Top Posts Of The Week And Open Thread

- We Cosigned Our Unemployed Son’s Student Loans. Now We’re Screwed
My Dry Cleaner Thinks My Last Name Is ‘Asshole’
I Used To Work At GameStop, Now I’m Never Shopping There Again
The Secretly Awesome Design Of The Ordinary Tic-Tac Box
If Chipotle Is Going To Round Numbers On Your Bill, It Should Only Round Down — From Now On

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  1. Laura Northrup says:

    I’m going to a wedding this weekend where I know the bride is about to lose her job. (She wasn’t when the wedding date was set.) I haven’t picked up my gift yet. Should I just give the whole “household goods” thing a pass and give them cash?

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      I think so. They can always buy stuff off their registry, but that serving platter won’t do them much good if they’re trying to pay the electric bill. But in NYC, where I grew up, cash is pretty standard for weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs anyway, so maybe that’s just me.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You should ask. Someone might consider that a jab at their situation, or feel shame for feeling like they need help.

    • chizu says:

      I’d say cash is always the best gift. Then again, it could be because I’m Asian and that’s the standard for us. Have they been living together for a while? If they have, they would most likely have all the household items they need, so there’s no point in getting them more. If anything, get them a gift card to a place where you know they’ll use/need.

      A side story — my coworker got married last year. The box that held all the cash/cheques/giftcards was robbed. Luckily most people wrote cheques and they could get them cancelled and the giftcards were also registered with information so they were traced/tracked/cancelled fairly easily. They caught the thief — but that made me think if I were to give someone a cash gift, I should do a cheque so I could always cancel it if something like that were to happen. (Another thing that would help… Don’t have the box near the entrance — have it by the bride and groom’s table…)

    • slyabney says:

      In these cases, I’ve just gotten them a gift card to place if it’s like Target/Wal-Mart since they could use it to buy what they want or things on their registery.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’d say it’s fine. It might seem awkward, but I loved getting cash from my wedding because we could pay for things we needed, like electricity. I was fine using mismatched plates and pans, but I appreciated that people helped us pay our bills, even if they didn’t know it or they thought we might have used it for crystal wine glasses instead (we did not).

  2. Laura Northrup says:

    Also, I know there are a lot of pet owners here. I’ve tried so many different kinds of food on my dog, and the thing she likes the best are the Bravo packaged raw burgers. I don’t even cook meat at home, so feeding her raw meat is weird to me, but it’s something that she actually eats. Any raw feeders (dog or cat) out there who can reassure me that this is totally safe and we’re not all going to die of salmonella if she licks my face?

    • Quirk Sugarplum says:

      You won’t *all* die. According to the FDA less than 1% of salmonella infections are fatal. But from looking around on the net, it seems that researchers generally discourage raw feeding for pets which will be in frequent close contact with people. Try showing your dog a menu from a nice Chinese place, maybe.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        If she had her way she would call for takeout daily. She likes any human food, but no foods designed for dogs. Sigh, dog.

        • Thnaggle Tooph says:

          Relax, it’s totally safe and no one is going to die. However, use common sense food handling practices just as you would for yourself. Toss any uneaten food asap, wash your hands, defrost in the fridge, you get the idea. There are many benefits to a raw diet and if that’s what your dog prefers stick with it, don’t offer kibble and raw foods. Bravo is actually one of the higher rated brands. If your dog prefers human food, I’m presuming you are the creator of that habit? You should consider nipping that in the bud, lol

        • Jane_Gage says:

          In the dog’s defense I wouldn’t want to eat dog food either.

    • Not Given says:

      Dana Carpender feed her dogs BARF (Bones And Raw Food)
      http://holdthetoast.com/content/the_barf_diet

  3. The Upright Man mk2 says:

    Going to the MD Renaissance Festival this weekend. First time I’ve ever been and I’m looking forward to it.

    • EdWedig says:

      Are you going in costume? That’s always fun.

