The [email protected]#$ Off Fund

the f-off fund -- a discussion with professional womenSomething that everyone seems to be talking about is the concept of the “f$*@#$ off fund” — the original piece in Billfold went viral, and I’ve seen it popping up everywhere in conversation from FreeKesha stories to the discussion of that Yelp employee who got fired after complaining about her salary publicly (here’s Ask a Manager’s brief link to get you started on that drama). For those of you who haven’t yet read it, in the article, a hypothetical woman has to stay with an abusive boyfriend and a sexually aggressive boss because she doesn’t have the money to leave or quit. Here’s the core of the article, but note two things: a) the original is worthy of the 6 minutes Billfold helpfully tells us it will take to read it, and b) warning: language ahead.

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Workplace Emergencies: Looking Professional But Being Prepared

Workplace Emergencies: Looking Professional But Being Prepared | CorporetteI’m going to caveat this reader question and my response — ultimately about workplace emergencies — by noting up front that yes, we’re going to talk about some of the tiny, minuscule details regarding working in such trying times, namely how to look professional while also being prepared to, you know, hide and run at any moment. You can’t talk about this stuff without acknowledging the bigger issues — the terror and high alert we all live in, the strength of the men and women who work through the fear, and what many see as lackluster laws and/or enforcement. But then again: this is a fashion blog, not The Atlantic — so let’s talk about workplace fashion as it relates to workplace emergencies. Here’s Reader A’s question:

In light of recent events, my workplace held an active shooter training that was both terrifying and thought-provoking. The leader suggested, among other things, that employees make sure to carry their home/car keys and cell phone on their person at all times (as opposed to in your purse/bag). This isn’t hard if you consistently have pockets — but I wear a lot of dresses and skirts that don’t have pockets. I was wondering how others might manage this situation.

We live in such crazy, difficult times right now — I’m simultaneously glad for Reader A that she had some training and sorry she was terrified. I remember summering at my law firm in 2002 (in the Financial District, walking distance from Ground Zero); we were advised to keep sneakers in our office and were given a lunch bag with things like an emergency blanket and a protein bar. These days, it creeps me out that my son’s pre-K says they have an emergency shooter plan (but hooray for prep?). As far as being prepared for emergencies at the office — we’ve talked about attractive ID holders before, as well as emergency preparation — and even about professional pants with pockets — but not in a while, so let’s discuss. (2016 Update: check out our roundup of sleeved dresses with pockets, too!) I’m curious to hear what the readers think, but here’s my advice:

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Tales from the Wallet: Retirement Savings

retirement savingsLadies, how much do you save for retirement? Why do you do it? There was an interesting commenter thread about feeling saving burnout and wanting to splurge a little — do you count retirement savings as something you can cut back on, absent a strong need? We’ve talked about how much to save for retirement, what kind of tax-savvy investments exist to maximize your retirement savings, when to pay down debt vs. save, and where retirement should fit in your total money roadmap.

(Pictured: Hobo ‘Taylor’ Glazed Leather Wallet, on sale at Nordstrom for $70.)

For my $.02, I didn’t get started saving for retirement in a 401K or other tax-savvy vehicle until my late 20s, and I regret that — as they say, there are few powers in this universe stronger than the power of compound interest, and this kind of chart always freaks me out. My husband and I have generally taken the view that saving for retirement is one of our top priorities, and we max out every tax-advantaged vehicle. Like most parents of small kids, I’ll admit that these past few years (yay, childcare expenses) have been tight, and we’ve been moving money from our other, non-tax advantaged savings in order to max out our retirement accounts. (In case that’s unclear — I try really hard for us to spend less than we earn, and I kind of freak out if our take-home earnings for the month are less than we need to pay our bills. But then I remember that our retirement savings and 529 savings are deducted before they get to our take-home earnings, so as long as I can use our other savings to make up for the shortfall, I feel OK about it — within reason.)

