Tuesday’s Workwear Report: High-Waisted Pencil Skirt

Our daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Black Halo’s Jackie dress has been in our Workwear Hall of Fame for years, and I may have featured this pencil skirt before because it has that classic, universal, sophisticated look to it. I like a high-waisted pencil skirt, especially with wrap blouses and and even bodysuits if that’s or bodysuits if you you want to try that — obviously for the office nothing should be too tight, but a nicely tucked-in top does look good with a high-waisted pencil skirt like this (as shown in the photos). It comes in eclipse (pictured), black, and red, and it looks like a great skirt. It’s $230 at Shopbop in sizes 0-12 and it’s also at AmazonBlack Halo High Waisted Pencil Skirt

A few lower-priced alternatives are here, here, and here, and here’s a plus-size option.

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Comments

  1. At 30, I’m aware that my skin is starting to need better maintenance. I’m usually pretty good about sunscreen, but I think this will be the summer that I get into hats. I spend about 40 minutes each day walking to/from public transportation, and I’d love to wear a hat during this time but I’m struggling to find a hat that doesn’t look silly with business casual clothing. Any ideas?

    • I think with a hat, you might need to embrace the silly (or glamorous!). Floppy hat, big sunglasses, the works.

    • Baconpancakes :

      Alternately, depending on your style, you can wear a plain-colored baseball cap for a sporty look. This particularly works well if your cap matches your (athletic) commuting shoes. Links for inspo to follow.

      • Baconpancakes :

        https://www.pinterest.com/pin/336644140881620080/

        https://lolobu.com/entry/yBdUJYcwzg/grey-black-chunky-scarf

        https://www.pinterest.com/pin/27936460168729894/

        http://remainsimple.us/post/37680437814

      • +1 I pretty frequently wear a baseball cap with the logo of my beloved Blue Jays during my commute.

    • Pale Girl Snorkeling :

      Embrace the hat! Get hats in several colors that you like and make you feel awesome. Match them to your outfits and you will be amazed at all the compliments. Get inspired by shopping at vintage or consignment stores.

      If the hat just doesn’t work for you (hair style can be an issue) parasols are also awesome. You can get nice sunproof ones online for around $30

      • Oh that’s a good idea. I have used a parasol at events like a county fair and it worked well. (They sell them at the county fair)

    • I wear a hat for all of my daughter’s outdoor sports tournaments. There are no hats that look like a normal part of one’s outfit because no one wears hats anymore as part of their outfits. So I embrace the absurd and just go for max coverage. I wear one of these

      https://www.pelagicgear.com/shop/mens/baja-straw-hat/marlin-patch-royal/

      Sans the logo. You can get these for something like $5 in Chinatown.

      If you want a crushable hat you can shove into your tote bag, a wide brimmed canvas hat like this should do

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-SCALA-LARGE-BRIM-PACKABLE-CRUSHABLE-DRAWSTRING-CANVAS-HAT-UPF-50-OLIVE-/391727440539

      • I also sometimes wear a wide brimmed cloche that I wore to an outdoor wedding as a sun hat at tournaments. It’s gorgeous and I figure I will never wear it again otherwise. It’s very glamorous, particularly at a tournament, but I have never minded being the fancy lady in the crowd.

    • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

      I wear a simple tan, cotton bucket hat and big sunglasses when walking around outside for work. Provides sufficient shade for my face, looks decent, and easily folds up into my bag.

      I am also guilty of wearing one of those visors that are light a giant sunglass (a la Darth Vader) when I am driving during the day., and covering in my arms/hands. No one sees me, and this is effective at blocking sun.

      I am not fair-skinned, and tan very very VERY easily.

  2. Never too many shoes... :

    Big news for all the plus size women here… I had an email last night confirming that the M.M. Lafleur is launching their line in May featuring sizes 14W – 22W.

    I am ridiculously excited about this.

    • Anonymous :

      Oh, AWESOME. I’ve got too much junk in the trunk to make their current size 16 work; I’m hoping their 16w is cut just a smidge more generously, or that I’ll be able to bump up a size.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      Ooooh! Their general look is within what I like to wear, so I will be keeping an eye on this!

    • Oh, this is interesting. Do they make anything in natural fibers?

      • There are a few wool dresses and their jardigans are rayon I think (is that natural?) I used to be 100% on the natural fibers only bandwagon, but I’m a convert after trying their clothes. machine washable, a little bit stretchy & sooooo comfy, and will wear like iron. Ooh, plus the no-wrinkle thing is awesome since I have to travel a lot. So for all that, I gave up on finding natural fibers only stuff.

        • I am plus sized and when I first hit this size range (thank you baby #3) I was shopping all the plus sized lines like Kiyonna and Eloquii, and the Michael Kors/Calvin Klein etc lines for plus, but everything EVERYTHING was made of a polyester/spandex blend and I just can’t stand that fabric.

          I’m a knitter, I used to sew, I have raised sheep for wool, I love natural fibers. I love silk and merino wool and cotton and linen and alpaca and, yes, some rayons. My options right now are Eileen Fisher, some pieces by Marina Rinaldi, and custom tailoring. I would love it if another plus retailer introduced a more finely crafted line. I think there are a lot of women who would pay serious bucks for that.

          • Some Talbots offerings are natural fibers, and Lafayette 148 has a lot of natural wool and silk (but is spendy).

    • PatsyStone :

      Hell yeah!

    • Yay! I’m more ‘cusp-sized’ but I recently ordered a jardigan in XL and it just didn’t fit right in the shoulders, in a way that I think maybe would have been resolved by moving up a size. Can’t wait!

  3. pugsnbourbon :

    I went shopping this weekend at a real mall.

    I will be so happy when we awaken from the collective nightmare of cold-shoulder tops.

    • Totally with you on the cold shoulder tops. Also the ruffles sprouting from every random part of the sleeve or shoulder like mold.

    • I’ve even seen some on toddlers at LO’s daycare.

    • Mrs. Jones :

      I do NOT understand the cold-shoulder tops. They are not even remotely flattering. sigh.

      • Agreed. My sister and sisters in law are all in their mid-twenties and have embraced the trend. I’m only 4 years older, but I just can’t do it. To be honest, I really don’t think it even looks flattering on my sisters. They are all thin, but something about the loose sleeves and the shoulder cut outs makes their arms look bigger than they are.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      SO with you on this! I don’t like the silhouette the cold shoulder creates, and it really isn’t a good look for me. I’ll be flipping through a rack, see a good color or print, think it is a sleeveless top … and nope, cold shoulder.

    • ponte python's flying circus :

      AMEN, says this fellow curmudgeon.

      • +1 I see cold shoulders at my office and I DO. NOT. GET. IT.

        • Is your office super casual? I would be so surprised to see this in my business casual office.

          • No, we are supposed to be business casual. Now, there are certainly people who push the limits of business casual as it errs to casual, but we are supposed to be business casual with jeans permitted on Friday.

          • pugsnbourbon :

            Same here. There’s one person who’s worn a cold shoulder top that I’ve seen, and she is a habitual dress-code-pusher. Not that it’s worth spending mental energy on … but I do anyway!

        • Never too many shoes... :

          There is a young lawyer in my office who has a few plain colour blouses with shoulder cutouts – she wears them with an otherwise very conservative outfit (black pumps and pencil skirt) and they actually look quite demure and very put together. We are talking about around the office not for court of course.

          It helps that she is 29 and gorgeous for sure, but I could see it working in another scenario.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I have a big ol’ tattoo on my shoulder, so I’m always on the lookout for dresses with elbow-ish sleeves, and so often lately I click to see a bigger version and SURPRISE there’s a giant hole in the sleeve. So silly.

    • Yesterday I saw a woman wearing a dress… with cold-shoulders.
      And bare legs (ok, 75 degrees here…) and those peep toe booties, with open toes and open heels.

      It looked like she could not afford enough fabric to cover herself, or that she had grown 5% and her clothes had all burst at the seams.

    • Minnie Beebe :

      http://jezebel.com/i-hate-these-goddamn-tops-1793262837

  4. Perplexed :

    My boss has begun to suspect that I’m interviewing elsewhere. She approached me and has stated that she wants to change my position title to make it more appealing and adjust my schedule such that my salary increases. The title adjustment is a necessary step for my future. The salary increase will be a result of more time at work, so it’s both a positive and a negative, but overall a positive.
    The thing is that my current position is super-flexible in terms of when I’m at work. This has been incredible for allowing me to be with my children in the early afternoons. The other positions I’m looking at won’t offer this. If she’s able to offer a better title, salary and I can keep the flexibility, I would probably stay.
    We talked about the idea once and she said she wanted approval of her boss. The next day she told me they had talked and it was positive. We were both heading into separate meetings so we didn’t have a chance to discuss details. It was a two minute conversation. It’s been a few days but we haven’t been in the office on the same days since then.
    I have a feeling that she wants to wait until I have an offer in hand to counter. Is there a way to move this conversation along and try to get something from my current company now, rather than waiting? Any change in title and salary will need to go through my boss’s boss and her boss. I can’t imagine it being a quick process. If I get an offer, there won’t be time for all this to take place. And, I don’t have the trust to turn down an offer elsewhere on the verbal agreement that we’ll make some sort of change.

    • Can you send her an email? “Boss, I’m following up on our conversation from last week regarding possible changes to my position. Please let me know when you are available to discuss further.”

      • Tech Comm Geek :

        I’d do this.

        And I agree with you about not wanting to wait until there is an offer in hand. A further tip is to follow up all conversations about this with an email summarizing the conversation. That way you have it in writing.

  5. Exciting news that I can’t share yet! Just found out that some money has come through and I have a job for the foreseeable future (3-4 years). In academia, this is an unusual level of job security and buys me some time and space to publish and be competitive on the job market at the end. It means a slightly shorter mat leave but 5 months is definitely doable.

  6. Anon for this :

    Sorry to kick off Tuesday with such a downer of a comment, but I’ve been wanting to post about this for a while and today is the day!

    I’ve lived in a small but heavily concentrated city for about 8 years now–for undergrad and then grad school. I know the city well and love it dearly. In a nutshell, my concern is about moving into a neighborhood that has a negative association with my friends from undergrad, for valid reason.

    Two years ago, my friend’s longterm boyfriend (and a very close friend to all of us) was shot and killed while getting out of an uber. It was early evening, in a popular, gentrified area–he was caught in crossfire and was the only fatality. She wasn’t there, but several of my friends were and witnessed it firsthand. It’s currently an open case, and it will likely remain so, so there’s no closure in that sense on the horizon.

    My friend group has really banded together since as we’ve all struggled to process this. The victim’s girlfriend gave up drinking, though she has recently started to drink in very controlled environments and date again. Several of the people that were there that night moved away, though for other reasons. We have generally stayed away from that neighborhood when going out except for the annual fundraiser a bar hosts in the victim’s honor.

    I am now looking at moving, and the most convenient location for me and my partner is this neighborhood. This is largely due to proximity to our jobs and walkability/access to public transit. And just for perspective, this is about .5 miles from the victim’s girlfriend’s house and a mile from where we currently are. So it’s all relatively close and walkable, but the neighborhood name and culture is really what sets it apart. I am feeling slightly guilty for wanting to move back to this neighborhood. I think I am fine mentally as I wasn’t there. Additionally, the fundraisers and great nights we’ve had remembering him have made that neighborhood have an odd sentimentality to the victim rather than feeling like the scene of a crime. I’m more uncomfortable about how I would tell my friends I’m moving. Should I ask my friend who lost her boyfriend for permission? Or should I tell her? Additionally, for my less close friends that were there that night and were also affected, should I reach out to them?

    Obviously overthinking this like crazy, but this is uncharted territory for me. Thoughts? Anything?

    • I hate that this might sound cold given the background of the story, but as you stated yourself, you are obviously overthinking this. Just move there. It doesn’t matter what your friends think.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 You have to live your life and do what is best for you. Honestly, I can’t imagine asking a friend for permission where to move. Sure you can tell your friends you are moving, as you would regardless of where you are moving, and you should be understanding that it might be hard for some of them to visit you, but that’s no reason to not make the best decision for you and your partner.

      • +1

        I would not ask anyone for permission. Just tell people as you normally would. If other people bring up the shooting, you can respond with how you honestly feel.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

        I recommend SimpliSafe home security system.

        I’m a city dweller, and have had multiple break-ins in the past.

    • Anonymous :

      Friend groups can be great or toxic chains. Live your life. Move where you want to live. Do not ask for permission. Do not apologize. Expect that your friends will cope because they should.

    • I completely understand where you’re coming from. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to talk it over with your friend before just announcing that you’re moving. Ultimately I agree that you should absolutely move where you are comfortable and you do not need to ask anyone for permission. But if these friendships are important to you, being sensitive and opening a dialogue could be a kind step to take. On the other hand, if you think your friend will object to you moving there if you bring it up directly, then perhaps it would be better to just move and deal with issues as they arise.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      Make the choice that makes your life easier and that you are comfortable with. Your empathy with your friend group is good. In your situation, I would prep myself with a bit of a script if someone is upset. Something that acknowledges their pain and explains that this is a choice you are comfortable with. Anyone who continues to have fits after that is looking for drama and can be treated accordingly.

    • I’m so sorry about your friend.

      My friend group lost one of our members almost 20 years ago, in a tragic car accident (that actually ended up being one of the cases that changed how police departments train cops to handle high-speed chases). It is devastating to lose someone you care about for no reason. We were all messed up about it for a long time. However, life moves on and your friend, I am sure, would want you to pursue your life and opportunities. He most likely wouldn’t want people to put their lives on hold or forgo good things because of what happened to him. I would move where you need to. If your friends voice concerns, I would gently point out that bad things can and do happen anywhere, at any time. If they persist with their objections, they’re the ones being unreasonable. Hugs.

    • I agree that you don’t need to seek permission. I think I know the neighborhood you’re discussing (in DC, right?) and I see no reason why you shouldn’t move there. Of course, it’s important to be sensitive to your friend’s feelings, and it sounds like you’ll understand if she is reluctant to come visit, etc. You’re a good friend for caring, but you need to do you first.

