Queercents bids farewell for now.

After drawing 1.5 million page views with nearly 2,500 posts from over 50 contributors; Queercents is taking a time out.

More precisely, its leader needed a break. Since 2006, Queercents has consumed my early mornings and a good deal of my weekends, but it’s time to pass the torch to someone better equipped to write its next chapter. By the end of the year, an improved Queercents will live on, albeit without me, at a gay destination attracting 10x the traffic than we ever could.

In the meantime, we’re on pause, but our searchable archives remain with more than a few timeless ideas about money. So feel free to stick around.

Over the years, it’s been a pleasure leading a team of committed volunteers producing relevant financial content for the LGBT community. I consider Queercents a collective success because of these writers. I also extend my appreciation to Serena Freewomyn, Paula Gregorowicz and Elizabeth Byrne; each put in extra effort behind the scenes. I’m proud of our accomplishments, excellent content, brand awareness, and loyal followers… after all; a blog is only here for its readers.

And a reader I will become. And then maybe I’ll become something else. When I’m done resting. But rest assured, whatever it is, it will probably touch on the topic of money… because I like money. I like to think there’s some good in money. I hope this site helped you see the good in it too! Be well and prosper!

Queercents will be back in new form soon…

Inflationary Fears

Growing up, we never discussed the stock market. It just wasn’t part of my household, my neighborhood, or (to my recollection) the national zeitgeist.

My parents probably had some money tucked away in a mutual fund or two that were recommended by my Uncle. The Sunday newspaper had a thick section filled with the weekly summary of stock and mutual fund trading values printed in impossibly small print. The subject was a foreign language, full of arcane symbols.

The only investments ever discussed were savings accounts and certificates of deposits. I would take my birthday money to the bank along with my savings passbook. The clerk would fill out the deposit slip and enter the deposit amount in the passbook, initialing the entry.

Growing up with inflation

The bank paid 5% on deposits. We never shopped around for a better rate, because it would have been too inconvenient to travel elsewhere to transact business. During my high school years, inflation grew to 5%, then 7%, then 10%, finally reaching a peak of 13.5% in 1980. As I recall, the bank continued to pay about 5% on my savings. Even with my measly high school math I knew I was losing ground. Inflation was the story of the day. It dominated the nightly news. President Ford encouraged the nation to “Whip Inflation Now,” with his big red WIN buttons.

I don’t mean to bore you with tales from this old geezer’s childhood. I’m telling you this in case you are too young to have lived through inflationary times. Read the rest of this entry »

My Financial Implosion: What to do with a Windfall

“Spending is quick, earning is slow.” – Russian Proverb

For the past eight years, my wife and I have been self-employed.  We correspond at least quarterly with our CPA to ensure that we pay the correct amounts on our estimated taxes.  Since our business income and expenses can vary so wildly, we’ve pretty much given up on trying to forecast the number at the beginning of the year.

Our most recent communication with our CPA delivered some very good news.  Our daughter’s adoption, which was finalized in April, means we will qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit.   Since the adoption was considered a special needs adoption, and qualified for the Adoptions Assistance Program, we’ll be able to claim the full 2009 credit of $12,150.

That’s quite a windfall.

Although we knew that we’d be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit when our daughter’s adoption was finalized, we didn’t count on it happening this year.  Even though she’s lived with us for nearly three years and was never going to be reunited with her birth family, a queer-unfriendly social worker turned what should have been a straightforward older child adoption into a year-long legal battle.  Even after we won the right to adopt, our agency stalled for another six months before finalization.

Read the rest of this entry »

Subscriptions Got You Down?

Or more likely the cost of your subscriptions getting you down… just got the annual renewal for The Economist… $109… Ouch!

I think most everyone has subscribed to a magazine or twelve in their life and while it is much cheaper than buying individual copies on the news stand is it really worth it?

Sigh… another question with a yes and no answer… don’t you just love Grey? There are so many different shades of it.

Being old enough to predate the Internet I remember when magazines were the source of specialized information about just about anything.

The internet hasn’t done away with them though… it’s probably made them more widely available as people read about them on Google and order a sample copy… they might even then subscribe. Read the rest of this entry »

Young People Hardest Hit By Unemployment

I was astounded last week to read statistics that show that people ages 16-24 have been the hardest hit by unemployment during the recession. Although a slew of economists are claiming that the recession is over and we’re headed into recovery, the New York Post is reporting that:

The unemployment rate for young Americans has exploded to 52.2 percent — a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. — meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time.

And worse, without a clear economic recovery plan aimed at creating entry-level jobs, the odds of many of these young adults — aged 16 to 24, excluding students — getting a job and moving out of their parents’ houses are long. Young workers have been among the hardest hit during the current recession — in which a total of 9.5 million jobs have been lost.