      My friends have a booth at the Ohio Renaissance Festival (Wizards, Lizards and Ringz/Valkyrie Pewter). Here’s hoping that Isaac doesn’t rain them out!

  4. VintageLydia says:

    I have a busy afternoon/evening of chores tonight. We squeezed all our guest bedroom stuff in the office to make room for the nursery so now we have to arrange it so that it can function as both guest room and office. Plus about a million loads of laundry. Plus normal weekly chores (bathrooms, vacuuming, etc, ugh, I hate chores!) PLUS crafting a baby shower gift for fellow Consumerista ToffeeMama (and I still need to get the supplies.) Probably going to IKEA and other furniture stores this weekend to replace the dining table, too. I’m both looking forward to and dreading that particular errand. Any excuse to go to IKEA, but I hate spending that money :/

    • slyabney says:

      Oooh I’m going to IKEA tonight to get a dining table. I’m hoping it won’t be so crowded tonight so I can look around instead of being in stealth mode to get just the table.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        I want this from IKEA – Article# 201.047.18 a Norden table. My daughter lives near an IKEA in Maryland, and one of my coworker’s sons lives near one in NYC, so at least I can get it without having to ship it!

        • slyabney says:

          Oooh I was looking at that one but I think I’m going with this one: IKEA PS 2012 It’s much more my style. More expensive but more my style.

          I have one like the one you’ve picked for the outside (or at least that’s how they sell it): ÄPPLARÖ Article Number: 502.085.35 It doesn’t have the storage but it is another color option!

      • Dustbunny says:

        I’m planning to buy a dining table from Ikea in a few months. I kind of like their version of the “tulip table”, the Docksta. I just wonder how durable the tabletop is. I bought a white laminate-type dining table a couple years ago and it’s all scratched & stained already.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          You can always have a piece of tempered glass cut for the top of the table.

          • Dustbunny says:

            Meh, if I have to spend the $$$ on a piece of glass I might as well splurge & buy a Saarinen licensed table at Design Within Reach.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              Glass doesn’t cost that much.

            • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

              A 42″ round piece of glass at Pier 1 is $99. I am willing to be that for a standard diameter table(Ikea lists it as 41 3/8) you can get a local place to order/make one for you for possibly cheaper. Combine it with some rusoleum glass frost in a can and a stencil(on the side that faces the table), and you can have a stylish and custom tabletop.

              • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

                We have a local mom and pop hardware store in town, and they custom cut glass. I found this handy when my large dog stuck his head through the living room window.

  5. chizu says:

    Hey everyone — I need input on this issue I might have to deal with in the future. As we all know, the housing market sucks right now and likely continue to suck for a while. So I don’t think it’s possible for me to sell my house and make my money back, I’m going to be tens of thousands into the hole for sure. So I thought of renting it out, but what should I look out for as a potential Land Lord? What kind of things should I expect? What can I do to protect myself and my property?

    Before I could even rent my unit out, I’d have to replace quite a few items, so pretty much all my household appliance would be brand new, over relatively new. (And I’d have to put out tens of thousands to replace the dishwasher, HVAC+heater, and some smaller items.) I’m far from handy, so any repair the tenant will need will be outsourced. I thought about a management company — but I was told that can get very expensive. On top of that, I don’t think I could rent the place out at “full price”, which would cover both my mortgage + property tax + HOA fee. I might have to put an extra few hundreds in a month to cover all that, but I’m assuming about 75% of that will be covered by rent. Anyway, so if I have to cough up 25% of expenses + management company fee, I might be looking at a lot of fees every month (on top of having to pay my own rent). So I’m not sure if getting a management company is a feasible thing, or if I should just call up a handyman whenever I need some work done.

