Tag Archives: money

Dating Should Not be a Meal Ticket

Did you hear about that woman in Toronto who bragged about all the free food she was getting by using her womanly wiles to lure lunkheads into paying for her meals? Oh wait, isn’t that kind of dating works?

I’ve written about the age-old question (well… say, early 70s-old) of who should pay for dates before, and my feelings have not changed. Between peers, I really can’t see any reason that men should be expected to pay for dates. Once things get going, yeah, sure, treat each other or take turns or do whatever works for you, but the assumption that the financial burden of your time together is always on him drives me a little insane.

This week, Erin Wotherspoon became a blip on the pop culture screen when her Tumblr Restaurant Tips from a Serial Dater got noticed for her professed desire to eat her way through Toronto’s finest restaurants on the dime of dudes willing to funder culinary adventures because she’s pretty. Here’s my take on transactional dating for Role/Reboot.


Related Post: Kelly Ripa on who should pay

Related Post: One way that dating inequalities help women


Filed under Gender, Republished!

Why do women act like men? Because it works. But should it?

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about the advice that women often get (and give!) about approaching workplace situations “like a man.” We think we will be more successful (measured in raises, promotions, respect, etc) if we mimic male peers, and truthfully, research says we probably will. Is that okay? Even referring to traits like ambition, assertiveness, and boldness as “masculine,” is problematic, obviously, but these are traits we actively cultivate in boys and often suppress in girls. Then, decades later, we reward people who exhibit these traits and cluck cluck at people who need to act like them to get recognized for their work. Doesn’t seem exactly fair, eh?

Wouldn’t it be cool if we thought that the traits we cultivate in girls were  as valuable (things like organization, neatness, collaboration, creativity)?  We might be coaching our male friends to act more like women in job interviews and salary negotiations. Can you imagine?



On a semi-related note, I just finished Their Eyes Were Watching Godas you know, and the critical essay at the end by Mary Helen Washington seems relevant. Many critics wonder why Janie doesn’t speak up for herself during the final trial scene (given that it’s a book about a woman finding her voice). Washington writes:

“Although I, too, am uncomfortable with the absence of Janie’s voice in the courtroom scene, I think that silence reflects Hurston’s discomfort with the model of the male hero who asserts himself through his powerful voice….When Janie says at the end of her story that “talkin’ don’t amount to much” if it’s divorced from experience, she is testifying to the limitations of voice and critiquing the culture that celebrates orality to the exclusion of inner growth.”

Related Post: How I asked for advice on a raise and got one.

Related Post: I read Lean In so you don’t have.

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Filed under Books, Gender, Republished!

No Wallet? No Problem.

Excited to share my second piece for travel site Go GirlAs you know, I lost my wallet while adventuring around Peru. In the twelve hours of panic before I solved my problem, I learned a few things about being money-less and credit card-less. Where to go? Who to talk to? What are your resources?


P.S. That picture’s obviously not in Peru. That’s me at the Lodhi Gardens in Delhi, but this advice is cross-continental.

Related Post: My first Go Girl piece about the Inca Trail.

Related Post: 5 Pro-Tips for Women Traveling the World (for Thought Catalog).

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Filed under Republished!

So You Say You Love Local…

I just heard a presentation from Michael Shuman (founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) on the value proposition of supporting local business. My first job was in a locally owned toy store in the small town in Massachusetts where I grew up. While it makes intuitive sense to me to try to keep my money in my neighborhood, city, and state, I’ve never actually seen any data on why it’s actually “better.”

According to Shuman, research shows that if you spend a dollar at a local store, on average about 45cents stays in the community. If I spend a dollar at a big box store, only about 13cents stays in the community. Why? Local businesses use other local services, like accountants, lawyers, contractors, etc. They put their advertising money in local radio, newspapers and magazines. Makes sense that more money stays in the nabe, right?

But, thinking and doing = not the same, obviously,  so I thought I’d check my own spending and see where it actually shakes out. Conveniently, I use a money tracking website called LearnVest to plan my finances and watch my budget, so it was relatively easy to go back and add up all the local dollars I spent and weigh it against my total budget. For simplicity’s sake, I just looked at my expenditures in the month of April. Here’s how it shook out:


Now, to be fair, my rent is to a local realtor and that’s a big chunk of my income. If you pull the whole expenditure out of the equation, then I only spend 61% of my money locally.

A note on methodology: What do I mean by “local” anyway? Obviously, any one-location store that is not owned by a national parent company counts. Big box chains are not local. Comcast is not local. It gets a little tricky with franchises, because many individual locations are owned locally, but answer to a national management structure. I do not count these as local for my purposes, because their expenses are usually handled by headquarters and consequently don’t get poured back into the neighborhood.

When I traveled and bought items outside of my city, I counted that as local if I was supporting the local economies of my destination. I.e. the bodega on the corner = local; the Hyatt, Hudson News, and CVS do not.

A few observations:

  • About half of what I donate is to local organizations, and about half to national ones. Huh. That surprised me.
  • 84% of my “entertainment” budget is local, between independent bookstores and theaters. Only the AMC franchise seems to do me in.
  • 96% of my (ridiculously high. Oof.) restaurant budget was at local restaurants. I live in a foodie town, so that makes me happy. Why would I eat at chain restaurants when I could eat at any of the 10,000 local restaurants in Chicago? TGI Friday’s always tastes like TGI Friday’s….
  • Clothes is the toughest category to do locally, because the boutiques in my area are much more expensive than what I’m prepared to pay for a t-shirt. My jeans are from the Gap, my tank tops are from Target. I could find a shop that locally sources denim, but that seems extreme. My compromise here is that I buy about half of my clothes from a secondhand shop, and I donate all my unused clothes back to Goodwill.
  • Second to clothes, housewares and home stuff is almost exclusively bought from big box stores like Target, Home Depot, Walgreens, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. While I’m happy to pay slightly more for a book at a bookstore I like, lightbulbs don’t carry any sentimental value and so I’m hardpressed to go out of my way to find a local hardware store. Oh wait, there’s one across the street…

So what next? Where can I improve?

  1. Go to the local hardware store. Only head to Home Depot if my guy doesn’t have what I need.
  2. Groceries were one of my tougher categories. It’s farmer’s market season. That means I can start buying produce, bread, and cheese locally instead of at a chain grocery store.
  3. I buy a lot of wine, so I might as well get that at local liquor stores too.

Small changes, right? They say that if everyone shifted 10% of their budget locally, it would be massive, nation-wide community improvement. I think I can handle that.

Related Post: How Chick-fil-A learned about trade-offs

Related Post: I don’t know how to shop anymore


Filed under Chicago

A Couple, a Cab Driver, a Pharmacist, a Banker, and Two Spanish Teachers

IMG_3343I’m back. Photos and stories, tips and tricks, will come later. First, a thank you note:

Dear Anonymous American Couple on Your Honeymoon,

When you met me, in an airport in Lima, Peru, I was clearly trying to contain my panic. I’d just landed after 10 hours in the airspace of nine countries, and I couldn’t find my wallet.  The airline claimed they didn’t have it and it wasn’t in the seatback pocket or under the cushion or in any of the obvious places. It was gone. I asked to borrow your phone, and you told me you didn’t have one, but asked me why. I shakily explained, forcing the tears out of my voice and creating a false cheerinees, a jaunty, “oh, you know how these things go” positivity. In my head, I had already resorted to sleeping in the airport. Instead, you asked me how much money I needed and handed me $75 to get me to a hostel and to find me some dinner.

Dear Marcelo the Taxi Driver,

When you picked me up at the airport, I explained to you in rather shaky high school Spanish (lots of unconjugated verbs and a tendency to repeat “entonces,” and “pues,”) that I had lost my wallet on the way here. You asked if I had called my mom, which I hadn’t. You offered your phone, insisting I call whomever I needed. “But it’s international,…” I said, and you just waved away my concerns. I reached my mother in Florida and explained the situation. She promised to figure out how to wire money across continents and assured me it would be fine. Sir, the cab fare was only $11, and had I had any more money than the kind couple had given me, I hope you know I would have tipped you better.

Dear Eleri, My New Friend and Moral Support,

Over coca tea and bread and jam in the tiny kitchen of our hostel, we started chatting. After explaining the bind I’d gotten myself into, you offered to accompany me to the bank–“for moral support,” you said–where I was going to try to secure some sort of emergency cash or limited access to my funds, anything to enable me to continue on my trip. During the walk, we talked about your work as a pharmacist, your adventures through South America, and the kind of world we both wanted to travel in. At the bank, you waited patiently with me for over an hour while I negotiated paperwork and red tape. “It would be hard to do this kind of thing alone,” you said, and you were right.

Dear Miguel, the Most Patient Banker Alive,

When I walked into your office explaining my “emergencia,” and asking for “ayuda,” you did not roll your eyes at the silly American. You did not tell me that it was Saturday morning and the bank would be closing soon. You did not tell me that on the weekend what I was asking was next to impossible. You picked up the phone and made some calls. And then more calls. And then some faxes. You filled out form after form, helped me answer security question after security question. Most importantly, you kept smiling at me and assuring me that it would all work out. You told me sometimes it can take hours, and when I told you my next flight left in less than three, you made it happen. I walked out of your office with my money safely tucked into three separate locations and the first easy breath I’d taken in 12 hours.

Dear Senoras Huff and Woodward,

You two are the most memorable Spanish teachers I had, 12 and 10 years ago, respectively. While practicing irregular verbs or memorizing airport vocabulary, it never occurred to me how essential your training might ever be. There is not a chance in hell I would have successfully walked out of that bank without the conversational Spanish I learned in your classrooms. My facility with the language is halting these days, rusty and gooey from lack of use, but man, the fundamentals are strong. There’s a particular kind of confidence that comes from knowing you can understand and make yourself understood in another tongue. It’s not a skill on which we Americans place a lot of value, but I find it infinitely easier to show a little linguistic humility than to slam my American passport on a counter and start issuing demands.

Dear Family of Mine,

You are all pretty awesome. You sent encouraging emails. You provided financial and emotional assistance. You followed up. You checked in. More than any of that, though, you imbued in me through direction and example the kind of calm in the face of calamity that allowed me to figure my way out of this particular tight spot. Mom, Dad, I have seen you both navigate emergencies with grace under fire and solve problems with charm and ingenuity. From you I learned that lesson #1 is Don’t Panic. Lesson #2 is Seriously, Don’t Panic, It Will All Be Fine. That’s a certain kind of desperate optimism that I don’t have to call on very often, but when I do, I’m glad I’ve got such an example.

Thanks a bunch, you guys, it was a GREAT trip,




Filed under Family

I’m Reading Sandberg So You Don’t Have To (But You Should)

leanYes, yes, I know, I know, Sheryl Sandberg’s book is too hip, too ubiquitous, too annoyingly in your face at every Best Seller table or airport book store “Recommended!” shelf. I, too, want to be too cool for school, want to march to the beat of my own drum, want to ignore what’s trendy in favor of what makes me a special unique snowflake.

However, sometimes the trendy thing is trendy for a reason. And sometimes, that reason is a good one. This is one of those times. You should read this book. I admit, I was skeptical. I admit, I was irritated by her perky demeanor, by her clear privilege, by her pat pieces of advice. I admit, I am a reluctant convert, but I am a convert nonetheless.

For my work book club, we are reading this book in chunks, and lucky you guys get to go along for the ride. So far, I have read the first four chapters. This is not a perfect book. It does not address every concern of every woman of every class and every situation, and that’s okay. I know it, now you know it, and most important of all, Sandberg knows it. Most of the criticism around her little personality cult is begins with “But what about women who…” (i.e. “But what about women who are working two jobs just to put food on the table?!”) This is not a book for them, and that’s okay, it’s not trying to be.

The other pushback she gets is that she puts too much emphasis on what women need to do differently, instead of on systemic and institutionalized sexism that needs to be changed. For those critics, I am just convinced they haven’t actually opened the goddamn book yet. Sandberg has her eyes wide open and she calls entrenched sexism when she sees it, which is all the time. Her point, which I agree with, is that we need a two pronged approach. Simultaneously A) Fix the broken shit (i.e. paid maternity leave like every other developed country in the worldor better yet, paid parental leave) and B) Do what we can to advocate for ourselves and our families at every turn.

But the most important thing I think Sandberg contributes to the conversation is the language to discuss the issues. We’ve added terms like “victim blaming”, “slut shaming,” “heteronormative,” “gaslighting,” etc. to the lexicon already, and these have helped us articulate what happens around us. Banging our fists in frustration has never worked. What Sandberg has done is compiled (and she gives credit where credit is due), a range of the underlying causes of the wage/work/ambition gap and distilled them into shareable, discussable, tweetable, referrable chunks.

So with no further preamble, a few of the concepts and vocabulary terms from chapters 1 through 4 that are worth sharing, discussing, tweeting, and referring to:

  • “The Social Penalty” – Men who display ambition and desire for power are rewarded professionally and personally. They are promoted more and admired more. Women who display ambition or desire for power are rewarded professionally but punished personally. They get promoted, but they are not liked. This “social penalty” is important because being respected and liked is what leads to the most success.
  • “Stereotype Threat” – When you tell people there’s a negative stereotype that applies to them, they tend to sink to it. If you remind a girl that “typically, boys are better at math,” she will actually perform worse than if you hadn’t said anything at all. If you ask kids to identify their race before a standardized test, even that small act of checking a box results in black and Latino kids performing worse if you hadn’t had them label themselves. If you tell a woman that “women are bad negotiators,” she will become a worse negotiator.
  • “The Imposter Syndrome” – Ever get to work and worry that people were realize you’ve been “faking” all along? That you’re not the expert people think you are, that you shouldn’t be in charge, that you tricked them into hiring you? Both men and women feel this way, but the difference is that women consistently underestimate their own abilities. This means we don’t apply for jobs unless we feel 100% qualified for the listed responsibilities, while men apply even when they’re only confident of 60% of the skills. The truth is, we all learn on the job, but sometimes we weed ourselves out of jobs we very likely could have done.
  • “The Gender Discount” – When you do what your gender is “supposed” to do, you don’t get credit for it. Women are “supposed” to be communal, so when we work well with others, that skill is discounted because it’s “natural.” When men work well in others, they are complimented for being a team player. Similarly, women who do coworkers a “favor” get significantly less thanks and respect then men who perform similar favors. For men, it is viewed as going the extra mile, while women are just acting like women (You know how women are, amirite?)
  • “Relentlessly Pleasant” – Given the social penalty described above, one of the most successful strategies for women to navigate work place situations (especially controversial, confrontational, or challenging ones) is to be “relentlessly pleasant.” Always be smiling, always be asking for what you want. Do not let up on either front. Take note of this one the next time you are asking for a raise or a promotion. You need to be persistant while also being liked. Good luck!
  • “Tiara Syndrome” – Women expect good work to be noticed and rewarded. They don’t want to have to ask for praise (because, as we’ve seen, being demanding or ambitious has a personal cost for women that it does not for men). While waiting for their work to be noticed, their male peers have forwarded “kudos” emails to their bosses, have asked clients to recommend them, have told their bosses about their positive reviews. You are not being judged on the quality of your work. You are being judged on the quality of the work your boss sees.

Phew, that was a lot! And only in four chapters! I want to reiterate again that Sandberg is never claiming it is “fair” that such discrepancies in perception and attitude exist, only that they do. The question then is, how to address them? For me, it will mean handing this book to my excellent (male) boss as soon as I’m finished. Any man that manages women should be reading this.

Related Post: Ladies helping ladies get raises

Related Post: How to accidentally raise a feminist daughter


Filed under Books, Gender

Ladies Helping Ladeeeez

This is what comes up when you google image "asking for a raise." Don't do this.

This is what comes up when you google image “asking for a raise.” Don’t do this.

So yesterday, my friend who we’ll call Moira, gchatted me with a question. She’d received an offer for a new job that she was super pumped to take but the money was not what she wanted, and based on her research, it wasn’t comparable to other similar positions. She asked me what to do, and I told her to ask for more, because that’s the best advice anyone has given me in these situations.

I like this conversation because for once, I got to play the helpful mentor role instead of the “shit, how do I ask for a raise???” role, which I have played many times (and published here). I have done this successfully exactly once, and it was hellllla hard, so it felt really good to be able to take my learnings and pass them on.

I share it with you now (with Moira’s permission) because I think it illustrates so many of the common issues that people (especially ladies) face when they go to have this conversation. In general (massive generalities coming…) we want to be liked, we don’t want to rock the boat, we don’t want to be thought pushy or, God forbid, bitchy. Research shows that women who act aggressively at work are actually penalized. In other words, being personally disliked by coworkers doesn’t hurt men professionally, but it does impede women’s career progression.

So, the question remains, how to do it? Here’s one example. Kids, this is as real as it gets, proven by my poor spelling and lack of capitalizations:

Moira: hey 🙂 Happy Monday! How are you?

me: great!

thanks, you?

Moira: Would you happen to have a moment to answer a question?

me: sure, what’s up?

Moira: So, I’m super-excited about this new job

and like, ready to take the offer

but I’ve read so much about women being silly about negotiation

me: ! yes, i know right!

i feel that way too

Moira: that I was trying to figure out if I should put out feelers about the salary offer

before taking it

me: yes, you absolutely should

Moira: okay

me: the worst thing that happens

is that they say they can’t do it

but no one is going to take the offer away

it’s really scary 🙂 but it’s SUCH a good thing to practice doing

Moira: okay.

me: when i tried, with my first job at this company

they said no, but they offered me a performance review after 3 months, to reevaluate

and i got a small raise at that point, that took me to my initial request

Moira: nice

me: but definitely ask for it

they expect you to

Moira: okay

is it better to do that by phone or by email?

me: hmmm

i think email is easier

Moira: I do, too

me: and then maybe end your email with “feel free to give me a call to discuss further”

or something like that

Moira: Okay. What language did you use to discuss specifics? It sounds like you made a specific counter-proposal

me: I think I said something like “thanks for the offer, blah blah blah, i’m so excited blah blah blah. I’ve reviewed the details of the offer more since we last spoke/emailed…

“Given my skills xyz, I’m looking for something closer to the X-X range. Based on my research, that seems comparable to similar roles available.”

“I’m extremely excited about hte chance to do blah blah blah, and I think I’m a perfect fit for this role”

and then finish with the invitation for a call to further discuss

Moira: Okay

that is super-helpful

me: also, for what it’s worth, go look up some salaries for analysts or whatever role

Moira: well the thing is I’ve been contacted by several companies

who named ranges up to 20K higher

me: yeah

Moira: i mean, who knows

me: good

so aim high

Moira: but that’s where I’m getting my numbers

me: perrfect



Moira: It worked 🙂

me: !!!!!

that is amazing

Moira: They upped it by almost 10%

you are AWESOME

thank you so much

me: i am so proud of you and me together

Moira: 🙂

me: so cool!

Asking for the raise in your first negotiation is one piece of what sets you up for financial success down the line. Not only is it good practice, but it literally translates into higher income in your future. Imagine you are offered $40K, and you take it. Another newbie (perchance a dude), gets offered $40K as well. He asks for $50K, they scoff, but offer him $44K. He’s making $4K more than you, simply because he asked! And when your first round of performance reviews roll around, and you both ask for a 10% raise, you now make $44 and he makes $48.4! The gap only widens!

Related Post: How to Ace an Interview

Related Post: How I got my raise.


Filed under Gender