thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: money

investments

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199916586/?tag=saloncom08-20

In Marriage Markets, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn examine how macroeconomic forces are transforming our most intimate and important spheres, and how working class and lower income families have paid the highest price. Just like health, education, and seemingly every other advantage in life, a stable two-parent home has become a luxury that only the well-off can afford. The best educated and most prosperous have the most stable families, while working class families have seen the greatest increase in relationship instability.

Why is this so? The book provides the answer: greater economic inequality has profoundly changed marriage markets, the way men and women match up when they search for a life partner. It has produced a larger group of high-income men than women; written off the men at the bottom because of chronic unemployment, incarceration, and substance abuse; and left a larger group of women with a smaller group of comparable men in the middle. The failure to see marriage as a market affected by supply and demand has obscured any meaningful analysis of the way that societal changes influence culture. Only policies that redress the balance between men and women through greater access to education, stable employment, and opportunities for social mobility can produce a culture that encourages commitment and investment in family life.

vicious circles

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2014/05/book-review-carbone-and-cahns-marriage-markets-how-inequality-is-remaking-the-american-family.html

Carbone and Cahn describe these developments in terms of the concept of “marriage markets.” Many scholars from all political and philosophical persuasions object to the very idea of treating intimate relationships as something that should ever be the product of calculation or exchange. Yet, most also agree that supply and demand affect “price.” Carbone and Cahn add that sex ratio imbalances produce virtuous and vicious cycles that influence expectations, alter behavior, and ultimately transform cultural practices. Sociologists Marcia Guttentag and Paul Secord demonstrated in the eighties, in an influential book on sex ratios, Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question, that relationships are in fact the product of a market. If the men outnumbered the women in a given group, Guttentag and Secord argued, men competed among each other to land the “best” women. Women in turn tend to select for some mix of worldly success and good behavior, so an excess of men tends to produce “virtuous cycles” in which men compete to satisfy women by working hard, remaining faithful, and investing in their children. The fact that men outnumber women among high earners eager to pair with each other, Carbone and Cahn argue, provides an explanation for why the marriage rates at the top have remained relatively stable and why divorce rates remain relatively low.

What happens if women outnumber men? The men could seek out higher status women and the women might compete to satisfy the men in a similar fashion to what happens in a market where men outnumber women. It turns out that isn’t what happens: men and women don’t react in the same ways when they are outnumbered in a given marriage market. Instead, men prefer more relationships than committed unions with partners who might outshine them, and the women become jaded by the men’s behavior. In the face of persistent disappointment with male behavior, their standards for an acceptable husband increase and they, too, become more reluctant to marry or to commit to a long-term relationship. The result tends to be what some would term a “vicious circle,” that is, a cultural shift toward greater promiscuity, more gender distrust, greater investment in women’s income opportunities and less in men’s, and fewer stable long term relationships.

[…]

At the end, they note that America has not yet created the infrastructure for the post-industrial era that would make the relationship between home and family more seamless and that, in an era of inequality, American companies have built in greater instability in employment that also undermines family stability, damaging any efforts to rebuild the home-family bridges. They offer a deceptively simple solution to diverging family patterns: fix economic inequality. They also recommend fixing the pathways to adulthood with proposals ranging from better pregnancy support to early childhood education through college and employment.

the crew

http://www.salon.com/2014/05/24/millennials_are_just_this_screwed_the_next_generation_will_not_do_as_well_as_their_parents/

Reardon’s description matches up with what we have been describing throughout this book. The new upper-middle-class model has enormous payoffs for children—payoffs that re-create class identity. Upper-middle-class parents are more likely to raise children within two-parent families, and both mothers and fathers spend more time with their children than their parents did. These well-off parents, who spend substantial sums on cleaning crews and energy-efficient washers and dryers, devote increasing amounts of their own time and that of carefully selected high-quality nannies, preschool teachers, tutors, sports trainers, and camp counselors to creating activities that stimulate their children’s cognitive environment. Well-off families have remade the use of parental energies to invest ever more in children even with two parents in the workforce.

enough

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/01/29/pension-schmension-retire-on-your-own-terms/

Absolutely not! It not stupid to walk out on a pension. What is stupid is staying in a job that you don’t love, when you no longer need the money.

