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Update...err...it's been 2 months

October 18th, 2014 at 01:18 pm

Well it has been a few months, but I am alive and doing well. I dropped off the blogging trail when I was re-hired at my old company and that became a whirlwind of putting in my two weeks, starting training, and having the husband adjust to my increased work hours. Two months into employment and things are now at a more manageable level.

Financially- I have no idea where we are. I know that my employer decided to drop the 5% 401.k company match about a week into my employment. They have also not once diverted my requested 20% contribution into my retirement account. After 2 phone calls to HR and being told to wait for the next pay period to see if it has been fixed, I kind of dropped the issue for now.

Husband was APPROVED for govt disability! He has been trying for almost 3 years. After the last final denial, we switched lawyers and the new lawyer got it approved on the first attempt! So we missed out on about $18k that could have come in during those 2 years of using the first lawyer. After that fiasco- I have learned not all lawyers are equal- even if it is something that seems procedural like getting disability. So we will get an income boost of $1200/month once the disability starts coming in.

Husband went out of state recently for round 2 of Stem Cell treatments. The first treatment went ok. His body responded to the treatment, but not amazingly. He is growing some cartilage back in his knee, but there has been no change in his back beyond that he can now move all 5 toes on his leg that drags a bit. So Round 2, we will see what happens. Financially, we have to pay cash for the treatments (experimental and not covered by insurance), so we are using up the Workers Compensation to pay for it.

Our rental properties have been full and quiet. The property we are managing for FIL has been nothing but drama for the last 2 months. Husband rented it to an out of state professional sight unseen- and once the guy moved in- it was daily service calls. Daily repair requests. And then 2 weeks of moving in- the guy moved out because he did not like the neighborhood. So its back up for rent- but we missed the "renting window" when everyone is looking to rent before school starts.

Our credit card bills have gotten pretty high (we can not pay it in full at the end of the month). I am not sure how that happened given I am now making almost twice the amount I was making at the barn. But I think it is associated with a mindset of "we can spend/buy and not have to delay luxuries anymore" mindset. So this weekend, now that I know what my paycheck will look like, and we can add in the disability payments, I will sit down with husband and we will rework a new budget and start tracking our spending.

The baby is doing well. We are getting everyone together for her 1 year birthday party next weekend!

Have you guys tried Clothes Mentor?

July 28th, 2014 at 06:10 pm

Thanks fgor all the encouraging feedback regarding negotiating for a better starting salary. I tried to follow the advice. I tried to play hardball. But the guy just said that was the salary and I can think about it. So I thought about it for a few hours and took it. I have accepted the position. I'm trying not to dwell on the negatives. The negatives (bad hours/ harder quota based job/difficulty getting time off/starting over with same pay and now no seniority at former company) will rear their ugly head over and over I'm sure.

I'm enjoying the positives for now. I went SHOPPING! I'm actually not a big shopper, but once or twice a year I'll get a shopping craving and buy everything all at once. Today I spent almost $200 but I got tons of clothes for my new job and a new purse.

There is a store called Clothes Mentor that buys gently used clothes from people and resells it. This was my first time stopping in. I loved it! I'm not partial to wearing a strangers old clothes- but I guessed people also brought in new, unused clothes with tags attached. (Clothes that never fit once purchased/gifts/stuff that just never got returned). I was right! I was able to find really high end brands like DKNY, Loft, White House/Black Market with tags still attached and the items were $10-$20 each. It takes a lot of concentration not to get sucked into cute clothes and only search for original store tags- but I enjoyed the hunt. New favorite store.

The purse I found at TJ Maxx on clearance for $28. I really wanted a $128 purse at TJ Maxx...but could not justify it.

And that was the end of my shopping spree. So I'm set for my new job.

I have created a new monthly budget to reflect the new income. I'm still tinkering with it though.

The job interview...pay is not good and the hours are really bad.

July 23rd, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Ok, had my interview yesterday. My fears were confirmed.

The pay is a few hundred dollars/ year more than my old job. The hours SUCK. And the job is harder.

I don't know what happened. I just froze up when they told me the pay. I just quietly said "ok" and then he moved on.

So I'm not really feeling this job.

I need this job. But I'm already dreading starting this job.

I'm really disappointed in myself, frustrated in general. I thought writing would make me feel better but it is not.

Job Interview Today...Comments Appreciated

July 22nd, 2014 at 01:54 pm

I am checking in. It's been a few weeks. The latest on my mind has been finding a full time office job. The equestrian job has peaked- I really appreciate getting to turn my hobby into a job- but I'm ready to turn it back into a hobby.

