resigning when my boss’s wife just died, being paid less than a male predecessor, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I resign when my boss’s wife passed away today?

This question is tough and I hope you can help! I came in to work with the intention of resigning. I found out that my manager, who is the second-in-command of my entire company, will be out of the office through the end of next week because his wife passed away. This gave me pause. I obviously feel terrible about his loss and don’t want to distract him with work while he is away. I also don’t want to add to the pressure he is doubtless already under with the funeral preparations and handling his wife’s estate. I’m prepared to wait a little while to tender my resignation, but is there a set length of time you’d recommend?

*Side note – I can’t resign to anyone but him. He handles all HR matters, and the only person senior to him in our company is the owner, whom I’ve never met.

Any chance you can wait until he’s back the week after next? If you can, I’d do that. Once he’s back, I think it’s okay to proceed. It’s not ideal timing, but you also need to be able to move forward. (If you happen to have a lot more flexibility than people normally do in this situation — for example, if you’re resigning to go into business for yourself and thus don’t have a new employer waiting for you to start), it would be a real kindness to give him several more weeks. But assuming that you don’t have that kind of flexibility, waiting until he’s back should be fine.

2. I’m being paid less than my male predecessor

I have a question related to salary equity. My old boss, the finance director, recently retired and I was promoted to take his place. I was offered a salary that was only 75% of what he was being paid. It feels very unfair, but is it illegal? My actual job has not changed that much, since I was doing most of his work anyway during his last six months or so. My old position will not be replaced, and I’m not arguing with that since it’s been clear for several months that one person, me, can handle all the Finance responsibilities of this small nonprofit. However, I feel I should be paid at the same level he was being paid: equal pay for equal work. Plus they are saving one whole salary plus fringe by not rehiring for my old position, so the resources clearly already exist to pay me a higher salary. There is no pre-determined salary range for this position.

Does this situation fall under anti-discrimination laws? I plan to make the case anyway that I should be paid at the higher level, but would like to know if I have the law, not just fair play, to back me up.

It depends. There are perfectly legal reasons for paying you less that could be in play — for example, if your old boss had significantly more experience or education than you, the law allows them to decide that he was bringing a higher skill level to the job and pay him accordingly. Or, it could be based on tenure — if he had eight years in the job, it makes sense that your starting salary wouldn’t equal what his was after eight years on the job. It could also be based on the work itself; if he was handling more complex matters than you will be (for example, if they’re now outsourcing part of the job or pulling back on a complicated initiative), that could be the reason too.

But if none of those things are the case, then yes, you should definitely point out that there’s a potential legal issue here. I’ve got some advice on how to do that here.

3. How to back out of a freelance job

I have a full-time job but do a lot of freelance work outside of it. I get a lot of work via one particular person, who has been a fantastic resource and supporter. She asked me to take on an ongoing project with a new client a few months ago. It’s a little outside the scope of what she usually asks me to do (it’s a writing job as opposed to an editing job). Problem is, I’ve been doing a not great job. I just can’t seem to get a handle on the work, and she ends up rewriting a bunch of my stories. I’d tell her I don’t think it’s a good fit for me anymore, but I think she was hurting for writers and I really don’t want to disappoint her. I’m not sure what to do here. Any suggestions? It pays well, but if I could drop the project, I think I would.

If she’s been a great supporter of yours, she may be disappointed that you’re dropping out but she wouldn’t want you doing work that’s not the right fit for you.  I’d be pretty upset to find out that someone was continuing to do work they didn’t want to do just because they were afraid of disappointing me! Plus, disappointed doesn’t equal “devastated” or “angry.” She can be disappointed without it being a big deal.

So just talk to her! Say something like this: “I really appreciate you thinking of me for this work and bringing me into it. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, I don’t think it’s the strongest fit for me. I’m more of an editor than a writer. So I’d like to wrap up my work on this project and wanted to talk to you about a timeline for doing that.” If she pushes back and tries to convince you that your work has been fine, say this: “I appreciate that, but since I’m doing it on top of a full-time job, I really want to stick to projects that are more in my wheelhouse, like the X and Y projects you’ve sent me.”

4. Can I ask my new company to switch to a better retirement plan?

I’m mildly obsessed with saving for retirement. At my first job out of college, I started contributing to my 401k as soon as I was eligible. I max out Roth IRA contributions and my employer match for my 401k. I do a lot of research into the available funds and their fees and rates of return before I choose what to invest in.

So when I started my new job in January of this year, one of the first things I did was a deep dive into the 401k retirement plan options. My company uses Voya as their retirement company and I discovered pretty quickly that they have high fees. They offer a variety of actively managed funds with high fees, but even their non-actively managed funds have high fees! For example, their S&P 500 fund has a fee of .65% (for comparison Vanguard’s S&P 500 Index fund, has a fee of only .04%)! This may not seem like a big difference, but over the course of 50 years $1 invested in the Vanguard fund will return $42, while 1$ invested in Voya’s fund will only return $32. That’s almost a 25% loss simply because of a higher fee (not because of lower performance). Now multiply that across hundreds of thousands of dollars invested for retirement and we have a problem.

So my question is, is there ANYTHING I can do about this? I’m new to the company so I imagine I don’t carry a lot of influence, and essentially what I want is for them to change a portion of their employee benefits package: pick a new retirement company. To make matters worse, the company just finished a merger last year, so they’ve already gone through the long, arduous process of rolling over some employees from one retirement company to a new one. I’m under the impression that Voya is a new choice and the company might not be willing to change again so soon. If they’re not willing to do it for the whole company, is there any way I can convince them to let just me switch to another company with lower fees? If I ever left the company I suppose I could rollover anything in my 401k from Voya to a different company that had lower fee funds (like Vanguard or Fidelity), but I really like this job/company. The thought of how much money I (and all my coworkers) would lose if we stayed long term is killing me though!

Do I have any hope here? Or do I have to just suck up the lost retirement savings/plan to move everything to a cheaper retirement company if and when I can?

As a new person, there’s probably not much you can do right now unless you’re very senior and have a lot of influence. However, it’s certainly something you can raise down the road, once you’ve been there longer and once their merger isn’t quite so fresh. Even then, though, you might not be able to do anything about it until you leave (at which point, yes, definitely roll the account over into one you like better).

There might be other options here that I don’t know about though, so hopefully readers who know more in this area than I do will weigh in.

5. My last job ruined my work, and it’s harming my resume

At my previous job, I served as editor-in-chief of a media website. I did some of my best work at this website and it’s definitely the most impressive item on my resume, especially since I took on a number of operations responsibilities, too. I was very successful in my position but I left over a disagreement in the direction the company’s founder wanted to take. That direction involved firing all the writers, becoming purely an aggregator, reposting stale clickbait, and utterly destroying the site’s design. When prospective employers visited the site previously, they would see a legitimate-looking, well-designed website, with original content from a team of in-house writers.

Now when they visit, they see a dull grey blob with a column of unstyled text links to “viral” videos with titles like, “This kid tried to quit band… teacher had other plans,” written by inexpensive contractors who may or may not have a firm grasp on the English language.

At the end of the day, I can’t stop someone from visiting the website. If I talk about the website, they’re going to want to see it. And even if I explain what happened, they still only see that Geocities-looking mess. Scratch that; it’s worse than Geocities. It looks like an abandoned domain, with a hastily-cobbled together “parking page” generating side revenue for a Russian spammer. I have heard through the grapevine that this has cost me at least one job, for which I went through multiple stages of the interview process.

My current strategy is to use site’s parent company’s name on my resume, and disclosing the name only after I have the chance to explain in an interview the situation. I also have PDF’s with screenshots of the old site’s content, presented in its former layout, but it all feels very awkward and kludgy and I can’t think of a way to make this whole nightmare easier for myself and more attractive to hiring managers.

I think your current strategy is good. This kind of thing happens, and people will understand. You might also provide links to the old version of the site on (which shows archived pages of sites going way back, although it doesn’t always grab all the old graphics).

The only other option would be to write something like this on your resume: “(note that site has since changed direction and content significantly)”

(Note: If the site were extremely well-known — like a Buzzfeed or a Gawker — I’d be hesitant to leave it off, since brand name sites carry a certain cachet. In that case, I’d use the name but include the note about the site changing direction.)

{ 248 comments… read them below }

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m going to throw in a few more links directly after this, but I wanted to add that the issue of excessive fees for employer 401/403 plans got a lot of attention a year or so ago and severally very large companies have been successfully sued because of this.

      That’s not to say that the OP should take legal action, but to simply point out that this sort of thing should be on the employer’s radar, or at least the group who provides the different funds. This might not seem like a big deal, but given that pensions are just about nonexistent for newer hires, a few percentage points will kill your gains. This is a really serious issue.

      1. Mike C.*

        Employees Sue For Better Deals On 401(k) Options

        The Pervasive Problem of Excessive Fees – Yale Law Journal

        Jerry Schlichter has lead a number of these lawsuits if you are curious and Tibble v. Edison was just ruled 9-0 a few weeks ago in favor of the plaintiffs on a closely related issue.

        So yeah, this is a pretty big issue and your benefits department really needs to be paying attention. Given that you merged, costs should be going down given the larger size of the company.

        1. A day in the zoo*

          There has been a lot of activity around the fiduciary responsibilities of 401(k) plans and fees. However, in most of the cases where the participants have won, there was a lack of due diligence around the the fund selection and administrative selection process.

          If the company just went through a merger, it is likely that there was a marketing/evaluation process that just occurred. Stating that the plan is not being managed well after HR/benefits just went through that will not make you any friends. One way to figure out if the company has done its due diligence is to look at the annual IRS 5500 forms (available on to see if there is an investment advisor being paid. That will give an indication whether the company is doing its due diligence.

          401(k) fees can vary a lot by the number of options offered, if company stock is included, the amount of cash in the firm, the number of participants and the turnover of those participants. The company may have cut the best deal available — the OP does not know.

