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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Rewarding Yourself for a Job Well Done

Rewarding Yourself for a Job Well Done | CorporetteWhat are some good ways to treat yourself for a job well done? Reader L wonders how best to reward herself with a fun splurge…

I just learned that I received a huge promotion at work, for which I’ve been working very hard for a very long time. I would like to do something special for myself to celebrate, and was thinking about splurging on something as a reward. Many of my male colleagues will do something like buy a very nice watch for such a promotion, but I’m not really interested in that. What other options would you suggest? For example, I thought investing in a really nice handbag might be an option, or I’m also considering going on a bucket list trip somewhere exotic. I would love to hear your suggestions and those of other readers, and while I know this is a very personal decision, I thought it could make for a great discussion.

Great question, Reader L (and congratulations)! We’ve talked about how to celebrate a win, and even the splurges I thought were worth the money, but this is always a fun topic.

Given Reader L’s particular question, though, I have to say: TAKE THE TRIP IF YOUR SCHEDULE WILL ALLOW! A lot of readers noted that I didn’t include trips on my list of “best splurges,” but my schedule back then was always way too busy to fit in a bucket list trip (ditto for my friends’ schedules at the time). Material goods like watches usually won out over experiences. (Even if you can’t go out of town, though, I suppose you can always schedule a pampering spa day at a fancier hotel in your city.)

Readers — do you reward yourselves with travel and materialistic splurges, or do you celebrate work successes by treating yourself in other ways? 

(Pictured: Bali Paradise, originally uploaded to Flickr by Sean McGrath.)

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Guest Post: Tips for Traveling Solo

How to Travel Solo | CorporetteSolo travel – have you ever done it? We’ve talked about how to plan a vacation and how to take vacation time without making yourself crazy, but we haven’t really discussed traveling alone as a woman. Particularly considering some folks may be in the midst of planning bar trips right now, I thought we’d discuss. Today’s solo-travel tips come  from one of my best friends since college, who we’ve called Auntie M when she’s guest posted in the past (taking a week of TPS reports in 2011 and another earlier this year, as well as sharing her experiences with freezing her eggs). Welcome back, Auntie M! – Kat

Hi there. I’m writing this from Madagascar, where I’m working on a documentary on a traveling French brass band.  Since I’ve started traveling, it’s really been a trip – I’ve lost my luggage for five days, found weird (huge!) bugs in my clothing, and gotten super sick from eating who knows what. My point is, when you travel, things will happen that will surprise you, even when you’ve passed the point where you think you can still be surprised. And your ability to cope with these things will also surprise you. And travel — yes, even solo travel — can be fun. Like, a lot of fun. With some good preparation, a friendly attitude, a commitment to let go of some of your neuroses (seriously, leave that sleep-sheet behind, princess) and to never, ever panic, you can be ready to take on the world. Below are some tips and tricks. Safe travels, everyone!

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Guest Post: Packing for a One-Day Business Trip

Packing for a One-Day Business Trip | CorporetteHow do you pack for a day trip in another city?  Today I’m excited to welcome back guest poster and blogger extraordinaire Road Warriorette, who’s been nice enough to give us helpful tips on traveling with coworkers and professional but small suitcases.  We actually just met IRL not too long ago for a lovely dinner.  :) Today, she answers Reader A’s question about packing for one-day business trips. Welcome back, Road Warriorette!

Reader A wonders:

Do you or your readers have suggestions for how to pack for a day trip in another city? I am going to start a new job that will require frequent day trips where I will fly to another city in the morning and fly back at night. I prefer not to take too much stuff, but I do want to be prepared in the event that I get stuck overnight. I need my laptop for the trip and am on the hunt for an appropriate bag for day trips and for client visits in my own city.

People who never travel for work are always surprised at the number of day trips I take. On the one hand, it makes sense — if you are only doing one day’s worth of business, why pay for a hotel room? On the other hand, they are often exhausting, 18-20 hour marathons. It seems I am always on the last flight out, and a few times have gotten stuck spending the night somewhere unexpectedly.

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I Can’t Wear a Suit — But Want to Show Authority

I Can't Wear a Suit But Want to Show Authority -- How? | CorporetteWhat do you wear when you want to show authority without wearing a suit?  We’ve talked about what to wear when a suit doesn’t feel right, but Reader R is looking for authoritative clothes that aren’t intimidating and travel well…

I recently started a new job as in-house counsel. As part of my responsibilities, I will be traveling internationally to conduct audits and give training sessions. The job is great, but I’m not sure what to wear! My de facto would be to wear a suit, but my boss suggested that I should avoid wearing suits, since the appearance of a “suit” tends to make people nervous. Some relevant factors: (1) I’m often the only woman in the room; and (2) I’m also often the youngest person in the room.

Basically, I need pieces that say, “Position of authority, but non-scary” and travel well. Help!

Congrats on the new job, R!  One of my older friends was a lawyer for a TV network in the 80s, and I remember her telling me that she would leave her suit jacket in her office when she had to go talk to the comedy writers or producers — it was less intimidating, less “this is coming from The Man.” So you’re not alone in wanting to thinking about what your clothes say to people.  For my $.02: Put some thought into exactly what response you want from people.  For example: Do you want them to respect that your word is the final word, and they should do what you tell them? (Play up the authority.)  Do you want them to come to you with problems that might not be communicated to the home office otherwise?  (Play up the approachability, but keep some authority.) Do you seek to really understand their problems and make friends in the office? (Turn the authority way down.)  (As for the “looking younger” part of your question, you may want to look at our older post on the difference between acting young and looking young at the office.)

For my $.02, I would go with what you feel most comfortable in, and modify that (taking into account, obviously, the office culture for where you’re going). If you’re comfortable in: [Read more...]

Guestpost: Professional, Small Suitcases For an Overnight Business Trip

The Best Suitcases for a Short Business Trip | CorporetteWhich is the best suitcase for an overnight trip?  We’ve talked about Kat’s top packing tips, as well as rounded up some great weekender bags, but this is totally up business travel blogger Road Warriorette’s alley, so I thought I’d pass it on to her — thank you for guest posting, RW! – Kat.

Reader C is on the hunt for a professional, small suitcase for overnight business trips, to help her cut down her baggage:

I travel occasionally for work, and have the standard wheeled suitcase that everyone has, which is perfect for up to week-long trips.
But lately, I have been doing more overnighters, and my usual suitcase plus a computer bag plus a purse is overkill.

I am searching for a wheeled bag that’s big enough for an outfit and my toiletries, and a separate compartment for my laptop. Ideally it’s professional looking enough that I could wheel it into the corner of a business meeting, and not be embarrassed because it looks like a backpack or a duffel bag. Any suggestions from the hive?

I totally understand—it feels weirdly wasteful to travel with a suitcase that is half empty. There are so many professional-looking standard sized rollerboards, but it seems like smaller bags that look appropriate for work are few and far between. Here are a few options. [Read more...]