    • You don’t need to ask permission, but it would probably be considerate to mention in a sensitive but casual manner to the ex-girlfriend that you’re thinking about looking at apartments in that neighborhood. And also to be understanding if the people who were traumatized opt out of visiting you at your new place, and instead prefer to hang out in another location.
      For reference, I was assaulted by someone who lived in a certain neighborhood (the assault didn’t happen in the neighborhood, but I strongly associated it with him and somewhat irrationally was scared I’d run into him), I developed PTSD, and I refused to step foot in that neighborhood for about half a decade. I knew people who lived there but I would not visit. So they may or may not feel similarly. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live your life.

    • It sounds like you are an incredibly supportive friend, but you should not allow her grief to control your life decisions.

      • (Not to say that you don’t grieve the loss of your friend as well, but it sounds like you’re more worried about the surviving girlfriend’s feelings.)

    • You might reframe this to thinking of it as reclaiming the neighborhood. You’re not literally reclaiming it, but you’re taking back your joy and happiness and love of that neighborhood and not letting the crime/criminals take that away from you forever.

    • Don’t ask for permission before hand because what if she doesn’t give it? Better to explain afterwards. I understand your reluctance but re framing it as acknowledging him and your memories sounds like it should work, if any of your friends may be judgmental. Good luck!

  7. We had an interesting side conversation the other day about skincare, and I’m always so curious about what everyone else uses! I’m mid-thirties, super-fair, had cystic acne as a kid. My current issues are pore size and preventing signs of aging. I’ve recently redone my routine and have seen huge benefits from mixing something my grandmother used to use (Jergens Cold Creme) with Asian Beauty standbys.

    I use…

    AM: Vit C serum, Hylaronic Acid Missha 45+ Sunscreen (because I hate Western sunscreens)
    PM: Jergens cold creme (seriously), My Cleansing Story foaming cleanser on a konjac sponge
    Rotate: Stridex pads (BHA), The Ordinary Lactic Acid (AHA) OR
    The Ordinary Azelaic Acid
    The Ordinary Hylaronic Acid
    Evan Healy Wild Carrot Eye Balm
    Trilogy Oil
    Mizon Snail Repair Gel Cream

    I love sheet masks. Once a week I put on Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Mask between my BHA and AHA.

    I want to hear what you use!

    • Anonymous :

      I use a face wash (Johnson & Johnson) and a moisturizer (St. Ives). That’s it. I can’t imagine using so many products on my face.

      • AnonMidwest :

        Whew, I’m glad I’m not alone on this. I use Aveeno face wash, their day cream with SPF and a night/eye cream.

      • I also just cleanse and moisturize. I just turned 30 a few months ago, though, and am wondering if most others do more at this age. I don’t want to regret not taking better care of my skin, but at the same time I can’t imagine keeping up with such an intense routine.

        • Baconpancakes :

          I was a cleanse and moisturize person until recently. I’m dipping my toe in, but trying to keep my perspective. (32).

          Right now I use Tatcha Camellia Cleanser, a rose face mist/toner, Neutrogena Anti-Wrinkle night cream with retinol (very low percentage – will move up once I finish this one), exfoliate with the clairsonic 2-3x week, and a basic night moisturizer with lavender. In the morning I splash with water or use the rose face mist, have just started a vitamin c serum, and use a moisturizing spf. I use a couple different masks but mostly just because they’re fun. (Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty works great for occasional flareups, their rose mask is great for soothing the skin, and then whatever sheet masks I pick up.)

          My skin is looking better, but I am trying out stuff and just remembering that I need to do what works for me and my lifestyle. Double cleansing – not gonna happen. So – a more expensive oil cleanser that washes clean works for me. Toner plus AHA plus BHA plus essence plus serum plus moisturizer? Lol, no.

        • I’m 44 and just cleanse and moisturize. I have no plans to ever change my routine.

        • Anonattorney :

          Mid-30s and just cleanse (Neutrogena cleanser with salicylic acid on a Clarisonic) and moisturize (Aveeno).

    • Sassyfras :

      I’ve been loving Sunday Riley Good Genes but didn’t realize The Ordinary had an AHA product. I use their 2% retinoid and it’s great.

      • I started using it because I had a sample of Good Genes but couldn’t swallow the price, and found several people had suggested The Ordinary Lactic Acid as a dupe. It is really good.

      • I’d strongly suggest you read the fanserviced-b.com breakdown on lactic acids, it was a GREAT honest breakdown on the truth/hype on all the lactic acids on the market, and definitely helped open my eyes to some new brands.

        • anon for advice please :

          Late to the party, but thank you so much for posting this. I needed a new beauty website rabbit hole and wasn’t familiar with fanserviced. You just totally made my morning! (I’m on mat leave.)

    • Ok, here’s my rant of the day. Men don’t seem to use this many products and they look fine in their 30s (and beyond). I too use a variety of products daily (and STILL suffer from acne. Come on, I already went through this as a teenager!) but my husband uses….a gentle face wash and moisturizer. That’s it. And it’s not even face moisturizer. What is it about women’s skin that requires so much maintenance??? Different hormones?

      • Anonymous :

        I wonder the same thing.

        • not a derm, but lifelong derm patient :

          Men and women have different skin. Men’s skin is thicker, rougher, and has a higher collagen density than women’s skin, so they age slower. They also have oilier skin, so their acne tends to last longer.

      • Many women choose (operative word) to use so many products and the beauty industry is acutely aware of that. For the most part, the products are not required. You won’t die if you do not use a serum or acid on our face. (Yes, I know some people have medical conditions .)

      • Probably partially hormones, but I think we also DO more to our skin that can inflame it, and then we use other products to fix it, so it’s a big product chain.

        • I think we also have different standards for what “good” male skin looks like and what “good” female skin looks like. For instance, my husband has aged well for a man in his early 40s. He has a few wrinkles. But his skin is rougher than mine is, and if my skin had that much texture, I think it would be noticeable.

          I’m not saying that it’s good or bad for women to have more textured skin (I have pores. I’m not doing much to change that). But society does perceive male and female skin differently, too.

          • Yeah, I think this is exactly it. Our standards and expectations for male skin are lower.

      • Long time lurker :

        For what it’s worth my husband has been borrowing my eye cream for years and I think it’s made a difference. He has dry skin.

        I use neutrogena makeup wipes most days. If I wash my hair that mornjng (every other day) I use proactiv scrub in the shower… otherwise I just splash my fair with plain water. I use neutrogena eye cream and cetaphil sunscreen moisturizer every morning. That is it, although in the winter if I have dryness I might use a night cream (drugstore like oil of Olay). I have combo skin that tends towards redness and looks better the less I mess with it.

      • I think its mostly hormones. Though my husband steals my face wash and mositurizer and comments on how much better they are than the drugstore stuff he’d been using. Ditto with stealing my Asian sunblock – I actually horde it because he and my 5-yr old prefer it to the american brands (it feels like NOTHING on and dries SOOO much faster).

        • What sunscreen do you use?

          • Biore UV aqua riche watery essence 2015 formula, the newly reformulated 2017 version is getting [email protected] reviews, so I’m looking for a replacement (and hording bottles).

          • ponte python's flying circus :

            +1 to the Biore UV stuff! I haven’t tried the 2017 version, but I still have 2 of the 2015 bottles from my last trip to Asia and am slighly concerned that the stuff is degrading in the cool dark environment at the back of my closet.

      • It doesn’t require that much maintenance. Women choose to do it and might see microimprovements in their skin or get told by someone making money off their purchases that maybe some slightly different cream will help too. It’s a bit absurd, really, especially given the cost.

      • Shopaholic :

        Part of it also feels luxurious and pampering to me – I love putting on a sheet mask on a Sunday evening and just putting my feet up for 15 minutes. I also love my evening routine of putting on a couple serums and a moisturizer and massaging them into my skin.

      • Women’s skin does not require more maintenance, but the more you mess with it, the more you “need” to do. (Really most products probably don’t make a noticeable difference). If women didn’t wear makeup and didn’t have magnifying mirrors and tons of advertising to make us feel like we “needed” all this stuff, most women would probably look pretty much the same. Maybe a year or two older.

        • Edna Mazur :

          This was me. My acne actually all but disappeared when I super simplified. I keep everything pretty light and gentle, neutrogena regular face wash, aveeno lotion with SPF, same for morning and evening and a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide daily leave on mask (neutrogena maybe) that I use under lotion in the evening.

          I use anything else (hello sheet masks) and it flares up. I bought a paula’s choice BHA thingy that I can’t use anyway since I’m pregnant, and am really debating whether to try it at all now…

          • Anonymous :

            +1 My skin looks better when I drink water consistently. and avoid caffeine and alcohol. I don’t get break outs unless it’s PMS (usually pretty limited) or I’ve been touching my face a lot.

      • not a derm, but lifelong derm patient :

        Men’s skin is thicker, rougher, and has a higher collagen density than women’s skin, so they age slower. They also have oilier skin, so their acne tends to last longer.

      • Acne and other skin problems are caused by large follicle, small hair pores. You have hairs in your facial pores. They are just tiny. This large difference plus sebum (oil, the stuff in black heads) and whether it is “sticky” or not, cause blackheads, inflammation and acne. The fine hair plus large pore allows bacteria into the pore, and sticky sebum and dead skin cells can clog the pore to make a nice home for the bacteria. (P acnes)

        Men’s facial skin has pores and hairs around the same size in the whisker areas. These firm, wide hairs push sebum out and are leave less room to allow bacteria into pores. That is why men have fewer problems with acne, and often times when they do it’s higher on the cheeks or in less whiskers areas like the upper back and chest.

      • It’s the shaving that keeps men’s skin so nice.

      • lawsuited :

        (Most) men also don’t wear makeup, which is really bad for skin. I haven’t worn skin makeup the last few weeks I’ve been on maternity leave and I’m amazed how much the texture of my skin has improved.

    • Delta Dawn :

      Can you tell me more about the Missha sunscreen? I cannot find a sunscreen that does not leave a greasy residue. I wear pressed powder with no foundation, and most sunscreens just soak up the powder instead of letting me wear powder over the sunscreen. Basically, I want a sunscreen that sinks in and feels like nothing– any chance Missha is like this?

      • Biore UV aqua riche, 2014 or 2015 versions are AMAZING. Missha was way too much of a white/grey cast for me, but YMMV. The asian beauty subreddits have lots of suggestions. If you don’t mind an SPF 30 you have more options (I am super pale and prefer spf 50).

        • Delta Dawn :

          Thank you! I’m also super pale and also prefer 50 or higher. I will try these!

        • The 2014 and 2015 versions? Google hasn’t helped me on that…

          I hate most (US) sunscreens and am very interested in learning more. Thanks!

        • Go with the sunscreen that works for your skin instead of chasing the higher SPF. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB radiation. SPF 50 blocks 98%, and you’re usually paying an absurd premium for that whopping 1% extra. Further SPF increases provide even more marginal returns on actual protection, which is why Europe doesn’t allow a higher SPF to be advertised. Australia, last I knew, doesn’t even allow a rating over 30.

          • lawsuited :

            +1 There are a lot more options with SPF 30 so you’re more likely to find something that works well for your skin.

        • I am on amazon trying to buy this Biore sunscreen. If the listings/comments are accurate, I’m seeing 2016 and 2017 versions. Any more advice?

          • this one – light blue bottle, or the rose scented bottle, not the metallic blue bottle
            https://www.amazon.com/Biore-Sarasara-Watery-Essence-Sunscreen/dp/B00SM99KWU/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1493134202&sr=1-1&keywords=biore+uv+aqua+rich+watery+essence

      • Minnie Beebe :

        Elta MD SPF 46 Clear. It’s perfect.

    • 34.

      I wash my face with good old fashioned Dial bar soap, and use Clearasil on occasion for blemishes. Use BB Cream (incl. SPF) OR a lightweight moisturizer, depending on whether my skin tone needs evening-out that day.

      In winter, I add eye cream, but don’t ever buy it for myself – I have an apparent lifetime supply of freebies from the Clinique gifts with purchase.

    • Morning – CosRX low ph face wash, Biore UV aqua rich sunscreen, makeup
      Evening – Banila clean it zero, CosRX face wash, timeless vitamin c serum (wait 15-20 minutes to absorb). Highly recommend the timeless serum – just as good as the skinceuticals for $20 on amazon. I’m trying out the snowpop first essence at the moment – I like it a lot so far! Then differin (instead of bha/aha – I was using stridex, but thought I’d try this for a few months). Shark sauce for a serum, and either a thicker cream or hylauronic acid serum depending on how dry my skin still feels.
      I’ll do sheet masks once in a while, and I try to do the grit method from fifty shades of snail once a week or so (though that’s usually once a month these days since the clay masks can be a bit drying).

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      I’m mostly happy with my skin care regime, but I’m starting to want to see if there are better ways to cope with some of the challenges I have.

      A couple of years ago my skin went through a complete change. I’d been coping with oily/combination skin, hormonal acne, and a tendency to react to a lot of skin care ingredients with more acne. I turned 42 and my skin suddenly became dry and very prone to eczema. During the transition, I’d have acne right next to scaly eczema patches. I coped with the transition using oil cleansing and trying moisturizer after moisturizer.

      Now, I have mostly dry skin, although my forehead can still get oily, especially in the warmer months. In the winter (I’m in Minnesota), I have terribly dry skin that tips into eczema very easily. In the winter, my skin care consists of washing with castille soap and using the Aveeno eczema lotion everywhere, including my face. I take my makeup off with sensitive skin baby wipes. That keeps my face pretty happy, although I’m so pale I have some redness. My powder foundation is an SPF, so that covers that need.

      In the summer, I switch to using the Aveeno Ultra Calming sunscreen for my moisturizer, which adds some additional sunscreen and covers when I’m not wearing makeup. I’m struggling to find the balance to moderate the increased oiliness on my forehead when my cheeks and chin are still fairly dry.

      I picked up a couple of Tony Moly sheet masks on the advice of a friend, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m very cautious about trying new skin products because a bad reaction can take a couple of weeks to settle down.

    • I’m fairly minimalist but would like to explore some of the Asian beauty products.

      AM:
      Body Shop primer
      La Roche Posay CC cream
      Mascara

      PM:
      Cleanse with apricot oil
      Moisturise with BS Aloe Soothing cream

      • I would say start with an emuslifying cleansing oil maybe? They are pretty amazing and have totally removed makeup remover from my life.