          Another alternative to asking for a totally new vendor is to look at some fund options under the VOYA umbrella and find appealing ones and ask the benefits team to consider adding those funds. I have often seen this be an effective way to get the options the employee desires.

          1. Jennifer M.*

            My company uses ADP for its 401(k) management. They don’t have the greatest reputation, but as you say, it can vary based on the fund options that your company is offering. I thought the fees charged on my funds were high, but in a financial forum that I participate in, people got to discussing their 401(k) managers and many people who were complaining about ADP and their fees are much higher than mine because their company offers different funds.

          2. fposte*

            Additionally, ask if there’s a self-directed brokerage option. It’s often not publicized even when it’s available.

          3. OP#4*

            OP#4 here! It’ a good idea to look for funds through VOYA that I’m interested in. I’m sure it’s much easier to ask for a fund to be added then to advocate for an entirely new vendor. Thank you for the advice!

        2. DCGirl*

          Costs wouldn’t necessarily go down after a merger if, for example, the acquired company had a market value adjustment on any of the assets. I worked for a Voya competitor doing proposals, which means I sat in on numerous pricing meetings, and you’d be astonished at how MVAs can affect pricing.

        3. OP#4*

          The company is only around 140 people right now, so still on the smaller side. I’m also under the impression that quite a few people were let go after the merger, so I don’t know if the overall size of the company changed at all.

          1. DCGirl*

            The people who were let go likely could have taken distributions, which can affect the overall distribution of the assets.

        4. Specialk9*

          You’re right to be concerned, and to request access to a Spartan fund.

          I was furious because my company offered funds that mostly gouged us. I want my fees to be at/under 0.20% expense ratio (0.20% is also called “20 basis points” – but I have to look that up every time). The outrageous fees get near or even over 1%. All the options but one at my place were close to 1%!! (So 0.65% isn’t even that bad comparatively.)

          They had one – Spartan 500 Index with fees of under 10 basis points or 0.095%. That’s what I chose.

          As far as how to get the option to a fund like this, I’d go post this question over on the Bogleheads forum. It sounds like you’ve already read Bogleheads, but if not, grab it from the library.

          My sib was able to get on the fund choice committee by making a fuss. Obviously you need to know that’s a risk, so I recommend in-person with the top HR person, and *lots* of sugar and tact. I think there’s also a manual, annual roll-over technique, but don’t recall the details.

          Here’s an article with a link to that forum, and advice on this topic.

          1. OP#4*

            I’ve gotten in touch with the investment adviser for my company, and he mentioned that he’s in the process of repricing with VOYA, so fees may go down. I might ask him about adding some additional funds to the plan as well.

      2. Mockingjay*

        My company changed 401K providers last January. The move was completely out the of the blue; employees were blindsided. We had 1 week’s notice before our accounts were locked down for the changeover.

        Provider A, which the company was using when I came aboard a year ago, was fantastic. Reasonable transparent fees, excellent website, and helpful staff. I rolled over my previous companies’ 401Ks and was delighted with how easy it was to select and manage funds. Best 401k ever.

        New Provider B is a nightmare. All kinds of fees. Hidden way, way down. The fees are eating up my contribution. Website sucks. We’re complaining to HR, but we’re stuck using B for the year.

        I’m looking into whether I can move my 401K to a retirement funds manager without quitting. I’ll lose the company match, but that’s peanuts compared to what Provider B is sucking out of me.

            1. LBK*

              It depends how they merged the plan, but typically if you’re an active employee it’s unlikely you’d have had an opportunity to distribute. It would only be if they completely terminated the existing plans and started a new one, and even then sometimes active employees are still automatically rolled over to the new plan.

              I’ve dealt with a lot of people who get frustrated over how restrictive 401(k) rules are and feel like if they put the money in, they should be allowed to take it out whenever they want, but that’s the whole reason it’s restrictive – so that people won’t take it out until retirement, when it’s intended for. And the lack of liquidity is also part of the trade off for the benefits, eg employer matching and tax breaks relative to other investment vehicles.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Yeah, which sucks.

            A manager at my credit union told me once, “the Federal Government makes it really hard to save money.”

            1. Liz2*

              I like it- it means people won’t just yank their retirement as another credit card extension. They make it really hard and really long to get money because it’s not supposed to be as anything but retirement.

              1. LBK*

                Right – they’re not supposed to be liquid because they’re not supposed to be touched. The comparison isn’t between the 2% fee you’re locked into and the 1% fee you could be paying somewhere else, it’s between the 2% fee you’re locked into and cashing out all the money, leaving you with nothing when you retire. As paternalistic as it is, they’re restrictive to save people from themselves.

                As someone who worked in a call center for 2 years specifically for people who wanted to withdraw their 401(k) money, people are extremely short-sighted to the point of basically being delusional about how much they’ll need for retirement. If it were any easier to get your 401(k) money, there’d be even more people wildly unprepared for retirement than there already are.

              2. Jessie the First (or second)*

                It’s not restrictive just to be paternalistic – you get a tax break for investing. Otherwise, these are wages that should have been taxed at the time of your paycheck. If you want to use your money whenever you feel like it, then you take the salary and you pay the taxes then, and you are free to do whatever you want. If you want deferred taxes, you have to take deferred compensation. It’s not deferred if you’re just free to control it any time.

              3. mrs__peel*

                @ LBK- “people are extremely short-sighted to the point of basically being delusional”

                I think that’s rather unfair. Plenty of people know that they need to save more, but simply *can’t afford* to. Plenty of people know that they ideally should leave their 401K money for retirement, but are in truly desperate circumstances.

                US wages have stagnated for decades, while the costs of basics like housing, education, and health care have skyrocketed. A lot of working- and middle-class folks are being squeezed and are trying to do the best they can.

                I’m an ostensibly middle-class person, but I have enormous student loans and would certainly have to borrow against my 401K to pay for (e.g.) any major health expenses like chemotherapy if I was unlucky enough to need it.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Thanks for the reminder. There certainly is a lot one can do by learning and cutting costs and delayed gratification… But luck plays a huge role in a society with virtually no social safety net.

                2. LBK*

                  There are certainly people who are in those circumstances, but a) you control your level of 401(k) contribution so if you can’t afford to contribute as much, you don’t have to, and b) the financial emergencies only made up a small percentage of the people that cashed out their plans. A *lot* of people did it just because they could. And you’d be amazed how many people didn’t think they needed to keep their 401(k) going because they were convinced they’d be able to live on Social Security.

                  There’s also a difference between cashing out and taking a loan, the latter of which has a lot fewer penalties and long-term implications. You can also (generally speaking) take a loan when you need it, whereas most people aren’t withdrawing until they quit, so the idea of using a withdrawal for an emergency doesn’t necessarily make sense unless your termination was related to that same emergency. If you were living without that money before, taking it just because you quit doesn’t make a lot of sense in the long run (and if you were struggling to live without that money, your contribution was too high).

                  I know this is anecdotal but it’s based on hundreds, if not thousands of anecdotes. People aren’t great at managing their retirement funds.

      3. Specialk9*

        Yeah, I want to give kudos to the OP for paying attention. I was intimidated and made the wrong fund choice for a decade, and even with saving 10%-15% (even at low salary), I lost all that lovely compound interest. Argh.

        Now I ask young people I work with, I’d they’d like me to help them, and share that we only have one good fund available. (Spartan 500 index) These are smart educated people, who are also overwhelmed.

        1. LBK*

          Just a pedantic point of clarification: it’s capital gains, not compound interest. Interest implies a guaranteed rate of return.

    2. BenAdminGeek*

      Disclosure- I used to work for Fidelity and other competitors of your current administrator, and I have funds with both Fidelity and Vanguard and think they’re the best, for exactly the reasons the LW states.

      LW #4- if this is a large company, they’ve likely signed a longer-term (3-5 year) contract with Voya, with stiff penalties for breaking it. So I wouldn’t expect changes for 1/1. But, your HR team will definitely listen. It’s ultimately the DC benefits administration team at your company that makes the call, with the help of their actuaries and financial advisors. Raise the financial reasons why you feel they should switch, and don’t frame it as “you’ve made a terrible decision and don’t understand finance.” There may be customer service or contractual reasons why it made sense for them to make the switch- maybe this provider is more attentive to their reporting, service level agreements are stricter, etc. But, your voice definitely can be heard, if you focus on the fees and employee benefits to switching.

      Also- if you’re ever running into customer service issues with this provider, make sure your HR team is aware. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I would say that the possibility of a longer-term contract makes it even MORE important to raise this issue now. And I don’t think you’re without standing just because you’re new.

        This is not a seniority issue.
        I would bring this to HR and say, “In looking at this, and comparing with my old plan–these guys are taking way too much money in fees. I’m sure changing vendors isn’t an easy thing, but I wanted to bring up this cost really early.”

        And, if you’re plugged in to this issue–offer to help with research!

        Also–when you show your work? Use the salary and savings of an HR director or vice president.

        1. Specialk9*

          “when you show your work? Use the salary and savings of an HR director or vice president.”


    3. LBK*

      I’d just make sure the OP is sure she’s comparing apples to apples here – sometimes depending on the size of the plan you can get cut a break on the fees so it’s cheaper to buy the fund within the plan than as a retail customer. I’d also be sure she’s actually looking specifically at the management fees and not the total 401(k) fees, which will usually include additional administration costs for the plan itself (although again, those decrease as the size of the plan increases).

      There’s no way they’ll let her invest in different funds than the rest of the company – in addition to just not being feasible because it would require them hiring and paying two management companies (which no management company is going to agree to), I’m about 99% sure it would be a flagrant ERISA violation to not offer the same funds to everyone in the company. And I’d be pretty skeptical that they’ll even entertain the idea of changing providers right after a merger, which is a nightmarish process even if they just merged the old plan into the existing one and didn’t change providers (assisting plan administrators with terminating/merging their plans used to basically be my job).

      I don’t know that there’s a lot the OP can do here except maybe stick it out until the DOL fiduciary responsibility rule goes into place since that will likely cause fees to be reduced across the board, although it’s been delayed so many times now I don’t know if it ever will.

      1. fposte*

        To me it’s all apples, in that it’s choices the company has made that are unnecessarily costing their employees money in their 401ks. You don’t need to have an expensive management company any more than you need to have an expensive list of funds available. Plenty of companies manage to offer low-cost options.

        I agree that if there’s no self-directed brokerage option there’s not much the OP can do at the moment, and a .65% ER is actually not so horrible that it makes more sense to save in taxable (and there are definitely worse than that).

        1. LBK*

          Certainly, my point was just that it can be misleading to be comparing funds inside and outside a plan – and that could go both ways, in that she might discover her plan fees are very low and Voya really does just have expensive funds, or Voya’s funds aren’t much more expensive than Vanguard’s and her plan’s just gauging her.

          I also wanted to highlight the correlation between plan size/age and fees – the solution might be to just wait it out a little and the fees will go down over time as part of the arrangement with the provider, which is pretty standard but not something a lot of participants are aware of.

          1. fposte*

            Right, there’s the person below talking about high-priced Vanguard funds that are almost certainly a management company’s high-priced layer. But ultimately I think it’s reasonable, even if you don’t understand the different parts exactly, to say “Hey, other companies our size can get this for a cost to an employee of $10 a year–why can’t we?”

          2. A day in the zoo*

            You said it much better than I did. The total dollars in the plan — and how much those dollars stick with the plan longer term, often determine what class of funds are available for the plan and the class of fund determines the expense load. Also, if the plan offers non-VOYA managed funds like a company stock option or a self-directed option, that will also drive up the expense loads in the VOYA funds.

            From a fiduciary perspective (and most plans are already complying with the proposed, and now tabled, fiduciary rules), the company should be evaluating the fund options regularly (not necessarily the overall provider) and making any necessary changes to the fund line-up or fund class.

      2. OP#4*

        Some additional information about the retirement options offered: There are basically 3 investment “paths”
        1. You can have a professionally managed account, where you contribute and a retirement manager makes all the decisions for you (for an additional .56% fee)
        2. You can invest in a target date retirement fund. An investment manager chooses a mix of funds and as your retirement date moves close they move your assets to more conservative investments (on average these have fees of .76%)
        3. You can choose your own investments and manage your own portfolio (which is what I do)

        From there, there are 16 different funds I can choose from (bonds, international, large/mid/small cap, etc). There are 5 different Index funds, and they’re actually all Vanguard funds. Now I am not an expert or financial adviser by any means, so it is entirely possible that I am misunderstanding things or comparing apples to oranges (and if I am, by all means please tell me). The annual operating expenses for the Vanguard Index funds range from .68%-.72%. I also spoke to a Voya representative months ago and I’m almost positive she mentioned that Voya also has a .6% fee on top of that which applies to your investments as a whole. Vanguard list’s their expense ratio for the same fund as .04% (which now that I’ve looked into it a bit more, I don’t think is the same thing).

        1. Stephanie the Great*

          As someone who works in retirement services, I have some insight into what other retirement services’ client relations look like. Vanguard is known for being inexpensive, however they’re also known for having somewhat shoddy customer service and client relations. That’s not their wheelhouse — they bank on bringing people in by being inexpensive, but they’re usually not the most helpful when it comes to building a plan that works specifically for their clients. VOYA has been working very hard to brand itself as high tech awesomeness with great service. I’ve never used them before, but their branding and client relations management has, from what I have heard, been pretty great, which they’ll argue comes with a premium — thus, the higher price. Fidelity is a really great company in terms of value and service. They’re also well known and well established in the industry.

          1. OP#4*

            Thank you for the insight! My company had a VOYA representative come and talk to all the new hires a couple months ago, and I thought about bringing up the high fees then directly with the representative (with the added bonus of alerting other employees and HR/management at the meeting without me having to go directly to them and complaining as a new hire). But all they talked about was their website and their new retirement readiness calculator. So yes to the branding themselves as high-tech :)

          2. DMR*

            My only experience with Vanguard is as an individual investor (not in a workplace retirement plan), but their customer service and website have been far better than my former brokerage account or any of the 403(b)s I have held. I have never heard anyone else complain about their customer service.

        2. LBK*

          Yeah, it sounds like the discrepancy is coming from Voya’s additional fees on top of the regular fund expenses. My memory’s a little vague on the disclosure rules but I believe your plan administrator has to provide you a breakdown of any fees on request – that would definitely be worth looking at before any conversations. It may reveal what I and a few others were saying, that part of the agreement is that fees will drop over time as the plan ages/grows.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I think the OP can bring up the idea–these sorts of changes can take a long time, and the sooner she brings up the concept, the longer people have to get used to the idea.

      4. Specialk9*

        She won’t get to invest differently from the rest of the company, but she can spur the company to better funds. My sibling did exactly that.

        Most people find this topic huuuuuugely boring, Even in HR, so offering to help and doing the calculations – which from the question, this LW sounds capable of doing – could be a godsend.

    4. DCGirl*

      I worked for another competitor of Voya as a proposal manager, which means that I sat in on hundreds of discussions on how to determine fees for a new plan. Factors that go into pricing include the amount of assets in the plan, how those assets are invested across the funds that are offered, how many participants are in the plan, the age range of those participants (i.e., age to retirement), whether there is an investment advisor who needs to be paid (if, for example, the staff or board of the company don’t have the in-house expertise to select and manage the fund line-up offered), whether a consultant was used in the RFP process and is owed a fee, whether the employer assesses a fee to fund its plan-related expenses, and whether there are any market value adjustments (MVAs) on any of the funds offered.

      MVAs happens when a provider artificially offers a higher rate of return on a fund. You see a lot of MVAs on stable value funds right now, because the rate of return on these fund, which are low-risk, capital preservation funds that are one step above money market funds in terms of returns. And, these days, money market funds are paying abysmally. My previous employer actually stopped offering its own money market fund, and we would only include a money market fund in a line-up if specifically requested by the employer. So, the provider offers a higher rate of return than the fund would earn, but claws back that money through an MVA should the employer decide to transfer its plan elsewhere. The employer can either suck it up and cut a check for the MVA (and I’ve seen MVAs in the hundreds of thousands for large plans) or it can amortize the MVA by adding a wrap fee to the new fund line-up with the new provider, leading to higher fees for the pariticpants until the MVA is paid off. My previous employer never charged MVAs, but they exist and are an issue in the industry.

      So, there could be a host of reasons why the fees at the OP’s current employer are higher than the fees at the previous employer that the OP is not privy too. I see that there are 140 employees — OP, that’s a really small plans. Some providers won’t even write plans that small.

        1. OP#4*

          I’m also aware that while I pay attention to retirement savings and it is important to me, I am by no means an expert and there’s probably a lot more I could/should learn. If anyone has an resources/recommendations I would really appreciate it!

          1. Student*

            I’ve always thought one of the bigger retirement plan issues was whether they offer any Roth plans vs not. It depends on your tax bracket and (of course) your country, since it’s a US thing. US tax rates are historically low right now, so if I understand right, I might as well use a Roth. Except a lot of employers don’t offer Roth retirement plans.

    5. NW Mossy*

      Another industry pro here, and in many cases, the person who has the most influence over which provider a company uses is the investment advisor/broker. Most businesses aren’t plan experts, so they lean heavily on the advisor for guidance on what to do and pay them for that service. However, advisor and participant interests are not necessarily in alignment and it can be hard for sponsors to spot that.

      Most advisors like to consolidate their retirement plan clients at just a few providers that they have good relationships with. The advisor/provider relationship can be based on a lot of different things, but ultimately it boils down to advisor preferences. Some advisors care most about money; others like the tools a particular provider offers them to manage their whole suite of retirement plan clients. Still others like a provider’s personal touch or ability to customize. It can really vary, but the effect is that if a provider isn’t on the advisor’s preferred list, it’s probably not going to get a look in on any employer that advisor is looking to bid.

      I’ll also note that mergers are probably the most complex administrative process a plan can go through, and employers typically need expert help (attorneys, retirement plan pros, etc.) to navigate that process without making major mistakes. If Voya (disclosure: competitor, not my employer) did a really good job of helping your company through that process, it’s likely that they’ve built loyalty with the decision-makers at your company and that may make them more likely to view the fees as reasonable given what they got in return. It’s work that an individual participant normally can’t see, but valuable to the company.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        Great advice Mossy!

        And I would just add that it would be helpful for the OP to talk to some of the other employees who survived the merger and see what plan administrator they had. Was your company the one that bought out the other so they had a say in who the administrator was or were they the small fish that was swallowed up by a larger company? Did they use a low fee vendor before and what was the result? Maybe they did have a lower fee 401(k) administrator but the customer service sucked, so the office’s benefits administrator or HR team was being overburden with 401(k) questions and it was cheaper overall for the company to use an administrator with higher fees but better customer service. For example, Frontier and Spirit definitely have cheaper airline ticket prices, but there is no way I’d fly either one!

        I think it’s helpful to have all this kind of information before going in and asking for a benefits change.

      2. OP#4*

        Thank you so much NW Mossy, DCGirl, and Stephanie the Great for all your insight! Super interesting and super helpful! Lots of things I didn’t think of before (the size of the plan can affect the fees, the plan options can depend on the adviser, etc.)

  1. Ramona Flowers*

    #5 This totally sucks and I’m sorry. The tip (aka the Wayback Machine) is a really good one. I’m also incredibly relieved for you that you have screenshots – thank goodness you were forward thinking enough to take them.

    I am wondering if it would help to also create a portfolio website that would come up when prospective employers searched for the old site? Instead of your name, maybe call it something like “Website Name – historic portfolio” and include your PDFs, links and a brief, factual explanation of the direction change. That way if someone does search for you they may also find this.

