Weekend Open Thread

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Slip NaturalSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

I’m normally a black Converse kind of girl on the weekends, but after an April trip to Paris a few years ago (where EVERYONE was wearing cream Chucks) I try to make the switch to cream sneakers for the summer.  Do you guys have any favorite sneakers or kicks for running around on the weekends and after work? Or are we firmly in flip-flop and sandal weather as soon as you can leave the house without a jacket? Here in NYC I’ve seen everything in recent days from flip flops to tights to OTK boots (worn with otherwise bare legs, of course). These cream slip-on sneakers are $45. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Slip Natural

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Psst: the new Open Thread on CorporetteMoms is now open, as well. will be open soon as well (mamas, I’m having one of those weeks — we’re on day 8 of a feverish toddler, I’ve had four thousand pregnancy-related appointments and my morning nanny and I just unexpectedly parted ways — joy). Stay tuned. (Although you’re welcome to have mom-talk here as well.)

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  1. My last pair of Chucks got moldy from my last apartment (thank God that’s over!), so I ended up chucking them (pun absolutely intended). I might have to try out this new trend.

    In other news, ladies, I have a HUGE exam tomorrow for which I am not as prepared as I’d like to be so some well wishes would be great. I know I’m new here but hoping for some support and advice if you have any, or even commiseration. Have a great weekend all!

    • Yay! Open thread’s! I love open thread’s! And converse sneaker’s! I have a red pair that I ONLEY wear on weekend’s when I walk around town w/my Fitbit! Mom is useing my fitbit today while I stay in the HOTEL watching TV. We are leaveing later — we have late checkout (4PM) so we can catch a plane home. Dad is mad that mom did NOT leave him enough meal’s for him to eat so he went out to eat in Manhaseat on his own. He almost made Rosa come down to prepare a dinner for him, but she would have had to bring the babie’s by herself and dad did NOT want to have to deal with them by himself just for a home cooked meal. YAY!

      As for the OP, hug’s to you. Do NOT worry about the exam. We all could alway’s be more prepared, but you are smarter then you think. Just go in there, do it, and forget about it. You will do FINE, b/c you have the POWER OF THE HIVE behind you. Dad alway’s told me this and it worked. Now, he uses that same line to say I have the power of the tuchus behind me. Thank’s dad, I know my tuchus is big, but so is mom’s tuchus and you have been married to her for 34 year’s! FOOEY!

      Mom has just walked back in so I will have to give her back this ipad so she can check flight times and all that. We have a few hours to get to the airport, so I will sine off and rejoin the hive next week, when I will be back at work with the manageing partner. I wonder if he missed me? I hope NOT! FOOEY!

    • Good luck! Now get off this website and go study! ;)

    • Good luck on the exam. Try to understand what you’re studying rather than memorize. It will stay with you longer and you can answer the questions much better. Get a good night sleep and don’t stress out during the exam.

  2. Kitten Heeled :

    After receiving a sizeable tax refund, I am considering putting it towards by outstanding law school loans. I Have about $50k remaining (all Stafford, with Fannie Mae) and want to pay off about $25k of it. The common advice I hear is to put the extra payment towards “principal” but my understanding is that the interest is compounding on the accrued interest + principal, so does it matter whether the payment applies just towards the original principal or towards the entire remaining balance? The online option seems to allow only paying towards the remaining balance (which is accrued interest + principal). Can anyone provide some insight as to why the extra payment should just go towards the original principal? Thanks!

    • Miz Swizz :

      The spiel I got from my student loan company is that student loan debt accrues interest daily so the only way to get the balance to apply 100% toward principal is to first pay for your interest and then authorize a second payment with the amount you want to apply to your principal only. I assume that’s the case universally so I think you’re doing the right thing by paying toward your total balance.

      I’m basing this advice solely on my experience trying to figure out how to pay toward principal only and the fact that I also have student loan debt.

      • When I was paying on my loans, my understanding was that the interest incurred before my loans went into repayment (i.e. the “capitalized” interest) plus the principal balance was what I paid interest on. Once you start the repayment process you should be paying all your newly accrued interest off each month and the remainder of your monthly payment goes to the balance of your principal plus the capitalized interest. Therefore, application of your payment to principal versus capitalized interest is a moot point (though it may have a tax effect, assuming you are in an income bracket where you can still deduct student loan interest).

        I would look at my loan documents and then ask my loan servicer to verify. I would not just trust my loan servicer to tell the truth (or the person on the phone to understand the question). Good luck and keep with it! I can tell you, it feels GREAT to pay off your student loans!

      • I did what Miz Swizz described – make the regular payment (which included the interest that had accrued since the last payment) and then make another manual payment, which all went to principal. It also advance my next due date as noted on my login page for that loan, but I still earned interest (and still made payments every month).

    • Do you have Sallie Mae? Figure out what day they auto-draft your payment, and if you pay immediately after that, you will maximize the amount of your extra payment that goes toward principal.

      • But does it really matter?

        Let’s say that today is day 16 in the 30 days between payments. If you paid today, part of it would go to pay that interest that accured during days 1-16. But then when you paid you standard payment on day 30, you only have to pay the interest for days 17-30. So, more of your standard payment goes to the principal, right?

  3. layered bob :

    Need some advice on the logistics of changing jobs:

    My DH is starting a new job soon. He started his current job in college and has been with the same company since then. We’ve always had our benefits through him – health insurance, life insurance, retirement savings, everything. I handle the financial/insurance logistics in our marriage, and although I’ve switched jobs before, it’s always been much simpler since it was a paycheck and that’s it. This seems more complicated, and I don’t know what to look out for/what steps we need to take.

    For example, we have a health plan with an HSA, and his company contributes a fixed amount to each employee’s HSA every year. We’ve already used that money. Since he’s quitting halfway through the year, is it typical for the company to want half the HSA money back? And though we’ve already met our deductible with this health insurance, when he switches health insurance we’ll have a new deductible again with them, right? There’s no… transfer?… between insurance companies I wouldn’t think.