    • I’ll be 40 in a few months.

      AM: Whatever cleanser I happen to have in the shower (not above using shampoo in a pinch)
      Avalon Organics SPF 30 facial serum (it’s a sunscreen, not sure why they call it a serum).
      Lumene BB or CC cream. That’s it for makeup most days.

      PM:
      Acure citrus face cleanser (in the orange and white tube)
      Neutrogena Healthy Skin retinol night cream
      Acure Marula Oil around my eyes

      Sometimes I wear Frownies to bed. I also sometimes do Biore strips on my chin (when I remember to buy them). Once a week I do a clay pore mask, usually one of the L’Oreal kinds in the small glass jars.

      I get a little amused about the “but men don’t have to!” comments around here, sometimes. As though men and women are biologically exactly the same and only the plumbing parts are different. Different chromosomes means different biochemistry, folks. Men and women are different and men and women age differently. Men have thicker facial skin, which is why they show age differently than women and also why facelifts don’t work as well on men (see: Burt Reynolds; Wayne Newton). Currently, it’s also more culturally acceptable for men to show visible signs of aging – to a point. I’ve had male coaching clients moan to me about feeling old and like they’re being taken less seriously by younger people. Yes, that may be their perception.

      If you don’t want to deal with an involved skin care routine, then don’t do it. I agree women are held to ridiculous standards when it comes to aging, and I would like for there to be more cultural acceptance of the fact that, you know, people get old. It happens. At the same time, I freaked out at my first prominent forehead wrinkle this past year, and I wasn’t someone who thought that would affect me. Different people care about different things differently. And if you’re in your early 20s to early 30s, please withhold your judgment on people and their feelings about aging until you’ve had more of a opportunity to possibly experience those feelings yourself.

      • I’m in my early 30s and have started getting under eye fine lines. It also made me freak out a little in a way I wasn’t expecting (I’ve always been a wash and moisturize/sunscreen kind of gal).

        I’m still pretty simple, all things considered, but I did add a retinol serum and a toner, and I’ve found my skin texture has improved and the lines are easier to mask with makeup.

        AM:
        Cleanse with neutrogena cleanser (the gentle one)
        Toner (Pixi Glow)
        Vitamin C serum (allow to soak in)
        Moisturizer with SPF 50 (either cerave or cetaphil, depending)
        Sometimes Skinfood’s sake peach serum to control oil (summer product)
        Makeup (usually a CC cream, neutral eye makeup, matte neutral lipstick)

        PM:
        Remove makeup with wipe (neutrogena)
        Remove any extra eye makeup with micellar water
        Wash face with same cleanser from the AM if I’m feeling oily
        Retinol serum (every other night)
        Cerave night moisturizer

    • 30 – currently pregnant, so my skin is terrible because I can’t really effectively treat my cystic acne or my psoriasis (which apparently does not agree with my pregnancy and has covered nearly my entire forehead at this point), so I’m just a hot mess right now. Glowing and pregnant is just laughable. Pre-pregnancy I was normal/combination skin (and here’s hoping we go back to that) and this was my routine:

      AM
      Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser w/ Clarisonic in the shower
      Clinique Toner 2
      Epiduo on my cystic acne spots (mostly chin down)
      Topical Steroid on the psoriasis (3 days on, 4 days off)
      Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with PureScreen (chemical sunscreens make my psoriasis worse)
      Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Pressed Powder Makeup
      Carmex for chapped lips

      PM
      Wash with Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
      Epiduo on my cystic acne spots (mostly chin down)
      Topical Steroid on the psoriasis (3 days on, 4 days off)
      Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel if my skin feels dry (usually more a winter than a summer problem)

      • My psoriasis flared like crazy when I was pregnant (mine’s on my scalp and on my knees), but calmed down within a few weeks of giving birth. It was the pits, though. My sympathies.

        • What was a few spots on my forehead/behind the ears/cheek/scalp has bloomed to cover most of my forehead, parts of both cheeks, chin, earlobes, one elbow and what may be a baby spot further on the forearm. Working with the OB and the dermatologist to see what we can do that’s safe for baby, but it is just terrible (and so itchy). Here’s hoping it calms down post-birth.

      • 29, pregnant, and definitely NOT feeling the pregnancy glow over here either. No psoriasis, but my hormonal acne has flared up like crazy.

    • Wash: ponds cold cream, only at night. Apply metronidazole gel on nose and cheeks for Rosacea. Use latisse on lashes and brows. Possibly retin-a gel if my Rosacea is not flared.

      Morning: R+F Soothe step 2 lotion. It’s the only lightweight moisturizer I’ve found that really helps with rosacea. Dior skin bb creme. Physical sunblock on chest/décolletage

      Other – no masks, no exfoliants other than occasional retin-a. I find the less I do to my skin the better it looks.

    • I have very pale, dry skin that has a lot of redness.

      AM:
      Wash face with water
      Apply Keys moisturizer with SPF 30 (zinc oxide)
      Looking to add a vitamin C serum
      Apply Dior Nudeskin BB cream on top

      PM:
      Wash off makeup with Trader Joe’s micellar water wipes
      Alternate Paula’s Choice 1% retinol with Paula’s Choice AHA
      Apply Paula’s Choice Hydrating Treatment Mask

      I give my skin a break every few nights and just do the hydrating treatment mask.

    • 20’s, dry and deydrated (also very dull), my skin gets uncomfortable and tight (even if I’m drinking plenty of water)

      AM: First Aid Beauty Daily Cleanser, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, Stratia Liquid Gold (LOVE this), Kate Somerville Daily Deflector SPF (very hydrating but not my favorite)

      PM: Pixi Double Cleanse, Nip + Fab Glycolic Extreme Pads, Josh Rosebrook ,Hydrating Accelerator (love this as well), The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, Jordan Samuel Skin Etoile Oil, Belif Moisture Bomb

      FWIW my boyfriend asked me for recs because he gets dryness, acne, and wanted sun protection. He loves exfoliating pads and hydrating mists.

    • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

      34, fairly oily skin, not fair

      AM: Shiseido Pureness Cleanser, Kiehl’s SPF 30 Moisturizer
      PM: Same cleanser, Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream. Trued more expensive moisturizers (la mer, la prairie) and didn’t see a difference.

      Also use 0.1% Retin-A gel every other night.

      For sunscreen for sports/beach/pool, Shiseido WetForce for face/body.

    • Blueberry Scone :

      I’m interested to know which Vitamin A serum you use. I love Drunk Elephant but it’s pricey.

      Don’t sweat the skincare routine haters on this blog. I really don’t understand what that’s about. I enjoy having a skincare routine. It’s been particularly relaxing to do masks at night or on the weekend. There’s no need to shame people that are taking time out of their day to take care of their skin.

      • Anonymama :

        I commented above about how it’s unnecessary, but I’m not a hater! I was replying to someone who seemed to resent that women “had to” do so much more skincare than men, and just wanted to emphasize that if you hate it you maybe don’t actually need to do all that much. I enjoy a face mask or trying out a serum as much as the next person, although I’m sort of skeptical it actually makes a difference (for me at least). (I rinse with water in the am and put on Olay moisturizer with spf, rinse with water in pm and put on kiehl’s moisturizer, a couple times a week or if I wear makeup I cleanse, do toner, and maybe a serum then moisturizer).

    • I’m like you OP!
      AM: Micellar water, mario badesco facial spray, hyaluronic acid, Stratia Liquid Gold, Biore Watery Essence Spf.

      PM: Kose Speedy Oil Cleanse, Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm, BR Lotion p50, Curology, Kypris Antioxident Dew serum, Stratia Liquid Gold.

      I love skincare! Spending time on my routine and money on products is a hobby for me.

  8. Got new Soma bras and love how they fix except I’m getting rub spots from the underwire on the outer (near my armpit) tip.

    It feels like it would be great with some extra padding or lining over it. Suggestions for fixing this? Or where else to shop?

    • pugsnbourbon :

      Moleskin.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      I found that being extra thorough about rearranging myself within the bra helps when I have rubbing like that. If that doesn’t solve it, then I think you may have a permanent fit problem. Multiple friends who are hard to fit have had very good luck going to Nordstrom’s with specific lists of fit problems. Not every Nordstrom’s bra lady is magic – feel free to switch up if you aren’t happy with the results you are getting from the sales person you are working with.

      • Agree. I posted the other day about going down the Reddit/ABraThatFits rabbit hole, but you should look at the video demonstrating the “swooping and scooping” technique.

        It could also be that the bra is just not right for you and too high under the arms. I find this to be the case with bras that advertise “side support.” Really, the underwire shouldn’t be in your armpit unless your breast extends into your armpit. If you look in the mirror and can clearly see where your breasts end on the sides (not all of us can), that is where your wire should rest. The underwires should follow the exact contours of your breast as much as possible.

        Short term solutions to the rubbing issue are – slightly bending out the top of the underwire. Scoooching the underwire more toward the middle of the bra and less toward the side. Making a small hole in the underwire casing and cutting off a bit of the underwire.

  9. Friend's fiance :

    I am going to be MOH in a wedding next summer for my best friend. The problem is that I don’t think she’s truly happy in this relationship and I honestly think she should call it off. She and her fiance are simply not on the same page about major issues, they have completely different communication styles and therefore fight a lot without achieving real resolution, they have very different levels of ambition, and she has been “joking” lately that they might need to take a break. They’re both nice people, but they truly just seem incompatible, like it’s a relationship that should have ended after the fourth date or something. She reports that things aren’t improving and has started to show signs of being totally fed up with him (saying things like “I should apologize but I’m damn tired of always being the one who tries to resolve a fight” or “I’m not helping him with this issue yet again” and things like that). Another close friend and I have been discussing this (she has noticed all the same problems and is also a bridesmaid) and we have agreed to simply listen and be supportive for whatever our friend wants to do, but as things have actually seemed to worsen as the wedding date draws closer, we are wondering whether we need to speak up. It sounds like the wrong way to go to tell someone you think their relationship isn’t working, but we are worried that she is making a big mistake. I think SHE’S worried she’s making a big mistake, but it’s like the elephant in the room no one is really talking about except when she “jokes” about leaving him. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • It is their life, and they are consenting adults. You should not attempt to interfere. Even though they may not be compatible on some levels, they clearly are on other levels. I know that when I was dating in college, I really could not relate to some of the things my boyfriend was into (video games and drinking), but I was totally in synch with him on others (fine dining and bedroom sports). On the whole, he was not Mr. Right i.e., someone I knew I would marry, but he was Mr. “Right Now” particularly in the sack. So on that level, he was good for 2 years, and then I graduated. I would therefore keep your opinion to yourself, because it will not be appreciated, and wish them good luck, whatever they do!

    • Gently, I encourage you to stay out of it. Get up there, wear the dress and smile. If things don’t work out, be there to support her. You have nothing to gain by telling her that her relationship doesn’t seem good to you. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors with any relationship.

    • Anonattorney :

      Normally I would advise to say nothing, and I still think that’s probably the best advice. You don’t really know what her mindset is on marriage (i.e., whether she’s comfortable settling a bit), or if their relationship actually is better than you realize.

      But . . . I was in your shoes a while ago and had a friend who started to say some things in the run-up to her wedding that made it clear she had some serious concerns. I didn’t say anything and just kind of laughed it off. Fast-forward 6 years later and they (finally) got divorced. It was a terrible relationship, and the exact issues that she was talking about before the wedding were the things that blew up and led to the divorce.

      So I don’t know. I think sometimes it’s helpful to just let someone know that you’re there to listen and that they can have a safe space to vent with no repercussions (no judgment and, if they end up staying together, no ‘memory’ of the conversation).

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I think you can say something ONCE. Like, in the “I love you, I’ve got your back no matter what” way, you can say, “Look, if you’re serious about needing a break or wanting to call it off, I can help you do that. It’s easier to cancel a wedding than to get divorced.”

      But then you have to drop it, because you don’t want to set yourself up as the enemy of the relationship, so that she feels like fighting for the relationship is fighting against you — because she’ll need you down the line if things do go south. <3

      • Yep, I think this is good advice.

      • This

      • Yes, this is what I would do. I think it can be important to effectively give your friend permission to call things off.

        I’ve done this before in a similar scenario to what you’re describing (where I was also a bridesmaid)–told my friend I’d support him if he called off the wedding and would also support him going through with it. My friend went ahead with the wedding, but then I was one of the first people he called when they split up. He told me he knew I’d support him either way and that he really appreciated knowing I was in his corner regardless of what decision he made.

      • Not that Anne, the other Anne :

        I agree with this. My BFF and I had a conversation a week before the wedding in which I pointed out that she still could call it off, I would help her do that, and that it would be better to disappoint everyone and lose all her deposits than get married and be unhappy.

        And then I shut up about it, because she married him and just had a child with him. My role now is to support my BFF so that if things do go off the rails, she’ll know I’m here to help.

      • +1

      • Meg March :

        Yup, I’d do this. And I’d sandwich it with the “You know I love you, and I will no matter what you say to this” bit. I would not bring up your own feelings about the relationship, only what she has said.

    • Paging underemployed academic wife :

      I agree it’s generally best to stay out of other people’s relationships, but I also have a couple of friends who have been divorced who have told me they knew it was wrong when they were still engaged but they went ahead with the wedding because they felt like they had to and they wish just one person would have told them it was ok to call it off.

      If it were me, the next time she says something about leaving him, I would say something like: “Jane, I hope you know that if you want to call off the wedding, you will have the full support of all your friends and family. I can handle all the logistics of letting people know and anything else you can think of that would make this easier on you, if that’s what you want.” And if she says “No, that’s ridiculous, I’m just venting” then you pipe down, play the role of the supportive bridesmaid and never mention it again. But I do think you should give her an escape hatch…once.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I completely agree with this.

        I have walked down the aisle twice knowing I was making a horrible mistake. I wish somebody had said that to me, especially the second time. I would totally have taken them up on it!