    Sidenote: I recently discovered that The Frisky, which used to be a cool feminist site, seems to now be full of articles about his junk and her ta-tas. I have a friend who used to write for them and I bet she’s taken them off her resume now.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Also I just want to add that that’s The Frisky’s terminology and not mine, seeing as I forgot my quote marks!

      1. music*

        honestly, anyone working and hiring in digital media is aware that sites change like this. if she’s clear about the years she worked there, no one’s going to bat an eye. You’re looking at clips, not a site, when hiring someone.

    2. JustaCPA*

      I was going to post about as well. The other thing you can do, since websites seem to be in your wheelhouse, is create a portofilio website with “your” version of the website you created (even if its just JPGS)

    3. Red 5*

      I agree that setting up a portfolio website or a portfolio section on your own website gives you a LOT more control of the narrative here. You may or may not be able to SEO enough to get it on the top of searches, but you hand in a resume with your URL at the top, and if you include the link in your communications with them (appropriately of course) then naturally they’ll go there first before they start looking for what the website looks like now.

      This gives you a lot of ways to sell yourself and your skills, and expand beyond what’s represented on the resume. I don’t think everybody needs a portfolio site or a personal “hire me” website, most people probably don’t, but it sounds to me like that’s a natural fit for the letter writer and their problem. At the very least it gives you the control of the first impression.

    4. AnonToday*

      I was the editor for a website that, fortunately, hasn’t changed directions like this LW’s did, but it’s still not a great website. The design hasn’t been updated since maybe 2011. They added this awful ad service with embedded autoplay videos in every article that you can’t close or even pause. It’s just a bad experience. So when I send out writing samples, I just send the text in a pdf with “Originally posted on [date] at [url]” at the top so that if the reader wants proof that the article was really published, they can check. I just hope they have an ad blocker.

      I have a portfolio page on my website that just links to my articles on that site, though, and now I’m thinking I should probably go the text-only pdf route for all of them. I’m not so much worried about the site taking a left turn like LW’s, but it’s pretty neglected and I have to imagine that one day it will disappear, unfortunately.

      I remember The Frisky and I googled it after reading your sidenote, Ramona Flowers, and holy crap it is pretty much NSFW now. Apparently it was sold to a new owner in 2016. Maybe this was their bold new direction. :(

    5. MissDisplaced*

      In addition to providing the link to Wayback Machine, maybe on your resume you can say the site was “reconfigured by new owner” after you left or some such?
      I mean, this has to happen all the time. No one would expect a website to stay static 1-2 years after you leave.

    6. mrs__peel*

      As an attorney, the idea of creating an entirely new website with an employer’s content would make me rather nervous due to possible IP issues.

      I think linking to the archive site is perfectly adequate and far less likely to result in any messy complications.

  2. Juli G.*

    #1 On the presumption you were giving 2 week notice…if you’re leaving for a new role, ask about moving your start date back a week. If the new job can’t, then you have to take care of you but if they can, you could let your boss be back for a day or two and still give a week and a half.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Also how you convey the message will make a huge difference here. There is of course a world of difference between “Oh good, you’re finally back now, I quit,” and “I’m sorry to add something extra to your plate at a difficult time, but I did just want to let you know I’m giving notice – my last date will be x. I understand this isn’t the best timing, and I’ll do whatever I can to help with y and z.”

      And I wouldn’t do it first thing in the morning, or roll it into one conversation along with how are you/sorry for your loss/etc.

    2. Hey Nonnie*

      If you don’t have a lot of flexibility on timing, I’d at least consider revisiting giving your notice to the owner. Ultimately the owner is in charge of the business; and if they’re at all a decent human being, they should understand why you don’t want to burden your direct manager with one more thing at this time. It shouldn’t matter that you haven’t met the owner; these are extenuating circumstances, and someone will have to pick up the slack, or delegate, while your manager is out of the office anyway. One way or the other those responsibilities will fall to the owner while your manager is away.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. The business should not be burdening the manager with tasks while he is away. If he does handle all HR matters, well then someone else needs to handle them. Any lack of planning and workarounds is on them, not you. All you need to do is be kind and professional.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree–the owner is ultimately in charge, and if you need to, then you should resign to him.

        I might say that you should resign to him now anyway, and still give as long of notice as you can. You can specifically say that you want to do this so as to make it easier on your manager, and so you don’t want to tell him until he’s back.
        But getting the owner involved can also perhaps get the “find a replacement” effort started sooner–maybe the owner can authorize you to do some official resumé-gathering, etc.

      3. Friday*

        I agree with this approach as well – if owner is actually your grandboss, then it doesn’t matter that you’ve never met her; it’s her job to be your interim boss while your manager is away on bereavement.

      4. Artemesia*

        This. If you are resigning for another job and thus don’t have a lot of time flexibility then notify the owner with your awareness that this is bad timing but you needed to give notice and then apologize to the supervisor for the timing when he gets back. Tone and commitment to making things go as smoothly as possible are everything. If you have taken a job it will be clear that the timing was not something you could prevent.

    3. TootsNYC*

      One other thought–are you at all likely to be involved in hunting for your replacement? That might be a reason to resign sooner, and give a longer notice period.
      And to soften the panic by also laying out a plan for hiring to replace you.

      (another one might be that it will be more overtly helpful–“I’ve gotten a new job, but especially because it’s a hard time, I can stay for a month” might sound more considerate.)

      And of course one should do this anyway, and it sort of goes without saying, but be extra proactive/aggressive on doing everything you can to make the interim period easier.

      Write out an updated job description, send out unofficial feelers / grapevine alerts for candidates now, document all procedures, etc.

  3. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 It can feel really hard to back out of a freelance job, but so long as you give a bit of advance notice it’s really okay. I used to worry about turning down work when I freelanced but sometimes you need to. Especially when it gives you that heartsinky oh-god-I-wish-I-could-drop-this feeling.

    Just be really clear and definite in your own mind so you don’t end up sounding like you simply want reassurance that your work is okay. AAM’s script is of course perfect.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Also, if she’s doing a lot of rewriting, she may be relieved to have you be the one to pull the plug.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        If you know of other people who you think would do a good job you could offer to refer them. If your main concern about dropping the project is that she is hurting for writers that might make it easier to back away.

      2. Alienor*

        I work with freelancers, and there’s been more than one time when I wished someone would just tell me they couldn’t freelance for me anymore. I do freelance myself on the side, so I have a lot of sympathy for freelancers (I’ve been in the same position of knowing I’m not quite the right person for a project, but doing it anyway because a friend asked me to) but there’s a point where the struggle just isn’t worth it.

  4. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I actually feel like this is a situation where it would be reasonable to track down the owner and inform her of your resignation. Sure, if you can wait and extend your notice period (if you have that luxury) that’s an option to consider. But since that’s not possible like 95% of the time, you could explain to the owner that you’re resigning but under the circumstances you didn’t feel like it was really possible or kind to inform your direct supervisor.

    1. Chriama*

      I agree. Drop him an email saying you need to talk, then call (I would call for this) and say you recognize that the timing is super awkward but you were offered an opportunity you couldn’t turn down and you need to submit your 2 weeks’ notice.

  5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – GOOD FOR YOU… you’re young and are attentive to the fact that the best time to start investing/ saving is NOW.

    1. bookish*

      Absolutely. I contribute the max amount to my 401k that my employer will match and so does everyone my age who I’ve talked about this with. If other Millennials are like me and my friends, we are very concerned about saving for retirement and staying steadily employed after seeing parents lose jobs in the recession and become effectively retired (I have a Boomer dad who found that he was too old to be a compelling new hire after the recession). Not having enough retirement money is terrifying to me.

      1. Steve*

        Maxing out the match is essential and a complete no-brainer. But, it’s not going to be enough. You will need to save 10-15%. If you can’t jump right into that, try bumping it up 1% every time you get a raise.

        1. Specialk9*

          It’s not a “no brainer”. I remember trying to shove “we match 50% of your first 6%” through my brain, for years. (It means that if you give 4% of your salary into retirement, we’ll put in 2%. If you put in 6% we’ll give 3%. But after that we’ll only give 3%, no matter how much more you do.)

          I asked, repeatedly, but lots of people just feel stupid and give up.

          1. Steve*

            I had a match that was something like, 100% of the first 3%, 50% of the next 2%.

            Anyways “no brainer” just means that the decision is easy. Unless you literally need the money to not be starving or homeless, it’s worth contributing. (And sometimes it’s worth it even then, for instance, if you can get the match and then immediately withdraw / take a loan to get the money back out, earning 100% immediately when you and paying a 10% penalty to get it back out, you still come out ahead).

        2. Anlyn*

          “try bumping it up 1% every time you get a raise.”

          I started doing that about 3 or 4 years ago, up until last year. It usually breaks even, so you aren’t missing much short-term. And you’re gaining much long-term.

      2. Specialk9*

        Yeah, millennials as a group rock at saving.* You’re like our grandparents – you lived through the Great Recession and learned that you can’t rely on anyone but yourselves. It’s really admirable, though I wish life had been easier.

        *I usually object to generational generalizations, but this is both positive, and well documented.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am an Old who never made a huge salary but who stowed away 15% for 40+ years. The investment management was not all that great either; I could have made more if I had been less conservative. And yet what I have now coupled with SS is enough for me to live comfortably in a big city and travel as much as I wish. There is much to be said for starting early and being consistent. It is worth it to live a bit below your means and steadily accumulate enough wealth to be secure in old age. And that arrives oddly much sooner than you expect. I was always a young person and then suddenly I wasn’t any more.