How about you, ladies — what are your strategies for retirement savings? Does anyone get a match or perk you’d care to tell us about (anonymously)? Any good tips on how to do it? 

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Do You Still Apply When You Don’t Meet the Job Requirements?

Do You Still Apply When You Don't Meet the Job Requirements?Here’s a question, ladies: do you apply for a job if you don’t meet the listed job requirements? For those of you who do, is there a general number of percentage that you use as a goal (“if I meet at least 50% of the requirements, I’ll apply!”)? For those of you who’ve already gone ahead and gotten the job that you weren’t qualified for — share your success! How’d it go? Was there a learning curve, or did you hit the ground running?

I think often about The Confidence Code and their conclusion that “[u]nderqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. . . . Women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent.”  I mean, yow. I just recently passed a job listing along to a friend that, we both agreed, was a bit of a stretch for her — she joked that she’d like to work for whoever was hired for the position, and decided not to apply for other reasons.  But the job posting itself seemed a bit absurd to me — like someone just wrote down The Perfect Candidate — and I wondered, really, how many of the listed requirements, the ultimately-hired candidate would meet. Alison at Ask a Manager even notes that “[t]hose qualifications are a composite of someone’s idea of the ideal candidate. Believe me, they will look at people who don’t perfectly match it.” I agree with her that you have to do a bit of extra prep before applying, such as rewording your resume to better match some of the skill sets, or even signing up to take other courses or certifications so you can at least show that forward movement is planned.

Ladies, what are your thoughts — do you apply to jobs where you don’t meet the job requirements? Do you think imposter syndrome is behind this, or something else?   (Fun challenge idea (maybe): let’s all apply to one job (or volunteer position) for which we’re only 50% qualified sometime in the next 6 months, and all report back on how it goes.)

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The Hunt: Camisoles for Work

camisoles for workSure, 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.

We haven’t rounded up the best camisoles for layering (or demi camisoles) in far too long — so let’s discuss. Which are your favorites, ladies? What do you like about them — simplicity, stretch, shaping powers — something lacy or pretty? — or fun colors or prints to add a pop of color or fun to an otherwise basic outfit? What color camisole do you think is best under white blouses? (I’m on Team White all the way!)…

First, some picks in a few special interest categories:

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Pregnancy Worries and Your Job

Pregnancy Worries and Your Job | CorporettePregnancy worries can run the gamut from childbirth to health issues to being able to conceive in the first place. Add in concerns about how your job will be affected by your pregnancy (to say nothing of parenthood), and you’re dealing with a TON of worry.  But is it as bad as future moms might think — and is there any point to worrying about it before it happens (or is that similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s thoughts on “leaving before you leave“)? We’ve talked about many aspects of being pregnant — negotiating future maternity leavehandling frequent doctors’ appointments, working through first trimester exhaustion, and how to announce your pregnancy at work — but we haven’t touched too much on the worries that can loom large when you’re thinking about getting pregnant.  Reader B’s pregnancy worries involve handling her future pregnancy at work, as well as postpartum body changes:

I have a question that I have been looking everywhere to find answers to but have been unsuccessful, probably because the subject matter is TMI for most people and also very personal. I do not have kids yet but my husband and I plan to try in the next 3 years or so. Honestly, there is only one thing holding me back right now and that is my job. I absolutely love my job and plan to return after having a baby (I realize I could change my mind after having a baby), but the problem is that right now I share an office, with a male colleague. (I also realize that my office situation could change in 3 years, but I see no evidence of that happening.) My concern is with figuring out how to deal with bodily changes both while pregnant and after the baby comes and I return to work. I know that women deal with frequent bathroom trips, nausea, bladder accidents, milk leakage. How do I handle that while I office with a male coworker?

Hmmmn. I’ll agree that there are definitely body-related changes both during pregnancy and postpartum — but I worry that Reader B may be putting the cart before the horse here (and, you know, packing the cart with a lot of unnecessary anxiety!). A few thoughts:

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