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Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

My boyfriend shared this lovely article in his Google Reader the other day.  “Avoid the Grade School Trap,” shouts its headline, and it goes on to explain that many people respond to a recession by returning to school rather than taking a job they feel is “beneath them.”  This is a horrible idea, warns our author (who is basically paraphrasing this argument).

I suppose I’m in a different boat since I got my grad school out of the way before the economy decided to tank.  I’ll say, though, that I would be having a lot easier time in grad school right now than I am having paying off my loans.  At least while you’re still in school, your loans are on hold, and you can skip merrily along from fellowship to fellowship and odd job to odd job, happy to have your nose in a book instead of in your pocketbook, scrounging for that extra dollar you’re sure must be there.  (Where is that extra dollar?)

I’m also in a different boat because most people going back to grad school have some sort of career goal in mind that the schooling is meant to equip them for, with the hope that, eventually, higher salaries will justify those loans.  My grad school experiment was a lot more self-absorbed.  Everyone wants to be a writer, but  I was one of the few who thought it’d be a good idea to spend tens of thousands of dollars pursuing that dream. (And I chose the even more  bizarre route of not once submitting anything for publication, to my father’s constant dismay.  Sure, I might have a certificate authenticating me as a fiction-writing MASTER, but I have a hunch that The New Yorker might not agree.)

Every day I check my bank account and my credit card bill.  I make monthly projections of how much I should be able to save.  I beg for babysitting jobs, and as of this week, I tutor four nights a week for a 5th grader who dreads my arrival and spends our sessions expressing his desire for me to leave.   (All kids hate homework, right?)

It’s not so bad.  I’m lucky because I love saving money, and I love coming up with new ways to do so.  I’ve cut my current credit card bill almost in half by being vigilant and super-aware of how much I’m spending relative to how much I’m earning.  I don’t like saying no to all those Anthropologie dresses I could otherwise easily convince myself are necessary additions to my closet, but it’s also kind of thrilling, even addictive, to be so in control of what I spend.

And today is payday, which is my favorite day of the fortnight, as well as my bank account’s, because it gets so much action.

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Use your noodle!

As you all know, one of my great passions is the stock market. I follow it religiously, from market open to market close, every day of the week. All day long, I read about stocks, write about stocks, think about stocks.

Stocks! Stocks! Stocks!

When I find a stock whose news or action particularly tickles me, I will share it with you. I am not allowed to buy individual stocks, so there is no need for a disclosure of my holdings: I have none! Also, my being tickled by a stock does not necessarily mean you should buy or sell it. Honestly, I really don’t know what I’m talking about here.

For our first stock pick, we have American Italian Pasta, ticker symbol AIPC on the Nasdaq. The company makes dry pasta (duh) in North America (duh). Its brands include Pennsylvania Dutch (I have PD egg noodles in my cupboard), Mueller’s and Heartland.

This stock has been hitting 52-week highs lately (on Jan. 6 and 16 and on Feb. 9), and it’s hit another one today. It’s up 14% as I type this, at 3:06 p.m. — that’s almost $4, to $30.50! — on news that first-quarter profit (reported late yesterday) surged on higher sales. Check out its sweet chart!

Why were sales so high? Because people are buying more pasta, obviously! And why would they do that? Because pasta is the perfect recession food. It is cheap (I spend about $1.30, sometimes more, for a pound of dry pasta, which I can squeeze at least two or three meals out of), it goes with everything (last night I made bow ties with leek-and-yellow-pepper sauce), and, perhaps most important, it is absolutely delicious!

I am thrilled by this development. I would encourage you to buy and eat more pasta even if we weren’t canoeing through these rough economic waters, but it’s doubly valuable advice now. Whether or not you buy this stock, of course, is up to you.

Use your noodle; eat your noodles!

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In medias res.

Because I spend most of the day thinking about money (how much I have, how I can get more), I appreciated this piggyback off of the Center for an Urban Future study I wrote about the other day.

I have no idea what “middle class” means. When I was much younger, I assumed my family was rich because my dad was a doctor, and we lived in a big house. That turned out not to be true, though I never wanted for anything (except a little sister and an electric toy car I could drive myself to school in). My dad worked hard (still does), my parents had amazing priorities (music lessons, dance lessons, sports lessons — lessons of any kind — for the kids came before pretty much anything for themselves), and my mom was the ultimate Bargain Shopper. To this day, whenever she visits, she brings along a bag of goodies that she’s gotten, all for free using rebates. I’ve never had to pay full price for home hair dye!

I splurge on myself a lot more than my mom did, but I try to be responsible, too. I’m currently trying to see how little I can spend during the month of February, an experiment that is constantly at risk of being derailed by some great bargain on Craigslist or eBay, which I check literally thousands of times a day.

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