Published March 10, 2016|5 min read
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In this week's Weekend Reads, are Millennials ready for retirement? Probably not, because they're making less money than other demographics...Plus, is cord cutting already a thing of the past? Will Facebook's slang dictionary make you hip or square? Is subsidizing Internet access a good idea? And just who the heck are you supposed to be tipping in the gig economy?
Are you a Millennial wondering about retirement? Or a normal person wondering about retirement? You could do worse than The Billfold’s interview with "impact specialist and private financial coach" Zach Teutsch! Learn about the fact that pensions are pretty much not a thing anymore, find out why you can basically just leave your 401(k) alone when you leave a job and you’ll still be in pretty good shape, and dive deep into the tax implications of various retirement plans. We talk a lot about Millennials and money here, and that’s because they’re terrible with money (or not so bad with it; it depends on the month and the outlet reporting on it) and, as you’ll find out in a few minutes – spoilers! – they’re getting screwed as a generation.
Slang is really tough to keep up with in the Internet age. After all, you don’t want to be the only idiot who’s not saying "YOLO" but you also don’t want to be the only idiot who’s still saying "YOLO." It’s a tough balancing act. In order to help you avoid this slang FOMO, Facebook has a patent that would scan posts and comments to find new words and predict future slang and adds it to a dictionary, and then removes the word when it isn’t popular anymore. The only thing that really matters is that now we actually can make fetch happen, which is worth all of the probably hateful/gross/racist/sexist words that will find their way into the dictionary.
We like to think of Internet access as a luxury in life so we can stream Netflix and look at Snapchats, but it’s actually a pretty crucial part of day-to-day life. Job hunting, finishing homework, and more rely on convenient online access, either at home or on a mobile device. That’s why it’s a good idea for the FCC to expand Lifeline, a phone subsidy program, to subsidize broadband and mobile Internet access for low-income households. Will it solve the underlying problem of poverty and affordable utilities? No. Will they have to do some work to address the fraud problems the Lifeline program has had in the past? Yes. But it’ll help kids not have to sit in a school parking lot at night to finish an assignment, which is really the least we should be striving for as a society, right?
Millennials in general are putting off basic adult things like buying homes and have kids. Here’s the typical backlash against that: "Ugh, Millennials are so self-absorbed," "ugh, Millennials are so lazy," "ugh, Millennials are so coddled," "ugh, Millennials in most industrialized Western countries are making the same basic wages as people their age were 30 years ago even though other demographics have seen their disposable income grow in that time so they’re delaying significant life events." Haha just kidding, no one says that last one even though The Guardian is going into a weeks-long investigation into the inequality across generations and the real social and economic impact it will have in the long run. But in the meantime, expect more articles about kids these days and how their participation trophies are ruining America.
Everything nowadays is "cord-cutting this" and "cord-cutting that." Even ESPN, also known as "the only reason 90% of people with cable still have cable," is facing slumping numbers. But David Gewirtz over at ZDNet has, in a bold, trend-setting move, actually reversed course and reattached his cable. He’d done what a lot of other people have done – ditched cable for a Frankenstein-ish combination of streaming services – but it seems the final straw in getting back on the cable bandwagon was the inability to watch the presidential debates (and live sports). I haven’t had the problems he’s mentioned – my experience with Sling TV has been relatively painless and I’ve been able to stream the debates online – but the fact that his story ends with immediate issues once the new cable service was activated was funny in a "of course that’s what happened" sort of way.
Tipping is kind of the worst, right? It’s outdated and most people do it out of obligation rather than rewarding good service and it seems like companies should just raise their prices a bit and we can cut out all of this nonsense. Also, it would remove a lot of math when you go out to bars, which is a plus. But tipping has gotten even more confusing with the "gig economy." You tip taxis, but you can’t tip on Uber, but you should tip on Lyft? It’s madness. And that’s not even going into delivery services like Instacart, laundry services like Washio, or services like TaskRabbit. Luckily, this guide directs you on when you should tip and, if so, general tips (ha!) on how much you should leave. It doesn’t solve the great tipping crisis we find ourselves in the midst of, but it will at least let you know if you’ve been a jerk to people by not leaving a little extra on the bill.
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