Posts Tagged ‘2009’

Top Chef Finale – My Thoughts

February 26, 2009

Photo: Bravo

David and I watched the Top Chef finale tonight.  We got rid of cable so we customarily watch it a night late.

I am, in a word……irritated.  First of all, Casey?  She sucks.  It wasn’t her challenge, and she totally overwhelemed Carla.  Partly Carla’s fault, sure, but I got some SERIOUS bad vibes from Casey.

Hosea?  He also sucks.  He’s been a whiny bitch for the entire season.  And what really sent me over the edge was his comment to Carla while they were awaiting the results, about making his “own food.”

Way to rub it in, asshole.

Stefan?  You know….he’s a jerk, but he TRIES to be a jerk, and he knows it.  There’s something endearing about that.  I can tell he’s actually a good guy.

So, yeah…..I’m pissed that Hosea won.

Net-A-Porter Asks Me To “Shop The New 80’s” – I Say, “If You Insist”

February 26, 2009

I have a love-hate thing for Net-a-Porter, that evil luxury web retailer who lures me in with beautiful designer clothes and teases me with fantastic sales. For the record, I HAVE shopped the site before (I’m in debt for a reason, after all) and, if you can afford it, I highly recommend their sales.

I received an email this morning asking me to “shop the new 80’s.” The 80’s were bad enough for fashion the first time around. Granted, I was age 1-10 during the 80’s, but I’ve seen enough photographs and movies to make this claim with complete confidence. That said, I enjoyed some of the 80’s revivals seen on the spring and fall runways, and I figured I could pull a few pieces worthy of 2009.

From the site’s edited picks:

I’m blazer-obsessed, and I would love a white blazer. I know, it’s a bit Miami Vice, but I like it. And McCartney is known for her brilliant tailoring when it comes to suiting. Stella McCartney blazer, $1,795.

I love heels, I love them high, and I love them loud. These super bright stilettos would be awesome with jeans and a white tee-shirt, or paired with a great black dress. I WANT THEM. Alexander McQueen patent platform pumps, $860.

I’m loving the floaty skirt paired with the leather bodice. I also love that it’s short. Kova & T one-shoulder dress, $510.

I adored this dress on the runway and when Gwyneth wore it. This is one of the few sweetheart necklines, a huge trend for spring, that I actually liked. Stella McCartney dress, $2,595.

I decided to pick a few items of my own that I felt represented the “new 80’s.” Items that I would wear, that is.

A skinny pair of jeans that hit at the ankle are a must, and the zipper adds a screaming 80’s element. Stella McCartney ankle zip jeans, $325.

I am loving this metallic-treated bomber jacket; it’s totally updated Top Gun. Rick Owens jacket, $2,500.

Throwing some neon into the mix, this Marni suede bag is HOT. Marni suede frame bag, $1,090.

The cork sole on this shoe made me think of a updated Candie’s mule. Pedro Garcia leather sandals, $475.

Normally I would not be attracted to this dress (too loud), but I found myself oddly drawn to it. I love the color, it hints at neutral red/navy blue and it would be cute alone or paired with jeans. MCQ dress, $415.

I tend to like my jewelry big or dainty – kind of how I like my shoes flat or sky-high. This necklace feels bad-ass, I love it. ACB tiered fringe necklace, $300.

Another McCartney blazer, this one extra long with cool, elongated lapels. Stella McCartney silk blazer, $2.055.

This reminded me of a Lite-Brite. Remember those? See by Chloé bag, $640.

All Images: Net-a-Porter

How Much Does Unemployment Pay?

February 23, 2009

I was thrilled to see this article on MSN Money, as I have been wondering about this recently.  Here’s what you need to know.

  • Unemployment varies by state; the lowest weekly maximum being $230 (Mississippi), the highest being $628 (Massachusetts).
  • Some states increase payments for families with children.
  • Unemployment benefits are TAXABLE, although not withheld automatically.
  • The new stimulus law exempts the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits from federal taxes.
  • Benefits may be paid a maximum of 26 weeks in most states.  The new stimulus law is extending coverage an additional 20 weeks.

Source: MSN Money via State Labor Department Websites

The maximum benefit I could receive living in California is $1,800 per month.  I currently take home around $2,200 per month after taxes/health care/401k contributions.

Versace, S/S 2009

February 11, 2009

Hey, lookie here, it’s Gwyneth’s dress.  I was going through my files and it jumped out.

Needs a cardi, I think.

Photo: Style Dot Com

Starbucks Lays Off 1000+ Workers

February 11, 2009

You can read more at the Starbucks Gossip (who knew?) blog.

Spring/Summer 2009 Color Trends – Blue

February 11, 2009

Four Sisters, Four Weddings, One Year

February 9, 2009

Photo: MSN

Forgive Jeff and Cheryl Whitaker if they don’t want to go near a piece of wedding cake by the end of 2009. In an amazing bit of happenstance, the couple are marrying off all four of their daughters in one calendar year.

MSN

Sorry, that’s as far as I got.

Are you kidding me?

The Broken Economy & Your Retirement – When & How To Switch Gears

February 8, 2009

This post was originally meant to focus on how the fledgling economy is impacting our philosophies around saving for retirement.  It still will, but with the added layer of job insecurity and prioritizing certain types of savings/investments.

Image: Veer

It’s always seemed so easy and logical for my 20-something (alright, almost 30) self. Sure, retirement is but a wee spot in the distant future, but saving is the prudent and responsible choice. And my 401K was the magic bullet; the ideal savings solution!

I began contributing to my 401K the moment I became eligible at my first full-time job after college. In five years time I had amassed a small sum of money, which has now diminished by half. The same, sad story is echoed across the country,

“My 401K lost 5/20/50/100 thousand dollars! Half of its value!”

While it’s understandably upsetting to see such a large drop in retirement savings, it’s important to weed out some perspective from the current situation. Pulling money from retirement savings, decreasing 401K contributions or drastically changing investment portfolios are options that must be considered carefully and without emotion. Consider this before thinking about touching your 401K; this is a tax-deferred savings account, so depending on your tax bracket, there’s a 25-35% return on the money invested (now) from the get-go. This is before any market returns (or, as we’ve seen, losses) or employer matching.

Income does not decrease that much proportionately when you stop 401K contributions.  I will use myself as an example, as the first thing that entered my mind when I heard about a pay cut was whether I should stop putting money into this account.

Prior to the pay cut I was making $3,560.48 monthly and contributing 3% (not much, I know) toward my 401K, $106.82 per month.  I will now earning $3,382.46 monthly and my 401K contributions would be $101.48.

With Contribution:

($3,382.46 x 0.97) = $3,280.99 Taxable Income

Taxable Income ($3,280.99) x Taxes (27%, 0.73) = $2,395.12

Without Contribution

Taxable Income ($3,382.46) x Taxes (27%, 0.73) = $2,469.20

Please note, I have left medical expenses out of this equation.

If I stop contributing the 3% to my 401K, I will take home an additional $74 per month.  $27.48 will go toward taxes rather than my 401K.

NOTE

Normally, I would NOT recommend that anyone stop contributions.  However, I took out a 410K loan earlier in the year (something I also do not recommend, but….I’ve never claimed to be a financial genius, right?) and I am considering halting contributions for the period in which I will be paying off the loan (6 months).

To be perfectly frank, my total desperation to pay down that high interest B of A card was clouding my judgment when I decided on the 401K loan.  It was a small loan ($1,400) and I have very little in my account anyhow, and I scheduled to pay it down quickly, so I easily justified it.  As I said, it’s bad news to make a habit out of this, so I don’t recommend it.  I just figured I should be totally honest and fess up.

Modifying 401K Investments

We’ve discovered that 401K accounts are not the “magic bullet,” but they are still valuable. The trick is to realize that all accounts are not created equal. I know it can be intimidating and time-consuming, but do some research into your 401K investment options.  The general rule of thumb when investing for retirement is that you should take on less risk as you get older (or, the closer you get to retirement).  This means an investment portfolio heavy in stocks when you’re younger, transitioning into a more conservative portfolio as you get older.

At 29, I’m not all that worried that my 401K has dwindled by 50%, because I have 35+ to ride the market. This is an ideal time to educate yourself and take control of your investment portfolio. Depending on the 401K, owners often have a great deal of flexibility in choosing and diversifying their portfolios. Now is the time to focus on bear market funds and invest more aggressively, if appropriate given your retirement timeline.

Paying Down Debt V. 401K Investments

You can punch the numbers all you want, but I feel that this is a totally personal decision.  One that should be based on the amount of your debt, what you’re 401K account looks like, your age, and how the debt is impacting your psyche.  If paying off your debt more aggressively will push you to remain motivated and make you feel more sane, by all means, prioritize it.  As lines of credit are SO hard to get these days, it might be prudent to halt (or reduce) contributions for a short period of time to focus on debt repayment.

Emergency Savings

I’ve always scoffed at this advice, not because it’s bad advice, but because it’s entirely unrealistic for the greater portion of the population.  How is a person living paycheck to paycheck going to amass a respectable amount of money in an “emergency” savings account?

My opinions around this have changed with the job market being what it is.  Respectable amount notwithstanding, a liquid savings account – even a modest one – is incredibly important to have in this climate.  It could mean the difference between paying rent with cash or withdrawing money from a credit card at 30%.  It could mean groceries for a month.  I could mean having the money for your kid’s dental work instead of begging a family member for a loan.

For me, this means shifting some of the money meant for debt repayment and a vacation into an emergency savings account.

And yes, I am not happy about it.

Macy’s Cutting 7,000 Jobs

February 2, 2009

Not a good time to be working for a retailer.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

S/S 2009 Trend Diffusion – Graphic Necklaces

February 1, 2009

I’m kicking off a series in which will I track down alternatives (and sometimes the real thing) to the trends seen on the runway in a variety of price-points.  First up, graphic jewelery.

Burberry, $2000

Marni, $685

Gemma Redux, $448

Malene Birger, $300

Kenneth Jay Lane, $230

Banana Republic, $125

Kenneth Jay Lane, $120

Anthropologie, $68

Topshop, $35