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One Step at a Time to Financial FitnessMbkonef's Financial Follies
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Found a full time job

November 27th, 2008 at 05:07 am

I had started looking for a full time job a few weeks ago and found one last week. I will start on Dec. 8. I am currently working part time so I had to give my boss my 2 weeks notice on Monday. I felt bad, I think I really took him by surprise but I explained that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with my financial situation and my need for full time pay with benefits. He would have given me full time hours if I wanted but definitely not benefits. The position just does not merit it as far as he is concerned. His wife is going to take over my job duties (ie. everything around the office). I asked him if she knew that. I think I feel worse for her as he envisions her just taking over for me. She is used to not having to work, to going to the gym, going shopping with friends, going out to lunch with friends. I don't think she sees herself taking on 20+ hours a week at his office. I asked him what would happen in the summer when the kids were off of school and he didn't seem too sure. All I can say is, I am not getting in the middle of that discussion.

My new job will be for a company that sells on the internet. I will be doing all sorts of things around the office, financial and otherwise so I will be gaining skills. They said they are always busy and have tons to do so I will definitely be busy. Actually, I am looking forward to that. My current position has busy and slow times and the slow times get really boring. I am not looking forward to full time hours but I am looking forward to new experiences and learning new skills. On the plus side, it will also force me to get better about asking my DH and kids for help around the house. That will be good for all of us. Now we just have to find a good job for my DH. Wish me luck!

DH Returns to Planet Earth

November 4th, 2008 at 02:31 pm

My DH seems to have returned to planet earth, at least for the moment. But I am still not convinced that it is him home planet. I think he just visits from time to time. We sat down last night with someone from the business he is looking into. As we both suspected, they told us with our current situation (cash poor and me with a small income) the only way we could really get it started would be to use home equity or our retirement savings. I nixed both of those ideas and fortunately DH agrees with me so no fighting over that one. I can see how much he really wants to be in business for himself and not be constantly kicked around by someone else but it just won't work for us right now. We discussed it and I am going to try to find a full time job or at least a higher paying part time job with benefits. That would take a huge bite out of our expenses, enough that 6 months from now it would be feasible to consider starting the business. But it would also mean him being much more frugal, not adding anything to his credit card and helping out around the house. So, we have a plan of sorts, at least for while he is back on planet earth. My frustration is that he has done this in the past, agreed to things but then a month or two go by and he gets bored, frustrated, tired etc. and the plan goes out the window. I am not trying to knock him, we all do that, my self included. Its just that if he really wants this to work, he has to stick with a financial plan and stop holding himself back. Wish me luck in keeping him grounded here on planet earth.

Totally changing topics here, I was very pleased with my son's frugal Halloween costume. He went out as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. The Luke from the original movie, before he was a Jedi etc. He already had a toy light saber, just needed new batteries to make it light up. I found a website with home made Star Wars costumes and took my cues from them. He wore his old white karate top as a shirt. Khaki pants from school as the bottoms. We wrapped his legs with old pieces of extra quilt batting to mimic the leg wraps Luke wore. We found a black nylon web belt that he already had and made a clip for the light saber out of a binder clip, a peg board hook, a rubber band and black electrical tape. Don't ask me to describe it but it was inspired if I do say so myself. The funny part was, that was what made him love the whole costume - the fact that he could clip the light saber to his belt. He was thrilled and I was thrilled that it was FREE!!! I love it when I get inspired like that and it all works out. It reminds me even more of a motto I love "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without." How often would one of those four really work for us, rather than just buying something new to fill a need we think we have? Very often, at least in my opinion.

Wondering What Planet DH Lives On? (Warning - RANT)