  6. Stellaaaaa*

    OP5: You’re describing something that’s very common in media. Refinery29 changes direction every few years; it started out as a retail hub but now it hosts content. xoJane changed hands a bunch of times, and Gawker is dead. Any interviewer who doesn’t give you time to tell your side of things or doesn’t understand the situation isn’t savvy about this stuff on the most basic level. It’s the normal cycle of things and you don’t want to work for a business with such a poor grasp of this industry. Even so, if you could, say, list Time Inc on your resume instead of xoJane, you might as well.

    1. WellRed*

      Anyone else feel like since writing stories and articles began to shift toward “creating content” that we’ve been a quality death spiral?

      1. Zip Silver*

        I blame Buzzfeed and HuffPo. Of course, the only reason clickbait is profitable is because people get fooled into clicking on it.

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          It’s sad because Buzzfeed has some quality stuff. Like their investigative team is really good.

          1. Purplesaurus*

            Maybe I’m missing that kind of stuff for all the “Can We Guess Your Age Based On Your Food Preferences” crap.

            1. Mike C.*

              Buzzfeed is weird in that they hired actual political reporters to do actual political reporting, but it’s a small part of their portfolio. CNN actually hired several of them away last year.

          2. Chicklet*

            Agreed. I’ve ready some really good long-form pieces on there, but to see them you have to catch the homepage at the right time, know where to look, be directed toward that exact article, or be willing to wade through “pick a meal and we’ll tell you which Avenger you are” articles.

          3. krysb*

            Yeah, people will clap back when you reference Buzzfeed sometimes, but my usual response is that if NPR can use Buzzfeed as a reference, then so can I.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              It’s weird–I’ve been linked to the occasional informative article there, but nothing about the site design for the front page makes me inclined to visit. So the good stories find me via someone with more patience reading them and linking in a forum I happen to visit.

              1. Content Creator*

                A very, very small percentage of readers at any site — especially a BuzzFeed — bother going to the front page of a site and actually reading it, anymore. Links travel individually, through Facebook, Twitter, and good ol’ Google SEO.

                In other words: they way you’re getting news is exactly why the front page doesn’t bother drawing you in. ;)

          4. Alton*

            Yeah, BuzzFeed does some surprisingly good work and does detailed articles on some stories that don’t otherwise hit the mainstream media much. Actually, since they are primarily focused on clickbait-type stuff like “Design a bedroom and we’ll tell you how many kids you’ll have” or “25 things every 90’s kid will remember,” maybe their investigative team has more freedom to pursue interesting stories.

            1. Natalie*

              Investigative reporting ain’t cheap either, and clickbait makes a lot of money that can help pay for it.

              1. SystemsLady*

                It’s also nice that their meme/Photoshop/infographic content is original and in at least some cases the creators get paid. Not a lot, but it’s a nice clickbait contrast to all those terrible aggregators with content that’s gone through six JPEG compression cycles.

            2. myswtghst*

              Funny enough, Refinery29 did a podcast (an early episode of Strong Opinions Loosely Held) about basically that – talking with someone from Buzzfeed about how, to an extent, all of the Kardashian clickbait allowed them to also publish some of the really good long form content.

        2. music*

          Both of those sites have Pulitzer-winning journalists working to produce important stories. What’s to “blame” them for?

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        “Pivoting to video” will only hasten the spiral, IMHO., I’m looking at you.

        1. Brooksider09*

          Ugh. I’m a journalist who got hit in one of the recent spate of layoffs by sites wanting to “pivot to video.” Luckily, both as a hiring manager and as someone who was job searching about a year ago, everyone in this biz kind of gets that the industry is having some fits and lurches right now and that rank and file employees (or in my case, leadership) often can’t do much about it other than leave.

            1. Turquoise Cow*

              Yeah I hate videos. For one I can read faster than the video that’s just text animated. And secondly I’m not always in a place where I can listen to sound.

          1. Specialk9*

            This past year, I’ve bought subscriptions to, um, four newspapers. (Five?) I hadn’t realized how fundamental journalism is to democracy, other than generally. Hopefully all the people getting aware on the topic will help you find good jobs in the future.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          A few regular columnists have tried this “Look… it’s on video! Rather than read through at your own speed, you can watch at ours. Rather than something you can do quietly, you’ll need headphones…” to rage from commenters, because they had been visiting writing in this form for a reason. It wasn’t like they didn’t know video existed–it’s just a lot slower and less flexible.

          1. Artemesia*

            We never look at websites that do this. Who wants to waste time listening to some long BS when you can read the same thing in 45 seconds.

        3. Another person*

          Ugh I hate that so much! I can’t watch a video at work. But I can read news stories! (Also I guarantee I can read an article faster and with more comprehension than I would get from watching a video in almost all circumstances).

      3. Katniss*

        As someone who just left a website I’d been commenting on for almost a decade because of this shift, yes. Very much so. The clickbait is invasive and cuts down on quality writing across the board.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Were you an AVClubber perchance? Sorry, I know that’s off-topic but there’s been a huge shift since they were Kinjafied and most of the commenters seem to be gone.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I know! And it turns out I know Katniss in real life … I just forgot :) I’m PedanticEditorType, haha. Sorry for the digression.

          1. Katniss*

            I was! I’m MrsLangdonAlger over there (and on the Avocado, too, as Falling Diphthong mentions below: It’s The AV Club After Dark if you wanna google it)

          2. Elizabeth H.*

            I was!!! I commented as Ellie from 2008-2013. The site and commentariat were so different back in the day.

    2. Red 5*

      This is very, very true. Employers who don’t understand how quickly the web shifts and how much a redesign after you left could torpedo a site just don’t understand what they’re hiring you for, and would probably be difficult to work for in the long run.

      I know that’s probably not much comfort, but with Allison’s suggestions and some careful acknowledgement of the situation up front in your job search, it should be obvious to anybody who knows website management what happened.

  7. t*

    #4: I feel your pain. I went from an employer that offered a Vanguard 401k to one the offers a brand name but terrible plan. Fortunately, I can put my contributions into the one good fund they offer and use other retirement savings to balance out my asset allocation correctly.

    Even though that plan sucks, you’re only in it as long as you work there. If you think you’re going to work there a very long time, then obviously it’s more of a concern. But if you’re there for a shorter amount of time, you can roll it to any plan you want when you leave, reducing any long term losses. Hopefully you can convince them to give you better options.

    1. schnauzerfan*

      #4 You can ask. When I started my new job I went in to talk about my options, which funds were available and how to switch and they told me if I liked my plan I could keep it. Just a few forms to set up the new pay role deposit and we were good. Now this was a supplimental plan without an employer match, (we have an actual pension plan too) but it doesn’t hurt to ask nicely.

      1. OP#4*

        Part of my concern is I absolutely LOVE this company, and I can see myself staying here long term (I realize I’ve worked here less than a year at this point and this could change). But I do wonder if the retirement plan is going to make me leave eventually.

        I had a 401k with my first job out of college, but when I left I didn’t have enough money to leave it where it was, so I rolled everything over to Fidelity. The company match is very generous here (4%) so I definitely don’t want to give that up.

        1. JulieBulie*

          This isn’t necessarily hopeless. I remember working at a place where we had three different providers in four years. (I’m sure there’s a story behind that, but I don’t know what it is.) They were well-known companies and I wish I could remember what any of them were or which one we had last.

          No, going to HR alone won’t do anything. But you may be in a position to educate your coworkers about retirement plan fees, so that they can make better choices – and so that they can add their voices to yours when it’s time to re-evaluate employee benefits.

          1. OP#4*

            That’s a good idea, and I would actually love to let people know so that people aren’t blindsided. I guess I’m just not sure what would be the best way to go about. (There’s the additional difficulty that only about 1/3 of the company is in my office).

            1. Specialk9*

              At my company, we do lunch and learns. Ask if you can host one by webex, and invite HR. Then you’re a leader in their eyes, not just a peon. Ask them questions off-line.

    2. TootsNYC*

      This is one of those things about compensation that is very hard to research.
      How much you contribute for insurance, how good the savings plan is, etc.

      We tend to focus on salary and maybe vacation–and sometimes the benefits offered by the insurance–but these other costs can make a big difference.
      (I knew someone who ended up taking home LESS money because her new job had insurance packages geared for singles, and by having to insure her husband, she was contributing way more than her pay increase.)

  8. MommyMD*

    If you can wait until the funeral is over. When my husband died suddenly a year ago, I could think of nothing but funeral arrangement and my kids.

  9. Em too*

    #3 sounds like her honest input would help. Would she agree it’s a bad fit, and make the whole process easier? If she’s really appreciating your help and doesn’t find the rewriting a problem, would you be willing to continue, or do very occasional jobs, or some other arrangement?

  10. Anon attorney*

    #1, I agree with other commenters that it would be appropriate for you to bring this up with the owner. Apart from anything else, your boss may be out longer than anticipated. I actually kind of hope, for his sake, that he is. Can’t imagine going back to work a few days after burying your spouse. I took six weeks off and that wasn’t really long enough (and is having some repercussions further down the line).

  11. Zip Silver*

    #2 – take your salary, and use the compounding interest formula (2-4% is typical for raises) and plug in the number of years that your predecessor worked. That explained a 40k gap between me and the 18 year-tenured person who worked my job before me, and he and I are both white guys.

    1. AccountingIsFun*

      but remember to take into consideration inflation – if wages are keeping up with inflation they should increase about 1.5% or so a year. I’m sorry OP #2 that you are having to deal with this. If your employer can’t say that it is because the former holder of the position has additional education or certifications, this is pretty cheap of them to pull this kind of stunt. I was in a similar position in a job and I ended up leaving due to the wage discrepancies that were not able to be justified on education (I had more), certifications (I had more), or experience (I did the calculation). I was doing to job of two people and was getting paid less than my predecessor and negotiations labeled me as a trouble maker. I eventually left and a number of the other similarly situated people in the company eventually sued for wage discrimination. The company lost twice – they had to replace me which was more expensive than the raise I was asking for, they struggle now to hire people in my demographic because word has gotten out about them, and they had to deal with a law suit – which I didn’t join since I figured it would make it challenging for me to get another job in this smaller city. It is very short sighted for the company to do this kind of thing.

