32B's Blog

…where I write my words

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The Current events of the world are about 70% negative and 30% good once you search high and low for the good or just make that 30% your personal good and let the negativity just be.  Well, everyone usually asks “what’s been going on with you?” and I usually say “nothing really. same ol’ same ol’ ya know?” I thought to make a list of all the exciting, new, blah, and other stuff that is currently going on with me although it might be a short list and some of the “great” things might be “blah” things to others but whatever.

  1. 1.  The Chicago Half Marathon is this Sunday.  The expo for the event is Saturday at Navy Pier so I will bring my kids, turn in my waiver (i.e. if you die it’s on you cause no one told your butt to run that long anyways), and pick up my race packet complete with t-shirt and maybe my finisher medal (can’t wear either until I earn it at the end of the race).  Race starts at 7am on the south side of Chicago and runs along the beautiful Lake Michigan which means the wind might be strong enough to blow my butt into the water but I will enjoy the views, the people, and the experience esp since my training has taken a detour the last few weeks.  If I break 2 hours it will be a miracle but I plan to stick with a 8:30-9 min/mile pace and try harder next year.  Life happens and you make lemonades – or something like that.
  2. I am enjoying my Executive Leadership class.  We had a guest speaker yesterday who talked about being a manager, leader, working in corporate America, hiring the “right” employees, motivating them to help you both reach company goals, and being accountable to your employees or you will have high turnover and low moral.  The best thing she does is allow her team to help choose new employees because it gives them a responsibility to choose what type of person or background the overall team needs and gets them involved in “us” and not just “me”.
  3. I am moving in a few months.  Where? I have the slightest idea but it will be 6-9 months from now according to the attorneys handling my landlord’s foreclosure.  Now, I am trying to contact someone about whether I should or should not be paying rent.  It’s hard to get a return phone call.  I realized I hate moving, I hate changing my address, I hate not getting my mail, and Chicago rent is kinda expensive for nothing in return.
  4. I am starting on my family tree again.  Why?  Because this guy from my class has the exact same last name as I do and I wonder if we are related off in the distanct tree of black folks. His sister has done quite a bit with their family history so he will send it to me so I can compare it with what I have.  He seems pretty cool to talk to.  He walked me to the train after class, we exchanged numbers, and he said “you gonna keep in contact?” Um, yeah I see you every week fool.  He said our last name is French which is interesting since Irby from my mom’s side is French too. 
  5. I am knitting a beret hat.  I knitted this cute scarf for myself and now I am knitting a matching beret hat using the same yarn.  The scarf was easy.  The beret hat, not so much.  I’m on row #2 and it involves 3 or 4 dbl point needles which look like chop sticks and markers to mark the end or beginning of a row.  Not sure if this will be an epic fail but I am trying it anyways.  I like beret hats.  Probably should have settled on buying one instead but working for something and putting in the hard work makes it that more special to you.  I say that now….
  6. I am a week away from officially going to Atlanta.  My ex-hubby has agreed to watch the kids for those 5 days (3 of which are week days) and we have finalized the hotel room so now we just need to buy our plane tickets.  It’s me and the birthday girl who will be turning 30 next month.  We will meet her friend there from Texas and 2 guy friends who live in ATL.  Never been to ATL but I am ready to get away.  I pray everything goes as planned with the kids. 
  7. My credit score is at a somewhat average range now.  I will not say what it is because it is still rather low but it increased 20 or 30 points so I’m glad.  Of course, when you avg it between all 3 bureaus it is not as impressive but every little bit counts.
  8. I am  5 days from a $6k emergency fund balance.  I am supposed to have 3-6 months of living expenses depending on which book or financial guru advice you listen to but I thought to just set aside $10k and then I’ll be cool.  I have had set backs where I had to use money from the fund (the reason to have it in the first place) and times when I couldn’t put anything into it but I made sure to replace those amounts taken out or give myself some room to mess up.  I just got my first child support check since May 2010 so that helped me buy school clothes for the kids and pay daycare these weeks but nothing else.  Should be a regular stream of money I hope so I can move on to my next financial goal.
  9. No new debts have been added to my credit report.  Other than a medical bill with Rush Medical that one time I went to the ER for chest pains and an irregular heart beat.  I have a flex medical account set up for anything my insurance does not cover but since the ER visit was in 2009 the funds for 2010 do not cover the remaining balance.  I used a good $500 from my flex acct toward the bill but it still left another $500 remaining.  Use my emergency fund money?  I really dnt want to esp since a medical bill isn’t as big a blow to my credit as a credit card bill.  This is why I am switching from a flex med acct next yr to a HSA instead because I can use my money for any medical bill I want to since it’s **drum roll please** my money!
  10. I think I like customers.  When I worked in fast food I hated customers and any service they required because the motto in fast food is “the customer is always right”.  Well, there are some pretty rude, dumb, and demanding people in the world so I have no idea who in their right mind would assume that motto is true.  Yes, they want to believe it so customers will continue to spend money in their businesses but, as a lowly employee, the customer sucked!  Now, since I work in an environment where the customer is definitely not always right and people usually call me beginning with “this is probably a stupid question but….” then I love it.  I always have stupid questions so I feel like there is someone out there like me and I like making their jobs easier.  Does it make me feel needed?  Like an expert?  A genius.  Sure lol but I sincerely like people who are actually smart just not sure how to do A, B, or C.  Call me anytime you need me.  Some people even have my cell phone number. 
  11. I am learning to cut hair!  Every Wednesday I go to the shop and Mr. D lets me cut my kids’ hair as my Barber 101 lesson.  I save $20 since I’m doing all the work and he empowers me to do it myself so it’s a win-win situation for me….not so sure exactly what he gets out of it though.  My oldest gets bald fades so he let me cut around from temple to temple using his $190 clippers (I better not ever drop them or he may kill me), then I cut the top low, and then I fade the line out I created by going temple to temple.  On my youngest I just do a regular haircut of one shade all the way around.  Obviously I don’t know the barbershop terms but that does not matter.  Mr. D lines them up when I’m done, I do the dust down with that talc powder stuff, then I spray something on my hands and rub it around the hairline, then I spray oil sheen on their heads, and I make sure I spray the clippers with this sanitizer stuff every time I switch between the kids & he even lets me wear his smock.  He then drives us home since it’s Wednesday after work at about 8pm which is then about 10pm since I cut extra slow sometimes.
  12. Last but not least, I am thinking about doing the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams.  I thought I may need something to set myself apart from other applicants but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eventually do so this is still only a thought.  I intensely dislike but highly respect accounting so a CPA is not in my future.  With no real work experience, an exam like the CFA will give me the background knowledge of finance and investments to get where I might be looking to be.  As soon as I figure out where that is then I will decide if it’s to my personal benefit or not.  This consists of 3 exams which have a below 50% pass rate and costs a pretty penny to take.  The exam covers, finance, econ, stat, ethics, investments vehicles, and several other things that fall under one of those categories such as future/present value of money, interest rates, stock calls/puts, standard deviation, and loads of formulas to memorize.  I honestly think the CFA displays a higher knowledge and aptitude than an MBA but the MBA are three letters every employer is looking for at the very least.  And, I keep finding more people who have failed than passed these exams at some point.  Hmmm.

