Frugal Friday’s Workwear Report: Fringe Knit Midi Skirt

First off, I would not expect this skirt to be bulletproof — I’d expect it to snag and maybe to fit in a very body-conscious way at the beginning of the day. If you’re looking for a $29 skirt that has a bit of fun with fringe like this, though, this is a great one to consider. For static electricity reasons, I would definitely get a plain black slip to wear underneath. (It’s also available in white.) The skirt comes in sizes XS-L and is on sale at Saks Off 5th for $29.99 from $78. Catherine Catherine Malandrino Fringe Knit Midi Skirt



  1. holiday cards :

    Do you send them? How many?

    Do you send actual cards or Minted photos of your family?

    Anyone send a long letter about what the family did this year?

    Does anyone still hand-write cards?

    How many do you usually receive?

    cards have basically turned into a family photo exchange… think this will change, or is this the new normal?

    • I think this is the new normal. I haven’t sent cards in a couple of years, but I still get about 15 to 20. When I sent them, I sent out about 70 (and received about that many back then). I would handwrite in each card – an update about my life, asking them about theirs and I really tried hard to tailor it to each person. I sometimes get the generic long letter about what the family did, but more frequently it’s just the pre-printed photo cards any more. To me it feels a little impersonal, but I do love seeing the cards and the photos. I keep all of my cards up on display as I receive them until early Jan when I’m taking down all of my Christmas decorations.

    • Anonymous :

      I have sent cards every post-college year of my adult life (except one year, when I sent birth anouncements out in November and figured I had a pass) and I’m an Old.

      I used to draw something and have Kinko’s make it into cards. Now it’s just the ones where you can put a ton of pictures onto. My kids are old enough now where I think we can move from sweet over to something with more personality and having them help assemble / add notes. It’s sort of a big creative project that I enjoy vs a task though.

    • Anonymous :

      Ordered 125; probably should have ordered 150. Oops!

      Got in maybe 30? I love to get them. Pls don’t stop sending! It’s the only time there is love in my mailbox all year!

    • We send about 35 to out of town friends. We do handwritten cards with a short personalized note. So far the vast majority of cards we’ve gotten are preprinted photo cards. Two came with letters, one of which contained way too many typos for a woman with a graduate degree.

      • Knock knock. The Spirit of Christmas calling. I want my cards back Scrouge.

        • Meh. It’s one page, it’s a completely voluntary exercise, and she is highly educated. She can’t bother to proofread a letter to her friends and family?

    • I sent 20. I am single,, mid-30s, and have no kids, so I made a funny “family” picture collage of all of my animals sleeping (and an action shot of the horse). It was from CountC’s House of Wayward Animals.

      I put a personalized note on the back of each of them.

      I received about 10 cards, which enjoy getting and have displayed on my mantle.

      • A dear friend of mine sent out a Christmas photo with her dogs and her horse all together at the barn dressed up in Christmas finery. It was awesome. I would love to get a card like yours!

      • Eager Beaver :

        This is awesome!

      • ChristmasCards :

        I am also single, no kids, late 20s. I send out a Christmas post card each year. The front is usually some artistic Christmas design, the back includes a small picture of me on one of my crazy travel adventures. The benefit of doing a post card is that it seems less “formal” and you also save on postage. I order them on Minted or TinyPrints. I send about 60, and probably get back around 40. Most of my single friends do not send cards, most of my married friends only send them consistently once they start having kids. I rarely get handwritten notes anymore.

      • I love this.

    • lawsuited :

      I still send handwritten cards, sometimes I also insert a typed newsletter with photos. This year I sent about 60 cards, no newsletter. I received between 10 and 15 cards. Especially with the increased cost of postage ($2.50 to send a card internationally!), I’m really not sure why I bother to do it except that I do love Christmas and I do love letter mail.

    • I send photo cards and some years a brief update (new job / new house / something cool). This year I didn’t bother with news since we had a “slow news year” haha.

      The vast majority of cards I receive are photo cards and I love it — my favorites are where some of the photos feature the kids doing their favorite activities (whether it’s a sport, building stuff with Legos, curled up with a book, etc).

    • Ordered and sent 60 to family & friends — pretty similar list to who we invited to our wedding many years ago, plus a few business connections.
      Had intended to write notes on the pre-printed photo cards, but time got away from me and I ended up sending without personalization this week.
      Probably received ~30.
      Even if it is just pictures, it’s nice to see them.

    • I sent out 11 hand-written cards to my nearest and dearest, plus two more that were hand-delivered. My SO wanted to do joint photo cards for our first year of cohabitation but we didn’t get our act together. I wouldn’t mind sending or receiving photo cards, but I really enjoyed the hand-written card process–it gave me such a nice chance to reflect on my relationships with my BFFs. I expect photo card + hand-written notes on the back for my tribe next year.

    • We send about 30 to family and out of town friends. Just a photo of our family with a simple holiday/New Year greeting. I used to handwrite a message but gave that up a few years ago. No letter. My parents do a letter and I think it comes across super braggy, since all they talk about is their accomplishments and their extensive international travel.

    • I usually send a few. Maybe 1-2 dozen depending on the year (I always send one to someone if I get one that I didn’t expect so end up sending more than expected every year). Have always done real cards, hand written. Last year I got a lot of grief about not doing personalized picture ones (‘but we want to see the baby!!’). This year I decided to give in and do a photo card but with a very improvised, non posed for photo of all of us. It’s funny and very personal but I think some in my circle will not get it. That’s okay.

      I will be adding handwritten messages. Otherwise it just feels like an advert. They’re due to be delivered today – we decided to do New Years instead of religious holidays.

    • We’re sending them this year, for the first time. We got married in October, so we have cute photos and wanted to share. Also, having sent out invitations, we already had most of the addresses collected. They are from Minted, postcards. We hand wrote Happy Holidays! or the like on every card, and handsigned them, but did not do more personalized notes. We are sending out about 70. We get a handful. I love the photo cards, and they go on the fridge for display until I have something else to put up in their place. I still have John Brooke’s grandparents card on the fridge from last year, because it’s a great photo of them.

    • LondonLeisureYear :

      200 cards sent out a year
      A typed annual update letter to the elderly who don’t have facebook or do those that are old that have Facebook and would still like letter.
      Minted/Shutterfly/Pinhole depending on the year.
      Sent out for the past 7 or 8 years.
      We get around 50 – more every year because our friends are getting married and getting into it. We started young for our age group, before we were married so like age 21/22.

      • LondonLeisureYear :

        PS because we are Jewish they are Happy New Year’s Cards

        • We send Happy New Years cards too – compromise with my Jewish husband :-) I finally got him on board with the idea and I love sending and getting cards. I did photo postcards this year from Minted & it forced me to write a personal note with each one, but was ultimately a lot easier to do than stuffing envelopes. Sent out around 100, usually get about half that. I’m also an equal opportunity lover of all holiday cards – I like photos, letters, notes, no notes, anything at all really. It totally makes my day to get something fun in the mail this time of year.

