32B's Blog

…where I write my words

My Recent Budget

This Friday will mark the end of my budget for this pay period.  Last pay period, I went over budget about $200 (if I remember correctly) which is horrible!  This time, I have not gone over budget.  I think I have about $20 to spare (maybe less than that) till Friday so I am doing good.  If I do go over budget from here on out, that means I had to transfer money from my savings account into my checking to cover my expenses which is something I am trying my best not to do.  This recent pay period I did put $500 into my savings account, went out-of-town, have paid bills with the remaining balance, and managed to live.  I have Bank of America so I can check my account balance and transactions online (usually to check for errors) but I also have a spreadsheet I created in Excel where I track each time I spend money.  I save all receipts until I enter the business and dollar amount and reason (if applicable) for the amount spent.  For example, I spent $41.17 at CVS Pharmacy but I only bought a pack of gum.  When I go home and type in CVS, input the amount, and add a comment I will write “pack of gum and $40 cash back”.  Sometimes I will write what the cash back was for (my son’s lunch money) but sometimes I just needed cash on me and since there is no Bank of America ATM nearby, it’s a no-fee solution to just get cash back.  The other thing is that Bank of America does this Keep the Change program where they round-up all your purchases to the next dollar and transfer the difference into your savings.  So, in essence, I type $42 into my Budget Spreadsheet instead of $41.17 which keeps me on track since that $0.83 will not appear in my checking account anyways.

If I have money (credits) pending or know I will have something deposited into my account, I do not count those transactions until they are received.  Some people (and companies) like to account for them before they have cleared because it makes their balance, bottom-line, net worth, liquidity, etc look better.  Personally, I am not trying to impress anyone and I like to keep things clear and concise so either I have it right now or I don’t.  Today, I swiped my debit card to buy a new pass for the Metra which gets me to and from work.  Although I had it budgeted for my next pay period which begins Monday, I ran out of rides before then so I will have to claim it on this pay period (if it clears before Friday) and move any other transactions I was going to make to next week.  Does that make sense?  Even if a company or business debits my account late (anything dealing with the city of Chicago really), I still subtract that amount from my balance so I do not forget about it and send myself into a negative standing.  So, debits I account for immediatelty and credits I account for later (when they clear my account).  All in all, I have been diligent with my budget, my savings, and keeping track of my spending.  I now know how much I have in my account at all times, how much I have starting out, and I must account for each penny spent so it better be a “need” instead of a “want” more times than not.  I do understand that putting $500 into my savings each month may be asking a lot but I only do so because my child support is non-existent and I need a safety net.  Since I have an extra pay period before May’s rent comes due, I will be able to put another $300 into savings which will make my April Savings total = $800.  The good thing is that I might actually make a good anal accountant.  The bad thing is that I hate accounting.

Still no life insurance policy.  Honestly, I’ve let it fall by the side of the road along with my DNR and Power of Attorney forms.  I started out so good but have gotten lazy recently.  Gotta get that finished at least.  My credit score has not changed since my last update a month or two ago.  I should receive my next quarterly update next month.  I now owe $577 on an emergency room bill from last year when I was having chest pains which had a balance of $1,300.  Since I went to the ER this past weekend, that is another bill tacked on there…..irritating although I was in serious pain.  Trying not to create more debt but it seems medical related expenses come from nowhere just like that.  D (of D.J.) is having a birthday next month.  Not sure what to do but I know what he wants…a bike, a Nintendo DS, and to see Iron Man 2.  Nintendo DS is not happening because I bought him one last year and it lasted about 60 days before he had completely destroyed the hinge and had some wire from somewhere sticking out.  Lesson learned: never spend that much money on a video game that I can’t keep in my house and watch over.  Anything portable has resulted in destruction with these kids.  A bike is cool but I keep finding new ones at $60 which is nowhere in my price range of free.99 so I shall keep looking.  Iron Man 2 I can do all day but I think I should actually take him somewhere.  Maybe Medieval Times.  Paintball.  Laser Tag.  Another amusement park.  Bad thing is I don’t feel like doing any of this stuff.  Wish I could just pay to let him play and I pick them up later after I do something I want to do.  Too bad it doesn’t work that way.  Other than that, that is my recent budget-toward-financial-freedom update.  Nothing more to report until 2 weeks from now but, if something interesting happens, I will post about it.  My life is officially BORING!

