<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: career
 

Viewing the 'career' Category

Cashed Out PTO

January 13th, 2014 at 08:38 am

I have an extremely rare opportunity with the company that I work for. They actually allow employees to cash out their PTO. You only need to meet the following criteria to do so:
- Must have 60 hours PTO remaining after cash out.
- Must have taken a least 40 hours PTO in past 365 days.
- Max cash out of 120 hours.

So I cashed out 110 hours and will have 60 remaining. This will help out tremendously with some of our newly-accrued debt from buying our home.

We should be picking up keys for the home today. Smile

Owning Up...

December 27th, 2013 at 11:06 am

I have not posted since I was last promoted at work. We have been super busy with new endeavors! My wife and I launched a coffee review web site, and it took off like we couldn't have imagined. This was borne out of our strong desire and drive to be doing anything and everything in the coffee industry and community. It is our goal to open a roaster and shop.

As such, I have begun roasting coffee at home in a small popcorn popper. You'd be surprised by how awesome these little things can be!

With these new endeavors, however, have come new expenses! We have actually been somewhat irresponsible, and have even lost track at a couple of points. It is partially due to the fact that we have changed up our methods, and partially due to not restraining as much as we should. Some of the new methods have proven to not work with us. So we are currently using a combination of old things that worked before, and new ones. Namely, using a spreadsheet to lay-out our budget, while using YNAB to track spending.

Also new... We are buying our first home! We should be closing no later than this Thursday! How exciting! With utilities, fuel for commuting, and our mortgage payment and insurance, our living expenses will still be lower than renting this apartment.

You should be able to notice some changes to the sidebar. Here are some explanations...

Student Loan: Almost paid-off. Will continue making payments, as it is the lowest % rate.
Visa: Used for home inspection.
Amazon Store Card: Used to purchase yoga gear. Will have to make payments on this.
BillMeLater: Used to purchase espresso machine and refrigerator, washer and dryer for the new home. Will pay down as much as possible with tax returns (~$3,900), and make payments thereafter. (OUCH!) BML's interest rate is 29.99%. That is painful!

All this said, I don't have too many regrets. We could have gone slightly cheaper on the espresso machine (~$200). The appliances for the house, however, were the cheapest new machines you could find. Home Depot had an awesome Cyber Monday sale going on that ended up making the appliances we wanted (great ratings, 5 year warranties, etc.) more than $400 cheaper than rebuilt ones from Sears Outlet. We actually saved $950 off retail prices on them.

It will be tight for a bit, but it's nothing we can't handle. Certainly don't want to do it again, however. Especially since we need to look into getting a second vehicle.

All-in-all, it has been a crazy awesome year! I am looking at receiving a fair chunk of a raise this February. The maximum is 3%. However, only three other people at work (of the 15) are due to get raises, so they are talking about giving me 6%. They have to get it approved, of course, but I have faith in their abilities to go to bat for me.

Until next time, all!

Movin' On Up

June 28th, 2013 at 09:54 am

This has been coming for a long time, but last week I finally got official word that it was happening. I am getting promoted at work, and will be getting a raise of $1.89/hr. Not bad, I suppose.

Most of that raise, however, will be eaten up by groceries, as we will be getting off of food assistance! Woohoo! How liberating! We sure are excited about that, even if it does eat up most of our new income. After that, the raise only comes out to about $34 more per month.

So we looked at our budget. We have budgeted $40/mo for kid-related expenses. Seeing as how our little two year old is already potty-trained, a lot of this is no longer required. So we cut it down to $25/mo. We shall see how that goes. Hopefully we can contribute a decent amount to savings each month.

Also, I started using YNAB (You Need a Budget) recently. I was previously using just the iOS app PocketMoney. YNAB seems to be a bit more realistic and easy to work with. Instead of highlighting your total available funds, it highlights your budgeted amounts. Out of sight, out of mind.

So, here we go! Another new chapter in our lives.

Anniv. Trip, Work life, etc.

May 9th, 2013 at 10:29 pm

My wife and I celebrated three years of marriage this past week. We spend one night and two days in a city that, just at the mention of it, our hearts flutter. It is smaller, friendlier, greener, foodier, etc. It has it all for us.

While on vacation there - without our kiddo in tow for the first time in over two years - it didn't feel like a vacation. It felt better. More real. Like just a weekend in the city. As if we lived there. We have had plans to move there, and to open our future business(es) there. Now, we are even more convinced.

When we returned, I found out that I would again be missing out on a promotion, because someone higher on our team hasn't gotten the position he had applied for (if he had, myself and another would have moved up). Oh well. I've spent over a year in this entry-level position, receiving near-minimal wages (pretty rock-bottom for this field), and unable to afford health, retirement or disability insurance. In fact, this year I will be making some $30/mo less on my base salary. With the FICA tax going back up, rent going up by 3% (I live in the company-owned building and receive a small discount), state minimum wage having gone up by $0.11 (thereby lowering the value of my dollar), and adding in my 3% raise, I'm coming out $30 behind. I suppose you shouldn't count the FICA tax, as that was a temporary thing anyway, but it counts in this instance.

I suppose this is pretty typical around the states. This article full of charts puts it into context very well.

However, I should try to do better for myself and my family, yes?

What if I moved to another, much larger company? They seem to have decent reviews on glassdoor.com (especially compared to others), and they have properties all up and down this coast. More room for possibilities? My company does not have any properties in the city or state that we desire to move to.

I don't know. I like the people I work with (most of them). It sure is a difficult decision! Maybe I shall apply for that company, and just see what happens?

Rent On the Rise - Where to Trim the Fat?

April 9th, 2013 at 09:48 am

Our rent is due to go up by $20 in June. I received a $.36 raise this year ($57/mo) and as a result, our food assistance dropped by $50/mo. Makes sense. But now rent is on the rise as well. The $20 won't break us, as I will still come out $80/mo ahead (before including ~$80/mo commission), but it is still a set-back.

Our expenses are almost as bare-minimum as it gets. Prepaid phones (actually, my phone is on a family plan with my parents, but only costs $2/mo more than prepaid), slowest Internet, no cable, only $40/mo in fuel (no commuting), etc. We even slashed our electric bill by about $15/mo by line-drying our clothes inside rather than using the dryer. We only contribute $80/mo of our own cash to groceries ($230/mo for two adults and one child after assistance).