October 30th, 2008 at 04:23 pm

Apparently it is one where things cost nothing and there are no expenses! I wish I could join him in his fantasy land but I am firmly rooted in reality land. We were going over some financial info for a business he is hoping to start. It would involve some financing of the initial start-up costs and they want to see your expenses, current income etc. I was providing numbers for all of the budget categories for him and he kept questioning every number I gave him, saying, no way, we cannot be paying that much for that. I have always been the one to handle the finances and pay the bills but it has never been hidden from him. All the bills are put in a basket, then filed when paid. My checkbook is always in my purse. He could look at any of it any time he wanted to. But, he doesn't really want to cause then he might have to move a bit closer to reality land. What really got my blood boiling was when he started arueing with my estimate of miscellaneous monthly expenses. I said we spend at least $600 on miscellaneous stuff. $300 of that is savings and college funds. Another $170 is karate fees for our two youngest. So really, only $130 for additional things like hair cuts, gifts, school trips, home office supplies, dry cleaning, etc. etc. etc. He started getting really upset and said I was way overestimating, just to prevent him from being able to start this business. He said was trying to inflate the numbers. Personally I was way underestimating but I could not convince him of this. I started naming miscellaneous expenses from just the past month (school pictures, 2 kids hair cuts, wedding gift, birthday party gift, 2 field trips, college application fees, SAT fees etc. etc. etc.) He kept saying "but we don't pay those every month" completely missing my point that DIFFERENT miscellaneous stuff comes up every month. I finally got him to stop arguing by tallying the monthly expenses like this for August, Sept. and Oct. They ranged between $800 - $1000. He went off to sulk quietly, mumbling about the need to cut expenses. Argh!!! This from the man who leaves the lights and TV on all night if I go to bed before him, runs the water while he brushes his teeth, takes 45 minute showers - I could go on! He claims he wants to cut back but since he is the primary offender, I have little faith that he will do more than talk about it. I love him and he does have many good qualities but a sense of reality about finances certainly isn't one of them.

Waving Bye - to DH's Job

October 23rd, 2008 at 06:10 pm

My DH took a new job in February of this year after his employer decided to close down the entire business in December of 2007. I had high hopes when he started the job as they made all sorts of promises about accounts already in existance, support he would get etc. By the time he had been there 2- 3 months it was clear that all was not and would not be as promised but he stuck it out, looking for something else. We knew his days were numbered as his boss had told him he was putting him on probation for not meeting sales quotas (after taking away 1/2 of his accounts, making it pretty near impossible to meet the quotas) but I was hoping he would find something else before he actually got laid off. Nope! He has had some interviews and has another one scheduled but nothing definite yet! Darn! I was really hoping not to have to pay COBRA or incur any more debt. On the plus side, they are paying him through next week and paying him for unused vacation days so that will help a bit. Everyone keep your fingers crossed so that he finds something soon. I am also looking (have been) for an additional part time job to help things out so as frustrating as this is, I am not devastated by any means. Just more annoyed. It feels like every time we get one step ahead, someone comes up from behind and pushes us two steps back. They say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger so I am going to be one really strong woman at the rate that I am going!

Haunted House

October 20th, 2008 at 01:29 pm

Friday was the annual Haunted House at my youngest 2 kids school. The teachers decorate the second floor like a haunted house and do non-scary activities on the first floor for the younger kids. I took my two youngest and a friend and spent only $15.00. I felt it was a bargain as that included admission for all of us ($6.00), many attempts to dunk their teacher in the dunk tank ($7.00) and two hot dogs, 2 drinks and a cup cake ($2.00). All of the money raised goes to a local charity so I really did not mind The kids had a blast trying to dunk their teacher. It was cold (the high 50's) so I felt sorry for the teachers but at least they were smart and had borrowed wet suits from somewhere. I told my daughter's teacher to come in on Monday and pretend he was mad and was going to give a test to all who tried to dunk him. I hope he does it - I would love to see the looks on their faces.

I feel like a spent a lot on gas this weekned as I had to fill up twice. Once of Friday before I went to my mom's and a second time on Saturday evening. The trip to my Mom's is at least 90 miles round trip so between that, driving to school, field hockey on Saturday, a party on Saturday, my son's friend home etc. I used up a tank of gas. Hopefully I will not need to fill up during the week this week but I may if I need to go back to my Mom's this week. She is gradually doing better but I don't want her going down her basement. The steps are steep and slippery so I went on Friday to do her laundry for her as her washer and dryer are in the basement. At least when I did fill up with gas, I paid $2.83 yeah!

DH is still looking for a new job. He had a second interview last week with one company, got offered a job with another but it did not have much potential so he turned it down, and is looking at a third. I am just tired of the uncertainty, the helping him send out resumes etc. I also sent in my resume to a posting on Craig's list. It sounds like a great fit for me so hears hoping they contact me. It might mean me leaving my current position but ideally I could patch together 2 part time jobs.

Pumpkins, Pumkins everywhere...