      • I agree. You can avoid telling her what YOU think but echo what SHE’s been saying and give her an escape hatch if she’s serious.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, this (and only once) is the best way. Say it after she jokes about it as a natural segue because as a good friend, you are listening to her! “Is that something you want to talk about? If that is something you want to do, I support you no matter what and can help you. It will be ok.” If she brushes it off, I would just say “ok, well, you can talk to me about anything. You’re my number 1 concern!” which tells her you are a friend and supportive and that if she thinks about it and changes her mind, she can come to you later.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, yes, yes. I wish so hard that someone had said this to me before my first marriage.

    • Put it this way :

      I don’t think you should tell her it’s a mistake. However, based on what you’ve said it seems like it’s possible that SHE thinks it might be a mistake, but is unable to actually end things/call off the wedding/etc. Once there is an engagement in place, there is a certain momentum and it can be hard to imagine (financially/emotionally/etc.) calling off a wedding. The closer the date gets, the harder it is. I would find a quiet time to talk to her and tell her, gently, that if she does ever decide that this isn’t right for her and isn’t working, it is okay to call off the wedding – lost deposits and cancelled plans are not worse than signing up for a lifetime of unhappiness – and that you will support her either way. Then never bring it up again.

    • Agree with some of the above that a one-time conversation that gives her permission to call it off is appropriate. I got married to someone I knew I shouldn’t have, but I felt like it was “too late” to call it off and I was worried about hurting his feelings / embarrassing my family. We were divorced in fewer than 3 years. Afterwards many friends and family members confessed they’d always thought that we seemed incompatible or otherwise ill suited to one another, but they assumed we had some hidden connection that wasn’t observable to others.

      Maybe the next time she complains, just let her know – “It’s your life, do what you want, but if you decide that you just want to call the whole thing off, I’ll support you.” Let her know it’s an open ended offer and that up until the morning of the wedding, it isn’t too late to change her mind. Then let it go.

      I might have taken that lifeline if it had been offered to me, which would have been uncomfortable and embarrassing in the short run but far easier in the long run.

    • Anon in NYC :

      That’s a tough spot. Personally, I would say something, but I would do it very delicately. I would not directly lay out the issues that I see as wrong, but I would parrot things back to her that she has said. Something like: “Friend, I’m a little concerned that you’re not happy being with Fiance. You seem really frustrated with him about X and Y, and it seems like it’s not getting better. I know that sometimes the idea of getting married to someone just magnifies their flaws, but I’m worried that you’re not actually happy with him. Do you still want to marry him? I know you’ve joked about taking a break from him, but I want you to know that it’s totally okay to do that. I’ll completely support whatever decision you make.”

      FWIW, I once did something like this with a friend but when she was dating (not engaged to) her now-husband. It went okay, we’re still very close, and I never said a word about it again. The qualities that she was complaining about (and that I personally find objectionable/would never want in my husband) are still there, but she’s made her choices and seems happy in her life.

    • Friend's fiance :

      Thanks all – I like the idea of saying something once. That might be the way to go.

      • I did this to my friend years ago and to my surprise, she did call it off. I felt bad I didn’t say something in hindsight sooner. Her joking about it was waiting an affirmation. Obviously might not be the same situation. One other idea is a pre-wedding gift (if those ships haven’t already sailed) given as a group like a basket and include a 50 things to know about your spouse before marrying them as a recommendation from one of the other bridesmaids who maybe already married?

    • I’m divorced and remarried. I was married to my first husband for 10 years right out of college. No one could have talked me out of it. I knew we had issues, all couples have issues, but I was convinced that he was the one.

      I don’t really regard that divorce as a failure, or my time spent with him as a waste. I think he was the right partner for me at the time. And now I’m married to someone who is the right partner for this phase of my life. I hope it’s forever, but I have my eyes open.

      I have no religious hang ups about marriage and eternal unions and all that business. I do not think there is one and only one right person for me on the planet. That’s silly. There are seven and a half billion people on earth.

      I think the stigma of divorce is overblown. There’s no equivalent stigma about breakups between long term unmarried partners. Good for them that they’re not so shamed, bad for them that they don’t get the “this is a major life event” understanding from society.

      So in short, your friend needs to make her own mistakes. Anything you could say to her would just hurt your friendship. Just support her along her road and for goodness sake do NOT say I told you so if they do break up.

      • Just wanted to say thanks for putting into very succinct words exactly how I also feel about marriage.

    • BeenThatGuy :

      I’ll share a personal story with you. 7 years ago yesterday, I was MOH in my best friend’s wedding. I knew in my gut she wasn’t happy with this man. The night before the wedding, she stayed at my house. As we were getting ready for bed, I sat down next to her, held her hand and said “If you don’t want to do this, I will handle everything. Just say the word. But either way, I’m still your best friend, always.” We cried. She got married the next day.

      A few short years later, after her divorce was finalized, she told me that conversation was the bravest thing any friend had ever done for her. And she wished she had the courage to follow her heart and take my offer.

      • alexisfaye :

        +1 to all of the “offer to take care of it” comments. My bestie and I had this problem. I pushed it (maybe too hard, but we also had a crazy bridezilla thing where she wanted me and her other bridesmaids to spend $$$$$$ on parties/dresses/etc). I ended up not being her MOH, and we didn’t talk for a while. I’ve spent the following however many years supporting her as she works through a terrible time in her life. Love her to bits. Would do anything for her. So hard to watch her go through it. Glad I said something, because I would have felt like shit not to. But it didn’t help.

  10. Real estate :

    Everyone was so helpful last week, weighing in on a poster who was looking for guidance on how much house to buy. I’m in a similar predictiment and I’m wondering if the hive would be so kind as to weigh in.

    I love our house -bought for about 550 in 2012. Old, small, walkable lifestyle, manageable taxes and we’re on track to pay off the mortgage in 5 years. I have a one year old and am turning 35- leaning towards trying for another next year but probably won’t take extra measures if I don’t get pregnant.

    I’m catching heck about the school district we live in. The test scores are poor for the area (not for the state). There are some fairly legitimate concerns about violence in the high school and in some of the areas around the secondary schools.

    The neighboring school district is stellar and tiny. It would take about 800-1m to buy there and the taxes would be at least 15k more per year. We’d be on the extreme lower end of houses in that district. We’d give up our walkable neighborhood.

    Our combined income is about 425k pre-tax and pre bonus so we can swing it, but it just seems crazy to spend more on a place I’d like less. But the schools.

    Already wrote a novel but for a variety of reasons private school is out as is a more middle of the road district. Thanks for any insight.

    • Anonymous :

      Is open enrollment in the good school district a possibility? Or renting a cheap studio apartment in the good school district once your kid hits elementary school (may sound crazy but I knew several people who did that)? Short of that, I’d buy there even if it means giving up your nice home and walkable lifestyle. Bad test scores can be overcome with supplemental instruction and support at home, but the violence would be a dealbreaker for me.

      • Anonymous :

        That’s fraud and many districts investigate and sue for tuition, FYI.

        • Real estate :

          And in my town they’d tar and feather you…

        • They would demand tuition before they’d sue for it, and that sounds like it would be a good outcome for OP, since she can easily afford it.

          • Real estate :

            I’m an attorney and not comfortable with the fraud element.

          • Real Estate — not saying you should rent a studio (I am also anti-fraud), but is asking for a waiver in for tuition an option? My area does this, especially if you are on the border of a district.

        • Is it really fraud if the OP is paying rent on an apartment in the district? I know it’s fraud if you use someone else’s address as your own, but in that case, it would be the OP’s address and she would be paying taxes (through rent, the same way any renter does) in that district. In my town, residency is established by having an address in the district, which the OP would have.

          • Yes. In nearly every state you are entitled to send your children to school in the district where they reside. Merely renting an apartment in another district while they actually live elsewhere is insufficient. You’re probably wrong about your town’s requirements.

          • Yeah the kids have to actually live at an address in the district. I assume the kid doesn’t have to live there 100% of the time (because of situations like divorced parents in different districts, etc) but the kid has to live there at least part of the time. I know someone who did this and got busted and the school district basically said – move into the rental apartment or you can’t come to school starting tomorrow, so they had to move into the apartment ASAP. It was a big hassle and they ended up buying in the district at the end of the school year.

          • Literally my town establishes residency by providing a rental agreement or utility bill in your name. My mother is a public school administrator.

      • I have also seen families rent out their home in not great school district to another couple and then move to a rental in good school district for the course of the kids’ education. Then, after kids are doing with school, you move back to your house.

    • Anonymous :

      Are the schools where you live actually bad, or are your friends and family racist? It’s well documented that white people just do not want their kids in diverse schools.

      You have a one year old. Why does your school district matter? Why are people even bringing this up? How bad are these schools really for K-4? Stay where you like!! Keep the house you can afford! Move if and when you decide the schools are not working for your family.

      • “Are the schools where you live actually bad, or are your friends and family racist? It’s well documented that white people just do not want their kids in diverse schools.”

        Wow. You’re really something else. Do you have kids or are you just running your mouth about something you don’t understand and haven’t experienced?

        • Anonymous at 11:48, you are actually incorrect–my understanding of the research in the field is that the majority of white families do not want to actually enroll their students in schools where e.g. they may be in the minority, no matter how much they profess to value diversity on the front end. Of course, #notallwhitefamilies, but it’s a real trend that’s backed up by real research.

        • Hey, it’s a legit question. Of course the people who are actually racist are not going to like being called out on it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be asked.

      • Real estate :

        That’s a very legitimate question! There are undoubtedly racial elements at play. My current district is diverse with a large Hispanic population that a lot of my friends and family probably aren’t comfortable with–no ones says that though –they talk about test scores and gang violence. The fancy neighboring district is 98% white.

        • Seventh Sister :

          I’m in a well-regarded public school district, but the elementary school my kids attend is not the one considered to be the “top” academic school or the fancy specialized elementary school. I’d encourage you to visit the elementary school you are zoned for (maybe a little closer to when your kid would attend) and talk to the principal, see the campus for yourself, etc. One of the strongest opponents to my kids’ public elementary school was someone who lived close by and didn’t like the look of the kids and their parents who walked by in the mornings (want to take a guess why?). Also, she didn’t like that the prior principal had sent a text message (totally appropriate) to a friend’s husband. I’m not kidding.

          Also, these reputations can change over the course of a few years. Our school has benefited from a lot of local gentrification/higher real estate prices/kick-butt principal, and now has a really good reputation in the local area. And as for middle and high school, I’ve known a lot of people who go public K-5 or K-8 then switch to private after that. That’s a ways down the road.

        • Senior Attorney :

          My son went to our public high school, which was majority-ethnic-minority and had low test scores and a bad reputation.

          And you know what? He did fine and had a good experience and graduated from college and served in the military and now is about to get his master’s degree. I can’t cite a source but I have heard and I believe that individual children’s academic achievement is far more correlated with their household income than with the school they go to.

          I think I’d suggest you sit tight for the moment and see how things go in your school district. Be part of the solution by sending your kids there!

          • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

            Yeah, people think we are insane for sending our kids to public school. But I am looking at it from the opposite angle. Our family is multi-racial, and I cannot imagine sending my kids to school that is 90% white. Particularly in a city where less than half the population is white. My kids are happy, and do seem to be getting a decent education and have good friends. My oldest is 13, and it really does seem that for better or worse that the advanced classes are a totally different ballgame. I am not convinced that overall low test scores are relevant for kids on that “track.”

      • Totally agree that a lot of this is racism.

    • I would not move. Find some special sports team or club that only the better school has that your kid wants to join so maybe they will let him transfer (worked for a friend). Rent the studio. Don’t buy too much house that you can barely afford and that you don’t want just for the school. Move to a different town entirely if you must.

    • What’s been the trend in the schools over the past 5 years since you moved in? Are things improving or getting worse? Specifically, how are things in the elementary/middle schools? A lot can change in 4 years before your child starts school and certainly even more can change in 14 years before s/he starts high school. Talk to parents who send their kids to the schools and see how they feel. That will tell you more than test scores.

      • +1

      • This. You have the benefit of time right now. Find out what the trend has been, and also wait a bit to observe the trend yourself. Get on the email list for the district and it a point to attend a few community events. Go to a high school football game this fall and see what the atmosphere is like. Assuming your child is in daycare, talk to parents there and get a sense from anyone with students currently in the district. See if there’s a local Facebook group for moms or school parents, and join it.

        I’m in a very similar situation. My kids are now 5 and 2. I love our neighborhood and don’t want to give that up, and I’m not worried about the test scores since they’re still better than most (and I think it’s partially a factor of mixed socioeconomics). The violence is concerning, but I figure there’s a lot that can happen between now and middle school, and I’m not so sure that any other place just one town over will be better in 10 years. We’re putting them in private school until grade 1, and then will assess at that point, but I think we’re leaning right now to staying put. I don’t think stretching ourselves financially is worth the total unknown of chasing “the best” schools in a 10 mile radius.

    • You have a one year old. Give it a few years then re-evaluate. Absolutely worst case scenario, do private K-1.

      In the meantime, save money. See what your family size settles out at (no need for a big house if there are 3 of you. Surprise twins may have you thinking differently!). Re evaluate in 2-3 years.

      • Perhaps more relevant to your question: DH and I have 2 kids and may or may not have another. We are 33. Our HHI has been 280-450/year in the past 3 years, with some wild fluctuations. DH makes 240 now and I’m currently working part time making about 60 with low childcare costs (preschool and babysitter together are about 800/mo. Only feasible because I’m part time- was 3k/month before I went part time!). We have very little in the way of loans left to pay off, 70k in an emergency fund and 140k in a savings account (out of which we are making some home inlroviements).

        Our house was $700k and is in an excellent school district (with crazy high taxes to match. Thanks, Massachusetts.). It needs work but is liveable as-is. Home maintaince and commuter costs from the burbs should weigh in. We bought what we could after on one income while co tinuinf to save for retirement knowing our incomes will ebb and flow over time.

      • All this. Plus who knows what the RE market will look like in 3 years! Save your money, and bide your time.