That is all I can think of that may be remotely interesting to someone other than myself.  I feel like it’s time to continue moving forward and I am honestly ready to make moves in 3 to 4 years (if I live that long).  It’s Friday so that means I need to finish up work for the week and get my weekend started.  I miss those weekend when you slept in, never left the house unless you absolutely needed to, and watch TV/movies all day.  Those were great!  I wish I knew French but, since I do not, hasta luego!

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September 10, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Pay or Not To Pay?

My friend texted me yesterday to tell me she’d received her tax refund check.  She did Turbo Tax which told her 2 weeks for direct deposit.  I’d originally did H&R Block Online but, since my childcare provider refused to give me her SS#, H&R Block’s system would not allow me to submit the form 2441.  This was after I paid my filing fee and my return was rejected.  So, I called H&R Block, asked for a refund (which they gave me), I printed off my 1040 form their system had populated for me, and I filed my taxes free at irs.gov (federal filing only).  I filled out a form wrong as it related to my direct deposit and I forgot to type my own name, address, etc (lol) so it was rejected.  That night, I called the IRS tax dept and this nice guy walked me through the errors explaining what each meant.  I re-submitted my return and it was approved!  I got my full return yesterday as well.  Do not fall for that lie as far as childcare providers are concerned.  The government isn’t perfect on a lot of fronts but cheating working parents out of money they paid persons to care for their children while they worked and/or went to school is not gonna happen.  I’m not sure if or when the IRS will contact her about those monies unclaimed….probably after April 15th to at least give her a chance to file.  I really don’t care.