    • This year we sent about 80 (photo cards, some with a brief handwritten note) and have received about 50, mostly photo cards as well. Only 1 came with a ‘newsletter ‘. I (and the kids) love seeing pictures of friends and family, and display the cards through the season.

    • I send a photo card and no note. About 75
      recipients. My return is about half. Similar format – photo card, no note.

      I love receiving the cards. I line them up on a ledge in my entryway and I’m sad to take them down in January. I love seeing everyone’s kids and vacation photos.

    • I intended to send about 20-25 cards with a short “update” handwritten in each. I prioritize my list by oldest recipients first, and so far I’ve only gotten to those above 80. Maybe I’ll get a few more mailed before NYE.
      But I’m always very primp about mailing thank you notes!

    • We sent about 50. Which is to say, I sent 48, my husband sent 2. We do the kind with a family/kid/pet photo on the front, and then I write a brief note on the back — for people I communicate with all the time it’s generally just a short holiday wish, and for people I don’t, it’s a little more in depth. I do try to keep it un-braggy, like not some sort of glamorous vacation picture, but rather just a picture that shows us as we are. This year it’s my kid running and screaming with joy in a terribly mismatched outfit. She looks beautiful but not in a buttoned up way, and that’s accurate. The cats are on the back of the card, looking handsome and demure.

      I absolutely love getting holiday cards from my friends and family, watching their kids growing up, seeing what they’ve been up to, laughing at their dogs in sweaters!!!, and I hope that people feel that way about ours too.

    • Senior Attorney :

      We sent out 200 and could have done more. We got married this year and did a photo card of several cute photos from the various wedding festivities. I addressed them all by hand and one of us wrote a personal note on each one. I used to do cards all the time when my son was growing up, then I stopped when my life was so crazy, and it’s nice to start up again with my lovely new husband.

      We’ve gotten maybe 60 cards. I like getting all of them, although I must admit the pre-printed card with the pre-printed address label, with no sign of being touched by human hands other than to stuff the envelope, doesn’t quite warm my heart like one that was at least addressed or signed by hand. And I LOVE the newsletters!

    • I ordered 40 Happy New Year photo cards (because I did not get on this task in time for them to be Christmas cards, and also because many of my recipients are Jewish). For friends and family I don’t see often, I handwrite a short letter on the back. For all the family I just saw at Thanksgiving, I only sign with a brief salutation. No newsletter, because it would only say “we are surviving life with preschoolers and looking forward to public school.” I’ve only gotten about 10 cards from others this year. I miss this being A Thing the way it was when I was a kid. Especially since I have ditched social media, I don’t otherwise get cute pictures of my friends’ families and pets.

    • Lucy Stone :

      We love cards! The last few years we’ve done a mix of photo cards and regular cards. I still handwrite messages inside. This year we did regular cards with our birth announcement that I never sent out tucked inside. I think we sent around 100 and probably received about 50.

    • Anonymous :

      Love cards, any kind.

      But it is a little downer when you get the post cards preprinted with no signature, addresses are printed on stickers. Some touch of a human would be nice…

    • Anonymous :

      Sent: 35 cards with art on front and handwritten notes

      Received: 5 cards, but loved getting each one.

  2. Anonymous question :

    (Posting this anonymously)

    Is wearing makeup to work an expected professional norm? Is not wearing any a misstep?

    I work in finance. This is my first job after college. The dress code for everyone is suits (pants or skirt) collared dress shirts, ties for men, close toed dress shoes, hair can only have natural colors (red, blonde, brown, black and gray) and the only visible piercings allowed are earrings.

    The dress code was just updated to include makeup as a requirement for female employees. It is to be understated, and examples are given, but it is a requirement and not optional. This isn’t an issue for me or most of the women here as we already wear makeup, but on Tuesday when a colleague clarified if it was a requirement and found out that it was, she handed in her ID badge to her manager, said she quit, and walked out on the spot. She started the same day as me and only worked here for 6 months. I knew she didn’t wear makeup and when the dress code came out and some of us were discussing it she said she doesn’t own any and didn’t wear any for her wedding, so she wasn’t going to start for work.

    My question is whether she made a misstep by not wearing makeup or if she was right that it shouldn’t be a requirement for a job like ours. Mostly everyone here (staff, we haven’t discussed this with managers) believes that she is wrong. I do wear makeup but have never heard of it being a requirement for jobs that weren’t things like actresses, dancers etc.

    • That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! I can’t believe they require you to wear make up. I do wear make up, but I would take serious issue with this requirement.

    • Anonymous :

      Insane. Your company is sexist, you need to expand your horizons. Makeup is a requirement if your job is being pretty. If you job is finance, this is epically horrendous.

      If you’re not a troll wow. Just wow.

    • Shots. Shots. Shots. :

      She is 100% right. I would love to meet her right now. Nothing fuels my fire like the power of righteous feminist rage. Burn it to the ground, makeup free finance lady, and please let me add fuel to the fire.

      • SE Midwest :

        +100. Thank you, Shots.

      • TorontoNewbie :


      • +1

        I’m one of those make up free girls and it would be less professional if I did wear make up because I’d always be smearing foundation on my sleeves or smudging it or something. As long as employees maintain good hygiene/grooming habits and dress appropriately for their workplace, I don’t see why it’s any of their employer’s business whether some powder goes on their faces or not. You don’t see company codes mandating hair gel or aftershave or whatnot for men.

    • I’m not an employment lawyer, but this seems like a discrimination suit waiting to happen unless they start requiring men to wear makeup too. Outrageous.

      • Anonymous :

        OMG — this I would love. My finance brahs just cannot do eyeliner. It would be a full-on Tammy Fay.

        FWIW, I would not have quit the job. I think you can wear makeup that is totally natural (Madame Chic’s the No-Makeup Look). Maybe you do this for a week and it looks so natural that no one can tell that you’ve stopped. [You do this while looking for another job.] But it’s more that quitting in a spectatular fashion seems to be a net negative for your reputation rather than just moving from Morgan Stanley to Goldman quietly.]

        ALSO, pls tell the hive: what is this company?

        • Anonymous question :

          I apologize for any confusion in my post. She did hand in her ID card and walked out, but she didn’t make a scene or anything. It was done quietly. Apologies if I gave the impression that she somehow made a scene or quit in spectacular fashion.

          As I said, examples were given in the dress code on the type of makeup that was required so going for a natural look and phasing it out would not have been possible. Especially since it was a requirement, and being found without it would mean being sent home/out to put makeup on.

          I’m not comfortable outing myself online so there is no way I am giving my company name. I like my job and I need it. Sorry about that.

    • Yay! Fruegel Friday’s! I love Fruegel Friday’s and this Fruegel Skirt from Sacks, but the fringe has NO place in my office. Frank would be pulling at the fringe trying to see if he could shorten my skirt. His hands go EVERYWHERE and I do NOT want to encourage him with this skirt. FOOEY on Frank.