    • As a starting point, I’d do some more research on the schools in your district. For instance, if the poor average test scores at the high school are because you are in a mixed socioeconomic area only, but the school offers challenging programs and good teachers, that’s a completely different story than if it’s a failing, gang-infested place, right? FWIW, we are zoned for a high school that more or less falls into the former category and are comfortable with it. You have time to talk to parents at the schools, so I’d definitely start doing that. I found when house hunting that people were very willing to share their time to talk about these kinds of things. However, if it turns out it’s really a question of sacrificing a neighborhood you prefer for a truly superior and safer experience for your kid(s), I’d do it. Not knowing anything else about your financial situation, I’d say that with your income, it wouldn’t be a terrible stretch to buy a $1m house. Also FWIW, we have 3 kids and about a $525k pre-tax, pre-bonus income and were not too stressed about buying a $1.1m house in a good school district (although we could have gotten a mortgage for way more, which is crazy, but that’s a different story!).

      • Real estate :

        Thanks for this-I am fairly certain that the test scores are a result of non-English speaking students having a tougher time on the exams. And I am firm in my belief that diversity is a plus. The district itself has a lot of ap opportunities-I think our child could thrive with the right guidance.

      • The situation Anonymous described is basically the school system I went through, and it was totally fine–great, even, since I got to experience a lot more diversity and meet a lot more different types of people. Perception of these things can also be very, very different from reality: I remember someone from another high school sincerely asking if I felt scared someone was going to attack me walking down the hallway. There were fights, occasional drug busts, and we probably went into lockdown more often than the county schools, but all of that was concentrated in certain populations within the school and had zero negative impact on my education.

        I was actually zoned for a “safer” school district in the county and went into my district on a tuition waiver, since it had more rigorous academic programs at the top end, even though overall its test scores were lower. My high school regularly sent students from its top tracks to the Ivy League and elite SLACs, plus offered better and more extensive fine arts programs than the county (also had classmates go to Juilliard and Berklee). So, for the OP, do your homework and talk to teachers and administrators in the schools in your current district before you uproot your lives. There can also be a big difference between a neighborhood elementary school that’s fine, and a giant city high school that may be a mess. You’ve also got years before you even need to start thinking about moving, since your kiddo is still a ways away from starting K. Plenty of time to do your homework.

    • Agree with anon at 9:58 that you might be jumping the gun. There’s no reason to change the lifestyle you love right now. But also, sometimes grading doesn’t show the full story. Maybe try touring the elementary school and see for yourself what it is like? I also hear through the grapevine that the success of the child at a school (any school) depends on the families. It could be that there are many families at that school that don’t pay attention to what their kids are learning. I’m willing to bet yours isn’t one of them. You also mention concerns about the middle and high schools. If the elementary school is fine, then you have awhile to make a move.

      • That’s partially fine, and she will make sure her kid learns, but she can’t do anything about the violence. Dealbreaker.

        • I don’t buy the “parental involvement fixes everything” line. Classroom environment and quality of instruction matter too. Teachers who are distracted by behavioral problems, bullying, a curriculum that is not adequately challenging, and low expectations on the part of teachers don’t just waste the school day, they turn kids off to learning in general. Why would I want to have my kid spend several hours a day in what amounts to a warehouse, then have to home-school her in the evening?

          • No one is saying that. What we are saying is do some more research. It’s entirely possible that the teachers are great, the day isn’t wasted, and it doesn’t amount to a warehouse.

          • There’s a lot of gradation between “perfect children from economically-stable, intact families who never have behavioral problems” and “warehouse.” There can also be a lot of difference from classroom to classroom, even within the same school.

            Parental involvement is not a magical wand, but I also promise you that schools with high levels of parental involvement are also usually going to have better classroom environments and higher-quality instruction, because engaged parents are the most likely to send their students to school equipped to learn.

          • Classroom environment is hands down the number one most important thing in a school, IMO. However, it really doesn’t show up much in the test scores, so you have to actually go visit in order to assess it. We are sending our kids to a school with test scores (and, as a result, reputation) that are poor to mediocre. But the classroom environment is great, other families speak highly of it, etc.

        • Yep. I would have no academic worries about putting my son into our local district middle school. While the test scores are not great, we are involved parents, he’s a motivated kid, and ultimately he’d do fine.

          The issue we have is that in the past three years:
          -Two eighth graders were arrested for selling cocaine on school grounds, and a seventh grader was caught with a gallon Ziploc bag filled with marijuana
          -Three kids overdosed on Oxycontin in one week – at school
          -A special-needs kid was nearly beaten to death by three other kids when he wouldn’t give up his laptop
          -Two teachers were fired after “behaving inappropriately” with students (in separate incidents)

          And that’s just the stuff that’s made the paper.

          My mom taught public school for 30 years. I get the importance of public education. But I’d rather send my son into an adult correctional facility than send him to our neighborhood middle school, because at least in prison the guards are armed. This is the situation many, many families in the U.S. are facing: it’s not nit-picky stuff about academics. It’s “will my kid come home from school alive.”

          • Anon for this :

            Private schools have just as much if not more drugs than public schools. Drugs cost money and rich kids have a lot of that.

          • I love non-evidence based generalities like “rich kids have money, therefore they must buy drugs.” I hope you use better logic and deductive reasoning skills at work than you do in your inane Corporette posts.

          • Anonymama :

            Anecdotally, my local private schools apparently have more drug problems and a worse reputation for rowdiness among private security companies in the area, who are hired for school events and non-school related parties (sweet 16, graduation parties, etc). They either refuse or charge a premium if party-thrower is from certain elite private schools.

    • Diana Barry :

      I would wait until your kid(s) are in school and then reassess. A lot can happen in the next 4 years.

    • JuniorMinion :

      Could you rent in that area when your kid reaches school age for a year (say a 2 bdrm apartment / condo) – there is an area like this in Houston and there are a lot of families (especially those of Asian descent) renting condos / larger apartments in order to send their kids to those schools – you could see this way if you liked it / if it works for you and your family .

      You could also stay put for elementary school (if the violence concerns are only with the middle / high schools) and then move after that. Additionally – I know you said no private school, but have you looked into charter / parochial / religiously affiliated / other school options besides just the school you are zoned to? I live in a bad school district and this has been the way around that for a lot of the families in my area.

      • Real estate :

        Thanks-there’s not much rental housing in the fancy area. the local private schools are all religious-which is a dealbreaker for my husband. I’m open to boarding school but he is strongly against it.

        • Baconpancakes :

          Depending on HOW religious your schools are, it could honestly be fine. A friend of mine went to a Catholic school, but was able to avoid everything religious except prayer at the beginning of school assemblies. (And even some non-religious private schools say the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of school assemblies.)

          • I would never send my children to a catholic school. Never.

          • Real estate :

            I hear you and I agree. My husband is not ok with the Lord’s Prayer. He’s also really hostile to the idea of catholic priests around children.

          • The catholic church’s official position is that my child should not exist, so I’d never send my child to catholic school either.

          • I’m ethnically Jewish (but not religious at all) and I wouldn’t be comfortable sending my child to any school that was affiliated with a religion other than Judaism.

          • Honestly I can’t fathom that after a century of sexual assault of children Catholics dare to operate schools. Frankly I think the Church got off easy, should have lost all its money and grandiose real estate, and be operating out of strip mall storefronts. I’m a deeply religious regular church attender but hard pass on catholic school

          • @Realestate

            FWIW, my DH’s father was a priest who left the church because of what he saw/heard. We baptized our kids catholic mostly to appease his mom but I will not let my children be alone with a priest, period. My FIL agrees with this policy.

          • Anon for this :

            Erm . . . I agree that the Catholic Church as an institution has terrible problems. But it’s a little bit overreaching to hate on all Catholic churches and priests. I mean, we don’t apply that logic to other religions, so we probably shouldn’t do it to Catholics, right?

            (Anecdata: My in-laws are wonderful social justice Catholics who have been working in the church their entire lives. My husband went to Catholic schools until high school and got a great education at a reasonable price, in a school district where the public schools simply were not an option.)

          • Real estate :

            I’m not hating on Catholics. I’m the president of a local charity group and work with the local catholic churchs. I’m not hating on anyone who goes to catholic school or sends their kids there. Folks keep asking why catholic schools aren’t an option so there you have it.

          • Anon 10:51 :

            @ Anon 11:45

            Your in-laws may be lovely people but the Church as a whole has a significant systematic problem. People are critical of the Catholic Church in particular because the scale and scope of the abuse is much more than any of the mainstream Protestant churches and disproportionate to the size of the Church. The problem extends beyond the United States. The Church uses its broad reach to move problematic priests between countries to try and avoid criminal prosecutions. Canada had to recently fight to bring back a priest from Belgium who the Church was hiding there to avoid criminal charges. Unlikely all of the mainstream Protestant denominations in Canada, it has refused to apologize for it’s role in the Indian residential school system even though it had the most significant role of any of the churches (http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=9) In Ireland, a government commission found that “Sexual abuse was endemic in boys’ institutions. When confronted with evidence of sexual abuse, the response of the religious authorities was to transfer the offender to another location where, in many instances, he was free to abuse again. The safety of children in general was not a consideration. ” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_to_Inquire_into_Child_Abuse#Conclusions) This list gives an idea of the scope of the issues the Church faces around the world: http://www.bbc.com/news/10407559 Many problematic priests have been moved into and out of Catholic schools in the United States.

          • Anonymous, the incidence of sexual assault/sexual predators at public schools (teachers, admins) is higher than in the Catholic Church…but suit yourself.

          • Anon 10:51 :

            @ October Great job providing an appropriate link to back up that completely false assertion. But, sure, #notallpriests And public school teachers definitely get moved across international borders by their schools in order to evade prosecution and make extradition difficult…

            Not saying there are never problems in other churches or in public schools. There absolutely are and those problems should not be ignored. But nothing on the scale of the Catholic Church or with the same leave of intentionally moving people around for the express purpose of preventing criminal investigations or avoiding criminal charges once charges have been laid. The problems in the Church will not be fixed until people stop hiding from the issues.

          • I assumed you could Google, Anon @ 10:51. But ok:

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201003/six-important-points-you-dont-hear-about-regarding-clergy-sexual

            According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies) 4% of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time that states that this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4% figure appears lower than school teachers during the same time frame and certainly less than offenders in the general population of men.

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/16/AR2010041602026.html

            An extensive 2007 investigation by the Associated Press showed that sexual abuse of children in U.S. schools was “widespread,” and most of it was never reported or punished. And in Portland, Ore., last week, a jury reached a $1.4 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America in a trial that showed that since the 1920s, Scouts officials kept “perversion files” on suspected abusers but kept them secret. “We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,” Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told Newsweek. “I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.”

            I’m disgusted by the sex scandal. But I don’t agree with tarring and feathering a whole religion because of it.

          • Anon @ 10:51, check back later. Links in moderation. Or Google — Psychology Today and WashPo have articles.

          • @October is actually correct. There is zero evidence that the incidence of abuse at Catholic schools is higher than at public school. This is is a misconception that arose because people could sue their Catholic schools/churches for abuse decades after it happened but state governments that lifted the statutes of limitations for those lawsuits did not also waive the requirements of the government tort claims act. If you were abused by your Catholic school teacher twenty years ago you could sue; if your abuser was a public school teacher you were out of luck.

            If you look at reports in the past decade of inappropriate student/teacher relationships, it is clear that public schools teachers are just as likely to offend as private school teachers.

            I say this as the relative of a 15 year old girl who was impregnated by a (married) public high school teacher in the South decades ago. She was forced to drop out; he was “invited to resign” (and ended up teaching at another school in another state); she had essentially no recourse because a claim was not filed within six months and her abuse does not appear in any public record as a statistic

        • Is there an option to pay tuition in the better school district? Some districts allow this, others don’t.

        • JuniorMinion :

          NYC has a few Catholic schools with excellent academics that are free / low cost (Regis and Xaverian come to mind) I knew so many Jewish / non-religious folks in those schools because they were excellent. I also went to a religious school as a kid for a religion I am not – it actually taught me a lot about tolerance and they were very much about learning about the world’s religions / providing a good education / community of people that treated each other well. We had “chapel” but other than the Lord’s prayer the rest of it was just about learning to be good citizens (ie no reading of Bible verses etc.) There is a huge huge range of religious schools and the way they actually reflect that religious affiliation can vary widely.

          Charter might be an option? Or something like a magnet school / gifted and talented program? I would also encourage you to wait a bit and get to know your kids strengths / skills a bit more. My own $0.02 – my parents moved to a nice enough middle class small town. They sent me to the aforementioned religious school because it was inexpensive and they had a full day school like junior kindergarten program and my grandmother was watching me at the time but didn’t want to watch me full time any more. After 6th grade, my parents looked at the public schools, but by that point the district (and most of Eastern CT) had started to deal with some meth / opiod problems as well as some violence, and wanted to put their 12 year old (me) in Sophomore HS classes. So I ended up on a partial scholarship in a private high school. This was never the intention my parents had, and if you’d asked them when I was 1 the world would have looked a lot different – but faced with me desperately wanting to go to the private HS + partial scholarship + a public school district struggling through some issues without a plan to keep me safe around HS students / provide age appropriate socialization it was what it was.

          • JuniorMinion :

            My longer comment is in moderation but I also want to add that if I as the child had it to do over again I would say the lord’s prayer every day in exchange for the education I got at my elementary school and the fact that I wasn’t bullied for wearing glasses and being smart the way I was in my local small town. Are there fire and brimstone religious schools I would be wary of? Absolutely but I think there’s much more diversity amongst religious schools.

        • I’m the Anon at 10:20 above in a similar situation – I was your husband and VERY against religious private schools. That said, we toured the local Catholic school and I was blown away. Very diverse, very rigorous, and about 20% non-Catholic population. They had specific plans for non-Catholics so while they do attend mass, they don’t participate in any of the religious activities (other than sitting quietly during the service, which is a good skill to learn in general.) Depending on how much your husband loves your neighborhood, if you can find a school with a sizable non-religious population, that might be worth it to buy some more time to determine your next steps, or even to have as an “Option B” if the local schools really are that bad.

          • I can’t comprehend how you can claim they don’t participate in religious activities while in the same sentence say your children attend mass at school.

          • Baconpancakes :

            Living in the U.S. means you’ll always be participating in religious activities. You just get used to the mental exercise of seeing what other people are doing, and rejecting it. My office just had an Easter brunch with an Easter egg hunt – which I did not participate in, because it was during Passover. Mass is just more overtly religious – and for me, at least, easier to reject. I’ve been to church a generous number of times with my friends or SO’s (I’m Jewish and religious). I know the service doesn’t apply to me, so I just tune out and it doesn’t bother me.

            If you don’t want to send your kids to a school where they have to go to Mass, that’s fine. But don’t kid yourself that they can avoid religious activities. We do not live in a secular society.

          • I understand that sometimes a religiously affiliated school is the best alternative but I really think it’s very hard on the kid to be unaffected in that situation, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your view. This is all anecdotal but of the two families I know that send their kids to religious schools w/o being religious, one set of kids (Christian, non-observant parents, Catholic school) was very distraught when it came time for communions and they weren’t having one (parents had to buy them dresses anyway, and still lots of drama), another (Jewish school, kids of mixed religious heritage, non-religious parents) the kids have basically “converted” to the Judaism. I, myself, remember how much “not being different” mattered to me at that age, and I think I would be very reluctant to send my child to a religiously affiliated school, however non-pushy, if I had any other reasonably good options.

          • Srsly Baconpancakes? I’m not kidding myself that I can keep my children from attending mass at school by not sending them to a catholic school. Anon at 10:38 is kidding herself if she believes her kids aren’t participating in religious activities whilst literally attending mass at school.

            Idk why you’re adamant that the solution for someone who doesn’t want religious school is getting over that and sending them anyway but it’s real weird.

          • Seriously, attending mass is way over my personal line of how much religion I want in my kid’s school. We are atheists, and I do not want my kid sitting and listening to someone talk about God on a regular basis.

          • I wanted to chime in that I am not Catholic and attended 12 years of Catholic (Jesuit) schools. It was really superb (we were tracked starting in 3rd grade and then I was further put in gifted classes) and I went on to attend top undergrad and law schools and still credit some of those teachers (not just from high school, but even from 4th grade) for making a huge difference in my life academically and teaching me to write and think. There was one grade school teacher that in retrospect was 24(?) and had never taught before, but now I see that that happens pretty much everywhere, except for the $20k/year private non-parochial schools in my city that have PhDs in child education. (Also possible that might not be as common as it was for us in the ’90s.) There were other students like me who were not Catholic and not Christian either. We would attend mass but not ‘do’ anything, just sit quietly. It was an option to stay back in the classroom, but no one did it, likely because kids liked to sit with their friends and classmates. There was pledge in the morning and then prayer but students could opt out of that and in the mornings, it was mostly quiet mumbling anyway. I was obviously one of the ‘diverse’ students, but it did teach me a lot about differences and I believe did so for my Catholic classmates, too. Every year, we had a Seder led by a local Rabbi. From 4th grade on, we spent a day at local congregations (synagogue, mosque, Mormon temple, Greek church, protestant church, Bahai temple, Buddhist temple, etc.) as part of Religion class. My husband attended public schools and had never set foot in any of these congregations until well after college and did not know about different sects and branches of other religions, even Christianity. The science classes were top-notch and God was kept for “Religion” class (which although still religion class was was more progressive and mostly about the teachings of love and morality and the history of Christianity). I think our school was extremely concerned with testing really high in the state to stay competitive. Culture was big and we attended local plays, opera (both traditional and a hip-hopera!), symphony, and read ‘banned’ books. S3x ed could have been better, but in 5th grade every school (religious and public) goes to a local health center where they teach all about our changing bodies. In high school, abstinence was taught as the safest way to avoid things (which is true), but safe s3x was also taught and it is a required health unit along with a separate health unit on drugs and alcohol and then another separate one on mental and physical health. S3x ed wasn’t as progressive as it is taught today, but it wasn’t woman-shaming… it was just very clinical. Not all of our teachers were even Catholic. I had so many AP classes from high school that I graduated college a year early and was fluent in another language and studied abroad in that country for a year. About 98% of my high school goes onto a 4-year college and many of them Ivies and almost all of the rest conference and liberal arts schools. We also had tons of sports and extra-curriculars to the point that I got a scholarship at a nearby state school for my sport but ended up getting a better academic scholarship elsewhere. They certainly aren’t for everybody, but I really had a positive experience at Catholic schools as a non-Catholic.

          • I’m shocked that you would consider attending mass as not participating in a religious activity. I would never ever in a million years send our non-Catholic children to a Catholic school that required mass attendance.

          • Anonattorney :

            I think the point is to consider the trade-offs. If your option is bad public school vs. good Catholic school + mass, what do you choose? For some people the religious aspect is a reasonable trade-off. For others, it isn’t.

            @Wow: how bad does your default public high school have to be before you would consider sending your non-Catholic children to a Catholic school?

          • I’m not Wow, but for me there’s no threshold at which I’d be comfortable sending my children to Catholic school. I would move to a different city if I had to in order to find a satisfactory public school district or non-religious private school.

          • Baconpancakes :

            Definitely didn’t say they should send their kids to a Catholic school no matter what. But as a pretty religiously Jewish woman, I am constantly forced to participate in other people’s religious activities. Just because it’s not offensive TO YOU doesn’t mean it’s not religious. My point is that as someone who isn’t the dominant religion, you have to participate in religious activities. You can passively participate (sitting in mass quietly) without actively participating (taking communion and reflecting on the meaning of the Bible.)

            In the area I grew up in, the public schools were seriously terrible. I went to a “secular” private school where students were asked to say the Lord’s Prayer every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance. And our school population was 30% Jewish, and the school was closed for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. Since there were no Jewish schools past 6th grade, lots of other Jewish kids in the area went to Catholic schools, because the tuition was cheaper and the education was still good. As lots of other people are posting here, not all religious schools are as terrible and oppressive as you might think.

            TL;DR Don’t write off religious schools until you know what it’s actually like. If it’s still a deal breaker, you do you.

          • Anon 10:51 :

            @ Anon 11:49

            Not Wow but I agree with Anon at 11:56. I would move, including to a new city if necessary, rather than allow my child to attend a Catholic school. I suggest you do some reading on the history of Catholic Schools, in particular the Church’s continuing tendency to move problematic priests or teachers between schools or cities at the first sign of ‘trouble’ rather than truly address problems.

          • Anon at 10:38 :

            Thanks baconpancakes. We live in the US, religious activities, primarily Christian, are a “normal” part of the culture here. Most of the public schools in my area just literally had Good Friday off. Every workplace has Christmas as a holiday.

            I am okay with my kids learning how to be different, and how to be respectful but not participate. My kids will likely always be “different” in their lives, I’m okay with them learning more about the one of the most dominant religions in their society, and understanding how that religion shapes every day thinking.

            To Anonymous’s point, this school has a religion class that incorporates all major world religions, something that I’ve had trouble finding at a kid-appropriate level anywhere else. And the academics are really impressive.

            I get all the hand-wringing about Catholic priests. But I’m not so sure people in public school can pretend like that’s not a problem in those schools as well – it’s something I worry about as a parent, regardless of where my kids are. But saying you’d move to a different district just to find an acceptable public school is pretty out of touch. In my area, those “acceptable” public schools are in predominately white rich neighborhoods where my kids are going to be MORE ostracized and feel MORE different than they are in a Catholic school.

          • To answer your question (a very fair one), if the choice was between a Catholic school and a local public elementary plagued with terrible violence and there were no other options, of course I would suck it up and choose the Catholic school because I want my kids to be safe. But the point is, most of us who comment here are very fortunate to have a degree of financial stability, which allows us to make choices. In that situation, I would fork over money for a secular private school and scrimp in other areas, or I would move out of the area and rent a modest apartment in a good school district . We have choices.

            And I have nothing against Catholics or Christians, it’s just that as someone from a non-dominant faith, my children are already inundated with Christianity by living in the US. I think it’s wonderful that observant Christians/Catholics have the option of attending religious schools. I wish my kids had that option but they don’t. I don’t see why I should spend a considerable sum of money for my kids to be learning about ANOTHER faith. It’s hard enough raising them in OUR faith in the US.

          • I can’t convince my kids that they don’t need Gatorade to survive soccer practice because their teacher taught them about electrolytes. I do not want the fight of convincing them that their teachers are wrong about the universe.

    • I know you said private school is out, but that has been the solution for friends in similar situations (love the neighborhood/house but don’t like the school district). If the good district permits it, I’ve also seen (and remember classmates doing this many moons ago) paying the cost of the good public school to enroll there from outside the district.

      But I’d also echo what PPs said that it’s still too early to tell where your district will be in 4+ years. Wait until your kid is ~3 (2 years before they’d enroll in K) and see if the school is OK for you then. New administration, expanded programs, etc. can change things dramatically in just a few years. Good luck!

      • Are there NO independent private schools in your area? I live in an area with dozens of private Catholic schools, but there are 2 very good, independent private schools. They are expensive, but you said that Fancy School District would be at least $15K per year. I’ve run the numbers for private school vs. Fancy School District in my area. Even assuming we could sell the house in Fancy School District for what we pay for it after DS graduates, we’d pay the cost of private school (for one child) in additional taxes–plus that district has more expensive utilities, homeowners’ insurance, and car insurance. We love our home, enjoy the flexibility that our low housing cost gives us–it’s easier to switch DS from private to public school than to stop paying a mortgage we couldn’t afford.

        Alternatively, you mentioned violence in high school, which would be a deal breaker for me. But does your district have any magnet schools that kids can test into? Is there any possibility of one on the horizon? That said, high school is a long way away. The schools in your district might improve, you might get jobs in a completely new city, rental housing may be built in Fancy School District. Just wait and see.

        • Real estate :

          Nope. Either a handful of catholic schools, a Quaker school or a fancy “Christian” prep school.

          • I don’t think I would lump those three types of schools together. Have you taken a closer look at the Friends school? I am firmly set against all other types of religious schools but would be okay with sending my child to a Friends school.

          • Real estate :

            I’m open to it-husband isn’t. Maybe I can take my husband to every catholic school first and it’ll look secular by comparison?! It’s about 35k/year and I understand it’s difficult to get in.

          • Anonymous :

            Same as Anon at 12:54. Christian school would be a “no way, no how, not if it were the last school on Earth” for me, and the Catholic schools would be an extreme last resort if I could literally not afford to live in any kind of decent home in a good public school district and moving was not an option. But I would be very open to the Quaker school. Quaker schools are soooo different than Catholic schools in just about every way. Sidwell Friends is a super famous one in DC that lots of presidential kids, including the Obamas, went to.

          • Anonymous :

            Yeah. Quaker Schools barely qualify as religious schools. I understand and share the resistance to Catholic schools, but if the Friends school has a good reputation, you should really take a long hard look at that.

    • I know you said there are reasons, but why is private school not an option? It’s probably cheaper than moving, and you’d get to keep your neighborhood and walkability. You’ve described our location, too– no huge concerns about elementary school, moderate concern about most middle school, and absolutely unacceptable high school. We will send the kids to public elementary school, and use that time to evaluate the middle school, which we may also use– and if not, they’ll go to middle school at the private school where they will certainly go to high school. I think parents can overcome content shortcomings, but the violence is not an option– and for us, we’d rather pay for private school than pay to move, especially to a neighborhood we like less.

      • Real estate :

        The local private schools are all religious and catholic. I really appreciate the feedback on non-religious folks going to catholic school, but it’s really not something my husband will budge on. My husband also hates the idea of boarding school.

    • I have real issues with the way that people decide that schools are “good” or “bad.” Studies show that a huge factor in that assessment is how high the minority population is, not the education value. (NB: The studies are in NY where I live and where everyone I know thinks he/she is a good big-hearted liberal). Your child’s education, which is several years down the line, is not based on perception. If you think your child can get good teachers in this district, then there is zero shame in keeping him/ her there, especially for elementary school. Do not be afraid to advocate for your kid within the district– my husband grew up in a city with mixed-performing schools and his mom was vigilant about demanding certain teachers for him and his siblings. He said he only had outstanding teachers until 8th grade. If the child has particular needs or interests that the middle/ high school aren’t servicing later, like attention to the arts or something, then reassess then.

      • This is also really good advice for sending a student through a mixed-performance school system. Until we started getting tracked in 7th grade, my mom hand-picked my teachers and they were all great educators.

        • Tracking is out of favor now. The only tracking in our highly rated public school district is the availability of AP and IB classes in high school. In middle school they purposely split up the kids who are identified as gifted so there aren’t more than a handful in any one class.

      • Hand-picking teachers is not possible in all school systems unless you are PTA president or volunteer of the year. In our school, you can only be PTA president if you are a dad, and moms can only be volunteer of the year if they don’t work outside the home.

        • Real estate :

          Ha! Yeah I love my kiddo to death but I can’t even manage to be snack mom for daycare. I doubt I’ll be climbing the pta ranks and hand picking teachers.

        • wait what?? Why can’t a mom be PTA president? Where is the role for a working mom in this if she wants to go all-in?

          • There is no role for working moms. I am sure moms are technically allowed to serve as PTA president, but that has never happened. There is never more than one candidate.

          • It’s all dependent on the culture of the school. I’ve been shut out of parent council leadership at my kid’s school because I work and can’t attend 4-hour planning meetings at 10 am on a Tuesday. Our parent council is dominated by SAHMs and it’s been made known that they don’t feel working moms are “available and committed” enough to really participate. Which is honestly fine by me. I’m sure some of those women justify staying home, even now that their kids are in school, by saying they want to help out at school. So, help out at school. I gotta go to work; someone’s got to pay into Social Security to keep it afloat. :-)

    • anon a mouse :

      I wouldn’t do anything now. Er, rather, right now I would focus on piling up cash for a potential move. Your income is huge relative to your mortgage. Is it reasonable to think that you could save 100K a year?

      I’d consider starting your child in the local K, at least. You’ll have the resources to supplement with additional enrichment if you think it’s lacking in any way.

      Then, assume that in 5 years you decide it just isn’t working for you. At that point you have a paid-for house that’s worth at least 550K, plus maybe 400K in the bank. All of a sudden you are looking at being able to easily afford a $1M house with a relatively small mortgage. Your entire calculus will change.

      Like another poster said, I have issues with “good/bad” schools when so often socioeconomic status affects test scores so much. One of the best indicators of student success is parental involvement and an environment that cultivates a love of learning. You will have a lot of influence here regardless of which school district you are in.

      • Real estate :

        This is really good advice. Thanks. Our income is big for the mortgage because my husband was able to transition from big law without taking a salary hit (something we never counted on.) So it’s a very lopsided income and we try not to count on his income being stable long term-which is why the bigger mortgage scares me. But your math works and wouldn’t set up for disaster in the future. Thanks.

      • This is a great point. Save/pay off current mortgage like you were paying the fancy house mortgage – you’ll build a pile of assets or decide that being house poor isn’t worth it. A key thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just the housing costs. In our area, it’s the ski trip at Christmas, and the Thanksgiving trip and spring break trip down south, and the summer vacation in Europe. Every year, starting in kindergarten. My kindergartener goes to public school in a moderately wealthy district and will not stop asking why we aren’t going to Mexico this year (we went last year + Europe last year + skiing at Christmas but apparently we ‘never go anywhere’ unlike her friends).

        Our plan for 2 kids turned into 3 when I had twins on my second pregnancy (no IUI/IVF). Finances look a lot different with 3 kids (hence Mexico every second year).

        • Real estate :

          I hear you on that lifestyle creep-believe me I know it would be hard to keep up in that ‘hood.

          • Do you mind if I ask generally where you are? We’re trying to make some similar decisions right now, and we’re in Alexandria, VA. Thinking about moving to Fairfax City, Springfield, or Vienna. I’m selfishly hoping your current location with the reports of violence isn’t Fairfax City.

          • Real estate :

            Nowhere near D.C.-but good luck to you!

          • Alanna of Trebond :

            I’m from Fairfax City! Very safe!! And excellent schools. (I think the best in the country).

          • JEB – my mom taught for 23 years in a Fairfax City elementary school. Feel free to email me and I can get you some info from her. lizzyhicken01 at gmail dot com.

        • Will do – thanks for the very kind offer! (And thanks Real Estate for the quick response.)

    • We live in a great house in a terrible school district. Our particular districted “chain” of schools (elementary to high) is not as bad as some in our city, but not great either. Our son has been in a charter school since kindergarten and will stay in the same one for middle school, and will probably go to a charter high school. There’s actually a charter school attached to our districted high school that looks like a good option. The reality a lot of places is that the public schools don’t work, period, and charter or private schools are the only viable options. You’ve got time to figure it out, but it’s good to think ahead. Start exploring your options for alternatives to your districted schools; it may be you don’t have to move.

    • I would start getting involved with the school now. Join a PTA meeting, stop by the book fair. I think you need to get a much better feel for what the school is actually like on the ground.

      Four years is a long time. I would start looking around for other parents in the same situation. I live in a similar area and there are pre-PTA chapters springing up near me too. Where parents of young children that are interested in the public school get together, start supporting the school better, and all plan to send their children to the school. Having a cohort of other parents that are dedicated to the idea of supporting this school can really improve the outcomes for a class or grade.

      I am doing this and am very excited about my child joining this robust and diverse school community.

    • Seventh Sister :

      One more thought – are the test scores broken out by population? Our school tested “poorly” on the old system* as a whole because we had a lot of English Language Learners who got lower scores since they were tested in a language they didn’t understand. The kids who weren’t busy learning English tested about the same as the kids at the “better” schools.

      *I’m in a state where the old system of school test scores was mostly a measure of housing prices.

    • My kids go to “diverse” public schools and are receiving excellent educations. The district wide test scores are not the same as those in the farther flung lily white suburbs, but my kids are learning more than the three rs. They are also learning how to function in a diverse world. (We live in Berkeley).

      Tell your relatives to STFU

    • Report due to moderation

      My kids go to “diverse” public schools and are receiving excellent educations. The district wide test scores are not the same as those in the farther flung lily white suburbs, but my kids are learning more than the three rs. They are also learning how to function in a diverse world. (We live in Berkeley).

      Tell your relatives to butt out.

      Try a school tour or two to make up your own mind about the school system. Remember that published test scores are a midpoint. If you dig in, you’ll probably find that your school system has a wider or even biomodal distribution of scores.

    • Great thread.

      Agree with waiting, save save, and actually visit schools/talk to parents/put child through pre-school and Kindergarten/1st grade AT LEAST and re-assess.

      Of course, you are very wealthy and can afford the bigger house, but you are wise to consider all issues.

      How wonderful if your child could grow up bilingual in this neighborhood you love, with the advantages of growing up in a diverse environment, which is more and more important in this diverse socioeconomic yet fractured country.

      Signed, MD PhD neuroscientist who knows the effects of bilingual brain development

      • Real estate :

        Thanks crash. I would be so excited if my little guy was bilingual! Last week his (fancy but diverse) daycare teacher waved hello and he mumbled “ah la.” I said “say hi buddy” and she pointed out that he was saying “hola.” Proudest mom moment yet!

    • OP, my husband and I are about to make the same decision as you. TTC soon and looking to buy a house in a more mixed-income, diverse area and already hearing a lot of shade about the schools. Fortunately, coming from a family of educators, I’m aware of the fallacy of using average test scores to make guesses at a particular student’s outcome, as lots of folks have explained so well.

      We believe diversity and a walkable, manageable life are important. My mom spent her life in the car when we were suburban teens and hated it. But if you want a more “marketable” reason, tell folks good students from poorer ZIP codes do better in the college process (look it up!)

      Folks who don’t think private schools have drugs must not have attended one. I did. And if you don’t think schools with a lot of rich kids have violence, kindly look up the suicide rates in Palo Alto, the sex abuse coverups at Choate Rosemary Hall, or, y’know, Columbine.

  11. I love this skirt, but I do not need this skirt. Especially at that price. Sigh.

  12. Interview tips- update :

    Kat- would love to see an update to the Interview tips post from a while back! Given that the culture is digital would be interested in reading about new hiring practices etc

  13. Are there any alternatives to Rent the Runway? The weekend I need a dress appears to be blocked out on their availability chart.

  14. Digital Frame :

    Can anyone recommend a digital frame that’s easy to use for a grandparent gift? Ideally something that would let them easily transfer photos we send to their iPhone. Looking to spend about $100 but flexible for something really worth it. Thanks!

    • I have the Nixplay Edge and bought the Nixplay Seed for my parents. They are wifi digital frames, so as long as they are connected to the internet, pictures can be sent directly to the frame from anywhere. I can even send pictures directly to their frame (although I haven’t done so yet), which is an added bonus for parents who aren’t technologically savvy.

  15. Missing the obvious :

    I will be interviewing with a panel of 10-12 people. I will basically be walked in and there will be a “hot seat”. The content of the interview itself is not worrying me. With this many people all at once, do I walk my way around the room shaking each person’s hand? Or, do I greet them each verbally once seated? Shaking each person’s hand seems as though it will be awkward as does not doing so in an interview.

    I know I’m overthinking this, but it seems as though it should be more obvious.

  16. So this came up as a side topic yesterday — do people in your industry/friends make it sound like — oh I wasn’t looking for a job and this perfect opportunity just fell in my lap? When the reality is the industry is tough and sometimes you need to look for a yr or two to be able to make a move? Obviously this doesn’t apply to medicine/healthcare or IT where I think it can be very quick to find a new job. But in saturated fields (like law – at least in my specialty), it isn’t uncommon for top 10 grads with 7 yrs biglaw experience to look for a yr or two to find a job they don’t even want but sometimes are forced to take bc new partners aren’t being made in my area. And the whole time you’re sweating bc you need to find your next job before the current one ends. Yet more often than not when those jobs are found, you here — oh they heard I was on the market and called me, took me out to breakfast and practically begged me to join. While you’re thinking — what the heck is wrong with ME? Have you seen/heard of this?

    • First Year Anon :

      yes I wonder this too. Most people don’t advertise when they’re looking and so it seems so easy when you don’t hear the day to day struggles.

      • Agreed. I think there’s a mental aspect too — no super qualified person wants to feel that it took 3 yrs to find a job — so when an offer finally arrives they mentally start discounting — oh those first couple things I applied to were really just feelers; I didn’t REALLY start looking until last summer – just 6 months ago and then a few things this summer were just networking meetings, not real interviews etc.

        • I think all this is true. It reminds me of school when people claim they didn’t study for the test, just so they look smart if they get an A and have an excuse if they get a B. But “not studying” means they read all the material as it was assigned, made notes/outlined, did all the assignments, attended all the classes, and reviewed everything for 2 hours the night before.

    • anon associate :

      I’ve been in both situations-searching for years and the ‘lucky’ one. I got poached- literally called out of the blue, asked to interview, and then offered the job within a few weeks. It seems on the surface like jobs “fall into people’s laps,” but I really think that’s a simplification when you did deeper. Like someone pointed out yesterday, the partners who called me did so because I busted my butt to impress them several years ago, networked and kept in touch, and had the resume and work experience (that I worked very hard for) to justify my selection for this position. People like to hire people they know. It’s less risk. If you already know someone to call, then why go through a heinous recruiting process?

      There’s always stuff going on behind the scenes. I got called for this job because one of the partners I would work for was a lunatic who had fired his other associate. So on the one hand, the opening was totally arbitrary and was someone else’s bad luck. That’s not a reflection on me. But I needed to be good to get in the door.

      • I agree with this completely. I searched for my first job change after graduating law school. My in-house job literally did “fall into my lap,” but I agree completely with anon associate. It fell into my lap because I had kept up with my network, busted my butt to always produce good work that people noticed, and developed professionally to a point where I felt comfortable transitioning in-house. If people like working with you and you do good work, it’s a lot easier for job opportunities to arise unexpectedly.

    • "lucky" job hunting :

      Maybe my friends and I are just more honest with each other, but I’ve never really had the feeling that a friend “lucked into” a new job. I’ve seen a few acquaintances that appear to have gotten “lucky”, but again, most of them have worked hard to graduate from a decent school, been working in their industry for a few years, etc. The one time a friend appears to have gotten lucky was when her start-up was acquired by the tech giant that starts with a G and ends with oogle. That basically gave her a golden ticket to interview ANYWHERE. Literally, anywhere, tech or not, Bay Area or not. But she’s one of the smartest, hardest working people I know. She didn’t “get lucky”, she worked her butt off. Sure, I’m a little jealous that she managed to pick the right startup at the right time that got acquired by the right giant. But she was so thoughtful about her choices, killed her quotas, and is generally awesome, so I can’t be upset that something great “happened” for her.

  17. Starting a new job, have some flexibility over what title goes on my business card: Sales Director or Director of Sales. The former is shorter and easier to say, the latter kind of sounds more senior. Both are accurate, since I’ll be in the field selling, but I’m also building out the sales process and will have people reporting to me. Any thoughts would be appreciated!!

  18. Paging underemployed academic wife :

    This is for the poster who’s posted a couple times recently about being underemployed at the university where her husband was just made a full professor. Any chance your U has a faculty spouse group? Or that you could try to start one? I’m an academic wife also and attending this group has been invaluable for my mental health. No slam at my high school or college friends, who are wonderful people and good friends, but they just don’t understand the struggles of being an academic spouse. Even though I’ve only met one person through the group who has turned into a real friend, having that one friend who understands exactly what I’m going through has been such a lifesaver, and getting together periodically with friendly acquaintances who are in the same boat is also really nice. If you don’t have anything like this, I’d be happy to be a virtual support group for you if you post your email. I know how hard this life is even under the best of circumstances.

    • ponte python's flying circus :

      Not her (is it Hunting in Boston you’re looking for?) but am a grad student spouse and thus future academic spouse. Most of the resources I’ve seen have been targeted at spouses and partners who aren’t employed or can’t work in the US; a group for women (especially parents – that comes with a whole other set of challenges) who are ever so slightly underemployed would be terrific!

      • Paging underemployed academic wife :

        Our group is technically targeted at spouses who are looking for jobs, but many women have continued or even begun attending after finding employment. It’s really a mix, career-wise: we have people who are really happy with their jobs, people who are underemployed, people who are staying home with kids by choice and people who are unemployed and job-hunting. Many are international, but I’ve really enjoyed that aspect (particularly as a liberal in a red state, where foreigners are much more likely to share my political beliefs than locals).

        • Paging underemployed academic wife :

          And almost everyone has kids – me and the person I’ve become friends with are the only regular attendees who don’t have kids, which is part of why we connected.

  19. Ugh - cellulite :

    Is there any real remedy for cellulite? I have heard about dry brushing, but haven’t actually heard of anyone who has been successful with it. I’m 48 and have it on my thighs, and while I am sure I can’t eliminate it entirely, I’d love to reduce it a bit if at all possible.

    • The short answer is: no.
      The longer answer is that I’ve been dry-brushing for a few months, trying to tighten up some loose skin from weight loss, and I feel like it is helping. A tiny bit. From what I’ve heard, the only real help for cellulite (which even then doesn’t work 100%) is laser treatment or something like CoolSculpting (not sure if that is laser).

    • Have you tried the Ashley Black FasciaBlaster? I ordered it after seeing a ton of positive reviews (the idea is that it breaks up the irregular connective tissue that creates the cellulite). Should come in another few days or so and then I can report back.

      • I have been mildly interested in trying one of those I then read some blog posts written by users. Do you know you have to injure yourself with them.. you have to have real bruising to show it’s working. And even then, some of the apparent improvement is just swelling.

        I don’t know. I know people day no pain,no gain, but I take the Rita Rudner approach – no pain, no pain.

    • alexisfaye :

      I’ve been lifting weights and my cellulite is decreasing. Also my butt looks better. I still have some, but lot less.

  20. Here’s my “how can I improve my finances” question. Take-home income (after tax) of $14k/month. Loan payments of $5k/month for the next 5 years, then done. Rent is $4k/month (incl. utilities). Transit is $1500/month (incl. cars, public transit, parking, etc.). Childcare is $1k/month. Groceries (4 of us) are $1k/month. Remaining $1500/month on all other expenses (clothes, toys, entertainment, etc.) and minimal contributions to savings (savings currently has 3 months of expenses). WWYD? (When would you buy a house vs keep renting? How much to keep in savings with 2 working spouses?)

    • You definitely aren’t saving enough and don’t have enough in your emergency fund. I think you need to spend less on rent and maybe decrease your loan payment to $3k/month until you build up your savings.

