Net Worth Week 24 – Fall Growth Edition

9/9/16 9/16/16 9/23/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 31 283 283
EF 1004 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 747 871  1732
IRA 10186 9854  10079
Brokerage 403 395  402
CC (largest) -4699 -4699  -4693
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card 0 0  0
SL 1 -102594 -102726  -102858
SL 2 -45163 -45223  -45283
Earnest -8109 -8126  -8143
Net Worth -146532 -146867  -145967
Percentage Change .15% -0.22%  0.60%

Is Fall a busy season in your industry?

AirBnB: All of the Inconveniences of Staying With Friends Without the Friendliness

Gentle Readers,

I traveled for a family wedding this weekend because I believe in showing up. I had not seen the cousins in over a decade, and was happy to catch up. Unfortunately all of the local hotels were $300 a night, which seemed a bit much for just me. Seemed a bit much even if I was sharing with my girlfriend who could not come on this trip.

I asked around to see what people more familiar with the city suggested. Friends sung the praises of AirBnB, but I was wary. Many cities are seeing these poorly regulated accommodations destroying the rental markets for people who have lived there for decades. I did not want to contribute to people being priced out of their homes. I try to engage in the economy in ethical ways when I can. There are times it is just not possible (see clothing), but I think every small choice can make a difference. I try to make as many of them as I can.

I was surprised to learn that many of my very anti-capitalist, anti-gentrification activist friends were also encouraging the use of AirBnB in this city in particular. I cannot recall their reasoning at the moment, but it was apparently compelling enough at the time.

I found a host who did not mention being “420 friendly” in their ad and booked with them a month ago. I was surprised when they sent so many messages that were thinly veiled attempts to make it feel like I was staying with a friend and not paying to stay in a stranger’s home. I only responded to what seemed pertinent and focused on the rest of my life.

This week I realized I did not know the process for the Day of Staying in a stranger’s home. I sent my host an email on Thursday explaining that this was my first stay and I did not know the protocol. I tell the host when I expect to get in to the city and ask how to enter their home. I hear nothing.

I don’t want to hound the host with messages but I’m starting to worry. On Saturday before I fly I ask the host again how to enter their home. I receive a text saying I’ll hear soon.  I hear nothing. My plane lands and I ask again. Another text saying that they’ll text me the location in an hour. A train to their house and no communication in that hour.

I am outside their door. Precisely when I said I would be, and I don’t know how to get in. I wait. For twenty minutes.

Then a hale of excuses. All of them nonsense. I’m not in the mood to be friendly. They made me wait outside in the heat with my luggage for twenty minutes because they failed to communicate. They offer me a glass of water and ask about my plans. I do the bare minimum of polite conversation and wish them out of the space.*

They finally leave and I can get gussied up for the wedding. Things seem better. I enjoy the wedding and stay out incredibly late. I dance. I laugh. I hold a baby. It is a delight.

I return to my host’s building and the damn key is sticking in their apartment door and not opening it. I fiddle with it for 10 minutes before texting to ask if there is a trick to opening it. I hear nothing and fiddle for 10 more minutes before convincing the old door and lock that this key is designed to turn the locking mechanism.  Then the host lets me know that nobody else has ever had a problem with the door. This fact does not matter to me – other people’s lack of problem does not impact me in any way and is a useless bit of explanation. *

I do my PT and go to sleep in this stranger’s house. I am delighted to leave in the morning and get my stuff together promptly and leave the key on the table before taking myself out without a shower because the host has not made a towel available to their guests. The website did not tell me I needed to carry my own towel. I know that Douglas Adams taught me better, and I apologize to Adams in my heart and go about my day a bit grosser than intended.

A few hours after I leave I get another text asking me if I enjoyed my stay and asking for feedback. Readers, I ignore this text. They are not my friend and I am not getting paid to teach them how to do the bare minimum of hospitality. Telling them that my experience in their home makes me want to forego this strange economy does not seem particularly fruitful.

This will be my last Air BnB stay. I like hotels. I like that there will be towels and doors that open. I like that you can shut your door on strangers making awkward small talk.  I like that no one makes you stand in the heat outside of a building for twenty minutes because they refused to tell you how to enter their premises. I like that I can shower.

How do you respond to the sharing economy forcing faux friendships on people as a way to normalize this new behavior?

*I do not tell my host any of my snarky thoughts.

Net Worth Week 23 – Pain Abatement Edition

9/2/16 9/9/16 9/16/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 31 31 283
EF 1004 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1775 747  871
IRA 10118 10186  9854
Brokerage 402 403  395
CC (largest) -4755 -4699  -4699
CC (longest) -0 0 0
Rewards Card -644 -0  0
SL 1 -102835 -102594  -102726
SL 2 -45273 -45163  -45223
Earnest -8094 -8109  -8126
Net Worth -146761 -146532  -146867
Percentage Change -0.11% .15%  -0.22%

Have are your Septembers going? Is learning happening in your lives and professions?

A Reminder Why So Many Women Are Anonymous on the Internet

Gentle Readers,

Part of the danger of being a woman is the ubiquity of information on the internet and how dangerous certain men are. I got a reminder of that this morning.