Read the rest of this entry »

Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Saturday everyone! It’s a beautiful day and I’ll be spending it the best way I can think of…doing homework. Ok, that’s totally not the best way I can think of (a bike ride would be way better) but apparently being a grad student takes a lot of work. Who knew? Of course, there’s always time for the roundup.

  • Mawlynnong has been touted as the cleanest and most environmentally conscious city in India. Check out how they pulled that off here. (Read it at BBC)
  • An AIDS vaccine is showing some success in Thailand. (Read it at NYTimes)
  • Today is Museum Day! That means free admission to hundreds of museums. (Read it at Lifehacker) Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Genetic: My Family History of Dumpster Diving

My grandfather grew up during the Great Depression and though I have very few memories of him–he died right before my thirteenth birthday–I remember the stories. Someone told a story at his funeral about how his mother would scrap the insides of egg shells with her finger just to make sure she got all the egg out. My uncle, who is a master builder, recounted how, when building a porch for him, my grandfather would have him straighten out bent nails with a hammer so they could be used again. One year, he gave my aunt a can of dented, generic peas from the grocery store, partly as a joke and partly to teach her that it wasn’t necessarily the package but the product that mattered and to save where she could.

The most prominent stories for me though are the countless examples of what we called “The Bob Gene”, because the family referred to my grandfather simply as “Bob”. Clearly influenced by growing up during the Depression he was unwilling to let anything go to waste. If he noticed someone throwing away something good or useful, he would salvage it and put it to good use. Over the years my mother has teased me for inheriting this gene, but if you want to save money (and resources, and the environment…) it’s a good habit to cultivate. Even as a high-schooler, I was making my grandfather proud, rescuing an arm chair and a futon from a dumpster. My father often encouraged this habit by pulling over to check out what people were throwing away. Though furniture is one of the more common things to find, kitchen appliances are my new favorite grab: often old but functional appliances don’t fetch enough to sell but still work. My roommates now even alert me if they see something while they’re walking that they think I might like. Read the rest of this entry »

Could an HIV Vaccine Lower the Economic Cost of AIDS?

Promising news of an HIV vaccine this week has left many in the public health and HIV communities feeling hopeful. The latest study shows a 31% reduction in HIV transmission for people who received the vaccine, versus people who received a placebo. Researchers are understandably sharing their results with a note of caution, because although the results are statistically significant, they’re hardly enough to say that an HIV vaccine is a definite possibility in the near future. However, there is hope.

AIDS has had substantial impacts around the globe. It is estimated that 30-36 million people are living with HIV worldwide. More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981; 1.8 – 2.3 million people died from AIDS in 2007 alone. It is unconscientable to me that we are 28 years into the AIDS epidemic and we still don’t have a cure. But I’ll leave that rant for another day.

Aside from the human costs, there are incredible economic consequences to the AIDS epidemic. According to an old article in the LA Times:

By 2000, the total cost to the global economy of the AIDS pandemic could reach $514 billion and, in the worst-case scenario, rob the world of 1.4% of its gross domestic product–the equivalent of wiping out the economy of Australia. In addition to the tremendous cost of health care, AIDS is directly affecting business around the world. The majority of cases strike adults in their most productive years. (AIDS is now the leading cause of death of 25- to 44-year-olds in the United States.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Stretch Your Food Dollar: Winter Squash

Fall is officially here, and not just because it’s the end of September and the calendar says so.  I know it’s Fall because winter squash is starting to show up at the grocery store. Winter squash is a great way to stretch your food dollar because it will keep on the shelf for quit some time, thanks to the thick skin that most winter varieties, like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, have.

This week my favorite grocery store had acorn squash on sale for 37 cents a pound! The easiest way to prepare acorn squash is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place it face down on a cookie sheet that has an inch of water in it, then roast it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. You have two options at this point.

Stuffed Squash
Make a stuffing with cooked rice, chopped celery, carrots, and onions, and some vegan sausage. Season it with sage and paprika, salt and pepper. If you really wanted to be fancy you could add some chopped pecans to the stuffing. Put the stuffing in the hallowed-out center of the acorn squash, then put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Eight ways money can buy happiness

Awhile back, Gretchen Rubin, projector of all things happy, listed 8 tips for how money can buy happiness. The entire list is a worthy read, but I wanted to emphasize number two and her suggestion that couples should use money to:

End marital conflict. If you’re constantly arguing about the unkempt lawn, or the moldering laundry, see if you can throw some money at the problem. Can you hire the teenager down the street to clean out the garage?

Better yet, can you hire a cleaning service to clean the entire house? You betcha. In an effort to save money a couple of years ago, we canceled our cleaners. Of course, this experiment lasted about 2 minutes before we started bickering about who was going to clean the toilets that weekend. We just couldn’t make what should be a simple act of frugality work.

I remember when I wrote about it, My Open Wallet left this comment, “I think for a couple, housekeeping can be an issue that is worth resolving via outside help– either a cleaning lady or a therapist!” Read the rest of this entry »