I’ve never thought of myself as a purse lover. When I look through magazines, I don’t really get excited about the new “it” purses. I never aspired to own designer purses. I have exactly 3 purses for work — 2 in black, and 1 fabric/brown for summer and spring, plus a few smaller ones for weekends but my “collection” would certainly not peg me as a purse aficionado.
Now for the confession which you probably could guess was coming… I splurged on a beautiful black leather bag. This is now one of my 2 black work bags. I bought it partly because my other black bag had seen better days and I thought I needed another option. I also loved the design and quality of this $400 bag*. And it was on sale. And I had gotten a small bonus which I promised to use for a splurge rather than saving it as usual.
I had been eyeing this purse for weeks (months) and it was not going on sale. It had gotten excellent reviews online regarding its quality and versatility. I had small hopes that it would go on sale or if it did, my color would be sold out. Of course I think that the purse may become a permanent part of the designer’s line-up as it seems quite popular.
I’m glad I bought it.
The reason for my lack of expensive purses is not that I can’t afford one or that I don’t sometimes admire nice-quality purses. It’s just that other than the workplace, I can usually be found running errands at decidedly normal places like Walmart, Costco, Target, CVS, and the occasional fast food joint. I have seen women carrying expensive purses into McDonalds, for example, but it seems like an odd juxtaposition to me. I feel like I should be dining at a nice restaurant, not throwing my beautiful leather bag on a vinyl dining booth seat.
In other words, my beautiful bag doesn’t seem utilitarian enough for my simple lifestyle (and one that involves messy toddlers, too!) I’m wondering if others have this same thought as I do. Do expensive purses fit your lifestyle, or do you not even consider this?
* After a 20% discount and some credit card rewards, the total was about $330 including taxes. Shipping was free. Still high for me!
My girl friends/family and I generally don’t talk about finances. It’s not really about privacy; it’s just that we have so many other things to talk about! However, I wish that we did share financial insights once in a while, so I’m sharing it on this public space.
I touched on this topic before but there’s a new law going into effect that makes it easier to see fund fees in your 401k plans. With non-401k mutual funds, you can compare fees but many people ignore the impact of fees on their returns. Once a year or so, I use the free “Instant X-Ray” tool on Morningstar to analyze my funds and compare fees / returns with similar portfolios.
The bottom line is that the fees associated with mutual funds can decimate your savings. Choosing no-load and index funds make a big difference in retirement.
This is my public service announcement for the week!
I’ve written about working mother guilt countless times. And I like reading and commenting on posts and articles on that issue, too. I feel it’s important for women to stop beating themselves over choosing or having to work, as their contributions to the family are just as invaluable as staying home in my not-so-humble opinion. Finally if you have to work or want to work, guilt is just a waste of time and people who try to make you feel bad about it are a waste of time.
So in my typical fashion, I felt the urge to dole out advice. Since my concrete tips for not being bitter at work seems most useful to people, I thought it would be helpful to offer real suggestions for reducing motherhood guilt as well.
After re-reading my own post, I trashed it. I realized it seemed a bit sanctimonious, as if my way for guilt-free motherhood was the best way. I also realized that my concrete tips may not work for different personalities, nor should I dictate the best way to spend “quality time” with your kids (and kids all have different preferences and personalities anyway!).
So for now I am giving my best tip, which is not concrete nor necessarily easy to follow, it’s all really mental. If you create a mental image of perfect motherhood or set up some unattainable ideal, or compare yourself to a mom who seems to be doing it “right”, then you’ll feel guilt. If you truly believe you’re doing your best and your kid is fed, sheltered, loved and happy, then you’ll stop wasting precious time on feeling unnecessary guilt.
The other day, a casual acquaintance asked me about alone time, and when I said exercise or my lunch break, she gave me this ‘look’ which clearly meant that those 2 activities didn’t count.
To me, getting some exercise is a great feat in and of itself. Getting to read a book, even if it’s in the middle of a work day, is also a great stress relief. After work, it’s family time and if I’m lucky, I get in some couple time and see old friends. My goal is to focus more on career this year so any other extra time will probably be taken up with chores, cooking or career-related activities/reading. There’s just zero time for “me” time, as in hobbies or whatever “counts” as quality me time. This brings me to the question. What does count as “me” time? Is it shopping by myself, rather than with friends? Reading on the weekends? Taking a walk by myself? Going to a spa by myself?? I could take a class I suppose. I guess I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do and if I should schedule “me” time?
I’m not saying that my acquaintance is 100% correct; after all, the early parenting years are extremely busy. However, I wonder if I’m shortchanging myself and asking for burn-out because I don’t take time for myself.
Back in June 2012, I wrote down things I should do. Here’s an update.
Find a way to access a book I downloaded to my tablet. NOPE
Plant those tomatoes. They are dead!!!
Donate that bag of clothes and other random stuff. DONE! But more crap is accumulating….
Finish those blog posts about work/life balance. DONE, I think…
Various Tech Stuff, like backing up pictures to the hard drive and setting up a wireless modem. NOPE.
Go through all my magazine clippings and actually do something about it. I think I threw a lot away..
Now I have new things to add…
Look into life insurance.
Write a will. (I suspect that I will have to get around to this one!)
Create a Shutterfly album.
Recycle batteries and electronics.
Put away winter clothing and blankets.
Get heel taps for new pumps.
My husband and I were discussing the idea of hosting a party and the subject of guest list came up. Depending on the size of the party, our guest list would vary. The interesting thing that stuck out in my mind was that if the party was large enough, we would easily have 4-5 black guests (African-American..what is correct to say right now?). If we narrowed the list to 8 people, 2 would still be black/African-American. The reason this stuck out in my mind is that it seems most people hang out with people of their own race. When we go to parties with our white or Asian friends, most of the guests come from those 2 groups with the majority being white either way. There might be a few Hispanics and maybe 1 black (if that!), and this person is usually a hipster type with a non-black significant other. Or think of TV shows like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother”, where interactions are almost always with white people even though these shows take place in ethnically-diverse New York City.
All my life, most of my friends have been mostly Asian or white, the predominant culture that I grew up with, and my husband is white. The other race I’m most comfortable with has been Hispanic, since I grew up with Hispanics as well. I can easily count 4 Hispanics who were/are good friends and one woman I consider my BFF is Hispanic.
I’m not writing this to pat myself or ourselves on the back (s) for having friends outside our race. It’s just nice that race hasn’t really been an issue in terms of making friends.
Of course, I realize that the area you live in plays a major role in developing friendships.
How about you? If you threw a party, who would make it on your guest list?Are your friends mostly from the same ethnic/cultural background?
Time management expert and author Laura Vanderkam has a new e-book called “What The Most Successful People Do On Weekends” (read review from House of Peanut here). I haven’ t read it yet but the gist of it seems to be how to be more productive on weekends. I tend to emulate or strive for simplicity and personal happiness even if it’s not the same as what “successful” people do. I believe successful people are defined by the author as typically Type A high-powered & career-minded people who are successful in their fields. Therefore, I’m not the target audience!
However, that doesn’t mean I can’t get good advice from books like these (and I’m sure I will once I read it..). One of the tips from the author’s blog at least is to plan an Anchor event on the weekends. This anchor event should be something fun that gets you and/or your family out of the house so that weekends are more memorable and not all about chores and puttering around.
For several weekends, we’ve accidentally followed this advice. The first weekend was very simple and not super planned-out but it was a Saturday morning excursion to a nearby park. The next weekend was a music concert for kids at the library on a Saturday morning. The third weekend included a date night on Saturday. I admit that doing something fun on Saturdays, when I normally would be puttering around the house, was a good change for our family. We tend to put off the fun stuff; if we don’t do it on Saturday or plan something, nothing fun gets done.
At the same time, those weekends felt harried, too. The music concert took out a good chunk of morning. We still had a lot of stuff that needed to get done. On top of regular stuff like meal prep, cooking, putting dishes away, multiple diaper changes, and more, I managed to do some gardening and a quick wipe-down of the kitchen and bathroom, including the dreaded chore of cleaning the tub. My husband was busy, too, but we were too busy to notice each other’s chore duties!
After all these memorable, fun weekends, I need a chill-out weekend to decompress and do nothing!
How do you manage your weekends? Are you on board with the idea of planning fun or do you prefer to have unscheduled time, or a little of both?