My point today is the purpose I had for my tax money….to pay off my creditors.  Student loans aside (which amounts to a house), I owe about $3k in closed accounts which are now in collections.  No interest accruing.  No more late fees.  Just the balance as is.  I have already called 3 creditors who told me I must call the credit bureaus to request the record deleted from my account after I pay it.  I listen to this person lie to me over the phone and then I say, “listen here boo boo, I have talked to the credit bureaus already and they told me you’d say that because they only report what you tell them to report.  If you tell them it’s delinquent then they report that.  If you tell them it’s paid in full then they report that.  If you tell them to delete it then they do that as well.”  Then this person on the phone says, “well, let me check with my supervisor”…yeah, you do that.  The supervisor gets on the phone and politely tells me they do not delete but they offer this pretty picture of how awesome “paid in full” will look on my report.  They make it seem like the best picture ever painted.  Hmmm.  Most items fall off 7 years after it was reported 180 days delinquent so that means I have about 3-5 years for some things to fall off completely. 

Honestly, I have a list of stupid stuff on my report…..STUPID!  Library late fee for $200 which will fall off after it’s held a “paid in full” status for a year.  Old gas bill from college for about $100.  Old electric bill from college for about the same amount.  I have 3 credit cards….one for $850, another for $600, and the last for $1,900.  The last one does not report that amount on my report which is suspect to me so, if I pay it, I will pay what people can see on my report.   It’s not my problem they aren’t reporting the full information.  I have a $1,900 medical bill and another $600 medical bill.  I have a $600 auto insurance policy I kinda skip out on years ago.  All in all, I don’t owe much.  My plan is to pay off those which will be removed in a decent time instead of having to wait the full 7 yrs anyways because, in my little knowledge on this matter, I am not sure which is to my advantage.  Two items did get deleted from my report based on the Quarterly Update I get from Bank of America.  This increased one bureau’s score for me by 30 points.  I have 3 items that are paid that aren’t reporting correctly so I gotta call the 3 bureaus on that.  Credit stuff is irritating although the BofA guy said my score was actually pretty good considering his is about 100 points lower than mine.  Wow!

Should I keep my tax refund or spend it clearing up my credit?  Will it make a difference?  I don’t do the crazy shopping like most folks do. I need a new TV but I could care less about it…no one is seeing it unless they come over but if it bothers them then don’t come over at all.  Perfect solution.  I have a tendency to hoard money though.  I was always broke when I was married and it wasn’t one of those “he fell on hard times” situations.  Nope, he was just one of those “keepin up with the Joneses” so it devastated our finances.  Since then, I keep money just-in-case.  Sometimes I have my moment when I gotta make a bill next month but it’s not an issue when I’ve been paying them one time each month for the last 6 months.  I don’t have a boyfriend so Valentine’s Day is not an expense.  Both of my kids are on punishment till the summer so no expenses there unless they need to eat between now and then.  I don’t need anything as far as things are concerned.  I have a reunion with my sorority I plan to attend in April.  Basically, I have nothing planned.  I don’t have a car and I could seriously buy a car outright right now but I don’t want to.  Living in Chicago with a car is a “want” and I don’t want a car insurance pymt, sticker fees, and the headache of finding parking on residential streets.  My kids would love for mommy to have a car but, when they complain, I tell them how I walked 5 miles in 5 feet of snow on my way to school as a youngster and had to do it all over again on the way home with no backpack having to carry each book in my arms with my girly shoes and dress on so walking 3 city blocks to take the bus or train is a dream!  Ok, I lie to them from time to time but I thought I might as well keep that lie of a story alive  lol carry it down from my great grandparents to my grandparents to my parents to me to my kids.  In the meantime, I’ll figure out the best strategy for getting a house in my near future as well as a car.  Till then, I’ll hoard like no hoarder ever has before.

My friend’s birthday is next week.  I thought to bake something since I don’t wanna use any of my money towards a gift.  My friends think that shows too much effort and I should just buy a shirt or something.  Hmm…both require effort.  What is an effortless gift?!

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Financial Revamp

So, I signed up for Bank of America’s Premier Assist program which tracks my credit score, credit report, and other stuff for fraudulent activity.  I received a copy of my credit report from all 3 bureaus so I can get a list of things I need to pay and things I have paid that are still reporting ‘unpaid’.  I haven’t found anything that’s erroneous or not mine so at least that cool.  Guess what, I owe 2 freakin libraries $270!  Ridiculous!  I have a tendency to check out books and dvds, get them home, might read or watch them, and forget about them.  I might as well have bought the stuff brand new which goes to show how irresponsible I’ve been and how I accumulate debt over stupid stuff.  Most expensive thing on my report?  Student loan debt.  I should have a Ph.D. for the balance I owe….but I don’t.  Next expensive thing?  Medical bills.  Anesthesiologist bills to be more exact.  I think those total $3k at the most which isn’t that bad but it’s ain’t good either.  I have one medical bill that I’ve signed up for a payment plan on to prevent it from making its way to my credit report.  Yes, I had health insurance during all these times but it only covered so much which is why I hate to go to the doctor for any reason at all.  Thank God I’m pretty healthy though.