    • I think you need retirement savings and a bigger (at least six months) emergency fund ASAP, even if it means cutting down the loan payments or moving to a cheaper rental. $1500 on clothes, toys and entertainment also seems like a lot to me.

    • $1,500 per month on transit seems reeeally high. What is the breakdown?

      • $300/month x2 on public transit tickets
        $150/month x2 on parking for public transit
        — that’s $900/month
        $400/month on car loans (both cars were purchased used in the last 2 years and are about 6 years old)
        $200/month on tolls, gas, and car repairs (including seasonal tires, which obviously is not a monthly expense)

        • Veronica Mars :

          Is it feasible to become a 1 car family and have one spouse take public transport, or alternate taking the car to work?

          • Anonymous :

            Each spouse drives to the public transportation, and we each take public transportation to work Mon-Fri. We have 2 cars because we alternate on childcare pickup/drop off, and therefore don’t keep the same hours.

        • can you take advantage of pre-tax transportation benefits for any portion of this?

    • anon a mouse :

      Ouch, that’s a tough budget. Assuming that your loan payments are your priority, what are your options to reduce your combined rent and transportation costs? Can you move closer to one or both of your jobs and lose a car or two? Can you live somewhere cheaper? Can you move further out but on a bus line?

      You probably have room to trim your grocery costs, and keep your other expenses low, but when fixed expenses of loans, housing, transportation and child care are more than 80% of your takehome, that’s not going to make much of a difference. Assuming you can’t alter much on loans and child care, I’d look to get at least another $1K out of housing-transportation.

    • Are you maxing out your 401Ks at work? I’m sorry, your finances sound tough. I’m guessing you live in the Bay Area. Any possibility of refinancing your loans?

    • Anonymous :

      I’d have 6 months savings, minimum. Why aren’t you saving for retirement?

      Your food costs are insane. Absolutely insane. Your commute is absurdly expensive. You cannot afford your lifestyle at all if you aren’t saving for retirement.

      • Our retirement saving is pre-tax right now so not included in the $14k/month take-home that I noted above.

        • Anonymous :

          Okay so less of a crisis! But still. You’re spending too much money on literally everything. Rent. Cars. Transit. Food. “Other.”

      • But, “no judgement​.” Right? Is this how you talk to people at work or in your personal life, Anonymous? If so, I feel sorry for them. And for you.

    • Honestly….. You should move, to cut down rent and transportation costs. I definitely would not buy.

      Make lunches, negotiate down or simplify Internet/cell phones/internet/insurance costs.

      2 car loans is also too much. For future, you should buy what you can afford… CarMax certified used cars in great condition that you can buy for cash. Simplify to one car.

      But honestly….. Move.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m in NYC, so some of these costs don’t seem that crazy to me – unless your kids are both in public school, your childcare is a deal, and food seems about what we pay (and we are only 3 people, cheapskates that don’t buy organic) – but the combination of your housing and transit costs seems high to me. You are spending a lot both on cars and public transit – ideally you spend on one or the other, not both, and part of why we pay more in rent in cities is so we won’t need to rely on cars to access transit. So I would look at those two areas specifically, and how they are working together – can one of you take the bus to the train station each way instead of one of the cars? Can you move closer to a train station, or carpool?

      • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

        I also don’t think these costs are insane, but I have always lived in HCOL areas. I don’t know if it is feasible to lower rent where you live. But the I agree that the transit costs seem high. Could you nix public transit and just drive to work? It could possibly save money (even if you have to pay for parking at work), and be more convenient as well.

      • ponte python's flying circus :

        I agree. The combination of housing + transit costs strikes me as high. Alternatively, for that kind of rent, you should be able to find something closer to someone’s work or childcare so that part of the transit cost can be pared down. (If you live in the Bay Area and work in opposite directions, I can see how that might be a challenge, though.)

      • Anonymous :

        I’m the Anonymous poster at 1:33pm, and I’m circling back a day later to say that actually your food costs are about double ours, so they do seem high to me. But as I said, we’re cheapskates who don’t buy organic. FWIW. It was just bugging me that I said something innacurate.

    • Oh my. Our after-tax income is $5K month. In a very HCOL area (NYC). We spend $450 on food and $400 on household/misc (including gas). There are three of us (though one of us is pregnant, so kind of like four). We still manage to save a bit each month. You can definitely, definitely trim your spending. You do not need clothes and toys every month.

    • Some of my comments will be duplicative of what’s already been said, but I want to contribute because I always appreciate people willing to post about their budgets.

      Loans – yes, way too much, you need to cut back the loan payments and get a minimum of 6 months of living expenses saved. Even though you’ll pay more interest in the long run, it’s worth the cost for peace of mind.
      Housing – I think this is really area-specific, but I agree with Anonymous at 1:33 that you should figure out something between your housing and transportation costs. They can’t both be crazy high.
      Groceries – We usually spend $600-$700 for two adults and a toddler, so I don’t think $1K is that terrible, but there’s probably a little room to shave there.
      Everything else – I don’t really think this is crazy high, but I think it’s worth taking a closer look. All of our non-grocery miscellaneous expenses usually end up in the $700-$800 range, and our takehome is only $5200/month.

      So there’s room to cut in groceries and everything else, but that would really be a drop in the bucket. Saving $20/month on one bill isn’t going to get you very far, although those things can add up. You really need to pull from your biggies to get your savings up – lower loan payments, or lower housing/transportation costs. Something has to give.

      • Honestly, my plan has been to get a higher-paying job in the next 3 months, and I’m in the final phases of interviews with one very promising position! But I agree, something has to give.

    • I agree with others that you need to address the big ticket expenses. You could probably shave off a couple of hundred dollars on groceries, but that’s not going to have a huge impact. Just for perspective, we pay 4K in rent but our take home pay after tax is twice the amount of yours and we don’t have loans either. You need to downsize to cheaper rent, even if that means you are squeezed into a small 2 bed. Where do you live?

      Also, that $1500 should not go toward any non-essential items. Yes your child needs clothes, but get them second hand for a few dollars. Don’t eat out, pack lunch, borrow books from the library, spend weekends at playground/park/hiking, as opposed to doing things that cost money.

    • I’m guessing you leave in Bay Area or Boston, so unfortunately I think a lot of the sticker shock is probably location specific and there’s not a lot you can do about it (short of moving). Also wondering if you and partner may have a particularly complicated commuting situation (e.g., long commutes on both sides and you live in the middle?) I also wonder if there may be a delicate balance in place that you don’t want to disrupt (e.g., is your song-of-a-childcare cost contingent on you staying in your current neighborhood?)

      I’m in the Chicago suburbs and net about 25% more of what you do, but a lot of my expenses are similar to yours for a family of 4 – $4000ish for mortgage, $1200 childcare (elementary after school care + daycare), $1000 food (some organic, but honestly nothing too crazy! Surprised by the extreme responses to that number!)

      The transportation number seems really, really high, so agree with suggestions to reduce. In comparison, we spent about $200-250 for gas + tolls + parking per month, $200 pretax for train ticket (for one long-drive commute and one short drive/park/train ride commute).

      I know you mentioned the high interest rate loans, but yeah, get your emergency savings up to 6+ months and then finish paying them down.

      Otherwise, I’m glad you’re asking! I do think your clarifications make it clear you’re in better shape than the initial post. Also, make sure you have short and long term disability insurance plans in place — at this point if something happened to one of you and you couldn’t work, the lack of emergency savings could be a big problem. Hopefully with disability insurance you would have an additional safety net.

      • *live, damnit.

        • Thanks for the compassion — it helps. Yes, we are recovering from a personal crisis which explains the debt/loan payments. We do have a very location-specific situation, and an inability to move. We do have all of the insurance you mentioned too (good thinking!).

      • Ha, I have lived in both the Bay Area and Boston and was thinking OP had to be from one of these two places too.

        • I live in Boston-area, 5 stops from
          Park Street station, and pay $3300 for a 3br. Neither of us commutes via car. I don’t think the costs OP is quoting put her in the Boston-area (or if she is here, she can figure out a way to shave them).

        • Thanks for the compassion, and thanks for all the responses! (I thought I responded but maybe it’s stuck in moderation.) Yes, we have a situation where we can’t move to a new area and where commuting costs (the $900/month plus need for 2 cars) are fixed.

    • Anon for this :

      I take more of a Dave Ramsey / Mister Money Mustache approach, personally. I paid my loans down fast and keep about $15k in savings. One, I’m married so the chance of us losing both incomes at the same time is lower than us losing one income We are in different industries. We also both have disability insurance. Second, I would cut down to bare bones in an emergency. I’d pay the mortgage, utilities and buy food, that’s it. Third, I have wealthy in-laws that would bail us out if push came to shove. I’d rather have those loans gone. Now that my loans are gone, I’m going all in on the savings before spending more.

      • Thanks, this is my thought too — pay the loans down immediately and then replenish savings — but I’m surprised and possibly swayed by the posts here.

  21. Name Change at Work :

    I’m getting married next month and will be taking my husband’s last name. What is the best way to go about changing my name in a work context? For example, if my name is Hermione Granger, do I just switch it over to Hermione Weasley? Should I change it to Hermione Granger Weasley? Hermione Weasley (formerly Granger)?

    I’m aware this may be a personal decision but I’m just wondering what would be the most seamless transition within a large organization.

    • Whether you do HW or HGW is a really personal decision. If you do HGW, prepared for people to hyphenate it and not understand that W is your last name. When I got married, I switched from HG to HGW and people kept calling me “H G-W” or, in a situation where the last name goes first “GW, H” (when I felt like it should be W, HG). It annoyed me so much I ended up dropping the G completely at my next job. In retrospect I miss my maiden name and sort of wish I had kept it completely, but I was not a big fan of using all three. However, I have friends who use all three and are very happy with the decision. You could also go by HG at work and HW socially, which is what my mom did (although if you’re a lawyer or a doctor or another licensed professional your work name probably has to be your legal name).

      • Well that kind of makes sense because people don’t use their middle names in the professional world. So I’d assume either you’d added a second last name or had hyphenated if you kept the G around.

        • Fwiw, I’m a lawyer and everyone in the firm has a middle initial on everything (email, webs!te, official documents). So I basically wanted to use Granger where the default would have been just “G.” I agree it’s still different than what most people were doing, but not as weird as it would be at a workplace where nobody even uses their middle initial.

          • anonlawyer :

            this is what I do. When I changed my name after getting married, my maiden name became my middle name and now on everything I am Hermione G. Weasley rather than Hermione Granger or Hermione Weasley.

            You can do this, and add the (formerly Granger) on signature blocks for a while

        • A lot of my peer BigLaw associates who got married around my age (now 30, married at 28) go by First Maiden Last professionally. A lot of us have client relationships and other professional reputations where our maiden name was established. Others don’t change and others switch over to just new last name, but I don’t think First Maiden Last is unprofessional or out of the ordinary for a lot of the women who are getting married in the last 5 years or so.

    • Anon 10:51 :

      Do Hermione Weasley (formerly Granger) for about 6 months or until you’ve had contact with all clients.

      • Or, Hermione (Granger) Weasley — for the same period of time.

        • That’s what I did, for about a year in my e-mail signature and on the firm website.

          Still have Firstname (former last name) Lastname on my linked in profile because I was (former last name) while in law school, and former classmates would know me by that name.

    • I became Hermione Granger Weasley, which is what I have display on emails people receive and on my voicemail greeting. It has worked pretty well.

    • Since you are taking your husband’s name professionally (I know many people who took their husband’s names socially and legally but not professionally):

      I went with Hermione Granger Weasley and after a couple of years shortened it to Hermione G. Weasley. If you don’t want people to keep calling you “Hermione Granger” indefinitely, you will need to rip the band-aid off and drop the maiden name altogether ASAP. The more you publish under/are addressed by the maiden name, the harder it will be to shake.

    • (Former) Clueless Summer :

      When I switched mine over, I kept my signature as First (Maiden) NewLast for a while same with my Linkedin and website profile. I also sent out a blast to internal and external contacts with an FYI and stating my old email was forwarding but here is my new one. Once I switched jobs I dropped the (Maiden) on all my new firm stuff, just didn’t make sense given that most people at new firm had never known me as Maiden. I wouldn’t give both names without brackets/using former unless you are actually planning to go by First Maiden NewLast forever. I didn’t want to be Maiden NewLast or Maiden-NewLast so that’s why I used the brackets – to hopefully indicate that’s who I was but that it wasn’t my new name.

    • Anonymous :

      It’s so offensive to bring Hermione into this! She would never change!

    • As a lawyer, my firm required my name professionally to match my legal name (and what I had to update with the bar). I mulled over it for about 8 months before one day I woke up and it finally felt right to keep all of my names and just move my maiden name as a second “middle” name. But I reached an accord with my firm where my email signature is First Maiden Last as well as my bio and website. I always use all three when I introduce myself on calls, etc. Some partners just introduce me as first last now, which I am getting used to, but they are mostly older partners. For purposes of social media, etc. I also keep first maiden last. At the social security office I think they told me there was a character limit for what will fit on the middle name slot and show on your card (same for passport). I may have maxed it out at 16 characters including the space. I have some bank cards/credit cards that are all 4 names; some are all three; some are just 2, but because my driver’s license has all 4 it hasn’t been a problem, and for traveling purposes, my passport also has all 4. Good luck to you – it was a royal pain in the rear to change and nearly 2 years later I still have one or two credit cards I haven’t changed over yet.

  22. Request for career advice :

    Any good websites or coaches that you recommend for resumee advice?
    I am a mid-career MBA.
    I guess I am looking for a template or something very easy because I’ve been looking so long I am doubting myself — any advice or sources for advice or even just a pick-me-up?
    Thank you for reading and responding. Please be positive.

    • ask a manager blog :

      Check out “Ask a Manager”, she’s exactly what you’re looking for :)

      • Tech Comm Geek :

        +1000 Ask A Manager has down to earth, useful, anti-gimmick advice. Since I started reading her and following her advice, I have not had a contract gap and just landed an FTE job which is a significant responsibility jump.

  23. I love pencil skirts! You can check out some of the best ones here >> https://www.obsessory.com/shop/pencil-skirt

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