Weekend Open Thread

Tibi Printed silk one-shoulder dressSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

So let’s ignore the fact that this silk one-shoulder dress is curiously among The Outnet’s selections for “power pairings” (you know, to wear to work), and instead focus on the great sale — take an extra 30% off at checkout, no code needed. (A reader actually alerted me to the sale and also suggested code LOVETHEOUTNET would add an additional 20% off at checkout, but I couldn’t get it to work for me.) Anyway: this Tibi dress was $345, was then marked to $155, and with the extra 30% off it comes to $108. Nice. Limited sizes only, of course, but lots of fun pieces. Tibi Printed silk one-shoulder dress

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  1. Any tips for applying powder without getting it all over the place?

    I have started using medicated foot powder to prevent smelly feet (working great!) but the powder gets all over the floor when I apply it. I guess I could put down a newspaper or towel, but I would rather learn how to apply it nearly if possible.

    • Neatly, not nearly :)

    • I do the same thing when I wear flats with baby powder. I actually just figured this out, like last weekend, even though I’ve been using baby powder for over a year–I simply stand in the bathtub!

    • I just stand in the tub. Lazy, but effective!

    • I am usually applying it shortly after I am done showering in the morning, so the shower is all wet. I guess I could sit on the side and keep my feet off the tub. not perfect, but a definite improvement. Thanks!

    • Maybe you could be A Fancy Lady and get a huge blush brush and use it exclusively to apply foot powder to your feet?

    • I shake the powder into my empty shoes at close range. I never apply it directly to my feet. Seems to work just fine – I’ve been doing it for years – but I do leave powdery little footprints if I have to take my shoes off for some reason.

    • Tip the powder into a large ziplock bag, dip feet in bag.

  2. Here’s a doozy –

    Quick story: bought a home high during the boom, now house is worth $150k less that what we owe.

    Was fortunate enough to purchase a new, better fitting home for our family at a lower rate/much lower mortgage.

    Renting old home for $1200 less per month that what we pay for the mortgage.

    No one will let us refi, we have no “hardship,” but we could do a lot with an extra $1200/month.

    What would you do in this situation? (Granted, I’m so afraid of screwing up our credit score I’ll probably be locked in paralysis forever. Just wondering what a bunch of intelligent women think about this.)

    • Not Creative :

      I am not a finance expert, but it seems to me that there may be a way to get more creative with your tenant. If s/he wants to purchase your home (or if you can find a new tenant who does), can the tenant contribute toward that $1200/month deficit in some way that will benefit you both?

      • Our current tenants are not interested in purchasing a property. I’m not sure about the latter situation, but it could be worth looking into.

        And I’ll admit, it was probably silly of us to purchase another home when we totally could have made due with the current one… but it’s nice to be in the black with at least one major asset and have an actual backyard.

    • Vegas Baby :

      You should consider a strategic default. Yes, your credit score will take a hit, but it recovers fairly quickly. Assuming you don’t need stellar credit for a major purchase (which should be the case since you just bought a home to live in), you can ride out the year or two it takes to rebuild your credit. Alot of the time, you can save a ton of money with a strategic default. Also, make sure you check in to the tax implications.

      • May make sense financially and people do this. But calling it “strategic” doesn’t make it any better from an ethical standpoint.

        Can you talk with your lender again and see if they’ll propose any alternatives? Many are far more accommodating and willing to identify options than what they used to be.

        • Anon for this :

          I’m not advocating strategic default, but it’s worth noting it’s a contract breach. Businesses do this all the time; only when it’s applied to people do the ethics get added in. Assuming there was no fraudulent intent at the outset.

          • Agreed. When you’re taking 1L contracts, this is efficient breach. Ethics don’t come into it; the bank has already priced the risk of default when underwriting the loan and you price the risks to you when you decide to do it.

          • Agree

          • +1. And I do think OP should investigate default, at the very least to understand what it would entail and potential consequences.

          • MissJackson :

            Agree with this.

            The banks would like you to feel like it’s “unethical” to default, but it’s really just business (and the banks themselves make strategic decisions — including breach of contract).

        • Bellydancer :

          It isn’t unethical (or at the very least, there is plenty of debate on that point). Banks walk away from their investments all the time: they decide it makes more sense to suffer the default penalties than to continue to pay for something that was overvalued. This is comparable to breaching a contract and being willing to pay whatever preset damages were established under the terms of the contract.

          • well, ethics do enter into it. People have a tendency to say “let the bank take the loss” but the banks are not stand-alone entities. they are part of a system in which we as consumers and investors and paycheck earners all ultimately pay for the defaults of others.

          • But shouldn’t that risk be priced into the interest rate on the mortgage?

          • Herbie, if that was directed at me, no, the events of 2008 to present were not priced into mortgages, but obviously the losses from that period have greatly affected us all, not just the banks.

          • Sorry, but it’s more than the bank that suffers when you walk away. The whole neighborhood feels the effect when you let a home slide into foreclosure. (But f anyone after who has stayed current and wants to sell theirs anytime in the near future, right?)

          • I don’t mean trying to tackle the Great Recession through mortgages.

            But when a bank sets an interest rate on any loan–car, mortgage, spaceship– shouldn’t it account for the risk of default in the interest rate it sets?

          • Anon for this :

            Herbie, yes. They should.

          • that’s like saying auto insurers should set rates to cover intentionally staged accidents, or stores should mark up prices to cover shoplifting. In reality, they do, but there’s no denying we all pay for it.

          • Okay, MamaBear, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that walking away from a mortgage is anything like shoplifting or submitting a fraudulent insurance claim. The latter two are designed to part an owner from goods/money through deception and false pretenses. The owner is not a willing participant in shoplifting and is only a willing participant in a fraudulent insurance claim based upon a misunderstanding of the true facts. A bank, on the other hand, enters into a detailed contract with a homeowner (contracts which are drafted by the bank, I might add). Furthermore, being in the business of making loans, the bank is aware that default is a risk with any type of loan. How is this different than any other contractual relationship where A owes B money? There’s always the risk that A is unable to pay, which makes entering into a contract all the more advisable—it gives B the opportunity to spell out B’s legal recourse in the event of default (terminating services or provision of goods; venue/jurisdiction/choice of law in the event of a lawsuit; mandatory arbitration; requiring A to pay B’s attorney’s fees in the event B prevails in court).

            For example. Joe Shopowner opens a videogame shop and sends Activision a purchase order for 100 copies of Call of Duty. Activision sends him the 100 copies of CoD with an invoice, terms net 60. This is Joe Shopowner’s first business, and he grossly underestimates the working capital he needs to get the store up and profitable, and it turns out he just kind of sucks at business. His videogame store fails. When it’s time to pay Activision, he doesn’t have the $. So he tells Activision he can’t pay and is instead closing up shop, and he lets Activision know that they can come get their 100 copies of Call of Duty if they want them. Let’s assume that this version CoD is widely panned, and demand has dropped precipitously since Activision originally provided the 100 copies to Joe Shopowner. Even if Activision reclaims the 100 copies and manages to resell them, it will only make 20% of what it originally thought it would, minus the $20 UPS fee to ship from Joe Shopowner back to Activision. So Activision’s going to take a bath on this deal.

            What’s the difference?

      • I’m pretty sure Suze Orman gave this advice last weekend.

      • Does this vary by state? I know in our state if you default on a mortgage, you are liable to the creditor for the deficiency between the amount owed and the fair market value of the property (if you owe more than its worth), so even a strategic default could open you up to a judgment. At least, I believe that’s how it works, I don’t do foreclosures, so I’m not an expert in that area.

        • I would check the tax consequences for sure. A friend lost her job, lost her home, and declared bankruptcy and then got 1099s from her mortgage lender for the amount she defaulted on. Because of the bankruptcy she didn’t owe taxes on the 1099 income but I’m guessing someone in your situation might owe taxes on that.

          • Yes, check for tax consequences, but I seem to recall that there is currently a short-term exception in place for debt forgiveness related to foreclosure and/or short sales, so check for that, too. And in my state, you can have a deficiency judgment entered against you, but in the current climate, this is rarely done for individual homeowners. It can happen, though, which is part of the reason a short sale approved by the bank is a better option.

        • Yep, there are some “recourse” states and some “non-recourse” states. Important to know which you’re in.

        • I agree with KLC. There ARE tax consiquences. I remember when I was dateing Alan, he did a paper on it for his job, and it was INCOME b/c of the forgeven debt’s. I had to help Alan write the paper, so I know.

          Does any one in the hive have an opineion about whether it is good to go back to your law school as a ALUMNI speaker? My law school sent me a letter and they said they want me to come back to DC to speak to 3L’s about job oportunnities in LAW, and to be a MENTOR for a 3L thinkeing of comeing to NYC, b/c I am an expierenced JD now admitted to the bar and in good standeing.

          Has any one in the HIVE done this? What is your expereince here? Should I respond. I am ALREADY VERY busy on the job with the manageing partner giveing me alot of work, and I hope to get a few day’s off soon.

          Thanks for your input.

          • Do it. Helping your 3Ls is a good thing to do.

            And tell us when you’ll be speaking.

    • How much of the loan have you paid off? Could you reamortize the loan? If you’ve owned the home for a few years and have paid off a chunk of the original debt already, this may be a way to reduce your monthly mortgage payment.

    • Anonymous :

      Have you looked into whether you are eligible for a HARP 2.0 refi?

      • Will look into reamortization. And Anonymous – we are not eligible for any refis – we either don’t have the right servicer or b/c it’s no longer our primary residence.

        • Yeah, I have to say. I think you have backed yourself into a bit of a harder place by moving out of the home already. If you are really opposed to the strategic default as suggested above, I would advise you to consider moving back into this place for a bit and renting house number 2. You will qualify for much better mortgage terms and more assistance programs if the home is owner occupied.

          • This. Also, the Obama administration has proposed another refi program as well. It requires Congress to act, so don’t hold your breath.

            However, most (like 100%) of the programs that are out there require owner occupancy.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Just to make you feel better, I’m sort of in your shoes too. Bought during the boom then had to move for work. We rent a house in new state and rent out the house in old state. The rent has never covered the mortgage but not to the extent of your deficit. We are also not THAT upside down. We are going to try selling it this year and paying the difference. I have also heard that you can’t qualify for a short sale unless you are behind on your payments. There are also tax implications of short sales and the missed payments can hurt your credit. Kind of sad though that the bank can’t “help” the people who have managed to stay afloat rather than forcing them to stop paying bills they can pay just to get out of the situation. I have no idea if you stop paying if they then look into what is in your accounts to see if you could have afforded the payments. The upside down part isn’t our big problem. Finding buyers interested in our property, at any price, seems to be the problem.

      • Want to add – that I’m also in the same situation. Even when we were living in our home (before moving to new state for job), we weren’t elibile for the refi (and that was only 9 months ago). We are lucky we have good tenants, who want to renew for another year. We just haven’t approached the “do you want to buy our home” – conversation. I’m not sure how to bring it up without bluntly saying it.

        • Could you come about it in a round-about way by saying something like, “Just so you know, we’re interested in putting the house on the market in the near distant future, so toward the end of your lease, we may need your cooperation for showings, etc.”

          That brings it up and puts the ball in their court to talk to you about the house, if they want to buy it.

    • How much was your down payment/how much is already paid off? I assume this is not the case, but if your house is worth 150K less than when you bought it and you could sell it now and pay off the mortgage in full, I would just sell it and consider it a loss that I can write off on my taxes. It sucks but it is a sunk cost. The question would just be a) how much would $1200 extra help you now, and b) can you make this benefit you in some way on your tax returns.

