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 👡 

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.

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Event Recap: Empowering Women Through Personal Finance

Hey She Spends fam! Last night was amazing. We had a great time talking personal finance at New Women Space in Brooklyn with Denae Famada of Debt Free Denae, Ally-Jane Grossan of Moneysplained and Kristen Euretig of Brooklyn Plans.

We’re gearing up for more events in the very near future (drop us a line if you want an event to come to your city), but in the meantime, we wanted to share a few major points from our first event that we think could help our community.

One of my favorite points that each of the panelists made is the disconnect between our professional lives and our personal lives when it comes to finances.

Kristen said she has clients who manage major budgets for their employers, yet struggle to get out of debt on their own. Ally-Jane and Denae noted that many of their friends have experienced that same problem, and my own personal experiences points to this disconnect: I covered business news for almost two years before really getting my finances under control.

We also talked about resources that helped us understand the financial system in the United States.

Our favorite by far? Helaine Olen’s book, The Index Card. It’s such a smart way of looking at personal finance. There really are only a few rules, and they can fit on an index card.

Beyond that, I recommended the personal finance reddit page, which is a great resource to dig through if you have a lot of time. I love Ellevest’s PDF guide to salary negotiation, as well as books like Too Big To Fail and The Big Short to understand the post-recession stock market.

Ally-Jane recommended the NPR podcast Planet Money, as well as a book called The Un-Banking of America by Lisa Servon. Planet Money is a great place to get news on wonky money topics, while The Un-Banking of America tracks the American financial system and explains why our banking system looks like it does today.
Denae had an awesome book recommendation as well. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, she said, changed the way she views money. It discusses the psychology behind pricing in consumer settings, and it seems like a super interesting book to dig into!

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Happy Labor Day!

We're so excited for this long weekend - and for the start of fall. We have just a few items of note for you all. First, if you're interested in checking out Amazon's Whole Foods sale, be sure to check out our blog post beforehand. Some of those deals may not be as good as they seem! Additionally, our designer Jemma is chronicling her trip to Europe on our Instagram in our latest travel money diary. Look for a post soon on our blog from Jemma recapping the trip! 

Be sure to pick up a copy of Rise of The Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt over the weekend from your library or favorite local bookstore. Our September book club starts today! Feel free to tweet questions at us, or share pictures of your book in the wild using the tag #shespendsreads on Instagram.

Finally, for our New York babes, be sure to sign up for our first event - EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH PERSONAL FINANCE, which will be held at New Women Space in Brooklyn. We're working on hosting more events soon. If you want one in your city, hit us up! 

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We Checked Out Amazon's Whole Foods Sales - Here's What We Thought

Thinking about hitting up Whole Foods for some of those sweet Amazon deals? Not so fast, She Spends fam.

In last week’s newsletter, we highlighted that Amazon will lower some of the prices on Whole Foods groceries, particularly avocados. This is a part of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, which closed on Monday.

We had a look around yesterday and while the move is a great one for Amazon from a business standpoint, the new prices still leave something to be desired for consumers.

Take, for example, those avocados. They’re now $1.49 apiece, a price that’s... fine? But seasoned shoppers know that better deals on avocados are at our other favorite health foods store - Trader Joe’s. There you can score a bag of six teeny tiny avocados for just $3.50.

Trader Joe's also out does Whole Foods when it comes to bananas. The store now offers the fruit for 49 cents per pound, but Trader Joe’s has them beat, charging 19 cents per banana, or roughly 48 cents per pound.

Gala apples are now $1.99 per pound at Whole Foods. This price is actually pretty reasonable, comparable to what local stores like Meijer charge.

Meanwhile, the price drop on responsibly farmed salmon - from $14.99 per pound to $9.99 per pound - is a deal you’ll want to take Whole Foods up on. That’s a reasonable price for ANY salmon, let alone fish that’s been raised responsibly.

A half gallon of almond milk rings up at $2.99 nowadays at Whole Foods. Walmart, ever competitive, is currently charging $2.98 for the same amount.

One deal we did like was just a weekly sale - the company is charging $5 for four cups of Icelandic Skyr yogurt. That’s a good deal for a fancy yogurt that can see prices north of $2.
Want more? Business Insider had an awesome breakdown of the price changes

Our takeaway: The Whole Foods sale got a ton of foot traffic through the door. My local store was insanely crowded during my lunch break today.

They’ll make residual sales on other produce, cheese, meats and bread.