          1. JanetM*

            My state is moving to merit-only raises with no COLAs. My union is against this, but we’re not recognized by the state (and legally can’t be recognized by the state as we’re public-sector).

        1. Risha*

          My first year employed, they gave me a six month $2k salary adjustment to bring me to what a salary study I didn’t know was happening told them was the appropriate market rate for our area, and then my raise each year was a couple of percent for base inflation/market rate adjustment before they calculated the “how did I do” part. Then again, this was the wild and woolly days of the pre-crash late 90s, back when I was getting 12-13% a year.

      1. LBK*

        The point isn’t to figure out what a fair salary should be, it’s to estimate what someone’s salary would likely grow to after X number of years based on the average raise, which is around 2-4%.

    2. Nicotene*

      I also think, sadly, that when an employee is promoted they’re rarely offered the market rate of what it would take to hire someone from outside – because your employer knows your former salary and offers the minimum advance over it to make you accept (in my case it was always 5K over what I was making before, with double the responsibilities). Not saying these guys aren’t also sexist, but just that this is a trend I’ve observed. You may have to leave to get what you’re worth.

      1. designbot*

        But isn’t that also because if they’ve *just* been promoted, they should not necessarily be making the average rate for that position? The site I compare numbers with lists the average salary for positions, but also the top 25 and bottom 25%. Someone at the end of their career would be more likely to be in the top 25% due to years of experience and likely consecutive tenure at the same company. Someone who just got promoted on the other hand makes complete sense that they’d be in or near the bottom 25% because they don’t have the management experience yet and likely fewer years total experience. That’s not a knock against them, it’s just where they are in the process.

  12. Jen*

    #2 – I would compare my starting salary as Finance Director to my predecessor’s starting salary as Finance Director rather than his ending salary.

      1. sunny-dee*

        But, also, the previous director had a report and (at some time, presumably) more work since there were two people. The OP won’t be a people manager and will essentially be doing her old job with a new title.

        1. Cobol*

          I’m not sure there was more work. Also the possibility that OP is a lot more effective than her predecessor.
          I like the response. It is important to take into account the annual raises OP’s old boss likely had, but the fact that she’s essentially replacing him and herself to me is a strong rational case for more money.

          1. sunny-dee*

            I could be wrong, but I’m assuming that the OP is making more money along with her promotion, just not as much as the man who’s retiring.

          2. Natalie*

            Or that the business has contracted in some way. I’m currently doing my old boss’s job with a salary somewhere in the middle of our two previous salaries, but the business is winding down so there is just not as much work to begin with.

  13. Gee Gee*

    LW #4 Even within the same investment company, the fees and benefits can vary greatly.

    I use Vanguard for my IRA, and joined a company that uses them for the 401k. I was surprised at how much more the fees were through the 401k, for the very same funds as compared to the IRA fees. The 401k also doesn’t offer the option to jump to Admiral Shares, which are discounted versions of the same fund offered for accounts with at least $10,000 invested. It was really disheartening to see the difference.

    1. fposte*

      That’s pretty likely not Vanguard but an intermediate tacking on extra fees (VOYA is notorious for doing just that with Vanguard funds, for instance); that’s exactly the kind of problem that Mike C., the OP, and I are talking about.

      1. fposte*

        Sorry, I just realized that Voya isn’t an acronym; it’s VALIC that’s the acronym. Rest of it still stands, though.

      2. Ellie*

        Is that something an employee can look up, if the employer is a privately-owned company? I work at a large place (5,000+ employees), but it isn’t publicly traded.

        1. LBK*

          This doesn’t have anything to do with your own company’s stock, these are the mutual funds your company offers within your 401(k) plan. If you’re trying to see what the fees and expenses are on your money in your 401(k) plan, you can request it from HR (although with a plan that large it’s likely available on your company’s benefits website somewhere).

      3. Steve*

        What this basically boils down to is, there are fees for running a 401(k) plan. Many good and/or large employer pay the fee as a benefit for their employees. When a company is unwilling or unable to cover the fees, they assign the 401(k) contract to a company like Voya that will charge the employees the fees instead. Sometimes they will be upfront about it and just charge the fee as a line item. Many times they will hide the fee by “wrapping” a perfectly good Vanguard index fund with a Vanguard Index Fund Fund name and increase the cost. The exact cost varies based on size of employer, what they negotiate, how hard they look, and I guess if they are willing to cover some but not all of the costs. But regardless, in the end this comes down to your employer. Either they cover the fees because they want to provide a benefit to their employees, or they pass the buck to the employees.

        1. OP#4*

          I double checked and right now my company isn’t covering the cost of any of the fees, they’re all passed on to the employee. Maybe a better question to Alison would have been: how do I convince my employer to cover part/all of the cost of administering the 401k plan instead of passing on the fee to their employees?

          I think if that cost was covered my fees would drop around .50%

    2. OP#4*

      You absolutely right. I just double checked and actually a majority of the funds offered are Vanguard funds (including all the target-retirement date funds and all the Index funds).

  14. WellRed*

    For LW 4. My company evalutes that stuff every year. Maybe yours will too. Also, please don’t stress over this. It’s not forever and you are young and on track.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Mine does too & just switched to VOYA. I’m not intimately familiar with this, but I presume they negotiated some kind of discount on fees, because that’s what my parent company does. They buy in bulk & want cheaper rates accordingly.

      1. Georgia*

        My company has had Voya since it was ING, and we have no fees. So part of it is what the company negotiated with them.

    2. TootsNYC*

      And because many companies evaluate their savings plans frequently, that’s a reason to put this on their radar screen now.

  15. moss*

    I’m surprised at Alison’s advice to #1 and agree you should resign to the owner if possible. I doubt they’d put off a layoff date if you experienced a loss. A previous company laid me off right before my wedding. It’s business not personal. And with the boss out for more than one week I don’t think OP has the luxury of waiting.

    Alison’s response was really the opposite of what I expected her to say.

    1. finderskeepers*

      This. OP should be as professional as possible and not let her manager’s personal issues affect her work and professional decisions.

    2. Hmmmmm*

      Well, so, the thing that I haven’t noticed anyone mention is the idea that references, especially years after the fact, are almost entirely dependent on the “taste you left in their mouth.” You know, knee jerk reactions, gut feelings, impressions. It is very unlikely for a former manager from like 3-5 or even like 10 years ago to actually pull up a file on you that details what it was like to work with you and what you accomplished. Even though the OP would just be doing what is normal, what is right for their own life, a manager in an extremely vulnerable place might take it really personally or negatively. Even if the OP has nothing to do with why their life is so hard right now, it is prime transference time. Giving the manager enough time to separate their emotional state from work would probably be in the OPs best interest overall if possible.

    3. Bea*

      This would be entirely based on my reason for leaving and the way a company treated me. If I’m moving on because I’m just ready for a new gig and they were kind employers who I felt personally for, I would go the distance and extend my notice time. If I was done with a company who would pull stunts like layoffs and terminations in the middle of a personal crisis then they can deal with it on their own.

      In regards to references in the future, that may or may not come into play. Sometimes you just don’t need that company ever again, I have my references and a couple places I’ll just pretend that never existed in my career!

  16. Bagpuss*

    I agree. In fact, I would do this even if you can move back you leaving date a little – that way, you can say something like:
    ” I came in on [date[] with the intention of giving [manager] my 2 weeks notice. Unfortunately when I went to his office to give him the notice I learned of the sad death of his wife. In the circumstnaces I am contacting you to give you my notice, as obviously he is not in, and in any event, I would not want to bother him at such difficult time.

    My normal leaving date would be [2 weeks from now] but in the circumstances, if you would like me to remain in post for a further week/2 weeks (whatever you can actually do) in light of Manager’s situation,I am willing to do so. Could you let me know whether you would like me to extend my notice period in this way?”

    That way, you’ve got your notice in so you can plan ahead, but you’re also showing that you are sensitive to the situation and are willing to be a biot felxible if they want.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “That way, you’ve got your notice in so you can plan ahead,”

      And the company has your notice so THEY can plan ahead.

  17. HR is fun*

    I have been the HR representative on 401k committees at two companies, both with less than 300 employees. (I believe size matters in terms of what fee structure is offered, but I could be wrong about that. I believe much larger companies might be able to offer smaller fees because they spread out the expenses among more employees.) In both cases, our overall average fees were/are around 1.0. I believe .65 would be very good.

    Also, if I understand correctly, it is not a the right comparison to compare the super low rate from a publicly-available Vanguard fund (a fund that an individual could buy outside of a company-sponsored 401k plan) to the rate in a company-sponsored plan. Company-sponsored 401k plans are much more expensive to administer than individual funds are – there are all kinds of annual reports, compliance tasks, and “testing” that are required of company-sponsored plans that aren’t required of individual funds. (Some of those reports/compliance/testing are designed to prevent highly-compensated employees from getting an outsized benefit from the plan compared to all of the “regular” employees — so that’s a good thing. Other reports/testing are intended to double-check that the plan is being administered accurately. In other words, the reports/compliance/testing are mostly helpful and necessary, but of course they cost money.)

    And yes, we do evaluate the plan at least once a year – in fact, we do check-ins once a quarter, but we don’t do a full-on, in depth evaluation every quarter.

    You could try to volunteer to be on your company’s 401k committee (this isn’t a guarantee, though – my current company wouldn’t allow non-HR, non-Finance, non-Legal employees be on the committee. My previous company had one person on the committee who wasn’t in HR, Finance, or Legal.) If you can’t be on the committee, at least make a suggestion about the fees (perhaps after you’ve been employed for a little longer. If one of our committees received that kind of suggestion, we would definitely at least look into it. Fee structures for company-sponsored plans are complex, so I’m not sure we’d make a change right away, though.