      On the other hand, I know a financial advisor who thinks that you should always hold on to your first property – you could consider that $1200 as a sort of investment and I am sure over time, eventually, the property will recover and maybe even be worth more than you paid for it…

    • Anon (but regular commenter) :

      I represent lenders in residential foreclosure cases and I practice in a state that has one of the highest rates of foreclosures. So here’s a few things from someone who actually practices in this area of law –
      A lot is gonna depend on what state you live in as how this will actually play out.
      If you default and the bank forecloses you could be on the hook personally for the difference between the fair market value of the home and what you owe. Right now alot of the lenders aren’t pursuing the deficiencies, but that’s mostly because most borrowers don’t have the funds to pursue. Sounds like you aren’t quite in the same boat. In my state it’s a 5 year statute of limitations to pursue the deficiency, so they may not come after you now but things could be different in a year or two. Basically, whether you’ll have to pay the difference is a big gamble.
      Since this is no longer your primary residence, you won’t qualify for any of the gov’t assistance programs and will have limited options as far as lender-specific modifications. Some lenders I represent won’t even modify non-homestead properties.
      Another problem is that you might make TOO much to qualify for a mod. Some lenders base loan modification offers on what you earn and some base it on your monthly expenses. If your lender does the former, you may not qualify. You’re able to pay the mortgage on two homes, so financially you’re probably not doing horribly.
      It sucks, but if you can stay afloat making both payments, I would try and tough it out until the market gets better. As others have said, you will take a hit to your credit – how hard and how long that hit lasts, I can’t tell you. But the first point I raised about the deficiency I think would be too big of a risk to take.

      • Anon (but regular commenter) :

        Also, I forgot to mention the tax consequences. Someone mentioned up-thread about the Obama administration enacting a short-term act regarding debt-forgiveness on short sales/foreclosures, etc. That only applies for primary residences/homesteads. So you will get a 1099 from your lender on the difference between fair market and what’s owed. That amount will be treated as income and you’ll have to pay the taxes on it.

  3. I posted this late in the morning thread in response to the discussion on shopping bans, so was hoping to hear some more thoughts/ commiseration/input/words of wisdom:

    Shopping bans don’t work for me, I feel like what most women with this issue really need (myself included) is to change their attitude about shopping/acquiring/consuming. A lot of it comes from boredom at work and the draw of pretty fashion pictures and daydreams of what to wear where. If I were actually out of the office, frolicking in the sun I’d shop a lot less and enjoy my time and the clothes I already own much more.

    It’s really unhealthy, I’ll be the first to admit. And much like dieting, shopping bans have only led me to relapse and binge. While I am not in debt and spend only a modest percent of my net salary on shopping, I still think it’s too much, as evidenced by my overflowing closets and desire for more pretty things I will seldom wear. Ideas like Project 333 are great in theory, but they are really the same concept as a shopping ban. They don’t address the underlying problems of boredom, fantasizing, procrastination and consumerism.

    Can anyone else relate – that a shopping ban is a bandaid for a larger issue, or a relapse waiting to happen? I am trying to be measured about it, though I continue to consume (this website certainly doesn’t help with its great daily offerings!). I guess I’m feeling more doom and gloom about it than the other commenters.

    • I find that avoiding magazines and certain websites are helpful. I didn’t subscribe to any mags other than cooking ones for awhile, and when I see InStyle and peruse through it I definitely get the sense of “Oooh-pretty! Need it!” and my wardrobe seems completely inadequate. I *only* come to this site, but usually for the comments and not so much for the fashion. Most of it is way out of my budget, anyway.

    • Dear freshjd, Here is what I wrote in response to you earlier:

      I agree that the right approach is that you purchase good items (fit well, go with many other things, work/life appropriate, good color, well made, not trendy so will wear many years) at good prices as you find and need them — instead of going overboard. Much like the appropriate approach to eating is eating real food (not cr#p) when your body needs it (and not when it doesn’t).

      Question about the 333 thing: For an entire year you can wear only 33 items, including shoes and accessories? How is this possible? What if you live somewhere that is bathing-suit-hot in the summer and down-coat-cold in the winter? What am I missing?

      I will add that if you approach your wardrobe with this kind of diligence, it can take just as much time as the constant shopping, but cost much less than, and create less bulk than, the constant bingeing.

    • 2/3 attorney :

      “If I were actually out of the office, frolicking in the sun I’d shop a lot less and enjoy my time and the clothes I already own much more.”

      This – couldn’t feel more the same.

      • Me too. I used to pretend that shopping was better than eating my feelings, but they have the same triggers for me. So if I can avoid the triggers or know how to manage them, I’m a lot happier all around. I’m still a sucker for a deal and love shoes, but I’d rather be out doing the things I like to do, which rarely includes going to the mall and spending one of my two free days a week inside or hours on end shopping from home.

        • Anonymous :

          Yes but how to curb the internet shopping demon? That is my real killer, not in-store shopping which is much rarer.

          • So far I have done three things that work for me: 1. I never order anything from my primary email address, so all of the subsequent deal emails go to that other account that then if I hear about a good sale on something I need/have wanted for a considerable amount of time I can go find the email with the discount code. 2. I unsubscribed from those sale agglomeration emails. Most of the online shopping I do on a whim is “That is such a good deal! 65% off? Yeah, I don’t need fur lined moccasins but how can I pass them up?” It also helps that I have big feet and am a common clothing size so a lot of the things I like and might actually buy are already sold out by the time I get around to actually going to the website. Especially with the stuff that is featured on here it really helps that I’m on the west coast, so by the time I get up, get to the office, and log on, my size is usually gone. 3. Spend less time randomly on the computer when I’m at home. There are only a few websites that I go to regularly that aren’t for shopping, so if I’m not at home sitting on the computer/ipad, I’m much less tempted to go get it to then spend money.

          • I hate having credit card debt so it really limits how much I shop on the internet, unless a site takes Paypal. Don’t get me wrong – I love to shop, but I won’t load up my credit cards. I only have two credit cards (and one is a store AmEx) and I try not to have any more on them than I could comfortably pay off in a month or two, unless I have an emergency. Even then, I have so little debt that I could pay it off altogether with a little of my savings.

          • Set up a filter so all those Gilt/Ruelala/Jcrew/etc. e-mails automatically go to a folder so you don’t see them.

            Leave everything in your online shopping cart for a minimum of 2 hours or even a full day. After that time is up, come back and see if you still neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed all that stuff. I find I end up doing a lot of internet window shopping where I put a bunch of stuff in my cart because I need ALL THE CLOTHES. If I force myself to wait on clicking that buy button, I’ll usually end up coming back a few hours later and just closing out the window because the impulse is gone.

          • Senior Attorney :

            Something that has worked for me is not pulling the trigger on any online purchases during the week. I save everything I want in the shopping cart, and if I still want it on Saturday morning, then I go ahead and click “submit order.” A lot of the time the urge has passed by then.

    • ChocCityB&R :

      I’ve never had a problem with binge shopping, but I have had a problem with binge eating, so I imagine it’s much the same. And I agree with you, it’s not a problem that can be cured on the surface level or with “will power” or determination. Food, like clothing, is a human necessity, so you can’t forgo it completely. In order to have a healthy attitude around it, you have to be able to find healthier alternatives to dealing with stress, boredom, procrastination, etc. and leave the clothes (and food) to the place it rightfully belongs (as fuel or to cover your nakedness in a work/fun appropriate manner).

      In order to get over binge eating, I had to pinpoint my triggers (for me that was loneliness, boredom, sadness, frustration, a desire to treat myself to something nice, release of pressure and stress). Food was doing an excellent job of relieving all of those emotions, but the cost was too high.

      Next I had to find an alternative, and let me tell you, there was no one-size fits all alternative that did the job that food did for me. Sometimes when I’m lonely, calling a friend will help. Sometimes I have to play with my cat. And sometimes, and this is the worse, I just have to let the feeling pass and realize nothing will stop it completely.

      And that was the second step for me, realizing that I can’t sublimate all of my negative emotions anymore. Sometimes I have to feel bad. And feeling bad, like feeling good, doesn’t last forever. This is not the same as will power. Will power is pretending you don’t feel it, or that you are stronger than the bad feeling. Will power is clenched teeth and sweat and tears. Sitting with a negative emotion is less work, but monumentally harder, because there is no release when you “give in” like will power gives.

      The final step, was letting go of perfectionism. That allowed me to recognize that although I would occasionally make a “mistake” and binge, this was not an all access pass to just give up on “the program” and try again anew next year. Instead, as with all change, I had to remain consistent even in times of difficulty, and not beat myself up if I didn’t live up to an impossible standard of perfection. The most important thing was to renew my commitment, each day, each moment.

      I think this approach would be helpful to ending shopping binging. I don’t think viewing it as consumerism is helpful. Consumerism is judgment, and is akin to me telling my overweight self that I binge eat because I’m greedy.

      So in sum: acknowledge that you are trying to fulfill a need in a manner that causes more problems in the long run, and look for alternatives to fulfill those needs. Accept sometimes you won’t be able to fulfill those needs. Don’t ever give up on ending the negative coping behavior, even when you make mistakes. Rinse and repeat until the end of your days…

      • This is beautiful. Thank you for writing it.

        • I agree. I deal with binge eating too and I’m trying to figure out healthier alternatives. I’m starting to creep into overweight territory. You said two things that resonate. . . about how it sucks but sometimes you have to just sit with the negative feeling, and that willpower is denying those feelings are there. Wow. Good stuff.

          • So much wisdom in the middle of a string of comments on a Friday afternoon. Thank you for writing this.

      • srsly brilliant! ;-)

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Thank you so much for posting this.

      • eastbaybanker :

        Wow. You are officially the most evolved person here. I mean that sincerely.

      • ChocCityB&R :

        You guys are so sweet, thanks for pumping my head up and making me feel wise ;-) . I’ve struggled with binge eating since I was a little girl, and I like to spread “the gospel” of what I’ve learned along the way as much as possible for people with similar struggles. (Luckily you guys don’t see me everyday and have to hear it constantly like my friends and family).

        I’ve found that sometimes the solution is simple, but still far from easy. I struggle with binge eating every day, but each day I feel a little further from needing it, and that gives me hope :-) Besides, there are worst things to struggle with, and I figure potato chips and carrot cake is a lot less dangerous than other things I could use to cope with negative feelings.

        • Just to add my appreciation for your insight and the great clarity and elegance with which you’ve communicated it.

        • kira kira :

          Chiming in here with thanks from someone who struggles with both the eating and the shopping :)

      • Anon for this (but regular poster) :

        As someone who struggles with some of the same issues, thanks for your honesty and for posting this. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • I just wanted to reiterate that I think you’re onto something and I feel the same way. Recently, I’ve been taking a good, hard look at how much time I’ve wasted either shopping, wanting to shop or just feeling plain bad about what I already own. And that doesn’t count the mental gymnastics of wondering how I’m presenting myself, whether my body looks good, whether the fashionistas would approve, blah blah blah.

      What usually works for me when I get into these spirals is to stop reading fashion blogs (which are worse than magazines IMO, because they make this cycle seem attainable). I’ve also set up a filter in my email account that sends all shopping-related emails to a folder. I can look at them if I need/want to, but I don’t have 50 sale emails staring me in the face everyday. Since setting up a block in February, I’ve accumulated 1,676 store emails in that folder. That’s freaking insane.

      Now, if somebody could give me the magic key for being happy with what I own and not making up reasons/occasions to buy new crap, I’d be golden.

      That was cathartic.

      • I tried unsubscribing from the sale/store emails and most blogs, but I have a compulsion to just brainlessly log into them daily anyway. I impulsively log on to RueLaLa, Hautelook, Ideeli and Gilt the second 11am and 12pm roll around… I’ve nabbed so many great ‘scores’ from these deal sites that I always think I’m gonna miss out again. It’s like I’m a heroine junkie looking for their next hit! I’ve tried to get more choosey and add to cart then walk away, but in general I would be fine for all year and beyond I imagine. We all would be.

        • Yes this does cut into my productivity at work, but like I said my job is really boring and it’s too soon to leave without looking like a job-hopper. I have no billables or deadlines, so I struggle daily with trying to motivate myself. Plus I am expected to stay as late as others while there is no need, and no one is allowed out for lunch. There are only so many articles on my industry I can read before turning to personal entertainment. Sheesh, I feel like the worst worker ever.