This is great news for Amazon shareholders - it means the company’s retail strategy is working. But for customers, we recommend sticking to stores like Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Aldi or local markets that are known to have more reasonable prices.

What do you think? Did you check out the sales today?

- Alicia 🐶

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#SHESPENDSREADS: September Edition

What's up? How's the end of your summer going? I always feel like the end of the summer is a great time to implement a few mid-year resolutions. One of mine? I want to read more books.

Luckily for me, we're launching a book club for She Spends readers! Here's how it will work: each month, we'll read a different finance or career-focused book together. We'll check in throughout the month with #loosechange posts, and we'll end the month with a private Facebook live chat for anyone who wants to discuss the book.

September's book will be Rise of The Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt. I'm SO excited to dig into this book, which is all about California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which in the 1940s was a hub for the space program in the U.S. So cool! Check in periodically throughout the month with the hashtag #shespendsreads, and look for a blog post on our site on September 1! 

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Event: Empowering Women Through Personal Finance

We're hosting our very first event in New York! Join She SpendsBrooklyn PlansDebt Free Denae and Moneysplained for a happy hour and panel discussion about women and money. Grab a drink, network with other women interested in talking about money and hang out for a panel on ways women can disrupt the finance space. 

- Alicia 🐶

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Travel Money Diaries: Amanda in Montreal

Bonjour!

My weekend trip to Montreal felt more like a brief stint in France. From the French architecture to the actual language spoken, the seven-hour drive could have just as well been a seven-hour flight. Of course, the accent is different -- my friend Carly had spent a year in the south of France and was surprised to learn French-Canadian words that were dialect specific -- and people spoke English, but Montreal felt foreign. I became very good (read: people continued to speak to me in French) at saying “merci” and “pour moi."

Most of the trip was pre-booked, such as the Airbnb we slept in for three nights ($60) and the Osheaga concert tickets ($100), so I needed to budget for spending money. I figured I’d spend about $30 to $40 on gas to and from Montreal and maybe $40 a day on food. I was pleasantly surprised that I spent about $85 for the three days, including food, souvenirs ($48) and gas ($38).

The highlight of the trip -- food-wise -- was going to the Jean-Talon market, which is one of the biggest farmers markets in Montreal. We sampled incredible fruits, saw beautiful flowers and tasted unspeakably good oysters ($2). I asked for the briniest ones available, which come from Ireland. It tasted like I had a giant gulp of salt water, but in the best way possible. We also stopped for tacos at El Rey del Taco for authentic Mexican food ($8). I was so excited to speak Spanish at the restaurant but everyone spoke French! Mon Dieu! Another incredible stop we made was at Le Pain dans les Voiles, where I had the flakiest almond croissant with mediocre filter coffee ($5).

The low point of the trip was when we returned to her car, which I had parked on a street at midnight, to find a parking ticket. It was dark when I parked and I didn’t see the street cleaning sign, and we made the mistake of not checking on the car in the morning. The ticket will set us back about $38 each.

To keep track of how we spent our money, I wrote down every purchase in the notes section of my phone. Carly had Canadian dollars with her, so she would often pay for the small purchases. I paid for our one swanky dinner, a BYOB sushi joint, and a bottle of wine I picked up at the convenience store nearby. I added up her purchases and mine and then divided them in half to determine how much we spent per person. With the original total, I divided that by two to see what the average should have been. For example, if Carly spent $90 and I spent $70, the real cost would have been $80 each. So I would have owed her $10. When we did the math on the way home, we discovered the difference was about $2. Because she brought cash and saved me from the foreign transaction fees, we called it a wash.

Thanks for following my trip. Have you tried any apps for budgeting trips with friends? Let us know at @she_spends on Twitter or @shespends on Instagram.

Au revoir!

-Amanda 👡 

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What We Can Do In the Wake of Charlottesville

As three white ladies, we’re feeling an immense amount of shame, disgust and fear watching the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, unfold. The election of President Donald Trump legitimized long-hidden feelings of white supremacy, misogyny, and general hatred of POC, LGBTQ+ folks, Muslims, Jews and a whole slew of Others in much of this country. Maybe you’re feeling paralyzed watching the news today, or you’re numb to another act of hatred being committed on U.S. soil for the sake of Making America Great Again. Watching from a distance has been especially hard for us at She Spends. What can we do? How do we make a difference? We don’t have the answers, but we wish we did. What we can do is direct you to organizations that are doing their best damn effort to help make the world better, or at least assist those going out and doing it.