    I was told to get a realtor, and the realtor will take care of all the grunt work for me. (Finding a tenant, draft up a contract, do background check, etc.) But should I have a lawyer too just in case? Some also mentioned forming a title company, so if and when the tenant sues — it’s the company that gets sued and it won’t hurt me personally. (In this case, I’d probably need a lawyer.) I have an accountant already, so I’m not too worried about the tax end (and I also know that whatever rent I made is considered as income). What else should I look out for? I really don’t think I could sell my house — there are units in the same complex that had been out on the market for months and they kept dropping the prices. And I can’t put my house at the same price as these houses because I’ll end up losing a tremendous amount of money.

    Rent is also depressingly high. I probably could afford to get one bedroom (the cheapest in the area) + contribute toward the 25% — and then barely scrape by with everything else. (By cheapest rent in the area, I’m still looking at 2-2.5x of what my ex would pay for for a one-bedroom apartment at his place.) But if I can’t get a tenant at my house, I’m not sure how I could cough up my half of the mortgage + rent. I might be able to do it, but I won’t be able to eat and take care of my other basic expenses.

    I don’t know when this is going to happen (very likely by next spring, it’ll go in full gear), but I just want to do my homework and know what to expect, or at the very least, know my options. Right now all I could do is cut-back on all my expenses, but I really don’t have much else left to cut back.

    Well, I hope everyone will have a good holiday! I’m planning on going into New Hope, PA to window shop.

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      I wish I could offer some useful advice, but I’ve never been a landlord. I can tell you that Nolo Press has a lot of helpful information online (I looked some of it over myself), and their books are excellent resources for non-lawyers.

      Can you live in part of your house and rent out a bedroom, or build a half-kitchen and half-bath in the basement or something? That might solve your rent income vs. rent outlay issue. It would cost more up front, but it could save you rent indefinitely.

      • chizu says:

        Unfortunately there’s no basement… Not to mention I really can’t think of anyone to move into the house with. I don’t want to just post this on Craigslist and run into some psycho/dirty slob/etc. I’m dealing with it right now and if the other person bails out — I want a clean start and I want my own mess to deal with…

    • Not Given says:

      If rent is depressingly high why would you need to charge less than your expenses to a tenant?

      • chizu says:

        Because that’s pretty much where the rent on a typical townhouse kind of top out — it would cover my mortgage easily, but it won’t cover mortgage+property tax.

        I think a typical townhouse in this area will run $1,800-$2,000. A typical (aka kind of crummy) one bedroom run anywhere between $1,200-1,400 (some go up to $2,400). Let’s just say property tax in New Jersey is really high, so meanwhile my mortgage equals to about a 2 bedroom apartment, my property tax is about half of my mortgage.

        There’s another person on the title+loan, so I make half the payment every month (which equates to 1 bedroom apartment). The other person is going to bail soon, so that’s why I’m doing all these math right now. I’ll likely check in with a realtor soon so I’d know how much I could get for my house. Due to the location of where my house is, I think if I get 1,800-2,000 is pretty good. It’s more of a nice “family” neighbourhood, but not so much of a “college student” (aka consistent stream of new tenants), and not exactly right by the mass transit line either.

  6. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’m looking forward to the 3 day weekend just to get the recycling under control! My goodness that plastic adds up! I also have about eleventy zillion aluminum cans to crush and take to the recycling center to cash in (going into TV fund).

    I have a new exhaust system on my Escape now – old guy who has a pipe bending/exhaust shop did it this morning. It looks and sounds great! Oh, and he said I should replace the gas filter, so I’ll stop tonight when I get groceries and get one at Advanced Auto.

    I’ve expanded my new TV fund at the credit union to be a “new TV + new laptop” fund…my thought is I can get a laptop with the HDMI output and a TV with the input, and watch TV shows that are posted online. That’s the last step I need to cancel Comcast. I have just under $1K so far, so I’m well on my way.

    Weight loss update: I’ve lost 22 1/2 lbs since I quit eating milk and cereal for breakfast (replaced it with protein shake), and I’ve been watching portion sizes. I was able to wear my favorite summer shirt this week – it’s lime green with a huge embroidered parrot motif. Tacky, I know, but I like it and I was so happy to be able to wear it all buttoned up, and loose, instead of unbuttoned with a white tank top underneath!! :) Thanks for letting me share this here, as it keeps me honest and I when I feel like eating 1/2 of a pie, I think…no…I don’t want to report weight GAIN…LOL!