        • Actually, this is why Gilt, etc. are totally brilliant if you think about it. My totally non-science based speculation is that you probably do get a physiological high, the same as you would say gambling or doing another pleasurable activity because the things you buy are exclusive! time limited! only a certain number! other people might snatch it up if you don’t act quickly! you just got something purportedly at deep discount, you sneaky you!

          I thought I read somewhere–though I can’t find the link now– that the deals on the flash sale sites aren’t actually *that* great.

        • Try something like leechblock. It’ll basically stop you from going to blacklisted websites. I did that for Lent this year, I wanted to stop refreshing some websites all day long and wasting time. After just 10 days I already felt so much better. I pulled the blocker at the end of Lent and I really only check my trigger sites once a week now. It’s no longer a compulsion.

    • I probably shop too much, especially if I’m stressed or upset. I’ve made peace with it though. I like clothes and I only keep the things I really like so I don’t really see it as a problem.

    • For me, it was boredom and lack of a financial goal. When I had nothing to do, I shopped, to fill time (as pathetic as that sounds), which was different from shopping once in a while as a stress-relieving-make-me-feel-better activity. Saving up for a major purchase or vacation really helps. Reminding myself of a long-term goal always helped me to get over the short-term thrill of shopping, to the point where shopping isn’t that fun anymore.

      • Several years ago I went from full-time to 60%-time, cutting my income by 40%. Given that I am the primary breadwinner in the family, it was a huge household income hit.

        RE shopping, for me some of the attraction is about the thrill of the hunt, in that I love a bargain and have only ever shopped sales and clearance racks. I have been able to satisfy the need for the thrill of the hunt by taking up thrift shopping. Much of my clothing and virtually all of my kids’ things come from thrift stores, usually for under $10/item (and in the case of the kids, a dollar or two). I have also bought furniture, household goods, and things to make over (e.g. a wooden tray transformed by paint and Mod-Podge, for a Christmas gift).

        I still shop “real” stores, but only when I have to.

    • D Train South :

      I can completely relate to this. What I have recently come to realize is that I often spend my time shopping for the life I could be living (but am not) if I got off my a$$ and stopped watching TV, snacking/drinking and Internet shopping (often all at the same time). The greatest evidence of this is the fact that I have a fantastic wardrobe — all of which is one size too small — and a not so great “emergency wardrobe” for my overweight actual self. I am completely familiar with what is in the “too small” wardrobe, but barely know what is in the one I can fit into, because those clothes are typically bought quickly without much thought, to (in theory) tide me over until I can wear my real clothes again. Exercising instead of shopping would be a lot better on my waistline and wallet, which means a lot more productive toward getting me closer to reaching any of my goals in life. I made this epiphany this week, and look forward to implementing a very different routine. It didn’t hurt that I’ve had a bit of a health scare recently, which woke me up to a few things.

      • AnonAnon33 :

        D Train South — I’m in the exact same position. I have an entire closet full of clothes that I buy in my “I will be there next month” size — 1 size smaller than I have been in three years — and only a half dozen skirts that actually fit me right now. I think I have 5 pairs of jeans that are my “ideal” size that I have never worn, and two that actually fit me that I bought on super sale, because why spend money on a pair of jeans I’ll just wear for a few weeks? It makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone in having this tendency to buy things in my “ideal” size. I decided this week when I was out of town for work that once I got back to town, my habits would change so I could end this silly charade. So know that you’ve got someone out there going through a very similar struggle!

        • Anonymous NYer :

          I pretty much have 2 entire wardrobes, because I’ve been my “only going to be this overweight for a few weeks” size for about 2 years now…and I have so much cute stuff that’s 1-2 sizes too small – can’t bear to get rid of it, a lot still has tags and is great quality, it just doesn’t fit…

        • Ladies, you’re definitely not alone as I am guilty the motivational shopping as well. I haven’t bought a new pair of nice jeans in years because I always want to wait until I get to my “real” size and splurge on a really expensive pair because then I truly “deserve” it after all the hard work and sacrifice it would take to get there. I have some clothes that I love but just can’t bring myself to wear because they are just out of size-reach and thus, unflattering. I used to hang them conspicuously around my room so I would have to look at the garment I couldn’t wear, hoping that it would inspire me to work out. I’ve also kept a picture on my home computer desktop for a year because it was a shot of me in a bathing suit from a shockingly unflattering angle, thinking it would shame me into getting out and running more. All led to vicious cycles of self-loathing that… you guessed it… led to more unhealthy nutritional habits to “feed” the disappointment in myself (be it with food or shopping for clothes that would look stunning on the body I desperately wanted to have). This cycle has been more or less present since high school.

          Then a couple weeks ago, while on a solo hike, my subconscious transitioned my thinking in a way that nearly brought tears to my eyes. (Yes, alone on a trail.) Instead of viewing working out and shedding pounds as how I would rid myself of all the “mistakes” I’ve made (i.e. that extra large helping of ice cream last night), or correcting the “wrongs” I’ve done (i.e. letting myself go)… I just thought to myself… I want to eat wonderful healthy things and become more active so that after all these years, I can just give myself the body I have always wanted. The healthy and svelte shape I’ve wanted even more than those peep toe pumps I’ve had my eye on for six months.

          It wasn’t for anyone else or for any pressure from society, but just because I deserve to feel good and feel sexy. Every. Single. Day. All of a sudden, I became willing, and dare I say enthusiastic about putting in all the “work” and effort necessary to give that “gift” to myself. And somehow now, it has became less about finding the strength to resist all the same cravings and “mistakes” and more about honest-to-goodness joy in eating foods that are great for me and working out because it’s my gift to myself… that body I’ve wanted to flaunt around since puberty (and privately chastised myself for never having the “willpower” to achieve).

          It’s a subtle shift in mentality, but it has been a giant revelation for me. I’m happy to say though they are quite snug, I was able to get into my skinny-skinny jeans yesterday… an accomplishment I’ve not had in 2 years.

          On the off chance that this concept strikes a chord with any of you lovely ladies, I offer it up with full endorsement. You too deserve to have that beautiful, healthy body you’ve always wanted to sashay down the office corridor. Why don’t you take the time to give yourself the gift you’ve wanted longer than anything you’ve ever obsessed over on any fashion blog.

    • I have no advice, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. The infamous Sally McGraw once posted something about HALT – recognizing that when one is feeling hungry, angry/anxious, lonely, or tired, one is more likely to engage in less than desirable behaviors, like over-eating or over-shopping. I am trying to assess these feelings when I find myself idly surfing through retail websites.

      Honestly, I don’t know what to do about it either. I shop too much, but it’s not financially a problem (I save about 25% of my gross salary and have no debt whatsoever), so my only incentive to stop is recognizing that I just have too much stuff. I don’t hate my job, but don’t love it. I think I shop because I think that if I have different clothes, I’ll have a different life?

      It’s hard.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      I am not clear on the purpose of your shopping ban. Do you self impose because you shop too much, or because you are diverting your shopping money to something else? I don’t think it works if its about shopping too much…. My shopping bans are always about wanting to use disposable income on something else, other than new clothes…..

    • I have never done a shopping ban. I have a tendency to do very pointed shopping – i.e I need lighter weight jackets because I’ll be in NYC a lot this summer. So I go shopping for lighter weight jackets. I don’t think that’s a shopping problem.

      However, I do notice I sometimes have a problem with good deals. I get sucked into buying things I don’t really need because they are such good deals. This is sort of a storing-up-in-case-of-famine type hoarding, really, if I break it down. I end up wearing most of the great deal stuff far fewer times than I will wear items I pointedly shopped for and probably paid more for.

      I noticed my impulse shopping was creeping up so I looked at behaviors that were contributing. I noticed I had been buying shoes and bras and kids clothing at night after a glass of wine when my defenses were down, so I deleted all shopping related apps from my iPad. If I really need to go to Zappos on my iPad, I can use the browser. But it’s no longer as easy to just pop in and see what they have. I also unsubscribed from merchant emails.

      I noticed that I would sometimes stop at a shopping center on my way home from work on the (fairly rare) occasion I knew that I had a little free time. I stopped doing this. I thought of it as running errands at the time, but I came to realize that it was shopping as a personal hobby, and I needed to find a new hobby. So I resist stopping there any more, and that has reduced my monthly spend.

      My strategy now is to wait and do big shopping trips in person a few times a year. I did one three weeks ago to buy those items for a warmer work climate, and I have already noticed the pieces I’m wearing most are those that I paid the most for. (A lafayette sheath dress and an eileen fisher 3/4 sleeve linen knit cardi, which surprisingly has shaping.) I actually took back a couple of items that I think I bought because they were good deals but didn’t really meet my immediate needs, and that felt good.

      And I’d like to give props to the commenter last week who said she had broken her expensive handbag habit because she realized she mostly carries work bags. That resonate with me. It’s true – traveling most of the work week now, I have no need for a handbag. I have a rolling bag and a Jack Georges tote/laptop bag and that’s all I really use. That poster’s wisdom was responsible for me not taking the bait on all the great handbags on sale at NAS.

      (And if I may pat myself on the back, all I have purchased so far from NAS are tights for me and school pants for my son.)

    • interested :

      I’m interested to read the resposes to this question too.

    • You say a lot of it comes from boredom at work, which I can totally relate to – I shop when I am stressed or bored. I finally took to deleting all the emails from stores without looking, and searched for other things to keep me occupied. Some ideas, which may or may not work for you – could you get away with doing an online language course while at work? Particularly for a country you may want to travel to. Then you could also have the travel planning goal – both as something to research and as a reason to save up money. Or if you have any other non-work, non-fashion interest – maybe look for blogs on that topic to read. I have my blog roll that when I don’t have urgent work I go through – that might give you a similar kind of routine. Or can you discreetly have an e-reader of some sort and load it up with books? I can set mine next to mine keyboard, and it won’t be obvious that I’m reading unless you walk right up next to me (which no one ever does).

      Also, what ChocCityB&R said so well.

    • It sounds like you are worried because you feel shopping somehow detracts from more important things in your life. Does it help to think deeply about what those important things are – your saving and giving goals, your family priorities, the time you spend ‘frolicking in the sun’, the novel you want to write etc ? Fix your commitment to your important things if need but if you are happy otherwise, why not just enjoy shopping as a fairly harmless pastime and pack your under-used kit off to Goodwill a little more frequently ?

      And in case it helps anyone whose internet shopping issues stems from boredom in front of an electronic screen, my 2 cents : ballet on youtube. Or your favourite [dance] [sport] [romping kittens] on youtube. My thing is dance and my fallback when idling in front of a screen is to watch a 5 – 10 min clip of someone filling the stage with big leaps or a crazy number of turns. The internet is a wonderful thing for delivering these snippets – it doesn’t have to be about shopping sites.

  4. NY help please!

    I’m going to NYC on business and will have probably one day and two dinners to myself (I know! Lucky me!) I have to admit that I haven’t been to NY recently at all, and the last time I did all the touristy stuff, I was a kid. Could you please recommend (a) a few top-priority touristy things that I might enjoy doing since it’s been soooo long, and (b) the best food/drink (pizza and any other recommendations you might want to share) that’s easy to get to from midtown manhattan?

    Thank you so much ladies!

    • The Neue Galerie did not exist last time you were in NYC. They currently have a great, but totally manageable, Klimt exhibition. They also have a nice restaurant.

      Rooftop of the Met Museum for a drink (you didn’t do that as a kid!). (I personally would spend the entire day at the Met, but YMMV. The Islamic Art wing was reopened after a multi-year renovation last fall and is spectacular, if you are looking for a targeted approach.)

      Best bagel and lox in the city: Russ & Daughters on Delancey. Take-out and walk to the park 2 blocks West.

      • Take a trip around Manhattan on the Circle Line boat. Takes about 3 hours but totally worth it, especially in good weather.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Go to a Broadway show!! I paid ridiculous scalper prices for “Book of Mormon” and found it was worth every penny, but there are a bunch of good shows for less if you’re not quite as fanatical as I. You can get same day tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square.

    • Anonymous :

      Eataly is fun and would also be good for a solo dinner.

