Various thoughts and observations from this week:
I’m in the process of fact-checking and adding the “notes” section on Their Own Sweet Time. Fact-checking was one of my major duties during my year-long internship at USA Today after college, and in general, I am a careful writer. However, I’m still amazed how easy it is to get things wrong. I used the wrong last name for a woman multiple times in the manuscript. The name I used is the name of the college (within a larger university) where she teaches and I somehow got the two confused. Every discovery like that reminds me why I check.
I’m also in the process of re-reading my novel for one last round of edits. Likewise, this affords an opportunity to discover my bad writing habits. I use dashes way too much and, as it turns out, incorrectly.
I’m looking to speak with people who participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in the past and developed interesting time management techniques during that month.
We have now completely used up the apples from the apple-picking trip in September. I was eating one with my oatmeal every morning. I think I’ll quite miss them.
I hate maternity clothes with a burning passion. Unfortunately, this week I pretty much tipped over into not being able to wear my normal stuff. Hopefully I only have about 14 weeks to go.
The Thomas Piketty book (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) had a surprising number of references to Jane Austen and Balzac. In college, one of my favorite classes was on American economic history, and I enjoyed reading Piketty’s observations about what we can tell of conditions in history through novels of the time. In these books, people will talk about an estate worth 50,000 pounds a year. What on earth does that mean? If someone inherited a million dollars now, we wouldn’t talk about it being an estate worth $50,000 a year, but his point was that at the time, capital returns were pretty much set around 5% (either in government bonds or rent on real estate) and there was almost no inflation. A certain size fortune kicked off a certain size of income, and everyone knew what that meant. In an environment with inflation, and with a wider variety of investments, this is less clear.
So that was interesting. The policy recommendations, on the other hand, reminded me of The 4% Solution, a 2012 book put together by the George W. Bush Institute, only in the complete opposite direction. In the Bush book of essays, problems will be solved by tax cuts. In the Piketty book, problems will be solved by tax increases. Everyone has lots of charts.
I was pondering the arc of the successful personal finance writer’s career while reading a post from Money Saving Mom. She decided to more than double her grocery budget. She had been spending $50 a week or so (with wiggle room: she gets freebies, and her husband used to eat out at lunch, I gather). That was a big part of the early appeal of Money Saving Mom. People came during the financial crisis to see how she was spending so little on food. But now her husband is home full-time, he’s in charge of groceries, they can afford to spend more, and he wants to eat differently. I don’t think this is unique to the Paine family. People often start personal finance blogs because they’re in dire straits. They want to share what they’re doing to change that. If their tips are good, lots of people come to read. Eventually, having a desirable product is rewarded in the marketplace. The business grows. Our personal finance blogger is no longer in dire straits. So now what? Soul-searching. It’s always an interesting narrative.
I’m on my own with the kiddos this weekend. Here’s hoping it goes well!