    1. fposte*

      Actually, big employers can often negotiate a *lower* rate on funds. The issue here is that they’ve chosen an expensive vendor (the insurance companies are almost always going to be more expensive) without giving any additional benefit to the employee. It’s pretty common, especially if you’re buying through a management company rather than directly, and it’s mostly because employers don’t really know this stuff either.

      1. LBK*

        I think HR is fun’s point was more what I was saying above: that comparing a retail fund price to a 401(k) fund price isn’t always an accurate comparison because there’s additional fees within a 401(k) plan that don’t apply to if you just bought the fund as a regular person off the street. There’s plan expenses that go on top of the fund expenses – but those can certainly be high, and the company can also decide how much of those they want to pay and how much they want to push onto the employees (I’d be curious how much of the OP’s issue is the latter).

        1. fposte*

          But if those expenses are 500 basis points, the company’s still chosen the wrong place to handle the plan.

            1. Specialk9*

              My fees are under 10 basis points. The other options’ fees are all around 100 basis points. So I’d take 50 if no Spartan was available, but I’d start talking to folks.

              1. Steve*

                Even large 401(k) plans cost more than 10 basis points to administer, not counting the underlying mutual funds’ costs. Either you’re comparing apples and apples or your talking about an employer who is covering the costs.

        2. OP#4*

          I talk about the fund options and the fees in a little more detail above. It’s certainly possible that I’m comparing apples to oranges or misunderstanding what fees are for what. When I spoke to a Voya representative I asked if my company covers any of the fees and I believe the answer was no. I should double check though.

          I guess really what I want is to be able invest in a 401k on a pre-tax basis directly through Fidelity or Vanguard just like I’ve been doing with my roth IRA but still get my employer match (which might not even be possible).

          1. TootsNYC*

            You wrote about staying there a long time, and having these fees affect you for a while. Remember that once you’re vested, you can probably move some of that company-match money out into a different fund.

            1. Steve*

              You typically can’t move it out of the provider, though, and I’d bet that all of their funds have the fee. My wife once worked for company which offered a money market account in their plan with a negative interest rate, because the fee was higher than the underlying fund’s interest rate.

              1. OP#4*

                Yea I can’t. I checked and the funds are only available for rollover upon retirement, death, disability, or termination of service.

    2. TootsNYC*

      And also, if you bring up the issue of the fees, and whether they are too high, you open the door to finding out what their research showed them–maybe these fees are right in the middle of the available vendors, or something.

      Ask for info, be collegial, etc.

      But I don’t think you need to wait to get info, or even to give them feedback.

  18. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#4, I was in the same spot until recently. Our index funds through Fidelity were all in the 0.6-0.8% expense ratio range. After a merger, we were big enough to qualify for the Spartan funds (expense ratios ~0.1-0.3%). It was simply a factor of size of the company and total assets in the 401(k) pool. Once we crossed that threshold, we had access to the low expense funds.

    Also, I’m not familiar with Voya, but you don’t necessarily need to switch to another plan or company to get access to Vanguard or Spartan funds. They can be added to plans that aren’t with Vanguard and Fidelity respectively if the plan administrator allows it.

    1. Steve*

      The problem isn’t the funds (OP mentioned in a comment that they actually are Vanguard funds), it’s that a) small 401(k)s are expensive to run and b) the employer is passing those costs on to the employee.

  19. DCer*

    #5 I think this is common enough in journalism no one will hold it against you. Perhaps consider putting [now defunct] or something similar in your resume. Shuttered is another good descriptor. I worked at online outlets that have drastically changed courses and keep a clip page on my personal website with those articles.

  20. Katrina*

    OP4 – when you’re ready to make a suggestion, you could see if your employer is willing to look into adding self-directed brokerage accounts to the plan.

      1. NW Mossy*

        Watch out for additional charges for those accounts, though. Depending upon the particular structure Voya uses for them (I’m not familiar, not having ever worked for them), they may require additional administrative time and you can be charged for that. I’ve seen situations where high SDBA fees were purposefully passed to participants to pay because the employer wanted to discourage rank-and-file employees from opening these accounts.

  21. J.B.*

    OP4: Start off with contributing just enough to get the match. It sounds like you’ve got a plan to sock away money elsewhere. Then you could definitely follow above suggestions to sit on committees, advocate etc. If you can’t get the fees lowered I’d stop worrying about it right now. If you are there for 3 or 5 years, be sure to roll the money into an IRA when you leave. That way the next 10-20 years can be low fee.

    I never leave 401k accounts with the former employer. I prefer to move them in one place where I have complete control over investments and assets.

    1. TootsNYC*

      true! You can contribute just enough to get the match, and then put other money in a publicly available fund.

      And I wish I’d consolidated. I tended to leave things where they were, and just recently my rep a fraternal savings organization I’m a member (Thrivent) of pointed out that I was paying too many fees, and of course the fraternal org’s fees were much lower. So we consolidated.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2

    Based on the fact that the predecessor retired, it seems likely that he was of actual retirement age and had been with the company for a long time. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to be paid his salary. Salary depends on a lot: time with the company, time in the position, experience, job duties, etc. If he was there a long time, it’s possible that pay increases were a higher percentage at one time, which put him quite far ahead. It’s also possible that he has more senior responsibilities that OP doesn’t have.

    My boss (a man) has been here for 35 years, and there’s no way I’d expect to be paid his salary. He’s in the mid six figures, while I’m in the high five figures. But he also runs three departments and has worked his way up to executive management from a part time teller (bank). If I were to take his job, sure I’d get a fat pay increase due to the way our salary tiers work, but it wouldn’t be up to his salary. He’s been here a long time and was here at a time when pay increases were regularly close to 10%, and he’s got 35 years of diverse experience at the same company, compared to my 20 years at a few companies.

    I think OP needs to wait a bit and see how the job pans out, what new tasks she takes on, etc. and then she can make a case for a nice raise.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      And often times when an individual is promoted into a high level position, then the divisional presidents take up some of the slack until the individual gets adjusted to the position. In a financial director position, I’d expect that the COO would take over some of the duties working with the board and regulatory bodies, and the CFO will handle major projects for a year or two.
      Even though the OP has been doing most of the work already, I’d bet there are a few major projects they aren’t aware of and they won’t even know about them for another year. Once the OP has gotten used to the pressure, the full brunt of the work will be returned, and then it may be time to talk about salary.

      1. Nicotene*

        On the other hand, I’m not telling OP that sexism couldn’t play a role in it. Consider these factors but don’t doubt your instincts, and if you don’t think you’re fairly paid for your position, definitely look at using this experience to leverage a better offer and move on in a year.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Telling us it’s all in our heads is how we’ve gotten to this state, where women are systematically underpaid. Wage discrimination is also very difficult to prove in court, might not even be worth pursuing legally (as opposed to sexual harassment, which you should take to the mat). Move on.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Sure, gender could play a role in this, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a salary equal to that of someone who likely has a lot more experience and tenure at the company. (I have no idea how long the guy has been there or what his experience is, so I’m just guessing.) I think that’s the first place to look. If the OP and her predecessor are equal in those respects and there’s absolutely no other explanation for the pay inequality, then OP could look at the role gender plays in it. Maybe it IS because she’s a woman, but I don’t think it’s the first thing to look at, though.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Don’t most companies take the opportunity to ratchet back the salary when they replace someone, especially someone with long tenure?

  23. caryatis*


    >If they’re not willing to do it for the whole company, is there any way I can convince them to let just me switch to another company with lower fees?

    The company is probably not willing to create a new 401k plan just for you. Administering these plans is costly, and they’re probably getting a better deal with Voya because Voya plans are offered to everyone. As others have said, see if you can get involved on the 401k committee, if there is one, or at least let people know that you have a special interest.

    To give unsolicited psychological advice, though, how rich we feel is largely in our control. Stop calculating how much you could hypothetically earn with lower expense ratios–that’s just going to make you unhappy. Focus on what you can control: maxing out the 401k, along with an IRA, and living below your means. That will put you way ahead of most people.

    1. fposte*

      I get where you’re going, but it’s a ridiculous problem that companies shouldn’t foist off on their employees. If they’re not going to provide pensions, they should give their employees decent options.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yes, this. I’m so sick and tired of seeing that the massive risk for retirement being foisted onto non-experts and then we get charged more on top of that? There’s a reason companies (yes, large, well-known ones) are getting sued and losing in the courts over this.

    2. Here we go again*

      “….how rich we feel is largely in our control.”

      Sorry, but 10-40 years down the road when you are looking for long term care and trying to figure out how/if you can afford it, saying “I feel rich, so you should provide me with X, Y and Z services” won’t do squat….

      Planning for these things and evaluating options is exactly what people should be doing.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Um, your 401k probably will never cover long term care. If you actually need it, get LTC insurance and don’t touch your savings. Memory care (for example) is $10k per month; you’d burn through the remainder of a lot of retirement accounts in maybe a year and you’d have to sell of all assets and spend the money before Medicare would help at all (and even then you’d probably end up in a less desirable facility).

        1. fposte*

          Long term care insurance is a pretty questionable product right now as well; insurers are getting out of the market premium raises are forcing people to abandon their policies.

        2. mrs__peel*

          “get LTC insurance”

          I’m very much on the fence about that, because it seems highly likely that most of those plans will be bankrupt and out of business by the time I’m likely to need care.

          I work in the Medicare field and have been a long-term care facility ombudsman, and I’ve seen a lot of horrible situations that have made me okay with the idea of just dying at home from a fall, etc. (Sorry to inject a morbid note!)

        3. DMR*

          Many people plan so that their retirement funds can cover long term care. My grandparents (a firefighter and homemaker) were able to save and invest for just that purpose, covering about a decade of increasingly intensive and expensive care, and I believe 401(k)s or tax advantaged savings were not available to them. Not everyone will save that much, but many people will need to use their retirement savings for long term care and people with assets should plan accordingly.

