Coffee Break: Leather Legal Briefcase

I’ve gone back and forth over the years, and I know the readers have too, over whether I want a briefcase for women, or for men, or whether I’ll just carry whatever. If you happen to be looking for a specific briefcase kind of look, this one has a built-in 3-ring binder, three interior pockets, six credit card pockets, and four pen loops, as well as a business card holder inside the back. The internal dimensions are 12″ x 15″ x 6″, and it’s $309 at Overstock with free shipping. Royce Leather Legal Briefcase

Here’s a lower-priced option at Overstock.

This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!


  1. This mornings thread brought up the issue – what do you think (if anything) if well to do friends (doctors; lawyers; engineers etc) ages 30+ say they can’t afford this or that – whether eating out; a new car; vacations, an extra few weeks of maternity leave if unpaid etc. ESP when you know the type of income they make should be enough for whatever’s being discussed? I know some people say – can’t afford it – as a way to say it’s just not something they prioritize. Yet the majority of the time I find myself thinking (but not saying) – really what the heck do you do with your money?! I know someone will jump in and say well they’re probably supporting relatives back home or have some other obligations you don’t realize – yet still the majority of the time I think – what the heck? And even if it’s true that you can’t afford it – why say that?? Thoughts?

    • Anonymous :

      “And even if it’s true that you can’t afford it – why say that??” Because it’s true?

      I agree that it’s something people often say when they make different choices but they don’t want to own those choices. (looking at you ‘Friend’ who never tired of telling me you wish you could afford to stay home for a year with the kids like I did but you can’t afford it while you drive your new car to the airport for your fancy vacation when I’m camping for vacation and driving a ten year old car and skipped two years of retirement savings).

      I think we would judge each other less if we owned our choices more. There are lots of times people are truly more financially strapped then you would expect (law school graduate friend who is helping out her single mom, paying for childcare for twins and paying back enormous student loans)

      • “I think we would judge each other less if we owned our choices more.” Yes, great observation.

      • I was this person recently when going to a restaurant with friends. I had eaten very little that day, and was worried about going somewhere not cheap to eat, because feeling ravenous leads to a big order. I did complain about the price, but it was more about my appetite. The friend’s neighborhood doesn’ really have cheap restaurants. I have a 5-figure income as a government attorney; maxing out our version of 401K to save for retirement and reduce adjusted gross income, which leads to a lower monthly payment in the public service income based repayment plan. No kids, but no spouse or generous significant other either.

    • Why shouldn’t they say that? Genuinely curious.

      I used to wonder that about one friend who I knew made more money than me. Turns out she was aggressively saving her money for a purpose. Who am I to say she should stop doing that and go out for fancy cocktails?

    • Anonymous :

      I almost never say I can’t afford something, I say it’s not a priority or not in the budget. I don’t tell my kids we can’t afford things either. I explain that we have to make choices about how we spend our money and we have decided not to spend it on whatever the thing is.

      That said, I mentally translate “can’t afford” into “don’t prioritize” whenever someone else says it.

      If your well-paid friends have kids and/or student loans, especially both at the same time, you might be surprised at what they genuinely can’t afford.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Ha! Jinx!

      • Anon in NYC :

        x1000 to your last sentence. I would have SO MUCH MORE MONEY without a kid. And when I did have student loans I was sending at least 40% of my monthly take-home pay to get out from 225k in debt. There were things that I could not afford, despite my high salary.

      • Anonymous :

        +another to student loans.

        Anec-rant: I used to be good friends with a trust fund baby working a public interest job, and her education and car had been fully paid for by mom and dad. She also had a trust fund that she got payments from every month. She could not comprehend how the “rich fancy lawyer” (me, apparently) couldn’t just throw my money at whatever activity she wanted to do. It was doubly annoying because her preferred activities often also happened to be at 4pm an hour-plus away from my office–and I’m not talking an annual birthday dinner or major recital that she’s prepared for all year–I’m talking a monthly Lularoe party hosted by her aunt in the suburbs where the she tells us a minimum expectation to spend. Even if I could’ve left the office to go to that, it was so far off how I wanted to spend my very limited baby associate free time and limited money after loans…it was just easier to say “I can’t afford that this month” than flat out say that her idea of a grand Tuesday afternoon is not a priority for me. I respect those who can just say it directly, but I think in the “Bless Your Heart” region of the country where we live, such honesty would not have been culturally well received. Eventually I faded out from that friend group, and her constant judgment based on her *perception* of my financial circumstances was definitely a primary cause.

        OP, if you otherwise enjoy spending time with the friends you mention, and you feel like they make a respectable amount of time available to do things with you, maybe time to let the judgment go.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I think a better way to phrase it is “it’s not in our budget.” Some people are just frugal and don’t choose to spend on things like eating out, cars, and vacations. There is a very good argument to be made that a healthy retirement fund should take precedence over all those things.

      Honestly, on the rare occasions I hear somebody say “I can’t afford it,” I understand it to mean “I don’t choose to put my money there because I’d rather put it somewhere else.”

    • Not sure exactly what you want them to say? Virtually everyone has something that they can’t afford. Also, their budget for that particular category may be the same as yours. We can only budget $x for a vacation because all other money is allocated elsewhere. Our vacation budget may be the same as your vacation budget so shouldn’t it be okay for everyone to acknowledge that there is a limit for spending?

    • Anonymous :

      I trust my friends that they can’t afford it if they say they can’t. Even if I knew my friends’ exact salaries – which I don’t – I am not in a position to say whether “the type of income they make should be enough for whatever’s being discussed” because I have no idea what their other financial obligations are.

      It’s not just supporting relatives or whatever other scenario you seem to be implying is rare. Many doctors and lawyers have huge amounts of educational debt well into their 30s. Tons of 30-somethings are saving for a down payment on a house or future childcare expenses. Most people put a big chunk of their money into retirement accounts.

      There are plenty of things that people can literally afford, but cannot afford if they want to continue saving responsibly and funding their other obligations and goals. I could buy a $20,000 dream vacation to Antarctica today with cash I have sitting in the bank, but I still think it’s reasonable to say that I can’t yet afford it because I don’t consider raiding my emergency fund or retirement accounts to go to Antarctica to be a viable option (sadly).

      Your stance on this is really obnoxious and nosy. Let your friends do what they see fit with their money, and do what you want with yours.

      • +1.

      • Exactly. If you only had $10,000 to your name, techically you could afford two Chanel bags, but adults don’t (or shouldn’t be) operating on a budget spent to zero like a child spends allowance. I don’t say “I can’t afford it” because technically, we can afford a lot of ill-advised things, but that’s not to say that how one budgets or prioritizes their spending and saving is anyone’s business but their own.

        • Anonymous :

          I think only one Chanel bag. They’re $10,000 each, according to my friend who just bought one….I knew they were way more than I’d ever spend on a bag but I didn’t know they were THAT much.

          • Anonymous :

            Not accurate.

          • Haha, it definitely depends on which one. Last I saw, the classic flap bag was around $5k, but I have also noticed that they have gone up in price every single year! Bigger sizes, different leathers, specialty styles like the boy bag are more expensive. Regardless, I was trying to illustrate the point of “teeeechnically afford” is not a standard by which adults should be operating.

          • The iconic Chanel flap bag is around 4000-5000$ depending on the size. Boys (the newer model) are around that price as well. I’m sure you can find some bag for 10000, but it’s not typical. You can find tiny one for around 2000 as well.

            I mean, I don’t try to convince anyone that they are affordable or should be prioritized over any other financial goal/expense. Just a matter of fact reply :)

          • Anon at 4:36 :

            Ahh, ok. Good to know for when I win the lottery. My friend is slightly prone to exaggeration, especially about wealth and status, so I trust y’all.

    • Why do you care so much about what other people do with their money?

    • HAHA and I just worry about my friends who seem to be spending like money grows on trees. My husband and I make much much more than most of our friends. And they go out to eat more, spend more on clothes, hair cuts, drinks, furniture etc… And I wonder….how are they making it work? I would love to hear more about budgeting in my friend groups!

      • This is also how I feel. We make significantly more than some of our friends who appear to have limitless money for things we can’t make work in our budget.

        I wonder if it comes down to being risk adverse/savers vs spenders. But I *do* get extremely irritated when one of my friends says I “should” be able to afford something. I have other places my money is going, and they’re more important than going out for fancy drinks a few nights a week (it adds up), etc.

        • Anonymous :

          Your friends are probably just irresponsible with money. Close to half of Americans have credit card debt.

          • That’s probably pretty true. We’re certainly not the models of fiscal responsibility, and are trying to get better. But we’ve never carried a credit card balance, and have always saved for retirement (just not as much as we are currently saving).

            We’re uncomfortable with consumer debt for things that we don’t absolutely need. I’m not sure our friends have the same concerns.

          • and most households couldn’t handle an unexpected $1K bill. I think the sad truth is that a lot of people who seem to be doing well are less well-off than how they appear — and who are we to judge anyone’s choices?

