Author Topic: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt  (Read 8894 times)

lifejoy

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From the article:

I bought a $350 kitchen table and my first-ever flat-screen TV, a shower curtain in pleated lavender, and five throw pillows for $40 each. I bought a decorative glass mixing-bowl set, a milk frother, a Bodum clear glass teakettle and a—I kid you not—crème brûlée water bath.


http://thehairpin.com/2013/11/how-my-obsession-with-furnishing-a-future-put-me-nearly-40000-in-debt

MgoSam

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What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.

lifejoy

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Lol I have no idea! I'm kind of happy I don't know...

Norrie

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My methods of wasting money were different than hers, but I made so many astoundingly poor financial choices in my 20s that I'm shocked it didn't go worse for me. I just did not know better, and had to learn the hard way. I'm very glad that I did eventually learn from my mistakes and turn them around.

Gen Y Finance Journey

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What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.

When you cook egg-based custards like creme brulee, you pour the raw custard into tiny cups, which you place in a larger pan, which is filled with water. Then you bake it. The water bath protects the fragile custard from experiencing major fluctuations in temperature, which makes it set up creamy and without an ugly crack on top (at least, that's the goal). Honestly, I just use little ramekins placed in a 9x13 baking pan; it never occurred to me to buy a purpose built gadget for it. You can do this with your cheesecakes too; a cheesecake is just another baked egg custard.

Seriously, what's wrong with a baking pan? That's what I use.

madgeylou

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this kind of article drives me crazy, because it's all "oh look how special i am because i have this PROBLEM."

i am really tired of reading people waxing rhapsodic about their problems. problems don't make you special! the way you choose to deal with them does.

CommonCents

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The crazy part is the ending:
"And yet when I’m truly honest with myself—as I’ve been known to often self-deceive—the fact is I don’t regret my indulgent and repeatedly foolish decisions. Often, I feel guilt, or shame, or vanity at my own materialism, but I’m forgiving of my own mistakes because I think I have to be. Because I think they were necessary. Only in spinning wildly out of control (or, the wildest one can within the confines of a home goods store) did I learn the truth about myself, my internal processes, my need for help. I can joke about it now, but in truth, I “retail therapied” my way into therapy. It took monthly statements of all that I owed to realize what I’d been seeking all along; those loans and all that debt—they caused me to finally deal with the tragic and violent thing that long ago happened. And so when one day I do finally have a family—or, at least, a partner who knows all of me, the good and bad alike—the silver lining, I think, is this: at least I’ll have a healthy space that’s warm and ready."

madgeylou

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right? at least when i find a man i'll have a nice chair for him to sit on? that's the conclusion? what if she never meets anyone? will her life then have been a waste? is she entitled to a warm fulfilling partnership like she was entitled to $40,000 worth of shitty target home gear?

and what's with the murder that suddenly shows up like 2/3 of the way through the piece? definitely not MFA level writing.

sorry, this is making me irrationally angry. i expect better from the hairpin.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 10:28:57 AM by madgeylou »

Daisy

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What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.

I must admit my first reading of this made me think of someone soaking in a bath filled with creme-brulee scented oils or soaps as well. It could be that I just bought some scented soaps.

Then, I started thinking of the fire dangers involved since creme brulee is finished off by torching the top layer of the custard for that crunchy texture.

Now I realize how silly that all was since I am familiar with the water bath method of cooking.

CommonCents

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Agree.  I wasn't impressed by the writing (in addition to the random murder, the part about thinking in pinterest boards was just confusing), the fairly tale idea of marriage, the lack of financial savy, the list goes on.

LucyBIT

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2014, 03:50:42 PM »
A dish dedicated solely to water baths? That's a thing?

SisterX

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2014, 04:20:33 PM »
What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought of lying back in a bathtub full of dessert!  "What next, brownie batter foot soaks?  Cookie dough face masks?  Why does everything need to be food?"

Crap, I've made myself hungry.

wizlem

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2014, 10:21:34 AM »
Weird story. At least she realizes that spending a lot of money isn't a necessity. When you add up the numbers it only comes to about $30,000 a year. I'm sure there are a great number of people blowing through much more and not even ending up with their crème brûlée water bath.

My wife attended Graduate School at the same university(Iowa) at the exact same time(2009) with only a slightly better stipend. She left school with more money than she started with.

Forcus

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2014, 10:54:56 AM »
My methods of wasting money were different than hers, but I made so many astoundingly poor financial choices in my 20s that I'm shocked it didn't go worse for me. I just did not know better, and had to learn the hard way. I'm very glad that I did eventually learn from my mistakes and turn them around.

I think you touch on something important here. I sometimes have to pull myself back from being too judgy because to be honest I would probably not be where I am (in reasonable financial shape, planning for ER) if I hadn't bottomed out by made stupid decisions. I mean, if someone had told me in my teens what I would have wasted in my 20's, I probably still would have done it regardless.

lifejoy

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2014, 11:12:14 AM »
My methods of wasting money were different than hers, but I made so many astoundingly poor financial choices in my 20s that I'm shocked it didn't go worse for me. I just did not know better, and had to learn the hard way. I'm very glad that I did eventually learn from my mistakes and turn them around.

I think you touch on something important here. I sometimes have to pull myself back from being too judgy because to be honest I would probably not be where I am (in reasonable financial shape, planning for ER) if I hadn't bottomed out by made stupid decisions. I mean, if someone had told me in my teens what I would have wasted in my 20's, I probably still would have done it regardless.

Yep sometimes when we learn the hard way, the lesson sticks!

Norrie

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2014, 12:11:34 PM »
My lessons trickled in very slowly in my 20s and early 30s. My parents never, ever spoke of money, as they never had any and it was a dirty secret that they tried to hide. So when I moved out of state for school at 19, I had never written a check, balanced an account, or learned about interest or debt.
I don't blame my parents, but one of my biggest goals as a parent is to prepare our kids for their financial lives before they leave the house.

I got in so far over my head with money that I spent a very long time consciously trying NOT to learn anything about it. I went with the head in the sand option until about five years ago. Now I'm playing catch up and learning things that most people know at 21, but it feels damn good to move forward in a positive, proactive way.

As for the article, the random murder thrown in seemed really forced and awkward. I'm still puzzling over why it was included.

El Gringo

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2014, 01:09:54 PM »
Also, I'm from Pennsylvania and Iowa has never *ever* seemed sexier to me...

CNM

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2014, 03:22:49 PM »
right? at least when i find a man i'll have a nice chair for him to sit on? that's the conclusion? what if she never meets anyone? will her life then have been a waste? is she entitled to a warm fulfilling partnership like she was entitled to $40,000 worth of shitty target home gear?

and what's with the murder that suddenly shows up like 2/3 of the way through the piece? definitely not MFA level writing.

sorry, this is making me irrationally angry. i expect better from the hairpin.

It's a strange piece, for sure, but it seems to me that she's not really looking for a husband really.  It's more of aspirational living.  Like, she wants to create her life so that it looks (and maybe in fact is) like a Norman Rockwell painting.  I can understand that desire. 

4alpacas

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2014, 03:59:14 PM »
What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought of lying back in a bathtub full of dessert!  "What next, brownie batter foot soaks?  Cookie dough face masks?  Why does everything need to be food?"

This sounds amazing!  I like it.  Now I really want a cookie.

ginastarke

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2014, 12:39:47 AM »
It's like the female counterpart to the IKEA bit from Fight Club. I'd rather have unmatched stuff with history any day.

libertarian4321

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2014, 04:46:59 AM »
Five $40 throw pillows?  Really?

My wife and I are multimillionaires.  I doubt we've ever spent more than $10 for a throw pillow (and we probably have no more than 3 "throw pillows" in the house).

BTW, I grew up in upstate NY.  Hamilton, NY (where Colgate U is located) is nothing more than a university tossed on top of a few houses surrounded by about 50,000 dairy cows.  The cost of living is ridiculously low there (well, at least compared to the outrageous cost of most places in NY State).

