Balance for One

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Varina Winder

I'm 23 years old. I'm not married. I have no kids. No one depends on me for sustenance, physical or emotional.

So why does my life feel so...unbalanced?

Since graduating from college in 2006, I have found it almost impossible to find "balance" in my life. While I once juggled five classes, a job search, coordinating rent payments from my eight roommates, an internship and a part-time babysitting job, I'm finding it completely impossible to maintain that same act now that I'm an official member of the "real" world. Where in the 9 to 5, or rather 8 to 8, world is there time to do everything I was able to do when I was a student?

This is what I have learned since graduating: The bank closes at 5 p.m. This will be before the end of your workday. If you try to go on your lunch break (if you have one), everyone else with a checking account, including their mothers, dog-sitters and chiropractors, will also be queued up. Saturday is laundry day. You will wait an hour for your clothes to go through the spin cycle and then wait another hour for a free dryer, unless you can put up with that mildew smell my towels currently exude. If you can afford a gym membership, you will not get a space on the treadmill. If you wait to go for a jog after work, you will be too tired and it will be too dark to run.

Finding a 24-hour grocery store will become crucial to your daily ability to eat, but you will probably end up getting something expensive and unhealthy at the cafeteria anyway because you will either forget your lunch or be too tired to pack it the night before. When the keyless entry system to your apartment breaks, the leasing office won't be able to help you because you will get home hours after they close. You will learn to rely on the kindness of strangers to let you into the building at 10 p.m. It helps if you smooth down the hair you were absentmindedly pulling out a half hour before.

So, balance? I'm happy if I make my bed once a month (bonus if I've actually washed the sheets). Online banking is fundamental to my survival. Ditto for the Safeway I've found that is open at 1:30 in the morning. That's about all the balance I can find right now. (Please don't tell my mom.) So, hats off to you mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers out there. Want to take me on, too?

Varina Winder works in Washington, D.C. and lives in Arlington, Va.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 26, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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We all go through periods like this, I'm afraid. It's not a question of balance. It's a life phase.

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | June 26, 2007 7:13 AM

Varina, hang in there. It does get better. Eventually you will be able to afford a home of your own or at least an apartment with a washer/dryer combo. I also find you can do a lot of banking at atms-deposit checks, transfer funds, withdraw money etc... Check out some post offices. A few of them have night hours one day a week. I never found grocery shopping difficult on weekends or night. Safeway, giant, and shoppers are open pretty late around here. I always worked out after work when I was single. Now I take a one hour walk after work. You can work in your schedule if it is important to you. Most of all, it does get easier. You will get the swing of stuff. BTW, I always found working far easier then school. At the end of the day, you don't have homework. Not in my job at least.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 7:17 AM

Varina: this will get better. You are now making the decisiions that were made for you when you were growing up at home, or going to school.

Find another bank. They do not all close at 5. Our bank is open until 8 pm, and weekend, too.

One of my first purchases was a portable clothes washer and clothes rack. We connected it to the sink, and never saw the laundramat again. We still joke about the hanging gardens on laundry nght. When we moved from our apartment to to our home, we sold it for what we paid for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 7:28 AM

Story of my life. I'm now three years out of school and I will say that it does get easier. It took at least a year, maybe longer. I only recently feel like I have SOME control over my life, albeit minimal. But at least I'm no longer wondering how in the world I'm out of clean underwear AGAIN. But thanks for highlighting this important balance issue, something I know ALL my friends went through upon entering the workface.

Posted by: DJ | June 26, 2007 7:40 AM

When I was single mornings were crucial to me. I paid some bills got organized for the day and had just a few minutes before anyone needed anything from me. Even now as a married mom I enjoy my mornings where I have a few moments to start working from home before the kiddo wakes (rare). Look into banks that are located in grocery stores, they seem to have extended/non-traditional hours. And I agree, once you don't have to use the laundromat, you'll get a lot of time back.

Good luck.

Posted by: Burke Mom | June 26, 2007 7:41 AM

Funny, I was single until 9 years after I graduated college. Never had problems like those stated above.

Try reading a book on orginzation and scheduling. It's not that hard.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 7:46 AM

And yet, you have time to read this blog, and write a guest entry...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 7:47 AM

Some advice:

* ATMs - great for deposits or withdrawls 24/7 or try mailing in your deposits. 41 cents is a small price to pay.

*Your management company should have a 24-hours emergency number. There should be a maintenance person on call 24/7. Find the number.

*Do your laundry on Sunday (instead of Saturday). Or how about darks on Monday night, whites on Tuesday night, towels on Wednesday night. While the clothes are washing, you have 45 mintues to jog. When they are drying, you have 45 minutes to do something else.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 7:53 AM

Wow. You can't figure out how to take an hour of annual leave to get your apartment key fixed, or how to do laundry on a weeknight evening, or how to get up early on Saturday (8:00 a.m. perhaps?) to hit the Safeway with a list in hand that will get you a week's worth of meals? Sweetheart, it IS time to grow up and become an official member of the "real world". You'll never be able to balance a family if you cannot even figure out these simple things now.

Posted by: Annie | June 26, 2007 8:00 AM

It will get easier, but I second the laundry suggestions. When in an apt building, I would get up much earlier than I wanted to on a Sunday to get it all done, then go back to sleep. Having units in the apt or a house makes a huge difference.

The other option is to go into a different field. If you don't like working 12-hr days, think about grad school or something to change that.

To find my 'balance' I've decided that DC isn't the place for me and I'm taking a much more hectic schedule closer to family. Take a deep breath, stop focusing on how hard today is and look at what you want, then do what you need to to get there.

Posted by: fed worker | June 26, 2007 8:07 AM

Wow. If only we could all be as perfect as you, Annie. Back off -- she's young and looking for advice, not self-righteous nits like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 8:12 AM

Uh oh Varina, am afraid you are in for some pretty harsh posts today! And I agree with some of the posts above - if you can't handle some of this stuff now (at 23), just wait until you get a little older - it certainly doesn't get easier!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 8:15 AM

Giant: peapod and others will deliver groceries to your office...saves a trip to store and allows better planning for menus.
good luck...it does get better

Posted by: peapod | June 26, 2007 8:18 AM

It does get easier! Thanks for reminding me, because lots of life changes can end up feeling that way - like the pieces won't fit together again. But we all do usually work it out, and you will. :)

Posted by: Shandra | June 26, 2007 8:20 AM

Send your laundry out. When I was younger it was one of those luxuries that was definitely worth budgeting for!!

Posted by: HappyDad | June 26, 2007 8:24 AM

I truly do not remember it being that difficult when I was on my own after college. Without children, what is there that has to be done on a weekend? There's plently of time for laundry, shopping, cleaning, reading, going to movies, being bored all weekend. I can't imagine having all that free time again.

Posted by: me in FL | June 26, 2007 8:25 AM

Varina, I've found Lean Cuisines perfect for lunch at the office. Pack one and a small piece of fruit (apple? grapes?) or veggie (small bag of carrots?). You can get them on sale for $2 a piece if you watch at Giant/Safeway around here. Frankly, cheaper than I can usually make lunch for.

Posted by: Intern | June 26, 2007 8:26 AM

I think you need an attitude adjustment, and I mean this in the kindest way possible. You should not be feeling so overwhelmed. You are in the footloose and fancy-free phase of your life.

You are close in age to my stepdaughter, and if she said similar things to me, I'd tell her to suck it up, enjoy her freedom, and take yoga.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 8:28 AM

Annie, taking an hour of annual leave usually means 2 hours worth of work when you get back.

Posted by: NAC | June 26, 2007 8:29 AM

Ignore the jerks on this blog. You're just going through what many people go through after they leave college and take a demanding job. You're realizing that no matter how busy you and your friends pretended to be, you were simply overflowing with free time in college.

I don't know where you work, but most places that keep you there 12 hours a day are willing to be flexible enough that you can take an extra 30 minutes at 3 to run an errand at the bank. You're not punching a clock, are you?

Watch how other people at work handle their lives and follow their lead. Learn how to prioritize what gets done at work - I know when I was starting out, I felt this panic whenever something wasn't done at the end of the day, no matter how inconsequential. You'll learn what can be postponed and when you can tell your boss that you can do A on time, but not if you have to do B and C, too. Again, watch your coworkers. Maybe you're projecting expectations regarding how much you need to work that don't really exist. It might be that you need to talk to your boss about how much work you have. (It might also be you're at a place where everyone works 60 to 80 hour weeks, in which case, you need to make a decision about what kind of professional life you want.)

It takes time to get the confidence you need to set boundaries at work and communicate honestly with the boss, but you'll get there.

Posted by: NotaMom | June 26, 2007 8:30 AM

Been there - I actually look back on those days somewhat fondly. At least my time was always my own.

My tip on the laundry - put it in the washer early in the morning, head out for a jog, put it in the dryer when you return from your jog, and it will all be done except for the folding by the time you leave for work.

Posted by: drmommy | June 26, 2007 8:31 AM

Y'all are being so mean! I had a similar experience when I got out of college and started working. It's hard to adjust to a 9 to 5 schedule (or, more realistically, an 8 to 6 schedule!) I'm six years older than Varina and I can vouch for the fact that it is a difficult adjustment. I used to get home from work at 6:30 or whatever and feel like my whole day had been swallowed up. Thank goodness for making the transition--now, if I get home at 6:30, it feels like I have so much time left! Good luck, Varina, and know that this too shall pass.

Posted by: gretchen | June 26, 2007 8:35 AM

Get a new job. No one should be working 12 hrs a day, it is not healthy mentally or physically.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 8:36 AM

Annie, an hour of annual leave can be HUGE, depending on how much she's accumulated. If she's a younger worker, I'm sure her annual leave balance is ridiculously low (as was mine when I first started out), so having to use even an hour nearly killed me.

Posted by: Just wonderin' | June 26, 2007 8:36 AM

Unfortunately, many of the comments posted today are going to be snide, but there are a lot of good suggestions hidden in there. Let's face it, almost any big change in your life is hard at first. You thought your college life was 'easy' because you had the schedule down pat. The key to 'balance' now is getting the schedule settled down. Some hints, as others have suggested:

- shopping: make a list. organize it. Do a week's worth of shopping at once. (I suggest Saturday at 8 am, but that's just me. It's not crowded then; they've pretty much restocked the shelves, etc.) It will take about an hour or so, but (a) you won't need to run to Safeway at 1:30 every morning; and (b) it will actually be cheaper, because you can buy larger sizes to last a week, rather than one meal's worth of food.

- bank. Online banking, drive throughs, and ATMs are your friends. Honestly, the only time I physically go into a bank these days is when I either have to put something into or take something out of a safe deposit box; or it's time to empty the huge change jug again. A few times a year, tops.

- laundry. If your building is safe (that is, you're not worried about your clothes disappearing if you're not sitting in the laundry room with them), start a load of washing then go work out, run a local errand, etc. Time it so you're back in time to move the clothes to the dryer and start the next load. Repeat until done. If you really think you need to sit with your clothes, that's a great time to pay bills, do some reading, etc. Or get wireless access and surf/chat/e-mail during that time.

- workout. Find a good time for you and force yourself to stick with it. I used to find the mornings best; if you have access to a shower/changing facilities you can work out at lunch time. Just make time for it.

- once you've been on the job for a while, you'll realize that as long as your work's getting done, you really CAN run out for an hour or so once in a while for those tasks that CAN'T be done at other times. Don't make a habit of it, but it can be done. (Seriously, though, decide if you really want a job that requires 12 hour days every single day with no breaks during the day. There'd better be a HUGE payoff at the end of that one to make it worth while.)

Posted by: Army Brat | June 26, 2007 8:37 AM

Ignore the trolls here - I do recall the shock of adulthood after college. Things that I never really thought much about were always popping up. Also, being poor at the time did not help. Nor did the general fatigue around no longer really having control of my schedule as I did in college.

I second the frozen lunch thing - something is always on sale at safeway (I did this 2-3 years, now I am burnt out on them)

Banking does need to be online, cannot remember the last time I walked into one.

Laundry the best time to do it is sunday mornings while everyone is either at church or sleeping - cuts down on the waiting time for a drier.

Work, although long hours are expected when you are young, start pushing back a little and work to get out of the office by 7... in a couple years 6, and so forth. Need not get into the early habit of working late.

Good luck... it does get better, but then kids come around and it takes a while to figure it all out again (I found at least a year or so).

Posted by: single mom | June 26, 2007 8:38 AM

Varina,
I graduated in 2005 and I totally understand where you are coming from. One of the problems is suddenly having so much time on your hands that you almost don't know what to do with yourself. Schedule errands/chores for smaller blocks of time and they won't take over your life. I keep groceries in our office fridge and make my lunch every day. Its easy and I don't have to think about it when I'm at home.

Life gets better, especially when you make more than your starting salary and student loans are paid off. Keep your friends around, they'll keep your happier and busier. Best of Luck.

Posted by: Jill | June 26, 2007 8:40 AM

For all the haters, it is important to remember that she gets home at 8:00. She's single and living alone. No one is there to help clean or cook or make phone calls or anything.

Varina, balance doesn't mean having a perfect life. Balance, for me, is having a routine. With my routine, most of the basics get taken care of, and I'm happy with that. It sounds like you've got a routine: laundry day, banking time, grocery time. Now you just have to tweak it.

I would suggest getting a roommate to share the cost of an apartment with a washer/dryer. Also, work-out tapes that you can do in front of the TV are much cheaper than a gym membership and much safer than jogging at night.

Posted by: Meesh | June 26, 2007 8:42 AM

"Unfortunately, many of the comments posted today are going to be snide"

Snide comments on this blog? Shocking!! Most of the posters are mean beyotches who need a good ghetto slap to bring them into reality!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 8:42 AM

Welcome to the real world, tootsie.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 8:44 AM

I smiled at this post. It seems so long ago that I was 23 and fresh out of college! Sigh...

I think those first couple of years after you've spent pretty much your entire life in school are tough. Being on your own is great in many ways, but also a transition. I think people look forward to it so much, but the reality can sometimes be more difficult.

A bit like getting married or having kids.

I remember the days before I had a washer/dryer in my apartment. I swear I will never live without one again!!

Posted by: londonmom | June 26, 2007 8:49 AM

I remember this time in my life too.....It was a challenge, but I remember thinking during those years how happy I was it was only ME I had to look out for and if I didn't get to something (grocery shopping) that day nobody except me was worse off for it. I looked at that time in my life with an attitude that I was lucky. I called them my "selfish" years, because I knew my life wouldn't always get to be so me-centered. Yeah, it was hard to find free time to do laundry and other life chores, but if the opportunity for something more fun came along I always got to do that first and didn't have to answer to anyone for it! Today, as a full-time working mom (9 months pregnant and up at 5:30 to get to the office) I love my crazy commitment-filled life, but your post reminds me of a time I considered CAREFREE and appreciated for its fleetingness. Look on the bright side!

Posted by: higher.ed.mom | June 26, 2007 8:49 AM

I remember those days well. My first job out of law school was a 12-hour a day deal. I agree with a lot of the suggestions here -- weekly shopping, lean cuisines for lunch. I was lucky to have an apartment with a washer/dryer so that helped a lot. And, I did learn quickly that since I was there 12 hours a day I could run to the bank at 3 and not worry about taking leave. I found fitting in working out hard too. Getting up early, after working until 8 most days, was exhausting. But, I forced myself to do it and it was worth it. You don't have to wait in line to jog outside or bike so I did that rather then going to the gym. It definitely will get easier and learning how to juggle all this now will serve you well if you decide to marry and have kids.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | June 26, 2007 8:49 AM

Varina - I know you won't believe this but you will look back at this period in your life and remember how much free time you had. Each phase gets a little busier and if you don't learn to "pause" you will be miserable. It is a learned skill for many, including myself.

Welcome to adulthood!

Posted by: cmac | June 26, 2007 8:51 AM

Varina, forget the treadmill, those things are so boring!

Get yourself a dog instead!

Woof! Woof! Pant Pant Pant wag wag wag Woof!

What? Your landlord doesn't let you hav pets? Growl! That's total discrimination if I've ever heard it. Pets. Wel I ain't never...

You know, I could be a helper dog if only I had an education. Yip Yip Yip. That's what I need, an education! Yip Yip Yip. Education! a degree. Yip Yip Yip!

Oops, I just remembered that I failed obedience school. Does that make me a bad dog? Wait, don't answer that one, I'll just go away and find a bone to gnaw.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 8:56 AM

Wow, Annie, you must love working your 40 hour work week. As someone who is part of the real world, I still find it hard to take an hour of leave during the day to get things done. At 32, I am pretty senior in my company. So, when I tried to sneak out last month, I rescheduled 4 times. So, I totally understand. In some ways it gets easier and in others it does not.

I am now married with no kids, yet, but still find the balance thing tricky sometimes. Between taking care of a house, a career, volunteering, spending time with family, there are not enough hours in the day. The good thing is that after just over a decade of working long hours, I saved enough to pay for a house cleaner, dry cleaning for pretty much everyting else besides underwear and landscaping. It certainly helps with achieving some balance on the weekend. And I second Lean Cuisine. Make meals super easy!

I am hoping my in-balance helps with balance when we have a family. We've saved a ton so I am hoping my husband and I can both take steps back in our careers to spend time as a family. We'll see!

Good luck! And don't forget to enjoy this time of your life. As hectic as it is, it should be fun too!!

Posted by: Thought | June 26, 2007 8:58 AM

Wow, this takes me back. I remember that first year transition to the "real world." I thought I knew what to expect, because I'd always worked full-time+ summer jobs to pay for school, and worked during the school year. Wrong! After 7 years of going to bed at 2-3 and waking up at 10-11, it took over a year to retrain myself to get in bed before midnight. And doing it day after day, without any built-in breaks, was just draining (yeah, I worked 7 AM housekeeping on weekends in college, but I could always go back to sleep when I was done!). And then of course you're trying to prove yourself at work, so you're working your butt off trying to figure out how to do what you're supposed to be doing, and afraid to say no to anything.

The good news is, it does get better. The first year or so takes so much mental and physical energy to figure everything out, both at work and at home. But once you figure out the basics, you get into a little routine, so things like groceries and bills become sort of automatic and don't take up so much mental space -- and you get more efficient and learn when you can say no at work, so maybe 8-8 becomes 8-7 or 8-6.

In the meantime, I second (third? fourth?) the suggestion to find an alternate laundry arrangement. It frees up an enormous amount of time to just toss a load in when you get home and throw it in the dryer when you go up for bed (ummm, non-wrinkly stuff, of course). You can also stock your desk with healthy foods that keep -- dried fruit, nuts, a jar of peanut butter and some bread or crackers, etc.

For me personally, food makes a big difference in quality of life -- if I'm running around and stop by the grocery store to grab-n-go because I have nothing to eat in the house, I just feel more frantic, whereas going home to a hot, home-cooked meal is relaxing. So I tended to use one weekend day to cook -- I'd make a big pot of chili or stew, or a casserole, and then I'd have that at home waiting for me whenever I got there. BTW, you don't need to be a gourmet chef -- most of my recipes were of the "throw in whatever sounds good" variety (some of the best vegetable soups are the ones where you just clear out the refrigerator!).

If you don't want to cook on weekends, there is a lot of stuff you can make quickly -- you just need to figure out some basics to keep in the pantry and fridge. For pantry, try things like cans of chicken or vegetable stock, canned beans, canned tomatoes, rice, noodles, and crackers; for the fridge, onions, baby carrots (no peeling!), celery, garlic, potatoes, bag salad, pre-shredded cheese, salsa, tortillas, and eggs; for the freezer, frozen veggies. Grab some stock, rough-chop some veggies (or toss in the frozen ones), toss in some herbs (just buy a few and experiment), and you've got soup in 20 mins. Or tortillas, beans, cheese, salsa -- instant quesadillas or nachos. And an omelet with a side salad feels like a real meal, not just an "oops, I forgot to hit the grocery store" afterthought.

This is another thing that gets easier as you do it. At first, it takes a lot of mental energy to figure out everything you need and what you need to do. But once you've got that down, it's automatic -- plus it gets rid of a lot of that frantic feeling of "oh, crap, it's 8:00 and I have nothing to eat." So check out a cookbook from the library (like Rachel Ray), and look through it for recipes that sound interesting. Then when you have time, devote a weekend day to trying a couple. After a few attempts, you'll have some things that you know you can make with what you have on hand.

And when in doubt, a bowl of Cheerios works just fine, too. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 26, 2007 9:00 AM

Regarding the issues with damp laundry:

I often have to leave the laundry in the washer and I find that if I put in a tablespoon or so of good old fashioned baking soda in with the wash it deals with the smell, especially if I have to then hang them to dry.

Also Annie:

You're assuming that she is working at a job where she actually gets leave she can take.

Posted by: David S | June 26, 2007 9:02 AM

How can you be a 20-something living in Arlington, VA and not be shopping at Harris Teeter (which is open 24/7)?? That place is like singles bar...

Posted by: mango | June 26, 2007 9:02 AM

I will be here earlier than usual!

Posted by: Mako | June 26, 2007 9:02 AM

I agree that I don't remember this phase of my life as that stressful. I remember it being new and a transition, but exciting. I agree that 23 year olds (or anyone) shouldn't be working 12 hour days. I think that's the main problem. If you live in the DC area, try looking for a job at a large non-profit. The pay is good and most people work normal hours. When I worked there, I worked from 9-5 and could run errands whenever I wanted...

Posted by: JDS | June 26, 2007 9:10 AM

Am I the only one who thinks that college was harder then the first few years out in the "real world"?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:14 AM

Gosh, I can't imaginehow hard it must be to make a living for yourself right after living through a 4 year party on Mommy's and Daddy's dime.

My sympathy goes out for all you that have suffered through the trauma.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 9:15 AM

Kudos to Varina for taking the time to contribute - and kudos to WaPo for including a younger perpsective in the balance discussion. I too am single, childless and less than 5 years out of college - my life is full and crazy and exciting, but stressful for many of the reasons (and different ones, we all have different circumstances) Varina shared. Whether its trying to be a working parent with a healthy marraige and social life or trying to be an active single person pushing the limits at work and squeezing every last experience out of life, it can be draining and most folks feel like they're just not getting it "all" done with grace.

I think its great that we all stress about balance - in many ways, I think feeling that way is evidence that in our own ways we are trying to get the most out of what this life has to offer.

Posted by: MplsSingleGal | June 26, 2007 9:15 AM

Varina - hang in there. This really is a difficult time. I felt like I did more growing up between 21 and 25 than in any other period of my life. It is difficult to figure out. I used to get a large pizza on Monday and eat it all week for dinner. I miss having the metabolism to handle that kind of lousy eating. Ignore the posters who are nasty. When I had my first child I thought I had no time - now I look back and think about how much time I had (I have 2 now). Whenever you are doing something for the first time - the learning curve is steep! You are gonna be great!

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 26, 2007 9:16 AM

"You're assuming that she is working at a job where she actually gets leave she can take."

What other kind of leave is there?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:16 AM

I second the advice about sending the laundry out. My first apartment in NYC did not have a laundry room in the building, and so I took my laundry to the place around the corner (ah, NYC). What a time saver--dropped it off Sat. am, picked up Sat. pm! I was actually happy that my building didn't have a laundry room in the end!

Lots of local laundromats around here will wash, dry & fold for an extra charge. (Actually, now that I'm about to have my 2nd child, I have been looking into this for myself, even if I have a washer/dryer at home!)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:17 AM

Why is everyone being so rude?
Great post Varina! i thought it was hilarious. Maybe most on here aren't recognizing that you're JOKING about a lot of this.
If I have to go to the bank, I too find myself cursing the hours "Why can't they be open until 6 or open doors at 8??" lol

It is a big shock to the system- the time during one's first job! I feel for you!

I'm almost 10 years out of college, but I still live in an apartment (gasp! with a child!) and we still go through that with "laundry day". We started to do it on Tuesday nights- that's the only night in which we actually get dryers! lol.
Or, as another poster recommended- Sunday at 8am (but you're probably one of the still sleeping/hungover crowd, huh?! ;) )

My funniest "on my own" memory was my first trip to CVS freshman year of college. I was HORRIFIED at the cost of shampoo, conditioner, razors, laundry detergent, moisturizer, toilet paper, etc...I almost had a heart attack. lol.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | June 26, 2007 9:17 AM

"Am I the only one who thinks that college was harder then the first few years out in the "real world"?"

If all you do is have to show up for a few hours of classes each week and maybe a little bit of homework, that's quite an easy life.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 9:20 AM

Lil Husky-How do you know that her parents were paying for college? You know what happens when you assume.

Posted by: mindypoo | June 26, 2007 9:20 AM

Here's a huge suggestion: Stop being a workaholic. It only encourages employers to think that workaholism is the norm and should be expected. Get a new job.

Also, as for banking, do it all online. My credit union is actually on the other side of the country and yet somehow I survive. Since you're so young, you shouldn't exactly be afraid of the internet and just using ATMs.

Posted by: Ryan | June 26, 2007 9:21 AM

Ok, if you're working 60 hours a week, you do not need to take annual leave to get something fixed. You're already working 20 hours of unpaid overtime. If your employer hassles you, tell her to shove it.