    3. OP#4*

      I guess what I want is less of a 401k plan (because I don’t use investment advisers or plan managers anyways) and really just a way to individually/independently invest in a 401k directly with Fidelity/Vanguard like I already do with my roth IRA but continue to get the employer match. I have a feeling this is not a “thing” and I’m being unrealistic wanting the best of both worlds: the employer match and the low fees from directly investing :)

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Yeah, you can’t. Sorry. The company’s retirement plan has to be administered according to the plan document it has written – which is going to be a long and complicated piece of legal writing – and they can’t just deviate from it. If you want the employer match, you have to participate in the 401(k) as it is run by the company. While companies are allowed to amend their plans and change things up, it has to be done uniformly (i.e., they could change the percentage of match for everyone, or add ability for a in-service withdrawals, or change the plan administrator, That kind of thing). They would not be allowed to, say, amend the document to say “Except for OP 4, who gets all the benefits of the plan without the fees. Everyone else has to do it this other way.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        Keep an eye on when you can touch that money to roll it over into something outside the company. Lots of company matches vest at 5 years; I don’t know whether you’re required to leave it in there until you leave the company or not.

        But maybe you can transfer chunks of it as you go along, if you end up staying there.

        1. LBK*

          Vesting isn’t related to when you can take the money, it’s just the percentage of the match that you get when you do take the money. Generally speaking you can’t take the money out until you quit or turn 59 1/2.

          1. Kyrielle*

            But in some cases you can roll it over to the IRA, termed an in-service rollover. If the plan allows that and if the plan doesn’t penalize it, OP could wait for the match to vest, then roll over the part that was vested, and repeat yearly or so.

            (Apparently some of them restrict contributions for a period of time after you do that, though, so this may not be the best approach even if the plan allows it.)

        2. OP#4*

          I’m actually immediately 100% vested. I had the same thought about rolling over the money periodically out or VOYA and into a traditional IRA with Fidelity/Vanguard but the funds are only available for distribution upon retirement, death, disability, or termination of service. So no luck there!

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      There are legal reasons they would not be able to create a 401(k) plan for one person. It’s not just that it would be expensive to administer – it is that running a tax-qualified retirement plan comes with a lot of rules, and having a retirement plan for most of your people but a different retirement plan for one or two people would likely run afoul of the rules. That would mean – that individual plan would not be tax-qualified. And the plan document for the 401(k) they have now probably does not allow for individualized brokerages/vendors, and you can’t do things that are not in the plan documents.

      1. Specialk9*

        As I’ve said above, my sibling objected to high fees in their small company and ended up on the fund decision committee.

  24. MCMonkeyBean*

    #4 – I agree that as a new person they could lobby hard for a change but it seems reasonable to at least express some concern about it offhand to your manager, like “Hey, I noticed we have a plan with really high fees–is there a reason we chose this over other options?” You might find out that other people who have been there longer have expressed the same concern! Or maybe that there is a good reason for them choosing the plan they have.

    1. OP#4*

      My manager is remote and actually has only been at the company about a year longer than I have, so they might not have any more influence than I do :)

    2. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, a manager really isn’t the person to talk to. You wouldn’t go to your manager to say, “hey, any chance we could add orthodontia to the dental plan?”

      Take this straight to HR, whoever the benefits person is.

      Just be sure that you’re asking first to gather info about how the plan was decided, and whether there was any comparison on rates, and expressing some thoughts, instead of demanding change.

  25. Elsewhere1010*

    For LW#5, it’s very likely that your work is still visible at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Archive has been crawling the internet for almost two decades now, and if you search for just about any website you can imagine you’ll find archived copies of at least the home page and possibly some of the original links. Gawker, for example, was backed up dozens of times a year starting with it’s debut in 2003. One warning, you go to look for one thing and can spend hours looking at early internet. stuff.

    You can google internet archive wayback machine or just go to

  26. kad9k*

    #5 I am in media and a very similar thing happened to me. I put a line on my resume that said “Note: [website] underwent new ownership and editorial direction in [month and year].” If you are applying for jobs in media, I think people are very familiar with those kinds of changes generally and may even be familiar with your old site specifically.

  27. Ginger*

    For OP # 2, I had the exact same experience and it’s definitely not illegal and was not gender based. It was based on experience and years of service with the company. I’m actually in HR so I have access to the salary ranges for each position, not to mention my predecessor’s salary when he retired. He was making considerably more than what I received when I was promoted into his position. I was okay with that because I know how it works at my employer. We do annual merit increases, so over his 30+ years at the company, he received increases ever year which brought him up to the salary he was making when he retired. When I was promoted into his position, I was started just above the minimum for the salary range for the job. It was still a large salary increase for me, and I knew it would increase over time (and it has).

    What did ticked me off was that he had a company car for all the years he was a manager, and they decided not to give me that benefit. They said that they are cutting back on who qualifies for company cars, yet so far the only ones that have been affected by that policy are female employees. I’m definitely keeping an eye on what happens in the future with this supposed new policy.

  28. Eliza Jane*

    OP#2: From your letter, “My old position will not be replaced, and I’m not arguing with that since it’s been clear for several months that one person, me, can handle all the Finance responsibilities of this small nonprofit.”

    Is it possible that when they brought him on board, they assumed the job would be harder and more complex than it was, and so hired a person who was overqualified and thus overpaid for the role? A lot of times, these kinds of positions become real financial drains on small organizations, in particular, as people hang around collecting paychecks that outpace their real value to the company.

  29. Employment Lawyer*

    Can I resign when my boss’s wife passed away today?
    I would be inclined to tell the owner. You should make it clear (if you can) that you can stay longer than two weeks, and you can explain that you will also tell your boss when he returns. But depending on how the boss uses his bereavement time, you may need to leave anyway. Also, it would be courteous to all parties to let them know.

  30. SenatorMeathooks*

    I know I’m going to sound like a butthole here, but as for the first question, your company really needs a back-up process for things like this – if only one person is in charge of a specific thing (and especially if that specific thing impacts multiple people, such as HR tasks) then contingency plans are necessary. This isn’t the OP’s problem, this is the owner’s problem, and needs to make sure an essential business process is continued.

    However, from the standpoint of an actual human being with (real!) people feelings, giving as much him as much time as you can is commendable and kind and I encourage it. But ultimately, if you have to leave the organization, then you have to leave the organization, and you shouldn’t feel bad about doing it earlier than when people think you should.

  31. Holly*

    #5 – Amelia of the Frisky, is that you?

    I miss that website looking awesome. I just checked it out and it went downhill hard..

  32. Tata*

    op#4 I did a quick search on 2 funds & found different expense ratios….higher for vanguard & lower for voya. keep in mind, employer retirement plans use institutional shares which have lower expense ratios in general due to amount of money required for initial investment. I’m wondering since I wasn’t sure which exact funds you’re comparing. Also, the DOL started new rules for retirement plans & IRAs on June 9th due to issues with financial advisors and commissions/higher fees and not being transparent. Does your company offer services or access to speak with a CFP(R)? If not, you may want to consider speaking with one that is fee based, not commissioned. CFP’s have advanced software that will give you a better scenario of your savings and retirement picture and can help you with other financial goals.

    1. OP#4*

      I’m looking at this Vanguard fund: and this Voya fund:

      I believe the 0.65% annual fee I listed originally includes the fund fees AND and 401(k) administration fees. So an apples to apples comparison of JUST the fees attached to the fund would be 0.04% at Vanguard in comparison to 0.09% at Voya (I believe). This is obviously a much smaller difference then I originally thought, although Voya still has essentially double the fee for the exact same fund.

      1. Tata*

        A fee of 0.09% vs. 0.04% is nothing to be concerned about even long term. You’re getting into the weeds. The biggest issue for employees is not saving. Not taking advantage of their employer’s plan or the match and not contributing to their IRAs. It sounds like you’re in your 20s so you’re way ahead of the retirement savings game. Congrats!! You need to also have an emergency fund plus what about planning for nearer future such as home, family, travel, and other types of interests. Retirement isn’t the only thing in our lives. I’m not sure if I’m reaching but I’ve seen a small few focus too much on one aspect (retirement savings) that they loose out on what’s happening today. It’s a balancing act. I work in Trust Services (managed investment accounts, administration of Trust IRAs) which requires me to work closely with CFP (Certified Financial Planners). Working with our clients and CPFs really helps to bring your financial plans together.

  33. NyaNya*

    #4 – My company (large multinational) is just switching to VOYA – HR has actually assured us that our fees are going down due to the change, though I haven’t had a chance to get into the system to check it for myself. You may not have the clout right now to make a difference being so new and all, but if you can internally accept the current situation for the time being, I think it is reasonable to raise it as a concern to your manager and HR at some point in the hopes of giving them information for the next time they have to make a decision on this issue

  34. Noah*

    Based on the one example article title OP #5 gave (“This kid tried to quit band… teacher had other plans”) it appears that the website is using actual titles of article because that is the actual title of a USA Today article. I would caution OP #5, if he’s telling potential employers about what changes were made, that he make sure he is accurate in that description. The example he gave along with the claim that it was written by a contractor who has questionable English skills would be disqualifying from my perspective because I wouldn’t trust his representations about the changes made to the website. I don’t mean to say he’s being dishonest — I assume he is not. But if I were hiring I would be more likely to assume the worst vis-a-vis honesty.

  35. Former Employee*

    OP#4: If you are still reading, whatever else you do, be sure to invest enough to get 100% of the match from your employer. It’s free money – you will never make more on your money that what you get from the match. Of course, you can max out your 401(k) and get the tax advantage and then contribute to a Roth IRA.

  36. YaYaYa*

    #5 apologies if I’m too late & repetitious, but can you gather some links from when the site looked good via ? I’ve used that in my portfolio when my past work has been overridden by recent updates, and it’s been very useful

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