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9 things I have read this week

9 things I have read this week

Winter sport season continues to be chaotic as we head into the second month of ski instructor and skating rink jobs for The Eldest and snowboarding lessons and Roller Derby for The Youngest. Add in our PWHL season tickets (and the fact that I am watching ALL the games of this inaugural season!) and we are happily busy. I have no idea why but in November I always say to the family, “we will consider X thing when we are less busy in the new year,” forgetting that we are usually slammed until The Eldest’s birthday in March. Note to self: we are never less busy in the new year.

I drove for the first time in 7 months after the horrific broken foot in June followed by two surgeries. I will admit that most of that has been laziness (and not having many places to go) combined with the snow/ice not being a great time to head out and about when you have a motor neuron disease. But it is, in fact, just like riding a bicycle (“yeah, if the bicycle weighed ton and could drive at high speeds,” The Youngest smugly pointed out. I laughed) and I look forward to getting out more. At any rate, upwards and onwards with the links:

Yes, the people who are on the lower end of income are suffering. No one is trying to say otherwise. But it’s disingenuous to claim that everything is horrible when, in fact, things are pretty good for the majority of people. I think it’s du rigeur to complain about generational divides – and algorithms certainly love it – but while there are definitely challenges, not everything is bleak. Young people are doing better financially than you think.

I know I sound like an old man who is screaming at the clouds but I remain convinced that “little treat” culture is not getting people to look at the big picture & it looks like it’s definitely helping corporations with their earnings. Little luxuries are driving consumer spending.

Having watched my friends go through caring for loved ones in the past couple of years, one thing has become abundantly clear: in the LTC environment, if you do not have someone advocating for you and checking up on you regularly, you will fall through the cracks. It absolutely terrifies me and I worry about the future – and money won’t save you, a person who cares for your wellbeing, will. Shrinking family sizes may change our experiences with aging.

“Kevin Kelly once made the point that if you want to know what lower-income groups will aspire to spend their money on in the future, look at what higher-income groups do today. European vacations were once the exclusive playground of the rich. Then they trickled down. Same with college, investing in the stock market, two-car households, lawns, walk-in closets, and six-burner stoves – what was once a luxury of the rich became standards of the masses.” A few thoughts on spending money.

“I am glad I’m getting to see the papers I mentioned at the beginning. They are shocking, but Truth is good. If they are true, I want to know. For example, if it’s true that there are IQ differences in races, then we should know, because our democracy and capitalism are not designed for that. They’re designed for a world where anybody can do anything if they only try hard enough…Apparently, TikTok is limited to 40 minutes a day in China and is focused on educational and patriotic content, while the West receives all the most addictive content without limits.” A very divisive article with some good questions: Who owns the megaphone?.

Following up to last week’s link post is this article on how to divest yourself from the feelings of others, “it’s a fool’s errand to make your sense of feeling OK dependent on knowing that everyone around you is feeling OK. Taken at face value, the information that someone is upset because you’re not doing what they wanted you to do is just that: a report on the state of their emotional weather.” Allow people their problems.

I always enjoy the things that Karsten writes because unlike some people (*cough* me) he really tackles the numbers. Here is one of two posts on whether or not bonds beat stocks (next one is out next week). But I think the mindblowing thing I learned was how Canada is the only country that historically topped the US for the safety of the 4% rule. I am sorry, WHAT? I suspect this has to do with the fact we have oligarchies that many Canadians are forced to interact with daily. I am open to all other theories, though! 🤔

“[T]hat said, something striking happened once the pandemic eased. For the first time in a decade, cash payments rose—admittedly only by 7 per cent, but bucking the longer-term trend. Why? UK Finance cites anecdotal evidence that, in a cost-of-living crisis and with inflation for a while into double figures, people were finding it easier to manage their money by paying in cash.” The end of money?

