relate. When my husband got fired, Black made me total up all our credit card debt, and I broke
down in tears. The funny thing is that before
she’d help me deal with it, she insisted on giving me a history lesson on credit cards. And
although I love history, initially, I fought her. But I’m so glad she ignored me! To this day, understanding that the origin of
credit cards wasn’t a line of credit but instead a convenience (to be paid in
full every month) has made a huge difference.
But that doesn’t answer your question. I think we all know how easy it is to rack up credit card debt, especially during the holidays. A holiday budget would’ve helped, but now you need a monthly budget to see where you can cut back and apply those “savings” to pay down your credit card bills. Without making this a math class (not my favorite subject), I just memorized that after paying the minimums, I should apply any “extra” money to the credit cards with the highest interest rates (APRs). There’s nothing I can do about the past, but I can start making better decisions today.
I appreciate that “misery loves company,” and recognizing that we all are susceptible to overspending (Nicholas Cage took it to the extreme) helps explain why in the last year, credit card debt has exploded.
I recently read that HBO star Issa Rae admitted that when she was a college student, she ran up lots of credit card debt, to the point it was “crippling” (her word, not mine). It reminded me of how shortly after getting my M.B.A. (in International Finance, so I had no excuse), I got in debt over my head. To the point where although I was making a great salary in a corporate job, I had to take a second job waitressing on weekends to pay down the debt.
Am I suggesting you get a second job? No. I am suggesting you look at the numbers and then decide how best to “attack” them (maybe even consider debt consolidation to lower the overall interest rate you are paying). Some people suggest paying off the lowest balances first, but that is a psychological approach. As Red will tell you, I am pragmatic and prefer to crunch the numbers, and come up with a realistic plan and set myself up for success.
FULL QUESTION: Do you have any tips for looking “nice” during the heat of the summer? And for going into fall since it’s still hot?
Well, technically, July may be the hottest month (and this year it was record-setting hot), but given August is still “too darn hot” (we love the musical number), and it will probably run into September, we thought we’d rerun this “Ask Red & Black” …
I'm laughing because I suspect Black would argue that I
rarely look "nice" in the sense that I rarely "dress up". Even before the pandemic, unless I had a Red
& Black business meeting or speaking engagement, my normal "look" was that
of super comfy – workout or very casual clothing and minimal makeup. Here in Texas, where the heat and humidity are
oppressive, I'm always looking for tips because the moment you step outside,
you're going to start sweating, your
makeup will drip, and your hair will either frizz or wilt (neither's
a good look for me). So, I keep my
skincare simple and summer-friendly – extremely lightweight, tinted facial
moisturizer with a high SPF (so I only need a single product) and waterproof
I've never been very creative when managing my long hair for the summer, but my daughter let me in on a secret when she straightened my hair for me. Unlike my rushed approach, she took an extra 10 minutes to do it in smaller sections, which looked great when my hair was down but, amazingly, even made my ponytail look "finished". Taking a little more time to do it right makes a huge difference as now my hair stands up to the heat and humidity. (Good news is she's always willing to do it for me, bad news is that she goes to college in a few months, so I'll have to learn how to do it myself.)
When I started racing cars in the mid-1990s, I cut my hair very
short so I could easily style it with some water and hair goo when I removed my
helmet, which makes it perfect for summer. (Plus, I calculated that I could
save over 10 hours/month, or five full days a year, by not dealing with my
In terms of clothing, it is a function of where you are going or where you work (obviously, if you are in the banking industry, you will dress very differently than someone who works for a design or marketing firm). For the last few decades, I have worn the same "uniform" – dark slacks or jeans, white shirt, blazer, and colorful Hermès shawl. In the summer, I select pieces that are light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable fabrics, but if I had to give one tip, it would be to wear layers since going in and out of air-conditioning can be a challenge, although I see it as a fashion opportunity. In fact, that is how my "signature" shawls started as, regardless of the season, I would always have one with me to handle changes in temperature.
should ask, as I was recently getting ready for a
garage sale of our mom’s things and came across an old metal carrying
basket that I think is for milk bottles.
Although my memory of our
is that he left the milk bottles in a small rectangular metal box outside our
Anyway, my best memory of fresh milk, especially chocolate milk, was going to Dairy Barn with our dad. It was a drive-through; we’d return the old bottles, get our deposit back, and pick up new ones. I have to admit that when my mom started to get milk at our local Waldbaum’s (anyone growing up on Long Island will remember them) in paper cartons, I thought it was a little sad. Plus, I didn’t think the milk tasted as good.
Recently, when I saw some old-fashioned milk bottles from 1836 Farms at my local Kroger, although it was more expensive, I bought one just because it reminded me of my youth. In fact, when I initially told Black I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much on milk, she suggested I could reuse the bottle as a vase. And it always makes me smile!
Since you mentioned your grandmother, which makes me feel
old, you may have to ask her to explain what we meant when we teased Red, a
redhead in a family of brunettes, of being the “
Looking back, “milkmen” and dairy delivery services were ahead of their time. They delivered milk as well as other dairy products, and seem to be a precursor to Instacart, Amazon Fresh , and all the food delivery services . Not to mention, it was a way to reuse the glass milk bottles (remember, this was decades before recycling was a “thing”).
Regardless, when we taught at KIPP Houston High School , I asked our students if they had ever heard of a milkman. (Most had not.) And then (of course), I followed up with an assortment of other questions … Can jobs become obsolete? What creates new opportunities? Do you think there may be jobs in the future that no one has ever heard of yet? What can you do to be prepared? So, if nothing else, I hope the milkman makes you stop and think …
When we ran this question two years ago, Red’s daughter was starting college. Reviewing this, she says her answer remains the same. As does Black’s …
In a word, no! And
that comes from someone who knew what I wanted to study (theater), but even
though I graduated with honors, I proceeded to do absolutely nothing with
it. The good news is my daughter, who
seems to have
grown up in the
blink of an eye
, learned from my mistakes. She's going off to college in the fall, and I'd
love to share some of what was discussed at orientation last week.
It's funny because it was, in many ways, a recap of so many of Black's soapboxes, which I've come to understand, appreciate, and completely agree with. The primary message was that it's important to prepare students with skills, but how shaping them as individuals of character (one of my soapboxes ever since I read the book "A Question Of Character: A Life About John F. Kennedy" that, although written almost 25 years ago, may be even more relevant today) with the ability to think critically was even more important. Especially as we don't know what the future holds in terms of new (or changed, or even obsolete) careers.
Red and I had
very different approaches to college, and while she was the "better
student" in terms of grades, she looked at her college degree as the
objective. Whereas I saw college as a
step along the way, so approached it with a very different mindset and
perspective. I was open to learning new
things and exploring opportunities. And,
I focused as much on developing
soft skills as I did technical skills, as I recognized those
skills would always be necessary – both professionally and personally. I also realized that learning never ends and
now, at 60+ years old, am still committed to being a
More specifically, in terms of your son, college is an excellent opportunity for him to take classes that he thinks he might enjoy or even classes he has never been exposed to before. Plus, internships and volunteer work are great ways to get experience and help decide the direction he may want to go (or not go). Along the way, he should network as that, along with school counselors and professors, will help him gain insight into future career paths (and be valuable in other ways).