    • If the weather is nice, take a walk on the High Line. It’s a lovely view and gives you a different perspective on the city. There are several food options along the way, or you can go to Chelsea Market in the old Nabisco factory afterwards, which has all kinds of casual restaurants and food counters that are great for eating solo.

      I second the idea of going to a Broadway show. If you don’t want to leave it up to chance, and you have some time to plan before you go, google “broadway discount codes.”

      And finally, I love love love the Empire State building at night for touristy NYC stuff. Buy tickets online to skip the line. I believe they have live music after 10pm on weekends.

  5. ChocCityB&R :

    Wow I’ve had a loooooong couple of weeks and had to disconnect from [this site]. I feel so out of the loop. There should be some kind of weekly summary or newsletter of all the best comments and discussions.

    Anyway, two completely different questions for the hive:

    I’m trying to get back to the gym after a several week hiatus, and am dreading that first workout pain/nausea I typically get when I take long breaks. Beyond buying cute new workout clothes to distract me (though recommendations for that are welcome) what can I do to combat this?

    Also, what are you ladies reading (fiction) lately? I have a book club coming up and I need to make a suggestion, but I hate just going to the NYT bestseller list and not finding some jewel by an unknown but excellent author. Bonus points if it’s a woman of color!

    • kerrycontrary :

      I’m reading Gone Girl next and then Shanghai Girls. I just finished Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett. I believe all 3 are pretty popular to the masses, but I’ve been enjoying my reads lately. I also love An Education. They made a movie out of it but that’s only part of her life-story, and it would be great for book-club discussions to talk about women’s empowerment and sexuality.

      • karenpadi :

        Second anything by Ann Patchett. Wonderful author. But then, the only “literature” I read is by Margaret Atwood and Ann Patchett. I just don’t like most authors or the genre.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Second Gone Girl. Big fun.

      • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

        Wholeheartedly second Shanghai Girls. I’ve just moved on to Dreams of Joy (by the same author) and it is equally amazing.

        Some other recs

        Anything by Paulo Coleho (but especially The Alchemist and The Devil and Miss Prym)
        Songs of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip
        Fledgling by Octavia Butler
        Anything by Michelle Moran (I just finished and fell in love with Cleopatra’s Daughter)
        Set This House in Order or Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff (both are a little out there in a good way and I will buy anything he puts out after reading those two)
        The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds (an old one, but I always can go back to it)
        Liquor, Prime, and Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z Brite
        Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

        I could keep going, but I will stop. My “mild” reading obsession is the reason I had to shut off one click shopping when I got my Kindle Fire.

        Happy reading whatever you pick.

    • manomanon :

      ooh ooh ooh!
      Fiction books- read The Truth About Unicorns by Bonnie Jones Reynolds- it is so so so good and just creepy enough to be mysterious.
      While the author is not a woman of color it is a spectacular book! It was originally published in 1972 but re-released more recently and I read it on the recommendation of my roommate and could not put it down.
      I do not however have tips on getting to the gym since that is a massive struggle I have too

    • SF Bay Associate :

      New embarassing pop hits on my ipod help. Staying really, really hydrated throughout the day, and a protein shake right after the gym help me feel better physically. I also focus on a quote I found on pinterest:

      “Wow, I really regret that workout.” – said no one. Ever.

      So basically, I try to remember that making the choice to exercise is good, and that any regret will be temporary.

      And my most favoritest workout capris ever are part of Nordie’s Anniversary – the Under Armour Shatter capris. They are awesome.

      • I just read a quote that I found similarly inspirational (especially in the renewed-commitment-to-exercise context): If you focus on results, you’ll never see change. If you focus on change, you’ll see results.

      • I almost had a “regret that workout moment” yesterday. I have been doing some very hard physical work at work (we’re moving a whole section of our building to accommodate a new department and had to be prepared for the professional movers to start on Monday). After killing myself all day, I still went to the gym and lifted weights then went home and got on the treadmill. It may sound crazy but my muscles felt better after that than they did the night before when I didn’t work out! I did sit there for a minute at the gym thinking “Why the heck am I here?”

      • Senior Attorney :

        I go to the gym for a 6 a.m. class, and I always tell myself that although I am unhappy to be getting out of bed, 7 a.m. Senior Attorney is going to be super happy, and I should do it for her! It always works, and 7 a.m. Senior Attorney is indeed always supremely grateful to 5:40 a.m. Senior Attorney for having dragged her sorry self out of bed!

      • I did say that once. The day after my 21st birthday, I woke up at 9 AM, put on my workout clothes, and hit the treadmill. About 10 minutes into my run, one of the worst bouts of nausea/headache I’ve ever had started to set in, and I almost had to crawl back to my apartment I was so sick. Realized later that I was probably still drunk when I woke up… :)

        But so long as you are making the decision to work out while you are sober, I completely agree with the above sentiment!

    • I Am Forbidden, woman leaves fundamentalist Jewish sect (based on author’s own experience)
      City of Thieves, really captivating WWII in Russia fiction

      Gave those the most stars of anything I have read recently.

    • I just finished The Paris Wife and it enjoyed it well enough. A friend recently recommended Beautiful Ruins, which I plan to read next.

      Have you read The Glass Castle? It is not fiction, but it is a fascinating read.

    • Re: gym, prophylactic pain reliever (and perhaps anti-nausea) medication.

      Re: reading, it’s not an unknown, but I LOVED Pillars of the Earth, and I don’t usually read his stuff.

    • LadyEnginerd :

      Not strictly fiction (more historical/religious nonfiction wrapped in fiction-ish narrative), but in my opinion a jewel by an unknown female author is: The Woman Who Named God – Charlotte Gordon. Do check out the reviews on amazon, because it’s not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.

      As to the gym: I watch a TV show on the treadmill and run hard during the ads and walk when it’s back on. I think it’s the perfect way to ease back in.

    • Bellydancer :

      By women of color, not that much is coming to mind, but I did love The Street (Anne Petry, U.S.), Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga, southern Africa, forget exactly where). I just read The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint and loved it, but by a white guy, or maybe Native American. Someone to Run With (David Grossman, Israel) is a great novel, a little on the long side, but my book club loved it. The Poisonwood Bible is also great, and set in Africa, although by Barbara Kingsolver (white). On Chesil Beach (short, great). Room, by Emma Donaghue.

      • Bored today :

        Hi, fellow bellydancer!

        Re: dealing with workout pain – try to relish it. As long as it’s muscle soreness and not pain-pain, it means you’re working hard and should be proud of yourself. You’re getting stronger and that’s awesome. Channel your inner Eye of the Tiger.

    • I always want to get back into the swing of working out with great gusto, but I find it’s a lot better if I limit my workouts to every other day instead of every day for the first week back. Otherwise, I get really sore and end up having to take 3 or 4 days off.

      I’m reading Bring Up the Bodies, which is the sequel to Wolf Hall. I’d suggest either of those books for your book club. Really great historical fiction.

      • I’m trying to read Wolf Hall and I am having the hardest time getting into it. I think I might need to start over and really pay attention to who each character is, because it is a book I think I really should enjoy.

        • I usually prefer to read fluffier books, but Wolf Hall was worth the extra effort to keep track of everything. Having said that, I started Bring Up the Bodies a month ago and have read literally 10 paperback romance-type novels since then and am only 25% of the way through BUTB. But I think it will be worthwhile. Wolf Hall is epic, amazing drama, and written in such a way that I felt edified, not just entertained, while reading it.

          Trying this again because after getting the posting too quickly message literally 12 times, my comment just up and disappeared.

          • That is me with Young Adult fiction and probably a good part of the reason why I can’t remember who anyone is. I’ve been reading to for about a month, maybe 5 weeks, and have read at least another book a week in between.

          • @oclg – 4 of those 10 novels were the Twilight series. :) I think we would be great friends.

        • I hated Wolf Hall, and I love historical fiction. I think a lot of it is that I am a practicing Catholic, and the demonizing of Thomas More was hard for me to swallow. At the time, I was even going to the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, VA, so it was particularly tough. I feel like I need to say, too, that I’m not stupid, and I know atrocities were committed by the Church and More in the name of the Church, but it was VERY one-sided and very pro-Protestantism when nothing is ever as black and white as I felt this book portrayed that time period.

          So long response to say, you aren’t alone in not liking the book.

          • I’m Catholic too, and a lawyer to boot. It’s fiction. Didn’t bother me. It probably was pretty accurate in depicting Thomas Cromwell’s perspective, actually, and if you know your British history you know that what goes around comes around for Cromwell.

    • I have been on a reading binge recently. I really liked Gone Girl, and would probably provide some interesting discussion topics for a book club, as would I am Forbidden. I also recently read The Innocents, which is a modern day update to The Age of Innocence, and All Woman and Springtime, a novel about trafficking and North Korea and The Snow Child. Silver Sparrow is a coming of age story written by a woman of color that I liked. Not fiction, but if you are at all interested in non-fiction I really enjoyed In the Garden of Beasts.

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        A friend of mine was raving about Gone Girl yesterday. I’ll have to try it.

        Also, book recommendation threads are my favorite. I need to start keeping a spreadsheet of all the recommendations.

        • I just finished Gone Girl this morning. Loved the first two thirds, and wanted to punch all of the characters in the face and throw the book in the garbage in the last third. But, I did make it to the end in 3 days, which is saying something because I will grow bored with books and just set aside for months on end or abandon altogether. The wild twists just became….too much. Torn about whether to try another of this author’s books, because I did like her writing style.

    • I just finished Elegance of the Hedgehog and thought it was a beautiful book.

    • Ooh, ooh, I am currently reading an AWESOME book, The Killing Moon, by NK Jemisin. It’s fantasy (slightly ancient Egypt inspired, but you have to look for it), and it’s awesome so far. Her first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (different series/world than the one I’m reading now) is among the top five fantasy novels that I’ve ever read. Really brilliant. And you can send my bonus points, because she is a woman of color (and a seriously funny blogger, can I get points for that?).

      Even if fantasy’s not usually your bag, I recommend her. Really great, different stuff. Not swords and elves and the same old faux-Tolkien that you see all over the place.

      • I didn’t realize there was a new book by NK Jemisin! Now I have to see if the library has it.

        • There are two! They published them both at the same time! GET IT!

          • I saw that the library had the second too! Just reserved the first, as in my experience if you order multiple books in a series at the same time the second always arrives before the first does. :)

    • Not a recent book, but Hush by Eishes Chayil is incredibly powerful.

    • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker has just come out. She is not a woman of color, but she is a friend of mine, so I thought I’d recommend.

      The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan (also a friend! This makes me look much more fabulous than I actually am) is a wonderful book by an Indian/Canadian author. Came out in 2008.

      Big Machine by Victor LaValle was the best book I read in the last 12-month period, followed by Pym by Mat Johnson. Both are biracial (African-American/white) guys, both addressing race, neither falling into the category of identity fiction (well, Mat Johnson, maybe). Very fresh work.

    • I have a subscription to Runner’s World and reading it always makes me want to go out and be active. Not that I’ll look like the models in the magazine, but reading about other people enjoying exercise makes me think “I want that!” and then I’ll go work out. I also give myself permission to stop any work-out any time. So what if I go and do ten minutes and pack it in? If I do want to stop, I tell myself I can stop if I just do five minutes more. Usually (1) once I’m dressed for working out and in work-out mode, I don’t stop; (2) if I do stop, doing “just five more minutes” over and over again will get me to the end; and (3) if none of this works, I figure I really am tired/not feeling well and let myself stop without feeling guilty.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        I feel the same way about the Athleta catalogue. I want to be active like the women in it. And I play the exact same “you can stop any time, just go” and “just five more minutes” mind games with myself.

    • A Discovery of Witches. It’s been out for awhile, so maybe you’ve read it, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the quality of writing was really high.

    • Backgrounder :

      Not fiction but I loved the Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

      Re: workouts…I found that trying something new (whether it be a new class (capoeira, anyone? or new work out clothes) gives me motivation to get back in the swing of things.

