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Coffee Break: Toss Scotland Wrap

Reader J writes to recommend this lovely Toss wrap, noting “I love my cashmere Toss pinstripe wrap and use it as a blanket on planes, scarf or shawl when I don’t want to wear a blazer or cardigan, and it somehow does not wrinkle or look worn. This thing has been amazing and the navy matches well with all of my navy suits. (It’s terrible to find that one basic item that doesn’t seem to match any of the same color work options.)” Nice! It’s interesting that it’s a wrap with armholes — and I definitely agree that a wrap can be an awesome wardrobe item and multifunctional tool. This one is $68, available in navy and gray, at Toss Designs. Pinstripe Scotland Wrap

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Comments

  1. Betty White :

    I have a few nice necklaces that have started to look tarnished. How do people prevent this and/or fix it? Is it simply at-home cleaning or do you take to a jeweler? One is from Tiffany’s and the other is from Bloomingdale’s, for what it’s worth (though gifts so I don’t have the receipts).

    • Anonymous :

      At home with the proper cleaner (i.e. For gold or for silver, etc).

    • Anonymous :

      Soak in warm water to which you’ve added dishwashing liquid. Clean with baby toothbrush.
      This method isn’t for pearls, coral, turquoise etc. Works for gold, diamonds, hard stones like ruby, sapphire etc.

    • I actually have a cleaning cloth from Tiffany’s that works perfectly on silver. There’s probably cheaper versions out there as well (but I figured that if the Tiffany’s cleaning cloth ruins their necklace, I can make the case that they owe me :)), although the Tiffany’s one is only $5-10 and lasts for years. You rub it over the necklace and it removes all silver tarnish.

    • I broke a couple of necklaces while trying to clean them, so I am much more likely to take them to my local jeweler if they’re delicate pieces. I clean rings with a cloth at home.

    • Betty White :

      Thanks, all — don’t know how it made this long without knowing this!

      • Ketchup is great for cleaning tarnished sterling. I hate the stinky chemicals. The cloths are good but best for pieces that you don’t actually want to remove all the tarnish (e.g. Pieces with antiquing). And ketchup is almost always available. You just have to wash with dish soap after to neutralize the acid and the scent.

  2. Anonymous :

    Following up on the Hunter boots discussion earlier, I have a lovely pair that I never wear. They fit fine in the calves (I’m size 12), but the ankles are so tight, even with just normal socks, that it is really hard to get them on and off (and I have thin bony ankles!) They seem OK to walk in but I dread the on/off process.

    Does this ever get easier (like breaking in?), or a sign that I should get rid of them and find something that’s better?

    • You need a boot jack. I have long legs and a creaky back and having a boot jack to take off my boots is everything. As long as they don’t hurt you when you’re walking, keep them.

    • They don’t stretch, so if they don’t fit now you aren’t going to make it better with wearing them.

    • Do you have a high instep? I do, and find that I cannot get my feet into any boots without zippers/laces/buckles.

  3. How do you keep your spices organized and how often do you replace them?

    I’m also finding that certain spices (curry powder and cumin especially), seem to contaminate the rest of my cupboard, which i would like to stop.

    • Anonymous :

      I keep my most-used spices on a spice rack right next to my stove (where I can easily grab them while cooking). I organize alphabetically so they’re easy to find. The remaining (lesser used) spices are in a cabinet nearby.

      I replace mine every 6 months or so…I’ve found that good, fresh spices really do make a difference in my cooking (I do a lot of cooking), so it’s worth it to replace them twice a year. I started buying smaller jars (I generally buy Penzey’s) so that I’m able to use most or all of the spices before the 6 months is up.

    • If the cumin and curry powder are fragrant, that’s a good thing. Maybe swap out the container for something airtight.

    • Anonymous :

      I have a magnetic spice rack that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. I mounted a stainless steel plate to the inside of my pantry cabinet right next to my stove and then all of my spices (that aren’t saffron or other similarly expensive spice) go into these magnetic spice jars and are arranged alphabetically. It’s so easy to find and I’ve gotten a million compliments. I could never go back.

      These are the jars I have – and I have 50 of them for all my spices. They’re easy to use, secure, and a twist of the top will give sprinkle or pour options. You can also pull the whole lid off to use a measuring spoon if you want.

      https://www.amazon.com/Bekith-Stainless-Steel-Magnetic-Spice/dp/B01HMCJ9X2/ref=sr_1_4?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1483647960&sr=1-4&keywords=magnetic+spice+jars

    • I keep small baskets in my pantry and my spices are organized alphabetically. I make homemade taco seasoning and chili recipes that use cumin. I just use the spices until they are gone. I don’t really replace them.

    • We built a pull-out spice rack when we remodeled our kitchen, and I HATE it. It’s the only thing I regret about our remodel. Before that, we hung narrow shelves and lined up the spices alphabetically, and I love it. I like spices out and visible all at once.

      As for replacing, I don’t have a time frame, but I’ll replace something if I notice it doesn’t smell as strongly as it should, or if it smells a little stale.

  4. If you have on a Soulful Dress at work, you're doing it wrong :

    I just came across one of my favorite songs: Sugar Pie DeSanto, Soulful Dress, and it struck me it’s a great theme song for “what not to wear to work.” If your dress has any of these characteristics, it’s too soulful for the office. On the other hand, it’s a great song to get ready for a party.

    I was looking for some music by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and was feeling sad that she died this year, but coming across Soulful Dress made me cheer up. Links to follow (available on Spotify)

    • If you have on a Soulful Dress at work, you're doing it wrong :

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96L5ngJgcS8

      http://www.songlyrics.com/sugar-pie-desanto/soulful-dress-lyrics/

    • Anonymous :

      LOVE Sharon Jones. She was so wonderful.

  5. A friend is throwing herself a birthday party — do I bring a gift? Not used to giving gifts to grown adults for their birthday. She’s in her upper 40s. My go to would be wine but she doesn’t drink and doesn’t want/keep it in the house, so I feel bad showing up with it. I’d also prefer not to do something like flowers — I’d rather do something subtle that can fit in a gift bag — just in case I’m the only one showing up with a gift. Can I do food? Or should it be something that’s more for her? I need to be able to find it at Macys or Target — since those are the 2 closest stores to me and I waited too long to online shot; up to $50. WWYD?

    • Print a gift card for a massage or give a card where you write that you’ll be taking her out to dinner just the 2 of you to celebrate and bring it to the party? Or do it via email that you click send on a few mins before the party? Or do nothing but attend, see what others do, and follow suit via a mailed or emailed card/gift?

    • Anonymous :

      Personally, I’d bring a card but no gift. Grown-ups don’t get b-day gifts from me, unless I happen to run across just the perfect thing that makes me think of them.

      If you feel you must bring something, get something consumable – I think food is good, because she can choose to share, or not.

      • Yeah, I’m in my late 30s and threw a party for my most recent birthday. It was great, and mostly people either were empty-handed or brought some beer or snacks for the party. A few brought a card and/or a bottle of wine, only one or two brought something else–I definitely didn’t hold it against anyone who didn’t bring things and honestly don’t really remember who did vs who didn’t! I still had a great time and felt very loved by everyone showing up.

    • I pick up funny cards when going to birthday parties for grown adults.

    • I would give a box of chocolates, fancy olive oil, nice candle, etc.–something hostess gift-y.

    • It is pretty common to do a birthday dinner like this in my circle. Cards and small token gifts are usually brought but I would not say they are required. Wine is definitely the go-to, but I have also seen flowers, consumables (nice chocolates, fancy salt/vinegar/oil, etc.), and jewelry.

    • Shopaholic :

      Does she cook? Fancy salt or olive oil would be a great gift.

    • I had a 40th birthday party for myself and most everyone gave me gifts. Most people brought bottles of wine or champagne, which I was happily doling out at the party until one friend pulled me aside and said the champagne she had given me was special and I should save it for later (and I’m glad she said that because it was too nice to be a forgettable fourth glass of champagne drink.) One friend who loves to bake called ahead and asked if she could bake me a birthday cake as a gift, which I thought was great, because it was one less thing on my list, and also she customized it as I requested – light on the cake, heavy on the frosting! I also received a couple of joke/gag gifts. But I am mainly writing this to tell you, yes, people will bring gifts, and will want her to open them at the party, so if you bring nothing, you might feel a little awkward.

      • Really?? People are going to do a gift opening at an adult birthday party? People don’t even do that at kid parties nowadays? I’ve been to her home before for a party — brought her a hostess gift (it was fancy coffee that time – so I cant do that again) — walked into her house, she was receiving guests, handed her the bag as I said hello, she put it in her kitchen and that was that. I’d hope this is the same.

        • I wrote the comment about gifts at my 40th. People really pushed me to open their gifts before they left. I was kind of surprised but of course I did it. I think they pushed me because they wanted to see my reaction to the funny or the sentimental items.

          • Ps bring a bottle of wine or bubbly in a gift bag along with a funny card. that would fit in with the gift theme no matter what

          • Anonymous :

            I’ve been to several milestone b-days where this was done- wine and also more funny sentimental gifts. But maybe this party seems more casual?

          • OP said that wine is not an appropriate gift due to the birthday girl’s desire not to have it in the house.

        • I don’t generally do birthday parties and agree that adults should not get gifts as a matter of course. But, my mom died last fall and I turned 50 last April. My husband threw me a party and my friends brought gifts. Books, a massage certificate, wrinkle cream, that kind of thing. It made me very happy and I think it is rude not to open a present when it is given with the person there.

    • flowers

    • Anonymous :

      I brought someone a nice candle when she invited me to a party. Diptique I think? I just picked a nice subtle scent that I thought most people would like.

    • Fancy box of chocolates.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Send flowers to arrive on the day of the party. Someone did it for me once and now it is kind of a go to as it saves the host from the stress of trying to find a vase while people are arriving.

    • lawsuited :

      My rule of thumb is that if I’m paying for some element of the party (i.e. my dinner at a restaurant, my ticket for a show or other experience, etc.) then I don’t bring a gift, but if the party is hosted then I do bring a gift. My go-to gift for girlfriends is a lovely lipstick or blush, etc. (with a gift receipt from a department store so they can get almost anything else instead if they don’t like it) that they might not splurge on for themselves.

  6. Roth IRA question :

    Planning to put all $5500 into my Roth IRA at once for 2017 as it doesn’t seem to be a large difference between doing it at once and doing it monthly except doing it now means it’s guaranteed I do it… I know it’s best to do it when the market is low (buy low and all), but I have no clue whether the inauguration stuff will make the economy go up or down to know when to do it! I called Vanguard but they just said to do what I think is right…

    help!

    • Anonymous :

      If you think you’ll forget, I’d do it now. Alternatively, can you set up an auto-transfer for monthly transfers to take advantage of any positive pricing you might hit through the year – best of both worlds?

    • Why would you put it in right now? Market has been running up for 7-8 weeks now, why not wait for a breather? That may come at inauguration or it may come in the months after; we surely will have months where the S&P has a negative return. If you want to put in $5500 at once, just hold the $5500 and put it in a month where the S&P is down 3% or more — doesn’t guarantee that you catch all the downside but at least you’ll catch some. Better yet is if you dollar cost average it in then you’ll take advantage of all the dips. Can’t you put the money in a Vanguard money mkt type of account and then have it automatically buy $458 of whichever fund you chose on the given date of every month? I know such auto investment is common with Fidelity so Vanguard must have it.

    • Take advantage of dollar cost averaging and invest it monthly or weekly in increments. It really does make a difference to do it that way. You’re buying through high and low fluctuations, and if you’re buying a set dollar amount, you buy more shares when the market is down. This method has been proven to improve investment returns over a long horizon.

      • THIS

      • As far as I know dollar cost averaging (DCA) is not proven better than investing a lump sum up front. If I had time I would pull up some articles I read on this. It’s more an emotional thing. Go with what works for you.

        • No, actually statistically, DCA, over a long time horizon, has to be better in a long-term rising market. This is math, and it obviously depends on when you put your lump sums in versus DCA horizon/investment points, but…yeah, math. Sorry.

          • Anonymous :

            Ah, condescending AND no evidence. A great combo!

            http://www.nextavenue.org/the-benefits-of-investing-money-in-a-lump-sum/

            http://www.businessinsider.com/investing-lessons-learned-in-2014-2014-12

          • Show us your math, MJ?

            “The research shows that lump-sum investing pays off about 66% of the time”

            http://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/07/dca-fight.asp#axzz1UGjyAHAt

    • ALX emily :

      There is a major Vanguard study that shows that lump sum investing generally beats dollar cost averaging because, on average, more time in the market is always better, and people rarely succeed at market timing. I know some people argue that the current market is different/more overvalued than normal, but I just don’t believe in (or care about) market timing, especially for long time horizon retirement money (I’m in my early 30s). I am putting my entire Roth IRA contribution in the market next week.

      • +1 invest now, get it over with, and forget it.

      • “Generally” beats dollar cost averaging. But not invariably. You definitely come out ahead with dollar cost averaging if you do it consistently. Of course if the choice is put in 5500 this week or start dollar cost averaging in Jan 2018 — you win; but if the choice is put in 5500 this week vs. start dollar cost averaging the money in this week — DAC generally does win. It’s just that people aren’t principled about doing it.

        • Anonymous :

          The Vanguard study says otherwise – that it’s better to dollar cost average rather than save up the money and put it all in at the end of the period, but if you have the money now, at least 2/3 of the time it’s better to lump sum it than to dollar cost average.

    • When I put $ into a Roth, I always did a lump sum. I don’t care if it’s not “best”, because “done” was a higher priority to me than “done perfectly”. Of course, you know yourself best. If you’re likely to have the time/effort/discipline to put it in week by week (I clearly don’t, and I’m a CPA who should “know better”), do that. Otherwise, just do it.

      So many financial decisions boil down to just plain knowing yourself and what works for you. The financial decisions I make are good ones. Are they ones that everyone on this board would declare “perfect”? Highly unlikely. But I’m still making a ton of progress and I’m happy with what I’m doing because I do things the way that make sense for me.

    • Put the whole $5500 in the account now to ensure you do it, but it can go into cash within the Roth and you can buy into the market over time if you prefer. Half now, half later is a good compromise if you’re worried about having regrets post inauguration. Or half immediately post inauguration regardless of what happens, half later in the year. We actually take this approach fairly often in the funds I help manage professionally when we don’t have a ton of conviction on when best to time a trade.

      • Can you put it in cash to start and then have a set monthly amount automatically move over into index funds? That seems to be the way to do it to truly take the emotion out of it.

  7. Talk to me about home ownership – or not. 36 and just CAN NOT pull the trigger on buying. Lived in NYC for 8 yrs and now in DC for just about 2. I — and everyone around me — thought that I just didn’t like NYC and didn’t want to pay $500k for a studio in a city that I didn’t like and I’d move to DC and buy. Now I’ve been here for 2 yrs and while I find the apartments “better” — i.e. bigger; cheaper; washer/dryer; etc. — I don’t know, I still don’t want to commit and would rather just rent. Huge part may be that I don’t like my (stable) job, so I want to keep options open for picking up and moving back to NYC. But part of me thinks — I did NYC, didn’t like it, is it worth it to keep options open forever?