      Which lead’s me to the OP. Yes, I understand that you do NOT want to be bullied into weareing makeup, but trust me, I can’t even BEGIN to think I would be presentable in court w/o makeup and pantihose. It is NOT a legal requirement to wear that, but if we want to be sucessful, we MUST appeal to our juries and our judges, and if that mean’s makeup and pantihose, so be it. I know in the summer time, pantihose is a pain, but think of it like this. If you look good, you win more cases, you can meet more guys and you will make more money and if you have money and a guy, you can stop wearing pantihose and makeup that much quicker once you quit the working world for a life of leisure at home! That is what I am hopeing for, tho the DECENT men have YET to maternalize for me.

      I do NOT think it is a legal issue, Emmer. When I reserched it, I learned that it is a CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT in certan jobs to dress right, and that can include wearing makeup. It is a deductable cost under IRC Section 162 if you buy expensive makeup, so make sure to keep your receipts in case the IRS asks you why you bought something more expensive then you might get at the Dwayne Read. I think we can be both professional AND pretty. It is NOT one or the other. So even if you are in Finance, OP, you CAN be attractive and land a man. YAY!!!

    • How would anyone KNOW if you are wearing makeup? Particularly since the more understated it is supposed to be, the less anyone can tell.

      In answer to your question, looking well groomed is the norm, and looking sloppy is a misstep. None of this has anything to do with makeup.

      • Anonymous :

        I’d just slap on some lipstick. If not enough, I’d go full-out vintage KISS.

      • Anonymous :

        Right? I mean we’ve talked this week about how clueless men are on women’s fashion choices at work, I feel like that definitely extends to makeup.

        That said, studies have shown women to be perceived as more professional when they have makeup on. While I don’t think it should be mandated, my personal decision to wear makeup is largely driven by the impact it has on how I’m perceived.

    • Bring a lawsuit (if this post is real – not sure if you’re trolling).

      • lost academic :

        I’m not a lawyer but maybe someone here can help me out understanding this? Since she quit, can she still bring that lawsuit? I had this impression that someone still working there would have to do it. Personally that’s what I’d have done (theoretically) but then I can’t imagine I’d ever end up in a place that would require that given my skills.

        That being said, I bet that person never imagined she would, either…

    • your company is insane :

      I do not wear makeup and would be angry as all get out if my company began requiring it and I would definitely not start wearing it just because my job required it. However, I would not quit before seeing how strictly it was enforced. I would continue on, as before, until someone made a fuss over it. Given the change in requirements though, I’d probably put extra emphasis on looking neat in all other ways, like having nicer attire, wearing pantyhose (if not already strictly required), styling my hair.

      • Anonymous question :

        The dress code is enforced strictly. If you are not in the proper attire you will be sent home until you can fix whatever it is and return. Someone in another division got a small, light pink streak in her hair at a bachelorette party and when she came in that Monday she was sent home. I’ve seen men sent out to buy a tie because they didn’t have one. I think because it would be enforced she knew that there was no getting around it.

        • Really curious — who does the enforcing? Is there a hall-monitor-type person?

        • I have never appreciated BigLaw as much as I do right now. If I came in with purple hair, a tatoo sleeve on both arms, a bone through my nose, and wearing pajamas, I am 100% confident that no one would send me home or even say a word (probably totally not true for staff, but they could do very soft stretchy clothes, the colored hair, etc. and it would be OK).

          • Interesting. I’m biglaw as well and this is the exact opposite of my experience.

          • I find that in BigLaw, the really senior partners or ones with big books of business can get away with anything. 100% working remotely. Mandals in the summer. You name it.

            And anyone who is or has been pregnant gets cut a lot of slack for attire when pregnant and when back from leave (for like a year).

            This is for office/transacational people. For clients, everyone steps it up. But for the office, a known profit center doesn’t need to care.

    • This is horrible and seems possibly illegal if it applies only to female employees. As someone with extremely sensitive skin and eyes, I can’t wear most makeup without getting disgusting rashes and red, watery eyes, and there’s no way that’s a more professional look than going makeup free. Until men are also supposed to wear makeup to look professional, you can’t possibly convince me that it’s a requirement for women.

    • Anonymous :

      I am appalled that anyone is even discussing the “how would anyone know” aspect of this. There is no way that makeup can be required for women only without it being discriminatory. This makes no sense. And I don’t want to get into whether or not cc cream with a tint is makeup or whether a colored lip balm is enough. Specific types of personal grooming cannot be mandated for one gender unless there is some real, work-related reason for it.

      • Anonymous question :

        Under our dress code and the examples given in it that would not have been enough. It’s hard to explain without showing the example pictures.

        • And you and all your coworker’s are okay with this? Are you in the US? This is really shocking.

      • Right, but it’s like other things in work that I just decide not to follow but don’t want to stick up my hand about not following.

        I find that as a working woman with two small kids, there are not a lot of hills I want to die on and a lot of time it easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

      • Oh, don’t get all riled up. I was asking because I was curious, not because I thought it would affect the illegality (and absurdity) of it.

    • Anonymous :

      It is weird that she would quit instead of refusing to wear it or complaining. It doesn’t sound like a real thing a person would do.

      • That’s why I think this person is a troll. Yeah, the thought of stomping out like that fulfills a fantasy, but did that actually happen? I doubt it.

      • Anonymous question :

        I think she quit because our dress code is strictly enforced and if she didn’t wear it she would have been sent home. The dress code has always been enforced.

        • People in finance really have time for this? My finance clients (debt trading desk) are like 99% men and would seriously have no idea unless something were horribly over-done. Since the NE can be so preppy in finance, even people with good concealer / powder / etc. look like they have no makeup on or a very natual look.

          Like are there hall-monitor types (probably female) giving you the once-over as you walk in?

          Why am I seeing Tess McGill?

          • I work in consulting with finance clients and I guarantee no one knows what fashion is. I can’t believe this

        • And what finance company operates like a high school, where people get sent home for being dressed inappropriately? :)

          • lost academic :

            I read in the last few months about a situation in the UK where staff at a law firm were being required to wear high heels and being sent home if they were not. The question in the media revolved around whether or not it could truly be required for someone like a receptionist.

    • Definitely discriminatory. Your colleague should not have quit, though; this would have been an excellent opportunity to retain the services of the best discrimination attorney in your area and see how much fun can be had.

      Anecdata: I practice in federal court and your office dress code matches up with what I consider to be appropriate attire for that work. Less than half of the female attorneys and almost none of the male attorneys wear anything that even resembles makeup. If it is good enough for the federal courts, it’s good enough for finance.

      • “see how much fun can be had.”

        With this sentiment, you and I are meant to be friends.

      • Yeah, if this story is actually true, I’m thinking that the item handed over shouldn’t have been a badge: it should have been the business card of an employment attorney the moment someone demanded that she put on makeup or go home.

    • Annony Mousse :

      I don’t think I would have walked out that day, but I would have started looking for a new job right away.

      For one thing, I don’t wear makeup. I’ve tried. In the summer, I sweat, and all the makeup comes off when I dry my face. I rub my eyes during the day, and the eye makeup comes off, or worse, gets in my eyes. And nothing I have tried prevents mascara from making dark racoon shadows under my eyes, even when I don’t put mascara on my lower lashes. Makeup is far too much work, and expense, for far too little results, for me. I could put on tons of makeup in the morning, and by mid-afternoon, it would all be gone, except the mascara circles under my eyes.

      For another thing, unless the job was customer facing and the makeup was some sort of requirement for the job itself, and not just part of the company dress code, there is no need ever to wear makeup. There is a need to wear clothes and shoes, but not makeup.

      And lastly, the requirement for women to wear makeup is sexist. Makeup is only worn to make the wearer look “pretty.” Pretty is not a job requirement for anyone other than models. Dress codes can certainly require employees to look well-groomed, but makeup does not have to be a part of that. Unless the men are required to wear makeup as well, this is discrimination.

      And what about people who can’t wear makeup, due to allergies or skin conditions? Will they have to disclose medical conditions in order to get or keep their jobs?

    • Troll

    • Most companies with a dress code do comment on makeup. Ours says makeup should be tasteful and natural looking. Is that as bad as requiring women to wear makeup? I don’t think so. But it hovers over the line in my opinion. Our dress code also says no multiple piercings or visible tattoos.

      However, these aren’t really enforced. There’s a woman in our office who wears the full you tube makeup tutorial look, complete with very cartoony false eyelashes, and no one says boo. This is one where I kind of wish they’d enforce the code. Every single time I go into the ladies room she’s in there touching up her makeup.

  3. Recently my throat and sometimes my eyes are itchy every morning after I wake up, but after I get into work and for the rest of the day, I feel generally okay (or maybe I’m distracted by other things and don’t notice it). Obviously I should probably ask a doctor but I won’t have my appointment for awhile. Does anyone here have any experience with something similar? Thanks.

    • In my case it is dryness. I use a humidifier in the winter and that helps tremendously.

    • This happens to me and I usually dust and vacuum thoroughly, wash all the sheets in hot water with a splash of bleach, and make sure that the pillows/duvet itself isn’t looking too dusty. Seems to help. Dryness used to be a big issue for me too, but I moved out of the Northeast and don’t really need a humidifier now.

    • If it started when it got colder, I agree that it’s probably dryness. Try a humidifer. If that doesn’t help, also consider whether you got new bedding or furniture or switched to a detergent or other cleaning product that could be bothering you. Honestly, doctors typically aren’t much help with this kind of thing. You’re better off doing trials of possible irritants yourself and only going to the doctor if it’s not getting better after eliminating the obvious triggers.

    • This happens to me all winter because of the dry air. A humidifier helps.

    • If you’re allergic to dust mites (and you should find out if you are) then this makes sense. You spend most of your time in the bedroom, where your skin sheds, and dust mites eat that, then poop. (Dust is mostly dust mite poop, and that’s what people react to). Your mattress is loaded with dust mite poop. If you find out you are allergic, the allergist will give you specific instructions about how to really clean up. It usually means a non permeable mattress and pillow cover and no rugs in the bedroom, plus of course frequent vacuuming with the right kind of filtered device.

    • I’m in moderation for using the word p o o p. But look up dust mites and dust mite p o o p in the bedroom. This would explain why you wake up with allergic symptoms that clear up at work.

  4. My cousin in Southern California is looking for someone to help her select colleges and review her essay. When I graduated from high school in the ’90s, no one paid for this type of help, but I’m hearing that this is a common thing at her wealthy suburban public school because college admissions is more competitive now. Does anyone here have any suggestions on someone who does this? I’m tempted to tell her not to pay anyone for this – I mean with the internet, there’s way more info about colleges than we had from those huge “Best Colleges” type books. Does anyone have more recent experience with this and have any advice?

    • Anonymous :

      IDK, but I wonder about this.

      My kids are zoned for a good public high school (for our city), but the guidance counselors there are overwhelmed with a population that is still maybe 1/3 very needy (so they deal with pregnancy, homelessness, criminal involvement, generally nothing happy). Parents of modest means (and esp. first-generation people) often hire independent college counselors to help out (and, I think, to help divide the nagging/oversight burden) and especially explain how to find $ (applying to scholarships, aid at private colleges, etc.). I don’t know how you vet and find a good one, but I’ve come to expect that it’s like buying shoes and books — just something a parent has to do b/c we can’t expect the schools to do it now.

      [I think that when you pay private HS tuition, good admissions people come with it, but that may be totally wrong. Public schools just want you to graduate and test well and you’re kind of on your own / need to be on your and your parents’ A game.]

      • lost academic :

        I don’t think that last statement is a good blanket description of what public schools want at ALL. You said it yourself: they have many other responsibilities and many many other students and fewer resources than a private school has, where the priorities can shift based on what the clients (parents) want.

        But to your primary point, I think you look at reviews and track record and methods and successes – you’re interviewing someone you’re hiring to basically be a consultant for your child’s college application process which is a years long endeavor. I think this is where talking to parents of children a few years older than yours is best.

        • I mean: our public schools are very happy that you graduate on time and happier if they can say you went to college. But they also don’t necessarily have the time to say: maybe you are applying to large State U, maybe small State college would be something of interest, come let’s plan a bus trip of area schools that we can take the seniors on, much less different farther-off options (like applying for the service academies, which takes a lot of legwork than other schools in getting recommendations, etc.).

          I think they do a good job, but it’s like how schools don’t spend on gifted education b/c so many kids just can’t read. If you want more than 30 minutes with a guidance counselor, you’re probably better off hiring someone for several hours of guidance and oversight / application tracking.

          • Lots of public schools, including under-funded urban schools, provide all of these services to their students

          • lost academic :

            What PEN said.

            And I’m certainly not saying that’s not what’s happening at YOUR public school but it’s not universal. That’s all.

    • No, but I wouldn’t pay for it because like cover letters, everyone has an opinion. There is no guessing what an admissions officer is looking for. Unless she is paying for basic editing–typos and grammar, but again…why would you pay for this? Isn’t that what teachers and parents and so forth are for?

    • In my limited experience, I don’t think these coaches help students get into colleges they otherwise would not but for the coach’s guidance. However, I’m sure they alleviate helicopter parent stress, which in turn may help the kid mentally.

    • I work in a fancy private school and actually, college counseling is a huge industry — private as well as in-school (we have two dedicated in-school counselors for a high school population of about 270).. Part of the role of a college counselor is to help kids “match” to places that are good fits for them in terms of environment, interests, etc. — there’s no way all parents know the entire college landscape nowadays. Plus, the college counselors at our school help match kids to places where they’ll be competitive for merit and scholarship aid. So while it’s not required, it’s certainly a helpful service.

    • A college admissions counselor can be valuable if the kid has special circumstances (such as a disciplinary record that may be a deal-breaker).

      There are dozens of top-flight, world-class universities out there that parents may not know about, but a counselor does. That way, if the kid is among the 95% of Harvard applicants who doesn’t get admitted, he has options in line with his talents, career goals, and personality.

      There are things admissions officers want to see (ie that the kid actually wants to be at the school), and a college counselor can help tailor cover letters, essays, etc to the “feel” of the college.

      Often with teenagers, parents can do stuff, but it becomes a power struggle or filled with drama. Having an outsider brainstorm essay topics, proofread, keep the kid on track with deadlines, etc., is valuable.

      And I can rant forever about this, but the amount of flat-out wrong gimmicky stuff that people think is true… it’s insane. Among things: if your target schools are, say, Temple and Villanova, apply to Princeton as well. That way, when the Temple admissions people see you’ve also applied to Princeton, they’ll think there’s something special about you and give your application a really hard look!

      Because clearly, the admissions officer would never wonder if someone’s pulling strings in the background for Princeton, or if the kid is just delusional.

      A college admissions professional can give parents a much-needed reality check.

      They can also give some perspective on strategy. A student who really loves Johns Hopkins but kind of wants Harvard might be better off not rolling the dice on Harvard via single-choice early action and instead locking in via binding early at JHU. There’s opportunity costs that a good admissions person can discuss.

      Is all that worth thousands of dollars? No idea.

      • Anonymous :

        Lots of great points here. Especially about the kid listening to an outsider more than parents, and helping to set expectations.

    • Yes, this is absolutely a service. However, can someone in the family with good writing skills review her essay? Or help her review her choices to see which ones are a good fit, stretch, safety, etc.?
      My brother is a horrendous writer, and I have a comms degree, so I reviewed his essays. I refused to let my mother review mine, but our AP English and History teachers also offered this as a favor to their students, so I wasn’t overly worried.

      • Anonymous :

        The catch is that family does not know what will resonate with the admissions board, a college counselor does. So while it may be well written, the essay will be ineffective.

    • I have a friend who works in this industry. She sees herself as a guidance counselor type — she really gets to know the kids, and helps them figure out where they would be a good fit, and helps them get there. It’s not just a “check off these boxes and you get into Harvard” type thing. She is so great to the kids she works with, so invested in their success. It’s lovely to see.

      That being said, when I was in high school (in a fancy suburban private school) I felt really queasy about all the expensive “ace the SAT” type classes that we all took outside of school. Because I think those tests really are something you get better at by taking a class on, it seemed so unfair that my parents could buy me that advantage. I have similar thoughts about the college prep industry.

    • OCAssociate :

      This is absolutely standard for high school students in my area. In fact, many of them hire private college counselors as early as freshman year of high school in order to tailor their 4 years to get into specific colleges. I don’t have recommendations for a private counselor, but her peers are likely hiring someone as well.

    • Anonymous :

      My cousin does college counseling, and has a certificate from a university in that work.

      The people she helps fall into 3 categories: 1) competitive students who have clear competitive schools they want to get into, 2) students who have learning disabilities who need the right ‘fit’ from a school to support their needs, 3) kids who have run into some trouble in high school (depression, drugs, fight) that require help telling their story in the best way and finding the colleges with the right support system to help them.

      She spends A LOT of time visiting campuses and getting to know the admissions team and the specifics of each school, and is really in a position to help these students.

      It is a hefty sum, but when parents look at the future of their child it is an investment that seems worth it. Looking back at the post from someone the other day, she might have a view to whether it would have been with it to hire a counselor if it meant her daughter might have gotten into her first choice school.

    • Anonymous :

      McClure, Mallory and Baron out of SF are very good and will work remotely with students (I.e., Skype).

  5. Boston real estate recs :

    Boston area folks – I’m hoping for a recommendation for a good real estate agent in Boston, specifically someone who can both sell and buy and knows Newton and Brookline/Brighton well. I’m trying to help an elderly relative (she is super healthy, a big house is too much but she is far from needing assisted living) sell her big house and buy a small apartment closer to public transportation. Someone who would be able to help with suggesting possible locations besides Brookline, which loves but might be priced out of, and who can be gentle with her about the process, would be especially great! TIA!

    • We used Eve Dougherty to both buy our place and sell it later. She was awesome. I think she is with Compass now? She was incredibly personable, knowledgeable and practical. Highly recommend.

  6. Family vacation house :

    For those of you who grew up with a family vacation house, can you chime in how it was growing up? I may be in a position to get something that I could think could be fantastic for my family / extended family. But I do not know whether it would be worth the hassle and expense. I could see it being something awesome to help a far-flung family be more of a family. And yet having just one house + kids + 2 FT jobs is already a lot on a plate.

    We have some second cousins who had the use of a shack on a small lake from someone on their dad’s side and it was just wonderful the one time I got to tag along.

    2-hour trip from our current city (that has a good airport for family fly-ins); 4-5 hour drive for in-state relatives.

    Cost is something I could afford, but would prefer to save and would require some trimming with optional purchases to make me feel like we’ve got enough saved (e.g., replacing two roofs, two heating bills, two plumbing disasters).

    • It can be great if you plan to use it a lot. My grandparents and mother have both had vacation homes and had mixed success with them. I think my grandparents’ place was more successful because it was big enough for the whole family to get together, had really nice sitting/dining areas, and was in a great location – everyone could get there easily and it was someplace they actually wanted to go. My mom’s property has been less successful because it didn’t check all those boxes. I also don’t have kids and am in biglaw so I can’t exactly spend every weekend there and frankly when I have a free weekend I want to sleep and see friends, not fight traffic. She got a lot of use out of it but she was always stressed with maintenance/housekeeping at two places so she finally sold it.

    • I’ve known a few families with this. Basically, the kids love it to spend time with their cousins, their parents love it to see their kids happy and spending time with Grandparents, and Grandparents love it because they can spend time with Grandkids. Everyone loves it until it comes time to pay for the upkeep (which can be a pain if you live some distance away) and then the parents begin to moan, “I can’t wait until the kids are grown so we can sell this thing.”

      But they never do, mainly because they remember how much fun THEY had there as a child.

    • The couple that employed my parents when I was growing up had several vacation homes growing up. If they wanted to visit one some of their staff would usually go ahead and prepare things for them. Sometimes my parents took me with them and I always had fun when we were there. My family never had one though. The couple and their family did seem to enjoy it for the most part.

    • My parents have a vacation house in a beach town. The pros are as listed above – lots of family time together b/c cousins/friends/aunts/uncles/etc. all gather there and take weeks throughout the summer.
      The cons – if you’re planning to rent it out at all to help offset the costs know that renters are often a total nightmare. The stories I can tell you about the damage/stealing/etc. that was done to their first vacation home would curl your hair. Depending on where it is you’ll need to factor in association fees, rental agency fees, upkeep for groundskeepers, maintenance on another home, insurance policies, paying someone to clean, paying someone to open/close the house/etc.
      Plus – there was always the feeling that we ‘had’ to go there for all of our holidays. With limited vacation time we literally ONLY went to the vacation house or to visit relatives my entire childhood, and by the time I was a teenager I resented that we never got to travel anywhere new at all.
      Don’t get me started on the headaches of trying to sell a vacation home – especially in a down market, or when it is left to multiple sibs.

      • The sense that you “have” to use the vacation house was the reason my parents gave for never buying one. They reasoned that the default vacation option would likely end up being at the house and we’d end up traveling less.

        • Us too. We vacation in the same spot every year for a week in the summer and a long weekend or two during the rest of the year. It’s a 2-3 hour drive away. All told, we are probably spending $4000 a year to rent someone else’s house, and fund ourselves thinking we should just buy something there.

          But right now it’s a joy to go there, not an obligation, and if we want to skip it and go to Hawaii or Europe instead, we can do that, and have done that.

          Plus we can’t figure out how we could handle maintenance from our distance. It sounds like a drag. We don’t really want to deal with renters. But if the house is unoccupied most of the time, is it a target for thieves? Or worse yet, squatters?

          All of this has kept us from pulling the trigger. Not so much money but the hassle/obligation factors.

          • The other thing to think about is changing tastes. Our kids loved being in the woods with a quiet creek when they were little. Now that they are teens, it’s a bit boring. They’d really prefer to be at the ocean boogie boarding or at the river kayaking.

      • Oooh, good point. My cousins owned a vacation house that they rented out for 2 months in the summer, and that paid the expenses on the house for the whole year.

        OTOH, a childhood friend’s grandparent died and left the house to her children, and it became an utter disaster of a family fight when it came time to work out who could use the house when. It got terribly ugly and people went years without speaking.

    • Love it. We have a summer home on a lake about a 1.5-2hr drive away. We go nearly every weekend. We don’t have any kids either. I actually think we use it more because many of our friends with young kids have sports obligations, birthday parties or other kid-related activities during summer weekends. We host family and friends frequently. Our second home is in a touristy area so there are plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance, which is nice. I also work from home, so it’s convenient to take a long weekend (Thurs thru Mon).

      The upkeep is definitely something to think about. It’s not fun. You can throw money at the issues though. We pay for lawn and snow services. We have a Nest thermostat to monitor the temperature remotely (instead of checking on it semi-frequently in the winter to see if the heat still works).

      Overall, just know that you probably won’t use it as much as you would like (because, life) and that there are maintenance and repair costs to keep in mind. I would also recommend renting for a week or two during summer at the location you are thinking of to make sure you like it.

  7. Does anyone know anything about generation-skipping trusts? Assuming a grandparent makes one, are the parents of the grandchild usually the trustees or will the grandparent bequeathing the trust usually designate someone else for that job? Are there any “typical” ways that these trusts work? I’m trying to obtain more information on how these things are usually done to help me figure out a situation in my family. TIA!

    • Not providing you with legal advice, but there is a specific tax that hits if you give $ to someone a certain amount younger than you (if not a spouse/child). There is an exemption amount. The trust is usually funded in the amount of the exemption. This is only for super-rich people though, so if you are rich enough to be concerned, the people involved should hire a good lawyer experienced in this and do in connection with a total estate plan, not piece-meal.

  8. I work for the grinch. Partner called me last night to give me a nonbillable assignment. I asked when he would like me to get it to him and he acknowledged that I would probably be busy over the holiday. He then suggested that I should send it to him on Sunday or Monday.

    • Send it to him Wednesday.

      • lost academic :

        Send it to him Tuesday or Wednesday (assuming you have Monday off) after you tell him that’s when he’ll get it!

    • Anon for this :

      Ugh. Tell me about it. The Managing Partner of my office gave the staff of our of firm the entire week of next week… but not the attorneys. The Managing Partner will also not be here. Also, attorneys do not get any end of year/holiday bonus- but staff does.
      We do have one staff member who agreed to come in next week to file for us. I need a new job.

      • Anon for this :

        hello typos!!!! Should say, “gave the staff of our firm the entire week off next week…”

  9. How would you support a friend who you love and care about after she went through a terrible divorce and custody battle, if it was her fault and you don’t agree with her actions? I’m in NYC and she is in San Francisco. Either one of us traveling for a visit isn’t an option due to Christmas and work schedules. I want to be there for her to show my support. Thanks in advance.

    • The same as you would if you didn’t think it was her fault. People make mistakes. Sometimes terrible life altering mistakes. the fallout still sucks and she really needs someone to be there for her right now.

      • Also I think in these circumstances, things are rarely so one sided or black and white. Perhaps she played a significant role in the breakdown of the relationship/custody issues but I sincerely doubt it’s all “her fault”

        • Why I say that she caused it were the circumstances of the break up and the aftermath;

          She worked at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Her husband was upset that she worked so much (7 days a week, overtime, working from home etc.) She told me it go worse after her kids were born. Her husband was upset because she missed their first birthday and their wedding anniversary. Her husband wanted her to reduce her hours or find another job because they had no debt and almost six figures in the bank and he has stable employment.

          She took a job with the government that had set hours, no overtime/weekends, no working from home and no work phones or access to work outside of the office. Her husband was happy because she was home more than before but she missed her old job. She left the government and went to a private company that was the same as the government in terms of hours and no working from home. She hated that too and went back to her old job. She also had an emotional affair with her boss and her husband found out.

          Her husband filed for divorce and they tried to share custody and not fight in court but her husband found out that she had a nanny (which he was fine with) but that she had not seen their sons in over 3 weeks because she was too busy with work and if she was home he was asleep. He took her to court for custody and he won and it didn’t help that she missed her scheduled visitation because of work a bunch of times, as well as their son’s birthday again. One of them had to have his tonsils out and she went to work instead of going with her husband to the surgery, even though she had unused vacation time.

          She had plenty of chances to spend time with her family and her husband even left once but came back because she promised to change. She agreed to therapy but missed the first two appointments because of work. That’s why I say it was her fault. I love my friend but she says the same thing. She is regretful and hurting. I wish there was something I could do for her. I don’t know how to show support when I’m so far away.

          • Honestly, all this stuff that she did that she could start undoing and is 100% in her control.

          • I know she is your friend but I don’t blame her husband for divorcing her. Yeesh!

          • Yikes, judge made the right call on that one. It’s not that different from divorces that have occurred since the beginning of time, just with the traditional roles reversed.

            In terms of support, do what you’d do with any friend who has made self-destructive choice that you don’t agree with: Don’t give her a hard time – she knows she screwed up. Tell her you will help in any way you can if/when she decides to change her priorities. Challenge her when she tries to shift blame for mistakes she made. Encourage and praise her from even small steps in the right direction.

            And send some kind of gift certificate for yoga or meditation, if she’s into that kind of thing.

          • This probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but I generally have trouble sustaining friendships with people when I stop being able to classify them as ‘good people’ in my mind. It sounds like she made a series of life choices that started off small at first, but snowballed until she was pretty far down an incredibly dark path (she’s full on neglecting her child and lying to her now-ex husband about it out of, what, spite and selfishness? The desire to keep up appearances without putting any of the work in? Then had the nerve to go to court with him instead of granting him custody voluntarily?) and she’s a different person now than she was when you met her. I doubt you would have initially chosen to become friends with the sort of person who would neglect her child. It’s disgusting.
            I’ve seen friends do this in a variety of ways (drugs, bad relationships, etc.) and at a certain point being ‘supportive’ and sticking by them feels like a betrayal of my own values. I’m not saying you should dump her right now, but also don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself furious at her and gradually pulling away.
            Best thing you can do is stay out of it, create very firm boundaries, and try to keep your heart open if she gets her s h * t together some day years down the line.

          • A different take:

            She may be like a lot of high achieving people who fall apart when, for the first time in their lives, there is just too much for them to handle. Some people hit that point in high school; others go through school, work, marriage, and kids before there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

            I’m not going to judge her choices, mostly because a man with a wife and young kids in a HCOL area who puts everything into work and building a strong financial future isn’t treated as harshly.

            She’s about to find out, the very hard way, that “leaning out” is about humility, not being an underachiever.

            Maybe she actually loves her job more than her kids, or maybe she’s freaked out about living in one of the most expensive areas in America and wants to buy a house, put the kids through college, and have a comfortable retirement. I don’t know her, so I’m not judging, but I do think a lot of men would be cut more slack in that situation.

            (For the record, one of my college roommates said that she literally went weeks without seeing her dad when she was little, because he worked so hard to build his business. As an adult, they have a great relationship. Hence my bias on this subject.)

          • SD is spot on. I went through something similar with a close childhood friend who voluntarily gave up custody of her toddler to her ex in-laws to “find a career and focus on me!” I tried to hang in there, but our values around children/family/priorities/meaning-of-life were just too different.

            I would listen quietly and “supportively” to her justifications and rationalizations, then get off the phone and hate myself for not saying anything. I disagreed with *every* choice she made as an adult. I gradually pulled back and disconnected from her life and I don’t regret it. Her son is now in high school and never lived with her. I guess there was always a reason why he was “better off with Grandma” while she married two more times, jumped careers three times, and traveled.

          • Anonymous :


            I have also pulled away from friends who made poor decisions. This includes a friend who went after a series of older, married men, and felt this was fine and that she didn’t care at all about the impact on the married man’s family.

      • I think OP was asking the things she could do to support a friend on the other side of the country who she can’t see or visit right now. Like, for specific examples of things that she could do.

        (If you are comfortable sharing OP, what did your friend do?)

        • Then why bother mentioning that it was friend’s fault? The point is, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, you support them the same ways. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can physically do because of the distance, but you can still be a sympathetic ear when she needs it.

    • Honestly I don’t think what she did is THAT bad. This has been the story with workaholic men since the dawn of time. Clearly her work means a great deal to her and while she thought she’d be able to set it aside for a family — i.e. she tried the govt job; the other private sector job; maybe she thought even at the big 4 once she had custody, she’d really try hard with her kids — but emotionally just couldn’t do it. Men esp in prior generations did this all the time and it wasn’t THAT big of a deal bc they were absentee fathers but good providers — even if there was a divorce, they could still easily send their kids Christmas presents, college tuition etc. She will be the same.

      As for what to do. Depends on what you’re comfortable with. Obviously she’s feeling regret and loneliness right now, so what she wants/needs is someone who cares. Only way to do that if by being available even though you’re in SF/NYC. Could you set up a coffee/Facetime date? If you don’t want to do that bc you think it’ll be miserable or lead to uncomfortable conversations, why not just send her random little notes — a thinking of you card once in a while or text/email. You can throw in a gift card for coffee saying if you were in the same place you’d take her out etc. Just something to show you still care.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        I actually don’t think that she sounds that bad, either. Especially the beginning stuff – she loved her job and was successful and he wanted her to scale back…but so what? Because she missed their anniversary? Honestly, I would be so mad if my husband wanted me to change jobs because of something like that. You are supposed to be a team and her success was a benefit to him too. Why didn’t he consider changing jobs or quitting altogether especially when she was clearly miserable in her other two jobs? Your friend is not totally at fault. Women have been expected to manage things at home for husbands who were successful, why is this not the same in the reverse???

      • This was my reaction too – uh, she’s really into her career, tried alternatives and they didn’t work. Doesn’t make her terrible in my book. Maybe she wants different things out of life than her husband did, but I wouldn’t say it’s “her fault.” On the original support question, personally, when I’ve been going through difficult times, I could always tell who thought I was “right” and related to me, and those people were supportive because they were able to be. If the OP is in a place where she’s on Team H, but wants to do something nice, I’d just say send flowers or something and don’t try to be the friend that’s really there for her because you might end up damaging the friendship more with the judgment that will come through.

      • Agree with the others. There are two sides to every story and your friend is beating herself up right now and internalizing all the stuff she wishes she could change in hindsight.

        My sister is divorced and if you took only her ex husband’s side of the story it would sound a lot like this but it’s more like

        She worked all the time (because husband couldn’t keep a job)

        She never wanted s e x (so husband slept with and impregnated the nanny)

        She missed important events (because husband said no worries I got this, but then used it against her in court)

        She wasn’t a good mother (she’s a great mom. Husband wanted to stay home unemployed but not without full time childcare, see above)

      • She didn’t see her kids for weeks and missed birthdays and a surgery. If anyone here commented about their husband doing this, I don’t think anyone would stand up for the husband.

      • Anonymous :

        Part of the problem was that he husband took what was essentially a demotion and then quit his job to take one with no commute so he could should more of the child rearing and family stuff. But my friend told me he was unhappy with not seeing her for a week at a time because she was always at work. The court took the side of her husband because of it.

  10. similar to Stybe Book? :

    Anyone have a suggestion for a free version of the Style Book app? I’m one of those people that downloads multiple similar apps at the same time and then sticks with my favorite after a week so I’d rather not buy multiple apps right off the bat.


  11. Anyone out there have a vacation property that they rent through AirBNB? The question upthread about vacation homes got me thinking. We live in the midwest and could get a small (2 bed) lake home (within 1-2 block walk to water) for under $135K. We’d have to take out a mortgage to do it but with 3 kids it’s only an hour drive, so completely doable in the summer (and I have summer Fridays off, so we could go Thursdays through Sundays). However, I’d want to rent it out if possible when we’re not using it and I’m looking for pros/cons, online “how to” resources, etc. Thanks!

    • I thought about it and decided not to. There’s a good book you can get on Amazon that a lady wrote who now works for HomeAway.

      For me, it’s a business that I don’t have time to do right. Insurance is a huge deal — most policies don’t cover short-term rentals. If someone got hurt, I could lose everything I own, so I’d need to set up an LLC to own the house (which would make financing a lot harder). Doing it right seemed like too much work for me (I have other rental properties that aren’t short-term rentals, so my involvement is like nothing except every few years b/w tenants. I don’t worry about getting a five-star review every time or if the A/C blows up during someone’s only time there.] Also big deals: zoning, hotel tax, and having to get a permit from the town to do short-term rentals (which seems to be a bit discretionary and arbitrary). If you lived in-town, I could see it being a lot easier, but being even an hour away could just go very sideways, very fast.

      The book was very helpful for me to read and I highly recommend it.

    • I don’t have this experience, but we live in the Chicago ‘burbs and have rented over the last few years from a family that seems to do exactly this. The house is listed on VRBO and is in the Michigan/Indiana Harbor Country area. The owners contract with a local property manager to handle on site issues (which we were grateful for when they ran into a plumbing issue during one of our stays!) The owners use it themselves for some portion of the year, and have a few locked closets in the house for their private stuff.

      And now that I think about it, I know someone else who is the owner in this scenario. My understanding is that these folks tend to break even via rentals — they pay their mortgage by renting their cabin through AirBNB and VRBO, though still pay the property taxes and housing association fees each year. If your goal is to make money to offset the costs and it’s a midwest beach house, you likely will need to make the home available for rental during most of the summer, which could limit it’s use to you — my friend does still go up to the house a few times during the summer, but it’s typically only on the weeks where someone else hasn’t rented the house (you’d have more flexibility if you’re willing to forego paying renters those weeks).

      • IIRC, NC beach rental management companies took something like 1/4 to 1/3 of the rental cost, so this isn’t an insignificant expense. I see how it’s completely necessary if you are not local.

    • I rent out my “vacation home” (which is really my only owned home, a house in the town I want to live in eventually, and where I spend a lot of time) on Airbnb. My experience has been good overall. Make sure you don’t have stuff in the house that you care too much about, and keep the decor fairly uncluttered but cozy. Find a good cleaner to turn around the house – if you are not visiting the property between rentals it is essential to have someone who knows the place who can spot problems since Airbnb requires you to report issues (damage/loss) within 48 hours. My place is in a popular tourist destination, which helps.

      My house basically pays for itself and a little more with the airnbnb .I probably make $10-15k a year off it. The way I see it – the house is costing me nothing right now while at the same time appreciating in value.

  12. How do you respond to a gift from your boss? I have a new boss this year, and have never recieved a christmas/holiday gift from a boss before. I have to email her today to remind her that I am off a couple of days next week. Do I just tack on a “thanks for thinking of me” sort of thank you in the email? Do I need to handwrite one?

  13. How does one get on an earlier flight? We are flying from newark to DFW this weekend and it looks like some huge storm is going to be rolling into DFW at the same time our flight arrives. Wondering if my family should just head to the airport early and try to catch an earlier flight. There are three of us, if that matters.

    • Depends on what airline and what kind of ticket you have. Start there, but generally it’s really expensive to change times unless you’re on something like Southwest. You can try getting there early & going standby, but during heavy travel periods, it’s pretty hard to do this successfully, especially with 3 people. Unless you want to pay to guarantee an earlier flight, I’d personally just leave for the airport at the last possible second as you’re more likely to be delayed or cancelled, and that can save some frustration.

      • Thanks. It’s American and it is on Christmas Day.

        • I agree with the others to call and see what you can do before going to the airport – I just wouldn’t show up in the hopes of getting on because you’ll probably just end up spending the whole day in the airport. I flew on Christmas day a couple of years ago thinking it would be pretty dead, but it was surprisingly busy.

    • Normally I would do standby to avoid paying hundreds of dollars in change fees. But it’s the holidays and flights are full, so I’d be shocked if the flight leaving a hr before yours or 3 hrs before yrs has 3 seats available. But they can tell you. Call your airline now — tell them there’s a storm moving thru DFW and ask if the airline is providing any flexibility so people don’t get stranded. I haven’t followed the weather so I don’t know how big this is, but often airlines will do everything they can to get as many people to their destinations early so they have as few flight cancelations/stranded airplanes as possible when weather moves in. Usually if they are offering free changes — they put a red bar across the airline website as a travel advisory. But even if that’s not there, call them and ask. And if they say no – ask them about the flights leaving before yours –are they totally full or is there availability. That’ll inform you whether it’s even worth it to get to the airport early to stand by.

    • Anonymous :

      Delta has been able to rebook me for anticipated weather drama. Call the airline and see if you can be accommodated based on the weather. If it’s a really huge storm, they might be willing to be flexible.

    • Anonymous :

      Call and ask! I have been rebooked many times without huge fees on many different airlines by doing that – they will tell you if standby is the way to go. It will depend on you fare and availability. They will definitely try to rebook you for a snowstorm, but a “possible thunderstorms” is not really a weather event to be concerned about and I would not try to get a flight changed based on that.

    • baseballfan :

      Depends on the airline and your status; I am gold on AA so I can standby for free. Also, anyone can do same day flight change for $75 subject to availability. I assume if you are flying EWR-DFW you are probably flying AA.

      That being said, weather in DFW is not supposed to be extreme this weekend. Possible chance of rain/storms but if it happens at all it won’t be huge and it won’t be freezing precipitation for sure. The high on Sunday is projected to be 71.

    • Definitely call them first and ask them to reschedule you because of the storm. Showing up early just means that you will be sitting there longer.

    • Anonymous :

      Many times if the storm is bad enough to cancel fights, they actually cancel flights earlier than when the storm arrives. The rationale is that the airlines need the planes in the right position to recover.

      For example, a plane at DFW might help them recover, but a plane at a non-hub will not help, so they will cancel to leave at DFW for recovery. Exception would be if the plane is going to another hub.

      Your best bet to to try to standby on the earliest flight that day, before they start cancelling.

  14. It may be too late in the day to ask this, but I recently discovered that a more junior male coworker makes exactly the same amount of money as I do (I manage a similar team to the one male coworker is an individual contributor of). We both report in to the same group head, and have the same number of years of experience (I actually think I may have 6-12 months more) and level of education. I have more responsibilities, including management of multiple people and running a larger business line, and a more senior job title/role within our organization. I’ve also received our second-highest or highest performance rating every year, so this is no way due to performance.

    The twist here is that I’m leaving my job soon, and compensation is a big factor in my decision to resign. Is there any way to address or remedy this before I leave, or to at least let my boss know that I’m aware of this discrepancy and it’s one of the main reasons why I’m leaving? I’m want to handle this professionally and I don’t want to blow things up and leave on a bad note, but part of me is so angry about this that I’ve started researching the Equal Pay Act to see if I have any legal standing in terms of gender discrimination.

    Any advice/feedback/thoughts/ways to talk me off the ledge?

    • Anonymous :

      Do you want to spend the rest of your working life talking about the lawsuit you had with the employer who did what MANY other employers do, which you ultimately remedied for yourself by taking a new job? If so, sue them. If not, be angry, contact a state employment agency, and ask them if you can file an anonymous tip and kick off an independent audit.

    • Anonymous :

      Are you leaving because your comp is too low, or because of this disparity?

      If it is because it is too low, and then you find out at the disparity, I would stick with that. I would list what you feel is the market rate for your position and that your current salary would be equivalent to the junior role.

      If you are leaving only because of the disparity, than I would be upfront about that.

      The catch is that you need to make it clear you are not looking for a counter offer, but giving feedback. And I would prepare yourself for a counter.

      As a note, if seen it happen where say in 2008 the entry level salary was $40k, and in 2010, it was $50k. With animal raises, it puts the two cohorts in lock step for salary, even though the first is more senior. It may be that every person who started with this junior co-worker has a salary equal to the step above.

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