    I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

    • VintageLydia says:

      Yay! Congrats! I’m glad we can be your little internet inspirations!

    • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

      I just burn all my plastic and aluminum.

    • chizu says:

      Yay, congrats! I’ve been trying to watch what I eat really carefully. Luckily it’s still summer, so there are plenty of delicious fruit and vegetables available that I enjoy eating. I worry that once winter comes, I’m going to end up packing on weight because I know my eating habit will change and I’ll end up eating a lot more because it’s cold and I want comfort food… (Just need to shed 5-10 pounds to feel good again!)

      Mind me asking what’s your total weight-loss goal is?

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Well, total goal right now is 50 lbs. I’d like to lose more, but for right now, that will more than do. I don’t want to make an unrealistic goal, and then get disappointed and give up. I’ve always been large my whole life. To make matters worse, I have a large frame, so even when I’m really thin, I might be able to squeeze into a ladies size 16 pants. My bone structure just won’t allow smaller pants. My high school and college friends nicknamed me ‘zon, short for Amazon, and I was called Moose. That’s why I’m so sensitive when people at work seem to think it’s their job to give me weight loss tips.

        I know what you mean about the fruits and veggies! That’s the one thing I don’t skimp on. Sometimes in the winter, I buy frozen fruit and eat it partially thawed at lunchtime. Not as good as fresh, but much better than canned!

        • VintageLydia says:

          Ah man, I know how you feel about bone structure. I’m pretty proportional to my height except for my super wide hips. I think the smallest pants I’ll ever fit is a very large 6 (so really an 8.) But my waist is tiny when I’m that slim (size 2-4.) Then I have an ample bosom. I like my body shape, but despite being pretty damn close to ideal beauty standards, it’s freaking impossible to buy clothes that don’t need to be altered. And of course, right now I’m not near that skinny, pregnancy notwithstanding. I guess I’ll see where I’m at once BabyVintage gets here.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Wife just got her last paycheck from teaching. We’re now flying by the seat of our pants.

    Could someone, please, at least interview her for a job? She could really use a job!

  8. The Beer Baron says:

    Plans to attend the Annual Dragon Enthusiasts Convention in Atlanta have been scuttled, as I am still tapped out from the Lake Geneva Convention I attended two weeks ago. This is a pity, but I would really only spend the time I was there lamenting that it is not as fun now as it was during the Gay Nineties. Also, one can only handle a certain amount of men in kilts, even if they do not happen to be Scots.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      So no DragonCon make Homer…something, something?

  9. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    OK, weird, for everyone else but me, question.

    Work finally issued me a pair of black work pants(only one, of course, and I work 5 days a week in a row, so do the math about how often I will need to wash them). Right now, I wear two pairs of black BDU pants, which I like because of all the pocket space. When I work in the heat, the pores on my leg tend to clog and I break out. Is it “wrong” to claim that I can’t wear the pant I was issued, because it made my legs break out in rash, and take pictures to show my boss, if he requests, so they let me wear the pants I have been wearing for 3+ months?

    • slyabney says:

      Nope. It could be bad for your health in the long run since that is a normal body process. You can always get a note from your doctor that you’re allergic to them. Keep your reciepts though for tax time, since you should be able to write them off as well.

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        Since I was never issued pants for work until two days ago(despite starting in late May) I bought my BDU pants at the flea market Army/Navy store on a trade+some cash deal, so no receipts.

    • Not Given says:

      Go to the doctor with the rash so he writes a medical excuse

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        No insurance at this job. And the rash isn’t “real”, it’s mostly a break out from clogged pores, but I will say it’s a rash. Get it?

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    SO LATE TO THE PARTY

    I’ll post on Google+.