    I am a saver and investor as well, so for me a huge part of it is putting a huge sum of money into an illiquid asset (can’t sell a home in a minute; and even if you sell then you need to move) when I can just have it in the market. And as much as the DC housing market appreciates, the (stock) market appreciation is much better/faster if you look at the numbers yr over yr — so I’m even more turned off by an illiquid asset with a lower return than can be had elsewhere.

    Am I going about this wrong?

    • If you would rather just rent, rent. Homeownership is not required.

      • OP here — I know it’s not required, but is this one of those things I’ll financially regret at 50? I view it as part of retirement planning — i.e. I don’t want to be paying monthly when I’m retired, so I need to buy before that. But part of me thinks — can you buy at 50 with a 15 yr mortgage or a cash purchase later if you save appropriately?

        • You can definitely buy a home with all cash if you save properly. Also, I personally don’t consider my house when I plan for retirement. I only count the cash I’ve funneled into retirement accounts and always figured that my mortgage payment will eventually become my monthly travel budget upon retirement.

        • I think the answer to this is YES. My parents bought their first (and likely only) house when they were in their 50s. Granted, that was because purchasing a house in NYC takes a lot of money and they saved and saved. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

          I also have no plans to ever purchase but am thinking about saving up for a down payment for my old age. Plus with technology, we might wind up living in communal pods one day or something.

        • worker bee :

          YES

          I am like you. Renting all the way for now. Don’t need to deal with the stresses and extra expenses of home ownership. Investing all my $$ and doing ok with that.

          Home ownership isn’t for everyone.

          I might feel differently if I were married, and knew I would be staying in one place for > 5-10 years. Otherwise…. rent!

        • Anonymous :

          Hi there. Almost 50 and I don’t own. I don’t regret it.

          But it is a case by case situation. Do what makes you comfortable. If you do buy – buy wisely and don’t think of your house as an invesment. If you do rent – make sure you put into savings all incremental savings of not owning.

          For me, we are in an extremely high property tax neighborhood, and without kids in the school system the property tax burden becomes a non-starter. So even though I have the money to buy, we are renting and I’m putting the incremental savings (and then some) away for retirement.

          There is no right answer – do what works best for you at this junction in your life.

    • Anon in NYC :

      Eh, I like renting. I’m married with a kid and still don’t feel like I quite have a handle on what my next step career/life-wise is going to be and I like to keep my options open. I also like not having to be responsible for considerable maintenance.

    • Homeowner here — I don’t think buying a house to live in is a particularly good investment. In fact after considering property taxes, interest payments, maintenance, and upgrades, I’m probably in the hole on my house, even though it has appreciated since I bought it. Real estate might be a good investment strategy if you’re putting the property to work for you, but if you’re just living in it, not so much. If that’s the only reason you think you should buy a home, don’t.

      • I think it depends pretty heavily on your market, but I would agree with this analysis for DC.

        I, however, live in a LCOL area, and rents are significantly higher (to the tune of $500/mo) than my mortgage/property taxes for comparable properties. Even with some renovations/maintenance costs, I’m still ahead compared to if I rented a comparable house in my neighborhood.

        That said, I didn’t buy as an investment. I bought to have more freedom, because the rental market is not great out here, and because I don’t want to pay rent in my retirement. I also don’t think that you have to own a house in order to be “doing it right” and that if it’s not a good time to buy for any particular reason (or if it never is), that’s totally fine. I have friends who are my age (early 30s) who continue to rent even in the LCOL area we’re in, and it works well for them. They spend slightly more per year, but worry less than I do.

    • OP here — what Torin says is what I’m finding. I wouldn’t buy a single family home but rather an apartment or at most a townhouse (though likely an apartment/condo since I’m used to high rise living). When you factor in taxes + HOAs — which are not insignificant in newer buildings + renovation costs — which may be minimal in a new building but significant in an older building where I could minimize my HOA — I don’t see how anyone comes out ahead. Maybe it’s different and you come out ahead in SFHs in the suburbs? So I keep thinking, let the capital grow instead of sinking it into a home right now — esp since I don’t have kids, don’t need to be in a certain school district etc.

      Yet when I say it to my peers, they look at me like I’m a fool who is wasting my money away and just doesn’t understand. Yet I feel like I have a decent handle on the (stock) market/investing and do understand how it works — given that I’ve been investing for 8+ yrs now — even though I don’t want to get into it with friends IRL bc I don’t want to talk about money that specifically.

      Anyone else every feel “social” pressure to buy a house or were made to feel like if you didn’t buy — everyone else would go into their 50/60s worth millions while you’d be way way behind?

      • I will be getting a federal income tax return this year of about $6-7k purely because of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions. Without those I calculated it would be basically $0 returned/owed. I don’t consider that to be so much money though that it suddenly makes ownership the only smart choice and renting a total waste of money.

      • worker bee :

        You’ve got it backwards. Many folks got/are underwater in their overbought houses, and are spending lots more on maintenance/utilities for more house than they need. Everyone rationalizes their choices by putting more pressure on you to follow their lead.

        Just smile, nod your head, and YOU will be the one able to retire early because of your aggressive investing. You are also learning how to live within a modest sized space and are less likely to be subject to lifestyle/COL creep. Just say that your savings are growing nicely and you love being able to have the flexible lifestyle that renting provides.

        You’re just fine.

        • This is more common than you’d think. Not that everyone is necessarily underwater — but it is VERY common — esp. in the northeast to stretch housing budgets to buy in certain towns, certain school districts; and then bc those homes are older to gut the whole house so you have granite everything etc. There is a LOT more sunk cost in a home besides just mortgage + interest — and the returns aren’t as huge as they used to be. So yeah — people do want to rationalize their choice with the whole — at least we bought, can you believe Jane is dumb enough to be wasting her money on rent. Meanwhile if you just take the differential between your rent and their mortgage/int/tax/maintenance and invest that consistently every single month — you do come out ahead.

        • Anonymous :

          +1

      • I commented upthread about how my buying experience worked out for me (well, but in a LCOL area). Honestly? In your position I wouldn’t buy.

        There is a huge societal pressure to buy for all the reasons people have discussed already. But if renting is saving you cash, you’re investing that cash, and you’re happy with the overall state of affairs, don’t buy, and try not to worry about the weird looks from others.

        It made sense, in our area, to buy (a small house that is old but updated/solid). We pay, with our property taxes, about $200 more per month than we did for a teeny tiny apartment that was way too small for our needs. But that’s a bit of an anomaly in more rural areas, I think.

        • Your description is similar to mine — small, old house but recently renovated, and about $200 more per month than I would’ve paid for an apartment of a similar size. But apartment would’ve been without a yard (which I use the h*ll out of because my dog will literally play fetch for an hour straight, lie down for 10 minutes, and get up and want to play for another hour) and without the ability to customize in all of the little ways I have customized since buying (bright paint colors, exercise equipment bolted to the ceiling, etc.). It wasn’t about the $$ for me so much as the lifestyle I wanted. So basically what anon at 2:49 already said!

          • Truth. I don’t think there’s a “bad” decision to be had, really. People make choices for different reasons in this area. All are valid and have different benefits.

            If we move to a higher cost area, though? Totally renting. :)

    • You’re not wrong. Plenty of very financially savvy people, including my former tax prof, believe that to buy/rent is purely a lifestyle choice. I’ve always hated when people say that renting is “throwing money away” – you’re paying for a place to live without the risk and commitment of home ownership. Totally anecdotal, but I know plenty of people who are in some sort of financial trouble because they bought their home – they’re upside down on the mortgage, they’ve sunk more into repairs and renovations than the house is worth, they had to move but couldn’t unload the house, they got hit with a huge HOA assessment, the HOA fees have increased so dramatically that people are letting their banks foreclose thus driving down property value, they bought new but now the builder won’t fix things in the house or finish the rest of the development, etc. The only people I know who have made money on their home are folks who have been in the house for 20+ years.

      • OP here — I think part of my fear is being from a place that does NOT have a hot economy and thus doesn’t have a hot property market. Thus I saw friend after friend of my parents sink money into SFHs (which they admittedly needed to raise kids but they were also constantly upgrading, bought in high tax districts etc.) on the belief that when the kids were gone, they’d downsize and easily pull an additional $200k+ out of their paid off homes, buy themselves a smaller place, and the SFH sale proceeds would net them a great retirement. And then the reality hit — homes don’t sell for 6 months at a time or sometimes even 2 yrs at a time bc no one is moving into the area and there’s enough land left that no one will pay 300k for your 35 yr old home when they can put up a new construction for 340k. And this is an a northeastern state — not a sparsely populated rural community in the Midwest.

        I realize that that is NOT going to happen in DC and places like Arlington etc. BUT I think it put the fear in me at the young age that after 30 yrs in a home, you may NOT be walking away with the type of cash you thought you would.

        • Anonymous :

          I think that when you rent, you rent what you need (small 1BR). When you buy, the transaction costs are so extensive and selling/moving is a much bigger additional transaction cost, you tend to overbuy and buy more space on the off chance you need it down the road. [E.g., I only rented tiny apartments, but I bought a 2BR b/c in Arlington it would be “practical.” Turned out, I moved for a job in 3 years.]

          If you don’t over-rent and are truly a saver, I think you’d be fine in DC (NYC or SF, maybe not).

      • huh, I doubled my money on my first house in 10 years, and according to Zillow I’ve more than doubled it in this second house in another 10 years. I’m in the Bay Area.

        The reasons to buy a house are many, but I know too many people who have lost their long term rentals and had to either pay much more or move to a less desirable neighborhood just to stay afloat. That’s the risk with renting.

        There are risks with home ownership too, but someday I’ll want to retire, and I don’t want to deal with huge fluctuations in monthly housing costs. My house will be paid off and I’ll be paying only property taxes and insurance for it (along with utilities and other things that both owners and renters pay), which will be very nice and secure. I also won’t give a rat’s ass about appreciation or equity at that point – just a fixed cost of living.

        • The Bay Area is a whole different animal than DC for renting and owning; housing doesn’t double any 10 yrs anywhere else, not even in Manhattan and certainly not in DC. Not to mention OP says she too wants to retire with the fixed cost — difference is, she’d invest the money up until age 50 and buy with a 15 yr mortgage or keep investing the whole time and then buy in cash. She’s not financially wrong here — it’s not like she is planning to be 80 and moving from apartment to apartment.

          • Actually our house in DC doubled in the last 10 years. You just have to be a savvy buyer. Our mortgage is $1,500 less than a comparable rental and our house will be paid off well before we retire.

        • Huh. Good on you, I guess, that you managed to buy a house in the bay area 20 years ago. Would that we all could have done that.

          Your last paragraph reminded me of my aunt and uncle who own a home in a wealthy NYC suburb. They’re not thrilled that, as they approach retirement, they’re paying $50k/year in property taxes.

          I’ve found that in my area and in my stage of life, renting has allowed me to live in much better areas than I could if I bought a house. I’m with OP- I will probably buy one day, but right now I love the freedom. Freedom to move within the city, freedom to move within the country. Freedom to email maintenance for something as tiny as changing a lightbulb. OP, are you single? Consider that not owning property could be a convenience if you meet a partner who does, or decide you want to go in together.

          • Right. I would have loved to have bought 20 yrs ago in the Bay Area or NYC or even DC — oh wait, I was 15 . . . .

          • Minnie Beebe :

            Yes, property taxes in California are low– I don’t know if this has changed in the 8 yrs since I moved out of CA, but property taxes then were based on sale price, not on assessed value. I think it was ~0.01% of the purchase price, no matter if you bought last year or 30 years ago. So for a house that you’d bought for $250k 20 years ago, you’d have been paying only ~$2500 annually in taxes, regardless of the fact that the current assessed value might be above $1mil. Of course, the person who then pays $1mil for that house will then have a much higher annual property tax bill, but even so, compared to upstate NY, that tax bill will be peanuts.

          • Do you really think property taxes aren’t factored into rents??

          • “Do you really think property taxes aren’t factored into rents??”

            No. Don’t try to be cute.

            I say that to contest the notion that anon at 2:50 implied, which is that property taxes are just NBD, by her statement: “I’ll be paying only property taxes and insurance for it (along with utilities and other things that both owners and renters pay), which will be very nice and secure.”

            50k/ year for retirees doesn’t read as ‘very nice and secure’ to me.

            Come on people. Reading comprehension. Thx Minnie Beebe for the helpful info (I don’t live in CA). Obviously the right solution for all of us was to buy homes in the Bay Area circa 20-30 years ago, and also to have bought property in NYC like 40 years ago.

        • anonymous :

          Chiming in to say that I did this in Chicago. I bought because I had the cash to buy outright and did so in 2012, with about 30% of my liquid assets. It was just a colossal waste of money to pay rent for me — even with property taxes and the HOA fee, I paid 5 times less than I would if I were renting in the area. Three years later the price appreciated over 30% the original purchase price went into the next home (with a small mortgage) for me and my SO (and our family someday) and the remaining ‘bonus’ (minus closing costs) went back into the investment portfolio from whence it came. That was extremely lucky, though. I didn’t buy it knowing it would appreciate like that, just that my monthly costs were lower to buy than to rent, but it turned out well for us.

          I don’t discuss my finances with friends, though, so I caution friends of mine who want to do the same thing because it is very common among people I know to buy a home they cannot afford. I have one friend that literally said “I mean you bought your place at 25; I’m 28! I’m ready!” and I just cringed because she has no savings and bought a studio that she could have rented for less and without the taxes. (I actually gave her a phone number of a family member who works in loans to lay it all out for her… and instead she went to a financial planner – essentially, paying someone fees to tell her what she wanted to hear.)

          OP- if you are living below your means and saving and investing, you are in good shape. If you do so by renting, great! If you do so by buying, great!

    • In DC, bought 4 years ago and am happy I did. Here is why: (1) I have a nicer house for less money than if I tried to rent the same space; (2) when there are things that annoy me about the house but aren’t necessarily broken I can chose to fix them and weigh how much they annoy me versus return on investment; (3) house has appreciated $150k in 4 years , which is between 20 and 25% of purchase price; (4) for my level of income the mortgage interest deduction is helpful; (5) my mortgage is 3.75% and I can beat that in the stock market so with (4) above I don’t feel any rush to pay the mortgage off; (6) even though buying the house felt like a stretch 4 years ago I have half the value of the house in cash and investments today so the balance seems fine (1/3 if you don’t include retirement savings).

      • It’s great that it’s appreciated 150k in 4 yrs. Problem is — it’s illiquid. How do you get that money out? You only get it out when you sell. Presumably if you’re 30 and want to stay in the same place, you won’t sell until 65. Is there some guarantee that that 150k won’t be given up in 30 yrs? And even if it isn’t, in order to get that 150k out, you need to sell and move. If you want to take the money and go to a totally different cheaper area — great, you win. But if you want to stick around, you will need to rent or buy something else — it’s not like your property appreciated 150k and the rest stay the same, they appreciate in the same proportion typically; so that 150k is just what you will need to buy another place. I just don’t see how you come out ahead.

