Saturday, September 26, 2009

Credit Cards

My generation has financed our short pasts and risked our futures with credit cards and student loans. I am definitely not innocent of this, and it sucks.

We were told that we needed a college education, which turned into a bachelor's degree, which turned into a master's degree. We were told that we would only get jobs if we had theses degrees. As we neared collegiate age we were told that college was expensive, and our parents didn't save enough to pay. We weren't all smart enough to pay our way with scholarships, so most of us got student loans, most of which were from the government that educated us up to college.

And at the college, working for minimum wage or slightly above trying to buy pizza and beer and living off the refund of our student loans, and nice looking lady, someone who looks like our favorite aunt, came up to us in the student union and told us we could get a t-shirt or a free pizza if we just signed up for a credit card. You need a credit card to build your credit, so its a good thing. We'll give you a $3,000 limit, but if you only spend what you can, and pay it off, you'll be okay.

Damn that pizza was good, and $10,000 later with a 15% interest rate, that t-shirt is the nicest thing you own.

Credit is this scary thing that's catching up with us now. We're over-educated and underpaid and were planning on making more with our degree than we were when we started, so those "emergency" credit card purchases would be paid off. And now they don't want to hire us.

There are no jobs, or so it seems. We were told to spend, and now we're told not to. There are no fruits to our labor, because we have no labor.

Buying in Chicago

If you've visited Chicago in the past year and made a purchase, you've probably noticed our ridiculous sales tax rate. All purchases are subject to sales tax, which is 2.25% on grocery purchases, 10.25% on general merchandise and even more on liquor and bottled water (5¢/bottle). Which is crazy, because if you want to be healthier drinking water is one of the best things you can do for yourself and sometimes you either run out of the water you brought from home or forgot or didn't expect to be gone as long or what ever, my point is people don't always drink bottled water to be snobby but to hydrate themselves (who would have thought?)

But I digress, this isn't about bottled water, but about the general merchandise tax. The state of Illinois runs about 7% sales tax, and then Cook county adds most of the rest, which is 10% in the immediate suburbs. At a lower rate sales tax doesn't hurt that much and makes you feel like you're helping your state, but at 10% or higher, it really adds to the cost of a product. A $100 pair of jeans turns into a $110 pair of jeans. A recent purchase of $54.50 work pants and a $12.99 top added up to just under $75. It's kind of crazy to think about.

The car-less can make it out to many of these shopping centers in the 'burbs via CTA, but that doesn't save much tax-wise. Neighboring Wisconsin has a low sales tax rates and my native near-by Minnesota doesn't add sales tax to necessities like clothing and food.

But what if a trip just isn't possible? Don't leave home! When you shop online you are only charged state sales tax and many major online retailers offer shipping deals including low flat-rate shipping or free shipping. Go into the store and try on the clothing or check out the products you want, depending on the sales staff, they should be cool with this because in the long run, the money goes back to their company. If they're not just lie and say nothing worked, which really isn't a lie because, in the store, it doesn't work for your wallet. If you're not so good with remembering type a memo into your phone or write down the styles and sizes so you make sure you get the right products.

The next time you try on those awesome jeans, hold off, go home and check out the stores' website. If it doesn't save you money to buy online, they'll be there tomorrow.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Right? Try the wrong!

I am so sick of conservative/right wing/Republican bull shit. I really don't understand what they're afraid of, a country that works?

I've written a lot about healthcare because it's something near and dear to my heart. I work at least 50 hrs/week at two different jobs, but I do not have decent healthcare. I have minimal emergency coverage through my dad's job that my parents pay for. I think I'm still a student as far as my dad's company is concerned.

I am well-educated. I'm not a slacker, I try my best to be a productive member of society. I pay my bills on time. But apparently, according to the aforementioned scum, I'm a horrible person. I rent, I don't have healthcare, I'm not married and popping out babies, I don't own a car or care to own a car. I am a liberal single woman, three things conservatives hate.

I'm sick of this Obama-is-Hitler-our-country-is-going-down-the-toilets-we're-all-gonna-die-he-hasn't-fixed-everything-yet-our-economy-is-horrible-the-unemployed-are-scum-unless-they-are-conservatives-at-which-point-they-were-robbed mentality that has overcome this country.

Use your brain and think before you allow yourself to be brainwashed by conservative garbage, please!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Benefits of Brinner

Brinner, or Breakfast for Dinner, is amazing. First off, how often do you get to eat good breakfast food in the morning? If you're like me, it's very rare. I'm lucky if I wake up with enough time to have a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit, most morning it's one or the other. Point B) if you're like me, you only get time to cook one meal a day, and that's usually supper. Example 3: Breakfast is usually cooked one serving at a time, which means that you get a fresh meal every night, rather than a reheated hotdish.

To keep it from being too filling, pick one breakfast dish like pancakes of eggs, skip the heavy meats like bacon and pork sausage (but if you must indulge, go with the turkey version) and top the rest off with fruit or veggies. If you like your eggs yellow, but still want to cut calories, add one yolk, but toss the rest into your scrabbled eggs or omelette. Do you love cheese as much as I do? Get the 2% milk version to top your eggs with.

Pancakes and fresh grapes, amazing! Eggs and all the cantaloupe you can eat? The best supper ever.

Brinner is also great to cook for a couple of friends, it's super easy and always appreciated.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Golden Girls

I've been watching the Golden Girls a lot lately, and they really embody the single girl spirit. Even though they all were married, they learned to live without men as protectors and bread winners. Three of the "Girls" were widdowed, but Dorothy was divorced.

It's hard to continue your life as normal after a break-up. A major part of your life is suddenly ripped out of your life, and minimal to no contact is preferred. It's hard, and you cry and you either eat way too much or don't eat anything and normal doesn't exist until you rebuild.

Now imagine that you've built your whole life with someone, not just a few months or a few years but your whole life. And you don't just break up with someone, they die. The person you love will never be back. That's what the Golden Girls is about.

They are strong female role models and I think young twenty-somethings can take a page from their book. No matter what happens in life, you must march on, and great friends are a key support.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Declaration of Independence

I like to be as independent as possible, probably to a fault. I don't accept help very easily, not with out a clear like of reciprocation on my part. Three weeks ago I carried an unconstructed shelf up three flights of stairs by myself even though it clearly said "team lift." (It wasn't really that heavy) I then proceeded to build the five-shelf bookcase alone. It turned out fine, I love it.

I love living by myself, I love being able to choose where things go and how they fit together. I get to decide what I eat and when. Although, I had little argument with my roommates about furniture arrangement, not because the trusted my judgement, but because they were too lazy to put anything back the way it was.

The biggest thing that sucks is when it comes to safety things. Especially with all the recent muggings in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, where I work. It's had me on edge, but I don't want it to ruin my independent nature.

A few weeks ago I went to a party with couple-friends, and we returned home @ 3am in a cab. I planned to walk the four blocks from their place to mine, but the male insisted they drive me home. I refused at first, not wanting to put them out any more than I already had. He insisted again and I reluctantly accepted, but tired and greatful, but a little put off at the slight macho-big brother protector attitude. Not at that it's a bad thing, but I'm just not used to it. I am the oldest, and therefore never had a big brother and my father was never that type.

I guess it's just something I don't want to get used to. Accepting help from a friend's fiance is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from relying on a boyfriend, and boyfriends disappear so easily. The loss of companionship and sex is one thing to deal with, but the loss of your perception of safety? That is something I can't deal with. Having my well-being depend on someone else and then have that suddenly ripped away from me? No, thank you.

Everything in a single live seems to go back to Sex and the City at least for me. Check out the the S4 episode entitled "My Motherboard, Myself" for my point.

So, for now, I'm independent. I think I always will be. Same last name, no joint checking, I'll ride the Red Line alone @ 4am if I have to. (not that it's my first choice, but it happens).