We've been asking all kinds of people some basic questions about money.
Today, we hear from Nicholas Merchant-Bleiberg, assistant principal at Lyons Community School in Brooklyn — and from Faith Redman, a seventh-grader at the school.
Earlier entries in the series include conversations with the guy from Belle & Sebastian and a chemistry grad student who grew up poor. Here's the whole series.
Our conversation with Merchant-Bleiberg is below.
Do you worry about money?
Yes! Lots. I have a couple of mortgages. They're an unpleasant thing; you're indentured. There's something that's always there. I suppose it's what diabetics feel like. Like, I'm gonna eat this, but if I eat this twice in a row I'm gonna have a bad reaction. It's just a large amount of money.
Can you see how money affects your students?
You just get this feeling that things are contracting. It will manifest very clearly in our kids. How much they fight. How much they explode emotionally. Parents that don't get back to us or their phones are turned off so we can't get to them. So it's always on my mind in some way or other.
How much debt do you have?
The sad thing is I might now know it accurately. I have graduate-school loans. I think graduate school I'm 20-something thousand. High 20s? Also because I did two master's. My parents helped me with my first. So I probably was 10,000 with the first one and four years after that I did another masters at an expensive graduate school. Which was well worth it. And then the home mortgage.
Is there a purchase you regret not making?
Those flashlight radio things you can wind up that don't need batteries. It suddenly popped into my head this summer I need to have one of those in my house. I looked on the Internet. One was 15 bucks, and one was 50. The 15-buck one is the one I wanna get. But I bet it sucks.
What made you think you needed one of those?
I've felt more and more — having watched how city agencies work — that if bad stuff happened in New York City it would get very bad very quickly.
Note: This is a condensed version of our conversation.