“In my mind, it’s been in maintenance mode the last eight years,” says Aaron Patzer, the founder of Mint who accepted Intuit’s offer, found himself tasked with improving Quicken, and then left the company in 2012.

I used Mint for several years and found it super-helpful for a top-level overview of finances and money flows. Fast Company does a little shallow digging into why it’s stalled out.

Date posted: January 23, 2020 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

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After all of the activity last weekend, this one is quiet in relief. We dicked around the house for most of yesterday, working with the dog at her second behavioral class, and she did pretty well. She was attentive and well behaved, and the trainer was kind enough to stay and talk with Jen for 45 minutes after class while I walked her out back.

To be perfectly honest, it’s been a struggle to make a decision about what we’re going to do with her. We made a pro/con list last weekend that came out pretty evenly on both sides, and she had a really good couple of days with us. Then there were a couple of days that went to absolute shit and we all sat up on Friday night talking about it and mostly agreeing that we were going to send her back. Saturday morning we had a change of heart and we’re back to square one.

I don’t want this to sound like we’re a family of dilletantes. Jen and I are dog people. We grew up with dogs, we know dogs, we’re not afraid of the responsibility of dogs. We know what it means to have a dog.

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I’ve settled into the routine of walking her in the morning and evening, and as much as I’ve never been a morning person, I like being out when the rest of the world is still sleeping, smelling the dew on the grass, feeling the first chill of fall in the air, and following Hazel as she wanders the neighborhood following her nose. Jen and I get some time to talk with each other, and the exercise doesn’t hurt. When she’s chill, she’s a wonderful dog to be with. What we’re struggling with is her social anxiety, and prey drive. She’s a nervous little girl who is paralyzed by loud noises and flashing lights she doesn’t recognize, and kind of a dick around other dogs after a while.

She’s a smaller dog (although she’s gained five pounds and an inch and a half in a month’s time) so she has a need to meet every dog she sees, but when she shifts into play mode she doesn’t know how to stop. She’ll run and jump and nip and bark, but when the other dog backs off she keeps going, and when they tell her to stop (usually by giving her a solid chomp or, as happened this past week, by knocking her over and putting her in a choke hold with their teeth) she doesn’t take the hint—she keeps going. She’ll continue jumping on them, nipping and barking, and we’ve got to step in and separate them.

We don’t have the DNA tests back yet, so we don’t know what flavor of breed soup we’re dealing with. She’s definitely got some hound in her, because she follows her nose whenever we’re out with her. There’s a fair bit of terrier mixed in, because she loves to dig (god help us). There’s some working dog in her, because her legs are long and she’s built like someone put a full-sized Vizsla in a shrink-ray set to Half Size. The prey drive of the terrier is what worries us. There’s a split-personality thing going on where the super-bright part of her brain knows that our cats are off limits. When we bring her inside and she sees them, she’s now at the point where she’ll sit down on her own and wait for them to cautiously saunter over and look at her. She gets fidgety, and we can see one half of her brain thinking YOU ARE MY SIZE! LET’S PLAY while the other side is saying IF I CHOMP THEM, THE HUMANS WILL DESTROY ME. She’ll get close to them, and the cats will smack her in the face a bunch of times, and she’ll back off. Then she’ll wiggle up to them again, they’ll whack her on the nose a few more times, and she’ll back off again. This continues until the cats nope themselves out.

The problem is that when the cats tear ass at high speed, the prey instinct in her brain destroys all rational thought and all that’s left is I MUST CHEW THAT RUNNING ANIMAL IMMEDIATELY. It’s this dichotomy that has us worried, because we don’t know if it’s ever going to work itself out in a favorable way. The cats are understandably upset; Trixie has gained several pounds in the last month and Nox looks noticeably frazzled. They’re not getting the attention they need and we feel horrible. We’ve read horror stories about Jack Russell terriers getting along amicably with cats for several years and then one day it’s the hallway scene from The Shining. This, and the reaction to other dogs, is what has us up at night.

So we’re in a holding pattern, and she’s snoring peacefully on Jen’s lap in an anxiety sweater.

* * *

When I was in college I applied for and got a credit card, because, why not? At first I was very careful with it, but as those things often do, it crept up on me. A couple of years out of school I was running a balance of $4,000 and struggling to pay down the interest. This continued for a couple of years until I upgraded my job situation and then I made a mission out of paying it off. Once that was done I put the card in a drawer and rewired my brain to only buy with the cash in my checking account, and used my debit card exclusively. That was about 20 years ago, and I haven’t had a credit card since then.

You know where this is going, right?

