Class and Credit

The always fabulous Michigan Radio folks recently did a great series called Culture and Class, much of which I was able to catch on the way to or from work. Most of the pieces were about much more than income, as class truly is.

One thing I am aware of this week is the relationship between the privilege that comes with class and credit.

When we were newly married and Aaron was still finishing undergrad, we were able to buy a house because even though we didn’t have money, we had credit. When we (predictably enough) got in over our heads and ran out of cash, we had credit (cards, or later home equity). And if the bank wouldn’t give us that credit and we needed it, a family member could co-sign for it, or I could get a loan from the “Bank of Dad,” as he calls it. My family never would have let me derail my education or long-term financial well-being, because they had the power to help me. The same  goes for most of my friends. We’ve all at times complained about being “poor,” but being poor means not having that safety net.

Being poor means you don’t have money.

You don’t have credit.

You don’t have family co-signers (because, hello, they’re poor too!).

You don’t have a Bank of Dad.

And (Christian) educational institutions should stop assuming everyone does. If you really want some diversity–of class among other things–you have to stop pretending everyone is coming from the same place. You have to consider what it would be like to walk into your institution without the privileges most of the students have. And if you realize, or they tell you, that this lack of privilege is holding them back from participating, you have to step up and fill the gap! That doesn’t mean you have to hand them everything, but you do have to give them a tool that fits in their hand. Yes, that is your responsibility. I see you have some lovely, plaque-adorned sculptures which certainly reduced someone’s tax liability–could you not be troubled to go ask those people to be someone’s last resort, or at least their stinking co-signer?

Sigh.

Pardon my rant. It’s not for me. It’s for the whatever percent.

OCCUPY [REDACTED] COLLEGE!

Black (Hair) Friday

Missed my blog post on Saturday, darn it! This is because I did, predictably, pack almost too much into Saturday–after staying up late Friday shopping online for . . . what else? . . . hair products!

Several sites for products I either like or wanted to try had big black Friday sales, and if you have a little natural you know good hair products are almost as expensive as they are natural. I hadn’t purchased anything in a long time, though, since her stylist hinted that it might be better to stick with a couple things that work well together and I already had too much of a mish-mash stockpile. Then seemingly overnight I was on the last dregs of things. Danger!

We got home pretty late from super fun times with super old friends, so I was racing the clock for the deals that ended at midnight Friday. Some companies are extending their deals through Monday, though, so there’s still time to stock and save! (Happygirlhair.com has a post listing all the sites with sales.)

I managed to limit my purchases (for now) to Darcy’s Botanicals and Bee Mine, the latter of which is new to me. I was tempted to reload on Oyin Handmade and try some Blended Beauty stuff . . . but then I’d be back to too many different things again. I can get Kinky Curly at Target. I know this sounds crazy to some of you but I really don’t use a ton of products. Honestly I should probably use more to make styles last longer and to give AJ more moisture now that the air’s so dry. I hope I hit on a  great combination of new stuff. And although the products are expensive, they usually last quite a while, and I have had money sitting in PayPal for a long time for work I’ve done on the side, so it’s kind of like a secret hair products slush fund. Or it was until I discovered that Land’s End takes PayPal. DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID?! LAND’S END TAKES PAYPAL!

Be afraid, Mr. Postman. Be very afraid.

But please also be fast!

Free Bonus Saturday

Yesterday we spent our Thanksgiving with my parents (at their house), my Grandma H., my aunt B., and Shaylala. Of course we had the pre-lunch of cheese and crackers, dips, veggies, etc., then watched a good half a football game before the perfectly timed (Yay, Mom!) Thanksgiving feast. AJ likes the word feast–“Tomorrow are we going to Grandma’s for the feast?” Then we watched a sad half a football game and drowned our sorrows in pie. It was a nice relaxed afternoon (until the napless one started melting down at heading-home time, anyway).

Today AJ scared me to half to death by coming and leaning on me while I was sleeping, but I got a few extra Zs anyway. We didn’t do much in the morning except go the Christmas market downtown for a bit, which was probably a bad plan because I got a late start on her hair. It had been in twists, then in a twist-out since Sunday. ERROR–it was kind of a mess and so the whole washing and detangling process took much longer than I’d hoped. I also started braiding without much of a plan, so I ended up with a bunch of box braids which also took forever. Which meant a late/short naptime for her and not much day left for me to accomplish anything else. But that’s okay, because tonight we are going to hang out with old friends, and tomorrow I should have time to clean up the house before we have seminary people over. I don’t think I’ll get any shopping in this weekend except to order some badly needed hair products that are on sale.

Thank goodness for Free Bonus Saturdays!

On Being a Generalist

Recently at work I was talking with someone about what kind of work I enjoy most and what interests me most, and I came back to my usual knee-jerk moderate position: I find it hard to want to narrow my focus too much because I like the variety, I am interested in things on a wide span of the spectrum, and so on. The person said, yeah, of course, “you’re such a generalist,” you do it all. This wasn’t intended as a bad thing, but it was a comment that stuck with me.

Am I a generalist? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I suppose I am. I do have diverse interests. I like to read theologians, pastors, mom bloggers, public policy wonks, social justice advocates,  football message boards, minority perspectives on politics and culture, and The Onion. I like things that are funny and things that inspire me, stories that are true and stories that ring true. I want to know what we can learn from the great minds of the past and what’s trending on Twitter. I don’t feel much need anymore to act like “high culture” is better than “pop culture” or pretend I’m above the latter. I’m an idea and information junkie but not a book snob.

I think mostly this is a good thing. It has helped me be able to edit a wide variety of books and enjoy the diversity. On the other hand, though, no one can be an expert in everything, and I do feel that there are some things I used to know a lot about that I’ve lost my expertise in a bit as my interests have changed or broadened. Part of that is due to changes in life stage, mainly parenting, which brings up a host of new issues while reducing the time in which to sit around and ponder them (although many you do spent a lot of time actually acting on some of them!).

In fact for now I am actually working on broadening my generalities even more, focusing more on fiction these days. I think that’s a good thing–generally speaking!

Double-Stop Shopping

In an attempt to have enough food in the house to get us through the weekend and beginning of next week without going near a store within 48 hours on either side of Thanksgiving . . . I did double grocery shopping tonight. I hit the new Aldi, a bare-bones discount store, and then Meijer. Whew. That was a couple hours and a bunch of bucks, although considering we are having people over and I tend to get out of control for events (I wonder where I learned this, ahem, Mom), it could have been worse had I not knocked a bunch off the list at Aldi. I am still learning what they have there at good prices that we like, so I need to keep Aldi-ing regularly to learn how to make the most of it.

Generally I do not like to run from store to store, though. I usually end up going on Saturdays during AJ’s nap, and frankly it wastes enough of my Saturday hitting one store. I should try to go on weeknights more, although it seems so late and I’m exhausted by the time I get it all put away. I know it’s possible to figure out the store sale cycles and get the good deals every week at each store, but that does take some planning and extra time.

I also should be using coupons more–okay, I hardly ever use them. Again mostly it’s a matter of figuring out a system. But it has to be pretty simple or I’m not going to do it. I’m also not interested in stockpiling a basement full of canned goods, although it’s nice to have the things I use regularly on hand.

I guess there’s sort of two philosophies of grocery shopping: (1) plan your meals for the week or month, and only buy what you need for those meals; or (2) buy what you use regularly when it’s cheapest and stock it until you use it. I guess I have been doing sort of a hybrid. I plan meals for the week because otherwise this house would not function (or be fed, anyway), and make sure I have/buy what I need for the week. But I also buy things I know I’ll use when I see them on sale, leading to a certain amount of canned goods and cream cheese stockpiling.

What’s your system? Any couponing or other grocery saving tips? Simple resources you’ve tried?