    • Regarding the gym: start out slow. If you are doing cardio, resist the urge to do anything fast. It really is better to ease into it and build up your body’s tolerance, both as endurance and as the strain you put on your bones and muscles. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eventually challenge yourself and push yourself, but the first week or so start building up gradually. Also, when I am feeling unmotivated, I give myself permission to have an easy workout, so for example instead of a challenging run on the treadmill for an hour, I will just walk for 20 minutes instead. Usually, once I get going I am able to do that run instead, but it helps to give myself permission to take it easy sometimes.

    • kira kira :

      She hasn’t written something recently but have you read anything by Zadie Smith? I love all her fiction…

    • My apologies if this posts twice, but it looks like my first post got lost…

      Here’s a link to my book list:

      My employment situation has changed again, but at least I’ll have more time to read…

    • Anne Shirley :

      @Kat yes! There should be a weekly roundup of top discussions

    • I saw that Zadie Smith has a new book out, and you can’t go wrong with Zadie :-).

      • kira kira :

        After posting my rec above, I went to check Amazon to make sure I hadn’t missed something and saw that she has a book coming out in September. So excited!

  6. Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

    So I’ve always been told that “To Whom It May Concern” and the like are all the kiss of death on a cover letter, but I want to apply to a posting that gives no information except the area of practice, firm location, and application requirements. I’ve tried Googling to see if I could guess what firm, but given the area and location, I cannot be sure enough to address a cover letter.

    So, my question to you ladies is, how should I address my letter?

    • Ask A Manager always says that there’s no need to go to extraordinary lengths to track down the name of the hiring manager and a generic salutation is fine.

    • If done a “Dear Sir or Madam” in these cases. If you’ve done as much searching as possible (did you call and ask how to address the letter) then they don’t want to release the person’s name and all the cover letters will be addressed “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir or madam” and that’s what they want.

    • I just use “Greetings”. I also don’t have a new job yet, so take it as you may.

    • Former MidLevel :

      In this situation, something like “Dear Sir or Madam” would be fine. The advice you received about avoiding generic salutations only applies when you know (or with reasonable dilligence could find out) the individual name. Good luck!

    • Dear Sir or Madam seems better to me than To Whom it May Concern. The latter seems like you’re writing an open letter; you know that the recipient will be concerned with your letter, you just don’t know the recipient’s name. But this is a personal preference and I’m sure either one is fine.

    • Another Zumba Fan :

      Dear Potential Employer

    • emcsquared :

      How about “Dear Recruiting Coordinator” or “Hiring Manager”? Then the person who opens the mail can quickly route it where it needs to go.

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      Thanks ladies. I’ll go with Dear Sir or Madam.

      TBK, unfortunately there is no information to call. The link takes me straight to my state bar associations website.

  7. First time mom :

    Pregnancy threadjack, please skip if not interested:

    I am 11 weeks pregnant and have lately become nauseous in the evenings (I am completely fine in the mornings and most afternoons). It has only happened for the last week, but I’m essentially non-productive after 6 pm. I also get EXTREMELY hot in the evening, and these hot flashes are usually followed by throwing up and or/dry heaving. I have no appetite for dinner and can only eat an english muffin with peanut butter.

    My question is – has anyone taken morning sickness medication, either Reglan or Zofran or something else? I wouldn’t call my symptoms extreme, but I am worried that I am so out of it in the evenings, and I can’t just stop working at 6 pm every day. On the other hand, I’m almost through the first trimester and am wondering if I should suck it up and hope that this passes. If anyone has had luck with OTC meds, that would be helpful to hear about too. TIA.

    • I never took prescriptions, but used a variety of preggo pops, ginger candy (the kind from Trader Joe’s was a lifesaver) and 7-up. Some type of B vitamin was recommended to me, but it just made me even more nauseous.

    • I had pretty significant nausea and vomitting all day long with this pregnancy. One trigger I found was getting dehydrated. If I got too dry, the whole day was a miserable mess of vomitting, laying in bed, moaning, etc. (insert drama here). I bought myself a big 20 oz pretty plastic (BPA free, of course) cup + straw and sipped all day. I also was very careful with what I ate — I found that while I wanted heavy or greasy foods, I definitely felt worse afterwards.

      Finally, even with being pretty careful, I resorted to zofran on a regular basis (I got a prescription from 30, and between 8 and 14 weeks probably used 20 of them). Zofran is currently the medicine of choice among OBs for pregnancy related nausea/vomitting. I say, get a prescription and use it. There’s no honor in gutting it out and being miserable. If you feel better soon, that’s great, but zofran was a miracle for me. One tip: I think it made my constipation worse (TMI, I know) so keep up with other stuff.

    • No meds recommendations, because I didn’t end up taking any, but I wondering if you may need to have a light snack or two in the afternoon. During my first trimester, I got the most nauseous when I hadn’t eaten anything after lunch. Try bring fruit and/or nuts to work to nibble on. I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad!

    • D Train South :

      I know it sounds like hocus pocus, but I’ve found Sea Bands to be extremely effective for relieving nausea. Worth a try . . .

    • I did not take meds, but just wanted to express sympathy. This sounds terrible. I was lucky, and found that as long as I didn’t wait to long to eat, I would only be nauseous, but not actually throw up. Your story makes me incredibly grateful.

      I can tell you that all nausea ended about week 13 for me. There is an end to that misery!

    • Have you tried the travel bands that press on acupuncture point? Very effective, not just for puking on boats :-)..

    • My OB’s offer a Zofran prescription routinely. I took it with baby #1 because I was travelling abroad and didn’t want to deal with morning sickness on an airplane or with strange food. Helped a lot, but I still needed to snack every two hours or so. I’m currently at 11 weeks with baby #2, and have lost 3 pounds so far due to nausea (can only eat a quarter of a meal at a time, it seems). Baby’s still tracking fine and I’m making do with Seabands and ginger gum, but if I don’t put on any weight in the next 4 weeks or so I’ll be taking up the doc’s offer for another round.

      My friends who were recently pregnant took Zofran with no issue as well. I agree with EC MD below, you’ll need to deal with the constipation but it was well worth it.

  8. hoping more people see this here… Any tips for taking a professional looking photo? My usual hair/makeup routine always leaves me looking less than polished in photos – almost as though I have no makeup on. This isn’t a formal head shot, but will be sent around to colleagues/members, so I’d like to look decent.

    • Two cents :

      I’m pretty sure Kat wrote a post about this a long time ago (although it was geared toward formal photos for law firm websites). At any rate, I think a lot of the guidelines would be the same so you may want to check it out. I would suggest buying those oil blotting wipes from CVS to get rid of excess oil, and wear more makeup (foundation, a light powder, light blush, and a neutral but brighter than usual lipstick). I would also wear your hair down or at least half up/half down (unless you never do normally) – it tends to look better in photos.

    • Merabella :

      I haven’t taken headshots, but I realized this when I had my last license photo taken (the only amazingly good one I have ever had).

      I did black liquid eye liner slightly thicker than usual and neutral eye make up, red lips and more blush than usual. The photos came out looking very natural – while I felt like I had a TON of make up on, I probably was just slightly more made up than the average lady.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Talk to someone who has done stage makeup. You want to be halfway between what you would wear on stage to be seen in the audience (trust me, it is a TON) and your regular makeup. Stage make-up light. You want make up that is a little less neutral than usual and wear it a little more obvious. So, thicker eyeliner, extra layer of mascara, a color eyeshadow that is not skin tone colored, etc.

    • You need brighter and more make up; lights wash out any photo. As anyone who is on the stage (dance, theater, singing, etc) will tell you, you look like a clown in regular light but on the stage, you look normal.

      • Yes. Definitely more makeup than you normally wear. Heavier foundation. Thicker eyeliner. Etc.

        • thicker, and darker colors. Black, not brown; dark eyeshadow, not subtle flesh tone.

    • a couple of thoughts — if this is for something important, I’d consider getting your makeup professionally done. The pro’s really know how to do good on-camera makeup. If you’re doing your own, in addition to the tips here about wearing more than usual (which I agree with), I’d suggest making sure your eyebrows are groomed/done & wearing real lipstick rather than a pale gloss. it also helps to know your angles — look at photos of yourself that you like before you take your pics.

      • ps – use eyedrops (the whitening kind) right before your pics too, makes eyes sparkly & bright.

        • Be sure to avoid makeup with SPF – I hear that SPF reflects off the camera flash and makes you look washed out!

    • Thanks! I really appreciate it. It’s not so serious that I feel like I need a pro, I just don’t want people to say wow, look at that very tired lady. I will practice with the makeup tips this weekend.

  9. Personal Shoppers/Stylists? :

    Has anyone used a personal stylist? I am so out of my league with choosing clothes that look good and fit properly, not to mention accessorizing with anything more than my diamond stud earrings and a watch. I also absolutely HATE to shop, which is probably why I end up with a bunch of random stuff that was either hastily tried on, “fits” as in buttons/zips, but is not spectacular/finished/polished and largely just sits in the closet.

    Now that I need to build up a wardrobe for work (new associate, big law) this seems to be the time to stop wasting time and money on random pieces with no sense of style and put together an actual “wardrobe.”

    The idea of having someone make these decisions for me sounds amazing… do non-celebrities do this?!

    • Merabella :

      Get thee to a Nordstrom’s personal shopper! Seriously. This will help you.

      • AnonInfinity :

        Have we discussed before what amount would be worth it for a Nordstrom’s personal shopper? $2000?

        • No, much less. I’d say anything less than $250 is unreasonable, because you’re not going to be able to get an outfit for anything less than that at Nordie’s. I’d budget about $300 per outfit that you want, but there’s no expectation that you’ll spend a lot on your first appointment.

        • What do you mean by “worth it”? If “worth it” for the personal shopper, $0 because for Nordstrom, it’s a way of building clientele. Even if you don’t buy much/anything, they want you to learn about what’s in the store and have a good experience so that next time you need some item of clothing, you’ll think of them. I’ve had friends use personal shoppers at Nordstrom’s and Lord & Taylor, and these friends probably don’t spend $2K on clothing in a year, let alone one outing.

          If for the client, I think that depends on your field/office. Women who need very nice tailored suits for work will probably want to spend more. At my totally casual office, I could probably get a very nice (for me) work wardrobe for less.

          I think the personal shopper route is a really good way to go for someone who wants to dress better but doesn’t want to/is not interested in spending a lot of time shopping. A good personal shopper will help you find things that suit your body and lifestyle, which will probably save you a ton of time, and a good deal of money, in the long run.

          • AnonInfinity :

            I meant more for the personal shopper. I wasn’t sure if they want you to spend a certain amount for it to be worth their time, but I guess if the store is paying them, then it doesn’t really matter.

          • It doesn’t cost anything to use the personal shopper at Nordies. Even if you have only $100 to spend, they will help you. They are awesome.

        • I’ve gotten wonderful service and once I only spend $300. I think they look at as it as an investment in your relationship for lower amounts.

    • Do it. You can start out small and tell the personal shopper you have a budget of say $500. If you like what your shopper puts together for you, you can spend more or just come back. I can’t recommend the service highly enough.

    • I do. In my non large city its $50 an hour and totally worth it. And she isn’t limited to Nordstrom. My sister lives in a bigger city and I think she pays $100 an hour with a 4 hour minium. Do it. I hate shopping and I look far less frumpy than I used to. I hire her now at least twice a year to help me make up outfits and to get new stuff.

      • Personal Shoppers/Stylists? :

        This is what I was thinking of, though the Nordstrom PS might be a good baby step into it… How did you find yours? I just googled [my city] personal shoppers and came up with a couple. I am positive none of my friends have done this before, not sure where I would find word of mouth recommendations.

  10. Mark your calendars for the next DC meetup: Wednesday, July 18th at 6:30, upstairs bar at Clyde’s in Chinatown.

  11. I read this article and immediately pondered why we’re eating fondue. Link to follow.

  12. Networking question:

    My husband met an attorney at work function who is starting a company that I would be really interested in working for at some point. My husband mentioned to her that I work 40 h/p/w from home. My husband is a bit forward, so he also told her that if she ever needed help with anything I could probably be of service. According to my husband, she seemed receptive to the idea. I just signed a contract to stay another year at my job, so I am in no hurry to start something new. I doubt she is in a place to hire anytime soon either. However, I am very interested in her company and would love to work there at some point in the future. I am also just interested in hearing more about what she does. My husband got her business card for me. I plan on sending her an email, but I am struggling with how to approach this. Any thoughts on what I should/shouldn’t say.

