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

Viewing the 'Working' Category

Well, it finally happened

August 11th, 2013 at 07:53 pm

After several layoff scares over a period of three years, my full-time job at the library finally ended, in July. I was able to stay on part-time, but of course I'm losing my health benefits. DH left an awful job in 2007 and hasn't had a job since then; we've been able to afford his being a househusband until now. Luckily, here in NJ you are eligible for partial unemployment when your hours are reduced, so that's a help. I've gotten one payment so far.

Well, that's all I'll say for now. Anyone who's been looking for a job lately knows how frustrated I'm feeling right now. I think I'll look back in my blog to see how we managed during previous lean times, and then go downstairs to make dinner. We are having cheesesteaks, Smile but home-made ones using Old Neighborhood shaved beef and a loaf of Italian bread. I hope they turn out well, because it should cost about 1/2 the price we used to pay for take-out ones.




Taking advantage of training freebie

May 19th, 2012 at 01:32 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that librarians in my state were eligible to sign up for free, three-week subscriptions at http://www.lynda.com, a website that offers tutorials on tech and business topics. I jumped on it! At work, I'm responsible for doing our little class on Microsoft Word, now that the person who used to do that class has been cut back to virtually no hours. I'm not that familiar with the old version, let alone the 2010 version we recently put on a few public computers. In addition to doing classes on request, I also need to help people on the computers throughout the day and should really get better acquainted with all of Office.

I have to say that having only three weeks of access to the tutorials has motivated me to use it. I have a list of other free tutorial sites that I've never gotten around to using simply because I didn't have a deadline. I like the Lynda.com tutorials I've used so far, and I like how they keep track of which lesson you're on, let you keep a queue of other ones you're interested in, and suggest appropriate followup tutorials when you finish one. I'm seriously thinking of paying for a membership when my free time is up, however--if I no longer have a deadline to take advantage of it, will I continue using it?

There's a lot more there that would be useful to me beyond the Office training. Although our operating budget at work was cut back drastically, for some reason we got approved for a large capital expenditure on new computers, and I'll mostly likely have to set up and maintain them. They'll probably come with Windows 7, which I've never used. I've been keeping an eye on job openings at other libraries, too, just to be on the safe side. One job description appealed to me but would have been a stretch--they wanted someone who knows several programming languages in addition to having the MLS. My library school master's is 25 years old this month, and while I have experience on my side, I feel as if I don't update my technical skills it will be hard to compete with more recent graduates who have training on all the current things. That is, if I really am laid off, eventually. I'm still having a hard time gauging how likely that is.

Beyond possibly paying to watch these tutorials, is it time to consider buying a new computer at home, with Windows 7 on it? (I can't just buy the software because my PC doesn't meet the requirements.) Over the years, I've found that it's hard getting up to speed on new things if I only have access to them at work--there's never enough time to just sit there and learn, undisturbed.

I'm in a quandary every day about whether to spend money or not, because of a possible layoff. Should I not buy clothes because I might be laid off, or should I buy them because I need decent outfits on hand for possible job interviews and because in the fall I'll be working a lot of 6-day weeks. Should I not spend money on a new computer and tutorials because I might be laid off, or should I spend the money because I might be laid off. Should we go ahead and spend the money on home improvements because DH and I have the time right now to be here and monitor the work, or not? (If DH had to go back to work, and I had to take a job with a longer commute, and neither of us had any vacation time built up yet, it would be nearly impossible to manage.)

Any thoughts?

Whipsawed, but in a good way

November 1st, 2008 at 03:21 pm

I hardly know where to begin. A few weeks ago, I was actually in tears because of money worries and now I'm trying to figure out how to divvy up a 45% increase in our cash flow. I just found out that my boss really went to bat for me, and got approval for me to go full-time with benefits! Not only is it more hours and free insurance, but also an increase in my hourly rate. Things sure can change fast, down or up.

I've been very worried about how we'd cope when DH's Cobra coverage ran out. That's a big part of the reason I went ahead and sold the rest of the ETFs I had in my IRA. I didn't want to raid the IRA to pay for health insurance, but I wanted to have the option if it came to that. If the stock market kept tanking, I couldn't be sure of how much I'd have available.

I've been trying really hard, running around to to buy things on sale, using coupons and rebates again, and had our freezer pretty well filled up.