Apple just came out with the Apple Card and I signed up for it. A couple of days later a very small package appeared in the mail and I opened it to find a surprisingly meaty titanium credit card in a small envelope with my name on it. I activated it and put it into my Apple Wallet alongside my debit card, where I can use Apple Pay with my phone or my watch. The plan is to only use it for gas and high-dollar purchases, as I’d like the extra layer of protection against card skimmers and fraud. Plus, the cash back is kind of nice.

Update: be sure to opt out of the arbitration clause.

Date posted: September 8, 2019 | Filed under hazel, money | Leave a Comment »

We got an unexpected happy letter from USAA this afternoon telling us we’ve paid off the Accord completely, and they’ll be sending us the new title in the next couple of weeks. Bonus! There’s an extra $175/mo. we can use for other stuff. Now we own three cars outright: one that’s 8 years old, one that’s 11 years old, and one that’s (I think) 41 years old.

Date posted: October 21, 2017 | Filed under cars, money | Leave a Comment »

Via CNN Money, here’s some helpful info on what to do about the Equifax hack. It’s appalling that something this big happened to so many people and the company responsible is so callous about the fallout. Mom, this one is for you.

Date posted: September 11, 2017 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.

We’ve had an oh-shit fund since before I stopped using credit cards, and it always gets replenished. This was in response to being laid off the first time, back in 2001. But the hits keep coming, and it’s not getting easier to refill the fund. And college tuition is looming on the horizon…

Date posted: April 20, 2016 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Huh. According to this link, I live in the state with the highest median salary required to be “middle class”.

Date posted: April 3, 2015 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Well, the Ravens lost to the Patriots on Saturday afternoon, which is kind of a bummer. I think I’m more surprised they made it this far and played as well as they did based on their regular season performance, but it was a great game and they didn’t fold up and blow away. Events kept me from the rest of the divisional playoff games, but I read the highlights from the Packers/Cowboys game and wish I’d seen it.

We took in the game in our neighbors’ basement media room with the kids being watched by a babysitter upstairs. That was a very comfortable arrangement. The girl who watched them is the daughter of a woman who will be giving Finn piano lessons shortly. We know her from the church across the street; she was one of Finn’s counselors during summer camp a couple of years ago. Our hope is that Finn finds the piano interesting and takes to the lessons. This is a child who is always humming bits of music to herself, something I think she gets from her old man (the earworm bug). She can listen to the score of a movie playing over the end credits and identify its sections by scene (“this is the part where Toothless meets Hiccup”) so her musical retention and comprehension is as strong as her reading comprehension.


So, remember when my sister contacted me about missingmoney.com? I sent my information in a few weeks before Thanksgiving and everything went silent for a while. Last week I got a check from Maryland with no explanation, no note, or idea of what happened. But hey, free money!

Date posted: January 12, 2015 | Filed under finn, money | Leave a Comment »

I’ve had about two weeks with a Joby Slingstrap Pro and I have to say I like it very much. I’ve used it with both my Nikons and the Canons at work, and I carried it to the car show on Sunday where I shot 220 pictures inside and out. It’s extremely handy for on the go shots–I used it at Finn’s soccer game on Saturday and found that I could be talking to someone, see something interesting, and have it up and ready to shoot in seconds. It’s got a locking clip right under the lower buckle to keep the camera tight under the shoulder which is great for commuting. The only issue I’ve had is when I take it off, like I was doing at the car show to shoot low from the ground, and then try to figure out how to put it back on. I have to hold it out in front of me and tell myself, “the loop goes in the front.”


Meanwhile, I used a Canon 5D mkII over the weekend exclusively and while its focus issues haven’t gotten any better, I think I’ve learned how to work with it in shooting situations to get what I want more consistently. The menu system still confounds me, as it does on the 7D, but I can get around a lot easier now that I’m used to the layout. It’s hard to say what I enjoy so much about the results I’m getting, but I suspect it’s the lenses.


Renie sent me a link to missingmoney.com, a link that’s been making the rounds of social media lately, and it turns out they have a record of me from back in my immediate post-college days. After hesitating for a few minutes, and looking over the disclaimers, I printed out the requisite forms and made ready to send my information in. There’s no telling how much or what the money might be from; all I can do is send the information in and hope for the power of compound interest.

Date posted: October 28, 2014 | Filed under money, photography | Leave a Comment »

Here’s an interesting opinion: Don’t go to art school.

the cost of a four year education at RISD is $245,816. As way of comparison, the cost of a diploma from Harvard Law School is a mere $236,100.

Damn. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Date posted: June 27, 2013 | Filed under art/design, money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

A few days ago, I was wondering why everybody talks about how healthcare costs are rising, but nobody will actually explain why. Here’s someone giving that explanation a shot: The True Cost of Healthcare.

Date posted: November 19, 2012 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »