Time Well $pent

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We’ve all been there. You’re shopping online, and the buy button is so easy to click, and before you know it, you’ve spent an embarrassing amount of your hard-earned money on useless stuff that you didn’t even want.

Inspired by the Time Well Spent movement, Greg Greiner and I built a Chrome extension that helps you save your money (and your time). Enter your pay frequency and salary and it will automatically convert prices on all websites to time. You’ll see how many days, minutes, hours it takes you to earn the listed dollar amount.

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Thanks to Venmo, We Now All Know How Cheap Our Friends Are

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Margaret Pennoyer, an elementary school teacher in Manhattan, had just returned from a bachelorette party in Napa Valley when she received an email that had been sent to all the guests. The two organizers had itemized each woman’s individual expenses, which they had covered, and requested reimbursement through Venmo, an app that transfers money between users who have linked their bank accounts to their phones. Ms. Pennoyer owed $31.98 to one woman and $20.62 to the other.

In a previous time, the organizers likely would have asked everyone to bring enough cash to repay them in person or to mail a check afterward, courteously rounding down to $30 and $20. But the Venmo request, calculated to the penny, struck Ms. Pennoyer, 29, as emblematic of how the app, the most popular among her fellow millennials for everything from entertainment expenses to rent shares, “changes friendships and makes them more transactional,” she said. “It’s nickel-and-diming everything, literally.”

By rendering payments between friends nearly invisible — no cash changes hands, no checks are written — Venmo theoretically should make these relationships less obviously transactional. Yet not only does it encourage pettiness, distilling the messiness of human experience down to a digitally precise data point, but by making it so easy to pay someone back for purchases as trifling as a coffee, the app arguably promotes the libertarian, every-user-for-himself ethos of Silicon Valley.

“It’s making people less generous and chivalrous,” Ms. Pennoyer said. “It used to be you’d go to a restaurant, and you’d put down your credit cards and split it 50-50, even if one person had steak and one had chicken. But now people pay exactly to the cent.”

In Cashless Sweden, Even God Now Takes Collection Via an App

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In the most cashless society on the planet, even God now accepts digital payments.

A growing number of Swedish parishes have started taking donations via mobile apps. Uppsala’s 13th-century cathedral also accepts credit cards.

The churches’ drive to keep up with the times is the latest sign of Sweden’s rapid shift to a world without notes and coins. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; some shops and museums now only accept plastic; and even Stockholm’s homeless have started accepting cards as payment for their magazine. Go to a flea market, and the seller is more likely to ask to be paid via Sweden’s popular Swish app than with cash.

The Venmo Request: A New Wrinkle in Modern Dating

A recent New York Post article quoted three women who said they had received Venmo reimbursement requests after going out on a date.

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“Cheap Bros Have Found a New Way to Get Out of Paying for Dates,” the headline read. In the fashion of a modern-day fable, the piece quotes three young women who had gone out with three young men. Each guy paid for his date’s dinner or drinks, as guys who go out with women are generally expected to do. Each then used Venmo, the peer-to-peer payment app, to request that his date reimburse her share after the fact. The women were outraged and contemptuous. “I do not have time for scrubs,” one said, speaking for all. They had expected to be treated, not treated as debtors.

Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame

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The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives. Take moderately successful YouTubers, for example. Connor Manning, an LGBT vlogger with 70,000 subscribers, was recognized six times selling memberships at the Baltimore Aquarium. Rosianna Halse Rojas, who has her own books and lifestyle channel and is also YouTube king John Green’s producing partner, has had people freak out at her TopMan register. Rachel Whitehurst, whose beauty and sexuality vlog has 160,000 subscribers, was forced to quit her job at Starbucks because fans memorized her schedule.

…Platforms like YouTube mirror the U.S. economy’s yawning wealth gap, and being a part of YouTube’s “middle class” often means grappling daily with the cognitive dissonance of a full comments section and an empty wallet. Journalists kvell over stars like Swedish gamer Pewdiepie, whose net worth is around $12 million, or comedian Jenna Marbles, who’s worth around $2.5 million. On the other extreme, fan-funding sites like Patreon (a Kickstarter-type site that allows for ongoing funding) are at the center of a communal movement to fund “smaller YouTubers.” But that definition gets blurry. Is someone with 50,000 subscribers worth supporting financially? How about 200,000? What if people assume you’re too successful to need money, and you’re too proud to tell them otherwise?

… The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown LA. The next week, I sat faceless in a room of 40 people vying for a menial courier job. I’ve walked a red carpet with $80 in my bank account. Popular YouTube musician Meghan Tonjes said she performed on Vidcon’s MainStage this year to screaming, crying fans without knowing whether she’d be able to afford groceries.

… When Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old Instagram star, quit social media for being “fake” to much praise, I mostly felt pissed off. Easy for her to quit and renege on all her sponsorships, I thought. I figured she must have made her money already, or she’s not under contract to keep a photo up for a year no matter how many fans hate it. She must have a safety net already to be able to just stop. Whereas if I don’t keep up the charade and post this Instagram photo of a “fun autumn basket of goodies,” I’ll eat ramen for a week. All this is why I’ve been hesitant to reveal anything publicly. Frankly, I’m worried about the money I’ll lose.

Coin Drop

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Pasquier… is also an élite money hunter. He started out casually picking up coins, bills, and dropped MetroCards. “But then I said, Be scientific, keep track of this.” From 1987, when he began recording his findings, through 2014, he retrieved a thousand nine hundred and twenty dollars and eighty-seven cents. From 1987 to 2006, he averaged about fifty-eight dollars a year.

Then Apple introduced the iPhone, and millions of potential competitors started to stare at their screens rather than at the sidewalks. Since 2007, Pasquier has averaged just over ninety-five dollars a year.