          • This is also a good point, ace. I’m of the camp that always wants to be able to handle (as much as I can plan for) unexpected things. I have more than six months in an emergency fund, and we budget each month for expected expenses like home repairs, car repairs, etc.

            For me, “can’t afford” means the same as “it’s not in my budget” because the budget is what we have determined we can afford. But I was also very fortunate to A) be raised by parents who were pretty good with money, so I had a decent knowledge base and B) have a household income that has always covered our basic needs.

          • +1 – I make more than some of my friends and seem to have less disposable income, and I think it’s because I’m saving a significant portion of my salary and they are not

        • +1 ELS. I get especially concerned that it is seemingly more common with my female friends. I found myself in a discussion a couple of years ago with two of them, newly married, saying that they had just gone into joint accounts with their husbands and were budgeting for the first time (on their husband’s behest) because both of them spent their paychecks every month. I didn’t say anything and tried not to look too shocked but both of them said that was how they were raised by their parents, whereas I was raised with hearing “put it back” and “that’s too expensive” ALL.THE.TIME. even if yeah, technically we could afford it — it was not a prioritized at that price.

          I think I mentioned this previously but a colleague of mine in biglaw had the philosophy of when you are already $200k in debt from school loans, “what’s another $20,000?” (spent on a biglaw trip). Again, I was shocked. You are not only starting behind when you take on unnecessary debt but you are starting at an exponential place behind because you are losing out on the compounding power of money over time with interest.

          Suffice to say, I believe strongly in financial literacy at an early age.

          • I have a friend who has the same philosophy w/r/t taking on even more debt than her MBA for travel. I am in a constant state of jealously about all of the fantastic trips her and her husband go on (it seems like once a month, no joke) but I have to remind myself how stupid it is that she’s borrowing an extra 10-20% of the amount she actually needs for her MBA.

        • Anonymous :

          It’s “averse”. Not a simple spelling error but a fundamental misunderstanding of what this word actually means.

          • Anonymous :

            You are correct that the phrase is “risk averse” but in this context the meanings are not that different. Risk averse is defined as “disinclined or reluctant to take risks” which is akin to having an unfavorable, or adverse, view of risk.

          • . I assure you it wasn’t an intentional error (I know the difference).

            I was typing on my phone and was the victim of Siri’s suggestive text. As with other people’s finances, you also don’t know what is and is not a “fundamental misunderstanding.”

            But thanks for the snark and insulting my intelligence in a truly wonderful way. Ah, the internet!

      • Millionaire Next Door (which is old now but still relevant) has a whole section about how the people who are often doing the “best” financially are not the types you’d expect. Everyone thinks it’d be doctors and lawyers due to high salaries – it is often the engineering/science types – prob bc they are really good with numbers and planning from the get go.

      • Anonymous :

        How are they making it work?
        They are not.
        My guess is either: debt or family subsidy (or both).

        • Anonymous :

          I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “family subsidy” in many instances.

          It surprises me how often It comes to light that friends’ parents are paying for friends’ bi-annual international vacations and footing most of the bill for things like starter home down payments. And, in instances where adult children live in the same city as the parents, how often parents pay for dinner out, entertainment, and even lawn maintenance and stocking the fridge surprises me too.

          • Anonymous :

            It can be shocking how often this is true. I had a friend who made the same salary as me, who was always getting fancy cocktails and pedicures and going on shopping sprees while buying a new car and dealing with student loan payments and buying a condo, while I was barely scraping by and felt like treating myself to Starbucks once a week was a major indulgence. It turns out that my friend’s parents were making the payment on that car, paid off all the student loans without my friend paying a dime, and gave my friend the entire down payment for the condo.

    • Living on nonprofit salary :

      When my friend (a doctor, married to a Biglaw lawyer) says something is so expensive or she complains about salary cuts or whatever, I want to smack her.

      • She really can’t win then. Either she never says a word about money and is perceived as being out of touch because she doesn’t have such pedestrian concerns or she can relate to the stress of salary cuts and gets judged for being out of touch/ condescending if she dares mention it

        • Anonymous :

          Seriously. Also, you can recognize that you are better off than 99.99% of the world but still be upset that you’re going to start being paid less for doing the exact same job. If she says “OMG $250k isn’t enough to live on” that’s a different story, but I think you should be able to say “A pay cut totally $ucks” to your friends and have them commiserate, whatever your income level.
          (I make less than the vast majority of people who post here, fwiw.)

        • Anonymous :

          No, she should use the right words – “it’s not in my budget”

          • Delta Dawn :

            Disagree. If she thinks it’s expensive, she can say it’s expensive. It may not have anything to do with her budget. She may be able to afford it but still thinks it is expensive. And if she wants to complain about a pay cut, she can say “I do not like this pay cut,” and that has nothing to do with her budget. We don’t get to choose other people’s words.

          • Anonymous :

            And we really shouldn’t be the word police!

          • +1 to Delta Dawn

            Something is “too expensive” if it’s not worth the price tag. Avocaodos are “expensive” when they’re $2 each because in Houston 3 for a dollar is a common price for them. Whether or not something is expensive doesn’t have to have any relationship to my salary.

          • Never too many shoes... :

            Torin – complete threadjack but 3 for $1 avocadoes??? Wow. They are usually 3 for $5 here in Toronto. #greenfromavocadoenvy

          • Yeah they were really expensive in NYC too when I lived there. I had a major crisis cause I’m used to them being cheap and I love them. On the flip side, cheap, in season, super fresh apples every fall are not a thing here. I had no idea what I was missing until I lived in NYC for a few years, and now that I’m back in Houston I miss the apples.

      • This is why I’ve tried to remove “I can’t afford it” from my vocabulary. I have a bunch of friends in nonprofit. It’s pretty tone deaf for me, a biglaw lawyer, to say “I can’t afford it” – even if I legit can’t because I just redid my budget but I ran the numbers wrong and now I’m taking money out of savings to hold me over to the next paycheck. Ahem. Not that that’s ever happened.

        • Ha. Not a big law lawyer, but been there, girl. We ran things wrong in January (hubs’ compensation changed and I’m in a relatively new job). Ended up taking some cash out of savings.


      • anon for this :

        Oh good god. I hate this attitude. I am a former public interest attorney who wound up in the private sector. One of my closest friends is a public interest attorney who makes a low (but decent for public interest) salary. However, she’s married to a man with a stable job and a good (not great) salary, and they own a house they bought for a steal. Their mortgage is half my rent. She qualifies for student loan repayment assistance. I do not.

        So I’ve been on both sides of the income divide. I’m sensitive when I talk about money because we all know I make 2-3x her salary. But to pretend that’s the whole financial picture is stupid. She has the security of a partner and a home she owns, so she carries around $0 in her savings account. I have a huge emergency fund, because it’s just me. When she was unemployed for a while, he supported her. I wound up going into debt because I didn’t have a partner to bail me out. I have huge loans. I work in a job that grinds you up-that money won’t always be coming in, so it’s dumb to fritter it away as if I’ll always be making a biglaw salary.

        Re; your desire to smack your friend: a) a pay cut still sucks for anyone (who is happy feeling like they’re being paid under-market?) and b) sometimes things really just *are* expensive- who is happy feeling like they’re overpaying for something? Unless she’s actively rubbing it in your face, you just need to deal.

    • For me, this goes to the concept that you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Maybe someone says that they cannot afford something because it is a semi-polite way of declining an invitation, some may say it meaning that the expense is not in the budget, and some may say it meaning that they genuinely do not have the money to cover an expense. For a period at the end of last year, all three were legitimately the truth for my family at various points. Yes, I drove a 2015 car, have an au pair and wear some nice clothes. However, you did not see the massive medical bills that we acquired in the spring and fall and the emergency house repair, all of which depleted our emergency fund in a matter of months. And unless you were one of a handful of people, you would have had no idea. Why does this bother you?

      • Anonymous :

        This, 1000%. I’m a biglaw attorney, but still end up “not being able to afford” certain things because I am working to aggressively pay off a massive amount of student loan debt from getting my law degree while also trying to pay a large medical bill from a recent medical emergency. But I have a great job that pays well and no kids, so people expect me to have a lot of money laying around to throw at everything. Very few people know how much debt I have or how large my hospital bills are because it isn’t their business, and I prefer to keep it that way.

        • +1 I made a lot more money than my friends at my first job out of law school and they thought I was going home and bathing in $100 bills. What they didn’t see what how much I paid in taxes (different brackets), my $1200 loan payment, and the credit card debt accumulated because of stupid youth I was aggressively paying down so that I could save for a down payment. You can’t get IBR or any other reduced payment plan when you make six figures!

          I prioritize my money differently than my friends and that’s OKAY. If they say they can’t afford something, I believe them. It’s not my place to care about what their rationale is!

      • I work at a big law firm. I also got hit with pretty big (think $30k+) medical bills recently from a surprise surgery that I didn’t really tell acquaintances about. Those bills plus my student loan bills, 401k contributions and other obligations bring my net income down to nearly zero each month. Just staying above water every month is a struggle and it’s upsetting to think that on top of all of that, someone would be judging me for saying that something is “too expensive.” Right now, literally everything is “too expensive” for me.