Also, how did people exercise before the invention of the treadmill? Most gyms have a track that you can run on. If yours doesn't, do you live near a school? Run there.

You've received good advice for your other issues. I'll just leave you with a question: Do you really need to work 60 hour weeks each week? Will the world end if you work less? Can you budget your time better at work so that you get your work done more quickly?

Also, I know how it goes, where if your team is there from 8 to 8, you feel like you have to be there as well. So can you get other stuff done while you're at work?

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 9:23 AM

This is ridiculous and self-indulgent.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 26, 2007 9:24 AM

I'm a few years ahead of the author.....

My advice would be:

Definitely try to grocery shop on a weeknight. That way you avoid the Saturday lines. :)

And next time you're apartment shopping, get an apartment with an in-unit washer/dryer if possible. That was my qualifying factor for my first apartment. That way you free up a lot of time in laundry rooms.

You'll find a lot of ways to streamline things, as time progresses. Good luck.

Posted by: Annapolis | June 26, 2007 9:26 AM

Arlington Dad - that is the point of being young, and it should be enjoyed to the fullest!!

As for a track - what Washington Sports Club in DC has one? Do not think that there is that much room in the city... working out in the morning or over lunch helps with the crowded thing, or doing classes.

Posted by: single mom | June 26, 2007 9:27 AM

varina, it will get easier. you will learn how to balance your life. it will take a couple of years and then you know what? you'll move on to another stage of your life and you'll start the search for "balance" all over again. take it one step at a time.

Posted by: quark | June 26, 2007 9:27 AM

I started my first job out of college 48 hours after my Saturday graduation. I was single for about 10 years and married at 33. I lived by myself in apartments and in a home I owned. I had to rely on me. I survived. It is just not that big of a deal. Most women today marry in their late twenties or thirties. At 23, our writer needs to settle in. I would recommend focusing on saving. Time=the beauty of compounding. Writer still has 40-45 years of work to go. I am jealous. If I could have four decades back to let my money compound.... We have three decades left and that is good but more time equals even more money!!

I am not working right now and even I rarely go to the bank and I can go at any time of day. Writer is complaining about banks being closed at 5:00??? First--most drive thru's are open until 6:00. Most banks have lobby hours on Friday until 6:00. ATM's are "always" open. Who even gets a car or house loan at a brick and mortar bank anymore??

Why is the blogmaster letting some child complain about laundry day and about banks? One day she will have a house, loft or condo with a washer and dryer and she will look back on those days of dragging her clothes to a laundry and will smile and be glad it is over. I know I do.

Posted by: T.E. | June 26, 2007 9:28 AM

One explanation that she works so hard maybe that she is paying off the student loans. I think that is a huge assumption that her parent's are paying for college. A good portion of kids finance at least part of their education. I actually feel bad for the huge debt these kids are taking on.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 9:28 AM

I graduated in 2002, and I felt exactly how you feel...it was a huge change and for about a year I felt like I was barely hanging on, never had time to get anything done. It does get easier. Getting an apartment with my own washing machine made a HUGE difference, I had no idea how much. I still have trouble with shopping because those of us who live in DC without cars can't buy a week's worth of groceries at once. Online banking and online bill paying are great. Cooking things you can freeze on Sunday afternoons helps me a lot, and now and then there's nothing wrong with scrambled egss for dinner. Don't let the nasty comments get you down.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:28 AM

foamgnome, the relationship between working long hours (at a salaried position) and your pay is not one-to-one.

Posted by: Ryan | June 26, 2007 9:31 AM

Ryan, No she may be working a more demanding job to make more money. Taking an easier job with less hours at a non profit may not be enough to pay her bills. I know attorneys who work in large firms for a few years to just pay off their law school bills. I know people who take jobs in econ to pay off school debt then go into something else. You are making big assumptions that she isn't working a very demanding job just to make a few extra bucks for now. A 60 hour a week job right out of school is rare. My guess is she is exaggerating the time she spends or she is in that particular job for the short term or long term investment. Who says she is salaried. She may work on commission. My friend worked right out of school at Smith Barney for majority commission.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 9:35 AM

I actually feel bad for the huge debt these kids are taking on.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 09:28 AM

Well, I don't feel bad at all for them. No one told them they had to attend an expensive school that they could not afford.

The University of Maryland's tuition is $8000 per year in state. Live at home, work the summer at $10/hr and make $5000.

College is extremely affordable if you want it to be. If you can't afford to attend a school that costs $30,000 per year without mortgaging your first born son, I've got a novel idea for you: Don't Go There.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 9:36 AM

I have lived with my husband since I was 21. I worked in a factory on the afternoon shift while he went to college. I never had these issues, but then again, I didn't live in DC.

When I did move to DC, I was alone for about six months until my husband joined me. I have to say that I look back on that time and think--yahoo! I could do whatever I wanted and didn't have to worry about coordinating schedules and events with him. It was a nice break, even though I missed him. I usually worked from 7:30 to 4:30 and was home by 5:30. I am really curious about where this girl works that she has to work that late all the time. Maybe the stress of her job is making the other things everyday things harder to deal with.

By the way, when I lived in DC, I always took my lunch break earlier to go to the bank and post office. There were less people there if you went around 10:30 or 11:00. I also second the posters who say you should push back a little on your boss or find a new job.

Posted by: scarry | June 26, 2007 9:37 AM

$30,000/yr college, mommie and daddy paid for mine!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:38 AM

"(but you're probably one of the still sleeping/hungover crowd, huh?! ;) )"

Excuse me? That's a pretty big assumption.

I don't know about Varina, but the reason I couldn't do laundry on Sunday morning was because I was going to church.

The best time for me was Friday evening. No one is at the laundromat then, and you can be in and out in time to still go out. I'm sure Saturday night is the same.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:38 AM

Bob-Your making all kind of assumptions of what a family can afford. I know kids who are paying their own way to state college. With room, board, tuition, the prices comes closer to just under 60K. Even MD with tuition and living away, you are looking at around 60K. Some families do not make enough to contribute or qualify for anything but loans. Count your self lucky if you can afford to put your kid through school. And aren't you forgetting that some people do not live with in driving distance to a decent four year college and you are also forgetting the kids also pay taxes on their summer jobs.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 9:39 AM

Bob-

You're entirely unrealistic. I work during the school year (only part time), full time during the summer every day I can (yes, at $10 an hour), I'm on scholarship, in state tuition, I take out student loans as much as they will let me, and I'm still racking up debt. I believe I'm going to get slammed for spending too much, but I don't know anyone who is managing to get through school without either their parents paying for it through credit or loans, or them paying for it through the same.

Posted by: Intern | June 26, 2007 9:42 AM

"Am I the only one who thinks that college was harder then the first few years out in the "real world"?"

If all you do is have to show up for a few hours of classes each week and maybe a little bit of homework, that's quite an easy life.

Um Lil Husky, not sure what college you attended (if any, the quality of your posts makes me wonder), but some of us worked damn hard to make good grades and took more then a "few" hrs of classes each day. With a part-time job and volunteer activities thrown in for good measure, working only 9-5 with no tests, studying or endless problem sets to deal with once I graduated seemed like a blessing, believe me!


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:42 AM

does anyone know if those washer/dryer combos really work? I saw one that was set up INSIDE the closet! It looked like a fairly small washing machine, but it was supposed to also work like a dryer too-- wash and dry all in one machine. Put dirty clothes in the machine in the morning and come home to dry clean clothes? It was sort of small, but if you are single, you don't need a huge one.

Posted by: Jen S. | June 26, 2007 9:42 AM

"Um Lil Husky, not sure what college you attended (if any, the quality of your posts makes me wonder), but some of us worked damn hard to make good grades"

Some people get good grades with very little effort. And they aren't martyrs!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:46 AM

"Some people get good grades with very little effort. And they aren't martyrs!"

These people mostly cheat off friends or have something "special" going on with a prof!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:49 AM

"Taking an easier job with less hours at a non profit may not be enough to pay her bills. I know attorneys who work in large firms for a few years to just pay off their law school bills"

The out of college program assistant jobs that most non-profits offer are 12 hour a day jobs - not exactly easy, and they only pat around $30K a year. Try living in DC and paying off student loans with that. I think that government work would be the easiest, as the hours are fixed and expectations are lower of you.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:49 AM

Are you living alone?

One thing that really helped me when I moved here was that I lived in a group house. We shopped collectively and that saved money and time. We also took turns cooking which was nice.

Please be careful. I'm sorry to say that my two most un-favorite things about Washington were mice and crime. A young woman doing stuff alone at odd hours is more likely to get mugged.

"Balance" does sometimes mean that 60 hours a week is what you'll work. Sometimes you've got to start off strong, particularly in competitive fields. Be glad you don't have a family, this is your chance to do what you want.

Posted by: RoseG | June 26, 2007 9:49 AM

You really want civil responses and advice from this bunch of vixens? This isn't a blog, it's a burn book. Get a life and get off this mindless garbage.

FWIW, Leslie's contract for this stuff will be up soon, hopefully. Then how will you entertain your feeble little minds?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:50 AM

With room, board, tuition, the prices comes closer to just under 60K. [...] and you are also forgetting the kids also pay taxes on their summer jobs.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 09:39 AM

1. Please show me the math of how $8000 per year can get up to $60,000 when the student is working and living at home.

2. The is The Washington Post. I think we all live within driving distance of College Park if we are desperate enough.

3. There are hundreds of scholarships that students can apply for. See your guidance counselor for details.

4. If you are a college student making $5000 per year, and your parents aren't supporting you, and you are paying even a nickel in taxes, then you need to have a nice, long dinner date with IRS publication 970, pronto. http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/index.html

Again, I have zero sympathy. Go to an expensive school, you deserve what you get.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 9:50 AM

Varina, I am totally with you. When I graduated from college in 2000, I thought I was the only one who felt completely unfullfilled with post-college life, which ultimately is a violent shove from everything you have known in your 22 or 23 years to a completely different way of life that you are expected to acclimate to immediately. Don't worry, practically everyone I know has gone through this phase, I have even come to call it the post-college malaise syndrome. Many of my friends had to deal with bouts of depression or anxiety, either due to stress of living in a new city, starting a new job, or being separated from friends and family, sometimes all three at once. Don't worry, this is completely normal. People our parents age or a little younger don't always get this, as many of them were married right out of college or went back to their hometown, so they had a support system in place. Single people don't always have this luxury. Also, it is harder to get a good, well-paying job these days with just an undergraduate degree, so there is also the added stress of supporting yourself on a slim budget, and paying all your bills on time.

Again, I have to say, and please trust me, this is completely normal. Many people right out of college are dealing with the same issues, you are not alone. Talking with my college friends, even though they were in other cities, always helped me, and I didn't feel so alone. And if you are feeling really overwhelmed, don't be afraid to talk with counselors at work or through your doctor. Stress and anxiety over everyday life can really build up, and they may have some helpful hints for diffusing that. And remember, it will get better! I am 30 now, and I and all my friends came out of that rough patch okay. It may take awhile, but eventually you will learn the ropes and life will become easier. Hang in there, and don't listen to the naysayers on this site, you'll be fine.

Posted by: charlietown | June 26, 2007 9:50 AM

It really depends on what resources you have in your life at that point- for example, at that age, I had some jobs where there was NO annual leave for the first year - it just wasn't an option to take an hour to get a key fixed or whatever....if I didn't go to work, I just didn't get paid, and I needed the money. And some of this stuff IS harder to manage when you're single and don't know a lot of people in town - getting locked out of your apartment after the management office closes, for example, or having to get your car fixed at some specialty shop that isn't anywhere near public transportation.

Personally, I found that having a roommate (not my best friend, but a person that I can easily co-exist with) really helps me balance better - mostly financially (the extra $300-500 per month saved allows me to splurge on some other conveniences, like a great exercise program that works for my schedule), but occasionally on other stuff. For example, it helps to know that someone will pick up the mail and feed my goldfish when I have to travel for work (and I travel a lot)...if the roommate wasn't there, arranging to have those things taken care of would be just one more chore on my list of things to do.

Posted by: notyetamom | June 26, 2007 9:51 AM

Wow. Okay, so apparently the only people with tough lives are those that are married with children. Yes some of us work 12 hour days - not because we are workaholics, but because that's what the job requires. Some of us work two jobs to make rent - we're not workaholics, we're trying to survive. You may not think people should have to work these hours but in DC, in politics (especially campaign life and law firms) being young means putting in the time. We do it because we love it, but it does mean that we don't have a lot of time for other things.

Posted by: Mystified | June 26, 2007 9:52 AM

Why do some of these people on this blog begrudge college kids some free time and fun? Lord knows, they will end up working for the next 35 years. If they never had any fun, they would end up as angry and bitter as some of these posters.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 9:52 AM

Doesn't anyone realize this was supposed to be humorous? Clearly she realizes people who have others that depend on them for "sustenance" have much more hectic lives. Personally, I think it's sad people feel the need to attack a girl when she literally tips her hat to you in her post.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:55 AM

"Why do some of these people on this blog begrudge college kids some free time and fun? "

The scrooges have long sticks up their butts!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:55 AM

""(but you're probably one of the still sleeping/hungover crowd, huh?! ;) )"

Excuse me? That's a pretty big assumption."


Humorless much??? I guess you missed the wink.

Anyway...
Bob- "College is extremely affordable if you want it to be."

You've got to be kidding me. I grew up in Pennsylvania - I wouldn't have been caught dead at Penn State (it just wasn't my kind of place- no offense to anyone who attended)!
I thrive in a smaller school - so, yes, I had to get scholarships and grants and work study for a 30K/year school. And HORRORS! My parents paid the rest! I'm a spoiled brat who has somehow found the ability, in spite of all the money I was rolling around in, to take care of myself and now a child and husband!
I now have no debt, so I don't have to beg my parents for money, I'm not struggling with making $300/mo payments an dI have a great job due to my great education.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | June 26, 2007 9:55 AM

Lil Husky - maybe you were lucky enough to have mumsy and daddy pay your way through college, but Varina wrote that she had jobs during school.

Annie - In my first job out of school, a coworker was nearly fired for having the audacity to schedule her chemotherapy during the workweek. After that episode, no one dared to step out to the bank or to grab a sandwich.

Varina - it really does get better. The first few years out of college were the hardest in my life. Like you, I'd been very busy in college (paid for school entirely myself with no loans through my three jobs), but entering the DC job market is a whole other beast.

I worked for a horrid Senator (the chemo-nazi above) for a few years after college and worked from 6-7am until 8-9pm every weekday, and had a second job bartending on the weekends. My craptacular apartment complex did not have an emergency line and the reception desk was only open 9-5 M-F and 12-3 on weekends (when I was at my restaurant job).

After you've gained some experience, find another job with more manageable hours. That made all the difference to me. Also, I found roommates helped a lot too - someone who could alternate drycleaning and grocery runs with you. I will never again live anywhere without a w/d. Peapod and Washington Green Grocers are only great if you have someone to accept the package (my apartment would only allow you to pick up packages during business hours, so that didn't work).

Sorry this is so long. Stick it out, look for a better job, and it will get better.

Posted by: To Lil Husky and Annie, et al | June 26, 2007 9:56 AM

Bob, maybe you are not too familiar but tuition is only about 50% of the cost of college. The other cost is room and board and expenses. That takes you to 16K per year for four years. Yes, it would be cheaper if you could live near home. That implies 1) you get into the school in driving distance to your parent's house 2) you actually live near a college or a university 3) your parents want you to be home. Second of all, not all kid claim independent on their taxes. A lot of parents are still claiming their kids on their taxes. In that case, the kids are still paying at least 10-15% in taxes. Not everyone who reads this blog lives in DC area. Even in the VA/MD area, they may still be reading this and not living near any of the big universities. Again, you seriously think every kid gets into UVA and Univ MD at college park? I guess you have little experience with what it actually costs kids today to attend college.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 9:57 AM

but some of us worked damn hard to make good grades and took more then a "few" hrs of classes each day.
--------------------------------------

I was a first born! I breezed through school!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:58 AM

"We do it because we love it, but it does mean that we don't have a lot of time for other things."

Well then why are you here complaining about it if you love it so much? Get back to work and quit wasting time!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 9:58 AM

Varina, without reading through all the vitriol others might be spewing today--let me just tell you as a 30 year old who went back to grad school at 28--it gets better. You will learn the rules. Just think--we all knew how to be a student because we were students for so many years. There's not much about college in my experience that teaches you how to live in the 9-5 world.
You will figure it out!

Posted by: Pru | June 26, 2007 10:00 AM

"Some people get good grades with very little effort. And they aren't martyrs!"

These people mostly cheat off friends or have something "special" going on with a prof!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 09:49 AM

Nope, I was the person that other people cheated off of!

Posted by: Not a Martyr, just Smart | June 26, 2007 10:02 AM

. Please show me the math of how $8000 per year can get up to $60,000 when the student is working and living at home.

2. The is The Washington Post. I think we all live within driving distance of College Park if we are desperate enough.

3. There are hundreds of scholarships that students can apply for. See your guidance counselor for details.

4. If you are a college student making $5000 per year, and your parents aren't supporting you, and you are paying even a nickel in taxes, then you need to have a nice, long dinner date with IRS publication 970, pronto. http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/index.html

Again, I have zero sympathy. Go to an expensive school, you deserve what you get.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 09:50 AM

Bob, my daughter just completed her freshman year of college. Tuition and fees may be $8000.00 per year, but that does not include books, supplies, food, gas, auto insurance, car (not every parent can buy one for the child), personal expenses, etc.

Univ of Md website shows yearly cost of $15K for students living with parents.

http://www.financialaid.umd.edu/OSFA/Determinecell2.html

Posted by: to bob | June 26, 2007 10:02 AM

Those first few years out of college are like a second adolescence. I wouldn't go back -- but it sure was fun. Forget clean laundry. Totally overated. Have fun, Varina! And thanks for reminding us old folks what it is like to be in your 20s.

Posted by: Leslie | June 26, 2007 10:03 AM

Bob-NOT every kid can live at home and attend college. Gasp, some need to actually move out to go to college. Not every parent allows their kid to live at home. Some parents do kick them out at 18. Rare in your world, but not impossible.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 10:03 AM

It's not just the "time" issue. College campuses are very self-sufficient little communities. Depending upon the size of the school, for the most part students hardly have to leave campus to get things done, including post office, financial institution, most food, utilities, social life, etc. Everything is right there. Post-college you have to seek out all of those services yourself, and as mentioned above, find the time to take care of them when you're not working.

I've been in my office for three years and I still have trouble navigating the "personal time." Depending upon the vibe of your office, taking personal time can be looked down upon.

Posted by: CDell | June 26, 2007 10:05 AM

Um--the person that wrote that Varina's entry was meant to be humorous has NO sense of humor. That entry was devoid of humor. AGAIN--do not complain about banks. Most people with a job rarely need to go to a bank during the day. On-line banking on a secure site is a good thing. It allows you to manage your account and determine what your daily balance is for interest payout.

Posted by: Humorous?? | June 26, 2007 10:06 AM

You really want civil responses and advice from this bunch of vixens? This isn't a blog, it's a burn book. Get a life and get off this mindless garbage.

FWIW, Leslie's contract for this stuff will be up soon, hopefully. Then how will you entertain your feeble little minds?

How will you entertain yours?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:07 AM

I have not read all the comments on this post yet but I'm sure many of them are insufferably snarky. I graduated from college in 2002 so I'm just a few years older than you. I can completely relate, although I'm now married with a house and a kid (which throws a few more huge wrenches into the balance question, let me tell you). I honestly don't have much advice because I feel the same way. I really hope it gets easier. It hasn't yet (though that may just be because I have a child).

When I first graduated, I was like, WTF didn't anyone tell me what it's like?! Of course, I probably wouldn't have listened. Maybe that's why. :)

Posted by: WannaBe SAHM | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM

The best time for me was Friday evening. No one is at the laundromat then, and you can be in and out in time to still go out. I'm sure Saturday night is the same.

Oh boy! You have a great life! What is the best time for those shuffle board games?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM

Varina's blog entry was not humorous. Furthermore, as a married happily childless woman--I dont even know why some kid would bother commending a grandmother or a mother. Their lives could not be more dissimlar.

That is like a computer analyst making $78K a year with 2 kids and a mortgage commending a CEO making 3 million. Their lives are so different that commending the CEO is pointless.

Posted by: 9:55 | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM

Varina's blog entry was not humorous. Furthermore, as a married happily childless woman--I dont even know why some kid would bother commending a grandmother or a mother. Their lives could not be more dissimlar.

That is like a computer analyst making $78K a year with 2 kids and a mortgage commending a CEO making 3 million. Their lives are so different that commending the CEO is pointless.

Posted by: 9:55 | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM

Seriously, how many people have to go to the post office? Do you have that many packages to mail? Stamps can be bought at grocery stores or online. There are post offices with late hours and Saturday hours in my area.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:12 AM

I think it's funny that so many people are supporting Varina in finding a job with fewer hours. If a parent mentions that they need to leave at 5, everyone screams bloody murder!

I, too, worked long hours first out of college. I left the house by 7am and didn't get home until 10 or 11pm.
Those hours aren't rare in DC. Unfortunately.
Even when I was an intern in college I worked 8-6 or 7pm! For an internship!
I can't wait for the boomers to all retire. Hopefully Gen X and Y can start to change things as they move up into upper management and run the companies

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:12 AM

Dishwashers? Washers? Dryers? Microwaves? Frozen meals? Swifters/Lysol-wipes/etc.? Disposable diapers? Cellphones? Takeout?

Pot, kettle... where are you??

Posted by: mom circa 1920 | June 26, 2007 10:14 AM

You've got to be kidding me. I grew up in Pennsylvania - I wouldn't have been caught dead at Penn State

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | June 26, 2007 09:55 AM

So you prove my point. I said it is only expensive if you want it to be. Clearly you could have sucked it up for 4 years and gone to Penn State if you had to.

But you didn't have to. Your family could afford to send you to a $30k/yr school and you went to a $30k/yr school. What's the deal? All I said is that if you can't afford an expensive school, go to a cheap one. But you could afford expensive school. Yay for you.

------------------------------------------
3) your parents want you to be home. Second of all, not all kid claim independent on their taxes. A lot of parents are still claiming their kids on their taxes.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 09:57 AM

So let me get this straight. Parents kick kid out of the house, won't or can't support the child, and then still try to claim an exemption for the child? If this happens, the IRS maintains a tax fraud hotline (1-800-829-0433). I encourage you to call if you ever hear of anyone attempting this.

If you cannot get into UMD, perhaps you should attend a community college for a few years and get your grades up? It's cheaper than a 4-year university.

Are you being difficult intentionally? For every situation there is a solution if you just show a little creativity. Your type of inside the box thinking will get you nowhere in life.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 10:16 AM

"Please show me the math of how $8000 per year can get up to $60,000 when the student is working and living at home."

Couple of quick questions:

(1) What is your assumed amortized cost for owning / operating a car for 9 months [with an assumed daily round-trip of 50 miles plus whatever is required for job]? Please include all fuel / insurance fees.

(2) What is your assumed meal allowance -- are you assuming the student is only responsible for lunch while on campus? Or are you assuming 20-meal per week plan?


My back of the envelope calculations would include $8000 for tuition, $6000 for car, $5000 for food, $1500 for books -- my guess is that you are assuming parents pick up health coverage, etc. so I won't include that. Through in general school supplies [to include amortized cost of computer, etc. over 4 years] adds another $1500.

So with no entertainment, no enriching outside opportunities, you are looking at least at $22k...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:19 AM

It seems that those of us who graduated within the last 10 years or are still childless have some sympathy, while the more seasoned folks with kids do not. I know that I cannot even imagine what life must be like with kids, other than to know that I don't want to live it, but I do know what the writer is dealing with. When I graduated from law school 7 years ago I went through the exact same thing. I worked second and third year of law school, went to class, read and studied until the wee hours and managed to get up the next morning and do it all over again. When I started working after graduation, and all I had to do was work, I was exhausted and overwhelmed for most of the first year, maybe two. There just didn't seem to be enough time to get everything done that needed to be done and all of my weekends were spent at the grocery store, dry cleaner, apartment laundry room, Target, or stuck in traffic on Rockville Pike. (I lived in DC and only drove on the weekends to run errands.) I eventually got a routine established, figured out the nights I could get a dryer in the laundry room, used HomeRuns (no longer exists) to have groceries delivered for a while, started dropping dry cleaning off on my way to the bus stop, and tried to leave work at work no later than 6pm. It's hard to adjust to the grown up world, but it will happen. However, like one of the first posters said above, it's all about life phases. I'm now a homeowner and this has been a huge adjustment that has taken almost a year for me to make.

Posted by: No longer in DC | June 26, 2007 10:19 AM

The On Balance Blog

Came for the column, stayed for the snark!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:20 AM

Bob--they wont get it. They are the same people buying $39,000 SUVs and rolling 6k in negative equity into the loan since they need room for car seats.

Meanwhile--I actually have the cash to buy such a vehicle yet chose to buy a little econobox.