The only unnecessary expense is $30/mo in coffee.

Water/Sewer/Garbage is through the roof at $80-110/mo. No idea how to avoid that, being on a rented boiler system, an having to pay for other residents leaving crap everywhere.

So, that brings me to car insurance. We recently paid off our car, and still carry full coverage at $140/mo. This is the cheapest. We have looked around. If we drop all but the necessary coverages, it goes down to about $65/mo. Our car cost $5,500 at the time. In order for a downgrade to pay for itself to fund another vehicle, it would take six years to save $5,500.

What to do...

Junk Pile Finds

February 21st, 2013 at 11:39 pm

There are some perks to my job. One of those being the stuff that people throw into the 'junk pile' that we have set up for furniture and donation items.

The following is a list of all of the items that I have found and brought home, with their retail values:

Vintage custom Mid-Century Sleeper Sofa by Seattle Mattress Co. (~$2,000 retail)
Canon D60 camera body (traded for espresso machine) (~$700 retail, ~$200 current market)
Outdoor table & chairs
iPod Nano ($200 retail)
Insignia iPod player ($150 retail)
Charbroil gas grille, large (~$300 retail)
Car Roof Rack (sold for $120)($200 retail)
Trunk-mount bicycle rack ($100 retail)
KitchenAid blender ($8 fix)($150 retail)
Bissell SpotBot ($200 retail)
ShopVac
Dyson DC-14 animal ($500 retail)
Bissell ProHeat 2 carpet machine ($250 retail)
Litter box, large
IKEA rug ($150 retail)

At least $4,400 worth in items that we have actually needed. Smile

A depressing realization.

February 7th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Today, I turned 25. I also realized today that I only earned $25,000 last year. (Actually, I realized this on February 2nd, when we filed our returns.) That means that I only earned $1,000 annually for each annum I have been alive.

Then, however, I realized some other things...
- I only worked 11 months of the year.
- The year before, we only made $11,000 total between the both of us.
- We went from over $12,000 in debt to less than $4,200 in less than a year. This will go down to $1,900 after paying off our auto loan this month when we receive our tax returns.
- My credit score has gone up 104 points in a year!

My coworkers are in-awe of our living situation and our finances. They don't understand how I can make so little, support a wife and child, and have money to save. Not only that, but we can afford little amenities here and there. If you looked around at our house, or even how we dress and hold ourselves, you probably would not guess that we "make so little money." Maybe this is because we never pay full price for things, or just because we save money. Or, even, because we don't make large purchases often (only large ones have all been paid with parts of tax returns). Maybe because we don't complain or say, "Oh, sorry, we can't. We don't have money." Rather, when asked, we talk about how happy we are, what we enjoy, and not complaining all the time about weather or politics or why we deserve this or don't deserve that. When asked to go out to a movie or something that we have not budgeted for, we simply reply, "No, sorry, maybe next time? Just give me more of a heads-up first."

At the same time, people also seem to think we put up some sort of facade. As if we make more than we do. For the same exact reasons that others are in-awe. "Look at your clothes!" or "Look at your computer!" or "Didn't you just get a new coffee maker? So what's a $12 movie?!" It does sometimes get annoying, but we just have to smile and understand that they operate on a different spectrum than we do.

We are definitely looking forward to the rest of this year! Things are looking great! The future is bright! We have lots of plans. Smile Can't wait to share them, as I am sure there will be plenty of questions to go along with them.

Gardens, Move-out costs & Nice surprises

November 17th, 2012 at 07:10 pm

This week has been somewhat eventful.

We are almost entirely settled into our new apartment. Just a few more things to get squared away. We went in to talk to my manager (the property manager), and she surprised us with another $25 off for the unit. So a total of $50/mo we will be saving on this apartment.

However, today, we just received our move-out costs from the other property. $372. $110 more than we expected. Quite unfortunate. So, it will take eight months for this new apartment to make up for the move, but we still feel it was worth it. Especially considering that we will be able to grow a garden!

We got ten five-gallon paint buckets from work, and we are going to be cleaning them out. They will serve as planters. We will, however, have to build some sort of enclosure for them, as they could be considered an eye-sore to other residents. We still need to do our research into just what it takes to grow a garden, and come up with the upfront costs. Any pointers would be great!

We went to IKEA yesterday to get some Christmas items. For the wee one, we got a little baking set. They were out of the cookware set, but they should have it on Monday. We also got her an easel that doubles as a chalkboard, as well as a storage box.

For ourselves, we got four folding chairs, new 16-piece dish set, coffee mugs, and the tables we wanted was out, but should be back in-stock just after Thanksgiving.

So glad my overtime did not get taken away before I was able to save all of the money for Christmas. This will be our first Christmas with our own tree and what-not. A pretty big deal for me, considering my family did not celebrate any holidays, birthdays, etc.

Earlier this week, I learned that one of our team members may be getting promoted, and that our supervisor wants the rest of us to move up if it does happen. This would be great! Also, I just performed my annual self-review, and soon will have my supervisor perform the review as well. Depending on how well that goes, he will submit the reviews to the Regional Manager, and request that I be offered a raise. And, in 2013, the minimum wage is going up. My supervisor says that we should get an equivalent raise for that as well.

So, while we have had a few set-backs this month, I think we have done a great job at keeping our wits! It will definitely take some time to recover our savings to what it was, but we can do it!

Thanks to all for reading.

House Hunting - Maybe

October 8th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Hello all. Long time no chat. Things have been pretty busy around here lately.

Recently, we have been thinking about purchasing a home in slightly nearby Tacoma. Doing so would certainly mean a lot of things. A lot of goods, some bads, and some so-so's.

The Goods
• Yard
• Own home
• Garden
• Lower housing costs
• Bedroom for our daughter
• Plenty more!
• At least $100/mo cheaper.

Bads
• 30-35 mile commute one-way. This equates to over 20,000 miles per year if I work as much as I currently do. Also equates to more wear on our vehicle. We don't put but maybe 250 miles per month on our vehicle now with living on-site at work.
• 1 to 1 1/2 hour commute. Time is money. Or so it is said. The commute time sure would be a downer. Also would not be able to have lunch at home like I currently do.
• Would leave wife & daughter at home without a vehicle.

So-so's
• We are responsible for all housing costs, including repairs/maintenance.

My number one concern is the increased maintenance/repair costs. More wear on the car. Home to care for. Even if I take that $100/mo and divide it, that's only $50/mo more to put aside for either category (Home Maintenance and Auto Maintenance). To me, that does not seem like enough. However, our car is low mileage (46,000) and I drive like a granny and maintain it, and the home we would get would be inspected to ensure that it is not a money pit.

We are meeting with an agent this weekend to help us look, get to know the market, and get to know better what we can do with our income.

I want to know what you all thought about it.

EDIT:
As per so many wise peoples' comments, a house is not the best idea. Now, what about our current rent? $945 for rent, $85-110 for WSG, and $45-50 for electric. Our WSG, we can't really do much about, as it is shared between the rest of the 440-unit property. We could, however, consider moving to the property next door (that I actually work at). It is cheaper by up to $145 (currently with the specials), and the WSG may be cheaper, as there are more residents there to divide the cost between.

Problem with that is that we would then have to pay for carpet replacement (around $300 at this point). That could be added-on to our monthly rent. Maybe worth doing, since after only three months we would be saving money?

I should get with our bookkeeper who is in charge of what residents get charged when they vacate a unit.

Opinions on this?

It is worth noting that I work in apartment maintenance. We would be able to do a lot of the work on a home ourselves, plus the cost of supplies.

Our WSG bill is highway robbery!

June 24th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

This is one of the reasons our living expenses (rent, wsg, electric) equals 60% of our income (inexcusable!).

Here is the rundown of the bill:
Bill Date: 6/12/2012
Due Date: 7/1/2012
Service From: 3/1/2012
Service Thru: 4/1/2012 (yes, you read right - billing is TWO months behind)

W/S ADMIN FEE ............ 2.30
TRASH ADMIN FEE ........ 0.25
HOT WATER ENERGY ... 29.77
TRASH SERVICE ............. 6.86
COLD WATER SERVICE .. 10.33 .. 2130 prev. read, 4470 cur. read, 2340 used
HOT WATER SERVICE ..... 6.91 ... 1580 prev. read, 3590 cur. read, 2010 used
COLD SEWER SERVICE ... 24.94 .. 2130 prev. read, 4470 cur. read, 2340 used
HOT SEWER SERVICE ..... 20.54 .. 1580 prev. read, 2340 cur. read, 2010 used

Amount Due: $101.90

There are quite a few red flags here, to me.

1. Hot Water Energy? I am told that this is the rental fee for the boilers that every tenant shares. The boilers are on the roof. No in-unit water heaters.

2. Why are Cold Water and Cold Sewer the same?

3. Why are Hot Water and Hot Sewer the same?

4. What the hell is "Hot Sewer"?


Needless to say, we are not pleased in the least bit with these living facilities. And I work here... We would love to move out, but we have absolutely no wiggle room (I have to work overtime just to pay the bills), the wife has been looking for kid-friendly work for months, and - because we have no wiggle room - we do not have deposits to move out.

Ugh. Endless circle of fail.

When is it worth it to move to save money?

June 10th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Our total living costs (rent, W/S/G, electric) come out to 59% of our monthly income. This is simply unacceptable. However, it was what we could do in a pinch when we had to move 600 miles for this new job. Hey! It was nice. As an employee, I didn't have to pay any deposits, and we get a 20% discount, plus any specials currently going on.

But now that I am somewhat settled in my new job, I would like to look into other options.

Living in an apartment is not ideal. Especially with our little dog - she is so bad! She hates other dogs (unless they're in our house), and barks when we are gone (even with the muzzle on), and barks at everything and everyone if we take her with on a cool day and leave her in the car. So, having a yard sure would be nice. However, we simply cannot find any nearby - even outside our price range; it's like they don't exist! Not what I am used to.

We spotted one rental that was the entire upstairs of a nice craftsman home that would have saved us about $150/mo. Move-in fees came to $785 (cheapest I have seen yet). However, that would take us about 5.5 months to save all that money back up. Plus U-Haul, which would only be $20 (in-city move) + fuel.

Another option is moving into another property that is owned by this company. Same deals apply. And, since I work just across the street (actually, driveway) at another property, we could move there. Rent is cheaper, but also the amenities are slightly less. The cabinetry and floors are uglier, the kitchen faucet does not have the pull-out sprayer, but everything else is the same.

Anyways, I sort of wanted to start a discussion, so I am posting a corresponding post in the forums. [ur=http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/personal-finance/66640-when-worth-move-save-money.html]Go see it here[/url]! Otherwise, go ahead and leave your comments about our personal situation here. Smile

Updates on CC's, EF, Groceries, etc.

May 25th, 2012 at 02:20 pm

I mentioned a few posts back that we would be focusing on our credit card debts. Well... That idea just took a blow when I remembered our car desperately needs tires. As in, we won't be able to drive this winter without them. As in, we were on an incline in Seattle last weekend and it was not even raining, and the tires slipped when I accelerated from a stop light going uphill. So, this is most definitely a priority!

The good news is that I have been putting in plenty of over time, and we already have $79 saved for it (State Farm reimbursed us for lockout assistance). It should only take one-half to two months to save for the tires. Smile

Speaking of lockout... None of you know this, but in the past year, we have - on average - been locked out of our car once per month. Last summer, the average was about three times per month, but the windows were down, so we did not have to get lockout assistance. And now that we are with State Farm, we have to first pay for the lockout, and then get reimbursement. Not cool! Allstate covered it, so long as you used an approved locksmith or towing company. Ah well...

But no more to fear! I ordered two keyless entry remotes from eBay for our car, totaling $16, and was able to program them myself, avoiding the $60 it would have cost. What a difference these make! See, before we got our current vehicle, I was used to vehicles with keyless entry. This one did not come with such a remote. It's about time we got them. Should save us the hassle! Smile

The Emergency Fund is stagnant at $900.

Credit Cards are slowly getting paid off, but since that is currently not our main focus, it will be much slower for the current time being. After getting the tires, I will continue putting in more time at work in order to get rid of these debts!