    And what about his retirement accounts and the brokerage account that he has for company stock: those just… stay open; we don’t need to move it anywhere, yeah? I’m not sure how I made it to my late-20s without handling any of this before but I don’t even know where to look for help. (I’ve already read both companies’ HR policy books on this stuff and either they are not helpful or I don’t understand.) Suggestions?

    • Have DH talk to HR about the HSA money, because that’s the only true answer you can get. You will have a new deductible with your new coverage, if new company’s coverage includes a deductible.

      You can leave the retirement account as is, and when you’re ready, roll it into an IRA. Not sure about the brokerage account, but I’m assuming that it’s under his name, not his company’s.

    • When my husband got laid off (it was September several years ago) we expected the company to claw back the HSA dollars we’d already claimed, but they didn’t even try.

      • Just so I understand correctly – the employer put the entire year’s contribution in the account at the beginning of the year? If that’s not the case, then I’d be curious about how you managed to spend it already.

        Another issue with the HSA money might come down to prorating your max for the year. Your ability to contribute to an HSA depends on you maintaining a health plan that is eligible for an HSA plan. So, if you max out your HSA contributions (about $6200 for a family, I think) prior to the end of the year, but don’t maintain a eligible health plan for the 12 months, you might have to prorate your max so that it is X/12 of $6200.

        Those rules vary some based on how long you have had the plan. I don’t recall if the employer portion changes the max at all. In addition to your employer, I would also talked to the HSA person at the bank that holds the account, since the bank is in charge of the account (the employer just contributes to it).

        • (sorry, that was for the OP)

        • layered bob :

          yes, the employer put their whole 2014 contribution in the account on Jan. 1. I had some health issues near the beginning of the year that ate up all the HSA contributions to date. It is good to know that the HSA will have to be prorated since the new insurance plan will not qualify for an HSA. Now to hunt down the appropriate bank people to talk to…

        • I’d spent my entire insurance deductible by the end of March. Even a semi-serious medical issue can eat that up quickly. You could easily consume the full HSA contribution amount for a family in one significant trip to the emergency room.

    • Back when I studied for my PHR, I learned that HSA could be fully spent and the employee could leave well before the year is up, and most HR professionals know it’s a risk, and also an investment in employee health and productivity. They likely won’t ask for it back, (sometimes HR is an admin that’s winging it) though it will show up on your taxes. Let the soon to be former employer raise the issue.

    • Greensleeves :

      I’m a little late, so I hope you see this. Once the employer puts the money in your HSA, it’s yours, even if you leave the job.

  4. Confirmation Gift :

    I am a mentor to a high school junior who is about to be confirmed as a church member (Presbyterian). I’d like to get her a present to mark the occasion. Any thoughts? She already has a nice Bible, and I think I’d like to do something religion-related rather than totally random. TIA!

    • Christian gifts :

      For both my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation, I received beautiful cross pendants/necklaces (mostly gold or with small delicate stones) from family members. A pretty delicate gold cross would be fashionable as well as meaningful.

    • My mentor got me a really pretty gold cross necklace for my confirmation. I think I still have it and I used to wear it all the time!

    • layered bob :

      I received quite a few Bibles for my similar confirmation – but of different versions/sizes. It is surprisingly nice to have a KJV, NIV, NRSV, etc – it’s easy to compare passages on Bible Gateway but sometimes they’re nice to have in paper. Otherwise – some other religious books that would make good gifts for a Presbyterian teenager would be Thoughts in Solitude (Merton), Jesus Feminist (Bessey), Cold Tangerines (Niequist), or, if she lives in a city, Urban Disciples (Paris). I also received a purse (for taking to church), lots of candy that comes in rolls (so it’s quiet for church), and jewelry – a cross necklace but also just plain, simple things that were not explicitly religious.

      Ok so I know I talk about YNAB all the time but I actually think YNAB might be a great gift – the default setup includes “tithe” at the top of the list of categories and learning to manage money and give charitably is a big part of faithful stewardship!

      • Lady Harriet :

        I’m Catholic, but I loved Merton’s No Man is an Island, which I read in a church young adult group last year. I highly recommend anything by CS Lewis. I have a box set of his books that includes The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce (I love this one!), Miracles, The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, and the Screwtape Letters. The box set is old, but any of these books individually would be good. Augustine’s Confessions is also great–I gave my brother a copy for his confirmation last year.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Could you get her a pretty journal and have a her name and a bible citation engraved on it? Or a leather bound copy of a book with religious undertones?

    • I gave my confirmation buddy a nice ribbon bookmark with charms on either side from James Avery, which is a jewelry store that has a Christian affiliation.

      • Small Town Attorney :

        I love James Avery. They also have really great customer service–free repairs & free cleaning on basically anything you bought from them.

    • For my confirmation, my parents got me an engraved jewelry box in the shape of a cross with the date and my name.

    • The Presbyterian church values learning so highly (all of its ministers have to study ancient Hebrew and Greek) that a book would be an excellent gift – something about our Founding Fathers, many of whom were Presbyterian, could even be appropriate. I’m not much of one for overtly religious jewelry, but the sideways cross necklaces are delicate and pretty and don’t seem as in your face as a regular cross. Definitely do NOT get a crucifix – Presbyterians celebrate the risen Christ and so use an empty cross.

    • Philanthropy Girl :

      What about a daily devotional such as My Utmost for His Highest, Streams in the Desert or A Year with C.S. Lewis. I believe you can find very nice leather bound versions of My Utmost for His Highest.

    • Confirmation Gift :

      Thank you everyone! I am on a short time frame so might not be able to do some of these, although I will save them if I am a mentor again. Any further ideas are also appreciated.

    • S in Chicago :

      I admired a colleague’s charm bracelet the other day, and she informed me it was Noah’s ark. If you do some Googling, you’ll find them both high and low end versions. I really like it because it is religious in nature while being really subtle. (Of course, I’m a total animal nut, so maybe that’s part of it, too?)

      It was similar to this, but a little more sophisticated: http://www.evesaddiction.com/sterling-silver-noahs-ark-charm-bracelet/BR10352

  5. Fun shopping assignment: I have a trip to Hawaii coming up in June, and realized I own almost nothing for tropical weather. I have a casual sundress, good all-purpose sandals, tanks and tees that are fine, and silver chuck taylors. I just ordered a bathing suit, and I don’t really wear shorts.

