Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Money

Bits and pieces:
I somehow managed to spend $18 (for two, including tip) at a diner with really, really slow service. Slow and expensive= bad diner.
I was also taken out to dinner at a restaurant where the bill came to about $72, I think, before tip. This was for 3 glasses of wine, two appetizers and one entree. One of the appetizers was excellent, but the rest of the meal was just so so.
I compare this to last week, when I went to my beloved Pearl Oyster Bar. Dinner for two (4 glasses of wine, a small bucket of steamers, 6 raw oysters, and 2 lobster rolls) came to $146 including tip. The lobster rolls were $27 each! They've never been cheap, but I was shocked that the price had gotten so high. But they are so delicious, I was much less annoyed to pay for that than for the slow diner or the mediocre restaurant.

Weekend reading:
The New York Times Magazine on Obama's economic proposals.

A profile of a community hit hard by the housing bust

And most relevant of all, M. P. Dunleavey's column from this past Saturday:
Feeling Broke? Talk It Out

YOU might not think there is a bright side to this gloomy economy, but I have spotted one.

People are talking about money. Not griping (we’re all fed up with that), or bragging (that’s so 2006). But lately I’ve been hearing, and often joining in, actual interpersonal communications of a financial nature.

As many of us in the PF blogosphere have always believed, talking openly about finances can really help us reach our goals and not get discouraged when we fall short. PF blogs started to take off a few years ago, when the economic outlook was much brighter and we were at the heights of the real estate boom. Perhaps the fact that things were going well made a lot of people want to brag, or at least share what they felt had led to their success. Many blogs, after all, take a tone of authority, and people turn to them for advice and education even if the blogger lacks any real credentials.
What about now? Will we see more blogs detail the unraveling of real estate investments and the struggle to get by after losing a job? And outside the blogosphere, in "real life," will this new openness about money continue? I personally can't say I've seen a change in people's tendencies to discuss finances-- have you?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I do think people talk about finances more publicly, and I think you're right that it began when business was booming. When things are going well for you, it's easy and fun to talk about your situation with others. Then, once you're in the habit of talking about a formerly taboo subject, and you have a community of people with whom you are comfortable discussing it, it's not so hard to keep talking when things are NOT so good. Online anonymity also helps. Nobody needs to know it's you having trouble making ends meet, and you don't have to be shy about boasting when you pay off your credit cards. And we now have star personal finance writers, like Suze Orman, who explain the subject in simple terms, sometimes even on Oprah -- it's always okay to be seen reading a best seller.

Nothing fancy to think of .. said...

No, I don't see a difference is the content of what people are blogging about. There are lots of people blogging about personal finance and have a more "Open Wallet" approach. However, what I have seen more of is a higher frequency of people reading the blogs and posting responses. The responses are better throughout and intelligent as well.

Anonymous said...

Is there a typo at the beginning of your post? $18?

S said...

Reading and talking opnely about my own personal finances is what got me into this hobby in the first place. It is proof that open communication is a great solution to solving problems and making yourself feel better about the situation.

I also think people are posting and blogging more and the responses are more thought out b/c people want to present themselves as actually adding value to a discussion.

Sometimes you have to pay a little for a decent meal on a weekend!

Madame X said...

No typo-- I think the bill came to about $14 and change and I left $3 as a tip. This was for 2 cups of coffee, an omelette, and a french toast/eggs combo. We didn't even get bacon!

Anonymous said...

I have noticed a that people talk more about their finances, but I'm not sure if it's the economic "times" we're in or my age. I'm just a year out of college, and I talk money with my friends really often. Or, maybe it's just me; I graduated a year early and got a job right away. I was forced to learn how to manage money sooner than most of my friends and they know I have an open personality, even about personal matters like money, so they often came to me with questions about budgeting, bills, etc. So I guess I'm not really sure what's going on, but I feel like I talk about money A LOT more now than I ever did in the past....

frugal zeitgeist said...

I started blogging precisely because I don't feel I can talk about money in real life the way I can anonymously on the internets.

Suzy said...

I do think my acquaintances are talking more now about their personal finances than ever before, but probably because I've been starting a lot of the conversations. I've noticed that it really only takes a small spark, one relatively honest admission, even about unimportant financial matters, and people feel a lot more license to open up in general.

I also think that it's not a question of when people are doing "well" or "poorly" that opens up conversations, but rather when folks are open to a plan (either to meet lofty goals or to make ends meet). And I think that willingness to plan is usally drawn out by the media - whether that's Good Morning America or other bloggers.

Also, the Obamanomics article in the Magazine was really fantastic and worth the heft!

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing more news about the "poor" people "hit hard by the mortgage situation" - aren't these the same people who took out the ridiculous loans because they had to have a house? Where I live, I've seen tons of households where the people drive multiple luxury vehicles and the paint is peeling off their house. The house is an ATM and nothing more. I feel no sympathy for them, they are the ones who made the housing market so out of reach for people who did save their 20% down and live within their means.

Anonymous said...

I don't really talk about money; I allude to it sometimes, but I never give a figure. I wish people could be more open about money. I am dying to know what kind of financial shape my friends are in. It's really hard to tell. They talk like they don't have that much money to spend, yet they buy, buy, buy. I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

I meant that I never give a figure about our household salary. I will, however, freely give dollar amounts of household improvements (we've redone the basement and had a patio built this past winter) because it helps to compare with my neighbors who have done the same thing. Also, I make sure I tell my friends just how much I'm paying for childcare. Not sure if I do it to kind of brag that I make enough money that we can afford to send our kids to a nice summer camp, or to get the point across to them that they've only got some of the things that they do now because they've had free childcare since their kids were little. Oh, I hate that I am constantly comparing myself to everyone else!!!

Anonymous said...

What I think is hilarious is how I've had and overheard many conversations where someone will tell the most intimate, downright graphic details of their sexual relationship(s) but if the subject of money comes up...dead silence or sudden change of conversation.

T'Pol said...

I have been raised such that talking about money was a definite no-no. I personally think, as long as you choose who to be open with, there is no harm doing it.

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