My parents paid for my college (as it should be IMO). If they hadn't I dont konw what i would have done. HOWEVER--please remember that 40-100K in school debt will take a long time to pay off. You will have other bills and will want to buy a home and that loan will reduce what you can afford and will obviously show as debt on your credit report. Sure--you might bring home 5,500k a month but will you be better off than a guy bringing home 4k a month with no school loan???

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:23 AM

No, I am not trying to make it difficult. But your not listening to the people who are in college or have a child in college currently. If you actually read their posts you will see that you are unrealistic about the cost being a set 8K a year. As far as taxes are concerned, I am not saying the parent kicked them out and then claim them as a dependent. I am saying given your scenario they live at home, you can bet their parents are claiming them on their taxes. Therefore their measely 5K a year is taxed. 2) As far as not getting into UMD, not everyone gets in after doing two years either. You are making big assumptions that everyone lives near a college, can get into the college that they may live near after college, and three their parents may want them to stay at home to begin with. My first job out of college was teaching in a small rural town in GA. There were not any colleges in driving distance. The kids who came from poor families, were generally kicked out at 18 or had to start supporting themselves at 18 in some fashion. What I am trying to say is NOT everyone is from middle class MD with parents who are willing to support them through college. Even some kids I know from Anne Arundel do not have any support from their families for college. And if you stopped and read the post from the mother of the college freshmen, she explained how living at home and attending college came up to far more then the 8K a year. Your the one who can only see your narrow little situation on financing college. Again, yes, more kids should consider a college closer to home. That shaves off a lot. But it still doesn't make it completely affordable for all kids to put themselves through college.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 10:23 AM

Moved back home after college during a recession. Finally got a 'real' job (not temping waitressing) 6 mos later, got laid off for lack of work 4 mos later, got a job waitressing with all the other college grads.

2 yrs after college went to grad school, lived on less than 10k / year stipend, graduated, got real job.

Life sucks for everyone, really. It's tough. It's definitely difficult to figure it all out. But, really, if you can afford to live on your own at 23 without a roommate (I know plenty of people who can't at 30 in nyc) then consider yourself *way* ahead of the curve.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:27 AM

Bob-
The problem with your idea is that it rests on the idea that the parents will pick up the remaining costs:food, clothing, car, insurance-medical, dental, and car, fees, books, gas, personal items etc... I am sure you are willing to do that and that is great. But even in your situation that 5K is really only about 3.5 K after taxes. So now you still owe 4.5K for just the tuition plus all the other expenses. Hate to break it to you but if you stick around here, you will hear tons of parents say they aren't willing to pay for those expenses. Character building or something like that.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 10:28 AM

Varina, Appreciate the stress you are going through. Disagree with others that this is only supposed to happen when you "settle down". I think it happens once you start to take your life seriously, single or otherwise. And the sooner you do, the better for you.

One tip about laundry and shopping: Friday and Saturday nights are great times to get both done. Avoid Saturday mornings.

One more thing: put the important stuff first. Without a job and a salary, nothing else gets done. And if you are sick, you can't work. So make health and wealth take up the most time.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 10:30 AM

My first reaction to Varina was anger and envy. (I'm a 32 y.o. married father of 2). However, I do remember those difficult post-college years. I was married at the time, so had some support built in. However, there was the resentment of having worked so hard in college and working hard at the new job, but having NO MONEY after taxes, insurance, rent, car payment, etc. I recall having to reconcile my checking account before grocery shopping, then bringing the coupons and calculator to the store to make sure we didn't go over.

If at all possible, find a place with in-unit washer and dryer. This is a huge quality of life improvement.

As for the 12-hour days, you may just have to suck it up for a few more years. Now is your time to pay your dues and prove yourself. Do this now, and you can demand more control and higher pay later.

Posted by: Preschool Dad | June 26, 2007 10:30 AM

Bob

I won merit scholarships and attended college & law school tuition free! That is the best way to go!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:31 AM

Wow, I'm going to advise my children to look for a career anywhere but DC. The high achievers can have it. I'm happy with having a life outside of work and not working 12 hour days. Not as much money, house, car, or travel, but I love the time I have with family and friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:32 AM

"Unfortunately, many of the comments posted today are going to be snide"

Snide comments on this blog? Shocking!! Most of the posters are mean beyotches who need a good ghetto slap to bring them into reality!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 08:42 AM

Pot, meet Kettle. Hello, Kettle.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:34 AM

What happened to Fred, Father of 4, the N Carolina woman, Mona and the rest of the "regulars"?

I went on vacation, came back, and they're all gone!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:36 AM

"Bob

I won merit scholarships and attended college & law school tuition free! That is the best way to go!"

And I am a first born!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:36 AM

Personally, I couldn't find balance in MY life at 23 due to all of the sex!
Where did I find the time to meet guys, sleep with them AND THEN do the laundry?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:40 AM

"What happened to Fred, Father of 4, the N Carolina woman, Mona and the rest of the "regulars"?

I went on vacation, came back, and they're all gone!"

They all got cyber spanked, packed up their toys, and went home, honky!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:40 AM

I have not read all the comments on this post yet but I'm sure many of them are insufferably snarky.

Posted by: WannaBe SAHM | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM

With assumptions like these, you are sure to fit right in as a SAHM.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:42 AM

What happened to Fred, Father of 4, the N Carolina woman, Mona and the rest of the "regulars"?
Probably on vacation.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:42 AM

Did any of you notice that a lot of the guest blog was sort of tongue-in-cheek?

I think Varina has taken a very real situation -- her life and the balance it doesn't seem to have -- and written a funny and entertaining essay. Part of her impetus may be that writing helps her cope with her crazy life. Or, perhaps she's a writer-in-the-making, and we're seeing an early bit of the sparkle of her talent.

But I really didn't get the sense that she's writing for help from the resident agony aunts.

I'm hoping to see more of Varina's writing here as things progress for her. She's got a nice, spare style, and her narrative voice crackles with self-deprecating humor.

The next Dave Barry, perhaps? Keep us posted!

Posted by: pittypat | June 26, 2007 10:45 AM

It's been a while since I graduated college but I seemed to have different issues when I graduated and moved to DC. After having such a good social support system at college, it was hard leaving that social atmosphere and trying to make new friends and meet interesting people to date. Moving into a group house was great for the social aspects and for safety. One thing I do miss from those apartment-living days is having a bank of washers and dryers at my disposal. I'd pick an "off" time and be able to wash/dry 5 loads of laundry all at once. That rocked!

Posted by: Class of 1995 | June 26, 2007 10:47 AM

I have to say I fell into the trap of working tons of hours when I was younger and it doesn't really help you that much (maybe it helped my boss who didn't want to make realistic plans but I don't think it helped me). I wish I had spent more time managing my life outside of work. Now that I have kids I regret wasting so much of my time doing busy work or working around other peoples inefficiencies and laziness.
Balance wise:
-I shop on Sunday night about an hour before the stores close (I can make it through Wal-Mart/grocery store
in about an hour this way). I keep my list and coupons in my work bag so I can add to it during the week.
-I bring bagged salad, dressing and paper bowls to work on Monday and have salad all week.
-I opened an additional bank account at my work credit union so I can cash checks, etc. there during work hours.
-Laundry I mostly do on the weekend but I have discovered the usefullness of a "bachelor load" during the week.

Good luck it does get easier after you've been out of school a little while.

Posted by: Millie | June 26, 2007 10:48 AM

Well, I lay my words on the blogging track
Waitin' on the commentees
But sympathy don't run through here no more
Poor, poor pitiful me!

(Chorus)
Poor, poor pitiful me!
Poor, poor pitiful me!
Oh, these snarks won't let me be Please, I am only twenty-three
Oh, lord have pity on me


Well, I met a boss out in Arlington
And I ain't namin' names
But he made me work really good
Just like Jessie James


Yes, he made me work really good
He was a credit to his vendors
He put me through long, long hours
Lord, sorta' like a waring blender

(repeat chorus)

Well, I met a boss in the foggy bottom
Way down in Deeeeeee Ceeeeeeeeeee
He picked me up and he threw me down
Sayin, you need to bill more hours, mama

(repeat chorus)

Poor, poor pitiful me!
Poor, poor pitiful me...

Posted by: Not Chris but another Regular | June 26, 2007 10:50 AM


I wonder if some of the stress is coming from social isolation. Of course the loss of convenience is huge --- college campuses are laid out to anticipate the physical needs of managing a simple life - food, shelter, laundry, study space - conveniently and with little planning or effort, the better to hasten students back to their studying. But college also has built-in social interaction with friends, not just during a workday but at all hours, and built-in outside walking time, where nature gets a chance to intrude on your preoccupations and awaken you to the joy of a beautiful setting, a beautiful day. There are more opportunities for the pleasures of life to cross your path without effort.

I'd guess you're tired of being your only safety net, the only one who does all the work of piloting a life and the only one affected anyway, so what's the point? Cooking for one has always seemed pointless and unmotivated for me. Living alone is an isolating choice . . . the built-in company of compatible roommates sharing downtime and cooking, etc can turn drudge into a companionable activity. Perhaps time cultivating some friendships would help --- dinner out with a new friend one weekday night, or cooking sessions together, or going to one of those prep kitchens with a friend to build up some meals together and perhaps learn a little about cooking for yourself . . .

Good luck,

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 10:54 AM

I graduated in 2002, with $60K in debt. I freely admit that I made a stupid decision. But how old was I when I made that decision? 18. How many 18 year olds do you know that understand how difficult the "real world" is? I was naive and had unrealistic ideas about how much money I would make upon graduation and how much money the rest of real life would cost.

Yeah, if I could do it over again, I would do it differently, but I can't. Does that make me a bad person, undeserving of any respect or sympathy? I pay $500 a month in student loan payments, work fairly normal hours, live in the DC area, and was still able to buy a new (modest) car this year, after happily driving the 25-year old one for over 5 years.

Yes, things are tight, but I wouldn't be the person I am now if I hadn't made the mistakes I did and if I hadn't had the opportunity to learn how to overcome the obstacles that I and life threw in my path.

I don't expect pity or special treatment, but I am surprised at the anger and bitterness and accusations that so many people channel towards people who have made less than perfect decisions in their lives.

Posted by: Learning to be an Adult | June 26, 2007 10:57 AM

What happened to Fred, Father of 4, the N Carolina woman, Mona and the rest of the "regulars"?

I went on vacation, came back, and they're all gone!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 10:36 AM

Why, thank you. Unless you're looking for Meesh. In that case, never mind.*hangs head*

Frankly, and I mean Varina no ill, I can't relate to this column or many of the supportive comments. I worked through the academic school year every year but the first year of undergrad, was a double major, and had to get loans in order to get through my CSS -- sorry, Bob. UVA wasn't within driving distance of my parents house, and it was the least expensive choice. Still, I graduated with debt. I had not less than 2 roommates until I was in my late 20s.

When I graduated, it took me 1.5 years to find a "real" job, and that was in an industry that doesn't offer 9 - 5 hours. In my opinion, Varina's life would have been a dream. Also, because of the organizational skills I was forced to develop in undergrad, I don't relate to her inability to establish balance. Like I said, I mean her no ill, but I find this sort of pifle to me uninteresting.

and to the people saying, find another job? Wow. You either must have been in high demand for some reason I can't imagine when you were 23, or you have an unrealistic view of the job market.

Perhaps by the afternoon, someone will have come up with a topic that's a bit more universal or at least non-middle-class-whiny.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 26, 2007 10:58 AM

My back of the envelope calculations would include $8000 for tuition, $6000 for car, $5000 for food, $1500 for books Through in general school supplies [to include amortized cost of computer, etc. over 4 years] adds another $1500.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 10:19 AM

$5k for food? That's a heck of a lot of ramen and peanut butter. Somebody's clearly never had to eat on a budget before.

And why should we assume that the parents can't contribute even one cent to the equation? I mean, they just supported the kid for 18 years.

$1500 for a computer? What happened to the lab? God only knows what we did before each child needed a $1500 computer. (You can get a notebook for $400 now, just so you know. Even less if you buy *GASP* used.)

$6000 for a car each year? That also sounds a little steep. The IRS says 48.5 cents per mile driven, so let's take 180 school days * .485 * (miles... let's say 30) = $2619. Works out a little better when you leave that Lexus at the dealership, no?

------------------------------------------
I am saying given your scenario they live at home, you can bet their parents are claiming them on their taxes.

As far as not getting into UMD, not everyone gets in after doing two years either.

My first job out of college was teaching in a small rural town in GA. There were not any colleges in driving distance. The kids who came from poor families, were generally kicked out at 18 or had to start supporting themselves at 18 in some fashion.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 10:23 AM

Even if the child is living at home, the family may save more on taxes for the child to be considered independent. Indeed, my parents did not claim me when I was in college because the numbers worked out much better for everyone. Of course, I was making more than $5k a year through college. Even back then.

If you can't get into UMD after a few years in CC, then gee whiz, maybe you should just graduate from CC and get a job. You can make a decent living with a CC degree, especially if you get out of DC.

I normally don't call out people's spelling, but why is it that teachers' spelling is universally atrocious?

Anyhow, teaching in GA, if the families were truly that poor, they would easily qualify for sufficient aid to attend school.

Don't change the rules on me in the middle of the conversation. This whole thing got sparked by someone claiming that those who are too "wealthy" to qualify for any meaningful financial aid, yet can't afford to put their kids through school, have no other option but to take out $100k in loans.

I say that's hogwash. There are plenty of options for those who are willing to show a little creativity and drive.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:00 AM

"Am I the only one who thinks that college was harder then the first few years out in the "real world"?"

If all you do is have to show up for a few hours of classes each week and maybe a little bit of homework, that's quite an easy life.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 09:20 AM

Speak for yourself. Some of us studied really hard in college! Our CSS expected undergrads to do a minimum of 2 hours of homework for each hour of class (typically 15 per semester), which works out to a 45 hour week. Grad students were expected to study even harder than that. And that's all before any part-time jobs, taking care of oneself (incl. meals, laundry, housekeeping) and even a little partying.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:02 AM

Psu - even on state - will run you at least 12k in tuition a year I think it might be closer to 15-18k. It is one of the more expensive in state schools. For a bargain-even out of state-one must look at the southern school-uga, alabama, ga tech, u of TN, etc.

Much better deal-even outta state.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:04 AM

What I am seeing with my stepdaughter and her friends of a similar age to the guest blogger is that their standards are too high, and it's so often the parents' fault. My stepdaughter's college roommate gets an allowance of $700 a month, plus they pay for her car, insurance, room and board. Name me an entry level position she will be able to get with a four-year degree in Psychology that will allow her as much discretionary income, assuming of course that Mom and Dad cut the apron strings financially. It is not a realistic way to raise a child to be on their own. Are we going to enable our children to the extent that they end up having to live with us after graduation because they haven't learned how to live within the means they're capable of generating?

It is not that I don't have sympathy for the guest blogger. I do -- I just don't have a lot of it. I remember that it was an adjustment for sure when I left college and was on my own. But it should be more fun than what is described, and if it's not, it's time that she make some changes.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 11:04 AM

Varina:
I loved your column! I remember those years well. here are some things I learned along the way that I wish I had known earlier on in the game:

1. Learn the phrase, "I'm sorry, but I have an obligation." Learn to use it. I remember feeling really guilty taking any time for myself and my little pursuits and complaining to an older wiser friend that I COULDN"T exactly tell my boss that I needed to leave by 7 that evening because I had an aerobics class! It wasn't like I was doing something important like taking care of my family. No problem, she said. The phrase is "I'm sorry, I have a prior commitment/an obligation/plans that can't be changed." You don't actually need to specify what it is.
("I have a family obligation" might actually mean "my boyfriend's making me dinner" or "we're going away for the weekend." This is an opportunity for creativity.)

2. Make yourself some "prior commitments." Put some things on your calendar just for you -- a weekly dinner with friends where you take turns cooking; a weekly get-together with friends to watch your favorite TV show; an aerobics class; one morning a week when you meet a friend at a coffee shop before work; volunteering; taking a class with another friend. If you don't schedule stuff like this in (every Wednesday eating dinner with friends, etc.), you'll let work take over and let everything else slide. Just because you're single DOESN"T mean you're not entitled to have a life.

3. AS hard it might sound now, relish the freedom, because someday you will miss it. Go to museums after work during the summer (they're free), walk on the mall, have some of that yummy Saturday morning brunch on Capitol Hill, etc.

4. Figure out a clothing "uniform" that takes minimal upkeep, including some light silk blouses that you can wash out at home without a laundromat.

5. Yogurt and fresh fruit is a healthy and satisfying dinner.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | June 26, 2007 11:05 AM

Bob-sorry about the spelling and no I am not a teacher. I taught math on a two year program and now am a statistician. But there are people who are caught between qualifying for aid and paying for college out right. I guess you were not around a year ago when the family with 90K income explained how their college age son did not get any aid beyond loans and they had very little saved for college for their two children. Yes, you are right there are ways to make it cheaper but doesn't mean that it is totally affordable. Again, your not going to ever see it from their point of view. And no one talked about 100K in loans. We quoted the total cost of Univ MD at around 60K.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 11:08 AM

Some of us studied really hard in college! Our CSS expected undergrads to do a minimum of 2 hours of homework for each hour of class (typically 15 per semester

You had to study? in a CSS? Hahahahahahahha! That is funny! (or you weren't the first born!)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:08 AM

WorkingMomX - well said.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 11:09 AM

Bob-
The problem with your idea is that it rests on the idea that the parents will pick up the remaining costs:food, clothing, car, insurance-medical, dental, and car, fees, books, gas, personal items etc...

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 10:28 AM

And why shouldn't the parents pick up those costs? They picked them up for the last 18 years, they want what's best for their child. What kind of parent wouldn't want his kid to go to college?

But I'll admit that built into my assumption is that the parents actually want to help their kids, they just can't afford to.

Also, I've already shown that if the parents ain't supporting the kid, they are committing tax fraud if they try to claim the kid as an exemption. Kid is independent and qualifies for all of the education tax breaks. Kid should be paying no taxes.

When I was in college, I made way more than $5k per year and paid no income tax.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:10 AM

When did you go to college? Are you currently putting a kid through college? You can talk all you want theoretically but if you actually listen to the intern and the mother who has a college freshmen, you can see that going to college is a little more then 8K a year. And surprise, surpise, some people don't get into Univ MD. It would be stupid to just stop at CC, just because you can't get into the college closest to where you live.

Posted by: to Bob | June 26, 2007 11:10 AM

Wow - I really can't believe some of the hostility on this board. I took on loans and worked all the way through college to pay for my education, but like Varina, I still faced some of the same adjustment and work-life balance issues the minute I stepped off campus. It is hard to be 23 and trying to figure out now to manage your sleep, laundry, bills, loan payments, office politics, and all the things you normally face as an adult in one fell swoop. For those of you who figured it out quickly, good for you. But for the rest of us, it was a phase of trial and errors that hopefully we learn from as we keep skipping along.

I'm now 30, married, no kids yet, and it has gotten MUCH easier. Part of it is accepting that things will NEVER be completely balanced, but being ok what you can accomplish within your limited schedule. So the laundry isn't done or you didn't pack lunch again. Eh. Things will evenutally get done. Relish the time you do have, and enjoy the non-balanced existence. There is something really fun and romantic about hanging out with your equally "un-balanced" poor 20-something friends, all struggling to get through the workweek, pay all your bills, and counting your pennies. I sometime ran to a 24-hour CVS for new underwear when I realized that once again, I had run out. (And CVS underwear is really ugly.)

It does get MUCH easier after several years, because as you build experience at your job, you also earn more money and more clout to tell your bosses that you'd like to cut back on some hours or leave a little earlier.

Hang in there!

Posted by: Heyo | June 26, 2007 11:11 AM

It's amazing how many people on this blog truly think that balance is only an issue for parents and older professionals. I myself am a young professional - I graduated a couple of years ago and am in an incredibly demanding job, as is my partner. I have been luckier than many people I know in that I met my wife in college and we married early. We count ourselves as lucky when we see each other for more than half an hour a night, three nights a week. For other people who do not have partners who can help with the housekeeping chores, from laundry to banking, there is the need to remain connecting to people in the community. When you're in college, friends and community are immediately available. It takes effort to remain connected to friends and colleagues outside of work if one does not want to become a recluse.
Add that to the fact that work is more demanding of professionals than it has ever been before - we have all admitted it on this blog. Before you start razzing the guest blogger about not taking responsibility yet, why don't you stop and take the time to realize that balance is also an issue for people who don't have five kids, five dogs and an unresponsive partner.

Posted by: K in DC | June 26, 2007 11:12 AM

Some of the parents on this blog are really rotten and have talked at length how they won't support their kids in college. You sound like a fairly nice guy but some parents are just JERKS. There are two main types of parents on this blog : 1) willing to save huge amounts of money and can afford to pay for college 2) Cheap rotten people who won't give their kid a dime even though they can. 3) There are few who simply can't afford it. But the #1s and the #2s speak louder then the #3s. Also, I don't know where you worked when you were in college, but my parents always claimed me on their taxes and I always paid taxes on my summer earnings.

Posted by: to Bob from adoptee | June 26, 2007 11:14 AM

Bob - the community college route is a legitimate arguement. We had a blog months ago on this very topic and generally people agreed that it was stupid to spend 100K on a teaching degree from Harvard and walk away loaded with debt. Now - if your parents can afford it - fine. But if you want to go to expensive school merely because you feel like you "fit in" better or want the notoriety, then complain about the huge debt you incurred - to bad, how sad.

It is about choices.

Also, no one knows if Varina is loaded with college debt - so maybe she would like to pipe in. Sounds more like she has organizational issues, and since she was so organized in college (with a busy schedule) she needs to apply the same tactics.

FWIW: I would never got back to being 23, didn't hit my stride till I was 27 or 28.

Posted by: cmac | June 26, 2007 11:17 AM

With assumptions like these, you are sure to fit right in as a SAHM.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 10:42 AM

What does that mean?! Sounds like someone is making some major assumptions about SAHMs.

I've been reading this blog long enough to know that anyone who dares to suggest that their life might be somewhat difficult gets hammered with a chorus of "But MY life is worse!!!" And I was right, wasn't I?

Posted by: WannaBe SAHM | June 26, 2007 11:17 AM

Adoptee, you are oversimplifying. How about the parents who save what they can for college in addition to having to save for retirement and taking care of elderly parents? Maybe their child will have to attend a state school instead of a private liberal arts college, but the goal is the same. What about those of us who feel strongly that a degree a student helps to pay for will mean more to the student?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 11:18 AM

"They picked them up for the last 18 years, they want what's best for their child. What kind of parent wouldn't want his kid to go to college?

But I'll admit that built into my assumption is that the parents actually want to help their kids, they just can't afford to."

Bob, this is a pretty naive set of assumptions.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:18 AM

Have you ever considered drawing up a schedule on paper, then (gasp) actually sticking to it? Same for a budget, so you can get a savings program started. You didn't learn much self-discipline in college, did you? Well, now you have to. Pull your socks up, stop whining and behave like an adult. You don't realize how good you have it.

Posted by: To Varina | June 26, 2007 11:20 AM

oy vey!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:20 AM

"$5k for food? That's a heck of a lot of ramen and peanut butter. Somebody's clearly never had to eat on a budget before."

Assumed $100 / week for full year -- certainly could be less, but a reasonable estimate.

"And why should we assume that the parents can't contribute even one cent to the equation? I mean, they just supported the kid for 18 years."

Ok, so I'm assuming they pay health insurance as well as board [and other non-food incidentals].

"$1500 for a computer? What happened to the lab? God only knows what we did before each child needed a $1500 computer. (You can get a notebook for $400 now, just so you know. Even less if you buy *GASP* used.)"

Note that I indicated it was for computers and supplies [here I was just going off a web expense estimator]. Given current college demands, I think you either need to factor on-site housing or personal ownership of a computer with high-speed Internet.

"$6000 for a car each year? That also sounds a little steep. The IRS says 48.5 cents per mile driven, so let's take 180 school days * .485 * (miles... let's say 30) = $2619. Works out a little better when you leave that Lexus at the dealership, no?"

Note that I assumed a 50-mile round-trip and additional miles for the additional 'job'. Also note that I anticipate travel to campus on non-school days [weekends] in order to complete homework assignments. In addition, I think you need to amortize the car expense over the full year [assuming the job you mentioned is for the full year]. With 12,500 miles per year you exceed the $6000 I budgeted.

[Also note that the $0.485 is based on a total expected lifetime ownership of car -- the actual expense of a car is generally more front-loaded, which would more severely impact the student's budget.]

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:21 AM

I guess you were not around a year ago when the family with 90K income explained how their college age son did not get any aid beyond loans and they had very little saved for college for their two children. Yes, you are right there are ways to make it cheaper but doesn't mean that it is totally affordable.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 11:08 AM

Family makes $90k per year and has nothing saved for college? I'm not feeling the tears well up. If you make $90k per year, I've got an idea. Sell the Lexus and pay for college as you go. Your kids' education is more important than your SUV.

You may say it costs $60k for 4 years of college, but I say it can be done cheaper with creativity and sacrifice. You may not get to live in the frat house and guzzle beer every night, but you'll have your education.

