The Heat of A Summer Thigh – The Great Friction Battle

Gentle Readers,

I am a dress-loving femme.

Once I hit 25, my thighs decided it was time to become acquainted. They previously were happy to stand apart and acknowledge one another from a distance. No longer. They love each other and cannot abide separation. But like many loves, there is friction in their relationship.

My thighs cannot be made to play nice on their own, but they refuse to be kept in separate quarters. I had to come up with a solution so that we could all live in harmony, without confining myself to pants when it is oppressively hot in the summer. I needed the freedom to move and the freedom to not perish of heat stroke.

I tried many solutions and can now help everyone solve their personal thigh-fight.

Solutions for Summer Thighs

My least favorite, but workable solution is Anti Monkey Butt Powder. It is calamine and cornstarch. Softening and drying. It is effective, but I don’t like how messy it is to put on. Squeeze some into your hand and then rub it onto the body part that wants less friction. Some always falls from your hand to the floor. There is always residual on your hand. You have to immediately go to the sink to wash it off. Not a convenient solution when you share your bathroom with two others who don’t want you walking around trailing powder.  I love the name though, because I giggle easily. 7/10.

My next workable solution is Friction Defense, aka Chub Rub. It comes in a tube similar to deodorant. You apply it to whatever body part you want to slide easily against something and let it do it’s magic. I love this product. I previously used “BodyGlide” for runners, but I grew frustrated with the company. The company used to sell one BodyGlide product and it was in a nice gray package and marketed to everyone. Suddenly, they decided that they needed one for men and one for women. There was absolutely no difference in the product, but the packaging became blue or pink. The pink one was also priced higher. That pissed me off. There is no need to gender friction. Then I found the Gold Bond version I’m using now and it is also cheaper than BodyGlide.  Definitely workable. The only drawback with this product is that sometimes you have to reapply based on heat and humidity. I keep a stick in my purse. 9/10.

My actual favorite solution is super femme and no one is surprised. Bandelettes are beautiful. You measure your thigh to figure out the appropriate size and then you wait for these lovely helpers to arrive. They come in multiple colors and sizes and I adore them so much. My thighs are protected and get an extra bit of sexy that absolutely impacts my strut. Just put them on and go about your day knowing that your thighs are safe and gorgeous. 10/10 would buy again.

What are your summer wardrobe protection mechanisms?

Fannie Mae Easing DTI Standards Impacts Your Ability To Get a Mortgage

Gentle Readers,
Remember when I learned that FHA guidance would make it much harder for me to get a mortgage any time soon? Things are changing, potentially.
Fannie Mae is changing their debt-to-income (DTI) formula. This will allow some folks to qualify for a mortgage who could not under the old standards.  The old DTI maximum was 45%, but at the end of July, it will be 50%.

What is the DTI Formula?

The DTI is simple to calculate. All of your debts go on the left of the colon and your income goes on the right. Then divide your debt by your income and multiple by 100.  That is your DTI percentage.
  • If I make $4000 a month, and have debt obligations of $2000, I have a DTI of 50% and am just barely eligible.  2000:4000  (2000/4000)100=50%
  • If I make $4000 a month, and have debt obligations of $1800, I have a DTI of 45% and am eligible.  (1800/4000)100=45%
This applicable DTI seems to be for Fannie Mae mortgages and not Freddie Mac or Federal Housing Administration mortgages. Their standards may or may not change to fall in line.

What does this DTI standard mean for me?

I’m not sure that this is a good move. The more debt you have relative to your income, the harder it is to pay for everything you need. This is true even without emergencies cropping up. Perhaps if the rent in your market is outrageous in comparison to your potential mortgage + insurance + maintenance, then this could be a boon for you.

 

This change still seems risky. Everything in the US market seems frothy right now. Real estate and other investment prices do not seem to correspond to the underlying asset values in a lot of markets. It does not seem like now should be the time for loosening our standards. Just because you can receive a mortgage, that does not mean it is financially responsible.

 

The next thing I need to research on my quest to own a condo is the Fannie Mae Homepath program.

 

What do you think of the new DTI requirement? Good for the market or for individuals? 

Planning For a Graduate’s Future – Redux

Gentle Readers,

It is graduation season again, and another family member is finishing high school. This time the plan is to stay in the family home until college starts. I like to not play favorites with siblings, so I am getting her almost the exact same set of books that I got him last year. One small deviation to account for the differences in their characters.

