Tales from the Wallet: What’s Worth the Splurge (And What Isn’t)

When to Splurge, When to Save | CorporetteSomething that I’ve wanted to do for a while is talk about what’s worth the “splurge” (on a big or small level) versus what’s NOT worth the splurge. For example: I always joke that life is too short for cheap liquor and cheap toilet paper. On the flip side, I rarely notice the difference with a “fine” wine (ahem), and “good” coffee is wasted on me also — Folgers is just fine for my one cup a day. At the grocery store, I often buy store brands (or whatever’s cheapest).

On a day to day level, my cleaning lady (who now comes once a fortnight) is non-negotiable and an absolute essential (we love you Olga!), and I will give up other splurges (such as frequent dinners out) to keep room for her in the budget. (Pictured:  Fossil ‘Key-Per’ Wristlet, was $40, now $29.98.)

On a grander level, I think education is worth the splurge if other factors align; in other words, the more expensive program may be worth it if it offers enhanced networking capabilities / alumni base / career services / etc. In terms of housing, I’ve always prioritized living space over location or amenities (e.g., I’ve never lived in a glitzy apartment building in a super chic area but rather the largest apartment I could get in the safest area near where I wanted to live).

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The Hunt: Interview Totes

stylish interview totes 175Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

A stylish interview tote is something that every woman needs — yet it can often be a hassle to find the perfect thing (at a price you like).  For my money, a good interview tote:

  • is black (and can be worn with any color, including navy)
  • has structure to it and will stand up by itself if you set it down
  • is big enough to hold at least a folder with your resume, as well as a small bag of makeup and a bottle of water
  • has interior organization (pockets and the like) so you can find what you need, quickly and easily, without digging

In an ideal world, a good interview top would also zipper on top (so it’s secure and won’t accidentally spill out), and would be able to be carried by a shoulder strap so your hands can be free.  We’ve gone on the hunt for these before (see our 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here); also, guest poster Jean from Extra Petite recently shared her favorite tote bags with us.  Some of the classics that we’ve included in previous roundups (and are still available) are Rebecca Minkoff MAB totes, the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totesReaders, what qualities do you look for in an interview tote bag?  Are there any classics that we’re forgetting?  Have you made any recent purchases of a great tote bag?

 

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The Hunt: Interview Suits

Stylish Interview SuitsSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

It’s almost time for thousands of law students and MBA students around the planet: interview week! We of course have the Guide to Women’s Suits for general advice, and we pick an interesting women’s suit once a week — but we haven’t rounded up interview suits in a while (charcoal suits in 2013, navy suits in 2012). There are, of course, a few Hall of Famers to note in this category:  Banana Republic’s lightweight wool suiting, Ann Taylor’s triacetate suiting, J.Crew’s Super 120s suiting,  Theory’s stretch wool suiting — in addition to those classics, below are the first six suits I’d try if I were looking to buy a classic, basic interview suit in today’s market.

Readers, do you have any favorite suits that are classic enough for interviewing? What’s your favorite budget suiting line — and your favorite splurge suiting line?

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Summer Associate Series: Ending an Internship Positively

How to End Your Internship Gracefully | CorporetteHow can you end an internship positively?  This week in our Summer Associate Series,* as the summer starts to wind down (for some, at least!), I thought we’d take a look back at some of our best posts on how to wrap up your summers, whether they be as summer associates or interns.  (If you do still have a few weeks of work left, though, you may want to check out our post on how to get the work you want, and how to network when you’re at the bottom of the ladder.)

Readers, what are your best tips for interns on how to end on a strong note?  How important is the home stretch in terms of making an impression?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, general business etiquette tips, and business lunch etiquette tips.

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Tool of the Trade: Fiverr

FiverrWhat new tools and tricks have you found that help you get your job done quickly and efficiently — or your life to run more smoothly in some fashion? We haven’t had a Tool of the Trade feature in too long!

My latest find is Fiverr, which, admittedly, may have limited use if you’re working with proprietary documents and the like — but if not is my favorite tool for fixing software problems, PDF problems, and more. Here’s the premise:  Various freelancers (from all over the world) offer a variety of “gigs” for the starting price of — you guessed it! — $5.  I’ve had someone:

  • clean up a massive Excel chart that was wacky
  • type 10 pages of handwritten notes for me
  • create a 3D image of a book
  • merge a JPG and PDF into one doc
  • fix/correctly resize a million PDF pages so I could get a book printed at Lulu (I forget if their size requirements were wacky or if the PDF pages I had were wacky. Random backstory here: when I lost a ton of weight on Weight Watchers back in the day I had printed out all of my food journals and kept them all in a huge redweld, always intending to get them bound somehow (both to commemorate the achievement and to be able to refer to them again).  There must have been more than 400 pages!  I sweet-talked my husband into PDFing them for me (thank you, hunny!) and eventually decided to get them printed at Lulu.  The bound book was something like $27 and was SO much better than the velobinding I’d originally been intending.  I know: it sounds like a lame project but I’m actually really happy with the finished product, which is about 1/4 the size of the redweld (and way prettier).)
  • help with a Photoshop issue for a personal business card
  • fix a Photoshop/JPG issue with sharpening/color correcting a photo of my husband and me that just didn’t look right in Shutterfly no matter what I did

Seriously, any time that I think of something that needs to be done and is not something I’m eager to spend hours poking through Google pages and arcane software menus — and can outsource easily without sharing too many passwords/giving permissions — then I check on Fiverr and sure enough, someone is offering to fix it for $5.  (You can also hire a ton of freelancers through eLance and O-Desk, but I’ve had mixed success with some of the freelancers I’ve hired through those.  (But then, I’ve also looked for bigger jobs/more complicated tasks through those.)

Readers, have you tried to outsource any tasks (either personal or professional) to freelancers?  What tasks would you outsource? Has anyone had success with someone cleaning up their iTunes library (mine is a mess!) or editing/organizing/tagging old photos or anything like that?  

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The Hunt: Low Heels

Six Low, Cute and Comfortable Heels | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Low heels that are feminine and cute can be difficult to find!  We’ve looked before (in 2012 and 2013), and there are two Hall-of-Famers that I can think of:  Stuart Weitzman Poco and the Cole Haan Juliana 45 (2″, $90-$160).  In addition to those few, we’ve rounded up six other heels (below) that are currently on the market and all under 2.25″ — most are under $100.  Readers, what is your favorite heel height? Have you gotten any great low heels recently?  Can you think of any other “hall of famers”? 

 

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