        • First Year Anon :

          THANK YOU for pointing this out. I have always been perplexed by this. I think it only works if you were smart and bought something in an up and coming area for example and it has appreciated, then you sell and can move to an area you enjoy better with the income. But if you buy just the typical house in the typical area, everything goes up the same rate (generally speaking).

          Is there something I am missing here? I kind of wish there was because I am not opposed to buying I just don’t ever see the value.

          • I think it works/used to work bc people were more apt to sell their home and retire someplace else — like Florida. So if you pulled $ out of an east coast house that had appreciated, you spent some on a retiree community in FL, and banked the rest as cash. Maybe it’s just my circles, most older people I know now are NOT leaving their home/hometowns to retire in FL. They are staying where they are often bc they have kids/grandkids nearby and want to be involved in daily life — so the appreciation in home value.

            And yes — if your home value goes up 2x, regardless of what people think, their home isn’t special — all home values in that area went up 1.8-2.5x. So while you can be excited about that extra 100k, once you monetize and get it in your pocket — you’ll have to spend that extra 100k to buy something else bc its value also would have increased. Again it works if you take that 100k and leave the area and go somewhere with a cheaper COL.

        • We have a HELOC with an interest rate around 5% option, which isn’t ideal but would allow us to take some money out if we needed and pay it back later.

          I think the point for me is that if I had rented for the last 4 years I wouldn’t have the $150k in any form because my rent would have been more than my mortgage (so no investing the difference) and the tax deduction we get from the mortgage interest covers anything plus some we have spent on home maintenance and upgrades. So yes, my $150K is illiquid but its $150k I wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, there are still other neighborhoods in DC that I like that are cheaper than mine, so I could sell, buy in one of those neighborhoods and have cash in my pocket. Or if I ever move it is likely to be a lower COL city than DC, which is likely because I have no personal interest in living in NYC or San Francisco, so I would get a benefit then. Obviously there are risks involved but any short term investment has risks.

          • First Year Anon :

            Yah, see my rent right now is around the same as the mortgage payment (with a hefty- at least 30%- downpayment) on an equivalent property, not including condo fees and taxes, as well as transaction costs with buying and selling. If rent was more or equal to all of that, I would definitely see the value in buying.

    • No advice, just understanding from a fellow renter. Husband is mid-30’s, I’m late 20’s, and while we can definitely afford to buy, it’s really tough for us to imagine sinking our large liquid investment/saving’s account into a home. We also live in one of the highest HCOL areas in the country (coastal Los Angeles), so paying $1M+ for a 2-bedroom townhome is just really hard to get my head around. We do plan to buy someday (once we have kids and we need to worry more about school districts, etc.), but we aren’t in any rush to do so. I kind of like knowing exactly how much my housing costs are going to be over the next 12-month, instead of paying down a mortgage but also dealing with property taxes and unexpected maintenance and repairs. The mortgage tax deduction would be nice, though.

      In hindsight, we wish we would have bought during the downturn (2010-ish), but DH and I were just out of school (b-school and undergrad, respectively) and probably wouldn’t have qualified for a mortgage when lending standard were stricter. We instead focused on paying down his student loans, which are great to be free of, but I do wish we could have taken advantage of that price dip then, after seeing how much homes have rebounded in such a short time.

      • The real estate market moves in 8-10 yr cycles — it’s not like it won’t ever dip again. Maybe it won’t be the same kind of dip and it won’t bring prices down to where they were in 2008-2010, but it will take them off their peak. Why not just stay on the lookout for that?

        • That’s exactly what we’re planning to do – buy during the next dip of some kind. We just can’t comfortable with paying peak prices.

    • Anononope :

      Here’s why we bought (less than a year ago): we got really sick of paying rent on a house that wasn’t *ours* to change/fix/maintain as we liked. We found a place that feels like a steal (Zillow says it’s worth $50k more than we paid for it?) and that also feels just right for our life. But! Tomorrow we’re dropping like $3k on plumbing repairs. Who knows how much fixing the pool will cost, but the fact that it’s leaking is worrying me. The backyard needs something done, for sure. Etc. etc.

      But what I’m hearing is that you don’t want the drags of ownership, because to you the benefits don’t outweigh them. In that case, don’t do it!

      • Anonymous :

        Never trust a Zillow appraisal….

        • Anononope :

          Yeah good point — I have zero intention to sell, it’s just kind of like “woah!” to see the number go up like that. The real-life appraiser said it was worth $20k more than our accepted offer, so that’s neat! But my hope is just that it doesn’t fall into the ocean/burn down/blow away (SoCal) because I don’t have a contingency plan for that.

    • Without re-hashing all the substantive points above — which are really good — realize that a LOT of people buy for lifestyle reasons but then justify it as a necessity; and I also moved from NYC to DC and found that a fair number of DC people look at home ownership as a reason to “look down” on others subtly — in that, oh they must not be able to afford it or they’re not savvy and are spending money on rent — not realizing that in NYC in the professional world, it is VERY common to not buy and instead invest. In DC it’s more “traditional” — housing is more important than equities.

      But on the lifestyle issue — lots of people buy bc they absolutely won’t have even a newborn baby in an apartment; they must be in a certain school district; or even if not that — lots of people want dogs and then realize it’s easier to have a dog when you have outdoor space. If none of these apply to you, smile and nod and ignore their “advice.”

    • I might be too late with this question but… does it matter if you own or rent for public school/zoning purposes? I assumed there was no advantage associated with owning for this purpose. If someone rents in a particular school zone, they also get to send their kids to that school, no?

      • Yes. When you enroll your kids in public school, they just require a proof of address to prove that you indeed reside in their district. They don’t ask for a deed — they don’t care/can’t discriminate based on whether you’re an owner or renter.

      • Marshmallow :

        I was interpreting this as knowing you want to be in that school zone for 10+ years, so you don’t need or want the flexibility of renting and don’t want to risk getting pushed out in a few years by increasing rents.

    • Anonymous :

      40 and I own and I hate it every time I need an oil burner, roof, windows, repairs etc. When I don’t need those things I’m neutral. The only thing I like is the lack restrictions on what I can do.

  8. Anyone else shop the Lilly sale today? I’m annoyed that year after year, they can’t manage to keep their s1te operating properly! It’s not like the demand is a surprise! But I did buy one cute “island vacation” top for an upcoming trip.

  9. Friend BreakUp :

    So, advice on breaking up with a friend. I’ve known this woman for over 30 years, we’ve always been very different but have always remained close friends. A while back she really took advantage of me, and I stopped talking with her. She stopped reaching out to me, too, when she realized she could no longer take advantage of me.

    Well, a few months ago she reached out apologizing for how horribly she behaved, etc, etc. I know she is a good person and is probably genuinely sorry and would probably never do anything like that again, but to be honest, I just don’t really care to expend any energy on her, so I’ve just ignored her. Shortly after she had reached out, she ended up having a near-death experience and being hospitalized for a bit. Everything is fine now (I think). With all of this, I feel like I should reach out and be friendly, but I really don’t want to.

    I am a jerk if I just continue to ignore her and let the friendship drop? Should I send a text/call and actually break up the friendship?

    • Anonymous :

      Just let it drop. You don’t need to send an official ‘not your friend’ email.

    • You’ve already broken up and she acknowledged that when she reached out. I would do nothing. Having a breakup conversation is redundant and unnecessary. Reaching out would be potentially restarting a friendship you’re not interested in. Sit tight.

      • worker bee :

        +1

      • Anonymous :

        Alternatively, you could reach out while maintaining your distance and broken up status. An email that says “I heard about X, I’m glad to hear you’re okay” can be compassionate and doesn’t necessarily mean you’re friends again.