        • Anonymous :

          You have a $30k deductible at a big law job? I have never heard of such terrible insurance in Big Law, and suspect you were billed in error.

          Unless you were uninsured at the time?!?

          I think we all exaggerate a bit too much about money…

          • Anonymous :

            You might want to look up co-insurance.

          • But no max-out of pocket? With a co-insurance…. 50-75%? Again, that is very unusual with a big law firm unless you used an out of network provider with no max-out of pocket. And if this was urgent surgery so you couldn’t use an in network provider, I would appeal your employer/HR/insurance for it to be reimbursed at in-network rate and fight fight fight until you get it. Keep appealing. There’s almost always a way, especially if you have a supportive employer.

            I would think the partners would riot if the insurance is as bad as you describe. At a minimum, you should riot…. or leave for another firm. That’s terrible insurance.

            I have the worst Obamacare plan in my state (which still costs me $500 per month premiums with a $7000 out of pocket deductible), but at least my max out of pocket would never put me out more than $14k per year. In network….. with a terrible network…. sigh…

          • Medical Mess :

            I could also be balance billing, a horror I recently found out about. An ER visit that was covered by my insurance at the out of network level and the hospital and doctors are balance billing me for the rest. I’m fighting it, but am still paying it to keep it from going to collections. It is perfectly legal in a handful of states, and there isn’t much that can be done about it. It doesn’t count towards your out of pocket maximum.

    • Anonymous :

      I think they can’t afford it. I don’t know their salary, I don’t know their debts, I don’t know their obligations. And I like hearing it! I too a lawyer in my 30s with no dependents frequently cannot afford things, and I’m not ashamed at all to admit that.

      You sound really out of touch.

    • “Can’t afford it” and “it’s not in the budget” mean the same thing to me. The budget is literally what I can afford?

      That said, my budget includes putting money in savings. It sounds like you’re almost saying that “what you can afford” shouldn’t include savings and I find that strange.

    • Anonymous :

      Honestly this is kind of a problem for me. I’m so used to saying I can’t afford things since I was a student not too long ago. It’s a bad habit because now I do make an excellent salary and I can afford to do quite a lot, and I’m using it as a crutch to avoid doing stuff I should/want to do. (Also, probably pissing off my friends who literally cannot afford things.) “Not a priority” is a better way to put it, and I’ll try to reframe my thinking around it…

    • New Tampanian :

      How exactly do you know they “Type of income” they make? It’s very easy to assume that people of certain professional standing make a TON of money (ex: my position within my company may lead people to think I make WAY WAY more than I do just because it sounds glamorous). You don’t know their specific financial standing. You may not know how much they still have in loans, what they are saving for, whether there is someone else they are supporting, etc.

      • Depends on the industry. In law – esp for biglaw at the associate level – you know; salaries are exactly the same across competing firms for each class yr. True though – you never know re anyone’s debt; savings goals; family support etc. I find that “corporate” jobs at big Fortune 500s with fancy titles — VP of XYZ — always pay less than I expect, sometimes bc the title/company name fools you and sometimes bc a good % of the comp is in stock that you can’t touch for a few yrs until vesting.

        • nasty woman :

          “It depends on the industry. In law – esp for biglaw at the associate level – you know; salaries are exactly the same across competing firms for each class yr.”

          Huh? What do you mean “especially for biglaw”? Biglaw is the *only* type of firm where you can accurately guess at salary. Further, you do know that an incredibly small number of people have these jobs, correct? Further, not all ‘big’ law firms move lockstep with market, esp. as you get up in class year. Not all bigger firms start out that high anyways, depending on their client base.

          You don’t know anything about your friends’ salaries or whether your friends can afford things. Stop being nosy and pedantic.

          • Anonymous :

            Not just biglaw. Big 4 accounting is similar in that entry level salaries for a given year tend to be very close.

          • Anonymous :

            And honestly, glassdoor is reasonably accurate for large companies.

          • nasty woman :

            Anonymous at 5:16- I was talking about law firms. Figured that was obvious because my post was clearly addressing biglaw and lawyers.

            Regardless, someone who is spending this much time creeping on glassdoor to identify her friends’ salaries needs to find a better hobby. Maybe an MLM to “set her on the path to financial freedom!1” /sarc

        • You can’t make those assumptions even in biglaw. Not everyone who laterals gets paid at their class year, especially if you are coming from a smaller firm or are in a secondary market.

          • This. I am at a super-awesome biglaw satellite office in Boston and oops–we’re not paid Boston market even though we’re biglaw. Fun times, making way less than my classmates because I chose the “wrong” place.

          • Anonymous :

            Yep. I was a 2010 law school grad and when I left my firm in 2016 I was in the 2012 class year for salary. Still good money, obviously, and people could easily ballpark my salary, but people who thought they knew my *exact* salary would have been wrong. My firm was also notoriously stingy with bonuses so people who assumed I had a market bonus for the 2010 class year would have been off from the actual (stingy, 2012) bonus I received by a huge margin.

    • BabyAssociate :

      For me, when I say “I can’t afford it” means one of three things:
      1. I legitimately *can’t* afford it
      2. I can afford it, but know I need to be more responsible with my money
      3. I’d rather spend that money other things (e.g. week long vacation instead of very expensive weekend bachelorette)

      Honestly though, you never know someone’s true financial situation. Don’t second guess what people say they can/can’t afford.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        This is true for me too. 2 and 3 are the most common. I’ve been saying I can’t afford to go to a friend’s wedding across the country because my sister’s wedding is also across the country 3 weeks before that. I can’t afford it in the sense that I can’t cash flow it. I could dip into my emergency fund, but that’s not what it is for. I suppose the more accurate phrase would be “it’s not in the budget.”

        This conversation is actually more interesting than I’d expected based off the original post. I was very much on the defensive reading it because I have absurd student loans. But I suppose as long as I’m making those payments and my other basics, everything else is technically a budget decision unless it goes beyond what my disposable income is. Although my disposable income truly is less than what someone might expect because of my $200+k student loans. I might change to “it’s not in the budget” in the future now.

    • Anonymous :

      Depends on what it is. Work in biglaw and “can’t afford” a $50 meal out? your crazy. You may choose to budget your money in other areas because you have other priorities, but you could afford it. I reserve “can’t afford” for things that you would physically be unable to pay for. My brother that makes $40k a year “can’t afford” to buy a $500k house. For me, who makes $240K a year, it is “not in my budget” cause I choose to prioritize paying off my student loans.

      If it is said as less of an excuse and more wishful that they could afford the item, I try to use it as an option to start talking about budgets with the friend. For example, if I return from a vacation and my friend said that wished they could take a similar trip, but they can’t afford it, I may say something like “I use to think that too, but after doing my budget to minimize spending in other areas, I was able to make it work. I would be happy to talk about actual numbers if you want.” Or in another instance, one friend always complained about not having enough money when I knew that she and her husband eat lunch and dinner out every night. So, I started dropping hints about how, even though I was so tried, I cooked X last night to save money and flat out told her once that I minimized my eating out in order to focus on paying off student loans.

    • Anonymous :

      To me, “I can’t afford it” and “It’s not in my budget” are basically synonyms. And who am I to dictate what should or should not be in my friends’ budgets? You sound very judgy.

    • Depends on the situation.

      Friend “can’t afford” to go out to dinner? Try to come up with another activity we can do, when mentally changing that to dinner out is not in the budget (which has got to be more accurate given their income)

      Married BigLaw partner w/o kids “can’t afford” to buy a house in DC (when I did as a midlevel associate who had huge student loans out of law school)? Seriously wonder what they are spending their money on and question their financial judgment (don’t worry, only in my own mind). How can you be making at BigLaw money for 15+ years and literally not be able to buy a house in DC if that is a goal/priority???? (and yes, I do know enough about them to know that they are not supporting family)

      • Maybe they can’t afford what they want and maybe they want a $5 million new construction with land in Bethesda?

        • That I would understand, although still judge. But they currently rent in a gentrifying neighborhood they love, so I don’t think that’s it.

          • I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt on housing bc I myself can’t commit to buying. Not a biglaw partner like your friend but I know people think the same about me – surely she can afford to buy. With me though – I just haven’t (thus far) had a job and city where I’ve felt like – YES – I could stay here forever. So I’m forever keeping my options open so if a better job comes along in NYC, I can consider going back (or back to DC if I’m in NYC). I know I can’t do it forever, but I just don’t want to buy until I’m ready to stick. And then I secretly hope the best job in the world takes me someplace where down payment money for NYC/DC will pay for an entire home in cash. So who knows – maybe your friends despite being partners – are feeling like DC or biglaw isn’t for them for life!?

          • Those are all fair points for not buying, and I have many friends who rent and I don’t judge that decision.

            But this partner has literally said to me that they can’t afford to buy a house in DC, and that they hope Trump’s presidency tanks the DC housing market because then they may finally be able to afford to buy in DC.

      • Anonymous :

        Is it possible they mean “Can’t afford to buy the kind of house I want”? I can see how you feel they are coming off as tone deaf but I also think there’s a good chance they mean they can’t afford the size of house they want or in the neighborhood they want or whatever. My first thought would not be “oh this person must have no money because they wasted it all on stupid stuff.”

        • JuniorMinion :

          Also there are a bunch of people in Houston right now who “couldn’t afford” certain housing that was likely overpriced who are now the smartest people in the room. House down the street from me just lowered asking price by ~15%.

          I’ve realized that in certain markets, owning a home says something about you as a person when really real estate is just another investment avenue that may or may not make sense for your particular situation. In these geographies it is probably better to use something no one can argue with like “I can’t afford it” as opposed to talking through your particular thoughts .

    • So no Indians posting here? I was raised in a culture where people went to parties and talked about their Mercedes, their new house etc to let everyone know how incredibly well they were doing in their medical practice and make people jealous. Hated it and thought it was gross. In finance now and I don’t do that – if anything I underplay – so people at Indian parties often walk away thinking – how could she not be doing well on Wall Street? And yet still I would NEVER say I couldn’t afford something. It’s just culturally ingrained. Underplaying/humility is looked down upon, saying you can’t afford something? You might as well say you’re a loser. So while I now spend 99.9% of my time with Americans – I still can’t bring myself to discuss affordability or budgets.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        +1M to this, although my background is Greek, not Indian. Exactly the same. Telling people you cannot afford something means you are *poor*.

      • anonymous :

        I’m Indian, although my parents are huge nonconformists and more or less carried on as they wanted. I saw this kind of thing happen in our social group. I get that some things are culturally ingrained, but it’s still your choice whether you conform or not. I’m a bad Indian, though, so YMMV.

      • My background is so the opposite. I grew up in a suburb in the midwest with frugal parents, who were from frugal families. My mother’s family was and remains full of teachers, farmers, and mechanics who value frugality even when they have extra money. In my family, even the extended family, it was seen as foolhardy to spend money on something that didn’t hold value, and when you were buying even necessities, you shopped for the best value (not necessarily the cheapest, but the best value for your dollar).

        So I guess I’m conforming with the family I was brought up in, too? I fully recognize that this is different in different families/cultures, and certainly don’t think my way is the only way.

        • Anonymous :

          Also from the Midwest. My parents were well-off, especially for our LCOL area, but we were still super frugal. My parents took us on annual international vacations beginning when I was in elementary school but they were done on as much of a budget as possible and with the exception of that we lived so modestly. They never upgraded their tiny house or their beat-up old cars, they used coupons every week at the grocery store, most of our clothes were from Target or JC Penney (they would sometimes buy LL Bean because it was quality, but the concept of cost/wear was emphasized to us as a justification). Etc etc.
          Now they’re old and they have way more money in the bank than most of the parents of my friends who grew up with much more outward wealth.

      • Anonymous :

        Indian here and I never boast in that way, wasn’t reared like that. Parents are solid middle class, life Long savers, and both DH and I have inherited sound financial habits.

        I’m usually appalled at Americans who seem to be fine with racking up credit card debt, and at the number of things it seems everyone buys at Sephora!

        • Another Indian posting, +1 Anonymous at 7:12. I’m more confused at how people spend money on random crap over retirement accounts than I am by anyone telling me they can’t afford to do something. My friends are also very open to doing free/cheap things as bonding, so that’s pretty awesome, too.

    • MargaretO :

      If it’s not in the budget then I can’t afford it, because I can’t afford to not put money in savings, retirement accounts, travel funds to visit family overseas, etc. The end. I am fairly open about money but I still don’t discuss the details of my budget with my friends because nobody needs to know or hopefully cares how much I put in each account every month or what I think is reasonable to spend on a pair or shoes or a dinner out. Why do you think so much about your friends financial situations? They almost certainly mean they can’t afford it in the way that I use it, and that seems to be the way that everyone else on this board uses it. Their budget isn’t your business! If they’re using money as a reason not to make plans with you maybe it’s because they don’t want to spend time with someone who is nosy and judgmental about their choices, not because they can’t afford whatever you are inviting them to.

      • Relax lady – it came up in the thread this morning and was an interesting side discussion.

        • MargaretO :

          It’s interesting to me (in a horrifying way) that anyone could judge someone else’s choice to not spend money they don’t have so harshly.

        • Anonymous :

          Kinda strange that you’re so tense about how your friends spend their money but you’re telling other people to relax…

    • Lady from the beginning of Beauty and the Beast: “That’s too expensive!”

    • I think they probably don’t have the money and it’s none of my beeswax.

    • I make over 250k per year, single, no kids. Own a tiny house with used furniture and drive a 15 year old car. Net worth barely 1M, after digging out from 200k of debt since 2009. I “can’t afford” lots of things of things because my fancy $250k job is going to drive me to a complete and total nervous breakdown one day, after which I will be unemployable. So I need to save as much as I can because it will be all I have to live off of for the next ~40+ years (I am 35).

    • "afford" is a subjective term :

      There’s all sorts of “rule of thumb” or “best practice” guides on what percentage of your gross or income you should spend on this or that, and I think most of those are absurdly high. But I also live in a RIDICULOUSLY HCOL area, and over half of my monthly budget (not salary, budget) goes to housing. I can’t fathom that general advice is 30% of your income can be spent on housing, so I generally say that we can’t afford to buy a house. In a literal sense, this is false… we could “afford” to pay a $6k-$10k mortgage as required to purchase anything in our area. But that means no retirement, no investing, no cash on hand, just mortgage mortgage mortgage. We don’t want to be house poor. We also frame “afford” in terms of the cost to benefit ratio. If I only extract $50 of value from a meal or gift or tank of gas, why would I pay $100 for it? This is particularly true about dinner/drinks out. In our area, it’s so expensive, usually loud, and usually rushed. Why pay $12 for a glass of wine when I could buy the whole bottle for $12 and host someone in my (super expensive bc HCOL area) apartment? Sure, I can afford to go out for drinks every night, but I don’t get nearly the value for the price. I don’t generally frame things as “I can’t afford it”, but “It’s so expensive” or “That’s outside my budget” is not an unreasonable thing to say, no matter how much money you appear to be making.

    • Affordable :

      So, personally, to me, “I can’t afford it” and “It’s not in my budget” are not the same thing – one comes from a net negative (no money to spend), and one from a net positive (ways to spend money you have). However, as I said, I think this is deeply personal – for some growing up without health insurance, they cannot afford to go to the dentist. There are no emergency funds to be depleted, no student loans to be repaid because that means you were able to forgo working in the first place to go to college, etc.

      So for me, when I hear someone can’t afford something, it makes me think of having to choose between food and a doctor’s bill, or choosing between shoes that fit your kid’s feet and paying the electric bill; not on whether or not you can afford to go out to dinner. That to me sounds more like it’s not in the budget. But that’s just my own perspective.

    • Whether I have the money allocated to other things or whether I don’t have the money at all, you’ll get the same response from me, because the difference and details are no one else’s business.

      So then it brings things to 2 options; either one of us suggests an alternative, because we really do want to spend time together (I can’t go with you to Richy Rich steakhouse, but do you have time next week to grab coffee or hit up a happy hour for bar snacks somewhere and catch up?) or you were inviting me out of obligation/in hopes of looking good for having a huge event full of people/you wanted me to buy from your MLM and you say nothing and/or I’m not interested in spending my time or money with you so I say nothing and it just ends with the offer made and rejected.

      Regardless, any time I invite someone to something or get invited where it’s expensive, I either plan in my mind to offer to cover a friend I love who might say they can’t afford it because I can and I want them with me or I have an alternative suggestion in mind. The goal of the invite was sharing time with someone, so I prepare for other options.

    • Anonymous :

      We made a choice to have a child over buying a house – with monthly daycare cost being $1800, we can’t afford many things.

    • The original poster’s attitude – well, if you make a lot you should easily be able to afford this dinner out, that theater ticket, whatever – is precisely the type of attitude that leads to people overspending and getting in trouble. I’m picking up the pieces of a family member who did just that, who had no sense of delayed gratification, who just knew that she had a lot of money so therefore any indulgence was just fine. I have great respect for people who are mindful with their budget and plan for the future and make tradeoffs, and I have very little respect for people who just blindly think “I make six figures so what’s $50 for dinner.”

    • I don’t say “we can’t afford it,” I just say “we can’t swing that right now” or “we are saving for X.” Most people are not bad-mannered enough to question that further. I spent most of last year turning down invitations to go on girls’ weekends, dinners at fancy restaurants, etc. because we were saving for a trip to Hawaii; people understood.