When Mr. Tucker wanted to move to the country and farm when we were newly married, a family member said to us, “yeah, well that’s just a dream, it’s not reality!” I was really upset about it and was relaying a story to a friend, sad about the lack of support. This friend turned to me and said, “yeah. That is the whole point of dreaming! To wish for something different and try and make it happen!” Naturally, we chose a different path but that friend’s comment stuck with me: it’s ok to dream! It doesn’t mean dreams can’t change. It’s ok to give up on your dreams.

Stay warm out there, kids!

A few things I have been reading

A few things I have been reading

My neck has been hurting a lot because I type on my laptop on a 100-year-old desk so I am constantly looking down. I could switch to writing on my gaming computer which is more ergonomically inclined but I am trying to compartmentalize my activities so everything doesn’t just bleed into a giant category called “time I have wasted today.”

I haven’t done a link post in a hot minute and so here are some things I have enjoyed reading in the last little while. Please note that I post interesting things that I may not completely agree with and that you may not, either. But we shouldn’t just read things we always agree with – that’s what algorithms are for!

The economy

Kyla Scanlon mentioned this tweet* in a recent video and to paraphrase, “we’ve gotten accustomed to servants bringing us things all of the time.” But all good things come to an end, and gone is the era of VC cash propping up unprofitable businesses in an attempt to be the last business standing when the smoke cleared. Workers have gained in the last year and a bit whether it’s by unionizing or in court cases designating them as employees, not as contractors. That means prices are going to rise.

Also, it absolutely FLOORS me that this only cost this man $125. Most of the world hasn’t eaten a meal like that in their lifetimes let alone on a random weekday. ZOMG “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” already!

Americans are better off than you think. I know it’s difficult to parse but we got 10 years of inflation in a short period of time. I think people would have managed better if we had a small increase every year vs. what happened last year.

You don’t need everything you want: our expectations around money are all out of whack “Just because something doesn’t feel great doesn’t mean it’s fundamentally unfair. (Sometimes, the most unfair things are the ones that feel really great — as long as you’re on the right side of the trade.)” This is one of the better pieces out there discussing the vibesession.

I think it is important to remember that anyone under the median income is going to feel the squeeze of inflation more than those above it. For those who were struggling before, they’re absolutely tanked now. But people who have money and who saved money during the pandemic are spending like wildfire (although it’s slowing) and that’s why we are seeing a supply (low) and demand (high) scenario moving prices upwards.

Personal Finance

It’s funny because I have never not had a roommate. When I was a teenager I lived with 2 or more roommates and when I was in my twenties, 1 or more. Now I have a family and our useable living space is about 1500 square feet for four people and two dogs. In our old house, we had 1200sq ft, the kids shared a room and it was fine. We didn’t even use the backyard at the old place much: we went to the park every day instead and met up with other families in the neighbourhood.

I find most people I know who are younger than me and who don’t live with their parents do have 1 or 2 bedroom apartments just for themselves. Is it expectation or culture? Both? I feel like pre-WWII most people lived in small spaces with many family members and in the post-war era we have increasingly become accustomed to larger square footage per person. This has led to an increase in cars and urban sprawl (and 4000sq ft McMansions an hour away from where people work). I don’t have to answer to what can be done here but better public transit, more community stores vs big box stores, getting used to smaller spaces and more working from home are ideas off the top of my head.

My mortgage payments are going up $2000 a month, “We feel helpless and angry. If we lived way beyond our means, that would be one thing. But it’s not like we did something radical. We wanted a family home, we made some sacrifices and we got a decent-sized place in a decent neighbourhood. Hard-working, middle-class people should be able to buy homes in their own country without cutting back their lifestyles to the bone.

Recently, the Bank of Canada announced that interest rates would stay at 4.5 per cent, the first time it has held steady in more than a year…which makes me wonder how long it will be before Canada does the same. That’s always in the back of my mind.”

This article was written in the spring of last year and then after that, The Bank of Canada raised the rates and they now sit at 5%.

OOF it would be so easy to tear apart every single decision this family made because there are some horrible ones. BUT I will not. Why? Because it’s easy to point fingers and point out all the issues but his problems are super common with many families. I put this squarely on the heads of the people who convinced this man to give up his reasonable apartment close to work in exchange for an hour-long commute and a $790000 mortgage on an $150000 income.