Last week I went and visited my old employer. Its a large multi-building university and I spent several hours going from office to office to catch up with everyone. I put the word out that I was looking.

The VERY NEXT DAY the university President called me and said he had just been handed a resignation letter and would I be interested in an Admissions Assistant job? Heck yeah!

So we set up an interview for today. I would be reporting to someone new. Several of my old colleagues have worked with this guy- though I never have. So it was explained that this is kind of a "meet n greet" to make sure everyone gets along.

The job will have quotas. High pressure deadlines and (if its like my previous work environment), lots of scapegoating. The intense work atmosphere is what made me hesitant to return to the working world and instead seek out a barn job.

But talking to old collegues- the pressure has really calmed down since I've been away. Apparently it all came to a head right after I resigned and there was a lot of turnover (and visits to HR). It took almost a year but now things have quieted down and become more fun.

And even if it's stressful- I enjoyed working with these people who became my friends. I enjoyed challenging myself and feeling like I was improving my resume.

And I want to eliminate my $1000/month private health insurance bill.

So today I interview.

I spent $115 on a new suit. It was 60% off- so I look like I'm wearing a $250 suit! It makes me feel good to wear it. Like "well one less thing to worry about- I don't have to think about how I look."

Now for the salary. UGH. I was hired right before a freeze on raises at this company. So although I worked there almost 4 years- I only received a 3% raise once (big reason for my resignation!).

Then a few months after resigning- the company restructured their pay scale and raised everyone's salary to match competitive raises. So I'm hoping they will just offer me $2-3k over my old salary. And then if I'm able to negotiate anything (which I have NEVER SUCCESSFULLY been able to negotiate salary), it's a bonus.

If they offer me my old salary then I'll be starting out disappointed which is not how I want to start this job. Feeling defensive and unappreciated.

I know the President looks at it as saving his budget to get me a cheaply as possible. He is very smart and intimidating. I've learned that I cant faithfully try to "prove my worth" and think it will get recognized and be rewarded with a raise or promotion.

I tried that tactic last time and was told several times that they would not promote me because I was already doing the work of a superior, so there was no need to promote me and hire someone below me. I was managing both jobs on my own. And the company couldn't justify a pay raise without a title change. UGH it was maddening!

So I just want to start out making the money I would have earned if I had stuck it out to work through the "competitive wage" increases.

I am optimistic because I talked with a co-worker- (who is my potential bosses boss), and she said my new job is considered a level above my old job. Although totally different departments- this new job is a small step up the corporate ladder. (So small that I thought the job was a parallel jump.)

Ok, so the plan is to prepare for the job interview.

But what I REALLY need to prepare for is the disappointment if I wind up with my old salary or a few hundred dollars more.

I have not been called in to interview anywhere else that I have submitted an application. The job market is not really jumping for me right now.

BTW- I pulled a muscle (s) in my shoulder/neck area at the barn the other day and I'm on muscle relaxers right now. I'm a bit woozy as I type this so forgive any ridiculously bad spelling. I'm hoping this woozy feeling wears off by interview time! Otherwise I'll have to take something to wake up!

So about that "follow your passions" job...

July 2nd, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Hello Everyone,
I've been periodically reading blogs but not posting. I have not had a long period of quiet time where I could put my thoughts down. So I have been bottling up all my thoughts and activities.

But now the baby is quietly playing on the kitchen floor with cooking ware, and husband is asleep.

Hmmm where to start.

Husband had his experimental stem cell treatment. It went GREAT! He came home in more pain than normal- the Dr told him it will take 2 weeks for the injections sites to heal. I was at the end of my tolerance level for his pain and "I cant do anything" mantra- so him coming home MORE helpless made me so angry.

But in a few weeks his attitude turned much brighter. He was more helpful to me- getting off the couch to bring me a drink, going up the stairs multiple times a day. Keeping the house a little less cluttered.

And then one day I came home to see the baby playing in the kitchen. Husband cooking spaghetti, the house was vacuumed & mopped! It was wonderful! I felt like I was getting back the man that I married. So he is recovering and healing in minutia ways. But it feels like huge leaps for me when it's not an argument just to take out the trash.

In other news- my equestrian job is going great. I have really become part of the team and I am competent at my job.

HOWEVER- the pay and other sacrifices are just not cutting it for me anymore. I'm looking for an office full time job.

I know. After all that fighting with the husband!

This job was meant to provide me with an ease-in to working after having the baby. In an uncertain time when life was changing rapidly- I wanted a stress-free job where I would be just as happy at my job as I was being at home. With a newborn baby I was going to give up horse riding and working at a barn would be my way of not giving it up. But also not taking time and money away from the family to pursue it. So overall I have enjoyed it the last 6 months.