I decided to stick with the perennial favorite, “The Millionaire Next Door.” She plans on a high-paying career, but I think the stealth wealth envisioned here could help her stay on course no matter what happens.

Her personality is very different from her brother and I think she’ll be best served by the framework in “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke.” That will be on top of her present-stack.

I don’t think she would even read the one I was least sure of for her brother, so I did not buy her it. I don’t want to waste her bookshelf space. She plans on being pre-med. That shelf-space is precious.

She believes in deep thought, supposedly, and I got her the esoteric one, too, “Early Retirement Extreme.” I suspect she won’t touch this either.

The deviation for her was “Truth & Beauty: A Friendship.” I loved this biography and think that many women with deep but fraught friendships could benefit from seeing one displayed in all of its gory richness. Patchett is one of my favorite living authors and this was helpful and painful to read during a particular time in my life. I think this family member may understand my twenties better from reading this. Perhaps not. I hope that she navigates relationships in a far healthier way.

Unlike her brother, I think traditional education is the current best route for her. I think she will flourish in college in a way her brother never would. Maybe I’ll buy a textbook for her? Or leave that to her parents…

What do wish you had read at 18?

Net Worth Week 52 – Year One Done

Gentle Readers,
One year of tracking my net worth is officially complete!
I’ve learned a lot by focusing so intently and have had some improvements while also having some setbacks. Those setbacks would have been worse if I hadn’t been focusing so hard.
At this point last year, my business was not going as well and I was about to spend a lot of my personal money keeping it afloat. I was also in a lot of pain, but had not yet figured out how to navigate the health system to get the care I needed. My girlfriend lived in my town, but in a very high stress, high hour job. I had begun learning a new skill, but was still very much a novice.
This year, I’m in a slightly better financial situation. My business is doing better and I understand better how to make it work. My pain is diminished and I am physically stronger. My girlfriend lives over 1000 miles away, and this chapter in our relationship has already taught us a lot. My skill-building is reaching exponential-growth levels and it is encouraging. My heart is also in a much calmer position. I’ve become more centered in a few ways even as the world around me, and portions of my life, are more uncertain.
This week has had some financial setbacks. After a few days with the mattress my roommate “gifted” me, my body has concluded it needs to be replaced along with the frame that is not structurally sound. I’m not thrilled with this, but I think my body can hold off a while. I ordered the frame my brother recommended and will use that once it comes in. I was worried for 24 hours that I would have to replace my phone after it took a trip into water. Thankfully, it is back in working order for now and I can wait to replace it.
I still find this weekly exercise useful and think I’ll keep it up for the time-being. One more year ought to get me into a better place.

This week’s net worth numbers

4/15/2016 4/7/2017
 Joy 1097 1105
 Travel 322 1
 Down Payment 18 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 31 285
 EF 9 11
Business 1 1002
Life 907  639
 IRA  7026  12736
 Brokerage 221  689
 Rewards Card 2 n/a -585
 CC (largest) 0  -3264
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -3000 -1331
SL 1 -101892 -104519
 SL 2 -45001 -46041
 Earnest -10036 -5274
 Net Worth -150230 -144460
 Percentage Change 3.84%

Have you grown this year?

Trump’s First Executive Order and Your Mortgage

Gentle Readers,

You remember when I learned last summer that changes in FHA Mortgage Guidance would alter my ability to acquire a mortgage. My debt to income ratio has not improved significantly in the past 6 months, as anticipated. I did not think I would be able to pay off $45000, commonly referred to as SL2.

One of Trump’s first acts as the new President of the United States was to make mortgages harder to acquire for middle class folks.

The previous administration had a policy that Trump’s Administration blocked immediately upon assuming office. The policy was on track to reduce the cost of mortgages slightly for many home buyers. The policy was not yet in effect, but was imminently going to impact folks.

What policy are we talking about?

HUD sent a letter suspending the 0.25 % point premium rate cut for FHA-backed loans.  Nearly 20% of mortgages are FHA-backed. The beauty of the FHA is that their criteria make it accessible for more people to access capital necessary to buy a home and enjoy the tax benefits of home ownership. Their most-touted benefit is the significantly lower down-payment. As low as 3.5% of the purchase price. Homes in my high COL area regularly go for over $400,000. A standard 20% down payment is $80,000. A 3.5% down payment is $14,000. It is not hard to see why so many Americans need the help afforded by FHA.