    Any thoughts? Thanks ladies!

    • Visting NYC :

      Also, how should I address the email? From what my husband said, she graduated law school only a few years ahead of me. Should I still go with the standard “Dear Ms. XXX”?

    • Former MidLevel :

      I would probably say something like: “Hi, my name is ____. You met my husband, ___, last week at _____. It sounds like we have a lot in common [or similar interests, etc.]–I was wondering if you would like to grab lunch sometime.” At this point, your focus should be on getting to know her as an interesting person, not just feeling her our for a job. If there is such an opportunity, let her bring it up.

      • AnonInfinity :

        I concur! I would think you were trying to get me involved in a pyramid scheme if you wrote something about wanting to meet and pursue business opportunities.

  13. mintberrycrunch :

    Cute tankinis – do they exist at this point in the season? I love the polka dot one at jcrew, but it’s sold out in my size. I’m desperate for something cute & sassy in my size (12/14) for a beach trip with all much tinier friends :) Bonus points for underwire. Any suggestions on where to look?

  14. renter's dilemma :

    Hoping the hive can provide some advice for me on my living situation. I think I already may know the answer, but I’d like more opinions.

    I currently rent a 1 BR in a large city that is a nice size (big bedroom, plenty of closet space and room to entertain) with great amenities (in-unit w/dr and a gated outdoor parking space). The rent seems reasonable to me — it’s about 31% of my take-home pay, but I invest 15% in my 401(k), so it’s actually closer to 18% of my actual monthly salary. I’m still able to save a decent amount on top of 401(k) savings. I rent from the condo owner, and she’s great about letting me decorate/paint the way I want to. I’ve never felt constrained by renting, really; nor do I feel like I’m throwing my money away because I still save another 12-20% out of each paycheck (on top of 401(k) saving).

    However, the apartment is in a neighborhood that’s somewhat far from downtown. It’s also very tranquil, calm, and family-friendly. I like being in a peaceful area, but sometimes it almost feels TOO family-friendly, since I’m single and feel like I don’t fit in in the land of double-wide strollers. It’s not prohibitively far, but it’s probably a $20 cab ride home from downtown or work. I can take public transportation, but it takes 45-55 minutes.

    I’ve been thinking about moving closer to downtown, just to be more in the middle of things. However, my rent would go up a minimum of $300-400 a month to do so, and I’d probably end up going to more expensive shops and restaurants as a result. I can definitely afford it… but should I? It seems silly to move only to rent again. On the other hand, even though I can afford to buy (not downtown, but in a neighborhood more like where I’m living now), I’m really, really hesitant given the current state of real estate and the fact that I know many people who are trapped by their mortgages. I would like a change, but is it worth all the money and hassle of moving? Should I just appreciate what I have?

    If you were me, what would you do? Stay put or rent a pricier apartment downtown?

    • If it were me, I would try to go out where you think you want to live for a month. Pretend like you live there so to speak. See how you like the area, if you like going out more, etc. $20 cab ride a few times in a month is a lot cheaper than committing to a year’s worth of higher rent and moving costs.

      To be fair, I live in a more suburban setting and like it. I go out when I want to (usually via cab for the same reasons you mention) and am grateful to have a larger/nicer apt when I want to stay in.

      • Also, try living with the higher expenses. Stick the difference btwn current and proposed rent (and expenses) is a savings account and see how comfortable you are on the remainder. I know you say you could afford it, but it might be interesting to see what it would be like to actually live on it.

    • I made a move like the one you describe 3 1/2 years ago and have never once regretted it. I think you should do it. It sucks to be single and live in a neighborhood of mostly families.

      • Reposted to avoid moderation (for the word regr e t t e d, seriously?)

        I made a move like the one you describe 3 1/2 years ago and have never once regr e t t e d it. I think you should do it. It sucks to be single and live in a neighborhood of mostly families.

        • Can someone explain to me what it is about the name of [this site] and similar words as above that get flagged? I feel like I’m missing some sort of curse-within-the-word that is perhaps obvious.

          I’d been here a while when this wasn’t a problem, and I’ve been back a while and it’s been a consistent problem – I’m sure this was discussed sometime in between when it started, but what’s the issue, exactly?

          • For whatever reason, Kat decided that any mention of this site, or any shorthand reference to this site (e.g. ‘ r e t t e s) should go to moderation. Presumably she did this to protect her ownership of the site name and control how it’s used, but it’s a huge pain in the neck because a ton of words contain those letters. Also a pain in the neck, Kat, if you’re reading this – when I copy text from a comment, it adds the comment URL to what I’ve copied. Then I paste it into google, forget that it added the comment URL, and can’t figure out why there are no results. (Or I paste it into my reply and it gets flagged for moderation because this site’s name is in the URL). Really, really annoying.

          • momentsofabsurdity :

            C o r p o r e t t e and any of it’s derivatives (for example, ‘ R e t t e and anything that appears in like reg r e t t e d) gets moderated now, I have no idea why though.

          • Thanks for the explanation, Bluejay. I am with you, it is quite annoying! Hadn’t realized it was by design (as opposed to in keeping with some broad rule of a standard filter setting)… Hmm.

    • well, I did the opposite of you – I used to live close to downtown SF & after about 5 years there, moved out to the more “family friendly” part of town w/o the family to go along with it. I really liked being closer to the action/downtown areas/cuter neighborhoods, but my place there was a lot smaller, it was crowded generally in the neighborhood & parking was harder for guests so I didn’t have as many people over as I do now. I think it’s a really personal thing, but personally, I’m happier a bit more scaled back & taking the occasional cab. I also got “older,” that is I lived downtown adjacent in my late 20s/early 30s when all my friends were going out after work & it was a ton of fun. Now in my late 30s, this doesn’t happen as much so I’m also fine with being a little farther away.

    • I’m going to give you completely irresponsible advice. Do it.

      You have the rest of your life to live in a quiet, calm suburb (and may not have much choice in the matter as you begin to have kids), but this is a rare time in your life where you have both the financial means and the independence to make a housing choice that completely suits you.

      I’m paying the downtown higher rent myself to do it, but I love that my place has become the gathering spot for friends because of the central location, I can roll out of bed and grab a morning coffee, the exercise I get going car-less, how accessible a lot of free or low-budget entertainment is…

      That said, I made a few compromises – I did give up my car. It’s just not worth the expense when zipcar, car2go, rentals, etc. can fill the gap. That alone almost helped me break even on the rent difference. I walk as many places as possible. And I gave up in-unit laundry (which really only matters to me once a week).

      You have to decide what YOU really want. And it might be worth living at the higher rent for a few months before taking the plunge. But considering how well you are doing financially, I don’t think a couple hundred dollars a month is worth holding back on a move if this is something important to you.

      • Totally agree Hunter. Every time I start thinking I should move into a cheaper place, I realize it’d require me to get a car and it’d come out the same in the end. Financially the same that is, because I’d lose most of my life too, most of what I like about my life :-).

        • renter's dilemma :

          Such a good point. I partly chose to live where I do because of the parking spot, but it ended up feeling so suburban, and I resent paying for a car that has basically forced me to move to an outer-ring neighborhood so I can park it! I end up driving 15-20 minutes to go everywhere — the gym, Target, Trader Joe’s. If I paid more in rent but ditched the car and was truly able to walk/cab/train it everywhere, I think my quality of life would improve.

    • renter's dilemma :

      Thanks for the advice, all! It was what I needed to hear.

      I think I’m going to at least look at a few places before I totally rule the idea out. I just got an unexpected (!) raise at work this week that will help to cover the extra expenses. Maybe this is the time to try something new… and if not, at least I know I’m happy enough where I am.

  15. Visting NYC :

    Question for all you NYC Corporettes out there.

    My husband and I are taking my parents to NYC for a few days at the end of July. We have most of the trip planned, but I am still trying to find a good place to eat around our hotel (48th and Lexington area) for the night we arrive. My parents are a bit older, so I don’t want to walk too far since I am sure they will be tired from travel. Any tips?!

    Alternatively, my mom really wants to go to the Chinatown/Little Italy area so they may be up to heading down there. I know this area has chanced a lot since I was last in NYC so I am not quite sure what is good around there any more. Are there any restaurant recommendations for this area?

    I also would love to hear any other NYC travel advice! TIA!

    • There’s a Greek seafood place, Avra, right by your hotel on 48th between Lex & 3rd. It’s a bit pricey, but really lovely and you can order family style – a few salad/appetizers, then a grilled whole fish and a side veggie.

      What used to be Chinatown and Little Italy has turned into an upscale shopping/dining/drinking district, but some of the old stuff still exists alongside the new. What type of cuisine would you be looking for?

    • I think The National is supposed to be good, it’s in a hotel right around that area… Maybe 50th and Lex? There is also an Asian-Latin fusion place called Zengo at maybe E. 40th and 3rd Ave. that has a nice atmosphere and good foot, but it is pricey for what it is. I agree with the above poster that Avra is very nice, though also pricey.

      I don’t know many Chinatown or Little Italy restaurants (LI tends to be pretty touristy), but immediately north of there in Nolita there are tons of great options. Rubirosa has great pizza, Public is a beautiful restaurant with amazing food, Balaboosta (Mediterranean, on Mulberry St.), and Lure Fishbar are all worth a try. A bit further up in Noho, I’d recommend Il Buco (there’s a restaurant and a separate wine bar where they serve a full dinner as well), Gemma, and I’ve heard Acme is great.

      Have fun!

  16. No Accountant :

    Savings vs. paying down debt –

    My husband and I have both just started new positions and have about $2200 left over every month after paying expenses and minimum debt payments. Our monthly expenses are about $3000/month on a reasonable and sustainable budget. Our student loans are at 6.8%; everyone knows about savings interest rates. We have $6000 in “access in 5 minutes” savings; beyond that, we have an investment account with ~$70,000 that was an inheritance that we could liquidate within a week or two if there was an emergency, although it is designed to ultimately be about 50% of my husband’s retirement, so it would need to be a major emergency. We also have retirement accounts on schedule.

    I know everyone has an individual risk/reward feeling, but knowing that we have emergency money, “true” emergency money, and that we really want to get out from under those dang student loans, what are your thoughts on keeping our emergency savings to a minimum and just throwing an additional $2000/month at the student loans? We’d be able to be done with them in about a year and a half.

    We are both very debt-averse and share the dream of having the loans gone and the mortgage paid off in 5 years…we could do that if we did not contribute additionally to our savings (we do contribute to our retirement). Thoughts?

    • AnonInfinity :

      If the student loans are weighing on you mentally, I think you should pay them off. My thought is that, after my needs are met, money is for peace of mind and to spend on things I want. Paying off the student loans will give you peace of mind, so go for it!

    • Given that you have a strong preference to pay off your debt, I think that should be your priority. However I would continue to pay off debt and also increase your emergency fund, but just save at a slower rate (or drop a bunch of money into your account in one fell swoop and then turn to your loans). I don’t think I would feel “safe” with anything less than 3 months of savings, which is another $3000 for you (this is me personally – you and your husband need to figure out how much money you want to have in the bank before having to dip into the investment account).

      If you haven’t done this already, I think a good exercise would be for you to sit down and work out what the payments need to be for you to be debt-free in 5 years. Perhaps you don’t need to put all of your extra money into debt. Mint actually might be a good resource for this – they have a goals tab that you can use.

      • karenpadi :

        This. I would up the emergency savings to at least 3 months’ living expenses then use any extra money to buy “peace of mind”–whatever that is.

        At 6.8%, I would probably attack the student loans first, then the tax-deductible mortgage (I assume your mortgage is less the 6.8%).

    • Paying off debt IS contributing to your savings. So long as you have a comfortable emergency fund, yes, pay off the debt.