This summer a man I don’t know contacted me via Facebook about something tangential to my business. This person claimed a friend of mine sent him my way, which didn’t ring true because we are not close but she knows precisely what my business is. I told him that any business requests need to go to my business email and also that what he is asking about was too far afield of what I do. I told him to send me an email and I could potentially forward it to other business people who may be appropriate.

This man waited a week and sent his “explanation” back to me via Facebook. I told him again that I only respond to business information at my business email. (I didn’t know you could even share a word document via Facebook messenger).

I finally get the document and it is essentially a spam comment.  Absolute garbage. It makes no sense. It is ridiculous enough that I just ignore it, because there is no way to respond reasonably to nonsense and I’m not helping him spam other business people.

I blocked him on Facebook because he kept messaging me there to check in about his problem.

This morning he somehow got around the block and asked me if I’m scamming him. Yes, me. The woman minding her own business.

I go to block him, but think I should check his profile first to see what the hell is wrong with him.

This man has shared some of my statuses and a picture of mine (that wasn’t me, thank goodness, but still shows my profile photo as sharing the photo) awhile back.

This is creepy as all get out. My Facebook settings are set to high privacy. He should not have been able to share or see any of these things.

This man has my business email, which includes my business PO box, but not my physical location. A woman concerned about safety has to think about these things. Hopefully the worst he could do is send me mail. Any mail received would be unopened, but kept as evidence, if necessary.

And this saga is a small part of why I am anonymous on the internet. I have no idea what this man will do and he is currently mad at me for not responding to his garbage. He feels entitled even though he does not follow simple directions and he knows that my business does not cover his concerns. He thinks a stranger should go out of their way to help him find someone to help him.

I am not a social service organization. You are a creepy man.

I will be re-locking down Facebook to try to prevent this from happening again.

Net Worth Week 22

8/19/16 8/26/16 9/2/16 9/9/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 31 31 183
EF 2003 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 2127 1775  747
IRA 10058 10118  10186
Brokerage 401 402  403
CC (largest) -4791 -4755  -4699
CC (longest) -437 0 0
Rewards Card -1022 -644  0
SL 1 -102719 -102835  -102594
SL 2 -45220 -45273  -45163
Earnest -8540 -8094  -8109
Net Worth -146599.71 -146761.71  -146532
Percentage Change -0.37% -0.11%  .15%

Have you had to reduce debt payment in order to save for a possibility?

Labor Day Matters

Gentle Readers,

Today is the Labor Day holiday in the United States. This is the first time since I finished graduate school that I have it as a paid holiday. I am a contingent worker and have very few actually enforceable labor rights even though I am a professional worker. The only reason I am being paid for this holiday now is because I am working on a project for the Federal Government. This gig is still contingent, and, when their systems are malfunctioning, I am denied the ability to work a full forty hours. I can and will be let go with an hour’s notice once the project ends. There will be no warning and no severance.

Labor Day was created at the end of the 19th Century as a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” via Department of Labor.

The History of the US Labor Movement in Brief

The history of labor relations between the owners and the workers has been violent and contentious in the US. Many people were killed for demanding an 8 hour day, safe working conditions, the end of child-labor, Social Security, Medicare, and sufficient time off. The State very often sided with the owners of capital. Over the bodies of workers.

In 1911, we saw the deadliest industrial accident in US history at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The death toll was so high because the doors had been blocked to prevent workers from taking unscheduled breaks. Labor leaders Francis Perkins saw some of the workers jump to their deaths from the high windows. It lived with her for the rest of her life. She began working even harder to improve factory conditions. Her labor work led her to meeting and impressing Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He later appointed her as the very first Secretary of Labor. They worked together to create The New Deal. Perkins was pragmatic in all things and her story matters greatly to the history of our country. Leaders today would do well to learn about her style and ability to compromise.

Many of the advances in corporate bottom-lines are due to automation and more efficient workers, due in part to technological advances. The gains are not trickling-down to the laborers. The C-Suite has grown in size and earning capacity. When Reagan broke the unions in the 1980s, he made it possible for owners to succeed at the very expense of laborers. This is the fulcrum for the decline of the middle-class in many sections of our country. The good union jobs went away or the factory closed and the workers have not been able to adapt to the new labor market. Whole regions have experienced brain-drain as the young flee after college to find a sustainable employment environment.

Right now, there is a moment across the US for a $15 hour minimum-wage. Some companies (Walmart) and cities are making changes on their own to try and forego new regulations. In many cities, it is impossible for a person making minimum wage to afford even a 1 bedroom apartment while working full-time. It is unsustainable.

Direct actions and protests like the Occupy Wall Street, Fight for Fifteen, and anti-WTO groups will continue. Fights at the Supreme Court regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act and employer-based health coverage will continue.

As for me, I’m grateful for people who fought to allow women to work, who sought non-discrimination protections for LGBTQIA people, and who gave me a cause of action if my employer is risking my life. There’s still a ways to go, but thank you.

How are you spending your Labor Days?

 

Net Worth Week 21 – Tacos Trucks On Every Corner

Date 8/12/16 8/19/2016 8/26/2016 9/2/2016
Joy 1100 1100 1100  1100
Travel 323 323 323  323
Down Payment  19 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2003 2003 2003 1004
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  769 1844 2127  1775
IRA  10087 10127 10058  10118
Brokerage  410 402 401  402
CC (largest)  -4791 -4791 -4791  -4755
CC (longest)  -295 -319 -427  0
Rewards Card  -273 -564 -1022  -644
SL 1  -102489  -102604 -102719 -102835
SL 2  -45115  -45167 -45220 -45273
Earnest  -8404 -8522 -8540 -8094
-$146657 -$146050 -$146599 -$146761
  -.38% change .41% change -.37% change -.11% change

Have you ever felt more secure even when the numbers stayed the same?

The Downsides of Co-ops

Gentle Readers,

While I am nowhere near ready to begin my home-search in earnest, since my current net worth has been hovering around the -$146,500 mark for the summer, I did check out my first open-house this weekend. It’s a cooperative I’ve been watching on Zillow and I had the time for a small trek.

I walked the 20 minutes from my current home, which also gave me another look at the neighborhood I’m considering. Before I was in such pain, I used to be a marathon runner and would run through that neighborhood as part of my training. Walking a neighborhood is very different from running in a neighborhood. As a woman in a city, I expect street harassment in both scenarios, but it is different when you are in running clothes. During that time of day, the walk felt safe. Good perk to feel first hand.

The building was a little more run-down than the photos showed. That was not a surprise. It’s also a bit off the beaten path, which is why it is going for $135,000 for all of its 700 square feet. I live in a group house now and could not really visualize what 700 SF meant and this was a good learning opportunity. It’s a lot of space for one person, but not overwhelming. I am hoping to buy something around that size, because I want the opportunity to live with someone comfortably if that is a possibility in the future. I definitely don’t want a studio, because I want the ability to host people without us all looking at one another’s pajamas.

The layout was a little strange. The kitchen is a good size, but it is currently situated so that you cannot fully open the oven or fridge because they face one another. This seems to be an issue of old outlets, but the room to move the oven over is available. There’ll be a whole in the cabinetry, but you could work with it. Overall, the place was cute and had nice windows and a bathroom of one’s own plus some good closet space.

Not bad as an incentive to keep me working toward my home-buying goal.

What distinguishes a co-op different from a condo?

Co-ops are different from condominiums in very important ways. With a condo, you are buying the unit you live in. With a co-op, you are buying a share of the building’s corporation. This is a huge difference with enormous impacts on you for as long as you own. The corporation/board has a lot of power. You do not.

Co-ops almost always require higher down payments and have higher monthly fees. I cannot find a co-op in my city that requires less than a 10% down payment. FHA loans are a no-go here, which would make it hard on first-time home-buyers.  Co-op and condo buildings both prefer to have relatively high owner-occupancy, which prevents owners from renting their homes out easily or at all. Co-op boards have the power to block potential buyers, which means closing on a co-op is hard when you are buying in and when you are trying to sell. It’s a lot of hassle that could keep you paying on a space you do not want anymore.

Co-ops often have high association fees. Partially, this is because the co-op fee may cover an underlying mortgage on the building and property taxes on top of maintenance and utility costs. The share you live in may sell for lower than a similarly sized condo, but the co-op fee can more than offset that. In some buildings, the fees include all utilities up to wi-fi. It may be a wash. You must look at the bylaws closely.

You also have the problem of finding a real estate agent and mortgage broker who knows what co-ops mean for buyers. At the place I checked out near me on Saturday the agent could not answer any of my questions. She eventually told me that she does not normally do co-ops, and it showed.  A big problem in some cities is the dearth of banks that offer co-op mortgages. Shopping around rates will be hard.

There is one major perk for those of us who would like the safety of stealth-wealth. Co-ops offer privacy. You own a share in a corporation, which does not include a public record of ownership. You can hide your address to people not in the building. This is helpful for folks fleeing abuse or famous people who’d like to be left alone.

The more I learn about co-ops, the less I want them. They feel less free than I’d like in my major purchase, but I am intrigued by the privacy option.

Would you consider a co-op over a condo?

 

Net Worth Week 20

My pain keeps circling itself. I think that the steps I’m taking are having long-term effects, but they are shorter lived than I hoped.

Date 8/5/16 8/12/2016 8/19/2016 8/26/2016
Joy 1100 1100 1100  1100
Travel 323 323 323  323
Down Payment  19 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2003 2003 2003 2003
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1444 769 1844  2127
IRA  9984 10087 10127  10058
Brokerage  409 410 402  401
CC (largest)  -4791 -4791 -4791  -4791
CC (longest)  -273 -295 -319  -437
Rewards Card  0 -273 -564  -1022
SL 1  -102713  -102489 -102604 -102719
SL 2  -45217  -45115 -45167 -45220
Earnest  -8486 -8404 -8522 -8540
-$146099 -$146657 -$146050 -$146599
  .56% change -.38% change .41% change -.37% change

Have you seen growth in other areas of your lives lately? Have the hustles been paying off?