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

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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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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!

- Alicia 🐶

 

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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! 

- Alicia 🐶

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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! 

- Alicia 🐶

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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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