Announcement: She Spends + Ellevest

We hear your concerns about investing — many readers have shared that they’re unsure where to start — so we’re partnering with Ellevest, a digital investment platform, to bridge that gap for our readers.

Ellevest was created by Sallie Krawcheck, formerly of Citi and Bank of America, to close the gender investing gap, which can cause women to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, over the course of their lives. We feel that Ellevest is in line with She Spends’ mission to help women take control of their finances, and we’re excited to partner with them.

As an Ellevest affiliate, we will produce sponsored content quarterly. We will always make a note that the content is #sponsored, and this relationship will not affect our editorial judgement.

She Spends readers can also create a free investment plan with Ellevest using this link. For every free plan created through this link, regardless if you choose to invest, She Spends will earn $25. Earning extra cash helps us to grow the She Spends community by paying for podcast equipment, event venues and website maintenance.

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Sound off in the comments section, or head over to our Facebook group.

-Amanda 👡

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How a financial journalist thrifts her work wardrobe

When I was growing up, my mom and I spent a lot of time trawling thrift stores for diamonds in the rough. My family had a year or two when money was tight, and part of cutting back was shopping at Goodwill for new clothes. I distinctly remember finding a pair of jean shorts from Abercrombie at the local Salvation Army. That was the moment that taught me the magic of thrifting.

Since then, I have regularly purchased roughly a third of my wardrobe from thrift stores. It’s not only economical, but it also is helpful for the environment. The best part? You can find some of the coolest brands for super reasonable prices when you thrift. For this experiment, I picked five of my favorite work outfits, formed almost totally from thrift store gems. For reference, I’ve been pinning style photos on Pinterest, most of which is work appropriate. I keep track of style inspiration there to keep me on track when I shop.

Monday: LOFT sweater (from Goodwill), Gap skirt (from Domsey Express), Madewell ring and Maguba clogs (from Poshmark).

For Monday’s outfit, I chose a LOFT sweater I thrifted a few years ago and a Gap skirt I just recently bought. I usually accessorize with a ring or bracelet from Madewell. I bought a few pieces on sale about a year ago and I love them. I paired the look with some clogs I found on Poshmark. To find these, I had searched for “Swedish clogs” on the site. This outfit would keep me warm in my ever-freezing office. The skirt dresses the basic sweater up. The clogs keep the look a little artsy.

Tuesday: Talbots blouse (from Goodwill), Maison Jules skirt (from Poshmark) and Free People clogs (from Poshmark).

I’ve had this Talbots blouse since one of my first internships. It’s a petite size, which means it fits me well. One of the nice things about the Goodwill near my parents’ house is that it typically has a nice petite selection. The Maison Jules skirt is a nice winter piece. I’m not usually big on color, but this bright red has been nice for winter. I found that I really love the shoe styles from Free People, so I have an alert set up on Poshmark to find these.

Wednesday: Banana Republic blouse, Michael Kors skirt (from Domsey Express), Madewell bracelet and Maguba clogs (from Poshmark).

I’m a big fan of white blouses. I think they look crisp at the office, and I’ve found several pretty cheaply at the factory outlet version of some of my favorite stores. I paired this Banana Republic blouse (it’s so soft!) with a Michael Kors skirt from a local thrift shop. The skirt had its original tags on when I bought it - it was originally $90, but I was able to buy it for $9. Again, I paired it with Madewell jewelry and the clogs - my classic cop out to look chic with very little effort.

Thursday: Theory blouse (from Domsey Express), A New Day pants (Target), Madewell ring and Chase & Chloe loafers (from Poshmark).

This Theory blouse is one of my favorite thrift store finds. Months ago, I picked up a Theory blazer from a Goodwill, but I didn’t realize it had a major rip in it until I got home. This Theory blouse is my redemption; I never thought I’d see a piece from the brand at a thrift store again. The pants are from Target’s new brand, A New Day, and they feel like sweatpants, which makes them perfect for a Thursday. I found the loafers on Poshmark. I’m not sure I’m sold on the backless situation. The shoes are harder to walk in than my heels.

Friday: Maison Jules sweater (Domsey Express), Target jeans and Chase & Chloe loafers.

I love Fridays because I get to wear jeans. The look is a little more casual, but I think the shoes keep it from looking too schlubby. I’m big on thrift store cashmere; it’s pretty easy to find, and you can clean it by hand washing. Maison Jules is one of my favorite department store brands, and it’s relatively easy to find via thrifting.  

-Alicia 🐶

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Selling #Feminism: Why your “girlboss” planner is helping no one.

Nothing gets the She Spends team more up-in-arms than seeing the term “girlboss” or any of its sister terms, including “boss babe,” “boss bitch” or “mompreneur.” So when Alicia saw this Too Faced Boss Lady Beauty Agenda on Sephora’s website, we almost exploded. Here’s proof in the form of a Slack conversation Amanda, Jemma and Alicia had the day she spotted the abomination.

AM: I am infuriated.

JF: Too Faced is so gimmicky

AE: THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE

JF: Does this eyeshadow do enough to dismantle the patriarchy? Does my “boss lady” throw pillow come from a sweatshop that subjects working women and girls to a lifetime of poverty? Do I need a #feminist T-shirt to remind myself that I am I feminist? I guess. Can’t wait to climb to management and break the glass ceiling to reinforce an exceptionalism narrative!!!

AM: I #hustle and #grind every day to keep the patriarchy in powerrrrr

JF: I don’t #combat the system I #work the system

What’s the big deal, right? It’s just an eyeshadow kit. Or a pillow. Or a T-shirt. Except, it’s totally not. Language like “girlboss” is infantilizing to women. We don’t use these types of terms for other underrepresented groups, as Kathleen Davis noted in this piece in Fast Company. In fact, if we did, it would almost seem like a slur.

There’s more at play with these terms, though. It makes the work women do seem like a frivolous exercise, as if it’s something we’re doing just to occupy our time. It erases the huge portion of women who support their families, often for minimum wage. In other words, “girlboss” is class prohibitive; “girlworker” is just as deserving of basic human dignity as “girlboss.”

What’s more is that these terms are used to sell products that are often made by low-income women in countries far away from our own. Companies mark up the prices to sell “feminism” without actually practicing any feminist values. And many women buy it. After all, who wouldn’t want a world where our hard work was celebrated with sparkles and hashtags and throw pillows?

This is why at She Spends, we don’t use these types of terms. They diminish the important work women are doing in all fields and erase our sisters working in low-income jobs. We don’t need to wrap our work up in pretty bows to make it seem beautiful and cute to other people. In fact, we’re happy to do the opposite, sharing the tough parts of our jobs in a supportive environment.

What #feminism is good for is moving eyeshadow palettes, T-shirts, throw pillows, notebooks, pencil cases, bags and other garbage. We’ve had enough of infantilizing products exploiting feminism to a capitalist end. She Spends is here to exploit capitalism to a feminist end.

(mic drop)

-Amanda 👡 , Jemma 🦄  & Alicia 🐶

The aforementioned Too Faced makeup kit. We pulled this picture from Amazon.

The aforementioned Too Faced makeup kit. We pulled this picture from Amazon.

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Does your city have a salary history ban? Here’s what you need to know.

Some U.S. cities and states have established a salary history ban in an effort to close the wage gap between men and women. Rather than determine a salary range for a position based on education, experience and skills, many employers will ask for your previous salary. This perpetuates the wage gap, as women make about 20% less than men; women of color make even less.

If you’re put in this situation, do not disclose your salary. Divert the conversation to the new job instead. For example:

“My current position is a bit different than this position because I will be doing X, Y and Z. What is the salary range for this position?”

You should also know the salary range for similar jobs in that market. The Ask Cindy Gallop chatbot is a great resource for finding out the average salary for someone in your zip code, as is Glassdoor. If the employer is insistent on you giving a number, this is a good way to divert as well:

“The average salary for this position in [city] is $XX,XXX. Is this in line with your budget?”

Make the hiring manager focus on the job at hand, not your current salary. However, you should also know your rights. These are the states and cities where employers can receive a fine if they ask about your salary history:

States

  • California: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, starting in January 2018.

  • Delaware: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, starting in December.

  • Massachusetts: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, starting in July 2018.

  • Oregon: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, starting in January 2019.

  • Puerto Rico: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, starting in March 2018.

Cities

  • New Orleans: The city banned salary history inquires for city departments and contract workers.

  • New York City: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, as of Oct. 31.

  • Philadelphia: Private and public employers cannot ask for your salary history, as of May. However, the ban is frozen due to a lawsuit against the city.

  • Pittsburgh: City agencies cannot ask for your salary history.

Have you negotiated for a salary before? What are your tips for dealing with a pushy hiring manager? Sound off in the comments or head over to our Facebook group.

-Amanda 👡 

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October 2017 Survey Results: We heard you.

Last month we asked you, our readers, what we’re doing well and where we can improve. We collected your responses and met for a weekend to define where we want She Spends to go (face masks and tacos included). We’d like to share some awesome stories, criticism and love from our readers. Check it out!

We had 73 responses. 💥

Some of you have taken steps to increase your pay, investments, savings or further your career. Yes! That’s why we do this. 💪

  • “Been working on it for a while but I got a job paying 2x my previous hourly wage and was saving more before that!”
  • “I created a more comprehensive monthly budget than I had before. Now I can seriously track my spending and how much is going (and more importantly, staying) in my savings.”
  • “I have reviewed my finances sooner and made adjustments to my increase in salary to save it better - thanks to She Spends!”
  • “I have started to explore student loan refinance/consolidation.”
  • “Yes! I've advocated for a promotion and raise and got them!”

The She Spends section of the newsletter is the most interesting. So share the survey with your friends, we need more diverse voices there. 💸

  • More than half of you (53.4%) voted She Spends the most interesting section of the newsletter.
  • “I've donated more to charity after seeing how many girls make less than me and give more.”
  • “I love knowing how my spending compares to my peers -- there's really no other way to know.”
  • “I would love to see spending stories from older women, even just women in their 30s and 40s. What do they wish they'd know, what are they earning now, are they married? What do their partners/husbands earn?”
  • “I'm a shit saver so seeing other people do it motivates me and gives me ideas on how to put more money away.”
  • “It's really cool to see how people in the real world are spending and saving. Because I'm still in school, I feel like it's helpful for building my expectations for when I graduate.”

She Represents needs to be more personal. Agreed. We’re beginning to write more original content and interview awesome women. 💁‍♀️

  • “I like that this section features women dominating in the workplace in the world in general, but I think I would be more interested if it was at least partially filled with personal stories. “
  • “I think She Represents is great, but I generally feel that it focuses on women really, really high up in companies (e.g., CEOs, app developers, company founders). I'm stoked that women are rising to the top, but I don't easily relate to their stories. So maybe throw in some pieces about small victories and less glamorous jobs?”
  • “Maybe if it was possible to get a little more bio on these women, where did they start?”

Merchandise may not be the best idea for us yet. If we ever ask you to part with a dollar, we want to make sure there’s a clear benefit to you and a benefit to us. Read up on our values around transparency. If we ever run a fundraiser, you’ll know exactly what it’s for and why. 👛

  • Two in five She Spends readers (39.7%) wouldn’t pay for merch.
  • “Honestly, I think our society in general needs to tone down the "merch" mania. It consumes too many resources and exploits too many people in the process. Merch should be kept to things that directly relate to personal finance.”

Most heartwarming to us, 53% of respondents want to get involved in some way. That’s INSANE. We’ve already reached out to some of you to write blog posts, help with strategy and develop new content. If we missed ya, please reach out by emailing shespends@gmail.com and let us know how you want to contribute. Join our Facebook community to get your voice out there. We’re having conversations about savings, Bitcoin, the beauty industry and credit card debt. We can’t wait to hear from you. 💞

We’ve taken all of this feedback to heart, and we’re working to make She Spends the best resource it can be - for you. Peace, love and ETFs. ✌️


Jemma 🦄

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November Promo

We’re so excited to announce a special promotion for the month of November. Our big goal for the month is to broaden our subscriber base, which allows She Spends to grow beyond the awesome community we already have created together.

To participate, share this survey with four friends you think would love to be a part of our community. They fill out their email address and your name. Once all four have signed up, we’ll enter you to win a tote from Out of Print.  