Here's another one that'll rock your world: can't afford 4 years of college expenses? Graduate in 3. Welcome to the magical world of AP and post-secondary.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:23 AM

I feel your pain. I also have a feeling that most of the people giving you a hard time probably never worked 60+ hours a week as it sounds like you do - and I do.

If you're an ambitious young person these days, you are expected to pour your energy into your job, the more hours the better. Show up at work, impress everyone - but it doesn't leave much for laundry.

Getting an apartment with its own washer / dryer will make your life much better, even if the apmt. is lacking in other ways.

Posted by: Jennifer | June 26, 2007 11:23 AM

Q: What phrase is used most by a person with a BA in psyche?

A: "Do you want fries with that, sir?"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:25 AM

Some of us studied really hard in college! Our CSS expected undergrads to do a minimum of 2 hours of homework for each hour of class (typically 15 per semester

You had to study? in a CSS? Hahahahahahahha! That is funny! (or you weren't the first born!)

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:08 AM

You have to study harder than that at a CSS if you plan to attend grad school (even at a public university).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:25 AM

OK, if you actually look at the Financial Aid websites the vast amount of aid is given in terms of loans. Even to poor kids. So poor kids qualify for more loans. The PELL grant is for some small amount of money. I think around 3,000. So even if your really poor, it doesn't mean that the government pays your way through school. Even with the PELL grant, the poor kid needs to come up with a minimum of 5-7K each year.

Posted by: dirty little secret | June 26, 2007 11:25 AM

"Also, I've already shown that if the parents ain't supporting the kid, they are committing tax fraud if they try to claim the kid as an exemption. Kid is independent and qualifies for all of the education tax breaks. Kid should be paying no taxes."

It depends -- if the child is living at home [and the home is relatively nice] the parents can apply a 'reasonable' room fee [say $500/month] as part of the calculation as to whether they pay 50% of the student's expenses. Throw in car insurance and health insurance, and it becomes pretty easy to include child on your income taxes even if you don't pay for a penny of school.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:26 AM

Oh, and I remember being 23 and HATING my apartment's management. Once every couple weeks I'd try to go home early to pick up any packages (since I shopped for everything online - and I do mean everything, from spatulas to bedspreads). I'd get there just before 5, and if traffic was bad the office would have just closed.

And of course any other problems were also impossible to deal with. Who is home between 9 and 5 or even 9 and 6? Seriously.

Posted by: Jennifer | June 26, 2007 11:26 AM

"$5k for food? That's a heck of a lot of ramen and peanut butter. Somebody's clearly never had to eat on a budget before."

Assumed $100 / week for full year -- certainly could be less, but a reasonable estimate."

Ding. Ding. Ding. DING. If you are assuming $100 per week for a 23 year old's grocery budget, you've prepared a budget for Paris Hilton and suggested it's universally applicable.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:26 AM

Actually, Jennifer, I'll bet you many of the people on this blog worked 60 hour weeks at some point. It's called paying your dues. So go find another blog and cry to someone who cares.

Posted by: To Jennifer | June 26, 2007 11:27 AM

"Yogurt and fresh fruit is a healthy and satisfying dinner"

Healthy, yes. Satisfying, not even close.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:28 AM

"Some people get good grades with very little effort. And they aren't martyrs!"

These people mostly cheat off friends or have something "special" going on with a prof!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 09:49 AM

Or some are simply brilliant. You're just jealous because you aren't.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:28 AM

I don't want to minimize the unbalanced life of a 23 year old BUT try to add a husband and two children to the mix....Banking can be done online (most of the time), Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Giant are open late, I can't help you with the crowded gym, I wish I had TIME for a gym period.

Posted by: fedmom | June 26, 2007 11:29 AM

Bob-I don't know but if you hang around this blog, you will see that 90K for a family of four in DC area is not exactly high living. Do you have kids? Are you saving for their education? I know we save around $350/month for one child. I don't know too many other people saving that much for each child. Even with that, it will come to around 100K when my daughter turns 18 with about a 4% interest rate. We will still need to pay approximately 20-40K out while she actually attends. And with the large state schools that you think kids should attend, graduating in three years is very hard to do because the classes are not always offered enough. Again, let's stop arguing. I already told you that I do believe there are cheaper ways to do college. But the estimated costs (and you can look on Univ MD website) is approximately 15K a year. So believe what you want.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 11:29 AM

K in DC -- just wait and see.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:31 AM

Varina,
I loved this post! With every life change there takes some adjusting (I am just starting to adjust to being a mommy). Hang in there, be patient with yourself, and pretty soon soon you'll grasp a good routine that works for you.

Posted by: ellenb | June 26, 2007 11:32 AM

What about those of us who feel strongly that a degree a student helps to pay for will mean more to the student?


Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 11:18 AM
Maybe I am young (24) but does anyone really believe this? Would you really appreciate a car that you paid for more then a car you won in a raffle? I doubt it. I would take the free car any day.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 11:33 AM

Foamgnome and Bob,

One more post on college costs and off to the glue factory with that dead horse!

Posted by: Quit Flogging It! | June 26, 2007 11:33 AM

even the title "Balance for One" mocks the concept of the blog today

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:33 AM

Laundry time-saving hint: If you're using a laundromat, wait till everything's dirty, then go during an off-time when few customers are there, so you can do a whole bunch of loads at the same time. In between times, just do a little hand laundry (like underwear) at home, and hang it up to drip-dry in the bathroom.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:34 AM

"Some people get good grades with very little effort. And they aren't martyrs!"

These people mostly cheat off friends or have something "special" going on with a prof!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 09:49 AM

Or some are simply brilliant. You're just jealous because you aren't.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:28 AM

Maybe brilliance helps you coast through a math or econ major, but it won't allow you to sleep through a chem or bio lab, it doesn't speed your way through The Faerie Queen or write your papers for you. Get real, dude. We didn't all major in basket-weaving or rhetoric.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:35 AM

Bob-I don't know but if you hang around this blog, you will see that 90K for a family of four in DC area is not exactly high living.

How do lots of families in the DC area manage on less? They do, you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:37 AM

You had to study? in a CSS? Hahahahahahahha! That is funny! (or you weren't the first born!)

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:08 AM

You have to study harder than that at a CSS if you plan to attend grad school (even at a public university).

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:25 AM

I did not have to study much at all. 3.81 of 4.0 overall GPA and 4.0 in major.

Posted by: anon from 11:08 | June 26, 2007 11:37 AM

I did not have to study much at all. 3.81 of 4.0 overall GPA and 4.0 in major.

Posted by: anon from 11:08 | June 26, 2007 11:37 AM

Yes, but do you have to go to a blog to find out how to do your laundry?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:39 AM

Bob-I don't know but if you hang around this blog, you will see that 90K for a family of four in DC area is not exactly high living.

How do lots of families in the DC area manage on less? They do, you know.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:37 AM
They do but they are not buying a Lexus or saving for college and retirement. No one is arguing that you can't "live" on 90K. The argument was they are not rolling in money. Or have you found a way to roll in money on 90K here?

Posted by: Yo Trump | June 26, 2007 11:39 AM

To Fedmom- adding a husband to the mix has made life a lot easier than my single days. He takes care of some of the chores I hate and vice versa. It's not that much harder to grocery-shop for two than for one and I only have to do it half as often (since he does it also). If either of us are working longer hours, the other takes care of more of the household chores to make it easier on the one working too many hours. Then there was all that time you spend dating/meeting new prospective dates while you are single that you (or most people) don't do after marriage. I can't speak about the children since we have chosen not to have them - mainly because we are happy with the balance we have now.

Posted by: Fed non-mom | June 26, 2007 11:39 AM

coast through a math major

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:40 AM

When did you go to college? Are you currently putting a kid through college?

Posted by: to Bob | June 26, 2007 11:10 AM

I went to college in the 90s. I am not currently putting a kid through college, but we have already saved up 10s of thousands for our kids' education. I do not consider college to be optional.
---------------------------------------------
"Assumed $100 / week for full year -- certainly could be less, but a reasonable estimate."

$100 per week? Good lord, that's a lot of ramen! I'm not even sure my entire family spends $100 per week on food. Ever hear of peanut butter?

"Note that I indicated it was for computers and supplies [here I was just going off a web expense estimator]. "

Don't go off a web expense estimator. Be creative and find ways to save money.

Regarding cars, they're expensive. But 50 miles roundtrip? You do realize that 25 miles will get you from College Park to suburban Baltimore, right? I don't consider Baltimore to be DC. There are perfectly good schools in Baltimore.

Also, the IRS number assumes a new car. Perhaps a reliable-model used car would be a more appropriate choice.

Look, all I'm trying to say is that if you get creative, you can make it happen. If you drive that Lexus, eat at Chipotle, buy that iPod, go to Cancun, etc., then, yeah, college is expensive. But if money is tight, you can make it work.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:41 AM

Family makes $90k per year and has nothing saved for college? I'm not feeling the tears well up. If you make $90k per year, I've got an idea. Sell the Lexus and pay for college as you go. Your kids' education is more important than your SUV.

You may say it costs $60k for 4 years of college, but I say it can be done cheaper with creativity and sacrifice. You may not get to live in the frat house and guzzle beer every night, but you'll have your education.

Here's another one that'll rock your world: can't afford 4 years of college expenses? Graduate in 3. Welcome to the magical world of AP and post-secondary.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:23 AM


Bob- you really have to tell us how old you are. You're living in a fantasy world in West Virginia or somewhere that it's expensive.

My husband and I make 77K/year combined. We are able to save $100/month for our daughter. That's it. When we do finally get up to 90K we will need to start putting more into our 401ks since you old folks will have sucked all of the money out of the system by then.

I don't think older generations realize how difficult things are now.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:41 AM

Yes, but do you have to go to a blog to find out how to do your laundry?

Nope, my liberated mother taught me that when I was a child, along with cooking, cleaning and auto maintenance.

Posted by: anon from 11:08 | June 26, 2007 11:43 AM

Or have you found a way to roll in money on 90K here?

Posted by: Yo Trump | June 26, 2007 11:39 AM

It's called self-discipline: budgeting and doing without luxuries.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:44 AM

Bob- is it really the kid's fault if the parent's make a good living but have not planned for the kid to go to college-or they always thought that they would save one day and they never put anything away? Are you really blaming the child?
I've read that tuition is much less expensive in canada so maybe looking at that's a good idea too.

We're putting away what we can now (way less than 350 a month I assure you-for two kids) and hopefully btw what we put away what grandparents might supply loans, scholarships, kid working etc we'll have enuf- but who knows? By then it could be 200" a yr-they're not building more schools but more kids are applying yrly-and there's been a small baby boom in recent yrs.

Posted by: atlmom | June 26, 2007 11:44 AM

"Family makes $90k per year and has nothing saved for college? I'm not feeling the tears well up. If you make $90k per year, I've got an idea. Sell the Lexus and pay for college as you go. Your kids' education is more important than your SUV."

Bob, that could be my family. Due to care of parents, job loss of spouse, and some unexpected medical issues (they are never expected are they?), savings were wiped out. Expected family contribution is determined based on income for the tax year ending Dec of senior year in high school. Based on $90K, it was determined that the family's EFC was $18K per year. The salary is good, but doesn't reflect a career of comparable earnings - only the last 2 years. Career changes were made when the child was 10, but one of the jobs was lost when the child was 15. Big hit on income and other expenses wiped out everything. Glad to be back to $90K, but we have emergency and retirement savings to be concerned with as well as some concerns with elderly parents and a second, younger child to consider.

Not looking for sympathy - just trying to show you that there is more to a family's situation than current yearly income.

Posted by: to bob | June 26, 2007 11:46 AM

I don't think older generations realize how difficult things are now.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:41 AM

Whine, whine, whine. Never learned about the Depression or World War II in school, or from your grandparents, didja?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:46 AM

Adoptee -- thank you for proving my point.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 11:46 AM

"Ding. Ding. Ding. DING. If you are assuming $100 per week for a 23 year old's grocery budget, you've prepared a budget for Paris Hilton and suggested it's universally applicable."

Over the course of a year at college [in which schedule will often drive more fast food purchases since the student will be on campus for extended periods of time], I think this is a reasonable number.

I would point out in general that we aren't talking about trying to live as a monk here -- it is not unreasonable for a 20-year-old college student to have some social interactions -- one dinner out with a date at a reasonable location would easily account for half of the weekly budget.

To put it another way, if your goal is to find the minimum amount someone could survive on then $5000 is way too much. If you want a reasonable number for a college student's annual budget in the DC area then $5000 is pretty moderate.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:49 AM

MN - sniff sniff...what about poor little old me? You mentioned Meesh... I think the original post should have said NC women (note the plural) OT: I will remember the curry laksa recipe. I promise.

On saving for college: we save for retirement first, extra are savings but are not earmarked for education. Now those monies may be spent for education, but we learned never to promise we'd send any of our kids to a particular school. They had to earn their way (and towards which the rising junior is working this whole summer). Besides monies in education specific funds are considered spent first. If they're gone first then they can't continue earning...It is stupid financially for us to save in education specific funds (and our financial advisor agrees with us). Two kids done with college and two more to go...whoo hooo..half way done!

Posted by: dotted | June 26, 2007 11:51 AM

"Assumed $100 / week for full year -- certainly could be less, but a reasonable estimate."

WTF? Reasonable? I feed my entire family for less than $100/week!


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:52 AM

You are just being self-indulgent. Get your act together and start being a responsible adult.

Posted by: To 11:49 | June 26, 2007 11:54 AM

"Speak for yourself. Some of us studied really hard in college! "

Ha, ha, ha! Darwin was so right! The best and the brightest don't need to study a lot to achieve the highest grades!

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:55 AM

Sorry, I think that $100/wk for food is a bit high too. We probably pay a little more than that per week for a family of 5 ... and I think we're spending too much on groceries. And if I remember the proposed budget comment correctly, the budget wasn't including entertainment. Going out to dinner is for the purpose of entertainment more than for eating.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 26, 2007 11:56 AM

Varina,
I can totally relate. Getting out of college was a big adjustment for me. The workday just seemed interminably long, and in the beginning, that was only 9-5. Eventually, I got a job as legal assistant in a big law firm where the hours were even longer. But the work also was more interesting by then, and somehow, the shift occurred somewhere in there, where I began to love working and stopped missing the good old college days. I think that long hours when you are young and single can be a great thing for your career, as long as you are in a job where you can learn and grow, and obviously, that you enjoy. I spent a good number of years paying my dues, and thanks to that, I know have a great job that is both interesting, not too demanding, and has flexible hours. It does get better, after the initial adjustment period. Hang tough. It's the beginning of a great time.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 11:56 AM

Bob-I don't know but if you hang around this blog, you will see that 90K for a family of four in DC area is not exactly high living. Do you have kids? Are you saving for their education? [...] But the estimated costs (and you can look on Univ MD website) is approximately 15K a year. So believe what you want.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 11:29 AM

I live in DC, I do have kids, I am saving for their college.

$90k/yr is not bad in DC, as long as you keep your expenses down.

I don't care what the UMD estimated costs are. UMD doesn't estimate that you are scraping to get by. I am telling you that it can be done for less.

I've given about a dozen suggestions on how to control the cost of college. You can cover your ears all you want, but the cost of covering your ears is opening your wallet.

For fun, let's say that it really does cost $15,000 to attend UMD. Here is the lucky 13th suggestion: get a better job. When I was in college, I worked as a waiter at a low-end restaurant earning about $20 per hour. Work full time during the summer and 10 hours per week during the year. That's $17,500 per year, tax free. (tax liability would be $971 minus the Lifetime Learning Credit = $0.00)

I think you'll find that that covers your $15,000 estimate.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:57 AM

You feed your entire family on less than $100 /week? What on Earth are you serving?

I spend (I live in DC) $130 on grocery shopping plus 1 night out to eat/week and usually 1 lunch bought during the week.

Is that ALL breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for every single day for each person?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:58 AM

"Speak for yourself. Some of us studied really hard in college! "

Ha, ha, ha! Darwin was so right! The best and the brightest don't need to study a lot to achieve the highest grades!

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:55 AM

No, some of us learned a whole lot more in college than you did.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 11:59 AM

"Speak for yourself. Some of us studied really hard in college! "

Ha, ha, ha! Darwin was so right! The best and the brightest don't need to study a lot to achieve the highest grades!

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:55 AM

No, some of us learned a whole lot more in college than you did.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:59 AM

There's more to true learning than just getting an A in a class. That's only the starting point, especially if you want to go to grad school or a first-professional program like law, medicine or dentistry.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:01 PM

Bob, I think you're great and I'd love to see a guest blog from you or someone like you who is logical, not living beyond their means, not claiming that it's impossible to afford to live in DC on less than $200K a year, and most of all, not whining about their situation in life! We rarely have a guest blogger (or a regular blogger) who talks about how they have achieved balance - it's almost always about how they don't have it - and you would be a breath of fresh air.

Posted by: Bob rocks | June 26, 2007 12:01 PM

There's more to true learning than just getting an A in a class. That's only the starting point, especially if you want to go to grad school or a first-professional program like law, medicine or dentistry.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:01 PM

If you want to SURVIVE IN grad school or a first-professional program like law, medicine or dentistry.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:03 PM

"Maybe brilliance helps you coast through a math or econ major, but it won't allow you to sleep through a chem or bio lab, it doesn't speed your way through The Faerie Queen or write your papers for you. Get real, dude"

Uh, yeah dude. Brillance can take you to the top; that's why we are called "gifted"!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:04 PM

Bob:

What are you getting out of being so mean? Even if you are right about everything you've said (which I doubt), you'd get a lot further with your argument if you presented helpful suggestions in a genuinely helpful way than saying, over and over again: Get with it! Cut your expenses! Make better choices! Work harder!

How would you respond it someone spoke to you that way?

Finally, 90K in the DC area is definitely not a luxurious family income. Of course, people do live on less, but life for them is tough--or, at least, no fun.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2007 12:04 PM

No, some of us learned a whole lot more in college than you did.

That is because you had a lot more to learn! We already knew it!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:05 PM

"Regarding cars, they're expensive. But 50 miles roundtrip? You do realize that 25 miles will get you from College Park to suburban Baltimore, right? I don't consider Baltimore to be DC. There are perfectly good schools in Baltimore."

I live in Columbia, MD which is 25 miles from College Park. My niece lived with us and between her job and going to school she put about 15,000 miles on her car annually. A portion of that was for trips 'back home' to visit her parents. Thus, 12,500 miles seemed to be a reasonable number since I actually have real data to back it up.

"Also, the IRS number assumes a new car. Perhaps a reliable-model used car would be a more appropriate choice."

No, the IRS conducts a periodic survey on the total cost of ownership of the US fleet on a per mile basis. The survey includes lifetime ownership costs -- it does not just look at new vehicles.

My assumption was again based on my niece who drove a used VW with 100,000 miles -- her annual costs [amortized purchase, license, registation, insurance, fuel, repairs] was approximately $18,000 for the three years she was at College Park.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:05 PM

oh, dotted, you are so right. I think WorkingMomX is in North Raleigh, as well.

I'll be heading back under my rock now, LOL.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 12:06 PM

Bob- you really have to tell us how old you are. You're living in a fantasy world in West Virginia or somewhere that it's expensive.

I don't think older generations realize how difficult things are now.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:41 AM

Good lord. I live in DC, and I'm in my 30s. If you want to swap WWII stories, you've come to the wrong place.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 12:06 PM

Uh, yeah dude. Brillance can take you to the top; that's why we are called "gifted"!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:04 PM

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, dude.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:07 PM

"There's more to true learning than just getting an A in a class. That's only the starting point, especially if you want to go to grad school or a first-professional program like law, medicine or dentistry."

Really? Who do you think gets the best jobs in law, medicine, or dentistry?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:08 PM

Bob

"I've given about a dozen suggestions on how to control the cost of college. You can cover your ears all you want, but the cost of covering your ears is opening your wallet."

Thanks. Now can you please STFU and give it a rest???

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:11 PM

Really? Who do you think gets the best jobs in law, medicine, or dentistry?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:08 PM

They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:14 PM

Bob:

I don't believe anyone is suggesting that there are no ways to reduce the cost of a college education. You can certainly look at a variety of expenses that can be cut.

That said, the bottom line is that college cost increases have exceeded both inflation and average wage gains for the past 15 years. Thus, the average student needs to either reduce the quality of their college experience or pay more [or a combination of the two].

Are their innovative ways to cut costs? Sure. Will some of these affect the overall college experience? Probably. [As an example, I can tell you that I absolutely want my kids to live on campus -- I think that is an essential part of the college experience and I am willing to pay for it for them.]

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:16 PM

"Really? Who do you think gets the best jobs in law, medicine, or dentistry? "

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:08 PM

"They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A."

In professional school! Ha, ha, ha! Are you a lawyer, or a doctor, or a dentist?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:17 PM

You feed your entire family on less than $100 /week? What on Earth are you serving?

I spend (I live in DC) $130 on grocery shopping plus 1 night out to eat/week and usually 1 lunch bought during the week.

Is that ALL breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for every single day for each person?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 11:58 AM

I watched a reality show on a family with 8 kids, a set of twins (6 years old) and sextuplets (2 year olds - yes, all fertility babies). Their grocery bill averages out to 150$/week. The mother was absolutely obsessive compulsive ( by her own admission) about coupons and sales - and it takes time and organization - but they do it. They live in Central PA - so that helps.

I am not advocating spending all your time on grocery savings, but a little effort goes a long way. We spend quite a bit more then 100/week but know I could do much better if I tried so I don't complain too much about the cost of groceries.

Posted by: CMAC | June 26, 2007 12:17 PM

"They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A."


Who is the idiot who comes up with this stuff? There is an old saying. Keep quiet and let people think that you are stupid. Or open your mouth and confirm it. Everytime you post, you prove your own idiocy.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:17 PM

"I don't think older generations realize how difficult things are now."

OMG....LOL!

Because in the 80's and 90's there wasn't a cost and/or need for groceries, rent, utilities, clothing, exercise, tuition, fees, books, laundry, entertainment. We just all lived in the streets and danced around naked for our entertainment, exercise, and education and panhandled when we were hungry.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:19 PM

This is a good post, Varina. Ignore the disparagers. You don't say it in your post, but I found one of the biggest "balance" problems I had when I was in the single/living alone stage was lonliness. After being separated from a vast network of college friends, if work involves sitting at a computer, the last thing you want to do with your non-work time is a whole list of chores by yourself.

What worked for me was to get rid of my TV (2D people are a good anesthetic), buy a bunch of pyrex to make meals that can go in oven/freezer/fridge/microwave, not stress out over the little stuff and to find with-people activities (ski lessons, tutoring, swimming) that would partition the week into "social" time and errand time.

Now is the time to get into good, balanced habits that will endure and let you breathe. Good luck!!

Posted by: ML in Mpls | June 26, 2007 12:20 PM

A reality show? Really? Because they're just so...real.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:20 PM

Bob,

I agree with you in a lot of ways, but I have to say that it's always not that easy. You (and I) have the luxury of living in DC, so our kids will get in-state tuition at any state school in the country. We love that perk!

But, it really is difficult, even being frugal, to make it in this area.

I'm a young mom and we don't make a lot of money yet. We were too young (and in college) to buy a house 10 yrs ago before the market shot up 150%.
Now, we're looking at NEVER being able to buy a house- we just can't afford an 800-900K house. Even the "affordable" houses in "up and coming" neighborhoods are 600-700K.
We could afford a 350K house on our salaries. The only place I've found one of those is at least an hour out (without traffic)

So, just rent and school/childcare eats up 60% of our take home pay.

We own our 8 year old car (which we bought used 2 years ago) with a gift left from my grandmother when she passed. We only have 1 car.

We only use the library for books, have the cheapest cell plan, cheapest cable/internet plan, only eat fresh foods (not expensive prepackaged,precooked things), commute by bike or walking.
We pack lunch.
We have a 529 and 401ks for each of us.

We don't buy expensive clothes and buy things that are timeless and seasonless, as much as possible.

I handwash all of my dry clean only clothes, except for suits (I tried that once- it didn't work out well)

Yet we have barely anything left each month. There's always a birthday or (my husband and I stopped giving each other gifts years ago) or office gift or something.


Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | June 26, 2007 12:21 PM

They're actually pretty real. The mother is a controlling witch and the dad is completely whipped. Just like 75% of the couples in this country.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:22 PM

I know my family spends a lot of money on food. We scrimp in other ways, but I am loathe to scrimp on food. We like our fresh produce, and we eat some kind of meat every night. We don't eat out very often because we find that what we cook at home pretty much always tastes better. To me, having wonderful food at home is just essential. I can't imagine how a family of 4 eats on $100 a week. I hope it's not all cheap processed stuff that only fills you up.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 12:23 PM

"I don't think older generations realize how difficult things are now."

OMG....LOL!

Because in the 80's and 90's there wasn't a cost and/or need for groceries, rent, utilities, clothing, exercise, tuition, fees, books, laundry, entertainment. We just all lived in the streets and danced around naked for our entertainment, exercise, and education and panhandled when we were hungry.


Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:19 PM

SEE??? THAT"S the problem!
I suppose the REALITY of more expensive housing, healthcare and insurance, childcare, college, and retirement (rather, lack of SS for the younger generations)

Crawl out of your hole please- this is NOT the 80s and 90s.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:23 PM

Bob, I think you're great and I'd love to see a guest blog from you or someone like you who is logical, not living beyond their means, not claiming that it's impossible to afford to live in DC on less than $200K a year, and most of all, not whining about their situation in life!

Posted by: Bob rocks | June 26, 2007 12:01 PM

Right. There's so much benefit from a blog written by someone who has ALL the answers for everyone else's life and who doesn't acknowledge the impact of:

(i) unanticipated, extraordinary medical bills or unpaid time out of work for health problems;

(ii) being a single parent - 'nuf said;

(iii) one or both earners' jobs being outsourced, and the costs of education to prepare one or both for career changes (employers don't pay for costs associated with educating you for a different industry);

(iv) extraordinary childcare or health costs of raising an autistic child;

just for starters. It's easy to find balance when you have a two-parent household, you're all healthy and well-insured, the wage earner gets out of school and is able to stay in a high-earning career for 20 years without any hiccups, you benefited from the appreciation in the DC housing market over the last 7 - 10 years. Now for all the real people, please give us a guest blog from someone NOT like Bob.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:23 PM

"They're actually pretty real. The mother is a controlling witch and the dad is completely whipped. Just like 75% of the couples in this country."

Leslie's husband is not whipped! He seems to call the shots in his house!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:23 PM

Varina:

It's so long since I was 23 that there's a lot I can't remember! But I do remember that it was a stretch, financially, to get through every month at my first, second, and third jobs after college. Then I went to graduate school, and it was even harder!

But it doesn't sound as if money is biggest problem. To deal with some of the things that are challenges now, do take advantage of some of the suggestions offered here.

To repeat a few that have been helpful to me--
-- An apartment w/ a washer and dryer in it is a HUGE timesaver and worth the cost.

-- A compatible roommate provides not only a financial boost, but can also contribute to dealing w/ household tasks and, if compatible enough, can be fun to have around. You can also meet their friends. Not so much in the city, but in the suburbs there are apartments that have two master suites, which provide a lot of privacy for both roommates. Such apartments are likely to have washers and dryers and, with the roommate's contribution, are cheaper than a one-bedroom or possibly even a studio. If you don't have a roommate, post an ad for one on craigslist. You'll likely get lots of responses; a few of them will turn out to be interested, and there'll be a few that you like well enough to live with. I've done this several times, so I know it can work.

-- Take advantage of whatever services are available and affordable. Having groceries delivered is, for me, a huge timesaver. It's not very expensive, and you can schedule a time that will work for you--especially if you are doing your laundry at home!

-- To the extent possible, make your wardrobe washable. (There's that laundry thing again!) Reducing or eliminating dry cleaning will save you both time and money.

-- Think about what you could do to make your workday shorter. Can you be more efficient?

Ignore the negative posters here. Sometimes people have useful ideas to offer, but you are the one living your life. Live it in the way that works best for you!

Good luck to you.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2007 12:26 PM

God, have I lived long enough to be in the older generation? I guess so.

To be fair, the following expenses were not standard when I graduated college:

DSL
Cell phone
Tivo
Laptop
Cable TV

The good news is, with the possible exception of a cell phone, you CAN actually live without these things. And all the rest of the stuff is much cheaper when shared with roommates -- like 3 or 4. One of the best things about life after college was the big ol' bunch of roommates I had. And even better was when, at the age of 28 after having lived with roommates for almost 10 years, I GOT MY OWN APARTMENT. (The best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever -- which movie is that from?)

And adoptee, I assure you that I cherished my own apartment far, far more after years of roommates than I ever would have if I'd started out that way after college. It is sad that so many young people today don't understand how the value of something increases if you have to work for it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 12:26 PM

"Now for all the real people, please give us a guest blog from someone NOT like Bob."

Yes, to the guest blog from Bob! I am waiting with m knives and pitchforks to dig into this A-hole!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:29 PM

Someone said that they believe that if a student has to pay for part of their own degree, it means more to them. Perhaps, but in my case, my parents paid for my college AND my twin sister's to the tune of $200,000 and trust me, the meaning of my degree is in no way diminished because I was fortunate enough my parents paid. I am grateful to them, and I worked hard and did well.

Posted by: Hmm... | June 26, 2007 12:37 PM

"They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A."

Who is the idiot who comes up with this stuff? There is an old saying. Keep quiet and let people think that you are stupid. Or open your mouth and confirm it. Everytime you post, you prove your own idiocy.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:17 PM

You have revealed yourself as obviously a slacker.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:38 PM

Why hasn't this Varina gal come back to answer our questions???

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:40 PM

Who is the idiot who comes up with this stuff? There is an old saying. Keep quiet and let people think that you are stupid. Or open your mouth and confirm it. Everytime you post, you prove your own idiocy.

With that attitude, you must work for the Federal government.

Posted by: To 12:17 PM | June 26, 2007 12:40 PM

"They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A."

Again. Are YOU a lawyer, doctor, or dentist?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:43 PM

WorkingMomX

St. Elmo's Fire

Looks like we're both "old."

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 26, 2007 12:44 PM

"SEE??? THAT"S the problem!
I suppose the REALITY of more expensive housing, healthcare and insurance, childcare, college, and retirement (rather, lack of SS for the younger generations)

Crawl out of your hole please- this is NOT the 80s and 90s."

12:23, oh, my, well, you've done a great job of sounding really, really young and inexperienced. Ever heard of stagflation? 16% interest rates (my folks got "lucky" -- they got a rock-bottom 9% rate just months before things skyrocketed)? College costs growing at 15-20%/yr (as they did while I was in school). Gasoline shortages?

I have zero interest getting into a snit about who had it worse. Frankly, understanding what my Granny had to deal with left me with little desire to engage in that kind of pity party (I figure since I wasn't a war widow at 21 with two kids under 2, so no matter what happens, I'm ahead of the game).

Look, I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to get their footing and find their place in this world. There is no doubt that, unless you were handed the proverbial silver spoon, it's tough. All I ask is that you at least have the perspective to realize that every generation faces significant challenges. Yours are going to be different from mine, and some are going to be tougher than others. But it doesn't do any good to belittle someone else's very real struggles by complaining that they never really had it that tough anyway. Just try to imagine how much less "balanced" all of our lives would be if you added in a 3-hr wait for gas every week?

Posted by: Laura | June 26, 2007 12:46 PM

"2. The is The Washington Post. I think we all live within driving distance of College Park if we are desperate enough."

Not every student is lucky enough to have a car. I metroed from Gaithersburg to CP every day for a year. 2 1/2 hours each way. And I had 8 am classes. And what about the kids who live outside of Metro's reach?

Maybe your parents bought YOU a car, but most kids didn't get theirs for free.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 12:47 PM

and here she is

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:49 PM

Varina, I am 25, just got married and I understand what you are going through. While I do have a husband that can help out some, I do most of the work so I have learned to juggle stuff around to keep things in balance for me. As far as lunch goes, I have found that it's easier when you bake something on a Sunday to take to work all week. That way you can take it to work and heat it up in the microwave if there is one there. I baked a few potatoes and packed my lunches for each day this week Sunday afternoon. To go along with the potatoes, I have canned fruit or yogurt and a granola bar. There is bottled water at my office so I can drink that. Sometimes I make mac & cheese and eat on it all week. I do lean pockets sometimes, bake chicken, etc. I have found this to work well for me. Something you might want to invest in is a crock pot. You can leave it on all day and come home to a wonderful smelling apt. with a good dinner ready to eat. You could also take leftovers to work. My husband likes light suppers so we usually have sandwiches or cereal for supper, and sometimes quesadillas or stir fry. That way I am not doing heavy cooking and he doesn't have a lot of dishes to do. Eventually you'll get in a routine and you will figure out what works well for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:49 PM

With that attitude, you must work for the Federal government.

Hey! I resemble that comment!! ;)

Posted by: Lerch | June 26, 2007 12:50 PM

Arlington Dad, but at least we're wise, right? (Isn't that the benefit of aging?)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 12:50 PM

Why hasn't this Varina gal come back to answer our questions???

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:40 PM

Gee, I wonder why that is. ::eyeroll::

Posted by: WannaBe SAHM | June 26, 2007 12:52 PM

So many negative comments! Like 10:23, why do you assume that everyone has a $39K car and negative equity? I make a high enough salary to buy that but don't since it is wasteful. (Hello, you are investing in a depreciating asset!!) My car is 12 years old and small. I love it!

Also, people here complain when some people can hire housecleaners and other luxury items. But, when someone works 60 hours a week she is told to cut back. Um, maybe she is working hard to get ahead?

Posted by: Thought | June 26, 2007 12:53 PM

They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A."

Somewhere in this country today, someone has an appointment for surgery with the worst doctor in America. Is it you?

Would you rather go to a doc who was last in their class at Harvard or first in their class at Mississippi State?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:54 PM

I lived in DC for most of my 20's and have no idea who and why all these people work so many hours and let their jobs dominate their lives. I had a demanding job, but I never worked more than 40 hours a week unless there was a big event coming up. And even then I would get comp time. I had friends that worked on the Hill and while busy at times, they also had lots of down time during recesses. I don't remember anyone complaining about the things Varina does. My 20's were all about drinking lots of booze and hanging out with friends. It was like college with more spending money. I think Varina needs to lighten up, look for a new job, and have some fun. This is the time to have fun, take it from someone who turns 34 tomorrow...

Posted by: Jeff | June 26, 2007 12:55 PM

oops, that was me at 12:54

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 26, 2007 12:55 PM

"Oh boy! You have a great life! What is the best time for those shuffle board games?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 10:10 AM"

I guess you're damned if you do, damned if you don't on this blog. If she went out drinking on Fridays, people yell at her for drinking. If she stays home and does laundry, she gets made fun of for not drinking.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 12:55 PM

They not only get an A in their classes, but also learn more than the minimum required for an A.

You still have to pass your board certification exams or bar exam. They don't care if you had a straight-A record.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:56 PM

"2. The is The Washington Post. I think we all live within driving distance of College Park if we are desperate enough."

No, this is the Net, nitwit!! You don't know anything about "all" of us! Some us can't drive, no matter how desperate we are.

What a dildo nose!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 12:57 PM

SAHMback to work;
Not that i know the prices, but if you're renting - would you be able to afford a condo? Instead of a house?

Just curious.

Posted by: atlmom | June 26, 2007 12:57 PM

"Someone said that they believe that if a student has to pay for part of their own degree, it means more to them. Perhaps, but in my case, my parents paid
for my college AND my twin sister's to the tune of $200,000 and trust me, the meaning of my degree is in no way diminished because I was fortunate enough
my parents paid. I am grateful to them, and I worked hard and did well."

Well, isn't it nice that someone is grateful for a $100,000 handout. But please don't call sponging off Mommy and Daddy for a few years "hard work". It just isn't.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 12:58 PM

Bob-You really are not listening. I already told you that it is possible to go to college on less. I said was, it is not possible for all students. I would actually argue that 90K on a family of four is not high living. I never said you couldn't live on 90K here. Approximately half of the families do. What I said was a poster said she had a 90K hhld income with a family of four and had little savings for college. You shot back that they should sell their Lexus. Get real. How many families of four on 90K with 18 year children own a Lexus? Not many. So your not listening at all. If you had more concrete answers besides just everyone should live at home, not pay taxes, and go to the University of MD. My niece for example lives in rural NY. There is a community college in driving distance but not a 4 year public college. Should she just stop at two years of college rather then go away? Obviously not the real solution. Again, I welcome a guest blog for you if you had actual data to go along with your numbers. Like I said the poster on the 90K provided actual data from the Financial Aid office form that she got back and explained step by step how a family of four had trouble paying for the full cost of college. I think that person posted today on a toBob one. Look it up. And yes, I save for retirement and college. But we make more then 90K a year and have one kid. We don't own a Lexus, have cc debt or anything like that either. I think you really being unrealistic if you think 90K with a family of four is a good living here. It is middle class but not a lot of room for extras.

CMAC- I think I saw the same show about the coupon lady. But one thing I remember was she was willing to serve kool aid to her kids three times a day instead of milk, bottled or Brita water, or juice. She also served cheap but high fat foods like tacos with the cheapest meat (lots of fat) several times a week. But overall it was impressive.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:00 PM


I agree, hmm, if parents have a reality-based fear that their kids won't take college seriously unless the kids pay for it themselves --- then those kids don't really belong in college, at least not til they mature. The opportunity is wasted on them, no matter who's paying. Letting them realize for themselves, after working non-college track options, that they do or do not really want to attend college, seriously, to build a life's path would be more productive.

But 2/3 of the kids I've taught - in a serious major, granted - at competitive private colleges work hard and engage and take full advantage of their college years. And those few kids I've taught who work full-time jobs on the side --- they are overstretched and so they piss away the very option they work so hard to fund, failing to perform to their full potential, turning in incomplete problem sets and disappointing in exams . . . and by making such poor use of their college years, accumulating such a struggling academic record, they lose the opportunities to advance that they worked so hard for.

So if you need your student to struggle financially, working half to full-time, to fund and value the financial cost of college . . . you've either got an undermotivated kid or one whose college years will be a pale shadow of what they could be - an opportunity completed in form only, a potential lost.

If you must try this approach - you want even your undermotivated kids to succeed and get a minimal academic credential, and they'll never be serious anyway, then I guess it makes sense to just send them somewhere cheap and minimally challenging and hope that tincture of time catches up to them and they mature and make it through. Unfair to treat good students this way, though.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 1:01 PM

Maybe your parents bought YOU a car, but most kids didn't get theirs for free.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 12:47 PM

Since you were quoting me, I assume you were talking to me.

I did not have a car in college, and neither did I go to UMD. But thanks for demonstrating that a car is not a necessity. Deduct $6000 from that list of "mandatory expenditures".

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:01 PM

"My 20's were all about drinking lots of booze and hanging out with friends. It was like college with more spending money."

Haha, my thoughts exactly! Most of these young go getters who wear the 60-70 hr work week thing like a badge of honor do not need to be in the office that long, they are simply putting in face time. And most also manage to find time to attend 4-5 happy hrs a week, but rationalize it by calling it "networking" :)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:01 PM

I meant to say we don't have cc debt.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:02 PM

"But please don't call sponging off Mommy and Daddy for a few years "hard work". "

I don't think parents paying for college is "sponging off Mommy and Daddy". If the parents can afford it and choose to do that what's wrong with that? Should they just cancel your health insurance and dump all of your things on the porch when you turn 18? My parents paid for most of my college costs (I had a small Pell grant) and I worked to make money to pay for any extras. I had the freedom to enjoy to social aspects of college as well as have the time to take 18 credits a semester. After school, I got a job and worked like a dog for about 5 years before finding more balance. Sometimes in those early years you do need to work a lot to get noticed, to get experience, to prove yourself before you can demand a more flexible schedule.

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 26, 2007 1:03 PM

WorkingMomX -- I haven't quite hit "wise" yet. But it's in sight!

I am old enough to remember 23 as fun, roommates as fun, and oh, that first night alone in my own apartment!

Thanks for the 80s movie reference. I wouldn't recognize many movie references from the past 6 or so years.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 26, 2007 1:04 PM

"Well, isn't it nice that someone is grateful for a $100,000 handout. But please don't call sponging off Mommy and Daddy for a few years "hard work". It just isn't."

A lot of parents, including me, would consider it a parental privilege to pay for their children's college. I am certainly planning and saving to help my kids with their college costs, at whatever means is possible at the time. I don't consider getting an education sponging off the parents. Some parents really want to give their children that start, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 1:04 PM

If they don't have a car and are living at home, how are they getting to UMD? If you live in Anne Arundel county are you suggesting they take the bus to college park?

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 1:04 PM

To the poster who asked where all the regs were, I'm having one heck of a busy week, so I'm trying to be more productive. I love this blog, but it's very anti-productivity. I tried to read all the comments before posting, and I'm a pretty quick reader, but I couldn't get through them all. Work (and balance!) calls--I'm trying to do a regular workday on top of making arrangements for law school, student loans, housing, and moving. Yeesh!

Varina, I loved your essay. I found it quite humorous. I'm glad to say I'm lucky enough to have a flexible job that allows me to get personal things done throughout the workday. It's a trade-off in terms of salary, but it'll be okay. I'm sure I'll make the same complaints as you after law school, when I'll be working 12-14h days in the private sector. Good luck, and I agree with many of the posters that it will get better, so hang in there. Also, I've seen some really great advice from serious (non-snarky) posters, and they've been there, so you should heed it. They're really good at helping out. :-)

Have a great day everyone! I'll try to stop by again later on.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 1:06 PM

"But one thing I remember was she was willing to serve kool aid to her kids three times a day instead of milk, bottled or Brita water, or juice. She also served cheap but high fat foods like tacos with the cheapest meat (lots of fat) several times a week. But overall it was impressive. "

No, it's not impressive. It's a crappy, skimpy way to bring up kids! Kool aid !!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:07 PM

And adoptee, I assure you that I cherished my own apartment far, far more after years of roommates than I ever would have if I'd started out that way after college. It is sad that so many young people today don't understand how the value of something increases if you have to work for it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 26, 2007 12:26 PM
I will have to take your word for it. But I will tell you that I really love my town house that my parents helped pay the down payment. I can only afford the payments, even with the down payment from mom and dad, because I don't have student debt.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 1:07 PM

bottled or Brita water?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: To Foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:08 PM

CMAC- I think I saw the same show about the coupon lady. But one thing I remember was she was willing to serve kool aid to her kids three times a day instead of milk, bottled or Brita water, or juice. She also served cheap but high fat foods like tacos with the cheapest meat (lots of fat) several times a week. But overall it was impressive.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:00 PM

I know she (the mother) claimed she liked to serve organic whenever possible and made pancakes and biscuits, etc from scratch. Kool aid 3x a day is gross. Regardless, if I put just 10 minutes into coupon clipping and sale scouting I could save money. I won't buy certain foods unless they are on sale - my freezer gets stacked with chicken breasts when they are 1.99$/pound.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:09 PM

bottled or Brita water?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: To Foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:08 PM

Oh puhleese, do you drink straight from the tap? Even coupon lady needs to add some flavored sugar to get her kids to drink it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:11 PM

"Oh puhleese, do you drink straight from the tap? Even coupon lady needs to add some flavored sugar to get her kids to drink it."

Yes, I drink tap water. Sugar is bad for you and your kids!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:13 PM

Yes, I drink tap water. Sugar is bad for you and your kids!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:13 PM
Some would argue that tap water is bad for you. It certainly tastes bad. Why not spring for a Brita pitcher?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:16 PM

"Oh puhleese, do you drink straight from the tap? Even coupon lady needs to add some flavored sugar to get her kids to drink it"

My kids drink straight from the tap, although we do use a Brita most of the time. No sugar. No flavor. No requests for juice or Kool-aid.

I know, this is so weird.

As a child of the 70s, I think this is the strangest thing. Sure, I drink water now, and I hope to be a good example. But my kids are great water drinkers -- my wife and I have both noticed and commented that our childhoods were not this "pure."

Anyone else?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 26, 2007 1:16 PM

Oh puhleese, do you drink straight from the tap? Even coupon lady needs to add some flavored sugar to get her kids to drink it.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:11 PM

Always drink tap water. Kids who drink bottled water average a lot more cavities than those who drink (fluoridated) tap water. (Not to mention what KoolAid does to teeth).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:17 PM

1:11 - don't know what your problem is, but we drink straight from the tap and wouldn't dream of spending money on water unless we are at the beach or in a foreign country. get over yourself.


"Would you rather go to a doc who was last in their class at Harvard or first in their class at Mississippi State?"

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:54 PM

moxiemom, I'd rather go to the doc who is first in her class at Mississippi State. That took ambition and diligence. In my experience, that person who is last in his class at Harvard, Yale, MIT or anywhere else prestigious might be very smart, but lacks (a) diligence, (b) self-respect, and (c) work ethic. Each of these matters to me as a patient. I am not interested in being examined and treated by a physician who coasted through school on sheer intelligence. I want the physician who cared enough to listen and learn during his residency.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 1:18 PM

"Bob-You really are not listening. I already told you that it is possible to go to college on less."

You are confusing my disagreement with you for not listening. The reason that I disagree with you is not that I'm not listening. It's that I believe you are wrong.

Again, I took your $15,000 estimate and showed how a student could make even that much. I'm sorry if you were not listening.

"My niece for example lives in rural NY. There is a community college in driving distance but not a 4 year public college. Should she just stop at two years of college rather then go away?"

Look, I already said this is The Washington Post, so I am posting solutions for those of us who live in DC. You are changing the terms again.

For your niece, where does she live? There are more colleges in NY state than just SUNY. Can she get a need-based scholarship? Merit-based? Athletic?

Does she have any relatives that she could live with while attending college away from home? Can she do some distance learning?

There are hundreds of options for her. I'd be happy to help if you want.

"Again, I welcome a guest blog for you if you had actual data to go along with your numbers."

What would looking at actual data prove? That most people make poor decisions?

The fact of the matter is that every day, everywhere in the world, people are making due with what they have and turning it into something.

Your niece has plenty of options. Everyone does. Sometimes it's hard to find them, but they are always there. There is no one-size-fits-all answer out there.

"Like I said the poster on the 90K provided actual data from the Financial Aid office form that she got back and explained step by step how a family of four had trouble paying for the full cost of college."

Why would the financial aid office provide information about how to not use financial aid? That doesn't even make any sense.

"I think you really being unrealistic if you think 90K with a family of four is a good living here. It is middle class but not a lot of room for extras."

Well, there's plenty of room for college, if people would only prioritize it.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:00 PM

I know plenty of people who put themselves through undergrad, grad school, business school, law school, etc. How did they do it? Well, for starters, they ignored people like you and the financial aid office who said it was impossible.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:19 PM

It's been a LOOONG time since I've been in Varina's shoes, but I do remember how exhausting it was at first. I think a lot of it is just the stress of change. I was working a fulltime job and a parttime job for the first 2 years and it was a lot to manage. Things do get easier and you do get used to your new list of chores and prioritizing.

The same thing happened when my daughter was born and now I'm used to that routine too and it is not so daunting anymore.

Hang in there, Varina (until the next big life-changing event!)

Posted by: MaryB | June 26, 2007 1:19 PM

My point was she could feed of a family of 8 on $88/week because she was feeding them junk. She wasn't willing to buy them milk but served kool aid instead.
Arlington Dad: I drank a lot of tap water in the 70s and 80s but I do remember a lot of kool aid. I think kids still consumed less sugar back then. Never drank a lot of milk till they came out with lactose free milk in the late 80s.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:20 PM

Please explain how you are currently paying for your children to attend college this year. Which school are they attending while living at home? And where are they working that they are making $10 per hour.

If you cannot answer these questions then get off your self righteous high horse and shut up.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 1:21 PM

I know plenty of people who put themselves through undergrad, grad school, business school, law school, etc. How did they do it? Well, for starters, they ignored people like you and the financial aid office who said it was impossible.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 01:19 PM

OK old timer, were these people who actually graduated recently? If you haven't been paying attention to the posters, they are trying to tell you TIMES have changed. It is not the 80s anymore. Throw away your Duran Duran tapes and get with this decade.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:22 PM

"Some would argue that tap water is bad for you."

Do you live in rural Mexico? Tap water in the DC area is perfectly safe to drink. And if you think bottled water is any better, there's this bridge in New York I'd like to sell you...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:23 PM

"As a child of the 70s, I think this is the strangest thing. Sure, I drink water now, and I hope to be a good example. But my kids are great water drinkers -- my wife and I have both noticed and commented that our childhoods were not this "pure.""

I, too, was raised on all sorts of crap, including kool aid and hawaiian punch. It was a thing of the 70s. I also remember eating chef boy R dee for lunch on a pretty regular basis, as well as bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly.

These days, we drink water as much as possible, with juice as a very occasional treat. My son likes water was well, and I have found that I can no longer tolerate sweet drinks or soda. The sweetness is overpowering new. There is nothing like good water to quench thirst.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 1:23 PM

"As a child of the 70s, I think this is the strangest thing. Sure, I drink water now, and I hope to be a good example. But my kids are great water drinkers -- my wife and I have both noticed and commented that our childhoods were not this "pure.""

I, too, was raised on all sorts of crap, including kool aid and hawaiian punch. It was a thing of the 70s. I also remember eating chef boy R dee for lunch on a pretty regular basis, as well as bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly.

These days, we drink water as much as possible, with juice as a very occasional treat. My son likes water was well, and I have found that I can no longer tolerate sweet drinks or soda. The sweetness is overpowering now. There is nothing like good water to quench thirst.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 1:23 PM

Dear God, Bob - would you consider giving it a rest? You've spoken over an anon, and the horse is dead, dead, dead.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:24 PM

" Am I the only one who thinks that college was harder then the first few years out in the "real world"? "

Well I don't think that is necessarily true for everyone, but for me it was true. As an engineering major 16 hour plus days with a few all nighters thrown in of studying and part time work were the norm. I was fortunate to have a regular 8 hour day after college.

But in the 8 years since I've been out of school, there have been times when things were hectic. I've had plenty of periods of 12+ hour days. I tend to agree with the phase people. Hopefully Varina will get a break at some point.

Like others pointed out, I do my banking online and at the ATM. The only time I've gone to a window over the past few years was to get quarters for the laundry when I was at a place that didn't have cards. I wonder what you people are doing in there with the tellers.

However, I have resigned myself to the fact that many businesses will always open at 10 and close around 5 or 6. Those just happen to be the hours that most people work even when they are working a normal 8 hour day. You'd think they would cater to their customers. And you'd think that the majority of their customers would be out earning the money to pay them from 8-5 or 6 and that they'd happily open their doors during a time when people are not at work like between 8 pm and 1am or on Sunday morning. But if you want to see a banker, a doctor, dentist, insurance agent, anyone who isn't a major big box retailer, you're going to have to struggle to work with their hours, which usually happen to be at the same time most people are at work.

I'm separated with no kids. At the end of the day, I do prefer my existence to that of parents with kids. Sure there is no one else to share chores with, but there aren't as many chores and I can do them however I want. If you aren't working on the weekend, it shouldn't be all that hectic. Housework for one person is super easy. Get it done, and go unwind somewhere.

Posted by: Maxwell | June 26, 2007 1:24 PM

I'd say what Varina is missing now vs. her life in College is not so much balance as the flexibility. You can work on term papers at midnight, but you have to be at work at set hours. In college you can go to the stores during off hours, but once you are in the working world your hours match everyone else's so you have to join the hordes at the bank, grocery store, etc. And when things are open during business hours those match your business hours so it is a juggle. She will learn to adjust like the rest of us, but to me this reinforces the need for flexible work places, for everyone.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 26, 2007 1:25 PM

"Would you rather go to a doc who was last in their class at Harvard or first in their class at Mississippi State?"

I actually think it's a ridiculous question. It's really hard to get into medical school, and my guess is that someone who graduated last at Harvard won't get in at all.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 1:27 PM

You can put a fool through college and you'll get an educated fool.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:27 PM

Bob-There have been a few papers that looked at the long term economic costs of working extra jobs or taking longer to go to college and life time earnings versus just borrowing the total cost of a 4 yar public college. I know this is not exactly what you are talking about. But anyone, I don't remember the sources but I will try to locate one for you. The point was this economist found that it is actually cost beneficial to borrow the full cost rather then work extra jobs (full or part time to put yourself through college in four years) or take longer then the traditional 4 years of college. I believe they looked at the lost opportunity costs involved in working while in school or taking longer then 4 years. Anyway, it was an interesting study and it goes against your intuition (your being the royal "your"). I would have assumed much lower lost opportunity costs. They also factored into lost wages and lost contributions to retirement if you took more then four years to graduate. Anyway, my main point is that it is often a little bit different then what you think the short term costs are. Either way, I have already said that I agreed there are cheaper ways to do it. You seem to want to keep arguing that. Just because you know a handful of people who put themselves through college, doesn't mean it applies to the general population.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:27 PM

To 1:07 PM:

"It's a crappy, skimpy way to bring up kids! Kool aid !!"

Why do you think poor people are so unhealthy? Because the inexpensive foods all contain so much fat, sugar, and cholesterol, as opposed to the healthy foods which are much more expensive.

Posted by: NAC | June 26, 2007 1:28 PM

Have you ever considered how much extra landfill space is required for all those empty bottled-water bottles? Talk about polluting the environment!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:29 PM

Wow, I didn't read all the posts, but I can only imagine some of the comments.

This really falls into the "your blues ain't like mine" file. I have friends that are years out of school with similar issues balancing work and life. Just because you don't have a spouse or kids to care for doesn't mean that your balancing act is easier, its just different. Most of my friends who are single and without children are involved in church or other civic activities, work extra hours, etc. People actually expect them to give more of themselves because they don't have the same obligations.

Balance is relative and as long as you are living, your plate(s) will be full at times, empty at others. There will always be someone (especially on this board) that will disagree with how you are living your life, so do what works best for you.

Posted by: CaliEsq | June 26, 2007 1:29 PM

You can put a fool through college and you'll get an educated fool.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:27 PM

Maybe, but the educated fool will fare better in the hiring process. The uneducated fool will be on the public dole. Get thee to college, fools. I don't want to pay for your foolishness.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:30 PM

When I was in college, I made way more than $5k per year and paid no income tax.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 11:10 AM

what year was that, 1945?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:30 PM

Please explain how you are currently paying for your children to attend college this year. Which school are they attending while living at home? And where are they working that they are making $10 per hour.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 01:21 PM

My children are not yet old enough to attend college.

Also, I have already said that when I was in college, I made $20 per hour as a waiter. I used $10 per hour as a figure before because that is easy to achieve nowadays.

-------------------------------------------
OK old timer, were these people who actually graduated recently? If you haven't been paying attention to the posters, they are trying to tell you TIMES have changed. It is not the 80s anymore. Throw away your Duran Duran tapes and get with this decade.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:22 PM

One is still in school, another finished grad school in 2005, my cousin finished grad school in 2006. Other than those, I can think of a bunch who graduated in the 90s. That might not be recent enough for you.

And you can pull my Duran Duran album from my cold, dead hands.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:31 PM

foamgnome - I think you're mixing her up with someone else. She made a huge point of saying that she serves healthful meals to her children and buys organic whenever possible. I didn't see or hear any mention of KoolAid, and when I've seen the kids eating it's thinks like oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, which is hardly crap.

I agree with whoever it was who said that the point is that groceries can be less expensive for most people. Buy store brands. Use coupons. Don't waste money on things like bottled water, for goodness sakes. Cook from scratch using reasonable recipes, not those that need 4000 "extras." $100/week for one person - even IF that person is eating out once a day or so (because they're on campus or whatever) - is insane.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:31 PM

Bob

"I know plenty of people who put themselves through undergrad, grad school, business school, law school, etc. How did they do it? Well, for starters, they ignored people like you and the financial aid office who said it was impossible"

Did you attend professional school?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:32 PM

Oops. I just realized that I was thinking college and not medical school. In terms of medical school, I am not sure what I would pick. I am pretty sure that medical students are not slackers, especially if they make it all the way through, pass the boards, etc, no matter where they go. In that case, I would be looking more at where they did their residency and got their specialized training.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 1:32 PM

Increased earning potential isn't the ONLY reason to attend college. Not everything in life is only about the money. Job satisfaction, family happiness, outside interests, and the like. Maybe working parttime and staying in college an extra can allow a student to find the right major, take more than the minimum number of credits necessary for the degree, even take a few graduate level courses while still an undergraduate, and become genuinely educated, not merely "work-licensed" at the bachelor's level.

Posted by: To Bob, Foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:34 PM

foamgnome - I think you're mixing her up with someone else. She made a huge point of saying that she serves healthful meals to her children and buys organic whenever possible. I didn't see or hear any mention of KoolAid, and when I've seen the kids eating it's thinks like oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, which is hardly crap.

I agree with whoever it was who said that the point is that groceries can be less expensive for most people. Buy store brands. Use coupons. Don't waste money on things like bottled water, for goodness sakes. Cook from scratch using reasonable recipes, not those that need 4000 "extras." $100/week for one person - even IF that person is eating out once a day or so (because they're on campus or whatever) - is insane.


Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:31 PM

I must have seen a different show. As I said, I think I saw the same show. I saw a show with a women who had a large family and paid $88/week. She served kool aid three times a day and tacos twice a week. Like I said, I said I think I saw the same show.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:34 PM

In 1987 I was where Varina is, but it does get better.

A few things

- I am sure that your employer is not paying you enough to work 60 hour weeks. A lot of employers take advantage of younger workers' energy and enthusiasm (been there, done that).

- Do all your errands on Saturday. Start early as possible. Make a list of what to do. Reward yourself on Sunday.

- Send your laundry out. Yes it costs, but it is a good time investment.

- Make sure to treat yourself each week, whether it be an afternoon in Rock Creek or at Tysons. Sounds like you earned it.

Remember, in the immortal words of Ann Landers (or was it Dear Abby): "Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission!"

Posted by: Dan | June 26, 2007 1:36 PM

Increased earning potential isn't the ONLY reason to attend college. Not everything in life is only about the money. Job satisfaction, family happiness, outside interests, and the like. Maybe working parttime and staying in college an extra can allow a student to find the right major, take more than the minimum number of credits necessary for the degree, even take a few graduate level courses while still an undergraduate, and become genuinely educated, not merely "work-licensed" at the bachelor's level.

Posted by: To Bob, Foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:34 PM
I wasn't saying earning is the only reason to go to college. But it is hard to quantify measure of happiness. That is why these type of studies tend to deal with stuff that can be measured.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:37 PM

You're probably talking about the Duggar Family - the one with 16 or 17 kids, some of whom are older teens. This is different - it's called Jon and Kate plus 8 and their children are all young. She said that her grocery bill averaged $150/week at THAT store, and I think it suggested that she also shops at other stores in addition to the one they showed. There was a different episode where they go to Sam's Club and the bill is over $1000.

Posted by: to foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:37 PM

NPR : Weak Drinking Water Laws Blamed in D.C. Lead Scare

Morning Edition, April 19, 2004 · News of dangerous levels of lead in Washington D.C.'s drinking water sparks an outcry from the community -- especially because city water officials knew about the problem and did little to warn the public. In the first of two reports, NPR's Daniel Zwerdling explains that weak federal laws regulating drinking water are to blame.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:38 PM

"I know plenty of people who put themselves through undergrad, grad school, business school, law school, etc. How did they do it? Well, for starters, they ignored people like you and the financial aid office who said it was impossible"

My husband put himself through undergrad and college. He worked full time at Wal-Mart while going to college full-time and worked full-time with the feds while taking several night classes. He still came out with $60k in debt. So yes, while you obviously can put yourself through school, it doesn't always mean you come out debt-free.

Posted by: hungry! | June 26, 2007 1:38 PM

Bob is running rings around all of you in terms of making his points - time to man up or I'll have to declare him the winner.

Posted by: THE JUDGE | June 26, 2007 1:39 PM

That was three years ago.

Posted by: To 1:38 | June 26, 2007 1:40 PM

No, it may habe been the Duggars but this was definitely NOT the Jon and Kate show. I would have known Jon and Kate because people on this blog said the mother was very mean. This mother seemed very sweet. She also did not buy presents for the kids. They got whatever the free stuff you send in for as gifts.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:41 PM

"$100/week for one person - even IF that person is eating out once a day or so (because they're on campus or whatever) - is insane."

It's only insane if you are willing to take a large number of expenses out of the 'food' budget and put them somewhere else.

A relatively inexpensive dinner date in college with drinks afterward will cost you $50-$75. Is two dates / month reasonable? Or are you putting 'date food' into another budget category?

Look, can you spend less? Sure. But what is a reasonable budget to expect? The average Univerity of Maryland meal plan offered is $3500 for 30 weeks -- which is *over* the $100/week and doesn't include any other type of snacks / date food / drinks. Is everyone who signs up for that meal plan insanely rich?


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:41 PM

The point was this economist found that it is actually cost beneficial to borrow the full cost rather then work extra jobs (full or part time to put yourself through college in four years) or take longer then the traditional 4 years of college. Anyway, it was an interesting study and it goes against your intuition (your being the royal "your").

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:27 PM

Well, let me know if you find it. It would be an interesting read. Irrelevant, but an interesting read.

You can weigh the aggregate long term earning potential all you want, but that doesn't factor in difficulties associated with having tens of thousands of dollars of bankruptcy-proof debt when you first enter the workforce.

Given the choice, I would much rather struggle for 4 years and get it over with than wonder how I'm going to pay off $60,000 worth of debt making $30,000 per year in DC.

Intuitively, I even doubt that someone who puts himself through college without loans in 4 years is going to make less than someone who borrows $60k. Anyone who has the ingenuity to put himself through school like that will go far in life.

Also, someone who doesn't have $60k in student loans doesn't have to make as much money as the indebted one. So even if the study shows that the borrower earns more, it doesn't account for the fact that he HAS to earn more to pay off his debts.

Maybe if he had the choice, he wouldn't work 60 hour weeks like today's guest blogger.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:41 PM

foamgnome


This is what you said about one mother. I was kinda SHOCKED that you found this meal plan "impressive" overall!

"CMAC- I think I saw the same show about the coupon lady. But one thing I remember
was she was willing to serve kool aid to her kids three times a day instead of milk, bottled or Brita water, or juice. She also served cheap but high fat foods like tacos with the cheapest meat (lots of fat) several times a week. But overall it was impressive. "


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:41 PM

You're not allowed to be THE JUDGE. We see right through you.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 1:42 PM

OT to Leslie,

There is a vending machine in my building just full of Suzy Q's. I am going there after lunch, care to join me?

Ode to Suzy Q's by CCR (I still have the 8 track!)

Oh, susie q, oh, susie q,
Oh, susie q, baby I love you, susie q.

I like the way you walk, I like the way you talk;
I like the way you walk, I like the way you talk, susie q.

Well, say that youll be true, well, say that youll be true,
Well, say that youll be true, and never leave me blue, susie q.


Posted by: Fred | June 26, 2007 1:43 PM

I did not feel her meal plan was impressive. I found that she could clip all those coupons and be diligent about going to all the sales impressive. Most of us would not be that interested. No I wasn't at all saying her choice of food was impressive. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:44 PM

Given the choice, I would much rather struggle for 4 years and get it over with

Sheesh, that's not education, that's just getting a work-permmit. Education is not something just to be "gotten over with," like having your wisdom teeth pulled.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 1:45 PM

Even with cheap junk food, it would be hard to feed a family of 10 or whatever on $88/week. That was what I found impressive. Because I don't think I would have that much time and energy to put into all the coupon clipping and sale watching that the mother did.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:46 PM

Do you live in rural Mexico? Tap water in the DC area is perfectly safe to drink. And if you think bottled water is any better, there's this bridge in New York I'd like to sell you...

When did this change. If I recall, there was lead in water in DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:46 PM

Did you attend professional school?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:32 PM

No.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:46 PM

"When did this change. If I recall, there was lead in water in DC."

And there is lots of lead paint in DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:48 PM

Sheesh, that's not education, that's just getting a work-permmit. Education is not something just to be "gotten over with," like having your wisdom teeth pulled.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 01:45 PM

Get the struggle over with, not the education. Education is never over with. Sorry I was unclear.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 1:49 PM

You're not allowed to be THE JUDGE. We see right through you.

Bob didn't write that, he doesn't have to. He is making good points.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:50 PM

foamy

"You're probably talking about the Duggar Family - the one with 16 or 17 kids, some of whom are older teens. "

Aren't most of the Duggar kids retarded?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:51 PM

"Maybe if he had the choice, he wouldn't work 60 hour weeks like today's guest blogger."

Geez, that was my original point. Maybe she is working hard to pay off her educational debt.

Bob, the paper was talking about profitable earnings. That already takes into account the school debt had to be paid off. And yes, I said that wasn't your original point. I totally agree graduating without school debt is a good thing. That is why people are saving lots of money so their kids can go. Unfortunately not all parents can afford to save.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 1:51 PM

Given the choice, I would much rather struggle for 4 years and get it over with

Sheesh, that's not education, that's just getting a work-permmit. Education is not something just to be "gotten over with," like having your wisdom teeth pulled.

Posted by: To Bob | June 26, 2007 01:45 PM

BWAHAHAHAHA - some of us have to get our diploma and get working to support ourselves and our families. If Mumsy and Daddy are sending you to Europe after graduation, perhaps you have an excuse for dallying with it for the intellectual stimulation. I wouldn't be proud of your sheltered view.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:52 PM

You're not allowed to be THE JUDGE. We see right through you.

Bob didn't write that, he doesn't have to. He is making good points.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:50 PM

Right, Bob.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:53 PM

Bob is running rings around all of you in terms of making his points - time to man up or I'll have to declare him the winner.

Posted by: THE JUDGE | June 26, 2007 01:39 PM

Your declaration won't turn a pig's ear into a silk purse, bub.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:53 PM

BWAHAHAHAHA - some of us have to get our diploma and get working to support ourselves and our families. If Mumsy and Daddy are sending you to Europe after graduation, perhaps you have an excuse for dallying with it for the intellectual stimulation. I wouldn't be proud of your sheltered view.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:52 PM

I wouldn't be proud of such a slacker approach to education. There's far more to having an education than just getting a degree. (Other side of the coin is that some people are so well-read that they're more educated even without their sheepskin than you'll ever be).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:57 PM

not whining about their situation in life!

-Bob Rocks

No, he is just whining about everybody elses life.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 26, 2007 1:59 PM

some of us have to get our diploma and get working to support ourselves and our families.

The purpose of a college diploma isn't to get the LEAST amount of education, it's to seize the opportunity to do the MOST learning possible. Your attitude will obviously never take you far.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 1:59 PM

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/06/26/minnesota.sextuplets.ap/index.html

Hrm. Guess they didn't take the hint with the first sign.

Not everyone should breed.

Posted by: NK | June 26, 2007 2:01 PM

I wouldn't be proud of such a slacker approach to education. There's far more to having an education than just getting a degree. (Other side of the coin is that some people are so well-read that they're more educated even without their sheepskin than you'll ever be).

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:57 PM

I am quite proud of appreciating the difference between education -- a life-long learning process -- and education, represented by an undergraduate degree qualifying its recipient for many jobs, or for entry to an advanced degree program. Appreciating such distinctions is a minimum requirement to functioning as a responsible adult.

You haven't the slightest clue how well-read I am. You might want to consider whether your insults are apropos when you direct them at strangers.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 2:01 PM

"BWAHAHAHAHA - some of us have to get our diploma and get working"

Why don't you just buy a diploma from a diploma mill, and save all that valuable time for working?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:02 PM

Bob,

Looking at the posts here, it is pretty clear that the following are 'reasonable' college costs assuming a student living at home and commuting to a local campus:

Tuition: $8000/year [no wiggle room]
Books: $1000-1500/year [no wiggle room]
Car: $6000/year [maybe as low as $5k, but $6k is a conservative estimate]
Food: $5000/year [maybe as low as $4k, but $5k is a reasonable number]

So -- assuming parents pay for health care and boarding and all non-food essentials, and assuming no other significant unexpected expenses, you are looking at a minimum of around $20K per year. Even if you chop a little bit off the car and food, you are still over the $15k per year number.

Looking at the census, it appears that the average hourly wage for non-college degreed individuals is about $15/hour. Assuming reasonable amount of hours worked per year and low effective state and federal tax rate [and social security withholdings], it would be reasonable to expect approximately $12k in post-tax earnings [assuming parents are able to claim you on their taxes since you live at home].

So, best case you need to cover the $3k-$8k delta each of the 4 years -- so $12k to $32k in debt [not counting interest].

Or to put it another way, if your view of college is to live at home, work a separate job the whole time, and get through it as quickly as you can, then you can probably do it with only around $20k in debt.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:03 PM

Man up? Is that a gay thing?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:04 PM

I am a 30 year old single, childless woman (no longer living in the big city), and I agree with the guest writer! All of the little "chores" to be done in life outside of work really do add up. Though I don't want to have kids for a myriad of reasons (which I won't get into here), I cannot imagine adding children into my life simply due to issues of time. I honestly have no idea how parents manage their time with children (so yes, hats off to you!). I simply could not function on lack of sleep or without the ability to get exercise everyday. My life really is easy and carefree compared to so many parents I know, but even I struggle to fit it all in when work seems to take up such a big chunk of time. I simply cannot even begin to fathom how parents do it....And to be a single parent? My mind can't even comprehend that.

Posted by: Wyoming | June 26, 2007 2:04 PM

That is why people are saving lots of money so their kids can go. Unfortunately not all parents can afford to save.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:51 PM

At this point we've definitely come full circle. My whole point was always that even if the parents couldn't or simply didn't save, a child can still put himself through college without generating a mountain of debt. It's not easy, but it is doable.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 2:04 PM

Good lord. I live in DC, and I'm in my 30s. If you want to swap WWII stories, you've come to the wrong place.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 12:06 PM

Wow, all that arrogance in such a short time.

2. The is The Washington Post. I think we all live within driving distance of College Park if we are desperate enough."

-Bob

No, Bob, this is the internet.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:05 PM

That is why people are saving lots of money so their kids can go. Unfortunately not all parents can afford to save.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 01:51 PM

At this point we've definitely come full circle. My whole point was always that even if the parents couldn't or simply didn't save, a child can still put himself through college without generating a mountain of debt. It's not easy, but it is doable.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 02:04 PM

Ok, truce. Let's agree to disagree.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 2:06 PM

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/06/26/minnesota.sextuplets.ap/index.html

Hrm. Guess they didn't take the hint with the first sign.

Not everyone should breed.

You are beyond insensitive and disgusting. I hope it makes you feel like a better person to talk about people whose innocent babies are dying.

Talk about someone who needs an education in class.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:07 PM

"Name me an entry level position she will be able to get with a four-year degree in Psychology "

Applied behavorial/cognative. The trick is to go on the applied side. Its my field (although, I did get a masters eventually)

Posted by: RT | June 26, 2007 2:08 PM

MN - That post was not directed at you. (unless you wrote the anonymous bwahahaha comment)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:08 PM

Bob is declared the winner! Thanks for playing everyone.

Posted by: THE JUDGE | June 26, 2007 2:09 PM

Oh wait, you wanted position titles..

Engineering psychologist is one good one (and a federal job title at that)

Posted by: RT | June 26, 2007 2:10 PM

The purpose of a college diploma isn't to get the LEAST amount of education, it's to seize the opportunity to do the MOST learning possible. Your attitude will obviously never take you far.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:59 PM

The purpose of a college diploma is to get a job or gain entry to a professional school. Period.

The purpose of an education is to learn.

btw, my attitude has taking me quite far, by most objective standards. Objective standards - the kind that are valuable in the real world -- as opposed to subjective standards - the ones you prefer to apply.

Secure people don't feel the need to preface their comments with, "obviously".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:10 PM

Good lord. I live in DC, and I'm in my 30s. If you want to swap WWII stories, you've come to the wrong place.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 12:06 PM

And obviously you think there are no valuable lessons to be learned from history, even comparatively recent history.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:10 PM

It's not easy, but it is doable.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 02:04 PM
Again, if your parents are not cheap and stingy and willing to support you while you're in school (let you live at home). Hang around here a while and you will hear that not all parents are nice like you. Luckily mine were but some of my friends have those "character building" parents and they are having a tough time with the school debt.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 2:11 PM

Bob is declared the winner! Thanks for playing everyone.

Posted by: THE JUDGE | June 26, 2007 02:09 PM

I wonder what else Bob does by himself?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:12 PM

I agree that it's sad for the babies. I just don't feel much for the selfish parents who put them in that situation.

It's not normal for a woman to carry that many fetuses. It's common knowledge that multiple births carry a higher risk...yet people still do it, and risk the lives of their children to get what they want.

Even those who do survive have developmental problems at a higher rate than single births.

So, take it for whatever you want. I feel horrible for those babies that never got the chance because of their stupid parents.

Posted by: NK | June 26, 2007 2:12 PM

"Bob is declared the winner! Thanks for playing everyone"

Winner of what? What did I miss?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:14 PM

Bob is declared the winner! Thanks for playing everyone.

Posted by: THE JUDGE | June 26, 2007 02:09 PM

I wonder what else Bob does by himself?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:12 PM

we can guess that at least one other activity is routinely completed solo.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:14 PM

Their deaths might be a blessing in disguise. It is not normal to carry sextuplets. These pregancies usually are not healthy.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:14 PM

The purpose of a college diploma isn't to get the LEAST amount of education, it's to seize the opportunity to do the MOST learning possible. Your attitude will obviously never take you far.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 01:59 PM

Secure people don't feel the need to preface their comments with, "obviously".

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:10 PM

Guess you never learned what "prefaced" means. It comes at the beginning, not the conclusion.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:15 PM

So, take it for whatever you want. I feel horrible for those babies that never got the chance because of their stupid parents.


Maybe you should have said that and not your thoughtless post. Maybe you are a baby machine and therefore have no idea what it is like for people who have problems getting pregnant. You come off as self righteous and a b!tch.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:15 PM

Their deaths might be a blessing in disguise. It is not normal to carry sextuplets. These pregancies usually are not healthy.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:14 PM

Too bad people don't think of the risks when they take all those fertility drugs.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:16 PM

Your niece has plenty of options. Everyone does.

-Bob

Everyone has options? You truly are ignorant.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:18 PM

Not everyone should breed.

Anyone who uses the word breed to describe having children has no class.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:19 PM

"You come off as self righteous and a
b!tch."

Introduce her to Bob! The other side of her coin!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:19 PM

I wonder how responsible the doctors are for this. I cannot imagine that a responsible doctor would allow his patients to take that kind of risk. Was it a freak thing, or was it irresponsible use of fertility drugs?

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 2:19 PM

SAHMback to work;
Not that i know the prices, but if you're renting - would you be able to afford a condo? Instead of a house?

Just curious.

Posted by: atlmom | June 26, 2007 12:57 PM

atlmom - We would be able to pay the mortgage, but we don't have a down payment and then there are the condo fees.