Really sucks that we were entirely credit card debt free (only debt was the car, with only a balance [then] of $3,500), and now we are not. Oh well. At least our situation is still better! Smile

Our grocery budget took a huge hit. If you remember our situation before moving to our new location, I was unemployed and the wife was working part time. Because of our low income, we were receiving around $520/mo in food assistance. Since we now gross about $2,200/mo, that has dropped to $171/mo. We contribute $80/mo from my income, so the grocery budget is now $251, or about $62/week.

We have done great with this, I think! The wife is baking much more (breads, rolls, etc.), we are buying in bulk (lentils, pasta, flour, etc.) from WinCo, and she is really enjoying it! And you can bet that I am too! Wink

So, don't mind me while I toot our own horns, but I am super proud of us. Smile

Our housing expenses are dramatically and unrealistically outrageous! Rent is $945. Power typically runs under $50. But we just got our bill for W/S/G (yes, they bill 1.5 months behind!), and it was $80! Oh my! That takes our housing expenses to $1,075/mo, or around 58% of my net income! Unacceptable! We are looking at other housing opportunities. However, with the area that we live in now, living outside of a controlled-access community does not sit well with me. It is not entirely a safe neighbourhood outside of here, and we have even had our fair share of auto theft, and the like. So, choose your evil, right?

I had the opportunity to get that promotion some of you have been hearing about. The $2 raise and all. My supervisor had it all lined up... One guy is leaving for California. So my supervisor was going to move two of us up the line. But, instead, his boss decides she wants to bring in someone from the outside and screw it all up for us. There is much more back story to this, but I would rather avoid the tell-all. Either way, she ticked off quite a few people with this executive decision, especially considering that is not how these companies are supposed to be run.

Anyways... We are holding on, and our quality of life is still pretty great. Got my wife and kiddo, a roof over our heads that, stable employment, and food on the table. Asking for anything more is just greedy. Smile

Just received benefits package...

May 3rd, 2012 at 01:11 pm

...And am pretty upset. It is the 3rd, and they are only giving me until the 14th to submit my packet, whether or not I decide to enroll.

Problem is, I have absolutely no idea what any of the terms mean. HMO, PPO, per admission, per visit, etc. And I don't see any costs anywhere. And then I have to look at Life, Dental, Vision... I have no idea where to start and they expect me to send this in with less than two weeks of preparation.

I was planning on getting at least health once my wife knew she was getting a position as a nanny, but I doubt we will know that soon...

Screw me!

Thinking of the Future... (Input?)

April 30th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Have recently been thinking, again, going to college. I am 24 years old, wife and baby, and need to figure out what I'm doing with the rest of our lives.

In the career I am in now, I could end up getting promoted to Supervisor within five or so years. With that comes a free two bedroom apartment (with most employers). This would be fine and dandy, but we do not enjoy living in an apartment as much as we would renting or owning a home with a yard where we could plant a garden, have chickens, etc.

So, school may have to be the route I go. But I don't want to do just anything. I was thinking of nursing before, but that is not what would make me the happiest, I don't think. Being outside, with nature, animals, would do it, I think. So I have been looking into Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, etc. But as a working man, it will most definitely be hard. However, living in this new area, we have many more opportunities. There are online community colleges that offer two-year Associates that transfer to four-year colleges for a Bachelors. The online, I could do. But for the two years after that, I am not sure. We have cut costs everywhere we can, and things just keep getting harder. Trying to sell our car now, and it is proving most difficult. Also, our food assistance went down from $520/mo to $171/mo. Understandably so, but still - we cannot afford it! If we sold the car, yes, we could. Trying!

BTW, my wife is looking into doing some nannying. Smile

Here is the spreadsheet for my projections of what we will need to make.

EF up, CC's next!

April 11th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Made some larger-than-normal deposits today, by way of refunds from the former insurance company.

We now have $1,119.91 in savings! Woohoo!

So we have $1,000 in EF, and $119 in the Auto fund (for repairs, maintenance, registration, etc.). We will keep that fund on hold and pay-down the credit cards with any further extra we may get. Smile

Also, in not-so-happy news, I did not get to do that job last Saturday. Unfortunately, people were concerned about it being a Conflict of Interest, due to the fact that our customer was a person at corporate. Ah well...

Car, Work, Credit

March 28th, 2012 at 06:25 pm

• Car

The most popular blog post currently is the one I made about asking for opinions on giving up the vehicle.

While we absolutely want to do this, it is looking as though we will not be able to. I only made it up half the monster hill. If we sold the car, and did not shop at the grocery store at the top of said hill, we would be doing all of our grocery shopping at Target. Umm... No, thank you.

Edit: However, keeping the car also means not getting health insurance for the wife and I. (Never mind vision or dental, which were both need.) It really saddens me that we have to choose between two fundamentally necessary things...


• Auto Insurance

Turns out that we got a better rate with State Farm. So, we are switching... Again. In order to avoid the sales pitches from Geico's money-hungry agents, I simply told them we sold the car because we no longer felt the desire to support the murdering of the earth. It worked pretty well...


• Promotion

There is a chance that I may be getting a promotion in a few weeks. This would mean a $2/hr raise, as well as learning more valuable skills. Smile

It is not, however, set in stone. Keep your fingers crossed for us!


• Credit score

My credit score has dropped DRAMATICALLY since charging all those expenses for moving. 26 points, or something like that. How unfortunate. Frown Still, our payments outweigh our spending, but I hate having a balance on these cards. >.

Updates on Auto Ins, Living, etc.

March 16th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi all. Thank you for following. Smile

We got both Auto and Renters insurance switched to Geico. Only saving about $11/mo, but the Renters insurance is much more inclusive (though they do outsource it with another agency). Comes with Fraud/Identity Theft protection. Smile

Today, we are going to Lowe's to pic up some picture hangers (bought a canvas painting at IKEA with a gift card!), screws for our accent lighting in our bedroom, tarps for our bicycles that are stored on our patio, for sale signs for the car, and a tool or two for various things. Gotta start collecting tools if I want to move up from my current position at work. Wink Also need them for working on the bicycles.

Also, today, we may be going to look at an '80's Schwinn Le Tour bicycle for $45. It is of higher build quality than my '72 Schwinn Varsity, so it will serve as a parts bike for mine. If we are going to be riding our bicycles instead of driving a vehicle, then we might as well upgrade them a little bit where it is needed.

