Is sneaking food into a movie theater ethical?
Movie theater concessions are expensive. On the other hand, when you buy a ticket, you are agreeing to the vendor's rules, which include no outside food. Movie theater food ethics are addressed in question 8 of this week's mailbag.
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I have found ways to keep our head above water, though. My job had a decent severance package. I have found a few freelance jobs, and I’ve written a few ebooks that earn me a trickle of money (but not enough to make it worth the effort). For several months, I’ve been bagging groceries at a grocery store.
I’m pretty much constantly trying to find work, but there seem to be way more people trying to find work in my areas of expertise than there are jobs available. But we’re surviving and that’s what’s important.
Here’s my problem. My older brother owns a construction company that’s doing really, really well. Twice in the last year, he’s offered to just write me a check for rather large amounts of money. The last time, it was a check for $100,000. This money was simply to keep things going well for my family, especially the kids. He has also offered to employ me as a personal assistant.
I’ve said no to all of the offers, but I keep thinking that it’s my pride standing in the way of better stability for my children.
What would you do in my situation?
It is your pride and character that’s refusing the money. However, it is likely that same pride and character that’s motivating your brother to make the offer to begin with. If you weren’t a hard-working and decent person, he wouldn’t be offering to write you a check for $100,000 to help you make things work.
If I were in your shoes, I’d honestly be most interested in that “personal assistant” position. I’ve actually witnessed similar situations, where family members have been brought into businesses. Sometimes, it really works out; other times it does not.
What distinguishes the two? The character of the new family member, mostly. If it’s someone employing their deadbeat cousin who doesn’t do anything, it ends up being a problem. If it’s someone hiring a hard-working brother, it usually works out. It sounds like you’re in the latter camp.
I generally use unsalted butter for everything. The only time you’ll find me using salted butter is if I’m using a recipe that specifically calls for it.
I don’t use salted butter because it’s really hard to control the salt content. All salted butter is not the same. Some brands are highly salted, while others have just a bit.
With unsalted butter, you decide how much salt ends up in whatever it is you’re preparing.
Q8: Sneaking food into theatres
My wife constantly takes food and drink into theatres in her purse. She’ll put two bottles of Diet Coke and a bag of chips into her bag before we go. Once, recently, she smuggled in a whole meal from Burger King.
This really bothers me. I understand that theater food is expensive and not that great, but it’s their right to set their own policies and you’re agreeing to them when you buy a ticket. What do you think?
My feeling is that the movie theater can set whatever policy they want, and you agree to that policy when you buy a ticket.
That being said, I do understand why people smuggle food into theaters. People don’t want to pay the inflated price for the food and drinks that the theater sells.
On the other hand, the movie business is a tricky one. Theaters make most of their money from selling food and drink. They don’t make much at all from the tickets – most of that money is passed back to the studios that make the films.
I compromise. I usually eat a meal just before going to the theater so that I’m not hungry or thirsty when I buy my ticket. However, I don’t smuggle anything in and if I find myself hungry or thirsty during the film, I’m perfectly fine with hitting the concession stand.
Private student loan, 4.25% variable interest rate, ~$12,000 balance.
Federal Stafford loan, 4.5% fixed interest rate, ~$12,500. I have worked for a nonprofit 501(c)3 for the past 5 years, and plan to continue to do so for the next 5. This means that in October 2017 this debt will be forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act, so I see no point in paying it off early. The balance should be at $5,000-6,000 at that time.
$15,000 in an ING savings account (about 5 months of expenses)
~$50,000 in various retirement savings accounts. Currently putting 5% of my salary into a 403(b).
In NYC I use public transportation to get everywhere, and I live in a neighborhood that has everything I need within a short walking distance. I will likely be working from home for at least the first few months, but I will need to drive to meetings and such a couple of times a week. My company will pay for the relocation, so I won’t have any moving expenses. My salary and monthly expenses should stay the same. I am saving about $1,000 month, which I am putting towards my private student loan.
Everyone I know who has lived there is telling me that a car is essential in LA because the public transportation system is terrible and the city very spread out. I am going to try to live in a neighborhood with lots of amenities within walking distance, but apparently those are difficult to find and often on the more expensive side. I just started looking into buying a used car, and I am shocked! I haven’t owned a car in seven years, and I’ve never bought one; my parents bought me a used car when I was a teenager, which I drove until it broke down in my senior year of college. I was expecting to spend about $5,000, but the only cars I’ve seen on that price range are 10+ years old with over 100,000 miles (I’ve been looking at both NYC and LA area dealerships). Ideally I would like a hybrid, 2007 or later make, and with no more than 50,000 miles, but the cars I am finding with those parameters are $15-20,000! For example, the KBB value of a 2008 Toyota Prius is about $16,500.
My inclination is to wait a few months after moving and see if I really do need a car, and make do with public transportation and my Zipcar membership in the meantime. I am worried that this will take a negative toll on my social life, as I don’t really know anyone in LA and not having a car will encourage me to just stay at home.
Assuming I really do need a car, I’m not sure what course of action I should take:
1.) Stop paying off my student loan now, diverting the money into savings. Pay cash for the car I want. Continue paying my student loan
2.) Continue to pay off my student loans, and buy the car I want with a large down payment (~$10,000) and finance the rest. I have excellent credit, so I should be able to get a good interest rate. If I took this route, I would put my extra $1,000/month towards whatever my highest interest debt is.
3.) Buy an older/high mileage car for ~$5,000, and put the extra $1,000 month into a savings account to eventually replace it with a better car. I fear I would be worried about reliability/safety/MPG if I went this route.
Get the used car, as long as you research it a bit first.
There are a lot of used cars around the 2006 model year range that can be had for $5,000 and offer pretty strong reliability, safety, and fuel efficiency. You’ve just got to study the models.
I’d suggest starting with FuelEconomy.gov to get a grasp on what kinds of models are available from that year. You might also want to look at reliability data in more recent car issues of Consumer Reports, as they’re more likely to reflect the reliability of cars made from 2004 to 2006.
Q10: Record keeping for exercise
Do you find it useful to keep activity logs for the things you’re working on? I’ve been trying to exercise regularly and I’ve been recording the information diligently in a journal my husband got me. Is that really useful or is it kind of a waste of time?
I think it’s useful for some people, but not as useful for others. It really depends on your personality and how your mind works.
For me personally, I find it really useful to track things. I find it a great personal challenge to chase after a personal record or maintain a streak of days where I’ve achieved a particular goal. That’s just how my mind works.
If you find that it’s not doing anything for you, don’t do it.
Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.
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