One night DH got out some pizza and left the door open about an inch. In the morning, I heard it running like mad and discovered it. That's when I finally broke down and cried, fearing that all the food was ruined and money wasted. (We've been using the food up as fast as we can, with no ill effects so far.)

DH started looking for work, and finally signed up with a rather cheesy temp agency out of desperation. You can read about them here, and either be forewarned or just see how the bottom half lives:

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2002/03/street_inc.h...

I even went so far as to tell my mother I couldn't chip in the tip anymore when she took us out for a meal. It was really embarrassing, but felt I had to do it.

She likes to get out to restaurants, but is housebound now and needs one of us to drive her. She pays for the meal, and we've been paying the tips. But what with gas prices, I didn't feel I could keep shelling out more money on tips than we could have made the whole meal for at home.

Now, amazingly, the tide seems to have turned. Instead of feeling stunned and unsure because of all the bad economic news, I'm now feeling stunned and unsure about how to handle this good fortune.

I really, really, don't want to blow it.




Back because I'm scared

September 27th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

I feel like I need to huddle around the virtual campfire at Saving Advice again, safe from the cold, cruel world with some people who have their heads on straight. Smile

I'm trying not to be a Nervous Nellie, but all this upheaval in the economy is starting to get to me. It's not just what I'm hearing on the news--it's real life.

WAMU-we have our one credit card with them. Things should be business as usual, but it feels strange to have a 2nd credit card provider go belly up on me. (I had a NextBank card years ago.)

Wachovia-I have a brokerage account with them, DMom has two brokerage accounts plus she owns a pretty significant chunk of Wachovia stock which is already showing a loss. I'm hoping they don't do a WAMU and that she doesn't lose it all.

The housing market-My mother, at 91, has finally put her "extra" house up for sale, seemingly at the worst possible time in recent memory. There have only been two showings in about 3 weeks. If it goes on too many months, we may need to help her get it ready to rent out.

It's been a year, and DH still isn't working. In a lot of ways it's been a help, but we could sure use some extra money.

Especially since we are still paying $660 a month for his COBRA health insurance, which runs out in March. The prospects for me getting full-time at my present job don't look good, and the cost of an individual (non-COBRA) policy will be even higher.

Our emergency fund is below the $1000 minimum that I feel comfortable with, and I'm going to have to work hard to get it built up again. I'm unavoidably spending $200 a month on gas now (because of driving my mother), and our car insurance just went up $35 a month.

Somehow I'm going to have to get back to frugal ways, but I don't have time to fiddle around with Quicken like I used to.

Hope things are going a little more smoothly with everyone else.

My plate is full

December 9th, 2007 at 04:43 pm

Since DH left his job, all heck has broken loose. Not due to him--on the contrary, if he didn't have the time and energy to help with this stuff, I don't see how I could have managed. As it is, we are both feeling pretty stressed, and at times physically shaky.

In this entry, the financial front.

Just before DH left his job, he decided to get a tooth fixed. Looking back on it, I think he wanted to look better for job interviews, but it didn't occur to me at the time. That cost $1500.

I managed to pick up some extra hours at work, which covers our COBRA insurance almost exactly. My boss knows I'm ready to go full time and get benefits, and she'd like to give it to me, but it's not in the budget right now.

Still, the cheapest COBRA option (keeping the high deductible insurance and the HSA account) is $645 a month and it's kind of painful to pay. It's more than our mortgage! And we still have to find money to put into the HSA.

We had to start paying on life insurance for DH, because the only policy he had was at work. $94 a quarter.

In October, our dog had a swelling on her cheek that we thought might be a tumor. It was relatively good news--an abscessed tooth that needed to be removed. The vet visits, surgery and medicine totalled $605.

One of the little additions on our house had a much older roof than the main part, and it started to leak once in a while. It kept getting worse and in November we decided we'd better get it replaced before snow season started. Even I could see it was beyond repair, unless we just wanted to lay a tarp over it for the winter! $1125.

We rarely have flea problems, but our dog and cat both got them recently. I didn't have the stuff on hand, so I ordered it online for the best price I could find--just under $100.

It was our balance month for natural gas, and we owed $48 extra. We needed a new faucet cartridge, $22. DH worked on hedges at DMom's house, sliced the extension cord. New cord, $25. MIL needed her phone card re-upped due to a family emergency, $25. We've been very involved with DMom and MIL lately, which has made it harder to do things the cheap way. We've been indulging in some fast food and I'm just happy to get out shopping when I can, let alone following sales and using coupons.

Amazingly, we are still afloat financially so far. I had to charge a few things only because the emergency money I had to spend wasn't in the account with the debit card. As soon as I pay that bill, we'll be debt-free again except for the mortgage.

Oh, and all that subprime mortgage news that's been coming out has made me very, very nervous about our ARM, due to adjust in 3 years. So I set up an automatic extra payment to principal for $50 a month--don't know how much it will help in the long run, but it makes me feel better.

Next time, the family crises. (Oh, joy!)





Taking things one day at a time

October 20th, 2007 at 03:29 pm

It's been three weeks since DH left his job, and he's starting to get cabin fever. He's ready to start looking, but frankly the way things are right now it's good he's still off.

Monday our dog is having surgery to check out a tumor on her face. The vet thinks it's different from the supposedly harmless lipomas she's had elsewhere on her body. They have to put her under to even do a careful exam and biopsy, because she's not the most laid-back of patients. We can't just let it go because it was getting oozy and ugly-looking.

If this is the beginning of the end, I'm sure DH will feel better being able to give her plenty of quality time while he's still home. She's his baby. Even if all she needs is some after-surgery care, it will still be a big help having him home, as I've been working extra hours.

We've also had things come up like one of us having to be here while a new water meter is installed, car repairs, getting to the bank about a matured CD, navigating through the COBRA insurance maze. It's all been easier to manage because he's been home and carrying some of the load.

I'm starting to have this feeling that maybe things are going just as they should be, even if it's uncomfortable for both of us right now. Except for the vet bills, our income and outgo through December is pretty predictable, so there's no use spending time on obsessing over money right at the moment. All we can really do is get through each new thing as it comes along.

FUD

July 27th, 2007 at 12:53 pm

That would be Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Wikipedia says it's an advertising term, but what I'm feeling is about DH's job and our finances.

His company has been sold, and so far DH and his coworkers have good feelings about the change. They are encouraging all employees to stay, and they have more generous sick and vacation policies. However, I'm antsy to know what the health insurance situation is going to be.

They have several Blue Cross plans to choose from, but not the cheap High Deductible/Health Savings Plan combo we have now. DH has no idea yet whether it's fully paid for by the company, or whether he has to kick in, and how much.

We could be looking at substantially higher or lower take-home pay. It could mean moving ahead on goals faster than we'd thought, or having to cut our Emergency Fund and New Car Fund savings down to a trickle. As it is, we really need to buy some life insurance on him, as the new company-provided policy will be half what it was.

I'm glad it looks like he still has a job. I'm glad we have no cc debt left. I'm glad we have enough in the HSA to cover the dental work DH is in the middle of. But I still can't help being nervous!

OMG, the extra hours start now!

October 17th, 2006 at 01:54 am

I haven't gotten my mind around it yet, but I'll be glad to see some additional money coming in sooner than I'd thought.

First item of business: pay the &#@%$^ credit card off by the end of the year, as originally planned, instead of stretching it out to the end of the 0% period in March.

I'll have to do some number-crunching again; I want to try and fit within the All Your Worth recommendations. But tentatively our plans include upping DH's 401K contribution and me rejoining the gym.





"How much money do you want to make next year?"

October 13th, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Well, that is in effect the question my boss has asked me. She's working on next year's budget and wonders if I'd want more hours, and if so, how many. I don't want to pass up an opportunity, but having to come up with an answer in 24 hours has me kind of flummoxed.

On the one hand, we could certainly do with more income. On the other hand, I don't want to commit to more hours than I can handle on a permanent basis. If something comes up and I don't want to work the elections anymore, I can just say no. If I've committed to more hours at my regular job, I'm stuck.

Also, I wondered how many more hours I could work before making us ineligible for the Saver's Credit, or pushing us into the next tax bracket. Not to worry, even if I worked 7 more hours a week, we'd still be poor enough. Wink

I think I'm going to say 4.

Saved by a glitch in Amazon's checkout system

September 2nd, 2006 at 02:50 pm

The last eight days have been wild, and upsetting at times. DH is having trouble with his knee and back, and having emotional ups and downs because of the pain. He ended up bursting into tears while we were having ice cream and cake for his birthday. We found out my aunt has a form of leukemia. An episode happened at work where I had to call the police, and I'm still kind of shaken up about it. Many computer problems at work. My mother had to ask me what the rest of her social security number was; not a good sign.