Want extra entries into our drawing? For every friend you refer thereafter, we’ll give you another chance to win. 

You have from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 (at midnight!) to participate.

May the odds be ever in your favor. 

-Amanda 👡 

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#SheSpendsReads: October Wrap Up

Boo! Happy Halloween everyone. This month, She Spends Bookclub read Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal. There’s a lot to chew on here.

I’m a big fan of the book America’s Women by Gail Collins, so I already know about how history often ignores the accomplishments of women. WCASD? tackles the same issue from an economic standpoint, shining a light on the valuable labor provided by the women of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I like the book but there are some rambling aspects to it. Often, Marçal will argue against an economic model that I don’t fully understand, so I have no way of knowing if her point is valid. Blindly accepting arguments without doing significant research on them isn’t really my jam, so I tried to keep a critical eye on the models outlined. Also, there were full chapters that never mentioned gender, and I couldn’t follow the overall structure of the book. I was assured by my accountant friend that this is true of most books about economics, so I’ll give it a pass.

That being said, the vignettes and models proposed by the book were very interesting and thought provoking. Even if you didn’t read the book, head to our Facebook group to discuss the topics outlined below.

 

“Economic man” doesn’t even work for men

Marçal picks apart the idea of “economic man,” where Adam Smith (an 18th c. Scottish economist) argues that men are motivated by greed and our markets should be organized to capitalize on that singular notion. Economic man only acts in ways that benefit him. Economic man sells his services to the highest bidder. Economic man does not tip a waitress at a restaurant he knows he’ll never return to. Economic man is kind of a dick. Smith’s model relies on a world of these “economic men” all working with the primary motivation of furthering themselves. What Smith fails to consider is the labor of women - the washing, the cleaning, the cooking, the child-rearing - that offer no obvious benefit to women.

Marçal points out that humans are not economic men. Economic men never compromise, sacrifice or act selflessly. Of course, as real-life humans, we do these things every day, although our economic system is organized around the idea that we all act solely in our own best interest.

What do you think of the idea of the “economic man”? Would you say self interest should be the primary tenet our economy is structured around? What might another system look like?

Biological realities with political conclusions

Marçal explores the biological impact on the role of cis-women in the economy. Freud believed that women are better suited for housework because we are subconsciously trying to clean our “unclean” vaginas. Marçal discusses how, throughout history, women’s economic destinies were determined by our biological realities. We are subject to monthly menstruation. Pregnancy. Birth. From those biological events, our worth and value is extrapolated further. Because we give birth, we must be nurturing. Since we are nurturing, we must create the home. Since we create the home, we must enjoy cleaning, cooking, child-rearing, etc. This extrapolation takes “logical” steps from “women have periods” to “women like cleaning” and “women must not work outside the home.”

A good quote: “There is nothing in a woman’s biology that makes her better suited to unpaid housework. Or to wearing herself out in a vastly underpaid job in the public sector.” [Marçal 36]

Today, women’s bodies are still political battlegrounds. The economic impact of birth control access has been profound. What might the economic ramifications be if that access is again restricted? Who stands to benefit? Why?

How do you think this biological determinism has impacted your life, if at all?

Women’s work is WORK

Marçal likens the idea of “having it all” to just adding women to the economy and stirring. Structurally, the economy is still built around how men worked when women stayed at home. Paid leave, flexible work hours and childcare are all relatively new-fangled ideas. Women were expected to adapt to a world built for men, but men haven’t equally adapted to the homeworld curated by women. Often, that means we carry both workloads.

We’ve all read that Harper’s Bazaar essay by Gemma Hartley about a frazzled housewife asking her husband to hire a maid-service and the disappointment she feels when he can’t handle it. Then the brilliant returning shot by Gaby Del Ville, outlining the classism of the initial essay. Calling women’s work anything other than what it is (labor) devalues it not only for the women doing it for free after a long day at work, but also women who do it for money as maids, nannies and other domestic help. We were told we could have it all, but what we found was that meant doing it all. Full-time careers mean full-time domestic help. But who keeps the maid’s house clean?

I think it’s really fascinating how apps and meal-delivery services are filling this void that once was the total domain of women. Blue Apron, TaskRabbit, and other similar services are capitalizing on the fact that there isn’t a singular person in the household with these skills and capabilities anymore. What other ways has our economy been impacted by the realization that women simply can’t do it all?

What did you think of Hartley’s essay and DeVille’s response to it? Are privileged women just trying to pass the buck of housework without critically considering the domestic work industry?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by housework and paying work? What do you do? If I’m feeling exhausted by my 9-5 job and I just can’t bring myself to rake the leaves, I’ll try to take a half hour nap. Then listen to loud punk music as I do my chores.  

Rationalizing irrationality

One of the most insightful scenarios proposed in this book was the economic rationalization of discrimination from the Chicago School in the 1950s. It punched me in the gut. I’ll just leave an excerpt here:

“What does a married woman do when she comes home from work? She wipes down the counters, irons the laundry and does homework with the children. What does a married man do when he comes home? Reads the newspaper, watches TV and maybe plays with the children for a spell [...] Career women simply spend more of their free time on housework, and that’s more tiring than being off-duty. Here […] lay the explanation as to why it is rational to pay women less. All that story-reading and counter-wiping made them much more tired than men. So, they couldn’t make as much of an effort at the office. At the same time, economists asserted the opposite -- that the reason women did more housework was because they earned less. Because women earned less money, the family lost less on the women being at home… The Chicago School calculated in circles.” (Marçal 36).

I think the reason why this passage resonated with me so much  is because we still rationalize racist, sexist and homophobic discrimination all the time. The pay gap exists because the jobs women typically go for are lower paying instead of applying for those high paying “male” jobs. Rather than ask why jobs that require a higher degree of emotional labor are underpaid, we prefer to rationalize the economic reality.

Economic man does not irrationally discriminate based on things as frivolous as race, gender or sexual orientation, but he will step on people if they’re in the way of his self interest. What then happens when economic man’s economic system is set up in such a way that it is in his best interest to uphold structural racism, sexist hiring practices or homophobic ideologies?

Have you witnessed someone rationalize their irrational bigotry? Have you caught yourself doing this? How can we change the conversation?


Join the discussion!

- Jemma 🦄

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Save Money Through Meal Prep (And No, It Doesn't Have to Be Boring!)

I love eating, and I love cooking, too. What I don’t love is coming home from a long day of work and spending 10 minutes staring into an empty refrigerator before I finally pull up Seamless and spending $15 for dinner. So I decided when I moved to New York from Chicago to try meal prepping. I figured it would allow me to always have something ready to go in the fridge and have the added benefits of saving my wallet and my waistline.

Like most millennials with a question, the first thing I did was turn to the internet – Pinterest, to be more exact. Pinterest is a haven for recipes but it was overwhelming to spend so long scrolling through recipes every week when I wanted to cook. So, I decided to take recipes that I knew I would like (and wouldn’t take five hours and $60 dollars to make) and compile them into a Google Doc. Yes, I’m that lame and I love my meal prep Google Doc. (Editor’s note: I took one look at the 17-page document and started salivating. I’ll let you know how Kayla’s meals taste, but the recipes look delicious.)

From here I organized my Google Doc into main dishes and side dishes, and the type of meat used in each recipe. This allows me to make sure that I’m eating a wide variety of foods and I won’t get bored. Then every week I go onto my Doc and pick a recipe or two that I want to make for the week, check the ingredients against what I have in the house and create a ready-to-go shopping list.

The word “prep” is in meal prepping for a reason. It takes a little to get used to planning and shopping for a whole week’s worth of food. It also means taking about three or four hours a day to do all the shopping, cooking and dividing. However, there is no wrong way to do it. Prep when you can, then eat.  

The two golden words in meal prep are flavor and variety. This is so easy with the help of Pinterest recipes. My new favorite words are “one-sheet pan recipes.” It makes a lot of food with very little clean up.

In college I went on a grilled chicken and broccoli diet. After about four days I wanted to cry at the sight of my meal. Never again. Now that I’m meal prepping I am a huge fan of the flavor: sauces, marinades, glazes, literally anything that adds a kick to the meal. Meal prepping allows me to control portions so I’m not as afraid of adding extra calories in a little extra sauce because I still know it's healthier than the Thai food I would have ordered.

Whenever I tell people that I food prep the first thing they say is “I could never eat the same thing every day for a week.” But you can. The name of the game is variety. If I’m going to meal prep for lunch and dinner, I make two different recipes. That way if I can’t stand the sight of another cold falafel at work, I can switch it up and have my planned dinner instead. Go ahead. Break the rules. It’s OK. This is also where the Google Doc comes in handy. Once I’ve made a meal I change the color of the recipe to blue so I can be sure not to repeat the same recipe for a couple of months.

Meal prepping works for me because it allows me to keep track of what I’m eating, always keep food in the house and avoid ordering out every night. A couple of hours of prep, and then my fridge is filled for the rest of the week. It works for me, and maybe it’ll work for you too.

Kayla Cluff is a research and media analyst for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's office.

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Travel Money Diaries: Rachel K. in San Francisco

I live in Washington, D.C., and my best friend from college lives in Chicago. Since we graduated, we’ve alternated between me flying to Chicago and her flying to D.C. to stay with her parents in suburban Maryland, but this fall we thought we’d try something new — a joint trip to a different city. For some reason, we chose the most expensive city possible: San Francisco.

As two 25-year-old women on budgets, this was perhaps not the wisest location to choose, but we went ahead anyway. Our trip was from Thursday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 9.

In order to spend the most time as possible on vacation and spend less money, I booked a regrettable flight with United that left from an inconvenient airport and required me to switch planes at LAX. Oh, and it boarded at 5 a.m. on Thursday. My return flight was a red eye that would get me back at 5:30 a.m. on Monday. On the bright side, it was $337 round trip.

Unfortunately, I also booked basic economy, which doesn’t include a carry-on bag. I needed to pay $25 each way to check my bag. My boyfriend also dropped me off at the airport, so I didn’t have to pay what would have been at least $30 for the Lyft.

Once I got there, I treated myself to my favorite air travel routine: a magazine and a newspaper. I spent $9.42 on this month’s Vanity Fair and that day’s Washington Post. At LAX, I spent $2.99 on a bag of Chex Mix, since we weren’t served any food on the plane and I had been awake for at least six hours.

Once I arrived, my best friend greeted me with a $3 iced coffee from Starbucks and we set up a Splitwise trip for the weekend. The app was super helpful and I highly recommend. It made it much easier to not have to worry about who was paying for what every time we bought food.

We spent most of the weekend walking around and eating food, just seeing the city. For transportation, we largely relied on an unlimited pass that covered bus, Metro, streetcar, and cable car. The three-day pass was $32 and definitely paid for itself. We also had to pay $8.95 each way to get to and from the airport, plus $5 for two buses the first day.

We stayed at an Airbnb in a less-than-safe part of town to save money. The actual room was perfectly fine for what we needed, but the two-block radius around it made us a little uneasy in the early morning and on our way back at night. I spent $283 on my half.

For meals, we spent a lot of time before the trip and during finding good places that wouldn’t break our budget. We have almost identical food preferences and eating styles, so we would often split a few things instead of having to buy two full entrees. I do have some regrets — our first full night, we went to happy hour (for dinner) at a rooftop bar with an incredible view of the city. We each had one margarita, shared some guacamole and ate one empanada for $18.50 each without really eating anything of substance.

Some of the food we spent was expensive but worth the money. On Saturday morning we went to Tartine Bakery, which I’ve followed on Instagram for years. We shared a morning bun, a gougère, and a lemon tart and each got coffee — a $13 breakfast for each of us, but some of the best baked goods I’ve ever had.

Speaking of coffee, I could not stop myself from continuously purchasing overly expensive, extremely small beverages. I wanted to try Blue Bottle coffee, even though it’sopen in D.C., but the $4.50 I spent on what must have been a 10 oz. iced coffee was not worth it. And yet I was not deterred! At home, I almost never buy coffee when I’m out, so I was really leaning into this vacation mindset.

At the end of the four days, I spent:

  • Air Travel: $387
  • Other Transportation: $54.90
  • Airbnb: $283
  • Food: $125.95
  • Coffee: $$18.50 

Total spent: $869.35

- Rachel K.

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The She Spends Mission and Core Values

This past weekend, the She Spends team met up in Brooklyn to redefine our values and focus our mission through the end of our first year. In addition to making major upgrades to She Spends, we worked out our mission and values. Check them out!

Our mission: The She Spends brand and community gives women and nonbinary people actionable tools to tackle the wage, investing and board seat gaps.

We also created a list of values:
• We encourage you to be smart and assertive about your money, and we promise to never talk down to you.
• We are ardent feminists, and we celebrate the diversity of our readers. 
• We believe in the importance of transparency when it comes to money, our community and any She Spends initiatives. 
• We offer our readers a safe space to be vulnerable about money and life ambitions. 
• We promote active kindness towards others and meaningful involvement in local communities.
 

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Travel Money Diaries: Amanda in Washington, D.C.

My cousin Jackie, two years my senior, used to drive me to and from the University of Maryland -- where we both attended from 2012 to 2014 -- for the holidays. I would sit in the car while she ran into Starbucks before we began our glorious four-hour drive back to New Jersey and New York, during which we sang along to The Lumineers and complained about boys. But then she graduated, and I had to get home on the least glamorous mode of transportation: a bus. These bus lines always promised the possibility of $1 rides; alas, I never secured the first spot on my trip. 

It wasn’t until Alicia texted me in July that Megabus had uploaded its fall schedule, with plenty of $1 rides available, that I booked my trip for Sept. 22 to Sept. 24. Finally, I wouldn’t have to pay $50 or $60 for two crappy bus rides. Although I had scheduled the trip to visit my friends who stayed in Washington, D.C., after graduation (hypothetically), it was mostly for the $1 bus ride from New York to Union Station.

I left Friday at noon, so I spent the morning working remotely at the High Line, an elevated outdoor park on the west side of New York City. Rather than schlep my bags across the city to get lunch, I ordered Seamless to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, where I was waiting for my bus. With the tip (this man walked to bring me a salad and he was rewarded for doing so), delivery fee, taxes and cost of my spicy shrimp salad, my lunch cost $18. Similarly, my bus dinner home -- Chop’t ruins budgets -- also cost $18.

My friends met me for happy hour on U Street Friday evening, which led to a few of us paying for the others’ drinks. I spent $20 at happy hour, which was more than I should have paid, but I was a little too drunk to care. Hopefully, our waitress was happy with the hefty tip. We walked over to Ben’s Chili Bowl, an iconic D.C. spot, where I paid $5 for a hotdog and shared a friend’s fries. We reconvened at a bar on 14th Street later that evening, where I stuck to water rather than liquor.

Throughout the weekend, my friends and I took cabs across the District. Between that and the $10 I added to my Metro card, I spent $50 on transportation. Although it was more than expected, the convenience made the cost worth it.

I attended another friend’s birthday brunch on Saturday morning, which cost me $32. I also bought her a birthday pie; my former roommate, who was in London for the Ravens game, and I split the bill, so the gift only cost me $6.

Later in the day, five of my friends and I saw Marjorie Prime at the Angelika Film Center pop-up, just a block away from Union Market. The matinee ticket was $8, and I had a $2 scoop of gelato prior to the show. For dinner, we walked around the market; I ordered $10 pasta with bolognese sauce, which I obviously spilled on my dress.

My friends and I went to two house parties Saturday night, so we didn’t spend money on anything but cabs. The next morning, a friend and I walked to an El Salvadorian restaurant adjacent to Eastern Market, where I bought a tilapia sandwich for $10. We then visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I changed my bus from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to see the museum, which required me to pay an additional $30 -- negating my $1 ride to the District. Considering how hard it is to get museum tickets, I didn’t mind spending the extra money to change my bus. I also got to meet Jemma in real life! She happened to be at the museum that day as well.

Overall, I spent $239 for a really great weekend. Completely worth it.

-Amanda 👡 

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Avoid The Dry Cleaner to Save Your Budget and the Environment

I spend a lot of money on my clothes. Part of the reason is that I want high-quality clothes that won’t rip as easily as something from Forever 21 or H&M. I also like the feel of silk and linen, expensive fabrics that typically require a trip to the dry cleaners. When I’m shopping and buy an Equipment blouse, for example, I’m factoring in the cost per wear to justify the high price point. What I’m not thinking about, however, is the number of times I’ll take it to the dry cleaners; depending on the garment and where you live, the cost can range from $5 to $20 per piece. For anyone unfamiliar with how dry cleaning works, your clothes are cleaned with a petroleum solvent or some other chemical instead of water. It’s not great for the environment, but it is efficient and relatively inexpensive. But like that cup of coffee personal finance blogs have been warning you will add up to a sizable sum eventually, dry cleaning does make a dent in your budget. A more sustainable choice is to hand wash your clothes instead.

Why can’t I use my washer and dryer?

For some garments, you actually can use your washer and dryer. Delicates should be placed into a mesh bag and the washer should be set on the delicate cycle. I would also recommend using detergent specifically for hand washing; they tend to have gentler formulas. However, you should avoid washing bras that have underwires because they can bend out of shape. Even though you might use your washer, do not put delicates or athletic wear in the dryer. It can shrink and stretch out your clothes, and then you’ll need to pay more money for replacements.

I live in a hovel. Where the hell am I supposed to wash my clothes?

Good question! I prefer to use the bathtub, but a deep sink will do the trick. Just make sure you clean it beforehand so there aren’t any pieces of salad floating around your freshly washed clothes.

OK. Can I use Tide?

No, because it could ruin your clothes. The first time I hand washed a white shirt that closely resembles a popcorn ceiling, the fabric turned a weird purple from where the detergent touched. I have not been able to bleach that spot back, but I haven’t had any issues since switching over to proper hand-washing detergent. Brands like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Woolite and The Laundress are great for this purpose. I use The Laundress because it’s highly concentrated; I bought a 16-ounce bottle last year and haven’t even used a quarter of it.

What now?