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I heart Personal Finance!

Piggybacking off My Employment Future, during our company meeting this past Friday it was disclosed that some offers have been placed on the table from interested parties so our owners will pick some one/company soon.  What the next steps will be are these lucky new owners coming in to do Due Diligence (I know what that means but not within this context) and they will be interviewing everyone.  Why?  That’s the part I was leaning forward at the edge of my seat to hear but all I got was a face full of floor because she never answered that.  My timeline of a few months or even a year is shot to hell since she clearly said “in the next few weeks” and warned us that there may come a week when we’d all be asked to work from the office just in case we are called on for an interview.  Oh, and dress business casual too.  Well, I got an email from my manager today saying our work-from-home days next week Monday thru Wednesday are cancelled and that we are to dress business casual for those 3 days.  I need a paper bag to breathe into.  Why is everything going so fast?!  Our CEO is 62 years old and her ex-husband (our Chairman) is at least 5 years older than that so I understand y’all want to retire but I still have a question to ask and no one but me seems a tad bit uneasy about this sell.  I’m not getting a phat check after the sale closes…I just wanna know if I should start kissing butts for a new job or am I cool.  For right now at least.  I guess D-day is next week….dress to impress whether or not I think it matters.

A co-worker was offered a new position in QA which is a new one-person dept created just for this new role which we really needed a looooooong time ago.  How does a software company NOT have a QA dept?!  I have no freaking idea!  It’s a Microsoft Vista situation waiting to happen.  So, this co-worker accepted the position which includes a pay raise since the last time the position was offered to the same co-worker sans pay increase it was turned down.  Co-worker tells manager (after accepting position) that he is moving to PA with his wife.  Manager talks to the corner offices who agree to keep employee on but allow this person to work remotely full-time instead of hiring someone who knows nothing about the system(s) and lose someone who has 5 years of knowledge stored in their head.  This person makes employee #2 who is a full-time remote employee.  The other is a computer programmer working from TX.  My point is….there really isn’t any but maybe it will come to me later.  This person who is moving to PA just passed his 5 year anniversary too and received a check.  You got a pay raise, allowed to work remotely, and a check for staying here 5 yrs….is this not a great situation or what??  I kinda wanna know who the new owners are.  I am anxious for next week in a good and bad way but I shall plan for the worse but pray for the best.  I don’t wanna be laid off.  I don’t wanna job hunt.  I don’t wanna be like so many others out there scraping for anything.  I don’t wanna go back to school either.  I should title this post “I don’t wanna….”

My budget is revealing little things about my spending habits I didn’t want to admit to myself such as I spend way too much on silly things at CVS just because it’s walking distance from my house and they give me $5 off coupons.  I am recording every single penny spent.  A lot of work but necessary.  If I spend $100 at Wal-Mart I force myself to add a comment (using Excel) documenting all the items bought that equaled $100 so I know what I really didn’t need and where I need to be more disciplined.  So far, I am about $100 over budget which means I spent more than my recent paycheck and now must either dip into my savings or use what I had in my checking account before this paycheck was deposited.  I told myself that I don’t need a budget because I can add, do bookkeeping in my head, and I know I am not dropping big faces at the mall but it’s a big difference when you see you don’t have to go to the mall to overspend on stuff you don’t need. 