October 16th, 2008 at 04:37 pm

I volunteered to help my youngest daughter (9) carve pumpkins with her class. I like pumpkin carving and I like children. I must say, I do not like being the only parent to volunteer. Out of 27 students. We had a total of 160 children (3rd and 4th grades) each carving a pumpkin. We carved from 12:00 - 3:00. It would not have been so bad but we were short on adult volunteers and on pumpkin carving tools. We had plenty of spoons, scoops etc. but not nearly enough of those little saw like carving tools that make it easy for the kids to carve. So, we ended up having the adults do much of the actual decorative carving. The kids scooped out the guts, drew the faces and mostly had them carved by the adults. I felt bad cause many of them really wanted to do it themselves but we simply did not have enough time or tools. Anyway, everybody got done and they will look great. On Friday evening the school is hosting a pumpkin parade/haunted house/family fun night. They have done this the past 2 years and donate any extra money raised to a local charity. The teachers decorate the second floor of the school as a haunted house, have fun, non-scary activites on the first floor and sell baked goods etc. I must say they do a fantastic job on the haunted house considering that at 3:00 it is classrooms and by 6:30 it is haunted. It is a fun time for the kids and they love recognizing their teachers dressed up as witches, vampires etc. The first floor remains totally non-scary for any younger kids so they also have plenty to do. Tonight I am frosting cupcakes to look like pumpkins for the bake sale. The original recipe was for pumpkin cupcakes by my DD(9) and DS (11) both vetoed that so we are doing vanilla with the orange frosting and a piece of pretzel stuck on top for a stem. They were on the front of Family Circle magazine and seem perfect for this. I have not been too into Halloween this year just cause I have been so busy with so many things but this is getting me in the mood. I will probably get the kids to help me decorate the house this weekend and maybe even make a few new decorations for the front windows.

On the heat contest, we definitely have not even needed to turn the heat on this week. It has been in the 70's this week so it is very warm in the house. My son begged me to turn on the air conditioner last night - he claimed he was too hot to sleep. I told him to put on his ceiling fan and open the window. If we aren't using the heat, we certainly do not need the air conditioner. I loved our last energy bill $148.00. It may seem high to some but this is a low as it can go up to $300 or more during the heat of summer or the dead of winter. Three cheers for keeping the heat and air off!

$2.99 a gallon (and other bits and pieces)

October 13th, 2008 at 05:05 pm

I was so excited yesterday to be able to buy regular unleaded gas for $2.99 a gallon yesterday. I think that is the first time in a very long time that I have paid under $3.00 a gallon. My local gas station is still around $3.15 but I was coming home from my mothers house and could not resist the price. (I was going to fill up when I got home anyway so I figured cheaper was even better).

It was an absolutely beautiful weekend weatherwise in my area. I spent Friday in the Baltimore Area with my daughter looking at Towson University. My husband has cousins in Baltimore so we spent the afternoon with them and had a delicious dinner "little Italy" in downtown Baltimore. You could not have asked for a nicer day for a campus tour.

Saturday I got a call from my mother who lives an hour away. She could not really walk and was in pain so I drove down and took her to the hospital. They think she agrivated her sciatic nerve by being in the car for over 3.5 hours on Friday (she took my sister to the airport and there was tons of traffic and delays). She was given pain pills, steriods to reduce inflammation and sent home. Since my sister who lives close and my brother who also lives close were both out of town for the weekend, I ended up spending most of the weekend with her, just to make sure she was resting and had what she needed. She is so stubborn that she had walked her dog the previous evening (before calling me) after dark so her neighbors would not see her hobbling around and worry. They say doctor's make the worst patients and she is living proof (she is a retired pediatrician).

Anyway, my brother and sister are now back in town and she is slowly on the mend. I will have to make a note to keep checking in on her even more often. I will also have to have a talk with my sister about not getting my mom to do things like driver her to the airport. I know my mom will say she wants to, but this just proves she should be taking it easier. My sister is 38, not 8 and can easily drive herself or arrange for a van/limo etc. I will tell her I am not mad at her now, this was unexpected, but if it happens again, I will blame both she and my mom since we now know she should not be driving/sitting still for that length of time. My mom kept saying getting old stinks. True, but it is better than the alternative.

More Month Than Money

October 7th, 2008 at 03:34 pm

It feels way too early in the month to be saying that, but that is what my life feels like most months during the first half of the month. DH and I both get paid on the 15th and the 30th. I get around the same amount each time (depending upon the # of hours I have worked) but DH's gets an extra $1000 in the check on the 15th. This is his "commission" (long story - not true commission but closest to that). This goes to pay extra bills, car payment etc. due between the 15th and the 30th but there is always a bit extra left over so I feel like I have more money the second half of the month. Since the paycheck on the 30th is smaller, I always have less money to work with during the first half of the month. Usually it is not a big deal but I feel like we have been bleeding money lately and I have been trying really hard not to touch our savings. DD17's fender bender set us back $475 (and her also) and we are not done with that yet - still have to deal with repairs to the car she hit (probably around $600 total - $300 us and $300 her). My youngest DD9 is playing the flute in school and I had to get a flute repadded and fixed up to the tune (yes, a pun on purpose) of $135.00. DD17 is also applying to colleges and just took the SAT's so there were some fees associated with that. Fortunately she was able to get several applications fee free but the PA state schools don't wave the fees except for extreme cases of financial need.