    • Anonymous :

      Graciously accepting her apology doesn’t mean you have to be friends. Ignoring her isn’t really nice at all.

  10. California EA :

    Help! I’d like to buy a watch. I like the oversize style, but not too big or bulky (38mm/40mm at the largest, I think). I like clean, classic faces (like Daniel Wellington and Shinola). Silver colored, not gold or rose gold. Black/blue/gray, not brown tones.

    Easy, you say! Just bite the bullet and go for the Shinola. But I also like an automatic, self winding feature. This is hard to find on women’s watches! And all the ones I’ve seen are busy and/or bulky.

    Now cost–I have $1500 worth of Saks giftcards that I can spend. OR $500 on Amazon. OR $200 at any other retailer.

    I’m no good at this stuff–anyone have suggestions?

    • Why do you want a self winding watch rather than one that takes a battery?

      I like the Shinola. I bought one for my husband. It came with a card bearing the name of the guy who made it (Tony) which we both loved.

      I don’t like large watch faces on myself so I’m not a Shinola candidate but I tried on lots and there are such pretty combinations of metal and strap colors that I was really tempted.

      • California EA :

        I’m thinking that the self winding is the feature I’ll probably end up giving up on. I like it because I’m a bit of a nerd, but also really bad about getting things like batteries replaced. I like being able to put it on and just be done. It also seems so wrong that it’s a common feature on men’s watches, but not women’s.

        I like your feedback on Shinola–I like what I’ve seen online so far and should probably go into the Saks store and try them on. I work in SF, so there’s a nice big one that I can visit before going home one day.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          I recommend checking Citizen EcoDrive. I’ve had one for 7 years that I really like. It isn’t self-winding, but is solar powered so it takes care of the battery issue. I’m horrible at getting watch batteries replaced so I’m only willing to look at smart watches and solar powered or self-winding at this point.

        • I’m the Shinola commenter. I live in the bay area too and I love that Saks. I could get up to all kinds of no good there. They have a gorgeous shoe department and I love the jewelry designers they carry.

          How is it that the value of your gift from your boss is $1500 at Saks but much less at other places? Or am I misunderstanding this?

      • +1
        I have a self-winding watch (Blancpain) and it’s a huge hassle. I have to re-set my watch all the time, especially if I go the entire weekend without wearing it. Also, it never keeps time as well as my old battery-powered watch did.

    • Too bad it has to be specific places because of the gift cards. Otherwise a pre-owned Rolex could be in your price range. The quintessential self-winding watch.

      • California EA :

        I know! I love Rolex’s clean lines. Dropping $1500-2000 of my own money (not in company-supplied gift cards) is a no go, I’m afraid. It’d take me a long time to save that up, since most of my discretionary income is going into retirement, saving up for a future education program, and student loans.

        I’m lucky our CEO loves giving out Saks gift cards for Christmas. I get to splurge once a year on things I normally can’t responsibly afford.

    • On the suggestions of others here, I got a Skagen for Christmas and I love it! I got this one (the blue is darker than the pic, but beautiful!)

      https://smile.amazon.com/Skagen-Womens-SKW2293-Gitte-Stainless/dp/B00NVDCDVW/ref=sr_1_76?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1483647975&sr=1-76&nodeID=6358544011&keywords=skagen+women%27s+watches

      • California EA :

        Thanks! I love the face and definitely ran across it in my searches. I’m less fond of the mesh band, but it might be worth trying on in person.

    • Anonymous :

      What about a Seiko? Mine “charges” based on wear– swinging your arm as you walk charges the battery.

      • California EA :

        I’ve looked at Seiko before and don’t love the styling on the women’s watches and the men’s watches are a bit big/bulky for me.

    • Watch lover :

      I bought a Citizen that’s an automatic and love it. It has a 40 hour time reserve and I’ve only had to reset it once in the past two months. I also have a Citizen eco drive (gift from ex – post break up but that’s another story) and it’s great because I’m awful with batteries.

  11. Do I put months on my resume? FWIW I’ve had my MBA about 10 years now, but with a lot of contract and part-time project work during that time. So for recent jobs in the past 5 years I could see putting months, but for August 2007 – June 2009? Like that?

    Especially looking for input from hiring folks, not just applying folks (no offense). Thanks.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, I want to see months on resumes. If I don’t see months, I wonder if you are hiding a really large gap (like 11 months). Hiring folks who are <10 years out from college generally.

    • Yes, put months like that. December 2007 to February 2008 (two months) is different from June 2007 to December 2008 (1.5 years); 2007 to 2008 does not delineate that (which actually is why some people exclude months).

    • Anonymous :

      My resume has no months, and it doesn’t seem to have hindered my ability to get jobs. I’m about 10 years out of my terminal degree.

    • Cool. Thanks. Will be keeping the months on, then!

    • It really depends on how many jobs you’ve held, and your tenure there. If you move jobs every 18-36 months, include months. If you move 5+ years, it doesn’t matter to me- 60 vs 65 months somewhere is a non issue.

      • Yes, this^

        Since you say you’ve done a lot of contract and short-term work, it will make you look much better to show that you’ve had very few gaps in employment. Someone with lots of short term work and no gaps tells me that they are in high demand and had no trouble finding work. If there are lots of gaps, that would probably be a red flag and I’d ask about it in an interview.

    • Recruiter here. Please put months. I agree with AnonZ above. If you have a string of contract assignments with no gaps, this shows that you are in high demand. Better to show that rather than having the potential employer wonder and throw your resume out.

  12. Anonymous :

    How do you get costume jewelry fixed? I had a post break off of a couple of pairs of my earrings. They’re fake but kinda nice, like Kate Spade or whatever. Not cheap. Is that fixable?

    • You can just use a superstrong glue, like e6000, for those type of fixes. It’s very fixable. I switched out a bunch of my inherited clip-on costume jewelry to posts buy using wire cutters and then e6000.

    • Many malls have a little jewelry/watchband/key/shoe repair place hidden away in a corner that will do this kind of thing.

  13. Silly question, but I need dog snow boot recommendations. I have a tiny pup, so either need petite or size 1 offerings. I am in PA, so will likely get one good snow, possibly some lingering ice. He gets cold very quickly and I’d like him to have some traction due to his low weight.

    I don’t want to spend a fortune, but I also don’t want to have to buy 5 pairs throughout the winter because they keep falling apart. They run from $14 – $100, with reviews ranging from “never buy” to “best thing ever!”

    HALP.

    • Would a coat + Musher’s Secret work, especially if you’re not expecting tons of snow? Worked great for my urban PA dog. Musher’s Secret is the only thing that prevented stops every to steps to do the sad, salt-induced paw lift. My dog was big (55 lbs) but short hair and no hair on belly, so the coat was necessary.

      • I was thinking about using the paw wax, but then I did the whole crazy dog mom thing and was all OMG HE IS GOING TO BE SO COLD HE NEEDS BOOTS.

        He is 5.5 lbs with not a very warm layer of hair. He has been wearing a sweater inside since it got cold and then I double him up and add a hat to go out and he still ends up shivering. :( Honestly, most of the time I don’t make him go outside at all when it’s really cold and bad weather, but I have managed to mostly retrain him that lunchtime (when it’s, in theory warmer) is our new #2 time. I’d like him to get outside at least once a day so we don’t completely forget about being housetrained!!

        • OMG I really just want to see pix of the pup in his two sweaters and his lil’ hat.

          Because I am a crazy dog lady.