And also, we might be getting a new stereo installed in our car today or tomorrow. Our old one went bad, so we bought a factory stereo for $50. Installation will be $25. I would do it myself, but I have not successfully done it before, and do not want to screw up any electrical in the car, because we are prepping it for sale.

Yesterday, at work, I found a great looking couch sitting out at the "junk pile" where tenants put what they consider to be junk. More accurately, it is where I put stuff that tenants leave in hallways and trash rooms instead of doing what they are supposed to because they are too lazy and feel entitled... Haha.

This couch looks like a mid-century sofa. It has a nice floral print and has a hide-a-bed, and is on rollers. It's pretty awesome. We love mid-century styles, and our current sofa is scratched up and bulky and way too contemporary for us. You can actually find the same set at RC Wiley. Not our flavour at all!

I stored this sofa in one of our maintenance rooms that only three of us have access to, so that no one would jack it. Ha! The sofa has no scratches or anything on it. Only thing is that the arm rests are somewhat hard, so our little one may bang her face on it a time or two. Haha. Well, that is going to happen no matter what. Smile

We're excited about the sofa. Just need to figure out how to get our current one down five stories to put in the junk pile. It does not fit in the elevator, and there is a divider in most of the stairwells blocking entry from Parking Level 1 to Parking Level 2 (where the junk pile is). I'll have to figure out which one does not have that divider, and hopefully enlist my wife's uncle to help.

Oh! Almost forgot. A few weeks ago, someone threw away a somewhat older DSLR camera. It was set nicely in its nearly indestructible case, with two battery packs, two memory cards, and cleaning tools. There is no lens in there, but we have done some research, and they still make lenses for it. This particular camera (just the body is in there) is the Canon EOS D60. It was made in 2002, so it is missing some more modern features. However, it is still a very functional camera. With 169 different Canon EF-series lenses ranging from $150 to $2,000, there are plenty of choices. Smile We found one for $170 that would do us quite well. This camera retailed for $2,200 back in 2002. The body by itself still sells on eBay and Amazon for $200. Smile So, we are going to keep it. It turns on and takes pictures fine - just need a lens and battery charger.

Woohoo for working in Apartment Maintenance! Smile

On a more downward note, we still have running balances on our credit cards. Currently paying only a little above the minimum payments, but that will all change soon enough.

We have been thinking about what we would do with the money left from paying off the car after selling it. We should have around $3,000 - enough to pay off Sallie Mae and our credit cards. However, that would leave us with no money to purchase a vehicle if we find that we can indeed not go without a vehicle. So, maybe we will wait a month or two to pay them off. Or we may pay off the cards or Sallie Mae, and keep paying the other. What do you think?

By the way, the current estimation of how much we will be saving per month after selling the car and having dropped the smartphone plans, is over $400! Smile We will be allocating $50 of that to groceries (EBT benefits are decreasing) and $30 to clothing at first (need rain gear and bicycle clothing such as rain jackets), bringing the net savings to $326 per month! Also, we will be getting Washington State Basic Health plans for my wife and I, at $60 each, bringing the new net savings to $206 per month.

It should be a little more than that, because all of our budgets are rounded up and income is rounded down (by about $100/mo), and we have not factored-in our current difference between income:expenses. Just factoring in what we will be saving from dropping the car and phones.

Sounds pretty great, right?! Smile

Hiccup!

March 13th, 2012 at 07:02 pm

When I first started working this new job, I set up our Idaho credit union account to receive direct deposit. However, since then, we have gotten a BECU account.

Well, the first direct deposit (second paycheck) went to the Idaho credit union. Not a problem. Until I transferred it to the BECU account... One, I forgot to leave money in the Idaho account for our auto loan payment (through the Idaho credit union, so the payment is instant when paying from that account's checking). Second, we switched to Geico for our auto insurance and - without thinking - I gave them our BECU account info. Once that transaction went through, it sent our BECU account into the negative. ACK!

Thankfully, however, we have a little bit in savings to cover it, and BECU does not charge overdraft fees immediately. I'm not even sure what their overdraft charge is, because I paid no mind to it, as I have not overdrafted since I was 18. Whoops!

Well, glad that is taken care of. However... I need to figure out why this transfer is working on four business days to get here... It is currently in limbo - has been for two days - so hopefully it comes tomorrow.

Auto Insurance Hike

March 1st, 2012 at 07:42 am

Due to our recent move, our auto insurance with Allstate has gone by more than $60 per month! Our Renters policy, however, has gone down by $2/mo.

I have been emailing our new Allstate agent about trying to get the cost down, but to no avail. The agent's 'risk management professional' suggests that since I have two speeding violations and an accident, there is no lower rate. However, I have zero at-fault accidents. So what ever happened to Allstate's Accident Forgiveness deal?

I am starting to think it is not worth it anymore. Now that we have moved, our car should be even more insurance-friendly. It has 44,000 miles on it, and is six years old. It does have a restructured title, but they said it is not any more to insure - they just won't pay as much if it is totaled by me. Also, we are driving even less. Been here almost a month and have yet to even fill up on gas. We are averaging 20 miles per week. That is less than 1,000 miles per year. And, again, we now live in a controlled access area.

But, since we now live in a "more urban" place, it goes way up. Well, maybe I just won't insure the car anymore. It is breaking us. Our leftover after monthly expenses is now $54. Not sure how long we can last on that...

Post-Move Finances

February 10th, 2012 at 01:49 pm

Hi everyone! I know some of you have been looking forward to hearing from me since we moved.

The move went well! I won't go into super details, but we are doing great! Almost everything unpacked, and we are on our fifth night here. I've worked three days at my new job. Basically, it's a dirty job. Dealing with dumpsters of trash and recycling, picking up garbage, etc. But, it's easy, it's good pay, and I may not be doing it for long...

The guy that I replaced is such a screw-up that I may be replacing him again! He was moved to the next position up, because they needed more people to work on getting apartments ready for move-in. When he was working my job, he left the dumpsters overflowing, didn't get certain things done, etc. What he's doing now basically includes painting and blending. Say you've got a hole in the wall from a picture nail. You fill it, let it dry, then fill it some more if it needs it. Then paint over it once it is flush with the rest of the wall.