I’m not even thinking about student loans until next yr since I’ve been approved for a forbearance for the next 12 months.  The bad thing is that the interest is still accumulating but, as I see it, I’ll die before that balance is paid off so my best bet is to ensure my kids have a decent savings/trust in place in case they have to pay for me.  I’m not sure how all that works when someone dies leaving debt.  Do your estate actually means your kids are left to pay it?  How unfair is that?!?!  Anywho, that’s my never ending project along with calling creditors who list no real contact info to see what the hell this charge is for esp since it was yrs ago.  Overall, my report isn’t bad at all.  I have only a few things on there that, together, amount to a lot.  Credit cards.  Not so much of those….maybe a total of $3k.  If I can seriously get my medical and credit cards paid off my score should skyrocket if the bureaus will get off their butts and report things accurately but that’s too much like right and I’m sure it’s not their fault….it never is. 

I have been looking for and trying new ways to save money or stretch the money I have.  Now that I have child support coming in regularly I should be able to re-establish my savings which has diminished since my recent ex-hubby drama episode.  I don’t know where to cut corners but don’t we always say that?  But, seriously, I don’t.  I’ll keep looking and try to get outta my comfort zone which is exactly what it is … I’m used to a comfort level and I feel like it’s asking too much to change just so I can save.  I gotta save.  I gotta pay bills.  I gotta do a lot I don’t wanna do.  Where is my violin music?  But, I have been working on my asset column which falls under the ‘pay yourself first principle’.  The 4 shares of GIVN I bought have returned 6.46% as of this afternoon.  I watch a few of my fav companies, watch how the market goes up and down based on someone or something, and feel good about my overall strategy.  Man, if the Fed chairman sneezes hard enough, the market can crash on that alone.  No one man should have that much power! 

If things go as planned, I should only owe the government for my student loans but, since the government owes me for all those bailouts we should be even.  They don’t seem to agree but they never do.  Credit score is decently low (lol) but it’s on the come up along with the market and the interest rates (inflation).  I’m still broke but not as broke as I could be.  I’m still being careful about finances and learning to cook!  Woo hoo!  Baking bread…haven’t tried that yet but my mom has and I will prb ask her for help….or buy a bread making machine which is prb not the idea.  It was suggested that I use less meat and more bread but, me being me, I’m a meat person.  I loves my meat and I loathe breads.  I never understood how people could eat just bread with butter, jelly, jam, or whatever else is made to spread on bread.  Where is the bacon?  Sausage?  Pork?  Beef?  But, I’ll try because my 8 yr old is killing groceries before I can get them out the bag!  I’m terrified because he’s yet a teenager.  I feel like crying a tad bit.  Why do boys eat so much?!  I feed him and an hour later he’s hungry again.  If his lil bro doesn’t finish his food, before I can ask if he wants it, he’s eaten it already!  I grew up in a house full of girls so I had no idea how boys eat.  Pray for me please….and my grocery budget too.

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgo the Crowd

Unintended_Commentary_by_mtsofanThere are a few things I need to write about but the most concerning right now is my future.  I have decided to forgo my Masters degree ambitions at least until I have a good reason to pursue them.  Talking to my uncle a few weeks ago, he explained how he was going back to school to pursue his  MBA/MIS degree in hopes of a better paying position and to safeguard his self from the recession.  He called it investing in yourself.  I listened as he explained the rat race of working in IT which consisted of getting certified in all these different softwares, programs, or platforms etc (not sure what all those really mean) and having to deal with companies like Microsoft who change the requirements or certification specifications to assist the schools so that you are required to sit and get re-certified all over again after a couple of years and they intentionally change the dynamics of newer versions of programs so that it gives valid reasons for it.  Basically, all the upkeep to remain “certified” and compete with the college kids fresh outta school was becoming too much esp when his yrs upon yrs of experience was becoming obsolete to some new certification that was out. Now, he is investing in his self and that is what I question. 