This woman, with all her education and privileged background, will likely retire broke (like most Americans)- unless he's really good looking and manages to find a sugar daddy.

MissStache

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2014, 06:55:53 AM »
It's like the female counterpart to the IKEA bit from Fight Club. I'd rather have unmatched stuff with history any day.

Definitely.  I always get fidgety when I walk into a house with carefully matched and curated furniture.  I'd rather see some of grandma's stuff mixed in (or at least pretend grandma's stuff).

dude

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2014, 09:02:22 AM »
My methods of wasting money were different than hers, but I made so many astoundingly poor financial choices in my 20s that I'm shocked it didn't go worse for me. I just did not know better, and had to learn the hard way. I'm very glad that I did eventually learn from my mistakes and turn them around.

+1

MrsPete

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2014, 07:19:48 PM »
What is a creme brulee water bath? If it is a bath where you soak in creme brulee, I might actually be interested in one. That sounds relaxing.
Because I was a professional baker for a while, I can answer this question: 

When you're baking a cheesecake or crème brulee or other custard-type baked good, it's smart to place your aluminum-foil wrapped springform pan into a slightly larger pan . . . then just before you pop it into the oven, pour 1" of boiling water in to the larger pan.  The difference in the cheesecake (or similar) is amazing:  The entire thing remains creamy -- no slightly dry edges and creamy middle.  It makes a difference.

However, there's no reason to own a special pan.  A one-size up cake pan (or similar) works fine. 

MrsPete

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2014, 07:22:56 PM »
It's a strange piece, for sure, but it seems to me that she's not really looking for a husband really.  It's more of aspirational living.  Like, she wants to create her life so that it looks (and maybe in fact is) like a Norman Rockwell painting.  I can understand that desire.
I agree:  Aspirational living.  She is very susceptible to advertising and buys into the idea that owning _____ (fill in the blank -- but realize that it will change in a few weeks) will make you complete, happy, and satisfied.  Owning _____ will remove all your insecurities.  Kind of like that movie:  If you build it, they will come.  Only, in real life, that's not true.

sheepstache

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2014, 07:36:14 PM »
this kind of article drives me crazy, because it's all "oh look how special i am because i have this PROBLEM."

i am really tired of reading people waxing rhapsodic about their problems. problems don't make you special! the way you choose to deal with them does.

Well put!

horsepoor

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2014, 08:55:43 PM »
I'm unclear, at the end of the article, whether she's learned anything or made any changes. However, I can relate to several parts of the story.  We moved constantly when I was a kid, and went through a couple years of great instability when I was about 8-10.  Learned some bad spending habits during college, and after a bad roommate experience that culminated with a falling-out with my best friend, I left the state for graduate school vowing not to have roommates ever again.  Then, shortly after landing in New Mexico all by myself, found out that my mother was terminally ill, but knew the best thing for her peace of mind would be for me to finish school and find a good job, so I pressed on, but I was probably filling an emotional void through spending - not necessarily on the same stuff as the OP article, but CD's, music, excessive groceries and other random stuff that a college student doesn't really need, so I also took out student loans when I should have been able to live on my stipend.  The pattern continued after I started work and my mother died, and I'd say it took a solid five years from there to get to where I am now, which is not perfect, but less hung up on outfitting myself for the life I want, and instead living in the life I have (which is pretty great, BTW).  I could say I regret it, but OTOH, I may have dealt with the situation by dropping out of school (my MS has payed dividends in my career trajectory) or the usual self-destructive stuff that would have been worse over the long-term.

It sounds to me like the author of the article had her safe, privileged world shattered by a crime that happened very close to her, and she didn't fully realize the effect, or didn't have the emotional resiliency to deal with it, and compensated by spending money on dumb stuff instead.  I do hope that she learns, and maybe sells off some of that crap to help with the debt, but from the way the article is written, I don't think she's quite there yet.

T-Rex

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Re: How My Obsession With Furnishing a Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 in Debt
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2014, 01:15:32 AM »
A creme brulee water bath... That makes me picture breaking through glazed sugar to get into a bathtub full of custard.