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Feeling guilty about expenses

 
#1 Feeling guilty about expenses
27/06/2009 21:19

Enid

I work for a strat house (think MBB) and the toughest part of my job is dealing with traveling and the huge expenses that I get as a result of it. I can handle long hours, frequent flights and constant updating of powerpoint slides but I feel terribly guilty every month when I need to fill in my expense sheet. I come from a poor country and I was brought up to be frugal and respectful of people who don't spend more money than they need. Now I usually work on projects in my home country where an average family earns less in a month than I spend in a week on hotels, restaurants and taxis, and I feel really bad about it. My friends and family don't seem to get it, they think this lifestyle is a dream come true so I have nobody to talk to about this issue.

Does anybody have the same concerns? Do you give money to charities to silence your conscience? Am I really the only one who has this problem?

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#2 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
27/06/2009 21:29

T to Enid (#1)

You could live more cheaply whilst on assignment, but to be honest showing any awareness of true cost/benefit and value for money is a CLM (career limiting move) at MBB-type firms. You either need to suck it up and join the contest for the most outrageous expenses, or find a new job.

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#3 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
28/06/2009 23:51

dutchconsultant to T (#2)

T is talking rubbish, being careful with your spendings will never be a CLM. On the other hand it will probably be a waste of time. Who will benefit of going for cheaper meals, cheaper hotels, less taxi drives ? For sure it won't be you or the families you mentioned.

And giving money to charity to silence my conscience ? Besides it being a bit shallow it doesn't seem to make sense to give money from your personal salary to make up for the guilt of high expense claims ? At least be creative and make sure the money from your expense claim (partially) goes to someone or organisation that needs the money 'to do good'.

And as you might have guessed; i don't have this problem at all. 'Doing good' has nothing to do with your salary and even less with your expense claims.

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#4 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
29/06/2009 09:51

Steve Milner to dutchconsultant (#3)

We find these opposing forces in all fields. e.g. you skim an engine block to increase compression & power ...but you have reduced capacity. You add a turbo to force in more explosive mixture ...but compressed, hot air can hold less fuel vapour than cold air, etc.

When I entered consultancy I was informed that management is all about successfully managing the contradictions. So the further you have travelled, the more clever you obviously are ...even if it's to advise on 'waste of transportation'. It never made sense, for me, that (as an employed consultant) I was advising clients - ultimately - on how to save money, yet was was being charged out at ridiculous day rates, which in turn funded extravagence on behalf of my employers.

Let your concience be your guide, rather than fear of exposure, like UK MPs.

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#5 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
29/06/2009 10:08

anon to Enid (#1)

It can be hard to reconcile yourself with the imbalance of wealth if you've seen the poorer side of life.

I do think, if it's important to you to feel you're doing what you can personally to help the imbalance, you can live frugally on expenses. Someone also said to me once that it's worth remembering that your expenses and the money you spend supports the economy and helps protects the jobs of those taxi drivers and all the people behind the wings who work in the hotels you stay in who aren't very well paid. YOur money doesn't go to fat cats but to help ordinary people as well. Maybe thinking of things from that perspective will help you feel less 'guilty'.

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#6 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
29/06/2009 10:12

Village Idiot to Enid (#1)

I try to manage my client's money as I would my own. While I don't have a problem staying in decent hotels and eating decent meals, I have seen others really flog an expense account and I find it off-putting.

In terms of justifying the level of expenditure, I console myself by thinking of the money I am putting back into the economy. Every time you stay in a hotel, eat in a restaurant, or take a taxi, you are helping keep someone in a job.

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#7 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
29/06/2009 14:07

MW to Village Idiot (#6)

Agree with VI re expenses - I personally only incur expenses that I would feel comfortable explaining to my client.

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#8 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
30/06/2009 17:57

Enid to Village Idiot (#6)

Thanks guys, you made me look at this from a different perspective: I somehow never realized that I'm actually providing jobs and income to all those waiters, taxi drivers and so on (stupid me!). I will try to think in this way the next time I feel down about it. Thanks!

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#9 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
01/07/2009 16:52

MP basher to MW (#7)

MW says "I personally only incur expenses that I would feel comfortable explaining to my client". This is spot on and the way to ensure you always get a decent night's sleep. If only our MPs had the same common sense they wouldn't be in the mess they are in now!

In the context of the original question, I would say be generous in the tips you leave to hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and the like and that's a good way of trickling down some of your good fortune onto those more needy than you.

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#10 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 09:50

dutchconsultant to MP basher (#9)

Giving a tip is indeed a way to 'do good'. But it can be degrading for some people to receive a tip that equals their daily or even weekly income when it is given by a youngster with an "it's nothing, you can have it" attitude. It's not just the amount/money but also the dignity/behavior that makes it a nice gesture.

(learned that in romania/bulgaria).

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#11 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 10:08

Peter J to MP basher (#9)

"In the context of the original question, I would say be generous in the tips you leave to hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and the like and that's a good way of trickling down some of your good fortune onto those more needy than you."

Christ on a bike. How patronising! I'm just certain that the "hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and the like" are simply distraught that they never had the chance to be big time, high flying consultants like you. Maybe they console themselves with the realisation that they actually do something tangible.

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#12 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 10:38

Casio to Peter J (#11)

As much as I enjoy consultant bashing I think the notion that waiters or taxi drivers are doing more 'tangible' good for the world is a bit of a stretch. Teachers, even tradesmen, maybe... but we need to draw the line at some point! At least we aren't estate agents!

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#13 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 10:48

estate agent to Casio (#12)

What is wrong with estate agents?

They are one of the few jobs that get paid based on clearly measureable results. And the market is competitive so prices represent the value customers are willing to pay.

On the other hand consulting often delivers presentations rather than results so quite hard to measure. The competition is quite distorted by relationships. And the customers are often semi-monopolies and not spending their own cash.

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#14 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 11:14

estate agent to Casio (#12)

What is wrong with estate agents?

They are one of the few jobs that get paid based on clearly measureable results. And the market is competitive so prices represent the value customers are willing to pay.

On the other hand consulting often delivers presentations rather than results so quite hard to measure. The competition is quite distorted by relationships. And the customers are often semi-monopolies and not spending their own cash.

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#15 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
02/07/2009 13:39

Parrot to estate agent (#14)

Estate Agent - why do you say anything twice?

Estate Agent - why do you say anything twice?

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#16 RE: Feeling guilty about expenses
05/07/2009 12:21

Ozzie to Enid (#1)

I practice this- treating the money of clients like my own, asking whether I'd spend the money if it's mine and truely base on my judgement. AFterall, we are all trained to execute judgements in one way or another.

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