    • $70,000 is destined to be half of your husband’s retirement? Good luck with that. Is he planning to work until he’s 85?

      • Yeah. I have a financial advisor. She calculated it out, and I realized I need to have over $200K to live on for each year I’m going to be alive after I retire.

        Uh oh.

      • Its an investment account so I am assuming she is planning on the 70k growing a lot while it is in there

      • Yeah,
        It’s $70K right now, growing at the market rate, he’s 29 years old, and he’s putting $10-15K a year in every year for the foreseeable future…so all of your sarcasm in “good luck with that” is not appreciated. I think he’ll be fine.

        I seriously cannot stand negative sarcasm on the comment threads.

        • You said that 70K is half of his retirement, implying that he plans to retire on (70K*rate of return)*2. If he’s 29 years old and adding 10-15K a year to it, that’s obviously not true.

          • My mistake. Clearly I should have said it’s CURRENTLY 70K. I didn’t realize that other people had the ability to determine what would be in their investment accounts 30-40 years in the future. Somebody clearly misinformed me about the market not being a sure thing. I bet you are an amazing investment manager.

          • OP, for someone who “seriously cannot stand negative sarcasm on the comment threads,” ….

          • I know. I just hoped she saw how it felt to be on the receiving end vs. the giving end.

          • The “making someone feel as bad as you” technique doesn’t really work that well. Let’s try to be nice.

        • Feels… fine? like nothing? I guess I’m not that sensitive to casual sarcasm….?

    • $70K from inheritance that is supposed to be half of your husband’s retirement does not an emergency fund make. You have $6K in an emergency fund, not $76K. Knowing that you have a mortgage and student loan debt, I’m here to tell you that $6K is very likely not nearly enough for 2 people.

      I get why you want to pay down your debt. I’d strongly advise you to bulk up your emergency savings first.

      • 6K is two months of expenses (she says they spend $3000/mo). Isn’t that enough of an emergency fund for most people?

        • I believe current wisdom is saying 3 to 6 months of living expenses as an emergency fund, depending on your job situation.

          Also consider having a “life happens” fund – separate from the emergency fund (for in case you lose your job) and more as a “crap, we have to do a major repair” on something fund. Start with a thousand, or whatever cushion makes you feel comfortable. You’ve got a start on the emergency fund, so I figure you can fund it some each month, while still hitting the student loan debt pretty good.

        • Yeah, I didn’t see that first part about them having two months of expenses when I wrote my response. (I saw it almost exactly 30 seconds after I clicked that “Submit” button.) That’s a really great start. It comes down to risk tolerance. For me, 2 months still wouldn’t be enough. I also don’t know whether that $6K is *all* their savings, emergency and non. So that’s something to think about, too. I do definitely sympathize with wanting to blast away that student loan debt, though.

      • This.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’ve been trying to save up an emergency fund and pay extra on my loans as well and I currently make about double my actual living expenses. That can change on a moment’s notice though, so I’ve been trying to build up my emergency fund to 6 months for now with 12 months as the ultimate goal. Its probably more than necessary, but it makes me feel a little safer since I’m a document review attorney and never know how hard or easy it will be to get a new project. The plan I’ve been following is to contribute 1/4 of the extra to my loans and the rest to my emergency fund until I reach 6 months of living expenses. Then I’ll do 50/50 until I reach 9 months and then 75/25 after that.

      I think you just need to decide which is more important to you right now. If the loans are stressing you out, then contribute to those. But I’d suggest getting your emergency fund to at least 3 months of living expenses.

  17. Time Wasting :

    Help!! I have become a huge time waster and am totally unproductive. I know I have a lot of work to do, but I can’t seem to focus on my projects or build up the energy to get anything done. I procrastinate by reading articles, checking this website, chatting with people in my office, anything to avoid my work. As a result, I am getting more and more behind on my work, and I need to break this cycle of being overwhelmed by how much I have to do. Any tips to get motivated? I keep just giving up, leaving for the day and saying that once I get some rest I will be recharged and ready to go the next day…but then I show up and fall into the the same bad habits. Any tips to just buckle down and be productive?

    • No advice, but if you figure out how to solve this problem, let me know. The Pomodoro technique doesn’t work for me because I have no discipline.

    • AnonInfinity :

      Do you have the ability to take a couple of days completely off to recharge? Sometimes that helps me.

      It also helps me to get started before I check anything online. If I start the day off productively, it’s much easier for me to keep that going rather than getting productive after I waste a bunch of time in the morning.

      Obviously today is a less productive day as I’ve posted at least one million times on this website.

    • A few things that have helped me when I hit this cycle.

      Clean up my office. Organizing papers, filing, creating clear stacks/new files for projects, wiping down my funky desk helps me mentally and also reminds me of things I forgot about (oh yes draft memo on X which was hidden under a week’s worth of reading).

      To do list. Old fashioned paper to do list. Being able to cross stuff off is way more satisfying then hitting delete. put everything on it – big or small.

      Print off relevant emails for projects – This way I do not have to actually go into my email account and I can do some of the work I need without getting distracted by incoming messages.

      Once I have those things together, I start usually on one or two small things first. I usually complete one, start pondering a bigger project/do set-up, then attack another small project. Finally, I usually commit a weekend day to coming into the office and finish the list. It’s nice because I can work at my own pace without distractions. I leave outlook closed (flashing emails always get me) and when I’m hungry I go to a nice lunch and/or dinner. Usually this is enough to restart me to my normal work habits, plus it makes me reflect on how crappy it is to give up a weekend, so shouldn’t i just get my s**t together during the week. I hope this helps!

    • AnonAnon33 :

      Can’t wait to see good advice on this! I’ve been there entirely too many times.

      I would make two suggestions: first, try showing up to the office as early as you can while you get caught up. I find that there are a lot of distractions once people start coming in, and also that I lose focus by late afternoon, when I want to go DO something that isn’t work. When I’m in a crunch, I find that I’m really productive if I get to work super-early (6 or 7AM) — I get a few hours uninterrupted work, and there’s really nowhere else (other than my bed) I want to be or anyone I could talk to. A week of that might help you get back on track.

      Second suggestion is to come in on the weekend, close your office door, and just get stuff off your desk. There won’t be the usual co-workers and phone to distract you, and hopefully the knowledge that you’re giving up your weekend will make you buckle down so you can avoid being in the same spot again.

      Good luck!

    • emcsquared :

      Do you have an office buddy at work who might have the same problem? If so, maybe try a thrice a day check in system – first thing in the morning, send each other your to-do list for the day (keep it short; no more than 6 things, even if they are small). At lunch and at 4 pm, you have to call each other and say what you’ve accomplished. If either person hasn’t gotten through their list, both people have to stay until the lists are done.

      This method snapped me out of a bad funk at my old job, but I don’t have a new procrastination buddy so I’m pulling through the current funk with bribes (this site!) and mini-tasks (just open the search engine and select your sources for now…then type your search terms as your next mini task…etc).

    • when I get like that I write down each task I have to do in bite size pieces, in the order they need to be done, and am only allowed internet/chat/snack etc. after crossing off one task. e.g., (1) read brief (short internet break to check email!), (2) research response to point 1 (get water and say hi to coworker!), (3) draft 1/2 of response to point 1 (send email about evening plans!).

  18. Book Talk :

    Because I wanted to see what all the fuss is about, I started reading 50 Shades of Gray earlier this week and probably won’t finish it. The entire concept creeps me out too much. (Prude?) S#x aside, the character dynamics are disturbing. And the writing is really, truly bad, and this is coming from someone who sets the bar pretty low for fluff reading.

    However, I’m in the mood for a light summer read, so bring on the recommendations.

    • I haven’t event attempted to read 50 Shades yet b/c I’m turned off by the really bad writing that everyone always comments on.

      If you want romance, I suggest. Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. A total of 8 books plus a short story epilogue for most of them. I devoured them like crazy; seriously good.

      • Backgrounder :

        THIS. A friend of mine lent me the books on Kindle and…Ack! The writing is horrid.

        As far as romance I love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (actually reading Drums of Autumn at the moment)

    • Oh so agree!! I am by no means a “high brow” reader, and I thought 50 Shades was the most poorly written book I have ever read! And I loved The Hunger Games, Twilight, and the Sookie Stackhouse books!

      I am reading The Outlander series right now and am really enjoying those! I have also recommended Georgette Heyer books here (try any!)

      • Backgrounder :

        Selia – posted too quickly before I saw your rec…a fellow Outlander fan! :)

        • I am half way through the second book now! It is definitely one of those series where I read way too long at night because I want to find out what happens!!

    • Suzanne Brockman’s Troubleshooter/Seal Team 10 series. Action, adventure, romance, and characters that continue from book to book (if you are into that sort of thing).

      Also, J.D. Robb’s In Death series – near-ish future crime mystery romance stuff (Nora Robert’s is the author, under a different pen name).

    • Have you read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (all the books have a number in the title)? Funny, fluffy, not great writing but not painfully bad. I may have low standards, but these books actually have made me laugh out loud a few times.

      • I second this! They are very good for light, fluffy books, especially the earlier ones.

    • I have been reading a lot of fluff on the treadmill. The Death, Taxes (Tara Holloway) series by Diane Kelly is fun. Also, the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay.

    • This is exactly how I felt about Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.

      • Jenna Rink :

        Me too! It was recommended by so many of my friends, and once I read it I started questioning what kinds of people my friends are! What a terrible, terrible book.

    • Honestly. I totally judge people who like 50 shades.

      • Let me volunteer myself for judgment. I liked 50 Shades but I can’t figure out why!! The writing *IS* super terrible! The plot *IS* super stupid! The protagonist is fonduing annoying! *sigh*

        • Same, but you know why? It’s a completely formulaic romance novel, with some pretty tame S&M elements thrown in. If you like formulaic romance novels, there’s no reason you wouldn’t like 50 Shades. There’s very little difference (other than length) between 50 Shades and, say, a Kathleen Woodiwiss or Johanna Lindsey novel. I thought it was an entertaining enough read.

        • Thats how I feel about the original Twilight series itself. Whenever I re-read it and enjoy it (yet again) I still shake my head at my silly self. Who knows. Usually my tastes are more mature.

          On the flip side, I DO think the movies are awful.

    • anon here :

      The concept doesn’t gross me out all (but hey, I’m into BDSM). But as I told a friend – “This should have remained available for free on the internet – that’s exactly where it fits.” It’s not absurdly worse than most fan fiction or self published erotica – it’s just that no one expects either of those things to be very good, and they really aren’t.

      The writing got got marginally better in the later books – but very marginally. However, it’s worth reading just so you can read the reviews on Amazon, which are hysterical.

      • Book Talk :

        Also hysterical is the You.Tube video of Ellen DeGeneres doing a book reading of 50 Shades.

        • That basically made my month.

          I’m just now checking out the Amazon reviews (because let’s face it– reviews were wholly irrelevant to my decision to download the 50 Shades books), and they are greatness.

        • Merabella :

          Gilbert Godfrey reading 50 Shades is also hilarious.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      The dynamics are ick because its Twilight Fan fic, so they same, uncomfortable male/female dynamics are present. I enjoyed the Twilight books, but I am not a teen who might think this male/female dynamic is something to be admired or emulated. The writing is just crap – lol.

    • I’m reading Perfect on Paper by Janet Goss right now for a light summer read. I’ve only just started it, but I like the writing so far and it’s frothy enough for the beach.

  19. SoCalAtty :

    So I’m really struggling with this TTC thing (I’m 31, if that matters). I’ve been at my small firm for 6 months, so even if I got pregnant right this second, I will have been here over a year by the time I needed leave. I’m happy enough here – not miserable, decent pay. They know kids are imminent for me, but with them having only 3 employees there is no FMLA or anything like that – just my vacation and whatever unpaid leave I take, and since my husband is relatively busy I can probably afford at least 2 months.

    Here are the things making me nervous:
    1) We don’t have savings, because we were stupid and paid off some debt and made a purchase and used it, planning on filling it back up in 5 months or so, and then my husband’s work hit a slow period and we ended up needing it for bills rather than savings. We’re almost back on track, but I would essentially only have the time TTC and pregnancy to save again. That is probably ok, and I could maybe get 20k in the bank over that time.

