posting the appointments, they are gone!
    Anyway I am glad because checking those stupid sites was a time sink I couldn’t really afford. And DS2 has one too – that is just wonderful. Even though he is a longterm survivor, he still has enough longterm effects that I will feel more comfortable when he is vaccinated, especially since he needs to use the subway at times.
    He has another bit of excitement – CUNY is finally opening the office that distributes student ids, and he has an appointment for that tomrrow. He says he will feel like an official student.

  93. Thanks everyone. My DS is recovering and in relatively good health. We are all thankful. : )

    DH says that the natural immunity based on actually getting and recovering from COVID beats any vaccine you can get, so that’s some good news.

  94. We are nowhere close to getting vaccines. They are still only immunizing the elderly and at risk.

  95. I am on a zoom funeral. It is straight out of Hollywood casting as most of the folks are older Jewish couples or singletons. Itw as supposed to start at 11, but we are still waiting. It is hysterical even though I am sure the funeral will be sad. It is for the mom of a friend (real friend) in our town. She didn’t die of covid, but many complications from a fall and alzheimers.

    Someone just suggested that they could write about a play about this zoom. My friend is very serious and I know she would be so embarrassed about this so I am glad she can’t see since she sat the cemetery.

  96. Lauren –
    Funerals are so hard right now! My mom’s DH just passed and we wanted to do everything outdoors, of course that was during the brutal cold – which we tried to schedule around but then it stayed longer than the 10 day weather apps had forecasted. So we had to reschedule it. My kids had gotten off work for the service, and they were like, who reschedules funerals? DS2 was late to the graveside service and my mom insisted on waiting for him. I’m kind of hoping the embarrassment of everyone watching him arrive and walk up will be a lesson. I was actually surprisingly chill about his tardiness. DS1 couldn’t believe I wasn’t having a fit, but by then, what good was that going to do?

    One of the lessons my older self has learned is that I cannot control everything. DH still gets angry when traffic is worse than expected….okay, I’m disappointed we didn’t leave earlier or expect the delay, but blowing up in the car does not deliver you any faster to the destination.

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