My ex lost his permanent job weeks ago (he just told me this last week), has been working a temporary job (which explains my low child support payments), gets a new assignment next week, and is trying to network for a permanent job outside of retail in time for the kids to come for summer since the long hours of retail don’t do so well with having at least 3 kids to take to and from daycare.  Yeah, I thought everyone knew that one.  This puts my budget and savings in trouble because I didn’t expect to spend my money on daycare which his child support pymts are supposed to cover which blows my pretty little Excel spreadsheet with the formulas programmed to calculate columns for me to smithereens and makes me wanna call Wayne Brady to choke a b*tch (Dave Chappelle).  My attorney gave me my options: A) change my case standing from private to public which means the courts handle it all and she is left out of it.  The pro is the state can intercept his tax check like everyone who played against the Bears this season.  The con is that the state may lower our agreed child support amount from the divorce papers to match his income which will leave me with pennies just because he eff’d up his career for some lil na na.  B) file paperwork to hold him in contempt of court since he is not adhering to the divorce agreement as it applies to child support.  It will take 4-6 weeks for the judge to review my case and assign a court date (I hope I don’t have to attend) at which time the judge will decide between jail, work release (locked up still but allowed to leave for work only), or a personal finance class to teach him how to budget his money.  The pro is the judge will force him to catch up and he will understand I pull the reigns in this so pay up!  The con is I have to pay for my attorney to file and pursue this issue in court.  Either way it goes, I come out my pocket money but, long-term I gotta think about this strategically.

My investments are doing well…..all 12 shares of them.  I didn’t have a lot of money to start investing in and I didn’t want to use any of my money so I used Mr. D’s instead.  I sold some and bought some more but I have gained 21.26% thus far.  My 401k is rising, then dropping, then rising, and then dropping a bit more but it’s on the up tick right now.  I have been reading about mutual funds and ETFs and how to make an income off them too.  It’s a lot of reading but it’s worth it.  I have funded my revocable trust.  Only thing left to add to it is my bank account which I never seem to have the time to do.  Still have not bought life insurance because I was making sure the 20 year term so cool since my kids will be 24 and 28 and fully capable of taking of themselves by then (they getting the hell outta my house anyways), the cost difference between a regular term policy and the ROP (Return of premium) policy, and confirm which non-medical exam policy I was going to settle on.  You would think I was dying tomorrow….well, lets pray not.  Once everything is finalized my net worth should definitely be more than the $5 some article said most African-American women are worth nowadays.  Kick my butt Mr. Article!!

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Career, Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Employment Future

I am not sure if I wrote about this already but my company is owned by a once-married couple who are reaching retirement so they have placed the company up for sale.  I have been working here 3 months shy of 3 years.  During my interview, my manager told me the company was up for sell but that this did not weigh negatively on the stability of the company.  Apparently, an offer was made back then but the owners of my company didn’t like the amount offered so they declined and the sale fell through.  Now, 3 years later, I guess they are serious about selling.  There have been 2 meetings thus far with potential buyers (that I know of) but no news just yet.  We were told during our last company meeting that this sale process would take months so it will not be an immediate change.  However, we all discussed the pros and cons.  According to those older than I with experience as an employee whose company was sold, they had to re-interview for their positions along with external (and maybe internal) applicants.  But, knowing the learning curve that exists as far as mastering the different programs and know-how, we are told that the “meat” of the staff will be safe.  I am definitely not the “meat” since there are folks with more knowledge than I.  A pro would be the prospects of a bigger company absorbing this little family owned one and keeping us on or offering us lateral positions at best within their current establishment which opens up more opportunities as well as tuition reimbursement (for me).  The problem with this is that I have not seen any bigger companies vying to buy this little company (that I know of).  All I have seen thus far are independent venture capitalists interested in a new investment.

I am actually nervous about my future but, at the same time, not nervous.  Nervous because I just got serious about my personal finances so I have yet to save a 6 month nest egg as I should.  I have most of my tax money (about 80%), most of my bonus money from work (about 80%) and I just transferred $500 from my recent paycheck into savings so I have something although not what I should.  I am thinking that if I put aside $500 every month (along with my current savings balance) I will reach my goal 6 months from now BUT that will only happen if I’m carefull about how I spend the remaining balance of my paycheck.  Can’t put $500 into savings every month but have to dip into it because I overspent or forgot about a check I wrote so my checking acct is about to go negative AND my student loan pymts begin (again) this Sept so I wanna have my savings squared away by then.  I’m not nervous because whether I have this job for another 2 months or 2 years, I see it as a chance to do something else.  Pursue other career paths.  Change is good when you’re prepared.  Obviously, this was the idea of many but not everyone has been successful at it….trust me, I have read & heard the stories.  So, that is why I am working overtime to get my savings intact, keep all bills low, and not spend on anything silly because I just don’t know.  My friends have been unemployed for at least a year now, companies are laying off, and people are losing jobs as cities/state try to save their budgets so there is no fail-proof method here.