    What would you buy – basic or fun – for a casual beach vacation? I’m planning on spending $200-500 altogether, with the expectation that this will be my weekend summer wardrobe as well.

    • If you plan on spending time in the water, I really recommend a rash guard and board shorts. I enjoyed snorkeling a lot more when I didn’t have to worry about burning, sunblock wearing off or modesty underwater. The sun is a lot more intense in Hawaii than where I live.

      • If you’re buying a rash guard, try the Lands’ End ones that look so nice in the catalog, and report on the quality and fit, please!

        • I bought a kids lands end one for myself last summer (I wear a petite small or medium top at Loft, etc.) that was mainly used for hanging out at the pool but did do a week at the beach and I thought it was great. Snug but not tight. We bought my husband a number of their men’s sun shirts (more loose fitting since he’s a little insecure about his current weight) and he wore those both in and out of water and really liked them (although we added a drawstring at the bottom so they didn’t float up when he swam).

      • Rash guard is a good idea. Do you wear it over a bikini top, or on its own?

        Seriously, I haven’t even worn a bathing suit in 7 years, which was my last beach vacation. I don’t know what to do!

    • I don’t wear shorts either and always pack cheap jersey skirts and dresses from ON when we travel to the beach. I do bring a few nicer sundresses for evenings out but don’t want to ruin nice clothing at the pool/beach. Have fun!

    • On my Maui vacation last year, I lived in a soft drapey maxi dress from Target that made me feel like a goddess! Also recommend bringing dangly earrings if you’re into that look :)

      A giant floppy hat is a great investment for the summer.

      • mintberrycrunch :

        +1 to maxi dresses and skirts – they are my summer go-to and can easily be dressed up or down. I got a few from Old Navy and Gap last year that are still going strong. I also just recently bought a maxi skirt from Ann Taylor that I’m loving!

      • Any source ideas for a packable big floppy hat?

        I should try a maxi dress on and see how it looks. I can’t get over my childhood long dress = fancy dress training, and am only 5’4″, so I’ve ignored maxis since they’ve been a thing.

        • BankrAtty :

          We short gals look great in maxis! Just make sure the dress doesn’t drag on the ground, and avoid large prints. I’m shorter than you and live in my maxis come summer.

        • Silvercurls :

          Try department stores, but shop carefully if you’re in the lower tier (Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s…) I got 2 packable hats last year at Target. But a warning: “Packable” for these hats means “has a flexible, but not creas-able and recover-able thin plastic piece that goes all around the inside of the brim.” (It’s sewn in so you can’t see it.) I learned this after pressing down too vigorously on the brims. One hat is still functional although the brim tends to flop around in odd directions. The other hat brim stabilizing band got zig-zaggy to the point of making the hat almost useless.

          For a higher price point, try LLBean, Lands’ End, REI (or other outdoors outfitters–I had one made by Columbia that I’ve worn into shreds), or possibly Sierra Trading Post. Some of the outdoor outfitting brands like Columbia are available online as well as in bricks-and-mortar stores.

        • I always just buy a hat in Hawaii. They sell them everywhere for 20 bucks and it’s a lot easier than taking up space packing one.

    • petitecocotte :

      A light beach coverup (i.e. tunic, romper) that will take you from the beach into town and can function later as an easy summer weekend piece. They can be pretty pricey, so you may have to shop around but you only need one and it’ll always be one of the first things you grab for beach weekends/vacations for years to come. LOFT and Bloomies have some cute cover ups in the $50-$60 range.

    • Flying Squirrel :

      I’m much more of a dress than shorts person (rarely wear shorts), but when we went to Hawaii last fall I think I wore shorts almost everyday. Something about the casualness and what we were doing–a lot of time on beach, short hikes (I was pregnant), etc–just were really more shorts-appropriate. I had a suitcase full of sundresses that I didn’t need. So I would recommend getting one or two pairs of shorts you like. You don’t have to cut the tags off…so if you don’t wear them, you can return them.

  6. I don’t know how to do casual shoes – I have pumps for work and sneakers for the gym but not much in between. I feel like Chucks make my feet look big – and I’m a 7.5, wide-ish.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Birkenstocks are having a moment. And if you have wide-ish feet they will be very flattering on you. (I have regular width feet and had to size down and get the narrow width to get them to fit, FYI.) Get a light color like white or silver. I just got some silver ones and I heart them so hard!!

      • Lady Harriet :

        My Birkenstocks are so comfortable that I could never go back to regular sandals. I have a pair in the Bali style that I’ve just about worn to death, and I’m about to buy a pair in the Mayari style. The key is to pick one of the more feminine styles and get them in a fun color if you can.

    • I feel the same way about laceless Chucks but am seriously considering these. The deeper cut on top shouldn’t have the same impact.

    • Anonymous :

      How about canvas boat shoes? There are feminine versions that make my wide feet look great. For instance, search llbean for “Deck Boat shoes”.

    • Sperry boat shoes. They’re cute and dressy in a fun preppy way and come in a million colors. I just feel like a total hipster try-hard in converses.

    • I agree! I like keds as an alternative

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve been living in the Cole Haan Manhattan ballet flat lately. It comes in fun colors, so it’s pretty casual looking.

      • S in Chicago :

        Those are adorable. How true to size are they? I always have a tough time with CH. I’m a true 10. 5, but I wear a 10 in the air tali-lace-up wedges and a bunch of other wedge styles, a 10.5 in most of the pumps and the air sadie deconstructed and the monroe loafers, and an 11 in the air bacara flats and regular air sadies. It’s so frustrating sometimes that the sizing can’t be more consistent.

    • anonyomous :

      I can only wear tennis shoes to my work, but they need to look professional enough for meetings haha weirdest dress code ever. So I have a lot of tennis shoes that are not gym worthy but are cute for outside. My favorites include: Tretorn, Superga, Bensimon, and Onitsuka Tiger.

    • This spring I bought a pair of d’Orsay flats and I love them! (In my mind, flat = casual). They are easy to wear and I find them more versatile than a Birkenstock or boat shoe… seems like they can dress down or up very easily.

