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).

[Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Should You Get an MBA?

should you get an MBAShould you get an MBA? If you’ve ever pondered getting your MBA but wondered if it was worth the investment of time and money, today’s guest post is for you. We’ve talked about how to prepare your finances for grad school, as well as the pros and cons of changing careers, but we truly haven’t talked about this — so I’m thrilled to welcome the personal finance blogger behind Well Heeled Blog, a young woman who just finished her MBA. Welcome to Corporette! – Kat.  (Pictured: Ted Baker London ‘Neon’ Leather Card Wallet, $55 at Nordstrom.)

I recently graduated from a 2-year, full-time MBA program at one of the “15 schools that make up the Top 10 MBA.” I once heard a dean use that phrase and think it’s a humorously apt way to describe the way schools jockey for that much-vaunted “top 10.” designation.

Once you include the money I spent out of pocket and the opportunity cost of two years of foregone earnings and benefits (minus the living expenses I would have had to spend, MBA or not), this degree cost me at least $250,000. That’s enough for a house in many parts of the country, and a hefty down payment in even the priciest areas such as San Francisco or New York City.

Was my MBA worth it? I’m a long-time Corporette reader and occasional commenter, and I’ve seen several questions on MBAs and finances. The decision to pursue an MBA isn’t solely about the ROI in dollars and cents–there are plenty of non-financial benefits such as a grounding in business education, a wider and deeper network, and the opportunity to devote two years to furthering your professional and personal growth. Still, the fact remains that an MBA is an expensive proposition for most people, and this proposition can expand your career horizon while at the same time limiting your future financial choices. Here are my thoughts about the financial implications of an MBA now that I have completed my degree–what I would (and have) told friends who are thinking about pursuing an MBA, especially through a full-time program:

[Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Fashion Math

Fashion Math: How to Assess the Worth of a Purchase for You | CorporetteOne of the things I’ve employed for YEARS now is what I call “fashion math.” I use a simple equation to figure out if a purchase is “worth it” to me. (Pictured: COACH Saffiano Leather Phone Wallet, $98 at Nordstrom.) So let’s take this recent purchase — a cashmere sweater at Brooks Brothers marked down from $398 to $89 (pictured below).  The circumstances: it’s hot outside, I am hugely pregnant, and if all goes as planned, I’ll be breastfeeding through the fall and winter. This sweater will probably only be worn a few times in the immediate future, so was it a good purchase? Brooks Brothers Long Sleeve Cashmere V-Neck Sweater

To start with, the dealbreaker question: do I have the money to pay for the item NOW? As always, avoid credit card debt at all costs. Here, the answer is yes, so let’s move on… [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Different Money Management Methods for Marriage and Partnerships

Managing Money after Marriage or Partnership | CorporetteWe’ve talked about how to keep track of many accounts — but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about which money management method Corporette readers prefer, once married or partnered.  There are a number of different methods that I’ve heard about through the years, and I’m curious to hear from you guys (particularly those of you who are the breadwinners):  what is your family’s method for sharing money?  (Pictured: Cole Haan Parker Exotic Tech Snap Wallet, on sale at 6pm for $59 (was $128).)  There was a great series in Slate a few years ago (now available as a Kindle book) that defined these main types:

  • Common Potters – people who combine all of their money
  • Sometime Sharers – people who have both separate and joint accounts (usually with an automatic percentage going into the joint account)
  • Independent Operators – people who have completely separate accounts

[Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: How to Invest $10K

How to Invest $10K | CorporetteHow should you invest $10K? Readers were talking about this on our money roadmap post, and I thought it might be helpful to talk about more. Maybe you’ve recently gotten a bonus or small inheritance… maybe you’ve just been saving for a while and are now saying, OK, let’s invest this sucker. So what are the options? (Pictured: I’m kind of obsessed with this metallic teal wallet from Marc by Marc Jacobs (there’s a phone wristlet too!) The wallet was $208 but is now marked to $104 at Nordstrom.) I’m not a personal finance expert, of course, but here’s what I’d do (assuming you already have a fully-funded emergency fund and no credit card debt.  If you still have student loan debt, you may want to look at your interest rates and pay off all or part of a loan that has a particularly high interest rate.) Beyond that, though: [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: A Money Roadmap

money roadmapWe’ve talked about a ton of different money issues here, but it occurred to me that it might be helpful to do a simple “roadmap” post — a listing of what to do, in what order, with links to the appropriate posts.  So here’s my list of what to do with your money — if I were advising a friend, this is what I’d say.  Readers, what would your roadmap look like? Would it be any different? (Pictured: Halogen Cassie Patent Leather Phone Wallet, originally $48 but currently $32.16.)

1. Figure out what your money situation is.  Do you know how much you have in each account, where it is, and how much interest it’s earning?  Do you know what your debts are, and how much interest you’re paying?  I like Mint.com to keep track of multiple accounts (and I particularly like that it will email multiple email addresses with weekly updates — great if you’re married or otherwise in a joint banking relationship). [Read more...]