The Provident Professor

Literary Finance and Personal References

Category: Advice of Questionable Utility

Moving Checklist: Relocate without the Chaos

As I said yesterday, moving is both an enormous pain and a fantastic opportunity. Right now, the Provident household is feeling the pain. There’s still a ton of stuff to be moved, a house to be cleaned, and we’re about to experience a record-breaking heat wave.

There’s nothing to do but embrace the pain, and if you’re moving, I can’t help you much with the unpleasant reality of packing and carrying and unpacking. But the other pain of moving is all the administrivia that goes along with a change in residence, and I’ve got your back there.

This checklist will get your started with the moving paperwork. It probably doesn’t include everything you’ll need to do, but if you check off all these boxes, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Tips for Energy Efficient Window Treatments

The Provident household has moved! Well, if you want to get technical about it, we’re still in the process of moving, but we are now fully occupying our new house, even if some of our stuff is still occupying our old house.

Moving is both an enormous pain and a fantastic opportunity. Our move is part of our Bill-Busting Summer, and I’ll talk about the money-saving details later. I don’t have definite opinions in the rent vs. buy debate except the opinion that renting is right for us in our particular time and place, but I will say this for renting: when you decide you want to spend less on housing every month, you can make that happen in the space of a month. Try doing that if you’ve got a mortgage.

Our new house is almost a hundred years old and is high on charm. It’s not exactly vintage, because that’s not our aesthetic. We’ve got more of a classic-meets-cheap furniture look going on, paired with my only slightly out-of-control collection of family china and glassware. Sort of a Minimalist Grandma kind of thing.

Whatever it is, it fits well in our new little bungalow. We’ve got high ceilings and chair rail molding and tons of great light coming in through what may well be the original windows. They are certainly not from our modern era of window technology. They are single pane and counter-weighted and they look lovely.

They also present a pretty big thermal problem. We’ve had highs in the 90s ever since we moved, and the sun beats down on the windows and the house heats up like a charming little greenhouse. I think we’ll see a similar, but more welcome, radiant heating effect in the winter, but at night, I’m fairly certain the windows will jettison every bit of warm air out into the world.
Continue reading

Forget Experiences, I’m Choosing Freedom Over Stuff

You’ve heard the “experiences over stuff” mantra a million times, right? The idea is that you should spend your cash on memorable experiences—vacations, weddings, concerts, whatever—instead of acquiring more material goods that will clutter up your house and way down your soul on the path to enlightenment.

There are so many things wrong with this attitude that I can’t even start—I’ll never stop. For one thing, it’s super gendered. For another, it’s super-privileged: you can only stop accumulating stuff when you’re confident you’ll always be able to buy something when you really need it. And—and this is my biggest issue—it devalues the beauty, utility, meaning and emotional heft of objects. I wouldn’t trade my family china, handmade quilts and thoughtfully chosen chotchke gifts for the vacation of a lifetime.

So we’ve established that I think experiences over stuff is dumb. I love stuff, though I try to keep a handle on that love for the sake of clutter and my budget. But I’ve accumulated my share of stuff over time, something I am sorely regretting as we prepare to move house.

Recently, though, I’ve pretty much gone off stuff. And it’s not because I’ve been converted to the gospel of experiences. It’s because I’ve stopped thinking about money in terms of stuff or experiences. I’ve started measuring my dollars in years of freedom. And there’s not much I want today as much as I want freedom.

Continue reading

7 Lists that Will Tell You How to Get Rich and Be Happy

The Internet is full of financial and life advice, most of which comes packaged in lists of no more than 15 easily digestible wisdom blurbs. Why lists? Based on their popularity (and my own browsing habits), I can only assume it’s because no one can resist the temptation to read a list. Call an article “How to Get Your Life Together, Guaranteed,” and you’ll be lucky to get a few hits. But title your piece “7 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Life in Order” and people won’t be able to click over fast enough.

What’s more compact and efficient than a list of ways to fix your life? I’ll tell you what: A list of lists of ways to fix your life. So in the service of streamlining your list-reading, self-flagellation and potential self-improvement, I present

Continue reading