      Just like ballet flats, though, it helps to try on several pairs to find the one with the right amount of arch support. A lot of flats lack that completely. My pair is from Vince and I would describe it as medium support. Definitely comfortable enough for all-day weekend errands.

    • ContractsinTX :

      I bought a par of Tretorns – specifically the Otto canvas – when on vacation recently. They are kind of a mix between a a canvas slip on and a boat shoe. The comfy insert is a definite plus.

  7. Are denim shorts now a fashion faux pas? I keep hearing them derogatorily to as “Jorts”. Or are Jorts something different?

  8. Anonymous :

    My husband’s parents have been bringing up the idea of retirement. My FIL is in his late-60s and has never been a high earner. My MIL has always been a SAHM, taking care of DH’s disabled sister. DH has two brothers, one older and one younger and neither are financially responsible. DH suspects that his parents probably have about $100k in retirement. We (and they) live in a high COL area. I know his father really would like to stop working but I don’t see how they can continue paying their mortgage, medical bills and monthly expenses without him working. The retirement money will probably only last 1-2 years. For context, DH and his parents grew up in a South Asian country where people don’t save for retirement but instead depend on their children as they age. I don’t begrudge them for this. Also, his parents have never asked us for money. My husband would like to contribute to his parents household, perhaps $500-$1000 a month so his father can retire. I think that this is probably not enough and DH should probably at least talk to his parents about their retirement plans before commitment to an amount we can contribute every month. His parents are wonderful, kind-hearted people and I would love to help them as much as we can; however, I am concerned that if they retire now then we will need to be responsible for two households. We are just not financially capable of that. I hope to be some day in the future, but until then, I feel like we need to encourage his father to continue working. Of course the decision is ultimately theirs. DH feels like we make enough to support his parents, although he is not insisting on supporting the whole household, but I don’t think we do. I make about 70% of the income and work in BigLaw. I don’t see myself at this salary for very long. Am I being selfish in being very cautious about this? Are we over-stepping if we insist on having his parents explain their retirement plans? I think we can afford $500/mo now, but what about in the future – how can we avoid making them dependent on this?

    • Anonymous :

      wow, that was a veryyyy long post. Thank you to anyone who read it all.

      • I read it all :) Interested to hear what others say. It’s a tough issue – I think there is a difference between the cultural expectation that you take in your parents when they age – meaning they live with you and share some household duties and do not require additional rent, transportation, etc costs as opposed to parents retiring, living separately and wanting you to finance them.

        I’ve always been prepared to do the former (take in my parents or in-laws when they are older and can’t live alone) but I agree that sending money every month so they can retire is a big commitment. How much do you know about their finances? What about their plans? It makes me nervous to think about financing my parents at all, as I’d then inevitably end up being bitter at how they spend “my” money.

        • Anonymous :

          Snowy, thanks for reading my rambling post! I think you’re right in that its different if we were able to take them in, but our house is TINY and can not take in an additional four people (FIL, MIL, SIL, and younger 19 y/o BIL). I feel like I am already feeling a bit bitter because I’m thinking of it as “my” money and I get tense when they talk about future plans to do some, admittedly much-needed, renovations. I can’t tell if this is normal or overly selfish of me…

          • I’m sorry if I missed something, but why would you have an obligation to take in 19 y/o BIL? SIL yes (if ILs are caring for her due to her disability then that goes w/o saying), but why BIL?

          • Whether you should be thinking of this as “your” money really seems to go to how you as a couple manage your money (as was discussed on here earlier in the week). But I empathize with you–my husband and I come from different cultural backgrounds with very different view on how much and to what extent you should give money to your parents in their old age. So I know what it is like to feel like you are being selfish. In your case, though, the real issue seems to be that you don’t anticipate having this “extra” money in the future. Presumably your husband knows that, but perhaps you need to talk about it again specifically in this context of helping his parents. Your husband is probably going to want to help them no matter what, but hopefully he would look at things a little differently if doing so would limit your ability to take a different job in the future. And that’s important because I don’t think you can stop them from becoming dependent on this money based on how little they have saved.

    • Anonymous :

      In short, DH would like to contribute $500/mo to help his parents retire. I think that although we can probably “afford” to pay $500/mo right now, it may not be possible in the future and I don’t think that $500/mo will really help DH’s dad’s prospects of retiring so I don’t see why we should start contributing right now as opposed to when they really need it (after retirement). Am I being selfish? Should we talk to DH’s parents about their retirement plans or would that be over-stepping?

      • I'm Just Me :

        Something you might consider is investing the $500 a month starting right now while your fil is still working and you are considering things. That way you would be able to have a trial period to see if your household can do everything it needs to do with that commitment and if you can really afford to give them that much. Then when you are ready to begin helping your ils, you can gift them that money as well as the continuing $500 payments per month.

        • I’m not sure if a “trial period” is realistic. I don’t know these people of course, but often once you start something, taking it away can be hugely difficult, especially if they are truly dependent on this money, and it’s not just an extra for them.

          • Penny Proud :

            I’m Just Me isn’t recommending giving the in-law’s money during the trial period. Just not using the $500 (and investing it) to see if it is feasible.

        • Anonymama :

          This is a really good idea, to start now setting aside that money which in-law’s will probably need in the future, both from the perspective of what it would mean to your budget in the short term, and a longer-term view of then you will have a chunk already set aside for when they need it, regardless of your changing financial circumstances.

    • I assume your FIL will receive SS benefits, and the daughter/sister too, if she’s disabled. I imagine these might not be large sums, but it’s something. Does he have any other pension? I might have missed this info if I read your post too quickly, so apologies for that.