I don’t get computers and, as he was talking to me, my eyes began to gloss over and he started laughing.  He said the look on my face reminded him of his wife’s face when he gets carried away talking about IT stuff when all she wants to do is send an email.  I never questioned anything he said.  I simply stood there and listened absorbing it all to take back with me and apply to what makes sense to me and what has worked or will work in reality.  Investing in myself.  Is that really getting an advanced degree?  I am constantly reminded of friends and friends of friends and family members of friends who bought into that lie and are now in debt pleading for a salary that will justify this advanced degree.  If I go back to school for my MBA and I finish school to land the same job or a job with a slight pay difference then what??  I’d find myself justifying my yrs of schooling along with the loans I took out as a reason for “investing in myself” when I am now in more debt than I started and making only a small percentage more than I was before just to pay for my pretty little piece of paper on my wall.  I’d show it to my kids all the while hating it because it was not really an investment at all but a liability.  Not an asset but an expense that has yet, if ever, to reap any benefits to me in my lifetime and since it’s attached to my name and is not transferable so it will likely not ever be worth the money I paid for it.  But, I bought 2 GMAT books (which I will likely sell and get some money back) and spent a good portion of 2009 studying for a test to get into a school for a degree I only want because everyone else is getting advanced degrees or once you reach a certain age that is just the thing to do so you will remain “competitive” and “marketable”.  Realizing I was following the crowd took a lot of strength on my part because I knew I was following the crowd a long time ago which is why I have been dragging my feet on studying.  I could have taken this test months ago but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure about it and uncertainty is something I always have to pause and question.

I’m too embarrassed to say how much I owe in student loans but, knowing I went to school in Indiana as an Illinois resident you can best believe it’s a hell of a lot of money!  Maybe one day I’ll reveal that amount.  One day.  I have a medical bill for $1,300 for my recent trip to the ER due to chest pains and heart irregularities.  I never go to the doctor unless it’s for my annual exam or other womanly issues.  Other than that, I’m healthy as someone my age should be so I don’t have many outstanding medical bills.  I have set up a payment plan to pay off my $1,300 medical bill which will likely come from the remaining balance of my medical flex account funded from my paycheck.  I have a $700 balance on that so that will leave me with about $600 to pay.  I’m only paying this medical bill to keep it off my credit report because I was once interested in buying a house and I know how important credit scores are.  But are they?  Sure they are but should they be that freakin important?  I’m beginning to re-think what I’ve been taught over the yrs and working on sifting through the bull’ish and unlearning a lot of things.  I even requested all 3 copies of my credit reports with the goal of paying things off and leaving only student loan debt (which is waaaay too much to think about right now) and medical bills I may have.  Credit cards and misc bills I neglected from yrs ago are what I need to work on.  Or should I?  How important is my credit score when I can just walk in and buy something outright?  They teach you that establishing credit shows you are financially responsible but does it really?  I know if I have a credit card I’d likely keep it for emergencies but what dictates an emergency?  For that reason, I don’t need one because I don’t trust myself and I’d likely cut it up but leave the account open without a card in hand tied to it.  I know me and that’s the best knowledge you can ever have.  I am my own weakness sometimes and I need to control me before I can control anything else.

That said, I am abandoning a lot of things I thought I needed to do in life and looking at other non-traditional avenues.  Spending thousands of dollars just to fight for a job with a decent salary to pay back that and other debt is ridiculous to me.  I don’t like to work.  I don’t like to work any harder than I have to.  I am the laziest person I know but I’d get up and run 10 miles and enjoy it because it benefits me to run 10 miles on many levels but what does slaving at a job benefit me?  I get a check.  I can pay my bills.  I like my job and my co-workers and what I do but it’s still only “like”.  I’d love all of those if I didn’t have to depend on that check as much as I do now.  There is a lot I don’t know and there is a lot I want to know so I have asked some of my friends and people who I barely know to let me in on what works for them.  They are all doing what I desire to do but I need more education on it.  The good thing is that I am an extremely disciplined person.  I thrived in online classes and simply hate classrooms because I find it a waste of time to go to a building to sit down and listen to some overly educated person lecture me on something I could have stayed home and read on my own.  I found out that I learn best when I am in control of things.  Most of my friends fail online classes but I pass them with ease.  It’s not that they are unmotivated.  They just sometimes need someone to stay on them.  I have realized that all I need to know I can learn for free or at a fraction of the cost of an MBA.  I sit during my free time reading tutorials, reading books, reading articles, applying what I learned in simulated environments to gauge what I have learned and what I am still lacking.  Right now, my greatest investment is my cynical nature and strong dislike to follow the crowd when I notice they aren’t any better off than I am along with my natural ability to question tradition when it reaps no noticable benefits.  Along with that, is my laptop & internet which allows me to study from home during my downtimes.  I am in school but I didn’t have to pay any tuition thus far and you will be amazed what people will teach you if you’d only open your mouth and ask.  Rat race.  It’s for some but it’s not for me…..anymore.  I’m redefining “investing in myself”.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments