Friday miscellany: Finances and books

We made it through another week! Life is settling into a rhythm, which is nice, given the changes that come with a new arrival. I’m probably more excited than I should be about the new freezer we got for the garage. This will enable more bulk buying, and also solves the problem of my freezer stash of milk taking over our existing freezer space.

Thanks to some cool upcoming podcast guests (and Sarah’s posts), I’ve been thinking about personal finance this week. I realized that some of my current financial intentions are fairly unorthodox. Among them:

Be OK with earning less this year. Don’t get me wrong. I would love to match or exceed my 2018 and 2019 income (both good years; pretty similar). There is some chance I could as my podcast income (particularly from Before Breakfast) will be higher. However, speaking was a major chunk of my income in both years, and I’m not sure it’s possible to take several months off from this and make the numbers work. Oh well. At least I’m enjoying not trying to time flights around January snow storms.

Buy more lattes. Wait, isn’t this the thing we’re supposed to give up?? Because I work from home, it’s always tempting to, well, stay at home. But I need to make the effort to meet friends or professional colleagues for coffee as part of maintaining and building my professional and personal network. In the same vein, I want to buy lunch more too!

Stop studying price tags so much. I have realized that I am overly influenced by sales. But if I wasn’t going to buy something, I shouldn’t buy it just because it’s 40 percent cheaper than it would be. And if I do plan to buy something, I shouldn’t buy it in, say, a different color than I want because it’s cheaper. That is the recipe for having unused items that just sit around, taking up space.

Find the right kitchen table. Maybe not a financial goal, per se, but I and many others have written about how spending money on experiences generates more happiness than spending money on things. One of the prime examples of “things” is furniture. It pretty much just sits there; you get used to it. Whereas dinner out with friends, or travel, is different every time. True! However…we have outgrown our kitchen table, and with 8 of us (or more) there for meals sometimes, I’d like to have something inviting and sturdy that makes us want to sit there and talk. I welcome suggestions if anyone loves their big family table.

In other news…

I realized this week that, with the baby arriving on December 29, I never wrote a “books read in December” post. I didn’t read that much, but in case you’re curious:

To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf

This is one of my favorite novels, and I try to re-read it every few years. The prose is lyrical and hints at so much more than is there on the surface. The Ramsay family vacations on the Isle of Skye; a trip to the nearby lighthouse gets postponed, but is then re-enacted a decade later. Simple enough, but somehow Woolf manages to write about the entirety of the human condition through this story. The book is pretty short (about 200 pages) and far more accessible than some of Woolf’s other stuff (I’m looking at you, The Waves, which I once waded through).

How Not to Diet, by Michael Greger

My friend Chris Bailey recommended this new book on his podcast. Greger covers the existing science on weight loss, with the goal of showing what the literature says works and doesn’t. One finding: very little works long term. In general, people in both the control and experimental arms of trials lose some weight, and then gain it back. However, eating more vegetables and whole grains, incorporating soups into meals, and being creative with certain spices does appear helpful. The 5000 footnotes are a little crazy, but Greger is an accessible science writer, so I mostly enjoyed reading this book during my 2 a.m. pregnancy-induced insomnia reading sessions.

Anti-Diet, by Christy Harrison

Lots of new books on eating seem to come out right before January 1st! It was interesting to read this right after Greger’s book. Anyway, I had high hopes for this one, which was advertised as being about intuitive eating. I’m quite drawn to this idea, but Harrison’s book turned out to be less about this practice, and was more a manifesto against diet culture (the “Life Thief” as she calls it). As with most manifestos, there was little room for nuance. In Harrison’s telling, if you think an apple is a better snack choice than a fast food hamburger, or you worry about the larger food environment, you have succumbed to the Life Thief. To me, this came across as more alienating than necessary, but if you do feel like you’ve lost a lot of time worrying about weight, this might be an appealing message.

And finally…

This should be a good weekend. My husband and I will attempt a short date (albeit with the baby in tow). The 10-year-old has a fun Cub Scout trip. I’m going to try a slightly longer run in preparation for my 5-miler in a few weeks. Maybe we’ll make a housing decision (renovate?) Or maybe the 5 kids will put us into survival mode. We shall see.

8 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Finances and books

  1. We got an extendable DR table at Ikea that I’ve actually been really happy with. It was waaaay less than DR tables at stores like Crate & Barrel, West Elm, etc. It seats 6 without any leaves, but has 2 leaves that store inside the table. With those 2 leaves we can seat 16+ people. I have a huge family so there are times when we need those leaves! The pain with Ikea, of course, is the assembly but I think you could potentially pay someone else to assemble it? I know that is an option with Wayfair – not sure if Ikea has that option.

  2. We have an indestructible kid proof dining table from Room and Board that I love. We have the Linden with quartz top and wood frame, but they make several varieties. Ours seats 7 but you can have it custom made to any size.

  3. Room and Board is my absolute favorite for quality, stylish furniture that’s not too ridiculously priced. They have a basic Parsons table for 10 with walnut top for about $2600 or so. You can customize size, top, etc. We have tons of R&B furniture and are extremely satisfied with the quality and customer service.

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