Fill up your bathtub or sink with cold water -- hot or warm water could shrink your clothes -- and then pour in detergent. The bottle will give you explicit directions on how much to use, depending on your load. Let your clothes marinate in the soapy water. Watch Netflix. Go for a run. If you can, agitate the water by swirling your clothes around. Your clothes can sit for 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how dirty they are. Drain the tub and then rinse out your clothes. Once they’re adequately cleaned, press, not wring, the water out of your garments. A great way to soak up excess water is to lay the garment on a towel and roll it up. (If you need a true step-by-step guide, read cleaning expert Jolie Kerr’s guide to handwashing on Racked.)

How do I dry my clothes?

If you have a drying rack, it’s the best place to drape your clothes. I’ve been known to hang my clothes on the backs of chairs, on the towel rack and on the top of the washer and dryer. Clothes that are heavy with water should never be hung. Lay them down instead. This will avoid stretching your favorite dress or sweater.

Voila! Now you’ve saved the environment and your wallet is happy. Would you rather hand wash your clothes or just send them out to the dry cleaners? Let us know. Also, If you test this out, share videos or photos with us @she_spends on Twitter or @shespends on Instagram.

-Amanda 👡 

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Travel Money Diary: Alicia at Riotfest

When it comes to spending, music festivals are almost always overpriced. While you get to see a ton of your favorite bands, you’re stuck with food and alcohol vendors with high festival prices (ahem, $4 bottles of water). 

I recently traveled to Chicago for Riotfest with my boyfriend, which was a fantastic three-day punk, indie and ska music festival, but the overpriced nature of music festivals was certainly a struggle. Here’s how we spent while we were there. 

We signed up for a ticket payment plan that broke ticket prices up into three payments of $63. It did cost a bit more than buying the three-day pass outright, but since my boyfriend was in school when we were looking at tickets, we chose the payment plan to make it a little easier on his immediate budget. 

We bought our airfare through Spirit Airlines, which offers the barest of fares for really cheap prices. We brought one suitcase between us and checked it to lower costs. We also checked in for the flight online and didn’t pay extra for seats next to each other. Luckily we got to sit side-by-side on the plane regardless! A round trip to Chicago was $168 each. 

When we arrived, we shared a Lyft to our Airbnb, which I had booked online just a few weeks before the trip. The Lyft came out to $40, which we split, while the Airbnb for the weekend - also split - was $252. While we usually go for an entire home or apartment on Airbnb, we chose a private room since we barely planned to be at the apartment. 

Our choice was both good and bad. We soon learned that we had picked a “bad” neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago (several residents warned us about the area), but our host was kind and ran the Airbnb like a little hostel, offering water bottles, beers and breakfast for free. 

On Friday, we grabbed sandwiches at the McDonalds near our Airbnb (there were no other options for lunch, unfortunately). I paid $4 for a chicken sandwich and got a massive cup of water. We then bought passes for the L, Chicago’s public transit. We each put $10 on the cards, which we used for the subway and a bus to the show. 

Once at Riotfest, we caught a few bands, including New Order. We each bought a $9 beer (Tecates) and wandered the festival grounds. Eventually, we met a few fellow festival goers, who offered us some of the vodka they managed to sneak into the festival. Score! Free booze is always welcome, especially at a show where beer is so pricey. 

We took a $20 Lyft pool home that night. We split the cost. 

The next day, we headed to an early lunch at Chicago’s Uno Pizzeria, which our Lyft driver recommended the night before. Deep dish pizza is… fine? After spending $10, I was underwhelmed, especially knowing that New York dollar slices are so much better. 

The acts early in the day weren’t our favorites, so we decided to take part in the festival’s promotion: pick up a gallon bag of small pieces of trash to receive a free ticket for next year’s show. It was a total win because we weren’t missing any of the good bands. The only downside? They were pretty strict about what trash they accepted.

Later in the day, we grabbed some beers and caught more of the concert. We pushed off dinner until late in the evening, which ended up being a good move; at the end of the day, many food vendors were giving away free meals. We ate ribs and pizza (certainly not the healthiest) without paying a dime. 

Another Lyft home, another $20 down the drain. The next morning, we ate breakfast in the Airbnb before heading to the last day of the show. I donated $10 to a charity, Our Music Our Bodies, in exchange for a Consent Rocks shirt before catching the rest of the music. 

We left a little early to catch a cheaper Lyft ($16) and catch some sleep before our 5 a.m. flight. Early in the morning, we headed back to New York exhausted, but happy.
 

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#SheSpendsReads: October Edition

Hello my fellow witches! Welcome to Libra season. It’s a new month, and that means a new book for #SheSpendsReads. I’ll be reading Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal.

I picked up this book on a whim, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for the past few months. I’m pumped to learn about women and economics. What grabbed me about this book was the principle it argues against. Adam Smith was an 18th-century economist in Great Britain who argued that the “economic man” is a selfish, cynical individual who only acts in the pursuit of financial gain. Smith argues that our society consists of individual “economic men” who keep the world turning.

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” - Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Marçal asks, then, “Who cooked Adam Smith’s dinner?” Was that labor of Adam Smith’s mother any less intensive than that of the baker? Her primary motivation was not self-interest, so what is it? And does her motivation mean her labor is then less valuable?

You can find Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner on Amazon, either a hard copy or kindle, though I would definitely encourage you to support your local bookseller instead. (Because bookstore cats. We can’t lose them.) I’ll be posting updates on She Spends’ Twitter and Instagram accounts, with a final summary of my thoughts on the book at the end of the month.

I took a microeconomics class at university and completely bombed it. So join me, as I delve into the world of economics all over again! Fell off this horse but I’m gettin’ back on.

- Jemma 🦄

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#SheSpendsReads: September Wrap Up

Hey babes! How did your September go? I loved reading Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt this month. 

When I read this book, I was struck by the Jet Propulsion Lab’s manager’s choice to hire all women to her team, in hopes of encouraging camaraderie among her team. I’m sure some would question this practice: Isn’t that “reverse discrimination?” But at a time when most teams, especially in STEM fields like computing, were completely male-dominated, it was important to have a place for these women to do their best work. 

I personally work on a team that is almost only women, and I do think it has been helpful to me. It’s nice to not worry so much about whether a man is making more money or getting better assignments than I am. What do you think about working on a team that is made up of only women? How do you think this helped the Rocket Girls? 

I felt a little surprised at how little I had learned previously about the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the women behind putting a man on the moon. We often talk about the first female astronaut - Sally Ride - but we say so little about the women who got her there. Both this book and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly are proof that women have long done great work in the STEM fields; we just didn’t know it. 

Were you surprised by the number of women helping to get a man on the moon? Why do you think our history books fail to mention this? 

After finishing the book, I read an interview Holt gave to NPR in 2016. In it, she said “in 1984, 37% of all bachelor's degrees in computer science were awarded to women, and today that number has dropped to 18%. And even for women that are working in science today, it's about half of all women that leave mid-career.”

Yikes. We know the figures of women in STEM are dismal, which is why groups like Girls Who Code exist. But I didn’t realize that part of the problem is that the number of women in science, math and technology fields has been decreasing over the years. 

How can we get more women to enter STEM fields? How do we even the playing field? 

Answer these three questions below in the comments section and ask your own about the book. Additionally, look for Jemma’s post on next month’s book, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? in a coming blog post. 

- Alicia 🐶

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Event: Manifesting Abundance - Personal Finance For Yogis

Hey She Spends fam! We’re so excited to share that we’re hosting two events in Brooklyn in the coming months. 

Women, especially those in the wellness space, find it difficult to discuss money. So we’re fusing our love of yoga with our love of personal finance to bring you two events at Shaktibarre in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

The first, Manifesting Abundance: Personal Finance for Yogis - Money 101, will be held on Oct. 29 at Shaktibarre in Brooklyn. It will cover keeping track of your money through budgeting, tackling debt and student loans, and starting a killer savings account. We’ll kick off the evening with a meditation and close with a Q&A session. All event attendees will receive a PDF following the event that includes everything covered in class. T event costs $40. 

The second event, Manifesting Abundance: Making More Money, will be held a week later on Nov. 5 at Shaktibarre. This workshop will open up a conversation about making more money. It will include tips and tricks for asking for a raise while finding new opportunities to make more money within your field. We'll also discuss how investing can help you grow your net worth (and why that's important!) Cost for this event is $40. 

A note on the cost: $20 will go to support Shaktibarre’s mission, which includes offering sliding scale barre and yoga classes in Brooklyn, and supporting a nonprofit called YoGirls. The remaining $20 will be used to grow She Spends. We hope to buy podcasting software and to start a referral program with the money we make on this event. 

You’re welcome to attend one or both of these events. Sign up using these links! 

- Alicia 🐶

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Help She Spends Grow and Thrive

Hey, She Spends! 

We're 20+ issues deep into this thing, and we want to make sure we're delivering content that is useful, engaging and interesting to our readers. So we're here checking in.

Click here to take a survey that will help us better serve you. It should take between 5 and 10 minutes, and you'll be giving us information that will influence our roadmap for the next year. Be truthful and as detailed as you want. 

If you want to get involved with She Spends in some way, this survey will help you do that. Just be sure to share your contact information at the end of the email. 

But wait, there’s more! As a reward, you'll have the opportunity to win a $25 giftcard to P.F. Candle Co. Just stick around for the end of the survey for your chance to win. 


- Alicia 🐶

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Travel Money Diaries: Jemma in Europe

A day late and a euro short is a good way to sum up my trip to Europe. 

OK, OK, it wasn’t so bad, but I’m only sitting down to write this now, two weeks after my plane touched the Philly tarmac and my credit card bill is still more than I would like it to be. 

I traveled throughout Switzerland, Germany and France for 15 days from Aug. 26 to Sept. 10. I made stops in Basel, Munich, Berlin, Paris and Bayeux, exploring, shopping, EATING!, and connecting with old friends. Even though I’m not pleased with my lack of budgeting (I made a valiant effort for the first week), I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had for the world. 

In general, my plan was to: 

  • Only spend 25€ a day on food
  • Stick to a rough budget of 50€ a day on “stuff” (activities, shopping, etc.)
  • Chill out, it’s vacation! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and pay the credit card bill later. 

I had already paid about 500€ for my lodging and transportation, so that didn’t really factor in too much to my budgeting. My plane was paid since I had to work in Switzerland at the front of the trip, but I had to pay fees to reschedule my personal vacation to accommodate the work trip. Those ended up being about 400€, so I just told myself to pretend that was the flight cost. Which would have been a real steal.

I opened up a Bank of America Travel card for this trip. I don’t have international transaction fees, and I gain points that I can put toward my travel purchases! I ended up making back about $150 using this card. No yearly fees either.  I also have an American Airlines account, so I’m racking up those miles. 

The trip was so long, I’m going to break up my wins and losses by city. 

Basel

  • Spending Win: I really enjoyed my trip to the Vitra Museum. I bought a day pass and I got to see really beautiful industrial design and a room full of the most important chairs from the past 200 years. 
  • Spending Loss: Everything in Switzerland was insanely expensive. I was blowing my budget by 10€ a day. Thankfully, I was only there for a few days, but jeez. Two plates of melted cheese, some pickles and a beer cost me 50€! Yeah, that was dumb. 

Munich

  • Spending Win: I loved my hostel. It was cheap, clean, and a nice mix of social and quiet. Wombats was great; I would totally recommend. I bought Birkenstocks in Munich! This was an expense I had been planning for, so absolutely no guilt here. Also, I visited Dachau concentration camp. Museums and historical sites are always going to be worth the money for me. 
  • Spending Loss: I wasn’t planning on buying bras abroad, but I absolutely had to. After a week of wearing my old ill-fitting bras for 12 hours a day, I needed support. I was dying. But my lack of planning cost me about 150€ for the good French bras that fit me. To explain further, I am a little person with big boobs and I will splurge on bras that actually fit. I didn’t feel bad about needing bras but I would have preferred to buy them in another month where I’m not already dropping massive amounts of money. 

Berlin

  • Spending Win: I lived in Berlin for six months a few years ago, so I had friends in the area. Friends mean couches and couches mean not needing to pay for lodging. Woo!
  • Spending Loss: Similar to the bras, I didn’t think about how Europe is rainy and cold even in the dead of summer. So I had to go on a hunt for a raincoat (in the rain). I ended up buying a Marmot coat that I was happy with for 100€. Cha-ching.