      • Anonymous :

        I don’t know whether FIL will receive any SS benefits because he lived and worked in South Asia the majority of his life. SIL gets some SS/disability benefits but they only really cover her medications, food and personal expenses. Unfortunately, there is no pension. It took them a long time to save to $100k for their retirement, and to them, living paycheck to paycheck, this amount seems very large. They actually are planning to do some renovations to the house and retire on this money. I don’t think its feasible. The house needs renovations – its leaking and breaking apart – but again, I just don’t know what to do. Pay for the renovations? Contribute monthly? Support the household? I feel we are too young to be dealing with this, 26 and 30, and perhaps if we were more established we would be able to support them better… *sigh*

        • I think you might want to consider offering to pay for a financial consultation with your in-laws (fee-based, and maybe someone from South Asia that they can relate to) to go over their budget and their needs – it does not sound like they have enough to retire (even if you helped), and they should go into retirement with their eyes wide open. Getting a third party involved might help. Also you and DH might consider doing the same, since it sounds like you both have different expectations/understanding of your current budget and what the future might hold (totally hear you on the traps of working in Biglaw!)

        • Meg Murry :

          Another thing to consider is what is going to happen to your SIL in the future. Would she be able to live on her own or in a group home? Or is there a high likelyhood of her living with you someday? I would be cautious of spending a lot of money on your in-laws now if you are also going to have the responsibility for SIL in the future. Instead of renovations to their current home, would it make more sense to talk to them about moving somewhere with minimal maintenance and stairs, like a condo?

        • Are they US citizens?

    • I don’t think you are being overly cautious. IME, the typical South Asian/Asian families tend to expect some support and help from their children, but your situation is more complicated in that it is: (a) not divided up among all the children and an unfair burden falls upon you both, (b) not just caring for parents but a SIL is involved too, (c) as someone mentioned above, having them in your home is more traditional and less burdensome usually, since they help with some housework and childcare in return and that becomes a mutually beneficial arrangement.

      In your situation, for you both to single-handedly pay for parents’ lifestyle maintenance, home repair, and SIL in addition to caring for your own home and family is certainly a huge, huge deal and would be a huge deal in many/most South Asian homes as well.

      To begin with, I’d suggest just listening and not saying much or committing to much. It doesn’t have to be one single sit-down conversation. You can gradually elicit their ideas of what they expect, when your FIL expects to retire, what their plans are afterward (downsize? sell their home? move into smaller condo in inexpensive area?) and so on. It seems that they are nice people and not looking to take advantage of you, so just try and gently elicit what they have in mind first.

      Second would be the time for you and your DH to talk about what you both can feasibly do for them. It’s ok to have strings attached (we’ll pay for x if you promise to do y – move to a cheaper area, for instance).

      One caveat is that you should let go of the idea that it is ‘your’ money but try and frame it in your own mind like a question of putting your future family (with DH, or your retirement, etc.) first over his family. It will help you in feeling less resentment, and will help your discussions with DH to be framed in the right way (us v. extended family and not me v. you and your family).

    • Could you pay for the renovations and, perhaps, property taxes, with the condition that the house be left to you in their wills? I’m guessing that this would go a long way to supporting them, and might help you feel better about it.

      • Meg Murry :

        If either of the parent have to go into a hospital or nursing home at the end of their life, the house will most likely have to be sold before Medicaid covers the medical bills, which often range into the 100s of thousands. So I wouldn’t count on getting the house unless you outright buy it from them.
        Alternately, could you and husband offer to cover specific expenses for them – like long term care insurance, hiring someone to do yard work, the cell phone bill, etc? That way you aren’t just cutting your in-laws a check each month for them to spend as they see fit.

        • Anonymous :

          In most cases a residence is an exempt asset for Medicaid eligibility determinations. That said, after the person receiving Medicaid benefits passes away (and spouse), the house can often be “recaptured” — so it’s right not to assume the OP and her spouse would ever get anything from that.

    • Olivia Pope :

      I like the idea of getting a professional financial advisor to talk to them about their retirement. This will help them figure out what their goals are and how close they are to meeting them. Perhaps you and DH could go with them.

      Also, you and DH need to discuss your future plans as well! I would not want to tell someone that I could give them a certain amount of money based on a BigLaw salary, and then leave BigLaw later and have to reduce it.

      The approach should be “Let’s figure about good, sustainable ways to help your/our family as they get older.” That could mean selling their house and moving to a less expensive place. Or all of you moving into a large home while FIL continues to work for X amount of years and the in-laws contribute to the household financially and chore-wise. I know a family that switched houses with the in-laws. So many options. You just need to figure out what will work for your situation.

      • Just A Thought :

        What if you and your husband agree to open and contribute $500 a month to a high yield savings acct or in a conservative index fund for as long as you think you can afford it. I don’t believe you said the need the money right now. Doing this might satisfy your husband’s need to do something to care for his parents’ retirement interests down the line. Whether the two of you let his folks know that is being done is a judgment call. Meanwhile, he can start building a dialogue with his folks about their plans – maybe couch it in terms of that information helping the two of you plan for your own future. Who knows, maybe his dad is open to easing into retirement by working part-time for some time before fully retiring, or maybe they intend to sell their home and plan to retire out of the country where COL is considerably less. There’s lots to discuss there.

    • It sounds like there are a lot of unknowns here — what their expectations and needs really are, for one thing. The first place to start is having an open and honest conversation with them, or many little conversations along the way. I think you are right to want more information to see how much of a future commitment this will involve. And who knows? Maybe they’ve thought this through and have more resources than you know. Maybe they don’t. But it would help everyone to be on the same page, to the extent that it is possible.

      • If they are citizens they will get some SS even without a long earnings history. My mom was a SAHM pretty much her whole life, she worked at Walmart for about 10 years when I was in my 20’s, but that’s the extent of her earnings history (so you can imagine, walmart pay- it wasn’t much). She gets about $700 a month from SS. Which, is not much but if both his parents could get that it would be $1400 coming in which I have to think would be helpful.

        Also, perhaps them moving to a nearby but lower cost of living area? I think this might be something that should be considered.

        • Anonymous :

          Not quite accurate – just because you are a citizen, does not mean you get SS. You normally have to report earnings to the IRS for 40 quarters to get SS. Sounds like your mom maid that cut-off. The other way is to claim SS based on your spouse. So, in your case, your mom’s SS might be based on your dad’s earnings.

          • No, it is not based on my father’s earnings. But you are probably right in that she just made the cut off.