I'm also weary of buying a condo. I don't see much of a point. We'd like to save our money for a house.

We had some savings, but lo and behold, here comes unexpected family emergency a few years ago. Sigh...

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | June 26, 2007 2:19 PM

"Too bad people don't think of the risks when they take all those fertility drugs."

Nope! Because it's all about what they want. SELFISH!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:19 PM

Foamy:
I was referring to the "Jon and Kate plus 8" show - no the poor Duggars. They have already been dragged through the mud months ago on this blog. Don't know what the duggars feed their crew but Kate seemed very adamant about nutritional, organic food. They go through 2 loaves of bread a day and she buys 20 loaves when they are on sale.

Kate (the mother) is nuts. She mops her kitchen floor - on her hands and knees - 3 times a day. She is also a germaphobe (sp?) and total dictator. She treats her husband like a moron and he is embarrassed by her behavior - it was actually embarrassing to watch the show. It was more of a train wreck scenario, but I admired her grocery shopping skills.

Posted by: CMAC | June 26, 2007 2:21 PM

I just checked the site and was shocked at the number of comments. Clearly, this post hit a nerve, and I'm not entirely sure whether that is a good or a bad thing. I was surprised at the level of hostility, though, and not just that which was directed at me. The chat is taking a different direction by the end of the posts, so I thought I might quickly add my two cents.

Thanks to everyone who responded, both positively and negatively, especially those who shared their own advice for getting life together. My post was not meant to anger or offend, or "mock," as one commenter suggested. I stumbled across this blog one very late evening at work and took 15 minutes to write down my own thoughts on this subject because clearly, it's something I struggle with. I submitted on a whim. As Leslie can attest, I emailed her thinking I would be disqualified because my post does not address the concerns that the "regular" bloggers may have.

As a mere point of observation, I think it's interesting that the comments turned so quickly to money and financial planning. Unfortunately, since money doesn't grow on trees anymore, figuring out a sound budget and then sticking to it is a priority for almost everyone, from us 23-year-olds to those with young kids to those who have retired. But because money is such an explosive (and personal) issue, I didn't address my own concerns regarding finances and I won't begin now. Suffice to say, a money tree would be a fantastic addition to my life, as long as I don't have to water it.

Upon re-reading my entry, it's much easier to see how it could be construed as whiny or self-pitying, which was not my intent. I'm glad someone picked up on the attempted tongue-in-cheek tone, although clearly I'm no Dave Barry. But thanks for the compliment, Pittypat; you absolutely made my day (and my parents' as well, when they see it).

I'll pass on posting anything else that's personal--whether or not my parents paid for school or what my job is or where I bank, as I think I've had enough bashing for the day. But I will say this: while I may struggle with balance, I'm also not wallowing in self-pity (just wading there). I realize how supremely lucky I am: I am employed; I'm healthy, I graduated from a great school; my family is unbelievably supportive and loving; my roommate and I split the bills and the occasional glass of wine. So I'll end this the way I ended my entry, congratulations to those of you who manage your own lives as well as others'. I'm just not there, yet.

Posted by: Varina | June 26, 2007 2:21 PM

Hang around here a while and you will hear that not all parents are nice like you. Luckily mine were but some of my friends have those "character building" parents and they are having a tough time with the school debt.

Posted by: adoptee | June 26, 2007 02:11 PM

I do know some people whose parents cut their kids off after high school. Kind of a weird definition of family.

One of my friends did manage to put himself through school with absolutely zero parental contribution. Others I knew in school, I have no idea if their parents helped at all or not. But I did know that when we would go out, they discreetly brought their own food to the restaurant.

Sometimes you just gotta get by.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 2:21 PM

BWAHAHAHAHA ---

It *is* very harsh when you accrue family obligations so young that you must truncate or become wholly mercenary about your college education. That lost experience of education on its own terms is a real loss, and I'm sorry you lost it.

My brother too foreswore it, when he became a father at 19 in his freshman year. And yes, he worked more than half-time from then on in a well-paid position and restricted his choices to a very pragmatic one that would support his family in the near-term. It was a sacrifice, and not what most of us would hope for our children. However, by losing those early carefree unstructured years, perhaps he'll gain some low-responsibility years later on, when he can travel and study for its own sake, when his kids are grown and he's retirement-ready and still young.

But, he doesn't begrudge those without his early obligations an enriching and foundational college experience. Why are you so bitter and grudging and ready to class-stereotype anyone with lives and vocations different from your own? Does it really make you happier about your own choices and circumstances?

I, I went to college and grad school on full scholarships, and you can bet I didn't rush through to pick up a hollow credential, but engaged and exploited every last bit of the opportunity, laying the foundation for how I think and work as an adult, as I expect most of us would hope for our kids. And for the most part, this serious, full exploiting of the opportunity, is what I see from the competitive private college students I teach.

>BWAHAHAHAHA - some of us have to get our >diploma and get working to support >ourselves and our families.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 2:22 PM

I wonder how responsible the doctors are for this. I cannot imagine that a responsible doctor would allow his patients to take that kind of risk. Was it a freak thing, or was it irresponsible use of fertility drugs?

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 02:19 PM
Emily, I doubt the doctor is liable. They probably make you sign a waiver when you start these type of treatments.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 2:23 PM

I want to thank Varina for posting and putting herself out there. That is tough. I agree that it will probably got harder once you marry, have kids, etc. However, there's a lot of pressure on you now and it's not by any means easy. I worked 20+ hours a week while in college, full time over summers, and was not prepared for post-college full time working. 40 hours a week MINIMUM, and not being able to schedule my own hours or use school or an exam as the occasional "excuse" to take it easy that week was tough. Losing all your daytime hours is also tough.

I agree with earlier posters on laundry in your apartment (actually IN your apartment is really the best) and utilizing online banking. I *blush* pay most of my bills online at work, and it's much easier for me to keep track of them all there. I think you will start to feel better once you are adjusted and can make time for friends again. Even if you have more time than many people, it's still not easy right now. However, add something else to your plate and you'll be thankful for what you have now. I work full time and go to university part time for a second bachelor's degree which I am paying for myself. I have less disposable income than I did in college (paid for it myself, but lived rent free with my parents) and have a husband who actually likes to see me a few nights a week.

Another thing not discussed is I think young single people are pressured at work to put in more hours than everyone else. Even when I need to schedule my hours differently to accomodate school (still working 40+ hours though) I get a lot of raised eyebrows. I'm sure if I needed to drop kids off or pick them up or care for a sick child I'd get a lot more sympathy. It just so happens most supervisors and executives have kids and so understand that kind of burden and will think less of what a single person goes through. But really it's not easy for anyone, especially in this transition period. You don't mention finances, but I'll bet that factors into your stress level.

Posted by: Miles | June 26, 2007 2:24 PM

"As Leslie can attest, I emailed her thinking I would be disqualified because my post does not address the concerns that the "regular" bloggers may have."

Why do you feel the need to put regulars in italics. Some of the "regulars" were very kind to you today.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:25 PM

Bob
"One of my friends did manage to put himself through school with absolutely zero parental contribution."

HUNDREDS of my friends completed school with zero parental contribution!

What planet/zip code are you from?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:26 PM

CMAC: Yeah, it was definitely a different family. Like I said this mother was very sweet. Kind of strange but very nice to everyone. And they showed their pantry full of processed junk food. But like you, I admired their diligence. I mean who else would go to the once a year thrift store sale and manage to buy a large family all their clothes for an entire year. Again, I was just impressed anyone would do all that to support a family. It took a lot of organization and planning. Most people would just have less kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 2:27 PM

I, I went to college and grad school on full scholarships, and you can bet I didn't rush through to pick up a hollow credential, but engaged and exploited every last bit of the opportunity, laying the foundation for how I think and work as an adult, as I expect most of us would hope for our kids. And for the most part, this serious, full exploiting of the opportunity, is what I see from the competitive private college students I teach.

>BWAHAHAHAHA - some of us have to get our >diploma and get working to support >ourselves and our families.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 02:22 PM

KB I graduated in 3 years to save my parents and myself the expense of supporting myself at a state school. I'm sure scholarships are there for many people, but not for everyone. My education was very enjoyable, but found out my BA not so applicable in the real world. Not everyone has the luxury to suck it all up. I'd rather educate myself throughout my whole life but I consider a degree a means to a job and something that should be completed with the most efficiency possible.

Posted by: Miles | June 26, 2007 2:28 PM

when we would go out, they discreetly brought their own food to the restaurant.

Isn't that grounds for being tossed out of most restaurants? They reserve the right...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:29 PM

I meant "regular" as in, those who address concerns such as raising kids, balancing a meaningful relationship with a spouse and paying a mortgage. In other words, I saw myself as not "regular." I'm trying to avoid offending people with the quotations.

Posted by: Varina | June 26, 2007 2:29 PM

Varina, thanks for getting back to us. Best of luck to you.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 2:30 PM

I put "regular" in quotations to avoid offending people.

Posted by: Varina | June 26, 2007 2:32 PM

Isn't that grounds for being tossed out of most restaurants? They reserve the right...

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:29 PM

Well, that's why they had to be discreet.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 2:32 PM

Sorry - Sounds like Varina is whistling a different tune now. Her piece did provoke discussion, which is what is was supposed to do.

Varina - you sound much more positive in your later post - glad things are not so bad. Count your blessings.

Posted by: CMAC | June 26, 2007 2:33 PM

foamy

"Again, I was just impressed anyone would do all that to support a family. It took a lot of organization and planning."

I'm far more impressed when people use their organizational and planning skills to feed their kids properly!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:34 PM

"Emily, I doubt the doctor is liable. They probably make you sign a waiver when you start these type of treatments."

I don't mean legally liable. I am thinking more about the overall ethics. For example, some fertility clinics refuse to return more than 2 fertilized embryos to the womb because it is really unsafe to carry higher level multiples. But other clinics return more than two to increase the chances of at least one of them implanting. Fertility treatments are expensive and uncertain, and I can see how some unscrupulous doctors might take risks that are unwarranted, just to produce a pregancy.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 2:36 PM

foamy

"Again, I was just impressed anyone would do all that to support a family. It took a lot of organization and planning."

I'm far more impressed when people use their organizational and planning skills to feed their kids properly!!!!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:34 PM

Yes, but can't you give them credit for doing the best that they can do. It can't be easy to raise a family with 10+ kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 2:36 PM

Verina, work hard now, build those networks and move up the ladder. You will need it later on when you start a family. It's a different kind of nest egg to be sure, but a nest egg all the same.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:36 PM

Isn't that grounds for being tossed out of most restaurants? They reserve the right...

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:29 PM

Well, that's why they had to be discreet.

Posted by: Bob | June 26, 2007 02:32 PM

That's not discreet. It's indiscreet, and sneaky, cheating the restaurant of its income-producing space.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:37 PM

Hey, Bob, I listened to you for the whole blog, you know what? You're wrong.

I really did read everything you said and you know what? You're still wrong. Do you know why you are wrong? Because I disagree with you.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:37 PM

"Why do you feel the need to put regulars in italics. Some of the "regulars" were very kind to you today."

Is the quotation mark some kind of secret insult that I never heard of? Boy are some people sensitive, looking or insult where none is intended.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 2:39 PM

foamy

"Yes, but can't you give them credit for doing the best that they can do. It can't be easy to raise a family with 10+ kids. "


That's just the point! They are not doing the BEST that they can do! They have the smarts to know that they aren't feeding their kids decent food, and they do nothing about it!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:40 PM

That's just the point! They are not doing the BEST that they can do! They have the smarts to know that they aren't feeding their kids decent food, and they do nothing about it!


Posted by: | June 26, 2007 02:40 PM

Maybe they aren't smart.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:43 PM

They wanted the family to get rid of some of the fetuses, but they refused. That would have been more human then letting them be born to die.

I think the doctor told them the risks and they ignored them, so I can't see how he is responsible legally or morally.

Posted by: to emily | June 26, 2007 2:44 PM

"That's just the point! They are not doing the BEST that they can do! They have the smarts to know that they aren't feeding their kids decent food, and they do nothing about it!"

Need a punching bag or something? As far as I'm concerned, if they are raising 10 kids and they are fed and clothed, sheltered, schooled, and loved, they are doing pretty well. I cannot imagine raising that many kids and how hard it would be to simply survive, much less achieve full perfection. Eating junk food may not be ideal, but they seem to do better than a whole lot of families with less children and more resources.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 2:46 PM

"Oh puhleese, do you drink straight from the tap? Even coupon lady needs to add some flavored sugar to get her kids to drink it."

I certainly do drink tap water, and it tastes great. Maybe it depends on where the tap is :). Actually the water supply where I lived is used in bottled water that is sold under a name I don't remember - I think it's a store brand of bottled water. So people are buying bottled water that comes out of my tap.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:47 PM

"I cannot imagine raising that many kids and how hard it would be to simply survive, much less achieve full perfection"

Duh, that's why I WOULD NOT have 10 kids to raise on Kool Aid and crackers!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:49 PM

Duh, that's why I WOULD NOT have 10 kids to raise on Kool Aid and crackers!!!

Well, that is their choice, not yours. So go live your life and let them live theirs.

DUH!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 2:50 PM

Maybe the Kool-Aid company gives that family free Kool-Aid in return for letting the media see that's what they drink.

Posted by: Just wondering | June 26, 2007 2:52 PM

"Duh, that's why I WOULD NOT have 10 kids to raise on Kool Aid and crackers!!!"

Yes, much better to raise just a few on sarcasm and nastiness, which is apparently all that you have to contribute.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 2:52 PM


Hi Miles, thanks for the kind reply. I had many friends who made or considered the same choice, graduating a year early due to financial strain. I'm just saying there's a definite opportunity cost, and that last year fully engaged in a rich educational setting with a diversity of bright colleagues/ agemates has definite value. It's a value that, unfortunately, some can't afford; it's also a value that will be worth more or less to different people, depending on their pragmatism, future goals, resources, etc. But it is a value, one that it's not spoiled or unreasonable to fund or to borrow for. When you say "I'd rather educate myself throughout my whole life but I consider a degree a means to a job and something that should be completed with the most efficiency possible," are you speaking for yourself only, or as a value for everyone . . . for example, one to impose on your kids? I know so many practical/ by-your-own-bootstraps folks that would impose a utilitarian, beyond-minimal-education-is-arrogant-and-indulgent view on everyone, my own father included had I not been able to fund my education independently. I'd wager that most of us who treasure our college experiences *also* value continuing to educate ourselves our entire lives, but we're grateful for having had the chance to focus intently on it and build a great foundation in our college years. They're not mutually exclusive, but reinforcing.

Do you feel your choice to graduate early cost you nothing of value? Would you want your kids to make the same choice?

Again, thanks for the polite post sharing your perspective.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 2:52 PM

It is good to have a grocery bill you can afford - but our food budgets are arguably getting to be too low a percent of our budgets. In other countries they give up square footage and car size in favor of vegetables that taste more than just marginally better wax, meat that wasn't fed questionable feed and pumped with hormones, etc. I have bought 1.99 chicken breast - but am beginning to wonder what the consequences of the way these foods come to the grocery store. I am however, fully in favor of tap water.

Posted by: food & balance | June 26, 2007 2:54 PM

http://www.sixgosselins.com/Our_Story.html

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:01 PM

Doctors can refuse to perform procedures they believe to be unwise. Due to lack of regulation, it is tempting for doctors to maximize the positive outcome (pregnancy percents) that will draw clients and allow the rest of the (less free market) system pick up the NICU bills, etc. Maybe this was a freak chance, but in general I think we do need to take a look at the true cost of fertility treatments. (Personal speculation - this is a bigger issue than lawsuits)

Posted by: ethics | June 26, 2007 3:04 PM

Good grief! It is amazing that an entire blog population could have come from poor families and worked 80 hours in college and still gotten out in 3 years from Harvard and can now be so self righteous about themselves that they can't even take a moment to consider the position of someone else. I had many of the same problems Varina did when I fist graduated. Yes my parents paid for school and a new car and books and sorority and shopping and all that. I worked some over the summers but mostly my parents wanted me to treat school as my job and do well because in their eyes I had 40 years to work and 4 to enjoy myself. I am so grateful to them for that attitude and I work very hard to be able to provide that same privilege for my children one day. Thank goodness their aren't too many Bob's in the world it would be one super dull place. I can't imagine any of my friends, who yes also had school and everything paid for being so dull. We luckily got to enjoy college and greek life and parties. My guess is most of you on here wouldn't have gotten into a fraternity or sorority and probably didn't get invited to the parties, can't imagine why....

Posted by: princess | June 26, 2007 3:06 PM

I thought I was busy when I worked full time and went to graduate school part time.

Fast forward ten years school is done, work full time, take care of daughter,
and husband is working retail. My DD
fortunately loves errands. I let her mail
a bill and even though she could not reach it by herself she was happy.

I love apartment living including laundry. I do five loads of laundry early on Sunday morning. DD loads her one load in the time I do four. Everything is done but the folding in about 1 1/2 hours. DH is also in the exercise room.

Another time savings net flix. I can't wait to watch "Devil wears Pravda." The
first four years of DD's life I watched one movie. I am on my third Netflix movie in two months.

Posted by: shdd | June 26, 2007 3:06 PM

Paris, is that you?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:09 PM

Okay, I went to the farmers market and to Wegman's today. We eat very little meat, and I didn't buy any today. I spent $23.50 at the farmer's market on 1 pint blueberries, 1pint blackberries, 1 quart cherries, 1 quart cherry tomatoes, two large cukes, 3 peaches, and one regular tomato. I spent $56 at Wegmans on one bunch lettuce, 2 gallons milk, 1 gallon juice, one box of cereal, 9 small containers of flavored yogurt and one quart of vanilla yogurt, some frozen cherries and frozen mangoes, and a Family Circle magazine.

We have wax beans and flat beans from the Farmer's market on Sat., 1 lb of stew meat in the freezer, some fake hamburgers, cheese, bacon, various condiments, spices and herbs, etc., so this will feed us for the week. I may or may not use the stew beef (who wants stew in this weather?), but the only other meat I usually buy is whole chickens, which I cut up myself, because even at the regular price of .99/lb, this is way cheaper than buying chicken already cut up.

I'm looking at the post about feeding a family of 8 on $88/week, and I don't see how you could do it and still be healthy. Sure, I don't have to buy all the fresh fruit at the farmer's market, but about the only thing I could have cut from the Wegman's bill was the magazine. And I usually buy the store brand of most things, which is usually cheaper than using a coupon on a brand name product.

Posted by: cost of groceries | June 26, 2007 3:14 PM

John and Kate plus 8 - krazeee family! I can't even speak to how nauseating that site is.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:14 PM

Varina,

Hats off to you for such a classy response to all the bashing.

Posted by: WannaBe SAHM | June 26, 2007 3:14 PM

"I can't imagine any of my friends, who yes also had school and everything paid for being so dull."

Me, either. EVERYTHING comes from God, in the final analysis! Lighten up! Jesus was a cool guy!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:16 PM

I don't know - no matter how busy you think you are when you are single and working one job - you're not really busy. Once you have a spouse and kids (and, perhaps, a sick relative to look after), things just get so much busier.

Compared to my life w/ 2 kids now, my time alone after school working my first couple of jobs was MUCH less stressful than my life is now.

You just think you're busy.

I'm sure my friend with 4 small kids probably thinks *I* just think I'm busy.

It's all relative.

Posted by: Ajax | June 26, 2007 3:18 PM

"Unfortunately, since money doesn't grow on trees anymore,"

Okay, so sometime in the last 23 year, money grew on trees? And I missed it?!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:19 PM

"I can't imagine any of my friends, who yes also had school and everything paid for being so dull."

Really? And I can't imagine any of my friends as being as vapid as you. All that partying must have fried your brain.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:19 PM

"Well, isn't it nice that someone is grateful for a $100,000 handout. But please don't call sponging off Mommy and Daddy for a few years "hard work". It just isn't."

My parents paid for my college education (although it didn't cost them anywhere near $100K). I respected my parents enough to appreciate the enormity of the financial sacrifice they were making to invest in my future. I worked my butt off and graduated in 3 years with a 3.92 GPA because I didn't want them to feel that they'd wasted their money. For me, the fear of disappointing my parents was a much bigger motivator than being required to fund my own college education would have been. Not everyone takes a "free" education for granted.

Posted by: MP | June 26, 2007 3:21 PM

"Again, if your parents are not cheap and stingy and willing to support you while you're in school (let you live at home). Hang around here a while and you will hear that not all parents are nice like you. Luckily mine were but some of my friends have those "character building" parents and they are having a tough time with the school debt."

My DD did not do her best in high school. She did well enough to get accepted to the school of her choice as well as four others she applied to. She was a bit of a slacker. She believes she did her job by getting accepted. We believe she didn't do her job by doing as well as she could have. Accepted, yes, but did not do well enough to earn a single scholarship. she also refused to apply to more than a handful because she was "supposed to experience senior year fully" and the application process was too time-consuming. She doesn't think she should have to contribute financially to her college education because, as many here believe, parents are "supposed to educate their children."

We have decided that she needs some "character building". We always said that we would do our part as long as she did her part. She did not do her part fully, so we will not fully fund the college education. Had she worked harder, we would be willing to pay for it all, but she played. So, she is working summers and taking some loans and we are financing the rest. She is not happy, but we think that she is feeling way too entitled to her preferred lifestyle.

BTW, I believe that those who work in college are losing out on the party life, not the educational possibilities.

So the next time you think parents are cheap, remember that there may be more involved. Our DD needs to grow up a little and we think forcing her to take financial responsiblity is a step in the right direction. If your children don't need that and value everything you give them, then consider yourself lucky.


Posted by: anon for this | June 26, 2007 3:23 PM

BTW, I believe that those who work in college are losing out on the party life, not the educational possibilities.

I agree who said that life should be a big party just because you are in college. Get a job kids. The real world isn't going to hold your hand.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:26 PM

Varina, you seem to be pretty normal. Life changes all take some transition time. You'll get it eventually, or you''ll just be one of those perpetually disorganized people -- I don't know you, so I don't know how you'll turn out. You're so young (she said, GREEN with envy).

To the person looking for the NC woman -- how about the 'wish I was in NC' woman?? I missed all that talk Friday about Goodberry's (yaay for those of you who are fans) and the comparison of the Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees with the Socailist Republic of Chapel Hill -- and I didn't make either one of those up (gee, nobody mentioned good old North Raleigh). BTW, I liked Cary, and I don't see why it gets so much grief. I was a rarity -- I'm from Maryland, but I moved to the Triangle from Savannah, making us the only family to move NORTH to Raleigh.

I read all those Friday comments after I got home at 1:00 am this morning from the beach, and I dreamed about ice cream and milkshakes.

Posted by: educmom | June 26, 2007 3:27 PM

Cost of groceries: Not 88$ for a family of 8 per week, they claim averaging 150$/week. The Gosselin Family (of 8) uses coupons also, I think she said she saves around 10% with coupons. I tend to believe them - the mother says it takes 2 hours to shop - she adds up he food as she goes along so she knows exactly how much she is spending. I'm not an expert on this family but I can see how they can save big money on groceries.

FYI: Wegman's is really expensive (esp. their produce) compared to Shopper's Food Warehouse or even some of the sales at Giant around here.

Posted by: cmac | June 26, 2007 3:28 PM

I said the $88/week. I don't remember how many people were in the large family. But we have established it was a different family then the one CMAC was talking about. I think I came up with $88 because they had quoted something like $11/week/per person. And CMAC said they had 8 people. But then we figured out it was a different family. If it was the Duggars, the the figure would have been more like $187 because someone said they had 16 or 17 people. I don't recall the actual figure just that it was around $11/week /per person. Again the show I saw, was lots of junk food. So that is how they could eat so cheaply.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 26, 2007 3:31 PM

We luckily got to enjoy college and greek life and parties. My guess is most of you on here wouldn't have gotten into a fraternity or sorority and probably didn't get invited to the parties, can't imagine why....

Posted by: princess | June 26, 2007 03:06 PM

That is so NOT HOT! Take that back! It's NOT FAIR, MOMMMY....

Posted by: cmac | June 26, 2007 3:31 PM

Emily
I made the flan recipe you shared a few days ago. It rocks. I admit it isn't healthy, but it tastes heavenly. Creamy, smooth, sweet, caramelly. Yum. Thanks for sharing.

Chocolate stout cake is next.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:36 PM

"My guess is most of you on here wouldn't have gotten into a fraternity or sorority and probably didn't get invited to the parties, can't imagine why...."

I knew that long before today....

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:36 PM

Ok, I'm new to this blog, but I've been considering moving from DC to the Triangle area. I seem to have missed out on the conversation

: "Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees with the Socailist Republic of Chapel Hill -- and I didn't make either one of those up (gee, nobody mentioned good old North Raleigh). BTW, I liked Cary, and I don't see why it gets so much grief."

Maybe someone can help me with which place to live:

I'm 29, married, 1 child
I'm a Democrat- very much a social liberal
I would love to live in a "quaint" place (think Cape May, NJ with the Victorian houses and cute shops) and still be close to a city. (I would really love to move to the Boston area, but too expensive)
We can afford to spend $2,000 per month on a place to live.
I work in government affairs, my husband finance/accounting.
Great public schools
Nothing too snotty or typical suburban

We really love city life (walking to things, diversity, intelligent/artsy folks), but it's so expensive here in DC and working hours are too long with a child. We'd also like to be able to afford a 2nd baby sometime soon!