BUT- my body is much older than I "feel". Doing manual labor day in/day out is EXHAUSTING. My body just screams at me when I come home from work. I'm so stiff and achy. I cant keep this up. No way. This is a twenty-somethings job.

And I never see my friends. I work every weekend until 8pm, and every holiday. I'm off on random weekdays. Requesting time off is kind of a drama-fest because people have to cover. I reserve my requests off for visiting family and husband's medical treatments. I've never had so much trouble making plans with friends. And missing out on everything (like cookouts for 4th of July). It seems trivial but I was really lonely in California and I place a lot of value on being with my friends and sharing in their lives.

$10/hr does not stretch nearly as far as it did the last time I was earning this kind of money. I'm making $1050/month and over $200 is spent in gas commuting the 25 miles to work. My windshield has broken twice driving on the highway in my commute. Relatively inexpensive costs like a $40 broken windshield really set you back on such a limited income. And forget the big costs. I took my dog to the vet for annual shots and a year of heartworm protection- $420! That was almost 2 weeks pay! No way do I want to kill my body for 2 weeks to pay for a few vaccines.

And so I got to thinking about the budget. How could I make the money stretch? Our largest monthly expense is the private health insurance. It is $980/month.

If I worked full time at the barn I could get health insurance. It would probably be $4-500/month for the family. So if I work an additional 10 hrs a week I could cut my health insurance bill in about half.

But then I figured if I'm working full time why not go get a salaried office job making more than $10/hr? Plus the benefits of getting holidays off and working in heated/air conditioned rooms?

I initially started working 30/hrs week because I didn't know how husband could take care of the baby without me. It was hard for him. We had to figure out a lot of stuff. But now he's got it. I can work full time and he'll be fine.

And the riding...I'm not riding everyday at work. And I'm not riding at the competitive level I want to be. So its not as satisfying as I had hoped. I'm ready to let it go for a little bit and enjoy my home life more.

So it was a good 6 month transition back into the working world.

With that said- I've applied to a job at my old company. I'm a little hesitant because that company is very high pressure and disorganized. I know I'll get roped into lots of regular overtime and stress. And I'm uncertain I can get my old salary back. I'm talking with people and it seems I was at the top of my pay grade for my skills. If I start a new job in a new department I might have to take a 5-6k paycut. Which is still about double what I'm making now.

I also applied to another company a bit further away- half hour drive- with a definite $6k pay cut from my old job. but I'm hoping it will be less stressful. It's a govt job.

My office job skills are so rusty at this point. Just spelling is a struggle. I'm nervous to get back into that environment. But confident my computer/business skills will come back quickly. I hope I don't make too many mistakes in the meantime!

So that's what I'll be doing for a while. Applying to jobs.

Catching Up

June 9th, 2014 at 03:36 pm

Well, husband is traveling for his Stem Cell treatment. He'll be gone for 3 days and I have no idea what to expect his condition to be when he returns. I don't know if the relief starts immediately or what. I do know he will need two more treatments over the next 6 months. So we'll see.

Financially things are going ok.

We have an offer out on a foreclosure house to fix up and resell. The property might need too much work though. It's a high crime area and the house needs a few walls removed in addition to a new kitchen and 3 new bathrooms. So we're going to see how negotiations go and then bring in our contractor partner to get his opinion.

My job is still going well. I had my 90 day review recently and everything was great. My boss wants to put me on more horses and says she envisions me as a riding instructor/trainer and her hiring someone else to do the barn work. But that wont be for a while yet when we have the business to justify adding more employees. That would not be a pay raise- just something to help justify a raise in my yearly annual review. I do know that this company gives annual raises in $.20-$.60/hr increments. (We have an employee who is very open about their pay.) So this job is definitely meant for enjoyment and riding opportunities.

The baby is doing well. She is 7 months. Not crawling and not consistently rolling. She doesn't seem to "want" to be mobile. She is happy sitting and watching the world around her. I'm going to wait another few months before I get concerned.

Thats it, I'll check back later!

Apartment Rented in One day

June 3rd, 2014 at 06:46 pm

Checking in. The property that husband & I offered on is...complicated-ish. The For Sale by Owner guy has a verbal deal with someone who needs some time to get the money together for the property. The owner asked us to check back in a couple of weeks. We called back with an increased offer and was told that he really needed to give the other guy time to see if he could buy it. So to call back in a week. So...we are waiting on that one.

Good-ish news- one of our properties went vacant June 1st. Rent has increased over the last year and this is the first property we could raise our rent. Husband wanted me to increase the rent by $60/month...but I got nervous we would get stuck with an empty apartment so I increased it by $10/month. I listed the property on Craigslist and got a request to show it within an hour. The couple liked it but wanted to think about it. We then showed it to one of our current tenants who wanted to line it up for August when she was moving out of the current place. We didn't want to wait so long to have it filled so we held out. We had many more showings lined up. Then the first couple came back and said they wanted it. They gave us a deposit, signed a lease and will move in 3 weeks. So we lost a month of rent (June) but finding a renter challenge is over.

The upstairs of the same building becomes vacant in July. We are offering our tenant to take the upstairs unit, but she will be living by herself and it is a 3 bedroom apartment. So although we are offering her a pretty steep discount ($200/month discount) because we feel bad she didn't get the downstairs unit and if she moves in with her dog, we wont be replacing the carpeting, she might not be able to afford it/doesn't want it. I'll almost be happier if she does not take it so we can charge an increased rent.

So overall, I should have been more aggressive raising the rent- but filling the place in 1 day is a new record. Holding my breath to try and fill the August apartment fast as well.

Our spending money and bill paying money comes from these rentals, so even one month of vacancy means we have to curb the monthly spending or pull the money from savings.

Still in the Real Estate Game

May 31st, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Hello all,
Checking in. Husband & I are putting in an offer on a SFH today. We plan to buy it, fix it and sell it. If we get it, I'll post the numbers.

I'm not WICKED excited about it because the neighborhood has me a little cautious. It's on a very busy road, and the quieter neighborhood roads around it are a little run down. So taking that into account our re-sale value would be lower than normal.

But I think the house will compensate for the neighborhood shortcomings. It is a 3000 sq ft craftsman bungalow (HUGE for a bungalow), 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths on a double sized lot. You just don't see that anywhere in the city.

Its a For Sale by Owner where the owner grew up in the house. His parents converted it from a side by side duplex to a SFH. That is why it's so huge.

And awesome for us- the owner has a "For Sale by Owner" sign in a place behind some bushes that is really hard to see from the road. And it is a busy road where people are going about 30 mph. So if you blink you miss the house. The house is nowhere on the internet. My realtor happened to see the sign while searching for an MLS listed property a few blocks down the road. She immediately thought of us and I think we really lucked out.

Real Estate in our price range has been moving overnight. We tried to bid on 3 houses so far to find that another full price offer came in before we could offer. We actually put in a full price offer sight unseen one time the day it came on the market. We got the house! But it was so termite infested the floor had crashed in and an exterior wall..had a lot of sunlight coming through. So we backed out of the contract the next day.

Anyways, this property has been listed for sale for a little while and we are the first to offer on it. I'm pretty sure no one knows it exists.

So we'll see. But we are excited. I'll let you know!


May 13th, 2014 at 06:43 pm

2 entries in one day! I feel like I need to give an update (reality check) to the sidebar goals I set in the 2014 new year euphoria.

1. Stick to a monthly budget- I HAVE STUCK TO IT. But I am THINKING of deviating. My credit cards have been creeping. I set a tight budget thinking husband would get disability (he has not) and thinking I could live very frugally while getting my life under control. Instead- husband has been spending WAY more than he normally does- and baby keeps being ready for more crap! We got her an excersaucer and a few weeks later a high chair- and so the credit cards are hitting- scary land. I'm THINKING of stopping putting money towards savings and just increasing our monthly spending budget. Reality check- we spend more than our monthly budget allows. ...Still pondering that. I HATE BREAKING A GOAL. I HATE CREDIT CARD DEBT. So we'll see.

2. I am adding $900 a month to our monthly income! But spending $200/month in gas to get to/from the job. $200/month dilligently goes to saving for the baby- the remaining amount- gets spent. Is not going to horseback riding. But I ride horses at my job...so...thats kind of still meeting the goal..ish?

3.I am horseback riding! Not in the competitive atmosphere I prefer. But I am tral riding and in the industry!

4. I'm not buying a horse. My plan to own a horse in 2015 is to not get one. This job has been a reality check- too expensive.

5. I HAVE been adding $100/month to the mortgage!

6. I have been saving for a future car purchase- that is on track.

7.I have been saving in the emergency fund. Thinking of raiding it to pay off the credit cards. Still pondering that one.

8. I hit my goal weight! Awesome!

9. I have not been saying No. He's kind of stopped running things by me and just does it- giving me no opportunity to say No. Sounds worse than it is- his purchases are a few hundred dollars- not enough to have a real discussion over- but then they have been adding up. Ugh. I need to work on this one.

Ok- writing this out. I'm doing way better than I thought! I have been staying on track, even though unexpected stuff has come up that could have derailed me. This gives me motivation to really refocus.