For this week's Weekend Reads, we take a look at Marnie the dog and, in other animal news, bald eagle selfies. Plus how your phone can make you a philanthropist this holiday season, why you should track your budget year round, how to visualize paying off debt, and the latest in scientific breakthroughs bringing us closer to a Star Trek-like utopia: the splash-free urinal.
Also...wait, you're still looking at Marnie, aren't you? Maybe we shouldn't have led with her.
Some things on the Internet are terrible. Other things on the Internet are totally the best. YouTube comments fall into the former, and Marnie the dog most certainly falls into the latter. Marnie is adorable, and I’m not saying you should stop reading this right now and head over to her Instagram, but...when you’re done doing that, The New Yorker has this great piece on Marnie and her owner, Shirley Braha. They both seem incredibly down to earth considering their fame, and a lot of celebrities could learn a lesson or two. It will make you love Marnie even more, as if that were even possible.
We’ve harped on the importance of keeping a budget time and time and time again. Turns out we’re not the only ones who feel that way! Choncé over at My Debt Epiphany feels the same, and she’s been posting budget reports – the highs and lows of her monthly spending – all year. She shares how important this was to help her keep her budget, from holding her accountable to giving her time and reason to reflect on the previous month. She also makes a point we’ve made in the past: you don’t need anything fancy to start tracking your budget! Spreadsheet, app, piece of paper, abacus, it doesn’t matter as long as you can track it. You do you, as the kids say.
Want to give back this holiday season? There’s an app for that. (Remember when that was a thing?) Actually, there are a number of apps that will let you donate to charities if you’re in the giving mood. The idea is that if you remove barriers to donating, more people will get involved. That means pulling out your phone and launching Tinbox or Charity Miles instead of Candy Crush. Or using Android Pay when you’re paying for holiday gifts so Google will donate to DonorsChoose.org. Or using tech to help out established names like the Salvation Army and the United Nations’ World Food Programme. So while you’re thinking of others this winter, don’t limit yourself to people you’re buying presents for!
Note: this is not an endorsement of selfies. Unless that selfie involves saving a bald eagle and then taking your picture with it, which is exactly what two brothers did during a hunting trip, and it is awesome. They couldn’t have asked for a better pose, and it should be their profile picture on all of their social media accounts for the rest of time. The best part of the story? The eagle, which was caught in a trap when the brothers came across it, wasn’t injured and was able to fly away, probably majestically.
Debt becomes a huge problem for a lot of people because they take a unique "head in the sand" approach to it – that is, they don’t like to think about it, so they don’t. As a site that provides a lot of personal finance tips, we can confidently say that this is a bad way to do things. Our friend J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy highlights a better way: visualize paying off your debts. Whether it’s picturing how much of your house you actually own with each mortgage payment, coloring a picture to monitor your progress, or plastering your wall with (hopefully fake) money to represent your net worth, there are a lot of ways to make money fun, interesting, and more concrete.
This might only be relevant to a portion of our audience, but splash-free urinals is truly a benefit to all mankind. Physicists have created a moss-like substance, which for some reason they call a "urine black hole," to prevent embarrassing splashback. Only time will tell if this takes off in restrooms across the country. We may not have hoverboards and teleporters yet, but it’s nice to see that we’re still progressing as a society.
Image: Ragamuffin Brian