By yesterday morning I started feeling desperate and wondering how I was going to continue dealing with this kind of stuff with the darkness of winter coming on. I've always thought about trying those light boxes people use for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and found a good deal on Amazon.

I guess it wasn't meant to be, because although I tried several times, the order wouldn't go through. It kept getting stuck when I tried to choose free shipping.

I felt better by later in the day, keeping busy at work, and boy was I glad the order hadn't gone through! As I told DH last night--I can buy a lot of chocolate, take-out meals and movie tickets with the $179 I almost spent, and I KNOW they make me feel better. Smile

A little extra money :)

August 18th, 2006 at 01:35 pm

Yesterday I got a letter from the election board about working a special school bond election in September. It wouldn't pay as much as the regular ones ($70 vs. $200), but it's a much shorter day. I do have qualms about it--I've heard there can be more nastiness and shenanigans at these elections--but I guess I'll put in to do it.
I don't feel like I ought to turn down $70.

This morning I got an email from Amazon about a book that sold--$48 for a textbook DH retrieved from the trash at work! (It's still in very nice condition.)

An added motivation

June 22nd, 2006 at 01:50 pm

Yesterday DH heard a credible rumor at work, that where he works might be sold. Some of his co-workers looked it up online, and it's actually been in the news. They should know more in 30-45 days.

It might fall through. His job might be perfectly secure even if it is sold. But it's still kind of unsettling, and another spur to get the credit card debt paid off, and more money in the bank.

If those Japanese prosperity coins are still circulating, could someone put me on the list to get one next? I think we can use all the luck we can get. Smile

Back from Election Day, $200 richer (yawn)

June 7th, 2006 at 01:17 pm

It worked out well. It was a Primary with no hot contests, so there was very low voter turnout. Boring for the experienced workers, but fine for me since I was just learning. It's been interesting to see how the new computerized voting machines work, from both sides.

The day runs from 5:15 a.m. to after 8 p.m. with a one-hour break. However, you can bring snacks and reading material with you, and take bathroom breaks as needed. I packed food but also took some cash in case the other people wanted to order a pizza or something. But as it turned out, we were all kind of cheap and my only expense was 50 cents for coffee. (A retiree ran out to McD's and was able to get everyone's coffee at the senior citizen price. Smile)

I will definitely plan do it again in November. If I could work all elections during the year (primary, general, and school board) I'd be making an extra, pretty easy $600 a year. Smile

Election job progress

May 25th, 2006 at 12:56 pm

It was last November I signed up to work the elections. In January I got a letter with a card to mail in, saying I was still interested. Then, nothing.

I came across the January letter last week while I was going through papers, and almost threw it away. I figured it was a lost cause. But then I thought, why not at least call and find out what happened?

Long story short, the guy I talked to was almost sure they could use me somewhere--and not way off in November, but in June, for the primary! There is training next week, for which I've taken a vacation day. I'm just waiting to hear which session they're putting me in. Then, if all goes well, they'll let me know where I'll be sent to work on June 6.

I feel like I should create another category for blog entries about patience and perseverance! So much of what I've been doing to make or save money just seems to take a long time; lots of waiting and follow-up.


Discretionary purchase today--MP3 player

May 20th, 2006 at 08:02 pm

I've been thinking about this for months, and finally took the plunge, for many reasons.

There was a good deal at Staples for the model I'd been thinking about, but with much more storage than I'd ever hoped for. It came to a little over $58. Creative MuVo TX FM with 1GB of storage.(Thank you Fatwallet!)

This model should work with the downloadable audio books they have at the library where I work. (Not all models do.) It has a voice recorder, which I'd thought about buying separately for a long time anyway. You can also store data on it, so it will take the place of a USB thumb drive, which I've thought about too.

It is also a lot cheaper than getting involved with a broadband bill every month, or satellite radio. My dialup is still ok for most things, but lately for downloading radio shows it's been awful. It's supposed to be 56K but often it's been in the 30's or even 20's. This way I'll be able to download podcasts and radio shows on my dinner hour at work, and have enough to listen to for days. It should be quite a time-saver over the way I've been trying to do it.

It also may give me some brownie points at work (which one can always use). Wink My boss is disappointed that not many people are using the audiobook service. But it's hard for us on the staff to talk it up and give people instructions, if we've never used it ourselves. So in a way, I could classify part of the cost as a work expense. Wink

I'm holding off on the leafblower for now, and will use part of the Ace gc for poison ivy killer, which is a necessity right now.