A whole slew of organizations need financial help. The DSA of Charlottesville has set up a GoFundMe account to cover the medical expenses of those injured in the attacks. The ACLU of Virginia is doing good work protecting the rights of citizens in Charlottesville. So is the Southern Poverty Law CenterBlack Lives Matter is constantly protecting the rights of people of color, as is the local NAACP. More localized organizations like the Jefferson School African American Heritage CenterCreciendo Juntos: Latino Community Network in CharlottesvilleSONG: Regional Queer Liberation Organization and the Islamic Society of Central Virginia need assistance too. Some journalists were injured during the protests and counter-protest, so consider showing support via donations to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

-Alicia 🐶 , Amanda 👡  & Jemma 🦄

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On Creating She Spends

I used to be really bad with money. As a business reporter, it’s hard to admit, even now that I’ve gotten it together.

By day, I would write stories on how stock pickers could mindfully invest in the market; yet by night, I would spend up to my credit card limit on shoes, bags or drinks out. After a year of living in New York, I had no savings, let alone extra cash to invest in the stock market I was writing about.

I knew something had to change, so I started talking about money with my friends and co-workers, most of whom were women and dealing with similar struggles. I was relieved to finally wonder out loud if I was really being paid too little or if having no money in my savings was normal. 

As I slowly began to get my own finances together, I knew I wanted to share what I was learning with others, especially other women. The women’s personal finance media market, though, is woefully lacking. Most books or websites use infantilizing language like “bawse bitch” or feature roundups suggesting readers buy more stuff to create the perfect workspace. It’s maddening, and quite frankly, much of that content is useless to women looking for real information on money and finance. 

At the same time, I had about a year in the financial journalism industry under my belt. I talked to so many men as sources for stories, but very few women. The few conversations I had with women who were analysts or lawyers in the industry left me feeling excited about my work, rather than frustrated that I had been talked down to, again. I, frankly, was tired of the boys club. I wanted to make it so that Wall Street would be more welcoming down the road. 

This is how She Spends was born. It's a blend of personal finance and the big money picture. In creating She Spends, I hope to create a community of women who not only want to work on their own bank accounts, but also to tackle the major issues keeping women from achieving financial parity. 

Women, especially us millennials, have specific needs when it comes to both financial news and personal finance. Women are more risk averse than men and invest at a much lower rate. As a result, a huge part of what She Spends does is introduce women and nonbinary people to ways they can test the stock market’s waters without a ton of risk. We also break down major quarterly earnings to familiarize our readers with stocks traded on the public markets. 

Women also experience sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So we highlight macro solutions to these problems (think: new laws and regulations) while offering solutions to our readers to tackle these problems every day. 

Women face cultural expectations to spend more money on our looks (a phenomenon also known as the pink tax). What’s more is that many of us spend extra money to have a menstrual cycle (why are tampons so expensive?) and to either avoid or bring on pregnancy. These cultural phenomena contribute to our understanding of money. We’re more likely to spend more on clothes and other “unnecessary” items. And yet, if we decided to take time off to have children, we have less time to save for retirement. In response, we offer actionable information for our readers to slow their roll when it comes to shopping, while funneling that extra cash into a retirement fund. Additionally, we highlight discrepancies like these on a policy level.

Because women are rarely seen as equals in the workplace, we are still unable to reach the upper echelons of Fortune 500 companies. Just 31 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. In the words of Marie Wilson, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” So we feature women at the top making a difference each week in our newsletter. 

And don’t forget women still make less money than men. White women make 79 cents to every white man’s dollar, while black women make just 63 cents and Latina women make 55 cents on that dollar. This, in 2017, is unacceptable. So we’re talking about it. 

We’re here, working to reduce the wage gap, investing gap and board seat gap, one woman at a time. Our newsletter breaks it down for our subscribers each week.

We have big plans for She Spends. We’re going to launch a podcast and a digital book club in September. We have plans to start an exclusive ambassador program and will soon be hosting events in New York (and hopefully throughout the United States). 

- Alicia 🐶


 

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Welcome to #loosechange!

We create a LOT of content here at She Spends, and we just CAN'T fit it all in a weekly newsletter.

We'll be using this space to capture that extra content and post more regular + casual updates on the stuff we're working on.

We've got some preeetty exciting stuff in the She Spends pipeline and we can't wait to share it with you.

Stay tuned! 💕

- Jemma 🦄