Paris

  • Spending Win: I had a great meal with my friend that we cooked ourselves using vegetables from a veg stand. We ended up paying about 2€ for a bunch of carrots, potatoes and onions. So cheap!
  • Spending Loss: I bought too many metro tickets. It was only a loss of 10€ but I felt silly. I gave them to my friend as a parting gift.

Bayeux

  • Spending Win: I splurged on a hotel that was super fancy because I wasn’t impressed with any of the hostel options in Bayeux. It was the off season so I got a suite for 100€ a night. For reference, the hostels were 30€. Definitely a treat-yo-self moment, but I loved the bath and I felt refreshed after a few days in a grimy Paris hostel. Also, I got a delicious three-course meal for 25€. I accidentally ordered two courses of cheese, but damn. So good. 
  • Spending Loss: I bought Vans before I left for the trip, thinking they would last the whole thing. Nope. On my D-Day tour, it started pouring. That’s when I noticed there were holes in the top of the shoes and you could see my wet-socked toes poking through. They were the only walking shoes I brought, so in a panic I bought 50€ off-brand sneakers from a store on Bayeux’s main street. I’m not happy with them; they’re uncomfortable and I probably won’t wear them much here. A total spend of desperation. 

In summary

I spent about $2,900, which is about $400 more than my budget. Ah well. C’est la vie. I’ve paid off about $2,500 using savings, so I’ll just have a credit card balance for a month or two. I’m not happy about it, but it’s manageable. Frankly, it was worth it. 

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- Jemma 🦄

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What A Reporter Wears To Work (During New York Fashion Week)

I started gravitating toward girly clothes and hobbies – I spent four years regularly playing the flute, the daintiest of instruments – when I became self-aware of my body. I didn’t feel pretty, but I thought tulle and ribbon and glitter could transform me. Although my perception of my looks has since shifted, that aesthetic remains. Now a reporter, the dress code in my office is business casual; my uniform consists of a skirt and blouse with pointy-toed shoes. For this experiment, I took full-body selfies in the reflective exterior of the New York Racquetball Club across the street from my office. Tracking what I wore actually made me want to mix clothes I haven’t worn together yet; I tend to wear the same outfits and not get as much use out of some garments as others. Here’s what I wore this week:

Monday: Ruffled purple blouse with polka dots from BCBG, lavender skirt from Club Monaco, nude heels from Michael Kors, backpack from Henri Bendel, sunglasses from Ray-Ban

I never wore this outfit together, but the only two purple garments in my closet really spoke to me. I received a lot of compliments and was happy to wear a top I bought in high school and sparingly wear. It’s a great outfit for transitioning from attending meetings and writing stories to meeting my friend for happy hour. This skirt, in particular, was a great buy; the color is lovely but it works as a great neutral. I typically pair it with sparkly shoes and a trench coat, so this was a more pared-down look.

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Tuesday: Pink gingham sundress from Reformation, suede flats from Margaux, sunglasses from Ray-Ban

This dress was definitely a splurge, but I love the little details of it. I plan on wearing it as much as possible to lower the cost per wear; for example, the dress cost, with New York City taxes, about $200. If I wore it 10 times, the cost per wear is $20. You might buy a dress on sale for $80 and wear it once, which would be a worse deal than a $200 dress you wear 10 times. 

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Wednesday: Bodysuit from Gap, embroidered floral top from Forever 21, fringe skirt from BB Dakota, embroidered leather jacket from BLANKNYC, boots from Donald J. Pliner, burgundy bag from Coach, sunglasses from Tory Burch

I was very excited to wear this outfit. I only wore the skirt and top once each and wasn’t in love with either look; paired together, I received a lot of compliments on my outfit. It was a high-maintenance look but it was fun, and it also made me feel Very New York. Even when you have on a good outfit, New Yorkers are typically so well dressed that you feel like a schlub. My confidence levels remained high, even though it was New York Fashion Week and everyone around me looked great.

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Thursday: Black cold shoulder dress from Club Monaco, black heels from Michael Kors, burgundy bag from Coach, sunglasses from Tory Burch

I went to a conference and wanted to wear this dress that I also splurged on. It’s a little dressy for something as drab as a workplace conference, but it encapsulated my vibe. The thing I love about New York City is that there is no such thing as an “appropriate look.” Everyone wears what they want to wear, whenever. Also, my go-to look is head-to-toe black. 

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Friday: Long-sleeve tan top from my sister (designer unknown), blue suede skirt from Ann Taylor LOFT, choker, suede flats from Margaux, backpack from Henri Bendel, sunglasses from Ray-Ban

Definitely my most low-key look this week, this outfit is as close to my uniform as possible: long-sleeve shirt tucked into a skirt with pointy-toed shoes. The Margaux flats are the most comfortable shoes I own, and that Henri Bendel convertible backpack fits everything inside. Both were excellent investments. I like to kick off my shoes and tuck my feet behind me as I write, and this outfit has pretty good movement.

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-Amanda 👡 

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What To Do In The Wake of the Equifax Hack

You’ve probably heard by now that one of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, was hacked. And you’re probably worried about what you can do to protect your credit. After all, social security numbers, birthdays and addresses belonging to roughly half of all Americans were stolen in one of the largest hacks of all time.

What makes this hack so concerning is that Equifax knew about it on July 29, roughly six weeks after it occurred in May. In response, the firm hired an outside cyber security consultant to assess the damage and then waited another six weeks to alert consumers. During that time, a hacker may have opened lines of credit in your name, with the intention of never paying it back. Yikes.

We know this sounds super stressful and scary, but there are some things you can do to take control of your credit in response to this hack.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Sign up for Equifax’s data breach checker. It takes some time to find out whether your data was hacked, but putting your information on this list is a good start.

  2. Freeze your credit score on the three major credit rating agencies. This includes Equifax, Transunion and Experian. The freeze allows only a person with a pin to approve any credit inquiries. The best part? Right now, each site is offering a freeze for free.

  3. Check back through your bank statements and make sure you don’t have any weird charges. If you see a strange charge, dispute it with your bank and let them know you think you could have been impacted by the hack.

- Alicia 🐶

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