Apparently he has not been doing well. Cracks in the paint, holes, not using tape to cut-in on different paints, etc. So, I heard thru the grapevine that our supervisor will be asking me next week to help do turns (what I just explained about making apartments move-in ready) with him. That basically means he is going to train me for the position that is above my current one. Hopefully that means that I will be able to receive a pay raise here soon.

Everyone I work with is very pleased with my work. They say they don't worry about something getting done with me at the helm. They say I picked it up faster than anyone else they've trained. Etc., etc. Makes me feel good!

As for the finances... Oh, boy! I'm not happy with the situation we got ourselves into, but we should be okay. Basically, we are in the same boat now that we were a year ago (a year ago, exactly, actually).

Here's the somewhat break-down:
Total Moving Expenses: $5,603
Chase Card Balance: $828
Target REDcard Balance: $260
Remaining Savings: $25
Remaining Fed Tax Returns: $292

Here is how we are going to handle this. Whenever I make a chard to one of the credit cards, I record the same charge in the checking account, so as to be sure that I have the money to pay the credit card. I know a lot of you do this. I wish there was a term for it... Anyways...

There is currently an actual balance of $1,769 in our Checking account, if you do not subtract the credit card balances from it. Here is why I mention this; If we were to pay our credit cards off, we would not be able to pay rent in full this next month. Why? I am going three weeks without getting paid here at my new job. You know, the whole pay period thing.

What we will do is pay the rent, and just pay down the credit card debt. This is what we had to do last year, unfortunately. This debt is less than before, but still important. However, this one should get paid off much quicker, due to our larger margin of debt:income.

So, not too bad, eh?

Keep an eye on the sidebar - Will be updating it more often, now that there will be more changes month-to-month. Smile

Moving - Update

January 26th, 2012 at 06:42 pm

Went and tried out one of the U-Hauls today. We will have to get a 14', because of the third seat. Would be nice if we could just get the 10', as we do not have any big items at all. Our heaviest item is our dining small dining table. Next to that is the iMac haha.

Found out today that we will not have to pay the deposits like normal tenants do. This will save us over $300.

However, our dog just went into heat. Ack! And she is scheduled to get her goods taken out on the 6th. We will have to pay an extra $25, bringing her spay to $125.

I have budgeted $250 for gas. However, gasbuddy.com's trip calculator seems to think otherwise. It is estimating only $100 to get there and fill up. Always better to over-budget! Smile

We found out today just which unit we will be getting. Somewhat, at least. Rent will be $952/mo for a 1 bedroom unit. Better than the $900 for the studio that we originally thought we were getting. Also, since these are "green" apartments, the average cost for utilities (just power) is $35/mo.

Here are the floor plans of the 1 bedroom units:






All come with a bar or island w/ bar, washer/dryer in unit, patio, patio storage closet, walk-in closet, coat closet, granite counter tops, cherry wood cabinets, black appliances, ceiling fans, and our choice of an accent wall.

The studio we would have gotten would have had the options of choosing our colour of counter tops and cabinets, would have had stainless steel appliances, and wood floors instead of linoleum. But whatever. Smile

I, personally, like the second floor plan shown above. I like that the kitchen and dining area are separated from the rest of the unit, somewhat. We would most likely use the dining area to put our little one's crib and stuff in. Would be a good little nook for her, until we upgrade in a couple years (or so) to a larger apartment.

Total estimated moving costs: $1,720
Total estimated bills/mo: $1,560
Minimum estimated income/mo: $1,600

Now, this is definitely cutting it close! However, we will soon be getting rid of our texting plan ($30/mo), will not be driving as much (budgeted $40/mo for fuel), and will be getting at least 40 hours per week.

How I came to the estimated income was taking my hourly wage x 160 and subtracting 15% for taxes. Now, I highly doubt 15% will be taken out for taxes, because the most I've had taken was 5% when I made almost $23,000/yr. Not sure how exactly that equates, but okay!

Anyways... We should be fine. If not, we will make sure we will be. We found a plasma donation center up there, so that would help us get at least $40/wk. Also, my wife wants to - sometime down the road when we can justify the $100 startup cost - become a consultant for Scentsy. If you've never had a Scentsy... They are awesome. Smile

Alright, I think this post has rambled on enough. Wish us luck! Smile

Moving - Job Offer!

January 25th, 2012 at 04:52 pm

Hi all!

I am happy to report that I was offered a job in WA. This is great news! We will bring in more than we are now, and will be able to rent our own place. I will be performing apartment maintenance.

In order to complete this move, however, we will have to deplete our savings account (which is currently at $1,650) to zero. Ack! I have made a budget, and it looks as though we may even be forced to use the credit card.

While this is not at ALL what I want to do, I feel that it would be stupid of us NOT to. I will be making money right off the bat, will have full benefits within three months, and will be making even more as the years go on, as I will have plenty of room and opportunity for growth and promotion.

I will be working with my wife's uncle and his friend. Her uncle has been in the industry for over 10 years, while his friend - former assistant - started where I am, and became a supervisor within three years, and is now making $22/hr and gets free rent.

The planning is going well. We need to get our dog fixed before moving, and she decided that today was a good day to go into heat. Ack! Her appointment is on the 6th, so she will still be in heat then. We may have to pay the extra $25 to have it done while she is still in heat.

Anyways, wish us luck! You should be hearing more from me, as we will have much more going on. Smile

Career Opportunity - Your Input?

January 14th, 2012 at 07:44 pm

I thought that some of you may want to hear about an opportunity I have coming up. 

The other day, we went to Starbucks for our weekly treat. While we were there, a woman not much older than ourselves took notice of us - mainly our beautiful little girl. (No matter where we go, she is always catching peoples' eyes!) We got to talking with this woman, and it turns out we have a bit in common, and she seems like a soul that could teach us a lot as well. She carries a small journal and writes in it throughout the day, rather than hunching over an iPhone, like so many of us (*cough*me*cough*). 

Near the end of our discussion, she grabbed my number and said she would pass it along to her husband, as his "company is always expanding and looking for sharp individuals." 

He called the next day and we arranged to meet at the same Starbucks this evening. A couple hours ago, we had that meeting.

This man came across professional and strong, comfortable in himself and his life. I had some doubts about him, however. I wondered if he was for real. He said things like "ambitious" and "self-motivated" to describe the type of people he looks for. He said he likes to work with people that are busy, that have more than one thing going on in their lives. He said those were the type of people that get things done. 