        • Would something like this help with warmth? https://www.etsy.com/listing/476769953/italian-greyhound-clothing-fleece?ref=market

    • Dog booties . com (all one word). Cheap, so buy extra so you don’t feel like you need to dig on the snow if one falls off. Not sure on sizing for a small dog, but I found their customer service helpful so hopefully it will be a good option for you.

    • Anonymous :

      Buy something cheap to start with to make sure your dog will wear booties. Mine won’t. She literally refuses to move when we put them on her.

      • VERY good tip, thanks!

      • I tried booties with my dog and the look of combined terror and confusion on her face nearly made me pee myself. She also picked her feet up very high off the ground while wearing them, for no reason I could see.

        What I’m saying is, CountC, be prepared with your phone to video this bootie-trial-run for posterity.

      • MargaretO :

        +100 my dog will not walk in boots. just won’t. (but it was hilarious and fortunately the store took them back)

      • We got Top Paws booties from Petsmart. I think they were $15-20? They work just fine.

        I do, however, have an extremely agreeable Golden Retriever (he’s basically Dug from Up) so he’s happy to wear his booties, his rain coat, his fleece when it’s ridiculously cold outside, etc. So YMMV with getting your pup to like his boots. We’re pretty sure ours is just like “oooooh, I get to wear clothing like the rest of my pack!”

      • Cross paws :

        I’ve had some luck with resistant bootie-wearers by putting on diagonal pairs to learn. So right front and left hind. Let them wander around for a bit and figure it out. (Giggle at their strange walking.) Then other side. (Giggle more.) Then combine. (Usually not much giggling at this point.)

  14. Women's March Attendees :

    Let’s start a roll call for who is planning on attending the March and when you’re getting in. Maybe we can have a meet up.

    I’m (New Tampanian) getting in Thursday evening the 19th, leaving the 22nd.

    • Marshmallow :

      I am attending! Probably getting in quite late on Friday night and leaving Saturday evening.

    • Anonymous :

      I have bus tickets for a day trip with my family and a group of friends, but I am getting extremely nervous about the safety aspect of taking a child to a huge event that does not seem particularly well organized and may be targeted by violent extremists of all stripes. We will probably end up chickening out.

    • California EA :

      Oakland is doing a march also, if you’re in the Bay Area and don’t want to/can’t go to DC.

    • I’m going and am local.

    • I’m local and leaving the city for the weekend, as are most of my friends

  15. $ question :

    Why is it totally fine to discuss rent/mortgage payments and home prices but somehow not okay to talk salary? The more I think about this, the stranger it seems.

    • I think this is location-dependent. Where I grew up, talk about mortgage payments and home prices was and is still not done, similar to salaries. Where I live now, at least among friends, it’s all fair game.

    • Anonymous :

      Salary is what people are worth (though not really) vs what things are worth. It’s a touchy subject because people base their self worth around it.

      • +1 to this.

        People view salary as a measure of self-worth (or others’ worth), whereas rent/mortgage is a measure of what things are worth.

    • We don’t talk about either in my circle, though home values often just pop up (you give me your address, I type it into google to get directions, it shows me how much you just bought your place for) in a way that salaries don’t. Though now that I work for a not-for-profit my salary is going to be disclosed on our tax filings, so that’s weird.

      • Anonymous :

        Same. I work for the government so my salary is public, but someone has to specifically go searching for it. Often I find out home prices accidentally (plus, looking them up intentionally seems more common than looking up people’s salaries).

    • Rent and home prices are fair game among my friends, but not mortgages. I can look up what my friends purchased and sold their homes for though. Then again, I have a pretty good idea what my friends and family members make (I even reviewed my BIL’s job offer and noncompete agreement earlier this week), so I guess we’re just not a polite crowd.

  16. FMLA/Leave Question :

    Posted on the Mom’s page too, but need some help….

    My employee manual says: “All paid leave runs concurrently with FMLA leave.” Does this mean if I take paid vacation for maternity leave for X number of weeks, that I loose X number of weeks of FMLA eligibility? I.e. if I take 4 weeks of paid time off after baby is born, I only have eight weeks of FMLA left?

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Correct.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes. It means you can’t have more than your 12 weeks of FMLA off. Any vacation/sick/maternity leave you use will just get you paid during those 12 weeks, it won’t give you additional leave.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes – concurrently means at the same time.

    • FMLA/Leave Question :

      I should’ve also asked- is this typical? The intent (I’m guessing) is to ensure no one takes more than 12 weeks of leave- paid or not- in the year. right?

      • FMLA/Leave Question :

        Basically, with this language, is there no way to use all of my saved paid vacation, and then use the 12 weeks of FMLA on top of that in one year to have a long maternity leave longer than 12 weeks?

        • Anonymous :

          Correct, you cannot have more than 12 weeks off total. And yes, this is extremely common. I would say most employers either do this or offer a paid maternity leave that is longer than 12 weeks (like in Big Law where you get six months paid). I have not heard of an employer saying “you can have 8 weeks of paid mat leave and then you can take your 12 weeks of FMLA on top of that.”

          • Anonymous :

            And even employers that give more than 12 weeks paid leave frequently require FMLA run concurrently. My employer gives six months paid, but you can’t then use 12 weeks of FMLA for a total of 9 months off. Making the paid leave run concurrently with FMLA is very normal.

          • Delta Dawn :

            I agree that this is very common. Your paid leave sounds great! But I have not heard of any employer who gives paid leave and also allows you to be gone for 12 additional FMLA weeks.

      • My employer prides itself on taking good care of its employees, but still does require the benefits to be used concurrently. I think it’s pretty normal.

        • FMLA/Leave Question :

          Thanks!!! Annnnnd this is bull$hiiiii…. but glad it’s just not a bad choice of employer on my part!

          • Anonymous :

            Why is it bull…? FMLA is designed to protect employees whose employers don’t offer ANY leave. If they couldn’t run concurrently, white collar companies would just not offer any paid leave, which would be far worse.

          • FMLA/Leave Question :

            I misread this to have said “employer prides itself on taking good care of its employees, but still does *not offer maternity leave*…”

      • Anonymous :

        People at my company take FLMA and then take their vacation time afterward (at your manager’s discretion) for longer maternity leaves – technically their leave ends and then they’re on vacation afterward. We have STD (paid leave), so when you’re receiving that I believe they can’t require you to give your PTO or Vacation time because it’s no longer unpaid leave (???) . I find it confusing. If you have a STD or some policy where it doesn’t kick in for X days, then you would have to use things like vacation for those X days until your paid leave kicks in. Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong…

        • FMLA/Leave Question :

          Oh, see that’s the kind of anecdata I was hoping for- using FMLA then coordinating vacation. Does the STD run concurrently with FMLA?

          • Anonymous :

            But that’s Anon at 4:12’s company. Your employee manual expressly says you cannot do this. Everyone is giving you the same, correct answer and you are refusing to accept it. Anecdata from other employers cannot trump your company’s written policies, assuming they’re legal, which they are.

          • Anonymous :

            Yes, STD runs concurrently with FLMA and is commonly paid leave at a reduced rate. Talk to your HR rep and manager of course to understand what you’re allowed to do, but I think you generally don’t use vacation and STD at the same time (not yet able to test this part out myself!) Different companies have different STD policies, so they cover different time periods, start and end at different times, pay different rates, etc. Your STD may not cover 12 weeks or it might, and your manager might be a jerk and not let you use vacation after your FLMA is up. Also if you work for a large company, the stuff in your employee manual may not always be enforced so it may say that you need to take vacation time concurrently during the periods you’re not receiving std, but then they may not actually make you to do it, so you can take unpaid time and then stack vacation afterward. For that, see if you can find out what other women in your company did.