    2) While we were planning on just getting financing to re-do our detached garage that is about to fall over, which would include a studio for my husband’s office so we can make the 2nd bedroom into a baby room, our WF mortgage person noticed the drawings of our dream house and told us he could finance the whole project. So now there is a possibility we’ll be tearing down everything (all 700 sq ft of it) and rebuilding from scratch. We’d get a little studio to stay in during that time, but that’s a big project, and potentially would require a chunk of our paychecks for “extras” that always happen during construction. It would also add $1k month onto our mortgage payment which, while still keeping us at about 35% of our gross for housing, would make it iffy if I were to lose my job. Any temp doc review job would more than cover the issue though, so it isn’t like I need a high salary for the risk I’m taking.

    3) I have a lot of dang credit card debt left over from law school, life in general, and my year of unemployment. No problem paying slightly above the minimum payment, but it makes me nervous having a baby and having a ton of debt.

    4) Maybe this is the real reason – I’m terrified of having kids. I’ve got 0 family support so if I need help, I’m SOL. Husband’s family will be 0 help as well. Also, what if I don’t WANT to go back to work after? We can’t afford that…not yet, anyway. Certainly not if I do #2 above.

    Maybe I should just go for it and let it work itself out, but I’m one of those people that have to have a precise plan, and it is making me nervous.

    • We’re TTC, too, and have some of the same worries (although we do have family nearby, for which I’m extremely grateful). We have a very comfortable savings account, but I’m currently the only paycheck (husband is starting a business and right now it just costs money instead of bringing any in — hopefully he’ll start earning by the new year, but we can’t bet on it). My firm offers only unpaid leave and I can roll over only five vacation days to the new year so we’ll be essentially self-financing my maternity leave. If I only take three months, we’ll be fine. But I keep worrying about what if it’s twins and I get put on bed rest? What if there are complications and I need more than three months? But I’m in my mid-thirties so we’re just going to go for it. I figure there are plenty of people with far less money than we have who make it work. (Although how they do is beyond me. Never mind college, have you seen the cost of daycare!? And there aren’t scholarships for daycare.) We’re just going to jump in with both feet and figure it out from there.

      • All of your worries are valid ones. And so is your desire to “live life” while TTC. But you are relatively young, and could get pregnant in the next 30 days. You should consider that as a possibility. Maybe try to work on saving a tiny bit more for 6 months as was suggested above?

        On the other hand, I believe that everything happens for a reason. I have credit card debt for the first time ever and my husband is only working sporadically for peanuts. I have almost no savings. I started this job just a few months ago. But I was TTC at 39 and got lucky and am pregnant. Our tenuous financial situation stresses me out sometimes, but I am still 100% happy I am having a baby in 3 months.

        In 25 years, I will , and probably live in a slightly smaller house than I would otherwise. I might not retire until I am 70. But I will be be happy that I chose to have my child and not regret that decision one bit, I just know it!

        Pollyanna-ish I know, but money and things are just not as important to me at 41 as they were at 30.

        • Just wanted to say congratulations! (Also your story gives me some hope as I’m 39 and TTC.)

    • Motoko Kusanagi :

      TTC aside – why aren’t you paying off the credit card debt before a home improvement project that will require you to temporarily relocate to a studio and add $1k/month to your mortgage? It seems like that might give you more financial freedom and peace of mind – you sound a bit frazzled right now.

      • I agree. I think you would benefit from a financial planner discussion. Paying to tear down your house and rebuild it while paying to live in a studio while still having tons of cc debt seems a little crazy.

        • SoCalAtty :

          CFM: I agree, I do, but there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to put life off anymore. The studio would be about $700/month for 6 months, and then that expense would go away and I could start socking it away to cc debt. I would also get a 4 month”hold” on my mortgage where I wouldn’t have to pay while building, so that would cover the rent.

          The way I see it is I’m putting off paying off debt for 6-8 months in exchange for building my dream house. All objective financial advice would tell me “no,” but there is also the fact that my husband’s financials won’t be “mortgage ready” again for another 2 years or so (he is taking over the family business, so instead of W-2 he will be self employed soon, no income change just ownership change), that the interest rates are so great now, and that residential construction contractors are hungry right now so I can get the dream project done for normal project prices.

          We have a financial planner, and a great CPA, and the both say general wisdom would say “no,” but that we’ve got kind of a perfect storm going here.

          Worst case I have a studio over my detached garage I can rent out! Going rent for that in my area is around $800/month, so I might do that anyway.

          • You shouldn’t take on debt just because you qualify.

            Could that sort of attitude have contributed to your credit card debt?

          • I agree.

            And I don’t believe in “dream houses” or dream-anythings. I think that we can afford what we can afford, and work with that. No more, period.

            Lose the idea of “dream house.”

      • SoCalAtty :

        That was the plan. Originally we were only doing the garage, which, because of the interest rate would have added principal to our mortgage but actually made the payment go down. When WF revealed that I could build my dream house now, instead of in 3-5 years, with financing at 3.85% it seemed like too good of an offer to pass up, credit card debt aside.

        You’re right, very frazzled right now – too many gigantic decisions looming.

        TBK – I kind of feel the same way. I have friends that do it on 1/2 of what we will be able to do it for. My idea of a budget for cleaning/daycare and assorted baby needs is about $1k a month. I’m trying to contact local daycare places to get a good handle on it, and my cleaning lady of choice is $100/week so that is where I got that number. She was actually the live in nanny for the 2 kids (that are now grown) for some of our friends, so I may be able to work out some sort of “gap care” with her if we need help outside of daycare hours.

        Forget saving for the kids’ college – I had to pay for it myself, so can they! I’m only partially kidding, but I plan to spend the money on education while they are under 18 so they can get into the college of their choice. Of course I’ll contribute some to their college, I’m only kidding, but I’m going to expect them to kick in too.

        • new york associate :

          Don’t know where you live, but $1000/mo for cleaning and daycare is wildly under budget for my (admittedly expensive) area.

        • Stephanie Plum :

          You live in SoCal right? Please tell me where you can get cleaning and daycare for $1k per month. The numbers I hear from friends are closer to $2k!

          • new york associate :

            Yeah, I would say that we’re at $2000/mo, with one kid, and that doesn’t include other baby-related expenses (health insurance, diapers, clothing, etc.).

          • SoCalAtty :

            Yes, SoCal. San Fernando Valley area. I got on the waiting list today for my first pick infant care center which is in plenty of time, and it will be $900/month for 6am-6pm infant day care M-F, with all of the teachers/workers being credentialed, live-scanned, and trained in infant first aid/CPR. Teacher to infant ratio 1:4. I provide food & diapers. Cleaning for me is $100/week, but I only do 1x a month now. We’ll go to 2-3 possibly with a baby. So I was darn close.

            For me, personally, our existing house would be just fine until the kid hit about 5 – It is 700 square feet with only 1 bathroom – but if we don’t take the construction financing now, I can certainly see circumstances in which we wouldn’t be able to get it for quite a while because the way my husband is changing the way he gets paid – changing from W-2 to self employed. I’ve done a lot of sitting back with our plans worrying about stretching the budget, so we haven’t moved forward…so I think I will take the advice, put off TTC for 6 months, save every penny I can get my hand on, and THEN start TTC.

            The increase in our mortgage payment is negligible, because we are going from 6.8 to 3.85, so even with the added balance we are nowhere near our mortgage (with taxes, insurance, and PMI) being 33%. I think it is 28%.

          • new york associate :

            Wow! That’s a great deal on daycare! I think your plan sounds great. I wish you lots of luck that it will all work out!

      • Working Girl :

        Yes. You need to get rid of the high interest cc debt before you tear down your home and build a new one. You can live in a smallish space. The debt is going to cost you a fortune in the long run if you are paying just over the minimum.

    • Can I ask why the rush for a baby? You seem to have a LOT going on at the moment and are still young. If you’re in good health with no fertility issues why not take 6 months and address the financial concerns. Meet with a financial planner and address your identified short and long term concerns (plus short/long term baby costs) in the mean time and really work out a plan.

      If your fertility is a concern, then work with your dr to determine the best time and go for it.

      Finally, no kids myself but as an observer, you’re never going to be able to precisely plan out anything with kids. It seems that’s the way the universe is, so do the best you can!

      • SoCalAtty :

        L: Good health, but I don’t know if I have fertility issues because we’ve never tried. I know 31 is young, but I also have my ob/gyn friends telling me that I better hop to it because TTC could take a minute, and even if I start now I could be 33+ before I actually give birth. Not that big of a deal if all goes well….but I don’t want to push my luck, either. There are lots of stories who did that and were fine, and some that weren’t.

        I guess I just have a crazy confluence of events going right now! Worst case scenario is I cut our budget way back and don’t leave my theoretical sparkly dream house for a year. Fair sacrafice for getting to my goal 2 years early.

        • But you’re creating that “crazy confluence of events” yourself. If you feel you can’t pass up the house demolition (and I agree with Hel-lo that you should probably think that one through a bit more), then just don’t get pregnant for a bit. Six months isn’t going to make that much difference, but creating utter chaos in your life is never a good thing, and isn’t going to be a good scene to bring a kid into. You sound too overwhelmed by everything to make any good decisions, if I were you I’d take a couple weeks off right now and try to calm down before marching off into upheavals.

        • goirishkj :

          No great words of wisdom here, just commiseration. DH and I staarted TTC before it was financially advisable because I was convinced it would take a while since I’m aalmost 32. I got pregnant right away, so it can happen. I’m terrified about finances right now, but things do happen for a reason and I tend to be over-paranoid about finances in general. It sounds nuts, but trust your gut.

    • Gotta save, girl. You can start loving your someday son or daughter now by creating a cushion for her from the falls that inevitably and often and expensively come with a new life. She doesn’t need you to give her a new house or even a nice nursery. She needs safety. Start that now by saving. Not to rich wealthy perfection, but to stop spending, keep working, have some protection reality. You can do it.

      • Truer words were never spoken. You can’t control everything, but the old maxim “luck favors the prepared” is something worth remembering.

        Re. TTC, six months one way or another isn’t going to make more than a minuscule difference if at all. Getting that debt paid off with make a huge difference.

  20. Need some good hive advice and I know you awesome ladies always come through! I have worked in policy my entire career (about 12 years). Seven years ago, I decided it was a good idea to get my law degree. So I graduated from a T14 three years later, knowing that I wanted to continue doing policy work. New policy job started right after graduation so I did not take the bar. Fast-forward a few years … I’m still working in policy (now for the Fed) and due to our hiring freeze, I have been given more and more responsibilities, most of which is legal work (paralegal-ish stuff) because they know I have a law degree. So the funniest thing happened – I really, really like it and I’m starting to think I may want to work as an attorney (not necessarily for the government). So my problems are (1) I’m not certified and wondering if I can handle taking the bar while I’m working FT (I do work “only” 40 hours per week) and (2) do you think anyone would hire someone in my position as an entry-level attorney? Of course OCS says, “Yes! And Yes!” to my questions, but I’d like some real life opinions, ‘rettes. And of course the status of the economy for the attorney job market doesn’t help matters…

    • Former MidLevel :

      As far as the bar goes, yes, you can handle it while working 40 hours a week. It won’t be fun, but it is possible. As far as hiring–I think it depends on what you want to do, where you are (or how flexible you are about geography), that kind of thing. Frankly, BigLaw might be tough. But there are all kinds of attorney jobs out there. If I were in your shoes, I would try to talk to people in the types of jobs you might be interested in and ask their advice.

    • Definitely invest in a Bar Review class. There’s a lot of Torts, ConLaw, etc. that you have forgotten.

      Studying for the Bar sucks. It will take a toll on your family and your relationships. You only want to do it once.

    • Can’t add anything from the perspective of law firms but my guess is you’d be very interesting for in-house at financial institutions. Most feel completely buffetted by regulatory changes and the general direction has been to increase budget for compliance and legal staff, even while cutting from elsewhere.