  9. Gift ideas? :

    Our babysitter is getting married next weekend. We had a perfect present planned for her, and her aunt “took” our present idea, I just found out yesterday! Now I’m at a loss…

    She is our daily babysitter/nanny of only our son in her home.
    She is AMAZING. I’d totally double her salary just to keep her. Amazing. I want to still employ her for several years.
    She is 22, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, but (on her on time) listens to rap and hip-hop, came from the city but now lives in a small town where we are.
    She and her husband-to-be aren’t super poor, but aren’t super rich.

    I’d like to get her a present from us, and also one from our son. I’m pretty comfortable spending ~$400 on this. Any ideas?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Honestly, give her the four hundred bucks, plus maybe something awesome and handmade by your kiddo(s). (Maybe a picture of her and her fiance as bride and groom, drawn and signed by said kiddo(s)?)

    • Something from the registery or cash.

    • Anne Shirley :

      A check for $400. She’ll really really love it. And a beautiful thoughtful card.

    • I’d give cash and something handmade by your kid (maybe a plate or something from a paint your own pottery place if you cannot think of anything else). That and a nice card saying how happy you are for her and how much she means to your family.

    • Meg Murry :

      I agree with the straight up $400. Alternately, if you give her vacation time, offer to pay her during her honeymoon but not charge it against whatever block of time you give her for vacation time?

    • Gift ideas? :

      Oh, I am already giving her a generous cash gift! This is in addition (literally this girl is my lifesaver and worth her weight in gold and my son jumps in delight when we get to her house).

      The only problem is that my son is only thirteen months – she’s been keeping him since 6 weeks. So he can’t really “make” anything – except a mess! She already has handprint/footprints from him.

      I would like to give her (1) a generous cash gift; (2) a nice piece of jewelry; and (3) a gift bag of books on the “adult life” – cook books, financial literacy, etc.

      What books would you recommend?

  10. I bought a cute pair of Adidas in Heathered gray last year and they have saved me with this foot injury. And they’re so cute I’vee gotten a ton of compliments.

    • workingmomz :

      Oh did you have surgery or something?

      • I'm Kind of a Big Deal :

        I had foot surgery!

        Let me tell you about it!

      • No, just walked into a cabinet (barefoot) in my hallway last Sunday morning. My toe has been black and blue and swollen all week (but not broken, thank goodness). I’ve been buddy wrapping the toes together and that has helped, but I haven’t been able to wear anything except the Adidas. Even my Converse (not Chucks) weren’t comfortable enough. It’s definitely getting better!

  11. Ladies, I have a family/substance abuse issue that I could really use some advice on. Sorry in advance for the novel:

    My dad has had a longstanding addiction to alcohol and rx pain pills. He finally went to rehab my senior year of college (about 10 years ago). Since then, he’s been sober on and off. In the past year, he’s had a number of severe health issues, to the point where I would not be shocked to get a phone call telling me he has passed away.

    He and my mother divorced several years ago, but she has regular contact with him and his new wife (a woman he began seeing about 15 years before my parents got divorced… we all knew about her, no one said anything, it was a messed up situation). My sister and I are completely estranged from my dad, which my mom is not pleased with. My sister lives in another country, and so when she had her baby, there was no problem. I live about an hour from my dad, and I’m currently pregnant, and my mom is pressing me to tell my dad, or asking me if she can tell him.

    As far as I’m concerned, I will never see him again, my child will never meet him, and it is almost cruel to tell him “hey, I’m pregnant, I live an hour away from you, you’re really sick and may be dying, but you’ll never meet this child.” Basically, I don’t want to tell him I’m pregnant.

    Is this a huge disaster waiting to happen? Have any of you ever dealt with this sort of thing? Any advice? He doesn’t have any extended family, and none of my mom’s side of the family has contact with him either at this point.

    • I don’t think you need to tell him, see him, etc. if that’s the choice you’ve made. But you can’t control what other people do in terms of your mom telling him. Tell your mom “As far as I’m concerned, I will never see him again, my child will never meet him, and it is cruel to tell him I’m pregnant and that he will never see me or my child despite the fact that I don’t live in another country like sister.” If she tells him anyway, so be it. You don’t have to act any differently towards him than you have in the past.

    • anon in tejas :

      I’m a big fan of pros and cons lists. I would suggest one here, because it sounds like you don’t want to tell him, but it’s not really clear to you why. Do you not want your kid/his grandkid to have a relationship with him? Are you worried about how you feel about his health issues? Do you think that he’ll try to insert himself into your life in an upsetting way?

      I think that figuring out what you are scared of might help you figure out how to balance the decision and relationship.

      Did your sister tell your dad at all? Did your mom?

      I think that you are in the best decision to do this, and I hope that your partner and your mom support your decision whatever it may be. Although that would be the best case scenario, protect yourself in case that is not the case.

      Avoiding figuring out what to do will not help you in the long run. It sounds like that’s what you have been doing for a while.

      I don’t have a relationship with my mom, and my relationship with my dad has been very difficult. So, please know that may make my advice colored with my own family issues.

    • Need to Improve :

      It’s your choice, and if you don’t want to see him, you don’t have to. It is not your mom’s choice, and she should respect your decision.

      That said, I think you should wait and see what happens when you have the baby. My dad and I were on horrible terms because he was an abusive jerk to us and my mom my whole childhood. I literally used to pray for the day he would divorce my mom. And then he did, and I was free of him.

      He has softened with age, and after 15+ years of almost no relationship between us, I slowly let him back into my life, in little bits. When my first baby was born, he came to stay in our city for a week to spend time with us and the baby. It was a visit I had very mixed feelings about beforehand, but I am really happy now that it worked out. Since then we have had two visits–once me and fmaily visting him him and once him visting us–and they have been fine. It gives me joy that he can play a grandaftherly role and that he has found a way to be tender. I still see pieces of his old self all the time, but seeing him in these small, controlled ways has been fine. I am never going to go to him with my problems, ask him for advice, call him to chat, etc., but I am comfortable with what we have.

      Point being, time and kids do change things sometimes, but it has to be right for you.