How big is this impact?

Frankly, not big at all. The cut Obama attempted to enact would have saved homeowners with a $400,000 mortgage $58 per month.  Not insignificant, but not overwhelming for most people shopping for a mortgage.

The housing market in parts of the country, mine included, have been on fire lately. The prices are sky-rocketing. Some folks look at high prices and want in. It is unclear if this action will throw water on the housing bubble, but it might.

The most fascinating part for me is that Trump has re-made the fortune he was gifted by understanding the benefits our tax code gives to real estate. Having learned every trick in the book, is he going to encourage the IRS to re-write the book? May the US end a half-century long policy of encouraging home ownership through the tax code? If they did, would that be a bad thing necessarily?

A lot remains to be seen, but I think these tea leaves are impossible to read just yet.

Would you be happy to amend US tax code and move away from a home ownership model?

 

Yakezie Challenge Update – Under 200,000!

Gentle Readers,

I completed the Yakezie Challenge!!!

I listened to the free advice from Sam and have succeeded in exactly the way he promised. My original post was one day over six months ago.

A refresher on joining the Yakezie Challenge :

1) Install the Alexa toolbar if not already and comment what your current Alexa ranking is.

2) Write consistently 2-4 times a week on your own site and consider guest posting around the community including on Yakezie.com to raise your profile. (I was consistently twice a week at first, and lately I have done 1 post a week)

3) Install the Yakezie Challenger Badge.

4) Announce on your blog that you have joined the Yakezie Challenge.

5) Selflessly promote others and build relationships. (Still good for all of life)

6) Stay committed and consistent over the next 6 months!

7) Introduce yourself on the Yakezie Challengers Forum and get to know your fellow Challengers and Members. (I’m not clear if this is still being updated and never added myself.)

8) After you’ve completed the 6-month challenge, let everyone know how it worked for you. If you’ve done it as intended, you could be invited to become an official Yakezie member.

As of  June 6, 2016, my Alexa ranking was 14,000,562 internationally and 1,489,921 nationally.

As of December 7, my Alexa ranking was 684,605 internationally and remarkably 180,247 in the US.  ZJ Thorne is officially under 200,000 and I did not fully follow all of the steps in the end. Imagine where I would be had I been able to make the full commitment!

Have you listened to the blogging giants and seen success?

 

 

This Would Have Been a Book Review If They Had Done Their Homework

Gentle Readers,

I was asked to read “It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!”  and I was given a free copy and asked to review it for y’all.

Essentially, this book wants to get folks to understand their beliefs about money. Which could be an interesting topic, but this book wants to discuss religious ideas about money. Again, this could be fascinating, but I personally have no interest in whether “Mary was a truly spiritual woman.” I could have read more, but slightly further down page 8, this book clarified that part of its hope is to mark off who is a good Christian or not, i.e.”Frank and Mary were both Christians. Or maybe we should say they both went to church.” There is so much judgment in this phrasing. As a person raised by fundamentalists, I’m not down for subjecting myself to this book.

This makes me suspect that the people who reached out to me had not read my blog at all. I am not a religious person. I wrote openly about this when I was telling y’all how to be better allies when the LGBT community suffered the horrifying attack this summer.

In case you don’t want to click through,

“14. Don’t take personal offense if an LGBTQ person does not want your prayer – so many of your religions have been used to bludgeon us. At times, to death. If you are praying to comfort us, you may want to consider our actual experiences with people using praying as a weapon to “pray the gay away” and how it would make you feel if strangers prayed about the way you experienced sex and intimacy.”

You should do your homework before asking someone to do something for you. I know that not all lesbians are atheists, but part of being a respectful neighbor includes being careful when you bring up your religion. You should not assume that it is a welcome conversation for folks. It is deeply private and personal for many people. The fact that you live in a nation that is largely one religion does not make it any more polite to assume folks want such a fraught topic brought up.

I only read books that interest me, because there is only so much joy and time in the world. I won’t be reading this one.

Have you ever been confused by someone’s request because it did not take into account who you are as a person?

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.

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.