All of this hinges on the concept of “Enough”. It’s a tricky one to grasp if the television has done its job in raising you to be insatiable. But if you work through your own bullet points like the ones above, and you’ve got enough, then dude, trust me, you can go ahead and quit.

When you take early retirement, you are almost always walking away from a whole bunch of money. Salary. Benefits. Bonuses. Stock options. I’ve often recounted how I’ve “lost” least a million dollars of potential income since quitting in 2005. Even now, I am forced to turn down more work opportunities almost every week, and Mrs. Money Mustache does the same. Early retirees seem to have a way of attracting unwanted work opportunities, almost like the casual man who walks into a pub with no desire to hit on women. The employers can almost smell your freedom, and it makes them want to offer you additional money. But unless the work offered is your true love, you will gracefully decline.

We are deliberately sacrificing extra savings and security in our distant futures, for continued free time right now. We’re throwing away the equivalent of many good pensions. Oooo. Big deal.

To gain the ability to quit your job, you have to learn to lose your addiction to artificial security. You may think you’re building up additional financial strength, but really you’re just indulging a psychological weakness.

More money beyond the reasonable guidelines noted above does not make your life better. But spending an extra 10 years working a mundane job, setting the alarm clock and droning away on the conference calls because you are afraid to quit does make your life worse, unless that is truly what you were born to do.

[OTOH, in terms of finding employment as a retiree: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/brooks/2013/08/26/retirement-encore-careers-age-discrimination/2693259/%5D

the scenery

http://moretht.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/non-stop-inertia-interview-with-ivor.html#more

(1) What does the title of your book, ‘Non-Stop Inertia’, refer to?

It represents a perpetual sort of crisis that people seem to be in, in everyday life. There’s this sense of always having to look for the next thing, having to sort everything out – this sort of endless circulating, networking, competing, and always passing through somewhere on the way to somewhere else. It’s sort of a vicious circle. But this is presented as ‘how it is’ or a self-imposed situation – that’s quite important, I think.

The title draws attention to the contradiction in that – in that we’re in a loop of anxiety and we’re not really getting anywhere. There’s a sort of frenetic activity and we’re not really achieving
anything at all. And there’s this sense of freedom all the time, but is it really freedom? Has this sort of mobility and availability and stuff – has it actually made us free in the way that we’re told that it has?

And I suppose I’m thinking as well, in the title, that there’s the implication that if we were to stop in some way, we could see the scenery clearly and see each other clearly, and that the scenery wouldn’t be blurred. We might be able to see an exit, or a way of improving things.

[…]

(3) Why have people accepted a society of non-stop inertia? Why aren’t they resisting it?

It’s clear that certain factors have been put together to stop people resisting it. You sort of feel helpless, that you can’t resist, that you have to go along, that you have to go with the flow. There’s a lot behind that. As an individual – in the face of the dismantling of unions, insecurity, the wage gap, etc. – you’ve got few resources to draw on. I think that all contributes to it. Now, obviously, with mobile devices and stuff like that people are encouraged to exist in their own little bubble and connections are very difficult to establish. But that push towards individualisation and insecurity has a lot to do with it.

[…]

(6) There’s also a psychological dimension to the term ‘precarity’ as well, isn’t there? In the book you say that it describes a fear of losing one’s job (because one needs the money from it) and a simultaneous desire to see one’s job end (because one’s job is boring).

Yes. Again, going back to what I was saying before about why resistance is difficult: You need the job to carry on and you also don’t want it to carry on. It’s having to carry that sort of contradiction around in your head in whatever tasks you’re doing at work. There’s that fear and all other stuff as well – like housing, the welfare system, etc. – which feeds into that fear. Yes, definitely, there’s a psychological element going on there.

[…]

(10) Another theoretical term you discuss in your exploration of the contemporary workplace is ‘emotional labour’. Could you explain what this is?

It’s an idea that Arlie Russell Hochschild was exploring in the 1970s. She introduced this phrase relating to the work involved in producing the product of yourself as a commodity – the smile and the appearance of customer service and all that sort of stuff. Also involved in emotional labour is the working up of a sort of synthetic enthusiasm for something, such as a product, which feeds into sales and jobs like that.

In the book, I look at how the term is applicable now, and, as with precarity, I think it seems to have spread a lot. In one sense there’s what I call remote emotional labour, which is virtual media work, advertising, marketing, etc., and call centres. I’m also thinking about – again from a personal point of view – how Hochschild’s traditional ideas of emotional labour – of selling yourself and of selling an experience to the customer – could be extended to the “jobseeker” and worker as well. You’re selling yourself to your manager and your boss through a performance of enthusiasm and immersion in whatever tasks you’re doing – looking as if you’re giving 110% and all that crap. That applies whether you’re in immaterial labour or in what would be old-fashioned manual labour: in a warehouse or something. It’s still there. It’s still a background to it – this sense that you have to appear to not just be doing what you’re paid for, but enjoying it and feeling that it’s the right thing for you.

As Hochschild also mentions, the effects of selling yourself starts to affect yourself and your identity. The commodified self starts to re-shape the real self. You come to believe your cover story, so to speak. Again, going back to what I was saying earlier about resistance – having to sell yourself has a huge impact on people, especially when you add a sense of self-failure and self-blame onto it, which helps people get into the part that they are playing.

heavy lifting

Women aged 35 to 44 have the worst work-life balance, but those who are carers for both children and others fare worst of all.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/families-paying-the-price-of-a-new-financial-order-20140517-38gon.html#ixzz32553w0Ob

endurance

I spread my financial documents out a few days ago and found I was correct that I might be able to retire as early as eight years from now. Ten or twelve would be better from a financial viewpoint (with, of course, twenty being best of all), while six would be the lowest possibility.

I have some fun plans lined up for the rest of this year, but after that, I don’t know what is going to keep me engaged until I move to the retirement phase!

Some people might wonder what I will do with myself in retirement and if I will be happier. Having just had a trial run of being unemployed, I can say with confidence that I can keep busy and am happier not working. Yesterday, for instance, I dragged myself out of bed, hurriedly ran some errands on the way to work, made a bit of small talk with coworkers while multitasking like a maniac, and then trudged home from work at the end of the day, managing to get to the farmer’s market on the way back. Had I had the day to myself, I would have gotten those errands done and also finished my pile of books and made a trip to the library, gotten my laundry done and the house cleaned, done some cooking, gone to the beach, done some yoga, and possibly gone out that night to do something interesting. The latter scenario is the one that appeals.

Anything can happen, of course, over the next eight years. There’s a slight possibility I could meet someone, although I admit that seems less and less possible. The other big unknown is how long my mother will live. Will she make it to a “normal” old age (mid-late eighties) and then peacefully pass away? If so, that would coincide with the time period in which I want to retire and would ease those plans. Or will she live to an old old age, with all the long, drawn-out health problems that could ensue? That will impact my options.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all living too long and the structure of the job market makes the problem worse. Should we work for forty-five years straight with only two weeks off a year so that we will be okay financially in our seventies, when we are truly old? I have several friends like myself who have older mothers who are miserable and lonely in their old age. How does one raise kids if one is working all the time without a break? If you have them early and remove yourself from the workplace, you lose valuable investment years, and then you have to compete with all the younger folks when you try to get back in. If you take a break later in life, in your forties, you will hit the ageism issue when you try to return. And because they are trying to save for their old age, people aren’t retiring, so there aren’t jobs and opportunities for younger people.

I refuse to be hard on myself for not having kids under these conditions. It’s a very difficult thing to figure out.

Related articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/14/magazine/living-too-long.html
In the years after she retired, for example, Aunt Millie followed the pattern of labor, leisure, travel and volunteer work that dominated most of her adult life. In her 70’s, she went to camp in the Berkshires, worked with young children and the blind, did some part-time bookkeeping, spent the winters in Florida and filled her evenings with movies, concerts and plays. In other words, she kept busy, which seems to be our society’s answer to questions of meaning and existence.

Meanwhile, the years passed and now she is truly old, too infirm to shuffle off to Miami Beach or to read to second graders or to take in a light opera the first Tuesday of every month. The life of the “oldest old,” as those over 85 are known, is marked by what gerontologists call the “dreadful D’s” — decline, deterioration, dependency, death. From second summer to chill winter.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/19/opinion/la-oe-rodriguez19-2010apr19
The Japanese, with their healthy diet, good healthcare and advanced medicine, have the highest life expectancy in the world. In 2008, nearly a quarter of the population, or 28.2 million people, was over 65. By 2030, 1 in 3 Japanese will be senior citizens. If civilization is the struggle against death, then surely Japan’s high life expectancy is a triumph of human culture.