He asked some things about me. He asked a little about my work history, but mainly about me, as a person. My ambitions. Goals. Aspirations. Where did I see myself in one to five years, if I did find that career I was looking for. I told him, "I'll tell you - I can't describe my future, without describing my family. We take joy in the outdoors, the world, the people in it. My wife and I have a dream about owning a VW bus for camping and road trips. We want to homeschool our little girl." And then I mentioned that Idaho ranked 47th in quality of education... "We want to be able to bicycle more." More on that in a moment. Smile "We want to eventually make our home in Portland." Then he asked why we felt Portland was a good match for us. I told him, "What's not to love about Portland? Really. It's beautiful. It's bicycle friendly. There is loads a family can do there, and affordably! There's history. Portland is the most eco-friendly city in America. It's.... For us, it's that place. You round the turnpike to get onto the interstate that runs through the city and... You see the city itself for the first time... And you get goosebumps. Nowhere else is it like that for us." All he said was, "Oh wow." He actually didn't know exactly what to say to that. He seemed impressed. 

So what exactly does this guy do? He explained, a little bit. "We work with entrepreneurs... And we set them up with retailers... Most of our income is residual." 

Near the end of our meeting, he asked if making $50,000 a year, 10-15 hours a week was something my family could live with. I tried not to act impressed, as I am still skeptical. I told him, "That would definitely be a good figure if it worked that way." I had to come up with this response on the fly, and I think it was a pretty neutral one. 

We set up to meet again on Tuesday at 7:40p. We will meet at Starbucks, then go to his house. Hmm. He told me to bring my family so we could talk more in detail and decide whether or not it is a good decision for us to make. 


It sure sounds like a wonderful opportunity, does it not? What do you all think? 

I thought this sounded like something someone would rather hire a college graduate for...?

--

We got a bicycle trailer for the little one! Finally! It's a Burley D'Lite two-kid stroller. Or, if you're us, one kid and a Miniature Schnauzer! Smile It also converts to a jogging stroller, which is what we have been looking for. If you look this one up, it retails anywhere from $500-700. How much did we get it for? $100. Smile 

We sold my massage table for $180, put $80 into our birthday trip fund, and $100 for the stroller. We think we got a great deal. Smile 

Interview Coming Up w/ Farmers

January 9th, 2012 at 02:03 am

I received a voice mail this evening from Farmers Insurance Group wanting to interview me for a position I applied at there. They're the only employer that has called me back, so I guess I'd be stupid not to go! Ha!

Question is... If I did get the job, would I really want it? Answer to that is, "Doesn't matter - you need it!" I have heard that insurance sales persons can either make super great salary, or super poor salary. I've read (on glassdoor.com) that you have to dedicate all of your time to be successful.

Anyone know someone in the biz or anything?

Still waiting to hear from my wife's uncle about the job in Seattle. He does not know yet.

Some New Possibilities (Employment)

December 14th, 2011 at 08:43 am

So, a lot of you know that I have been having trouble making time for studying to pass the Math COMPASS for college. Doesn't make sense, does it? A personal finance blogger not being great at math... Ha!

We have some recent semi-developments that may help to answer a few of our questions. My wife's uncle lives in Seattle and works as an Apartment Maintenance Supervisor. He makes a little over $20/hr and his rent is free. And he says that all supervisors' rent is free, no matter the company, as far as he has seen. He says to start from the bottom, you make around $12-13/hr, 40+ hrs/wk, and get about a 30% discount on rent. That may work for our situation. We may even be able to get off of food stamps (or may get forced off them). Anyways, he said he should know by as late as January if he has any openings that he could put me in.

It would take a few hundred dollars to move out there, but it would be worth it if it meant getting out of our current situation and still being able to keep up with our bills. As a recap, our expenses (including toiletries and what-not) now are 100% of our income, since taking the huge cut in income.

Also, my wife remembered that one of her father's cousins works in Corporate for Albertson's. That same cousin offered my wife's mother a job just a few months back. If she could get in there, it would be more than she is making now. She did learn, however, that her current employer is keeping her on after the holidays (that was a given) and that her work week would be at least 28 hrs/wk in the same area of the store (those were not a given). So, it would be a hard decision for her to make.

It is nice knowing that we may have some options, though. Working as a "maintenance man" is not exactly what I had in mind for my future, but there comes a point when you have to realize your possibilities vs your dreams. While I am still studying vigorously for the Math COMPASS, I am not ruling out other possibilities. If I were to become a supervisor in three years (like he and someone he'd trained did), we would have free rent and be making $38,000/yr. Factor in the $2,200/mo rent that his apartment goes for, and that's easily $64,000. That's pretty good, if you ask me. It would take a lot of hard work and dedication, however, especially for me. I have only worked three physical labour jobs (drywall taper assistant, plumbing apprentice, carpet cleaner), and only at one of those jobs did I actually learn something... Scratch that. Only at one of those jobs was I actually taught something.

I just want to be able to contribute to retirement, a college fund for the wee one, be able to afford one nice new-used car at a time, and help my wife attain her dream of owning a coffee shop. All doable if I were to stick with the apartment maintenance profession, considering I were to get it in the first place.

So, keep your fingers crossed for us. Prayers. Good vibes. Whatever ya got! Smile

The Reason - Responses?

December 1st, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Recently, my wife has been looking into going to school. If you remember, she is now the one working, while I am a stay-at-home-father and practicing my poor Algebra skills to retake the Math COMPASS for entry into college. She has been looking at the Paul Mitchell school - something she has always considered doing. She would receive 2,000 hours in Cosmetology training. We have thought about this. The school's job placement rate for new grads is 86%. Pretty good. Average salary is about $24,000/yr. "That would help us get out of our living-with-family situation," we think. Then we realize that we would also lose Food Stamps, which is over $400/mo. So, to make up for that, pay our current bills, plus pay her tuition, and put $700 towards rent and utilities, we would have to net $2,000/mo. On one income...

We are still donating plasma, but it is not the $440/mo that we have hoped it would be. While that is the max potential (two people, two 'donations' per week), we have found that it is not always possible for us to do so. So, it has turned out to be around $100/mo. 