      Couple of thoughts, which I discussed with a friend this morning after reading the UK Guardian article about people in San Francisco who “feel poor” even though they are making well into six figures. First off, a six-figure (or more) salary doesn’t go as far as people think. Yes, I understand saying that makes me sound like a j e r k. But it’s true. If you contribute substantially to retirement savings, emergency funds and college savings, are well-insured (what we pay in insurance monthly between house, cars, life, disability, health care, etc. etc. etc. is staggering to me), and have other expenses like child care or student loans (we have both), it goes fast. (Also – gifts for people. We don’t buy extravagant gifts, but we have a large family and sometimes that reaches $2,000 a year.) We are in a MCOL area. We have a modest house. We drive modest cars (the payment on my Hyundai is under $300 a month and my husband has had the same car for 12 years). We take one big vacation a year. But honestly, we are not living the way I expected we would be living when we started making over $150,000 a year combined. That seemed like HUGE money to me at some point, and I know to some people it is. But it goes *fast.*

      – People have said on here before, “comparison is the thief of joy” and that is especially true in regards to finances. You just have no idea how people are making it work behind the scenes. True in business finance (that’s a whooole ‘nother post) and true for household finances too. Case in point, this week a good friend called in a panic, her husband just got laid off. They live in a “nicer” house than ours, drive “newer” cars, she has nicer/more expensive clothes, etc. Turns out – she is totally freaked out because they have little to no savings and she doesn’t know if/how they will make it if her husband doesn’t get another job, fast. I would hate to be living on that kind of knife edge. Now I don’t feel so resentful about buying used clothes from ThredUp all the time, taking my lunch every day, and otherwise doing what I do to save money. Peace of mind is worth it. Everyone makes their own evaluations about what they feel is important. I don’t think we’ll be retiring early but I do feel we’ll be retiring *sometime*. Which I feel good about. Make the choices that you feel good about and will make you happy; don’t worry about what other people are doing.

    • Helping out relatives financially is common for moderate or high-income workers who come from poorer backgrounds, and that can include extended relatives. That also means that these workers did not receive family help to pay for higher education, a wedding, or a down payment on a home.

  2. Biking to work :

    The fascinating thread about commuting last week got me thinking — why don’t I bike to work? I live in DC, about 6 miles from work. Google tells me that most of my commute would be through Rock Creek, which sounds perfectly pleasant and safe. Would love to hear from those who bike to work in the city, particularly in DC. Also, looks like DC allows bikers to bike on sidewalks outside of downtown.

    I’m comfortable on a bike but have never been a city biker, so this is what scares me a little. Thanks!

    • That’s why I wouldn’t – do you have to be on downtown roads for any part of the commute or any highly trafficked roads (i.e. not sidewalks)? To me saving a few bucks on commuting or some time in traffic is just not worth it. Not to mention isn’t the weather going to be gross in a matter of weeks? I never understood how people biked to work – aren’t you then sweaty in your suit/business casual for the rest of the day.

      • Anonymous :

        Same way the majority of commuters in Copenhagen bike to work – by not biking so fast/hard that you get sweaty.

      • Biking to work :

        I would do it for the exercise and just being out in the sunshine, not to save money. The next few months will be gorgeous in DC weather wise. Also I would bike in work out clothing, and then shower and dress at work (we have a great gym here). But I’m with you on the downtown roads question — that’s what would scare me.

      • People in Amsterdam and places like that seem to manage. Also there is a gym with showers at my office and I’m sure many other office buildings also have such facilities.

        I am a little nervous about the idea of starting to ride my bike to work and arriving late and drenched in sweat. I have thought about getting started by throwing my bike on the bus and biking home, and maybe I will once it’s light out a little later. If I do that for a while then I figure I’ll be in good enough shape to do it both directions.,

        • Living on nonprofit salary :

          Amsterdam and other European cities have infrastructure built for cyclists, and cycling is such a huge thing that drivers and cyclists know how to drive safely. It’s not the same in North America at all.

          • Anonymous :

            ? The question was about getting sweaty. “I never understood how people biked to work – aren’t you then sweaty in your suit/business casual for the rest of the day.” Pretty sure people sweat/don’t sweat in relation to the energy they are exerting regardless of biking infrastructure.

            Some people bike to work for fitness in addition to transport. In Europe, it’s more common to bike solely as transport at a pace that allows one to arrive not sweaty.

          • Ok, so Amsterdam (or the Netherlands, in general) is very good for biking. It’s not only about the infrastructure, but also the terrain is extremelly flat. That certainly contributes to lack of sweatiness. We also bike slow, i.e. at the tempo that doesn’t make one sweat. I bike in anything I’d be wearing at work/in town/at the party. I own a city bike with a low frame, so I can wear skirts, dresses and heels (the soles get scuffed though).

            Back then when I lived in the Eastern Europe, I’ve never biked. There were no infrastructure, so it was dangerous. It was hilly and winters were very cold.

        • I do NOT understand how some people in DC could bike to work year round. It is cold in the winter and HOT HOT HOT in the summer. We had a guy in the goverment who biked in from Virginia, and he left his bicycle in the basement. He did NOT shower at work (we had NO SHOWER), and he smelled bad every day. I think he did not care how he smelled b/c he kept telling us that he felt so healthy from bikeing in to work. He used to ooogle me and I did NOT know where to look when he said we should date! (His breathe was also stinky). FOOEY!

      • I had a roommate who would bike commute in DC and I used to bike to metro (was a MARC commuter for a bit); be wary of potholes/broken pavement when you do have to be on the road (or even on some bike paths). She broke a rim and I was almost thrown off due to potholes/broken pavement. Otherwise I think she loved it. Also see if any of the path through RC would be impacted by the current work on Beach.

    • Coach Laura :

      I’ve done it -3 miles each way. My husband did it for three years, round trip 14 miles. For safety contact the local riding advocacy group which might have free seminars or even supply a buddy to get you up to speed and share tips w you.

    • DC Cyclist :

      I currently have a walking commute, but I biked to work regularly in the past. It can be a really lovely way to start/wind down from the work day. I never did it to save a few bucks although that could be an additional benefit.

      I would definitely recommend getting some experience with city cycling before you start commuting, including practicing your commute during a slow time of day. Cycling on sidewalks is nearly always a bad idea. It’s dangerous for pedestrians, of course, but it’s also dangerous for cyclists because drivers won’t expect to see a cyclist crossing an intersection at a faster pace than a pedestrian would. The web site Bicycle Safe lists some rules of the road that can help you learn how to safely ride in traffic.

      As far as being sweaty at work, I wouldn’t ride on the hottest days of summer. On say 90+ days I would wear workout shorts to ride in and change at work.

      • +1 for a practice ride. Get comfortable on your bike in the city–go for coffee or on errands with your bike.

        I bike to work as soon as the streets are clear and stop when it snows. I generally wear my workclothes, but without a blazer or heels.

    • What time is your evening commute? I’ve never biked but I used to run-commute through Rock Creek. I found that the parts that weren’t by the road were too poorly lit to use at night, and starting around October the bugs were unbearable for me, personally.

      • Biking to work :

        Good point — I would only bike to work, not back home. I would rent a bike through Capital Bikeshare. I don’t own a bike so I wouldn’t buy one until I was sure I wanted to commute regularly by biking.

        • Bike headlights are available in extremely bright. Mine is 500 lumens. You can see fine if you get one.

          • BikeToWorkAndAlsoOtherPlaces :

            Agreed. This is an easy fix.

          • pugsnbourbon :

            +1. My husband biked to work for a couple of years (flat landscape, lived about 3 miles away) and he had a rear light, a front light with different settings, and an incredibly bright helmet light. Be visible!

        • LondonLeisureYear :

          I will say…your own bike verse a heavy duty bike for renting is a totally different ball game. A bad bike is like walking around in uncomfortable shoes all day. A bad bike makes even the best bikers miserable. A bike that is fitted for you, that is properly serviced, that has air in its tires…its like music. It just works!

          • +1

            Those rental bikes are HEAVY and the frames are a weird size. It’s a mystery to me why bikeshare programs all have such terrible bikes.

          • Anonymous :

            @ Torin– I’ve heard it’s because they’re less likely to be stolen for parts!

        • Yeah I used the Capital Bikeshare bikes as a tourist, and those suckers were SO heavy compared to my normal bike at home! Riding my bike (it was about $500, so not a crazy investment) feels natural and easy, not labored. Don’t write off bike commuting based on an uncomfortable bike!

    • I bike to work in Houston when it’s under 80 in the morning (which effectively means I bike to work from about September to March) and the weather forecast is less than 40% chance of rain for the evening. I bike in my work clothes. There’s a pace you can hit where you’re biking along fast enough to get a good breeze but not fast enough to be putting in enough effort to start dripping sweat.

      I strongly prefer commuting this way and highly recommend it. Interacting with cars is perfectly safe as long as 1) they can see you and 2) you pay attention.

      2 is self explanatory, but for 1), there are a few things to note. I would get really effing bright flashing red (or other colors) LEDs for your bike and put them everywhere. They make some that can go on your seat post and on your wheel spokes, and I like both. Also, remember that your bike will hide really easily in a car’s blind spot, so be aware not just of the car’s around you, but also where you are in relationship to them. Sometimes if you’re right next to them you’re hardest to see.

    • Anonymous :

      I bike to work, but in Copenhagen where there are bike lanes all the way to and from work. My commute has been from 10 – 25 km each way, and I’ve always biked in biking gear and showered and changed at the end of the ride (so two showers each day). Partly because of the sweating issue, partly because more padding in the seat is better when biking long distances, and partly because nice clothes wear out too fast from the friction and get too dirty from the bike oil and roadgrit.
      In my opinion the sweet spot for biking to work is about 10-15 km. Less than 5 km and it isn’t worth the bother, and much more than 15 km and the time and energy commitment is too big. Biking in the US, however, seems a little more risky – but it has been more than 15 years since I tried last, so much may have changed.

    • LondonLeisureYear :

      I biked to work 5 miles both ways for 5 years. I brought a change of clothes with me. Biked in my exercise gear. This was for many reasons besides the sweat issue: if it rained, even with the best rain gear…its nice to have dry clothes to get into. If it was hot i wanted to bike in a tank top/sports bra…but that wouldn’t be work appropriate. I think pants wear out in the butt/knees if you are biking in them a lot, so I didn’t want to wear them while biking.

      Get good lights. Get a good reflective vest I swear by this one. Cars stop and thank me for wearing it because they feel like they can actually see me. It crushes down into a fist and fits over all my clothes. A helmet. Get a good bike and make sure you have air in the tires and get it regularly serviced. Know your turn signals. Don’t listen to music or podcasts. Have good carrying bags and you will be set!

      OH I did a 100 day straight no matter the weather, no matter how bad I was feeling commitment to biking, which I think really helped force me to do it and not end up using the car.

    • BikeToWorkAndAlsoOtherPlaces :

      Biking to work is great! I do it for the joy, though the cost savings and guaranteed exercise are nice too.

      I bike 7 miles each way nearly every day from April to October; it tapers off to a few times per week from November to March. My route is a mix of city streets and bike paths. Bike paths are amazing. Developing a comfort with city riding takes time. It scared me at first so I know where you are coming from. I suggest trying it out on a weekend–then you can prove to yourself that it’s doable and feel more confident in heavier traffic. Or maybe you know someone who bike commutes and can tag along with them for a test ride? I’m in Seattle; otherwise I would totally do this with you!

      I bike in weather-appropriate biking clothes and change into work clothes at work. A shower is great if your office has one but honestly most days I don’t need it–I just bring deodorant and hair product.

      I have tons to say about this so ask whatever you want, but also check out Bike Forums– they have a Commuting thread that answers everything you want to know and more (though most of it is from the old hippy white dude perspective…)

      Good luck! The world would be better if more people biked!

    • I wouldn’t recommend biking on the sidewalks. First, it’s not allowed downtown. Second, sidewalks on some streets are narrow and you’d have to navigate around light posts and signs. DC does have quite a few bike lanes though.

    • Many people have chimed in with good advice, but I also wanted to add support! I live in Virginia and bike to work regularly. It’s awesome and everyone I know who’s started has become happier as a result! If you’re nervous about city biking, check out WABA’s city cycling classes. I’m not sure whether you have a shower you can use once you get to work, but even if you don’t, you can use baby wipes and throw some deodorant in your bag and no one will notice. Also, try out your route a few times on a weekend when there’s no pressure to be there at a certain time in order to get used to it. Good luck, and have fun!

  3. O'Hare Airport Parking? :

    Can any Chicagoans here offer suggestions for long-term parking near O’Hare? We’re driving to Chicago to fly out for a two week trip. We’re a family of 5 and while I’m doing my best to make sure everyone can manage their own luggage, I’m not excited about herding 3 kids with their stuff from the long-term lot to a bus that takes us to the transit system that takes us to the airport! So I guess I’m looking to balance cost with convenience. I’d be open to off-site with a reliable shuttle service or one of the valet services that meet you at the airport and take your car away to park it. I’m also open to being corrected on how much of a hassle it is to use on-site lots! Thanks in advance.

    • Anonymous :

      On-s*te lots, even the economy lots, are less of a hassle than off-s*te lots in my opinion. The cheapest on-s*te lot is $10/day and it’s really no big deal getting from there to the airport even with luggage – it’s a two or three minute bus ride right to the door of the train terminal and then a five-ten minute train that takes you directly into your terminal.

      There are websites where you can book a one-night hotel stay and then you park your car at the hotel during your trip and just ride the hotel shuttle to and from the airport. That’s fairly convenient, but still not as convenient as being in the airport’s lot, and I’m not sure the math makes sense unless you’re really trying to pinch pennies. I believe when we did that it was $6 or $7/day to leave the car at the hotel. Also we got bed bugs at that hotel, and apparently it’s a known thing that a LOT of the hotels around O’Hare have infestations. So if you do that, make sure you do tons of research on the hotel. Saving a few dollars a day is not worth a bedbug infestation in your home.

    • What about Uber?

      • Anonymous :

        Yup – I would think paying for a ride to the airport may be less expensive than paying for the parking, and less of a hassle.

  4. Maternity or Parental Leave? :

    Branching off from this morning’s paid leave advocacy thread (yay for lots of those today!), a few commenters thought pushing for broader parental leave from the onset would be more successful than starting with maternity leave. I started the advocacy process for paid parental leave in my small organization by doing just that, assuming that its broader effect for all employees than just women would result in more buy-in. However, my executive advocate was willing to go to bat for maternity leave, but parental leave would have to wait for another day. Exec argued that there is a hierarchy of needs to address when pushing for paid leave, the base of which is a woman’s need for physical recovery after delivery which is unique to the birthing woman alone. Parent-child bonding is an argument for the next level of the needs, and the greater soft benefits to society even higher than that. Exec felt maternity leave policy alone would be more successful approach. Hive’s thoughts? For reference, my organization is less than 50 employees so there is no FMLA eligibility.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      No real thoughts from a practical perspective as I come from a country with government-protected benefits (not meant as a humblebrag, just that I have no idea what a persuasive argument would look like to an employer).

      I just wanted to say how much I admire you for giving it a shot with your employer and how awful it must suck to be a woman in America in this respect – like having a baby is not enough stress and worry on its own but then you also have to worry about how long you can take off based on *finances*. That bites. Fight the good fight, sister.

  5. This morning’s thread about landlords and silverfish got me thinking – what makes you a “high maintenance” tenant? DH and I just moved into a new rental home, and our rent is … not cheap. We live in a great neighborhood, but the house itself is older and hasn’t been properly maintained since the owner moved out a few years ago.

    We only saw the house for 15-20 minutes (with multiple other people touring it) before we signed the lease, and we set expectations with the realtor (who was supposed to set them with the landlord) that these maintenance issues would be fixed once we moved in. We’re talking things like broken window blinds, missing/broken fence posts in the front yard, leaking sinks that run brown water, toilet seats that are in terrible shape (literally the white enamel has worn off/flaked off), mounted glass light fixtures where the glass is broken, etc. The home was also not cleaned prior to us moving in, and per our lease, it was supposed to be professionally cleaned.

    We reached out to our landlord, and he gave us a pretty hard time, saying that the home is a rental property and that we can’t expect them to invest much money or time into it. After some back and forth, he finally relented a bit and is sending a repairman to fix some of these things, but I’m wondering what makes you a high-maintenance tenant, and what are reasonable repairs to expect your landlord to make (especially when you’re paying $6k+/month in rent)?

    I don’t consider us to be high-maintenance people, and we’ve been renters for awhile and have never had any issue like this with a landlord before. I don’t mind spending a small amount of our own money to make minor fixes, but at this price point, I would expect that the landlord would be more on it and willing to invest in his property and make us happy tenants.


    • Two Cents :

      After a similar experience, this is why we will only rent in managed apartment buildings, not from an individual. The things you raise should be fixed but the crazy part, especially in cities, is that demand for rentals is high and there is little incentive for a landlord to improve things because someone else will want it. Even with places that are 6K a month. That’s been my experience anyway.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t think you’re “high maintenance” per se but I also think if you saw these things and moved in anyway, it’s kind of on you. I would typically only expect the landlord to fix things that break while the tenant is already living there. Of course if the landlord agreed to fix these things before you move in, he should fix them, but if you don’t have that agreement in writing you may be in a tough spot (sounds like you need a new realtor!).

      I don’t think the price point of the property matters much, except in relation to other property where you live. If it’s $6k because it’s billed as “luxury” or something like that, then yeah I would expect the landlord to be more attentive than normal. But if it’s $6k because you live in a HCOL area and the market price for that amount of square feet is $6k then I don’t think the price is terribly relevant. Apartments in HCOL areas aren’t nicer than in LCOL areas – probably the opposite actually.

      • +1.

        I figure that the condition of the house when they are looking to rent as the best it will get and adjust accordingly. I would never sign a lease for a place that had all those problems during the open house. Maybe one small problem that they agreed to fix, but nothing more

      • The repairs should have been negotiated into your lease. If it’s livable, just not aesthetically pleasing and there is no agreed upon obligation that is readily enforceable, I don’t think you are going to have much luck getting it fixed. I don’t think it makes you high maintenance though. It sounds like you are in a very hot rental market, so that gives the LL a lot more leverage.