What are your recs?

Thanks!

Posted by: Which neighborhood in the "triangle" area?? | June 26, 2007 3:37 PM

Varina - Don't you dare apologize. Your post was not whiny. I think you'll notice that there is a strong taste of bitterness to many of those posts that criticized you. These are people who are probably profoundly unhappy with their own lives and thus believe that no one else has the right to have any problems.

And for the love of God, Leslie, please, please, please moderate this blog. The asinine and far-too-extended conversation about college costs is really distracting.

Posted by: NotAMom | June 26, 2007 3:38 PM

Most of us have no desire to show guys our tits and get so drunk we get a disease at one of "your "parties. Glad it worked out for you though.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:41 PM

educmom- we moved way north to Chapel Hill--from Australia! And it is the socialist republic of carrboro...Chapel Hill is the zoo. Hands up if you know the reference here. he he he

To which neighborhood: I suggest Meadowmont or Southern Village in Chapel Hill. Both are planned communities, but are not typically suburban. They are planned neo-urban communities with amenities like shops, greatschools, walking/cycle paths, etc. etc. etc. in the neighborhood. The homes are also very colorful, rather than the beige beige beige of Cary...I'm laughing, MN, honest I'm laughting! For 2K, you may be able to buy a flat or maybe a townhouse with high appreciability. Look up neo-urban to see more.

Posted by: dotted | June 26, 2007 3:46 PM

" Accepted, yes, but did not do well enough to earn a single scholarship."

This is awfully harsh. I worked very, very hard in high school and graduated with almost straight A's at a top private school (where I did have a scholarship). I didn't get any offers of scholarships from any of the (public) colleges I applied to... if you are from a middle-class family and do not excel in a sport, you can pretty much forget about scholarships. They are extremely rare. You can't really criticize a kid for not getting something that doesn't exist.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:48 PM

Do you feel your choice to graduate early cost you nothing of value? Would you want your kids to make the same choice?

Again, thanks for the polite post sharing your perspective.


Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 02:52 PM

I wouldn't force the decision on anyone. And I'm sure I lost something. Had I stuck around for an extra year I probably could have double majored in something more useful, instead of getting the BS I am going back for now and spending another 4-5 years in college. I probably could have gotten a higher GPA had I not worked (got a 3.2, not too much to be proud of with a BA) and might have considered going to grad school had I not already gotten used to a pay check. Actually, my Mom didn't want me to work while in school but I was hooked on the working world. And while I envy people whose parents paid for them to go to out of state pricey private colleges, I don't think they'll be any less successful or have any lower of a work ethic than me. Everyone really has to make their own decisions, mine might have been foolish and rushed, but now I'm getting a degree I never would have had I not been thrust into the working world with a BA I didn't know how to use.

Posted by: Miles | June 26, 2007 3:52 PM

"I didn't get any offers of scholarships from any of the (public) colleges I applied to... if you are from a middle-class family and do not excel in a sport, you can pretty much forget about scholarships"

Wrong! There are TONS of scholarships from sources other than public colleges.

If you were really smart you would have discovered that fact during the 4 or more years you were in college and beyond!!

Darwin was soo right!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:54 PM


anon for this ---

You seem to be taking a well-thought-out position about your daughter. Given actual experience of her slacking and taking college for granted, you've shown her that both involve costs and consequences. Perhaps she could even earn her way to a slightly higher support level, if appropriate, with seriously improved performance? That's probably what you most hope for - seriousness and a more mature commitment.

But I take summer jobs (absent truly compelling, rare, unpaid opportunities) and termtime jobs up to about 10 hours/week as a given. This is really just growing up and assuming some agency for your life. When I spoke of jobs compromising students' educations, I'm thinking of real students I've known, throughout the last decade, juggling 30-40 hour+/week jobs throughout the academic year to minimize their college debt. That does compromise academics, for serious full-time students, and it's been self-defeating for the students I've known.

The partiers and slackers sure seem to poison the well against all college students around many here, though.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 3:55 PM

I also didn't have student loans, and that I owe completely to my parents. True I worked, but they literally *forced* me to stay at home and go to a public school (would not cosign on student loans, and at the time I was a minor). They also let me live at home the 3 years I went to school, and helped pay for my sister's car which then became my car when I was driving to school. So I can't say I had it very hard, and maybe wouldn't have had to work had I been smarter about it, but making mistakes is a good way to learn.

Posted by: Miles | June 26, 2007 3:56 PM

to anon at 3:48: that doesn't match our experiences. Our oldest DD applied to 8 private colleges; was accepted by 4; 3 of those 4 offered her scholarships (the one she took covers about 1/3 of the costs). She graduated from a Howard County public school with a good-but-not-great GPA, and we fit most definitions of "middle class" around here.

It's possible that public colleges would have been less forthcoming with scholarships, but two of DD's close friends, graduating from HoCo high schools, got scholarships to various U of MD campuses (one got a 4-year full ride)!

Posted by: Army Brat | June 26, 2007 3:57 PM

" Accepted, yes, but did not do well enough to earn a single scholarship."

This is awfully harsh. I worked very, very hard in high school and graduated with almost straight A's at a top private school (where I did have a scholarship). I didn't get any offers of scholarships from any of the (public) colleges I applied to... if you are from a middle-class family and do not excel in a sport, you can pretty much forget about scholarships. They are extremely rare. You can't really criticize a kid for not getting something that doesn't exist.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 03:48 PM

Most of her friends got scholarship offers. If she had worked hard and not gotten scholarships, we would have been fine with that - it was the blowing off of assignments because, in her opinion, she didn't need A's in certain courses that rubbed us the wrong way.

Actually, I remembered that she did get offered $9K per year at one of the private schools she applied to. Even with the scholarship, the cost of that school was thousands more than the school she chose. She didn't have the grades but she had very high SATs. She had just under 3.0 GPA - when most of the scholarships required 3.0 or 3.25 to apply, then I'd say she really blew her chances.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:58 PM

I'm missing something here. What does "DD" stand for?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 3:58 PM

DD=darling daughter or dear daughter

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:00 PM

Army BRat

"to anon at 3:48: that doesn't match our experiences. Our oldest DD applied to 8 private colleges; was accepted by 4; 3 of those 4 offered her scholarships (the one she took covers about 1/3 of the costs)."

Did she apply for the many scholarships available from other sources?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:01 PM

May we ask what schools she got accepted to with less then a 3.0 GPA? Just curious.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:01 PM

She had just under 3.0 GPA

What with recent grade inflation, that's only about equal to a C average back in the day.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:02 PM

My friend's son had a 3.5 and 1400 (on the old system) and was NOT offered a single scholarship for Univ MD. He did how ever get a private 10K scholarship to Northeastern. Again, the cost with the scholarship to NE was still more then the cost without scholarship to Univ MD.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:03 PM

"I certainly do drink tap water, and it tastes great. Maybe it depends on where the tap is :)"

I think you're right. I drink tap or filtered, but BF lives on bottled. He comes to visit me and drinks our tap water by the gallon; he says it tastes a million times better and theirs isn't safe to drink. I think CA just gets way less precipitation than we do, so we have plenty to spare. Compared to where he lives, MD is a rainforest.

The decision to fund your child's education is a highly personal one. My parents didn't contribute (though my mom tries her hardest to help me buy books from time to time), and so of course I have way more debt (and more debt problems) than BF, whose parents paid for undergrad, whose company pays for his MS, and whose parents bought him a car and set him up with a nice little fund for the down payment on a house. Do I value my education more than he does? Not really. He works harder than I do. Was he fortunate to have parents who would foot the bill? Yes. Did he work hard in school, and is he self-sufficient? Very.

Some kids with his upbringing turn out to be Mama's boys who can't do their own laundry or make their own dinner; he is not that type. It's true that his parents gave him an advantage, and it's true that his parents send him home with boxes of food every visit. It's also true that he took that advantage and used it wisely to ensure a healthy future for himself.

I don't really think there is a recipe to either build or screw up a child's future. Helping a kid out with college may help him enter the work force with little debt, or it may make him very spoiled. Making the kid do it himself may make him hard-working and efficient, or it may make him bitter and lazy. I think there are other factors involved. It probably has to do with how the child was raised from the get-go rather than just whether or not you fund his education.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 4:03 PM

"Perhaps she could even earn her way to a slightly higher support level, if appropriate, with seriously improved performance?"

Our secret plan, should she become a responsible young lady by graduation, is to pay off her loans for her so she can start the next phase of her life with no undergrad debt.

Posted by: to KB | June 26, 2007 4:03 PM

She had just under 3.0 GPA

What with recent grade inflation, that's only about equal to a C average back in the day.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 04:02 PM
Have they changed from a 4.0 system?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:04 PM

OR ditsy daughter, or drunk daughter, or diseased daughter, or dumb daughter, or yada yada yada yada. Same goes for DH.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:05 PM

She had just under 3.0 GPA

What with recent grade inflation, that's only about equal to a C average back in the day.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 04:02 PM
Have they changed from a 4.0 system?

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 04:04 PM

No, it's a reflection of the much easier grading going in nowadays.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:09 PM

It probably has to do with how the child was raised from the get-go rather than just whether or not you fund his education.

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 04:03 PM

I know Fred isn't here, but I nominate this for the quote of the day.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:10 PM

Hi Mona,
Just curious. Did you ever figure out how to fund law school? I remember it was an issue a few months ago. Hope everything worked out.

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 4:14 PM

"May we ask what schools she got accepted to with less then a 3.0 GPA? Just curious."

Well, I don't want to give myself away but 2 were public colleges in md, Towson Univ and Salisbury Univ and 2 private, Washington College and Drew Univ.

She did go to the top rated hs in Howard County, took courses that were honors and AP levels. If you can believe the hype, the colleges give more weight to a 3.0 from certain schools than a 3.0 elsewhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:16 PM

If everyone who posted today sent in $2 we could all buy Varina a nice washer/dryer combo. What do you say?

Thanks, Varina, for sharing. The fact that your entry got so many comments shows (I think) that we haven't had enough "voices" from younger writers like you. So I am especially grateful. Either that or it was such a hot day here in DC everyone stayed inside and blogged all day...

Posted by: Leslie | June 26, 2007 4:17 PM

For the woman with the DD who didn't receive a scholarship:

I think your type of thinking is EXACTLY right. I knew from age 10 that I would have to treat school as a job, show up every day, work diligently and put in the effort to succeed. My parents paid for my undergrad, something I literally thank them for almost every day. Graduating with a BA today in a non-specialized field...I barely scrape by on what I make and I don't have loans. It's much harder for some of my peers.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:18 PM

to: anon @ 4:01 - yes, she did apply for a number of scholarships other than those provided directly by the colleges. I'd strongly recommend having students contact their guidance counselors (or even start with a Google search of their own!) because there are a lot of them. Once she had pretty much settled on which school she was going to attend, she looked for other scholarships affiliated with that college.

And yes, she got some relatively small additional awards, but hey, every little bit helps - we just have her figure out how many hours of work each one represents!

Posted by: Army Brat | June 26, 2007 4:19 PM


Cool, anon for now, I hope she rises to the occasion.

3.0 is a standard threshold for continuing scholarship support; it seems reasonable for the Bank of Mom and Dad to maintain the same standards (barring learning disability, etc)

>Our secret plan, should she become a >responsible young lady by graduation, is >to pay off her loans for her so she can >start the next phase of her life with no >undergrad debt.

Posted by: KB | June 26, 2007 4:19 PM

"If you can believe the hype, the colleges give more weight to a 3.0 from certain schools than a 3.0 elsewhere."

It's not hype, it's true!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:22 PM

"If you can believe the hype, the colleges give more weight to a 3.0 from certain schools than a 3.0 elsewhere."

It's not hype, it's true!

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 04:22 PM

Well, of course some high schools are better than others. Even comparing public to public high schools, or private to private ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:27 PM

Why, thank you, 4:10. Maybe posting less often is making my posts seem more profound ;-)

Emily, thanks for asking. I talked to a non-profit loan center and found out which entries on my credit report caused the initial denial, and took care of those issues. Without going into great detail, I am up for reconsideration this week and I am optimistic. I will let you know what I find out. Thanks! :-)

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 4:28 PM

Actually, my daughter is a bright girl with a variety of interests who had a bit of a maturity problem. She worked very hard in the classes in which she was interested - it was the others she blew off. She didn't quite realize how much it would affect her overall. Not every 16-17 year-old makes the best decisions.

Many people posting here have talked about children (admittedly younger) needing to follow their own learning path and the difference between introverts and extroverts. My child had the misfortune to despise social studies of any sort and decided to do the least possible to get through it. Unfortunately, it wasn't phys ed, art, music or any number of electives that can be refused. I imagine many people would have had a different gpa if they had to take phys ed every year. I don't think that she is a loser or a lost cause because she wasn't an overachiever in high school. She is just finding her own way. We're just not going to finance it fully. We think this is the best choice for us and her.

Posted by: 3.0 GPA | June 26, 2007 4:32 PM

"My child had the misfortune to despise social studies of any sort and decided to do the least possible to get through it."

Misfortune or choice?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:36 PM

"My child had the misfortune to despise social studies of any sort and decided to do the least possible to get through it."

Misfortune or choice?

Do you choose what you despise?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:37 PM

"My child had the misfortune to despise social studies of any sort and decided to do the least possible to get through it."

Misfortune or choice?

Do you choose what you despise?

A decision "to do the least possible to get through it" sounds like a "choice".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:41 PM

Varina -- Congrats. Yeah, it's another kind of learning experience being on your own. At least you didn't take the easy route and move back in with your parents. Whatever you're going through now will be worth it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 4:41 PM

FYI to anyone who's looking for scholarships:
www.findtuition.com
www.scholarships.com
www.fastweb.com

I've had some difficulty because I'm not eligible for many of these scholarships, being that I'm a very average white American whose parents didn't belong to Phi Omega Whatever, or the International Cheese Graters of America, and I'm not an advocate of the Beef Industry. But there are some writing competitions that I'm eligible for, and I'm working on a very large research project that, if I'm really lucky and really diligent, might net me upwards of $5,000. Who knows? I like writing, I'm decent at it, and if it'll get me a little bit of cash to offset the costs of law school, I'm more than happy to throw a few words at a piece of paper. Good luck to anyone who's trying to fund college or post-secondary degrees. I feel your pain!

Posted by: Mona | June 26, 2007 4:44 PM

My child had the misfortune to despise social studies of any sort and decided to do the least possible to get through it."

Misfortune or choice?

Do you choose what you despise?

A decision "to do the least possible to get through it" sounds like a "choice".

I agree that doing the least possible was a choice. Misfortune or choice? seemed to be questioning the misfortune reference. It is unfortunate that the subject you dislike the most is required for 3-4 years and the subject you love is not required at all.

Posted by: 3.0 GPA | June 26, 2007 4:46 PM

I supported myself since 17 and fully funded my college education by work and other tuition reimbursements. When I finished I had a $90 student loan outstanding.

Posted by: Fred | June 26, 2007 5:00 PM

Fred

"I supported myself since 17 and fully funded my college education by work and other tuition reimbursements. When I finished I had a $90 student loan outstanding. "

Me, too!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 5:02 PM

Hey, Fred,
Where have you been?

Posted by: Emily | June 26, 2007 5:03 PM

But Fred,

College only cost $500 when you were 17. LOL

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 5:03 PM

Tuition was free in California back in the day. 1K / year for books, gas, expenses...

sing along: those were the days, my friend, ...

Posted by: dotted | June 26, 2007 5:05 PM

"But Fred,

College only cost $500 when you were 17. LOL"

And, Fred had to serve at least one stint in 'Nam.... Yikes!!!!

Posted by: Born Free | June 26, 2007 5:07 PM

Varina--Pittypat clearly does not read very much. Your blog at best was like an email I got at my old job from a new college grad hire that I was friends with. The reason you received snarky comments is because 23 is so young. And, again, you should not make laundy or bank comments that come across as misinformed or whiny. I am here to tell you that it is WAY easier to be 23 now than it was when I was 23. I did not even have a computer to do my online banking since basically no one had a home computer.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 5:48 PM

Varina--Pittypat clearly does not read very much. Your blog at best was like an email I got at my old job from a new college grad hire that I was friends with. The reason you received snarky comments is because 23 is so young. And, again, you should not make laundy or bank comments that come across as misinformed or whiny. I am here to tell you that it is WAY easier to be 23 now than it was when I was 23. I did not even have a computer to do my online banking since basically no one had a home computer.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 5:48 PM

Wow, dotted...Australia! Of course, that's more than just a few hours up 95/40. Were you raised there, or did you come back to the states and end up in NC?

To the poster thinking about moving to the Triangle, what I liked about North Raleigh was its randomness. It seems to have developed more organically than Cary or the areas around Chapel Hill. I get the impression that it's become overbuilt since we moved -- am I right?

Posted by: educmom | June 26, 2007 6:01 PM

Considering your status as literary critic, I'm surprised that your post features a lack of punctuation, a sentence ending in a preposition and a spelling mistake.

The only whiny comment around here is your own: "I did not even have a computer to do my online banking..."

Posted by: To the anonymous poster at 5:48 PM | June 26, 2007 6:29 PM

"College only cost $500 when you were 17. LOL"

Almost true!

"And, Fred had to serve at least one stint in 'Nam.... Yikes!!!!"

Only 1, that was enough!

Posted by: Fred | June 26, 2007 6:39 PM

Your blog at best was like an email I got at my old job from a new college grad hire that I was friends with.

This sentence is fine. Throw away your grammar book from the 1950s please.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 7:17 PM

Like MN, I'm having trouble understanding the guest writer's problems adjusting to the "real world." Also like MN, I double majored and worked my way through school (usually 30-35 hours per week), and still graduated with debt (which I've since paid off, but no law school for me, so much smaller nut).

I also lived with my parents and commuted, as they couldn't affort for me to live on campus. That added about two hours total to my day, not to mention the cost of gas. And since I lived at home, I was expected to do a share of the chores, including my own laundry.

Probably one of the best things my parents did for me was get me my own checking account after I graduated from HS. Mom sat me down for a quick balancing lesson and made sure I knew the consequences of bounced checks, etc.

And maybe this is a Vegas thing, but are banks, gyms, dry cleaners, and other services on the east coast really only open 9-5 M-F? I thought most banks had grocery store outlets now. I routinely go to the bank on a Saturday when I'm doing the grocery shopping. I also drop off and pick up my dry cleaning on Saturday. We have gyms open 24 hours (though I can't imagine working out at 2am), which may indeed be unique to Vegas. But I've been to even very small towns where the grocery store is open 24-hours, and many pharmacies as well. Does DC really just shut down at 5pm and on weekends?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | June 26, 2007 7:29 PM

educmom-we had a few stints in Australia, but we are all american born. I'd move back in a second. North Raleigh is indeed random, though I wouldn't say Chapel Hill is overbuilt. It is just hard to build anything here in the first place. There are rules about whether you can cut down your own tree even!

Fred - I respected you before, but I have ultimate respect for anyone serving in Vietnam. I remember.

Posted by: dotted | June 26, 2007 7:50 PM

dotted, I'm trying to figure out what part of North Raleigh you all are driving through, thoguh, to consider it anything but planned development upon planned development, most starting at $350,000. There are a few neighborhoods of older split levels which have not been updated since 1964, but, to me, I don't know how anyone could distinguish between Cary and North Raleigh.

Cheerio, mate!

oh, and princess, I was Greek and had not problem finding a good party. I suspect you'd be wrong about many around here, but I doubt we'd find you interesting enough to party with (excuse the preposition, Grammar Police).

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 8:49 PM

Fred, Sainted Mothers have a long history of raising sons of great character. Bless her heart!

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 26, 2007 9:07 PM

MN - I just knew you never had a problem finding a good party. As to distinguishing between Cary and North Raleigh: you are correct except for one thing: the mandated beige color in Cary. he he he.... Seriously, I never said Cary wasn't random also even with circular Cary Parkway.

Posted by: dotted | June 26, 2007 9:38 PM

foamgnome, you're wrong. Bob's right.

Also, foamgnome, since this all started about Varina working too much, let me ask you this: Do you work more than 8 hours a day? If so, I have a suggestion for shortening your work day: STOP SPENDING SO MUCH OF IT WRITING ON BLOGS. Spend more time on work. End of story.

Posted by: Ryan | June 26, 2007 9:51 PM

Well, thank you Dotted and Lil Husky.

As you may recall sainted mother was a Marine in WWII.

No quote of the day will be awarded today.

But the COTC award goes to princess!

(signed)

Fred GDI now and forever!

Posted by: Fred | June 26, 2007 10:20 PM

So Bob = Ryan

Now it all makes sense

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:23 PM

STOP SPENDING SO MUCH OF IT WRITING ON BLOGS. Spend more time on work. End of story.

Posted by: Ryan | June 26, 2007 09:51 PM

Why didn't you say this to Bob too? He must've posted at least a dozen times today.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2007 10:27 PM

foamgnome, you're wrong. Bob's right. . . .

Spend more time on work. End of story.

Posted by: Ryan | June 26, 2007 09:51 PM

remind me who died and made Ryan King of the Blog. Damn, I hate to miss a good coronation. Was there a keg?

foamgnome, thanks for valiantly trying to shine the light of reason in the fog that was Bob's determination to drown you in a volume of repetition.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 10:53 PM

Bob posted 30 times today!

Posted by: What about Bob? | June 26, 2007 10:57 PM

My guess is most of you on here wouldn't have gotten into a fraternity or sorority and probably didn't get invited to the parties, can't imagine why....

Posted by: princess

Two guesses:

1. Maybe we did not WANT to be invited?

2. Maybe we were working?

Bonus Reason

Maybe we are not too hung up on what people look like?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/education/25sorority.html?ex=1330059600&en=586cb157d02771f3&ei=5088...

Posted by: to princess | June 26, 2007 11:08 PM


My sorority wasn't hung up on what people looked like, but the possession of social skills and the ability to take a joke were key.

Get a clueby4. The sorority and fraternity bashing is just as inaccurate and inflammatory as princess' indiscriminate bashing of everyone who was a GDI.

Posted by: MN | June 26, 2007 11:16 PM

i'm just glad the guest post was by someone other than rebeldad

Posted by: shellmo | June 27, 2007 12:14 AM

Ryan-I said she may be working hard to pay off student loans. That was my original point. I don't know what that has to do with how much time I need to work. Not to mention, it is none of your business how much I post. If you have a problem with it, don't read them.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 27, 2007 7:08 AM

"Not to mention, it is none of your business how much I post. If you have a problem with it, don't read them."

Well since you are a govt worker and wasting my and other taxpayer dollars typing out your posts, it is ALL my business how much you post. Get back to work!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2007 8:37 AM

Part of it is the phase of life you're in now: you're going through a big learning curve. Unfortunately/fortunately, once you become more efficient at your job, you will fill your new found time with more tasks (more work or house/spouse/child).

Part of it is our over-worked society. You need to stand up for your needs and make time for yourself. If you spend 40 years at the office, you'll get your paycheck, some recognition and a "thanks." YOU have to decide what you want to sacrifice in exchange. No one will look out for these things but you. There is something to be gained by working like a maniac in those first few years but my advice is plan an exit strategy because you will wear yourself out and end up with no life.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2007 9:43 AM

"Bob posted 30 times today!"

So what? Foamgnome posts 30 times EVERY day (except the days she's not working, where she can't be bothered to participate here since she's not getting paid for it.)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2007 11:39 AM

Foamgnome posts 30 times EVERY day (except the days she's not working, where she can't be bothered to participate here since she's not getting paid for it.)


Posted by: | June 27, 2007 11:39 AM

She doesn't. But then you'd have to care about accuracy to actually count.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2007 2:57 PM

Oh, I stand corrected. It was only 25 times today. Multiply that by 4 days a week for 52 weeks, assuming she's been around a year, and you get 5200 posts.

Yep, Bob posts a lot compared to foamgnome.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2007 7:25 PM

No, foamgnome, I don't actually give a rat's a** about how much you post. In case you didn't get my point before, here it is again: I was pointing out the irony and hypocrisy that you were defending the need to work 12 hours a day even as it was clear that you spend much of your work day posting here.

To repeat: I don't care a bit that you post here 25 times a day (or 5200 posts a year according to that other person) -- I only care about the irony and hypocrisy that you showed in arguing with Bob about this.

Also, to the other people: That's why I didn't say the same thing to Bob.

Posted by: Ryan | June 27, 2007 7:47 PM

Ryan, clearly you care if your still posting about foamgnome. Why don't you get a life?

Posted by: to Ryan | June 28, 2007 7:05 AM

Ryan- I guess you missed the point. I said she may be working 12 hour days to pay off student loans. My point is some people take more demanding jobs because they pay more because they have large debts. I don't have student loans. Whether I work 8 hours a day, 2 hours a day or 12 hours a day, is irrelevant to her situation. So there is no irony in what I said about her. Again, your awfully hostile for someone who doesn't care.

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