– I actually only follow one of these YouTubers and he is one of my least favourite of all the people I follow on this list of Canadian Personal Finance YouTubers. I actually follow a lot of people whose advice I find laughable but that’s because I don’t want to just follow people I agree with.

– I grew up with a similar quote in my house, which is “you have champagne tastes on a beer budget.” But I think everyone should read this piece Learning to like beer in a world full of champagne propaganda. “When you disconnect someone’s means from their lifestyle preferences, otherwise-befuddling choices begin to make sense. The rich person who drives the Accord? Well, their ability to make money is unrelated to their taste in automobiles. The person spending their meager paychecks on luxury travel and racking up credit card debt? Well, their choice of education and professional earning ability (or lack thereof) doesn’t really have anything to do with their preferences for First Class, does it? Credit cards are a little like steroids, in that way: They allow you entry to a world that you otherwise would be incapable of accessing on your own, which is why both are frowned upon but prevalent nonetheless.”

Health

I quit therapy: As it turns out, you don’t have to always work on yourself.

– Truth be told: I have a natural light lamp AND I take vitamin D. I find it helps me exponentially in the winter but what if nobody has seasonal affective disorder? (if you’re anything like me, that got your back up but it is a good read)

Family and community

– I loved this piece: community and you can do your art? Yes, please! I quit a corporate job to become a crossing guard.

– “It feels like this capitalist trope. The idea that it’s better and more worthwhile to strip away any social or familial support and do it all on your own is a scam.” Why people struggle so much in the world’s richest country

– “From the outside, we are enacting the best practices of urban family resource management. With rising housing costs and changing demographics, multigenerational living has finally gained social acceptance. Advocates trumpet its economic and emotional benefits. Despite being so on trend, I don’t feel especially cool living with my mom. And even an hour from sunrise, I’m already exhausted.” Multigenerational living often makes sense but that doesn’t make it easy.

– I love thrifting and am a big proponent of Buy Nothing groups on facebook. It’s sad though that people still toss out fully functional things. I worked at a dump


*LOL what are they called now? Xposts? NAH. Xs? UGH.

Just a pile of links today

Just a pile of links today

What I am reading
One of the most fascinating things about the current inflationary environment is how little people’s buying habits have changed. It’s interesting to see that people expect prices to either go down or stay the same but to have their salaries go up. This is not how things work. A great article on how people don’t understand how inflation works.

Inside the OnlyFans top earner empire. “Why would I spend my day doing dirty, degrading, minimum-wage labor when I can do something that brings more money in and that I have a lot more control over?”

When I was a first-time parent I was determined to keep up my beer-swigging, partying self to some extent. A lot of it had to do with facing a bunch of (what was in my head) pearl-clutching, pinched-faced parents who were uptight. In retrospect, a lot of us were feeling judged because we were judging ourselves. You never feel quite up to snuff as a parent and a lot of our feelings of being judged came from within us. Generally speaking unless it’s, say, an egregious drunken fist fight at the school fundraiser, most people don’t think of us at all. Adulthood is a mirage.

I can’t wait to the follow-up pro-buying post from this site as well: does renting make your finances more predictable? Most of my (very rich) friends rent and so we are outliers in that sense. They are also childfree, which we are not. This is kind of a Reverse Uno of the normal way of things from what I hear from the culture at large. It also means that I have a very middle-of-the-road stance on this issue. My tl;dr on this issue is that if you have money or are able-bodied, renting is almost always better.

What I am doing
It was winter tire day here and I really need to get that changeover price down now that our car is out of warrantee. It’s just way too expensive. We also should try and sell our winter tires from the old minivan as they are taking up room in our garage.

I slept in today because Mr. Tucker was off early to drop The Eldest off at band & then to the car appointment. Not having our morning coffee & convo to look forward to, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I often forget that I am retired and I don’t have to get up if I don’t want to!

Off to read! Happy Thursday to all who celebrate!