        • Anonymous :

          This sounds normal. At my office, we get 12 weeks of leave (FMLA). The first six weeks are covered by STD. There is a two-week wait period in the STD, which my office pays fully (if it didn’t, I guess you would use vacation/sick time, as in your office). The second six weeks are either unpaid, as allowed by FMLA, or you can use accrued vacation/sick time so that you earn a paycheck.

          • Anonymous :

            This is how our office works, except the 2 week wait is not covered so we have to use sick/vacation time.

    • FMLA/Leave Question :

      FYI in my example of 4 weeks paid leave, that’s like my vacation days. NOT a maternity leave benefit. I meant use my saved PTO…

      • Anonymous :

        It’s all the same. Parental leave, vacation leave and sick leave can all run against FMLA.

    • Anonymous :

      Think of FMLA not as a paid maternity leave, but as a guarantee that you can not be at work for 12 weeks, for a valid family or medical reason, without your employer firing you. Because that’s really all it is.

      • FMLA/Leave Question :

        Ah ha, yes. That’s helping it come together!

      • Anonymous :

        This. FMLA is not “maternity leave” of any kind. It’s job loss protection if you are out of the office for certain reasons for 12 weeks or less.

      • I’m late to respond, but this exactly. My company sounds like yours, but a little “worse”. FMLA is literally just job protection for 12 weeks. So we get this:

        Week 1: The waiting period for STD, you MUST use PTO for this. If you have it available, you automatically lose 5 days. If you don’t have it, this is unpaid.
        Weeks 2-6: STD. You have to file a claim ahead of time to qualify, and you get 60% of your salary.
        Weeks 7-12: Leave. You can choose to use PTO to get paid 100% for some of this, otherwise it’s unpaid.

        Some people have negotiated with their manager/HR to get a longer unpaid leave portion but that’s been only in cases where they had to start this before the birth for medical reasons, so only got 6-8 weeks after the birth. Technically that portion wasn’t covered by FMLA, so they had to get signed documentation to ensure they were allowed to take the leave, and then hope the company didn’t fire them anyway.

  17. Eyeglasses Canada :

    Canadian ‘rettes: For those who wear prescription eye glasses, where do you buy your glasses from?

  18. Eyeglasses :

    Canadian ‘rettes: For those who wear prescription eyeglasses, where do you buy your glasses from? Looking for affordable options.

  19. applesauce :

    How can I get an ex off my mind? Was scrolling through the Forbes 30 Under 30 and there he was. Haven’t spoken to him in a couple years but it’s a little haunting to see how incredibly (and rightfully) successful he is. Our relationship highs were really high but lows were terrible – he’s brilliant, handsome & fun but also manipulative and brought out my competitive, closed-off side in a bad way. I’m in a great relationship with someone is the polar opposite – reliable, stable, kind, open but conversely is also predictable and sometimes unexciting. I’m dwelling on the memories of the good times that are missing in my relationship now (excitement & adventure, fabulous dates & trips, great in bed) and ignoring all the bad times (disappearing acts, poor communication, playing games). I highly doubt it would’ve worked out or even been worth the pain/stress (I ended it and had to cut off communication for my own sanity) but I’m struggling to get him out of my head. How can I drop this sooner rather than later?

    • Anonymous :

      No real advice, but if it makes you feel better the 30 Under 30 always made me feel bad about myself. From ages 26-30, I had acquaintances on it every single year. It was honestly such a relief to get well into my 30s and no longer have to feel bad about myself every time that stupid list came out. So I commiserate.

      • Eh.. I was nominated for a similar list and I’m no special sauce. Basically, my company (like your ex’s) does a number of things every year to maintain a good profile and an internal (PR in our case) runs through a list of employees they’ve had dealing with recently and nominates a few folks based on factors which are important to PR, but not necessarily important to the company. Being a woman doesn’t make me a better engineer, but it does make me a better poster child.

    • Anonymous :

      Create more excitement in your relationship with your current partner! In my experience that feeling goes away when you find someone you like better. It sounds like you might not be fulfilled in your current relationship?

      • Anonymous :

        This.

      • Srsly. Also, it’s partly your responsibility to spice up gardening. Get it, gurl!

        Also, do you actually like your current dude?

      • applesauce :

        I am very fulfilled in most ways and honestly feel really lucky most of the time. One area I’m not fulfilled is excitement, which may be why the ex is lingering in my mind – I love to do and try new things and he would be happy to do the same old whatever for eternity. It’s a little tough to always have to be the one to think of and suggest new things but he’s always open to it, just never thinks of it himself. Conversely, the predictability is also comforting since I’m a planner and I always know what he wants both now and in the future. The balance is certainly a larger issue I’m keeping in mind as it applies to bigger things down the road (willing to live in a new city, take risks, etc).

    • Don’t think about him, think about who _you_ were when you were with him. It sounds like he brought out your bad side, and from my own experience with being with someone who brought out my bad side, you feel terrible about yourself when you’re in that kind of a relationship. He might be a whole long list of amazing things, but if he makes you feel terrible about yourself because he brings out your bad side, well, not one thing on that whole long list matters at all.

    • No real advice, but Kylie Jenner is on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, so maybe take it with a grain of salt?

    • OMG is your ex my ex?? No, my ex is not on the forbes list but he does show up in the press from time to time, and your list is a lot like mine. After a press sighting I dwell on it for a couple of days and then I”m back to normal life. This is completely normal human behavior and I don’t think you should beat yourself up about it.

      Since our exes are so similar I will just tell you this – my ex’s next serious partner found him to be monogamy-challenged.

  20. Paging Bridesmaid Vent :

    Just catching up on this morning’s threads (today has been totally unprodutcive, why change that). Anyway, I’m going to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. We’re renting Monique Llhuillers through Vow to be Chic.

    The business model is different than RTR. I did the try-on of the dress (those things run tiny!), and my dress was in pristine condition. The other bridesmaid said her zipper was broken. I still have to place my order for my dress (for September), but you get the rental for a full week at least, so even if I get one in rough shaped, there’d likely be time to get a fix.

    • Bridesmaid Not Venting Anymore :

      Interesting! I wish I had known more about rental options when I got married, although my own dresses worked out pretty well. Knowing this bride, she will not go for a rental. Having a $350/plate wedding is “just how much weddings cost” to her, so the idea of renting something is probably totally insane to her. But… I wonder if she does choose something like that, if they have the same style and I could opt to rent just my own dress. Hopefully she isn’t going the ML route and I won’t have to worry about this.

      • I actually just talked to a bridesmaid whose bride did RTR, and it seemed to work out well! Good luck, I am so glad to be past the bridesmaid stage of life. It is never easy.

        Perhaps you could convince her that you can get better designers that way – more high end.

        • I said it this morning, but I am SO, SO happy to be past the bridesmaid (and for DH, groomsman) stage of life. Our time, vacation, and money is our own again–or, at least, our toddler’s.

          • Yeah, seriously. This all made me happy to have had no bridesmaids too!

          • To be fair, I had a lot of bridesmaids and enjoyed being in many weddings for several years. We planned and budgeted to be in those weddings and did not (and do not) resent or regret it at all. But now, I love being a regular old guest! Just like I imagine, once the toddler years are over, I’ll be happy to be on to the next stage :-)

  21. Ya’ll! Ann Taylor Loft is styling sheer black hose with shorts. I am not kidding. And I like of like it. I can wear shorts when I go out now! Seriously, my mom would wear shorts, hose, and open toe high heel sandals on dates when I was a teenager and she looked adorable. Will you do it?

  22. Oh, yeah, Anon at 5:12! I had some dark denim trouser shorts that I rocked with tights and closed toe shoes!

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