    • Wildkitten :

      Take care of yourself. If that means not telling him – don’t tell him. People who grew up with rainbows and puppies don’t understand that sometimes kids from situations need to cut off contact with their parents in order to have healthy boundaries for their own lives.

      • Anonymous :

        + 1 million

        You can’t control what your mom actually does (and she may end up going against your wishes and telling him at some point), but if you’d feel more comfortable without him knowing, you can certainly ask her not to say anything and hope that she abides by your request.

        Also, in that same “please don’t tell him” conversation, I’d probably add “and we’re not going to talk about this again.” Then, when mom starts, you get to say “like I said, we’re not talking about this again,” and hang up/walk away/leave the room.

      • Wildkitten :

        Everyone is welcome to email Wildkitten r3tt3 @ google mail to talk about this. I’m opinionated but happy to chat.

    • Anonymous :

      I can sympathize with your feelings toward your dad, and I imagine being pregnant and having a baby just makes that situation all the more painful and complicated. But I wanted to suggest that maybe you find a way to forgive him and let him back in your life–at least a little bit. Clearly I don’t know your whole situation with him, but I didn’t speak to my dad for a very long time, and I thought I never would. I eventually realized that it didn’t really fix things for me because I still felt angry at him all the time. With the help of a counselor, I figured out how to let go of a lot of my anger toward him and let him back in my life. We by no means have a fantastic relationship, and I only see him in controlled doses (e.g., we go to dinner together every once and awhile). But even that little bit has made things so much better for me because I don’t walk around harboring a bunch of anger.

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        To present a contrasting view on this – I don’t really speak to my dad, but I’m not harboring any anger towards him. I’ve worked through it, I’m over it, he did what he did and things are what they are, and I’m okay. That said, just because I forgive him for the past doesn’t mean I owe him anything in the present, and so I continue not to see him, the same way I’d avoid any other unpleasant person who made my life stressful. If it’s helpful to you to speak to your dad because it allowed you to get over your anger, that’s great, but not speaking to someone =/= definitely harboring unhealthy anger for that person. You can forgive and let go without renewing the relationship, if that’s what you choose to do.

  12. Shopaholic :

    Thoughts on the Rebecca Minkoff MAB mini? There’s one for sale on the outnet in a beautiful cobalt colour (link in reply) and I’m trying to decide if I should pull the trigger.

  13. anon in tejas :

    I am looking for graduation ideas for my half-brother, who is graduating high school in a few short weeks. We are not very super close. We live in the same city, but due to busy schedules (both of ours, he may be busier than we are), we don’t see each other as often as we would like.

    He is graduating at 17 going to a state school honors program which is about 150 miles from home. He is a lot more naive/innocent/emotionally immature than I was at that age.


    I love him and I am proud of him. I am excited to see him develop into an amazing young man, and I am hopeful that he’ll have an wonderful time at school– it was truly transformative for me to leave home.

  14. Anon in NYC :

    I’m thinking about getting a pair of the Reebok Skyscapes because I need a fashion-y sneaker for running around on the weekends, and I really like that they’re machine washable. Has anyone tried them?

  15. Ladies, what’s your favorite conditioner? I’m on the market for something new – I have thick, wavyish hair that tends towards frizzy that I prefer to blow out. Would really appreciate any recommendations! TIA!

    • Canyouwink :

      My hair sounds similar to yours and I’ve been loving Frederic fekkai Shea butter conditioner. It’s a little bit expensive, but I got it once as a free sample and my hair just felt amazing afterwards so I’ve been using it and the same shampoo since.

    • Kirkland moisture conditioner (from Costco).

      I know it sounds crazy but I have been using the shampoo/conditioner for almost a year and my hair has never looked better. Sulfate/paraben free and I think vegan as well.

    • Yes to Carrots.

    • Well, I ‘m currently committed to bumble and bumble’s superrich conditioner for long, thick, wavy hair. I rarely have split ends and my hair feels nice to the touch.

    • Sounds like my hair, too! I use Pureology (the moisture one in the purple bottle). Smells incredible and leaves my hair very soft. I also find the best thing for my hair is Exquisite Oil from Biolage. I put that on at the ends before I hop in the shower. Then I put it in again as I am drying it and it keeps the frizz away and makes it very shiny and soft.

    • I have thick curly hair and when I use conditioner it’s Redken Smooth Down (bronze bottle). But lately I’ve been using Hair One cleansing conditioner, which is similar to a generic version of Wen (and so much cheaper!).

    • I have thick, long, wavy hair. Thick as in many strands, and having thick strands. I have tried almost every anti-frizz creme there is. But I always go back to the same product. It is fairly pricey, but absolutely great results.

      I use the Nexxus Frizz Defy line – Shampoo, Conditioner, Styling Creme, and Argan Oil Leave-in Shine Treatment. I blow dry my hair. Apply the styling creme prior to blow drying. Use the supplemental argan oil after blow drying if needed.

      If you prefer a cheaper option, I have heard good things about the new Keratin Infusion line from Suave. I used to also do shampoo/conditioner of any brand (something like Tresemme Moisture Rich), then prior to blowdrying, I’d use an anti-frizz styling creme. I used to love the stuff from Sunsilk but haven’t seen those on the shelves since 2008/2009. Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth Anti-Frizz Creme is good, and so is Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioner.

    • gingersnap :

      I have thick, wavy hair, and use Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus curl&shine shampoo (the pink bottle). It’s rich enough that my hair doesn’t need conditioner afterwards, and it’s been absolutely amazing for my hair (plus affordable and easily found at Target/Walgreens/etc)

    • Aussie’s Moist Conditioner & the 3-minute miracle one.

    • I really like the Organix Kukui Nut conditioner. It’s new, in a brown bottle (They make all the rounded bottles that are short and squat, in different varieties). It’s really moisturizing, tames frizz, smells like Hawaii and doesn’ t make my neck break out like nasty Herbal Essences does. I love it!

      I have medium, curly hair, can be frizzy without products, which needs moisture. Seriously–just smell it in the store. It’s delish.

    • Terax Crema or the L’oreal Feria kind that comes in the hair dye box, but they sell it seperately in tubes at Sally Beauty.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      Ojon. It is amazing.

  16. lucy stone :

    Friendly reminder we have a FitBit group for fans of this site – email me at fivetomatoes at gmail for an invite!

  17. I just ordered a Fitbit thanks largely to all the fitbit chatter here. Cannot wait til it gets here. I think it will be hugely motivational. Also I’m curious to learn what it thinks about my sleep habits. I’ll be looking to join the group once it arrives! Yay.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I just ordered one too, yay! Takes ages to deliver though (only because I am cheap and didn’t want to pay for express delivery).

      • I thought it would take ages to deliver, but I ordered it from amazon yesterday, chose free shipping, and just got a tracking notice saying it will be here tomorrow. I may be fitbitting sooner than i thought!

    • Anonymous :

      Just wanted to let anyone waffling about one know that Target has the Flex (bracelet) full price this week but your purchase gets you the three colored bands (mint, blue, orange priced at $30) for free.

  18. I’m making family brunch for Mother’s Day and need some more ideas. I’m making veggie frittata, chicken sausage, fruit salad, and biscuits. Would love any thoughts for something else that I can make ahead of time. Scones?

  19. Can anyone recommend a relationship book that might help me? I’ve read Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, and it didn’t speak to me. I’m in a sort of stereotypical “starter marriage” that I’m unhappy with. We got married in our early twenties at a point in our relationship where we pretty much could have either broken up or gotten married, and marriage felt easier at the time. Now we’re basically glorified roommates in our late twenties. This should be the easiest/happiest time of our lives, and I’m just not happy. I’m planning to start counseling soon, but I’m hoping to find a book that can get me started figuring out what I want.

    • This has a schmaltzy self-help type title, but if you are interested in possibly trying to save your marriage, and your husband is willing to go through this book together with you, I found “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” to be incredibly helpful.

      It saved my marriage and strengthened it in ways I could not have imagined would be possible. My husband and I got married in our early 20s, and we’re now in our early 30s, and I am the most happy with him I have ever been. We went through the book together during a horribly rough patch where I thought about leaving on a near daily basis. The book was an act of desperation– a “you do this, or I’m out of here” sort of thing.

      • I feel you. I’m in a similar place and someone recommended No Cheating, No Dying (http://www.amazon.com/No-Cheating-Dying-Marriage-Better/dp/1439168229) I’ve just started it, but so far so good.

        Good luck in finding the best solution for you. I also highly recommend a few visits to a therapist. It’s amazing how helpful I’m finding that.

        • I read that and didn’t love it, and I doubt it would have been helpful if my marriage were troubled. YMMV, but I suspect it won’t be very easily relevant. It is basically a description of a year in a reasonably happy couple’s life when the wife tries all these classes and therapies and theories to strengthen their relationship further. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find it particularly enlightening.

    • The book “Project- Happily Ever After: Saving your marriage when the fairy tale falters” has been mentioned by several people as a helpful book, if you wish to save the marriage. It might also be helpful to show you that there’s nothing to save. Good luck.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I’m a Gottman fan and second the recommendation for Seven Principles. I also love Passionate Marriage by Dr. David Schnarch. He also has a newer book, the name of which escapes me. He approaches marital problems by starting with the sexual relationship, which I find interesting and compelling.

      The one thing I learned from my own (failed) marriage is that both parties really need to be bought in and willing to work on the relationship. If only one spouse has any skin in the game, it’s pretty well impossible to make it work.

    • Anonymous :

      The Truth About Love by Dr. Patricia Love. I liked that it explained/made sense of why I was feelings some of the things I was feeling.

    • Silvercurls :

      I’m sharing these three titles (listed below) because the books have accompanied me through several moves and more than one decade of marriage. The last title sounds preachy but I don’t remember the book as being so, and I’m definitely _not_ listing it here in that spirit. Good luck to you, whatever you decide. I hope you and your spouse find your way either to whole-heartedly reconnecting or resolving to go your separate ways.

      You don’t specify gender, so I”ll just give a blanket apology to you and anyone else reading this: These books are 25+ years old, so they probably just assumed that “marriage” meant “heterosexuals only.” Post-industrial modern society has significantly improved re marriage equality since I was in my early, middle, or late 20s.

      Oh–not having any electronic readers I have no awareness re whether these books are available in formats other than print. BUT as a longtime library lover I can suggest you look them up online…and check out whether you can use the library in the next town, city, or county because lots of areas have reciprocal agreements. Enough from me. Hugs and good reading and thinking.

      Love is never enough: How couples can overcome misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and solve relationship problems through cognitive therapy / Aaron T. Beck, MD . 1988. Frequently reprinted, still in print.

      Getting the love you want: A guide for couples / Harville Hendrix . 1988. Also still in print. Subsequently published titles include “The Getting the Love You Want Workbook” and “Keeping the love you want.”

      Necessary losses: The loves, illusions, dependencies and impossible expectations that all of us have to give up in order to grow / Judith Viorst. 1986. Quotes from a lot of poetry & prose.

    • Calling in the One. It has a super cheesy title, but the book is pretty good and would benefit anyone, even those not looking for a mate or seeking relationship help.

  20. Anon Associate :

    Ladies, just want to vent/be sad that I messed up a deadline at work and now we can’t provide a service to our clients that we promised… I feel terrible, and I brought it to the attention of the leads as soon as I discovered my error, but there’s not really anything to be done about it. I just feel so bad that I missed it. I will triple-check things like this in the future, but is there anything else I can do to move on from this and redeem myself? Thanks so much.

    • That’s a terrible feeling. I think the only thing is tell yourself that everyone has been in this situation before (not an excuse, of course, but it’s nice to know that you aren’t the only person making stupid mistakes), and the best reaction is to learn from your experience. I once sent what I thought was a blank form to a client; it was actually filled in by another client. !!!!! You can bet that I open every attachment before sending an email now. Live and learn.

    • The same thing happened to me this week, and the consequences for my client are pretty dire. I felt sick about it. Luckily, we were able to schedule a short order emergency motion hearing for Monday.

      All I hope to take from this is the memory of my client’s heartbroken voice on the phone to keep me hyper-vigilant about these things.

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