        • Yeah, we are in a tight rental market and we were moving from out of the area, so we only had a chance to view the house once quickly before needing to commit to the lease (literally, the home was up for rent for like 3 days and had multiple offers in that time period). If we were able to spend more time in the house, or if we weren’t being pressured to sign the lease or lose the place, we probably would have pressed harder for the repairs to be documented more diligently.
          We were being represented by “the” broker in the area, who came highly recommended, so I’m a little disappointed that we were verbally assured these repairs would be made by him and his team and yet that wasn’t communicated to the landlord or documented by them.

          Any thoughts on what recourse we might have for cleaning? That was guaranteed in our lease, and we have photos to prove that the house was not cleaned.

          • Anonymous :

            Did you get it cleaned yourself? I’d submit that bill and tell them you want to deduct from rent (if your state/juris allows that). If you didn’t, I’d ask for a credit. But I don’t think they’re likely to provide if you didn’t clean and moved in already. I’m the landlord from earlier and think you should have gotten the other stuff in writing.

    • I am a low maintenance tenant. No heat, no a/c, or a leak into my apt are about the only things I call for. The rest I usually look for a deal, and send the landlord the receipt in the mail. He usually lets us deduct it all.

      But you aren’t asking for a bidet. That being said I bought my own toilet seat cause I wanted a new one cause it grossed me out.

      I negotiate things to be fixed that we over look (like blinds) upon renegotiation of the lease. This year I want new carpet.

      • Anonymous :


        The things the OP mentioned are aesthetic, and if the landlord didn’t have them fixed at time of showing I would not expect them to be fixed. The only thing on your list I might have pushed for was fixing the blinds, IF they were advertised as part of the place (some places don’t have them!) and they actually didn’t work (so I couldn’t have privacy).

        The only time I contacted my landlord was when the place was burglarized and the damage was being repaired (and they didn’t fix all damage… only made it safe) and when a major appliance or toilet wasn’t working.

        I want to be a good tenant that is so trouble free my landlord doesn’t want me to leave and maybe will “forget” to raise my rent to keep me there….

        • Anonymous :

          I tend to agree that what you see at the showing is what you can expect to move into, but since when are leaking sinks that spew out brown water an aesthetic issue? The leak means that if the tenant is paying water (I have had to in all but one place), tenant is bearing a much higher water bill than would’ve been expected for normal usage. And brown water raises questions as to whether it’s safe to drink, shower in, cook with, etc.

          • I gotta say you have a lot of complaints, and I can’t help but wonder if brown water is ……brown water…. ya know what I mean? Water in my area has a lot of minerals, so some people need time to get used to it.

            If you think the water is dangerous, then definitely call your local public health office and ask them to come do testing. In my community it is done for free. But you have to realize that this is potentially a BIG problem if it means old piping that may need work/replacing and no landlord is going to be excited about this one.

            And you can’t put that in a list with 6 other things you want fixed, including small cosmetic things. You’ve got to prioritize, be reasonable, and sometimes offer to help.

            In a tight market you need to figure out what you can live with.

            and yes – I have a leaky faucet right now that my landlord will definitely not fix. And broken (and missing…) bathroom tile. And a big gash in my front door from the robbers. And pealing flooring in the kitchen. And a toilet that I have to clean every other day because it doesn’t rinse the bowl (broken).

            But my rent is great, and I still love my place and location. I can live with it.

    • Document and take pictures now. Our landlord tried to charge us for all of the things that were broken when we moved in that he never fixed. He even charged us for a hole that he cut in the wall to fix the upstairs neighbor’s plumbing that he never came back to repair. Total nightmare. We ended up in small claims court.

      Document. Document. Document.

  6. Anonymous :

    Several of my bras have underarm residue. How can I remove this? I handwash my bras, and I’ve tried scrubbing with a wash cloth to little avail. I primarily wear black bras, so its quite noticable white residue from deodorant (I’ve since switched to clear).

    • How long do you soak them for? I find an over night soak with detergent really helps take out deep stains.

  7. DC Cyclist :

    I have a networking event in New Orleans this weekend. I’m thinking of wearing a navy dress with a textured white blazer. The blazer has gold buttons and three-quarter sleeves. Is this too summery for March? My other option is a gray flannel blazer. Thanks for the input!

    • Nope, sounds perfect to this native Houstonian. You will roast in the gray flannel unless your event is in a hotel conference room on meat locker setting (which has happened to me, for sure).

  8. My coworker had a death in the family. The obituary says donations in lieu of flowers. Is it really ok to send a donation and not flowers also? How much is appropriate for an acquaintance coworker?

    • BikeToWorkAndAlsoOtherPlaces :

      Yes, please follow the directions in the obit. Some cultures view flowers as inappropriate for funerals. I would think any amount is ok–if it’s a donation directly to a specific organization, the coworker might not even know how much you give.

    • Anonymous :

      My office usually pools about $20 pp and does a group donation. someone usually circulates a card to sign. More $$ or personal card in addition if I was particularly close with the co-worker but it sounds like you are not.

    • Follow up question… who does the donation come from?… Jane Doe (me), Jane Doe and family, The Doe Family…

      • Anonymous :

        If you family has never met this person, I would send it from you. Otherwise, I would send it from you and your family

    • I’d respect the family’s preference for a donation and skip the flowers. It can be any amount you want- they generally aren’t told more than “Anon made a gift in your name” How about you take the $50-$75 or whatever you would spend on an arrangement and make that your donation?

  9. I’m in the midst of a challenge to my best friendship, and I would genuinely appreciate any thoughts: Three of us had been best friends for 17 years. Last year at this time, we lost one of our small group. It was absolutely devastating. As we approach the anniversary of the death, my best friend and I are handling it very differently. One of us wants to talk and remember, and the other is ready to move on. We both want to be there for the other but are genuinely struggling in how to support each other when we are in very different places in our grief. We both know that we can’t tell the other how to feel and that there is no “right way” to handle grief, but it so incredibly hard.

    • I know everyone says “therapy” in this group and its often a joke answer now but…

      I have done one off therapy sessions with a therapist that I know is good from recommendations to talk over hard things:
      1- choosing the end of life care plan for my grandpa (with my mom and my aunt)
      2 – talking with my father in law about his anger issue
      3- talking with my mom about the suicide of her brother that happened before I was born that she finds hard to talk about

      Having a mediator to lead a conversation and talk about how to move forward with your grief might be really helpful. It sounds like you guys don’t have ideas, so having a 3rd person to safely listen and to bounce ideas off of and to give their own suggestions might be helpful.

    • What if you compromised… spent the morning hanging out quietly, one can read a book/magazine, relax, etc while the other journals about the lost friend or whatnot but you’re together in a time of quiet acknowledgment and then in the afternoon or evening, go do something fun together, in honor of said friend. Then one can cry/grieve/feel supported in the morning without the other one having to spend all day in sadness and the other can feel like they got to move forward by doing something fun while the friend knows the activity is in honor of, which might feel more reminiscent too.

  10. Politics of Target? :

    I made a quick trip to a local Target store to pick up a gift and birthday card today. In the greeting card section, there were several cards featuring Obama (and HRC) that were derogatory. There were none of Trump. Frankly, I wouldn’t expect to see anything political in a retail greeting card section *unless it supports the political leaning of said retailer*. I didn’t realize that Target had taken an anti-Obama/Clinton/Democratic party stance.

    I let a front desk employee know why I wouldn’t continue to shop there. Am I living under a rock? I didn’t know Target was anti-Democrat. I do not see them listed on Grab Em By the Wallet, so I guess they are not an explicit supporter of Trump products…but still.

    • Anonymous :

      I had no idea about this. Will check out my local Target’s card section to see.

    • Anonymous :

      What if there were anti-Trump ones there but they had all been purchased?

    • Cause old people buy more cards and they are more Republican? Good question. WTF

    • Anonymous :

      Is it possible that they just haven’t had time to produce Trump cards yet? Obama and HRC have been national political figures for much longer.
      I’ve always thought of Target as a left-leaning company. I know they have a progressive bathroom policy (use whatever bathroom you identify with) and they featured an ad with a same sex couple before the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality. I believe the ad was in 2014, so it’s not like they were way ahead of the curve there, but I remember there being headlines about it at the time so I believe they were one of the first major retailers to do something like that. I think they also signed an amicus brief in favor of marriage equality in the Supreme Court case.

      • newbinlaw :

        this. Target is super liberal. They even did that thing where they stopped labeling toys as girls’ and boys’ & there was major backlash. there were murmurs of boycotts, etc. for the LGBT bathroom policy as well but they stuck to their guns. I would say that obama/HRC cards are just super popular right now and unless they are hate speech or something outrageous, Target has every right to sell them.

        Also wondering where you are located. I’m in LA and I can’t imagine seeing cards that were saying something derogatory about Obama. Curious what that would be unless it was actually offensive. interesting.

    • Wait how does this make them anti-democrat? They’re not the ones making the cards?

      They’ve taken a progressive stance in the “bathroom wars”.

      I’m not sure these cards indicate that they’re anti-democrat.

      • Politics of Target? :

        Well sure they didn’t make the cards, but they’re most definitely selling the cards and profiting from them. Pretty sure they’re in control of what they decide to merchandise.

        I’m in a blue state.

        And I thought Target was at least liberal-leaning, which is why this was puzzling, and annoying and hence the post.

        The HRC card is some dumb joke that alludes to the mishandling of classified email.

        One of the Obama cards has a photo of him, the White House and the presidential seal and is captioned “President Obama”; the inside reads “See….there ARE SCARIER things than turning a year older. Happy Birthday”.

        Neither are scathing, but the intended audience is clearly the anti-Obama and HRC crowd.

        I was just not in the mood, and now feel further annoyed that I spent my lunch hour dicking around taking pictures of greeting cards at Target so I could remind myself that I do not need to shop there anymore!

        • Respectfully, I don’t think either of those cards is a big deal. Neither is funny, in my opinion, but equally neither is sexist, racist, or in insanely poor taste. You could put Trump in that Obama card instead and it sounds like you’d have no problem with it (though, really, still not actually funny in my opinion). Plenty of people didn’t/don’t like Obama and HRC they’re allowed to shop for cards they find funny at Target, and I have no problem with Target making money off of them.

          I’d have a problem with it if they were selling a card that made a racist or a sexist joke, but this is just basically a card that effectively says “some people really don’t like Obama” and that’s just true.

    • Fun fact: typically greeting card sections of stores are fully serviced and merchandised by the card wholesaler (so, American Greetings or Hallmark 99% of the time), with some guidance from the retailer around price points. In many cases, the retailer doesn’t even own the card inventory in their stores – one of the only categories to operate this way.

      You still have a right to express your thoughts to Target, but wanted to share this bit of context.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah I used to work for Target (not in the Government Affairs department but I worked with them a lot) and I can say emphatically that it’s about the most liberal large corporation I’ve ever come across. The fact that they were selling these cards could probably be explained a lot of different ways (not sure what part of the country you live in, but they may just have the anti-HRC/Obama cards because that’s what sells), but it’s not because the company is right-leaning. You would not be sending a message at all by not shopping there.

  11. Not ready for gray yet :

    Does anyone here color their hair at home? I’ve been having mine done since I was early 20s to cover grays, back to dark reddish-brown. But I just hate the time suck at the salon, it feels like it takes forever and if I was at home I could be getting things done, spending time with my baby, etc. Am I asking for trouble? I’ve done the root touch-ups at home and I’ve been happy with them. TIA!

    • I do. I stopped going the salon route for the same reason. It just seemed excruciating to spend that much time there, so when I moved away from my stylist, it seemed like a good time to go it alone. I researched and ended up using Redken Shades EQ. It isn’t permanent color technically, but on my hair it is. It does fade out near the roots so there’s no line, but the rest of the hair doesn’t lose all the color and go back to gray, if that makes sense.

      The downside is that I sometimes feel like I have the “helmet” effect, even when I’m careful to just do the roots.

    • All the time. I like the Herbal Essences semi-permanent dye. At my stylist’s recommendation, I put on a disposable cap to let the color penetrate better. Takes me about 30 minutes total.

  12. This may be too late in the day, but does anyone have apartment suggestions in DC? I’m flexible on neighborhood and am looking for a studio or 1 bedroom.

    • BabyAssociate :


    • I always had good luck finding them on Craigslist but you do have to wade through all the Virginia and Maryland listings under DC proper, which is pretty easy to do by price (if it’s under $1,000 it’s definitely not in DC).

      • Thanks for the tip!

        • That was my budget but I had a roomie. I think my friend found a studio for around that in Logan Circle? Wasn’t her fav place but it was safe and nice, just a little dark bc of weirdly located outlets. I searched mainly in Brookland. We used, asked friends, and then took a trip down to see places/walk around and see what was available (for rent signs on street). The Logan Circle friend found hers via Craigslist. Also check out Flats in Shaw. She found another affordable studio there, around the same as LC but nicer place.

  13. Yup. I really love not having to go to a salon to pay $70 or more, way too frequently. I am huge fan of at-home dying.

    We’ve talked about this on thiss*te before. I used to recommend that if you are moving to home color to try either the John Frieda or L’Oreal mousse products, which are slightly more expensive but easier to handle than drippy liquid haircolor. Those seem to have disappeared from shelves in my area lately (emergency last week–tried three different chains–no dice at CVS, Walgreens or RiteAid) so I have switched to Excellence Creme, since the creme is still easier than drippy liquid that got all over my bathroom. I recommend you try first a semi-permanent (like Nice N Easy) until you are sure about the shade, and then move to permanent on your next coloring. Semi does not cover grays as well or for as long as permanent. Note that NiceNEasy is one of the liquids (so drippy) but you want to get the color right. I was specifically warned not to use an iridescent product like Feria because they are very hard to match.

    I also watched a YouTube video on how to dye hair which gave me more confidence.

    I learned all of this the hard way, through trial and error, but:

    * be sure to have some paper towels handy for drips. Do not set the bottle or box down on your white counter–it may leave a dye mark which starts out white but develops into the color of your dye (oops). I usually deposit the box and the bottle/mousse in the plastic shopping bag I bought it in to be safe and save my countertops.
    * have some clips or rubber bands nearby to separate your hair and “twist” parts you aren’t working with out of your way.
    * keep your shower curtain, towels, rugs or anything else that you don’t want drips of dye on out of the way.
    * make sure you have your phone or a timer nearby to time.
    * if your ends are drier than your roots, consider buying a spray water bottle and wetting them slightly. Do your roots and just “pull through”/add more color to your ends for the last 10-15 mins.
    * if your hair is really long or really thick, make sure you use 2 boxes per coloring
    * save the boxtop so you know what color you used
    * make sure you get all the dye off your hands, earlobes (tops and bottoms), nape of neck/forehead line or you will dye your skin
    * make sure to rub the dye into your roots really well at your temples and nape of neck so greys don’t escape
    * be sure to bring a good book or something to do while you chill nak-o in your bathroom.
    * have a dark-colored towel for post-shower, because even if you thought you got all of the dye out, you probably didn’t, and don’t want to wreck your nice light-colored set.

    Good luck!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’m so jealous that you only pay $70 for color at a salon! I pay that for a haircut and I was super excited to find a place at that price.

      I’ve been coloring my hair at home using the John Freida mousse. I buy it from Amazon so haven’t experienced a shortage. The mouse is easy to use although I did stain the bathroom door the first time. I’ve gotten better with practice.

      The problem for me is that I have a ton of hair. A ton. It takes forever for me to rinse the color out. This last time I was in the shower for 45 minutes rinsing. My husband came in to see if I was ok since I was in there so long. I then shampooed it even though you aren’t really supposed to because its the only way to get all the color out of my hair. Even then I still had some residue and wound up showering and washing it again later that day. I’m actually going to the salon next month for my color because after 6ish months of doing it myself, I’m just tired of the work.

  14. do you judge? :

    Does what someone does, specifically, impact how you think of them? Thinking of people who work to protect cigarette companies from lawsuits, people who work as writers for academic plagiarism websites, people who work for companies that are known for child labor issues, heck, people who work for trump, etc.

    Where’s the line between “we all need to make a living” and “you’re contributing to the downfall of society/you’re what’s wrong with the industry/etc.?”

    Also, if you worked in one of these types of areas, would you hide what you did for a living?

    • Anonymous :

      Of course I judge. What you choose to do says tons about you. But I also give people a chance. Sometimes life throws us curve balls, and we do what we have to do to survive. And depending upon the explanation, I judge more!

      I wouldn’t work in one of the areas you describe, so I can’t answer your second question.

      But I do (lie) avoid revealing my job/background in many social settings as it can be intimidating to some, or can be a conversation killer for others, or worse…..they just want to talk about what I do and ask me too many questions…..

    • anonymous :

      Generally no, I don’t judge. There are exceptions to that, but that’s not so common. I agree that what you choose to do says a lot about you, but so do a lot of other things. If I’m going to judge a person, I’d like a more complete picture before I do. And generally, I’m not in the business of judging people, although I definitely have my own opinions about whether they’re contributing to society’s problems or not. Also, some would say that I’m everything wrong with (whatever we’re talking about here). I believe there’s a lot of room to have a different perspective than someone else, even if it’s something I find really…. not okay. There are a few lines that I don’t think one can cross, but again, there aren’t many of those. I try to really understand someone first before passing judgment, and I really think that people are a LOT more complex than our judgments about them allow for.

  15. Paging Kitchenaid mixer poster from recently :

    You can get a 5 qt professional Kitchenaid (red only) mixer for $188 today from target:

    Use the coupon code KITCHEN when you check out and the $250 price tag will drop to $188.

  16. Ooooooh I love a multi-functional briefcase! And on top of that, the color is perfection! This will be perfect for us women who have so many items to carry in our bags! Love it!

Add a Comment

Thank you for commenting. On the off chance that your comment goes to moderation, note that a moderation message will only appear if you enter an email address. If you have any questions please check out our commenting policy.

work fashion blog press mentions