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Posts Tagged ‘above the law’

$250,000 Isn’t Rich? Riiiiight!

In behavior, business, culture, Money, news on September 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm
Without money
Image by Toban Black via Flickr

Here’s a recent blog post that makes me want to throw a chair:

But for all the moral outrage one can level at a person bitching about making “only” $250K, know that $250K per annum is much closer to the minimum starting point you need to bank in order to have a shot at “making it” in the expensive cities of America. Living the dream requires a whole hell of a lot more…. if you are earning $50,000 a year, the prospect of earning $250,000 a year probably seems like a panacea. Think about it: you’d be earning five times as much! I’ve yet to meet the person who wouldn’t love to quintuple his or her salary. From the perspective of a person making $50,000 a year or less (the subset could also be called “most Americans”), the person or family making $250,000 a year is rich.

Except he’s not…

In fact, most people who make $250K aren’t even sitting there thinking: “Ooh, if I bust my ass and play my cards right, being ‘rich’ is just around the corner for me and my family.” If, God forbid, $250K also represents all you have, being truly rich is probably not even an option for you. You can’t “invest” in anything with the piddling savings you’ve stowed away. You can’t “buy” anything, other then maybe a family home and a some consumer assets that will start to depreciate the minute you breathe on them…

No, if you are making $250K a year, what gets you out of bed every morning isn’t even the desire to become rich. Instead, you’re motivated by the white-knuckle fear that something will go wrong and you’ll be cast back down with the sodomites who struggle valiantly to eke out an existence on $50K or less. You are certainly not rich, but you are terrified of becoming poor.

This is why living in New York City, and its self-regarding suburbs, makes for such delicious comedy. On a combined income of $250,000, it’s true — that a $5 million home is out of reach.

Boo hoo.

There is nothing more terrifying to the better-off, (as the writer, a Harvard-educated attorney at least admits), than the notion you might slide back down that greasy pole.

Then what? A cardboard box under a bridge?

Our household income, with no kids, is less than half this amount. That’s still a fortune to many people in this country.

In downstate New York, sadly, it’s a bit of a joke. Crossing any bridge costs $3 to $9 in tolls, one-way. Two hours’ parking in a Manhattan garage can easily run $20-40. My sweetie takes a commuter train to work — at an annual cost of almost $3,000, none of it tax-deductible. The maintenance on our one-bedroom suburban apartment is now almost $900 a month, with three increases in the past three years. No choice in the matter; if we don’t like it, sell and move!

We own one vehicle, paid off, nine years old. My income is less than half what I made in my last staff job. Good thing I didn’t buy a bigger home or take out huge loans…

The problem of talking about money is that it’s rarely just about money. It’s really about entitlement. It’s about Who You Think You Are. The gut-grinding knowledge that all that Ivy League striving may leave you owning only one home (not the two or three or four owned by the people you attended school with and, for many of the strivers I know, spend their entire lives comparing themselves with.)

Keeping up with the Jones — certainly when, as one attorney I know is doing, schooling four children privately ($100,000 a year in tuition alone) — can kill you.

I wake up daily deeply grateful for: safe, clean housing, healthy food, caring neighbors, my health, a functioning, insured vehicle, health insurance, some savings. It’s a lot.

It’s enough.

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Divorcing? There's An App For That — But Are Guys Now Oversharing?

In business, Media, men on June 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Un divorce heureux

A happy divorce? Must be a movie...Image via Wikipedia

Getting divorced? Beware of overshare!

Here’s a Village Voice post on the issue:

The fact remains that regardless of scale (Time vs. Tumblr), it’s peculiar and makes a splash when adult men play this game. Maybe it comes from our own generational or technological biases. Our fathers didn’t grow up with feelings to be shared, let alone computers. Men shouldn’t whine or feel pain and they certainly shouldn’t fucking cry, according to left-over cultural expectations lodged in the heads of even social progressives, feminists, children of the liberal arts. And there’s a certain self-consciousness that comes with being a male online. Where have all the cowboys gone? What would our grandfathers think of us, pining for a partner or “Why me-ing?” about health concerns to strangers? And who do we look to for proper example? There are only so many words written by Dan Savage, and we’ve been told to avoid Tucker Max. I don’t have the answers.

“We’re learning how to draw the line” between extremes when it comes to oversharing, Johnson concluded in Time, “and it’s a line that each of us will draw in different ways.” For adult males, the line seems extra shaky, probably drawn lightly, in pencil. Examples are spare, critics come from every angle. Maybe it’s the job of boys then, growing up online, to become men in public, feelings and all, examples on the internet. It’s cheaper than therapy, but maybe we need both.”

And from True/Slant writer Elie Mystal at abovethelaw.com, about the new app to help you calculate the potential cost of ditching your spouse:

You can see where this is going. There will always be the high-level, contentious divorces between wealthy individuals that will require the expert advice of counsel. But a lot of divorces just involve two people who didn’t take “until death do we part” very seriously. Why should they have to hire expensive lawyers? Just upload your tax returns and pictures of the homewrecking hussy onto your phone, and bang, you’ve got yourself an iDivorce.

It could happen, which makes you wonder: What kind of person would start the lawyer haterade flowing? An attorney, of course.

I got divorced in 1995 and the only reason it was affordable was having a pre-nuptial agreement in place that laid it all out in advance. My lawyer, then, charged $350/hour and $50 for a phone call. I finally told him I couldn’t even afford to talk to him (fairly crucial) and he capped his fee.

I think an app giving you some idea how much it will cost to end a marriage is fair. Talk about sticker shock! I only had some idea because I’d hired the same lawyer to do my pre-nup and build right into it a few grand for his divorce fees. Most people spend  lot more time, energy and attention to cupcakes versus wedding cake — and have no clue what undoing the marital duo can cost. A little knowledge is worth a lot down the road.

Besides, who exactly is going to have the information you now need? Your divorced friends likely fall into a few typical categories:

1) burned, bitter, don’t want to talk about it (male version) 2) female version 3) starting the process and still hopeful for “victory” however they envision it 4) halfway through an embattled divorce and bleeding money and wondering if it would have been cheaper to just gut it out and stay together 5) freshly done and wounded 6) freshly done and on the market, baby! They know, or soon learn, that *any* discussion of “that greedy bitch” or “that lying SOB” is likely to ensure that a first date is a last date.

Someone calm, lucid and knowedgable? That would be….a divorce attorney.

If you think a wedding is expensive….

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