I cannot wait til DH finds a different job that pays a bit more. We are doing okay but I would really like to be able to go back to doing a bit more than just okay. I guess I should be grateful but after 2 years of him being un/under employed, it is getting really tiresome. Fortunately he has interviewed with 3 different companies in the past week and at least 2 sound fairly interested and fairly promising. I can survive like we have been doing for a while longer but I want to know that he is in a job with long term potential for growth/increased earnings. Where he is right now just doesn't really offer that. They made it sound like it did when he took the job but in reality, it would be really hard for him. In sales, if the company you work for cannot/will not handle any increases sales volume, your hands are pretty much tied. Hard to believe but true. On the one hand he keeps getting told to increase sales, find new customers etc. but then they refuse to open up new accounts and tell him they cannot delivery things. He feels like he is constantly fighting just to do the bare minimum. I can fully understand why he wants out.

On a lighter note, we still have not turned on the heat yet, although I did get a number of complaints from my two youngest this morning. It was probably about 65 - 68 in the house. You would have thought it was 20 below to hear them complain. I may have to break down soon because my DD15 has a guinea pig and they cannot take real cold without getting sick. And once they get sick, that is usually it for them. I cannot be intentionally cruel to it so I will probably have to crank the heat on low soon overnight. Guess it depends upon what the weather is like this week. It was in the high 30's outside this morning.

My DS11 came down over the weekend dressed in pants for the first time this season. I had bought him new school pants (they have to wear khaki's with a uniform shirt) but I had not given a thought to the rest of his fall wardrobe. His pants were definitely a bit on the short side. He is short and was able to wear last years shorts all summer so I sort of forgot that he had grown. Yup - definitely enough that I have to find him several pairs of sweats. I will probably also have to wrestle him into a pair or so of jeans. He hates them but there are sometimes when they are just better than sweat pants. All the kids have off on Thursday for Yom Kippur so I get to spend part of the day shopping with him. I'm not sure which one of us will be dreading that more.

Calm During the Storm

September 30th, 2008 at 05:49 pm

Somehow I cannot seem to find it in me to get all worked up about the current financial mess this country is in. I guess it is because I feel like we have been in our own personal financial mess for the past 2 years (DH underemployed and no real job stability) and yet we are still hanging in there, paying our bills and not incurring any more real debt. We are still 20+ years from retirement so I don't worry like crazy if our retirement accounts go up, go down etc. I figure things will have gone thru at least a couple more cycles between now and then. I get that this is more than just a down cycle, but I cannot control it and on some level I refuse to worry about things I cannot control. I can only control my own little financial world by maximizing how we use every dollar we do earn and minimizing debt. Even that is not always under control as expenses like my DD's fender bender pop-up. That's why I think it is so important to spend less than you earn, and do it consistently. I have not gotten a statement from our 401K showing the current down market. I make it a point not to log on and check on a daily or even weekly basis. Again, my attitude is why worry about what I cannot change. We are invested in a fund that I believe in so I also believe it will go back up when the market goes back up eventually. I guess my only great regret right now is that I don't have any real excess cash to buy at a bargain price. So, I may be stressed about other things but I am not stressing about what is going on in the financial markets. Call me crazy, but at least I am sleeping well at night.

Take that Wrinkles! (With thanks to CVS)

September 24th, 2008 at 04:58 pm

My new favorite word is going to be "raincheck". I went to CVS on Sunday to take advantage of the current weeks deals. One was a Loreal anti-wrinkle serum on sale for $11.99 with $11.99 back in bonus bucks - basically free. Definitely worth trying for free. Of course, they were out. I usually would not think to ask but there was a sales girl right in the aisle so I asked her if there was any more in back. She checked, no luck. But she did offer me a rain check, even though the sale was only good for Sunday and Monday. So, I went back today with my raincheck. Sure enough, they had plenty, for the full price of $16.99 and no bucks back. I figured it would be a problem to get them to honor the raincheck but to my surprise (and delight) they just scanned it, rang it up as no cost ($11.99 - the $11.99 bonus bucks I would have gotten) and I walked out with it for FREE!!!! Yes, that's right, no money changed hands, no hassle, nothing. I almost felt like I was stealing something from them but I sure was happy. So, my new favorite word will be raincheck. And anytime I go to CVS and they are out I will ask for a ..... you guessed - RAINCHECK!