Also, I have taken it upon myself to try to find odd jobs to do. This has come to me in the way of oDesk.com. It is a freelancing/contracting web site that appears to have some threads of truth to it. I have been working on my rιsumι in order to make myself more desirable, so I have yet to apply to any contracts yet (limited number of applications per week). So I do not know how that will pan out. 

Anyways... While the job placement percentage is decent, it is an $18,000 tuition in a field where the demand comes strictly from desire rather than from need. The clients are there because they want to be. Because they are able to afford it (or at least have some credit left on their cards). I am still paying off my $18,000 tuition from when I went to school for Massage Therapy. I am a great Massage Therapist. Great technique. Great form. Wonderful pressure. Superb personal skills. And that sixth sense that a lot of MT's don't have, but wish they did... And yet, I have never been employed in the field. 

What are we to do? We live off of $600/mo. We live in an oppressive and downright dangerous environment where the downstairs wreaks of cat feces and occasionally marijuana, where the other residents do not take into account the welfare of the infant in their house, etc., etc. We have been married over a year and a half, and have been together for longer, and have not once lived in a place of our own! 

This. This is the point of all that we strive to do, financially. Money is the only thing that can change our lives at this point.

What are we to do? Suggestions for my wife? For me? 

Thank you for reading.

Want to Get Back @ Big Banks?

October 30th, 2011 at 09:17 pm

Obviously, the absolute best way to get back at banks is to never owe them money, or even to never bank with them. However, we live in a digital age, so the latter may not be possible for a lot of us. I know that it is not for me. There is still yet more to do!

If you are still receiving credit card offers via snail-mail, there is a beautiful - and I do mean b-e-autiful - way to be a nuisance to them.

Have a gander and let me know what you think! I will be doing this from now on.

(Apparently, you cannot embed YouTube videos. So, here ya go...)

http://youtu.be/ZgkSiyIUz_w

Math is Kicking My Butt!

October 30th, 2011 at 05:38 pm

So I took the COMPASS a couple months back, and only scored high enough in Math to get into Math 25. Math 25 is not a college course, so this course has to be paid for out-of-pocket. I have yet to find out how much it is, or if personal student loans would cover it, as I have been approved for a good amount of personal student loans via the FAFSA. The course is not worth any credits, obviously, so I need to call someone at Admissions tomorrow and figure this out. Why?

I have been working on practicing Algebra, and I am just not having a good time with it. Apparently, my state's Algebra is not as inclusive as the rest of the country's. That, or I just do not remember doing any of this. Ha!

You see, I never made it past week two of Geometry. I dropped out of high school, got a full time job, and was living the high life. Right... I went to a trade school a few months later, and ended up with a degree I could not use, ten months later.

It is time to fulfill my family's and my dreams. Both financially and otherwise!

P.S. I thought it was noteworthy to add that I got a perfect score on the English COMPASS. Smile

A Nice Surprise

October 29th, 2011 at 02:52 pm

Last night, I had a dream that my wife said, "You know what? We still haven't found those two $10,000 checks that we lost!" Ugh! Ya, right! Haha!

Today, however, I moved $45 to our Savings. The $45 was a result of our rounding*. I applied the $45 to our Auto fund. That is the fund used to purchase - you guessed it! - auto parts, repairs, maintenance, etc. We now have $201 in that fund. We also have $312 on its way from PayPal to our checking account that will be applied to Auto as well. This will result in enough money for us to get new tires for the car! Smile

Why am I so excited for tires for the car? Well, a) because we just took a drastic cut in income. We are now living on about $600 less per month than before! And b) because I am going to be LRR*1 tires that will help improve not only our already awesome fuel economy of 40 mpg (which is over 128% better than EPA est. MPG*2), but also will last us 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Smile

So, we are doing pretty well! We have restructured our budget, paid-off a personal loan, and I am working on getting enrolled in college.

Also, since we got the Chase Freedom card, we have been doing pretty with it. It's nice having a credit card, using it for everything, and never having a running balance. Smile

*1 - LRR - Low Rolling Resistance. LRR tires are proven to increase fuel economy and are built to last longer. They use a harder composite than traditional tires. They are found on all hybrids, and only recently are being manufactured in more common tire sizes for the use by non-hybrid vehicles.
*2 - EPA est. MPG for our vehicle is 23 city / 30 hwy / 27 combined. Currently getting 40 mpg with 90% city driving. Learn how you can do this, too, by visiting http://www.CleanMPG.com/ and help reduce this nation's dependency on foreign oil. Be a
patriot.

Let's Get Up-To-Date Here

October 27th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

It's been a while since I made an update. So here it is. Smile

Paid-off our personal loan for $520. So, that's a $100/mo payment that is gone. Thank goodness!

If you remember, our computer took a dump, so we had to use BillMeLater in order to get an iMac. Sold all the parts from the home-built PC for a total of $312.70. Didn't make that much of a profit, however, as shipping came out to be $212. So, only a $100 profit. Well, crap! That's the last time I have the UPS Store package it. Next time, we'll just go out and get some cardboard boxes and pack em with whatever.

Anyways...

Tires are a planned purchase coming up. Should be under $450 for purchase, shipping, and installation. However, I will be calling around to see if the local shops have the tires I want in stock, to see if I can save anything doing it that way.

Have been steadily donating plasma. Have missed a couple days though, so I've only made $80 from it so far. But, hey!, that's $80 I wouldn't have had otherwise! The misses is doing it as well.

Wifey is doing pretty well with her job. She hates being away from home, and I hate that she's been put in that position, but if we look at the positive - at least now we get to swap rolls somewhat. Right? Sure.

As some of you know, I've been planning to begin my delayed college career this Spring of 2012. However, I was just recently able to get ahold of someone who had some answers for me. I scored so low on my Math COMPASS test that I did not qualify for college courses. So - as they told me when I finished the test - I either have to take Math 25 or retake the COMPASS. What I was not told at the time was that Math 25 does not qualify as a college course and, thus, is not eligible for financial aid. I am not sure how much that course costs, but it is not in my interest to pay for it! However, I may get it on loans. Not sure... I will retake next week and if I do not pass, I will get it on loans (if it can be done that way). Either way, deadline for enrollment is November 15th. Right around the corner. Wish I'd known sooner!


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>