But according to Florian Coulmas of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, the Japanese are “exhausted” and the mood in the country is “depressed.” They are burdened by the lengths of their lives.

And in fact, Japan, a place where suicide isn’t utterly taboo, has seen a dramatic rise in senior citizens taking their own lives.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-too-long-is-a-risk/
The odds are 31 percent — almost one in three — that one member of a 65-year-old couple will live to age 95. The odds are one in 10 — 10 percent — that one member of this couple will live to age 100.

But most people aren’t financially prepared to live that long or deal with the uncertainty of their actual lifespan. Retirement planning would be easier if you knew exactly how long you’ll live. So what can you do to protect yourself against the risk of living too long? Stay tuned for my next post.

the guarded

After many years of observation and experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to succeed in a job like mine is to be cool and reserved. Sometimes I’ve been lucky enough to find an ally at work with whom I can share gallows humor, but the higher I go, the more difficult that becomes. Instead I spend a good portion of my energy at work trying to suppress my personality, thoughts, and emotions, even while handling one impossible situation after another. When I slip and let my personality through, I often feel like I’ve made a mistake.

It’s only when I come home from work, shut the door, and am alone that it feels safe to let my hair down. Although I try to retain some openness to “meeting someone,” I can no longer imagine throwing myself into the brutality of the dating market on top of dealing with this job. If it happens, it will have to be serendipitous. Same with friendships. Children have finally come to represent additional conflict and stress at a time in my life when I crave less of those things.

Last weekend I spent almost an entire day at home reading through a stack of brilliant books, and I was delirious with happiness. Few things make me as happy anymore.

Some people may lose heart with trying for connection after their first brush with loss or disappointment; others bounce back time after time. I think I’ve finally reached my personal tipping point. I’m making peace with the idea that the coming years will be about building the nest egg that will allow me to retire to a frugal and solitary but free life filled with good books and, possibly, a dog.

Soon I will do the thing I vowed not to do in that I will sit down with paper, pen, and my various financial statements to figure out when that day might come. It will probably take at least eight years, maybe more. I will continue to schedule in points of light in my calendar, but underneath it all I will be moving steadily toward that goal.

the secret advantage

I told myself I wouldn’t immediately begin dreaming of retirement after starting back to work, but here I am, dreaming again. I suppose, like the protagonist in Lolly Willowes, I want to stop having to do, do, do.

Helpful information here:

http://www.moneysense.ca/retire/going-it-alone-retirement-for-singles

To answer Diane’s question, no, you can’t just take the numbers for couples and divide by two. That’s because singles don’t have the same opportunities to share costs for things like accommodation, vehicles, and running a household. The fact is, singles will have to save more for retirement on a per-person basis than retirees who can split the load with a partner.

But before you get too depressed, many singles do have a secret advantage that tends to level the playing field. If they’re not raising children, they have far more opportunities to save during their 30s and 40s, when couples are typically up to their necks in dirty diapers, daycare costs and monster mortgages.

on the other side

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/singletons/200810/forty-or-close-is-the-new-20-having-babies

In her book, “Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood,” Elizabeth Gregory, director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Houston discovered that older mothers are usually more emotionally ready to cope with parenting. Gregory says that “many older mothers have met their career and personal goals so they can and want to focus on family.” Life experience is a boon in terms of translating work experience into running a household. She also notes that marriages among older women, almost 85 percent are married when they become mothers, tend to be more stable. Older, single first-time moms have built a stable support network by the time they have a child.

Although older mothers may face infertility issues, may have more difficult pregnancies, and are more likely to have Cesareans (National Institute of Health), on an overall, the positives outweigh the possible problems for the women over 35 who are fueling the trend to motherhood later-among them, a group called Motherhood Later rather than Sooner, a resource for midlife mothers. Women over 38 using assisted reproductive methods adjusted in almost the same ways to pregnancy as those who were younger, and older mothers scored higher on things like ability to handle challenges and flexibility according to a study conducted in Sidney, Australia further underscoring Gregory’s results.

John Mirowsky, sociology professor at the Population Center at University of Texas who also works with the National Institute of Health says the ideal age to give birth is between 34 and 40. On the plus side he reports that those mothers experience better health, have healthier babies, and are less likely to turn to risky behavior. Much of this excellent news relates to the fact that older mothers tend to have more education and to be more financially as well as emotionally secure.