Mr. D called me to tell me about a conversation involving his District Manager mentioning cancelling his “contract”.  I am not sure (and neither is he) what “contract” means.  It could a) Mr. D’s job entirely which would suck big time but he has excellent sales skills (seems to be the only field hiring) & will sit for his State Board certification exam next week to get licensed in something related to Real Estate or b) Mr. D’s company which is hired by his employer which means the 3-6 guys that work for Mr. D will be laid off and his company left with no business.  Obviously, he’d prefer “b” as opposed to “a” but he is still not sure which one it will be.  In the meantime, I am preparing as much as I can using all tools to educate myself and learning from everyone’s mistakes who are willing to tell their story.  Mr. D is freaking out a little bit because that’s what he does…..he freaks out about anything uncertain (look who’s talking).  We are both working on our finances, we are both at the same level as far as FICO scores although I have student loans which amount to the asking price of a house and he does not since he didn’t go to college.  We know about each others’ finances, our past financial mistakes, we share credit scores, ways we are each working on rebuilding, and all other stuff.  No point waiting for surprises and we all know your annual income does not matter….it’s what you do with that money that counts.  You can become a millionaire making $30K/year while someone making $100K is struggling to make ends meet.

And that is the end of my post.  I have placed my resume out there on job search engines with a semi-private setting just in case.  I am thinking about other career options.  I am considering going back to school (if my employer will cover expenses).  And looking for opportunities outside of Chicago.  It’s always good to have several plans for every letter of the alphabet and have a nice savings to cushion the blow if it does happen.  I am praying for a 2 year (at least) time frame which will give me 5 years on-the-job experience in all the random stuff I’ve been doing here but I am planning for the 2 months scenario as well.  Sidenote: we have a date night this Saturday so I volunteered to cook so we can stay in (and save money).  I am putting together a salad (not sure what kind yet but I had an awesome cranberry salad recently), making homemade spinach & chicken pizza, and have strawberries (or shortcakes) for dessert.  I even bought wine although I can’t find his fav so he’ll drink what I have.  I’m not sure if that’s enough food because I know how I eat so maybe I should tweak it or add something else to it.  I don’t know.  My girls said that sounds nice (lol because it’s a girly menu) and I know cooking a pizza isn’t actually cooking an entire meal but….baby steps lol I’ll get to the meats and potatoes later if he survives **evil laugh**.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Period, Raise, Boyfriend, & Running

Seriously, I’m not feeling too well 😦 two hours before I was set to leave work my uterus started tightening every 5 mins or so and I had to stop each time and grimace a tad bit.  Cramps!  I hate when my period starts while I’m at work but there was nothing I could do about it….Mother Nature refuses to get my opinion or views on anything.  So, I left a few minutes early and made a trip to the bathroom.  On my way home, I stopped to pick up tampons and chocolate and Scope…last one was random.  I sat down in front of TV, ate, watched people fall during downhill skiing, and dealt with my 8yo refusing to think long enough to finish his math homework.  How can you be mentally lazy?!  Ridiculous! 

So, before Mother Nature attacked my body, my manager called me into his office.  I never get called into his office unless we all have a meeting or he wants to show me something work related or I need his signature on something.  So, I get up thinking “is he gonna lay me off??” but he just wanted to tell me I was getting a raise!!  This is monumental because we have been in a recession since 2008, majority of my friends have been laid off or are still laid off, our sales were significantly less than last year so last year brought no raise at all (but we did get a bonus), and most companies are reigning in spending so it is still hindering our sales dept.  But, the big wigs gave out raises and I was one of those blessed folks 🙂  I got a 2.44% raise and a bonus!  Bonus is actually more than the bonus last year so I’m super happy.  He told me the dollar amount of my salary increase but I think a percentage looks better although 2.44% anything is almost nothing no matter what the 2.44% is added to but I will surely take it.  Then my manager asked how things were going and I explained I was learning more still (going on my 3rd yr here), doing more when boss lady stops hogging all the work because she’s obsessively anal over every small detail, and I feel like I’m always busy with something so that’s great.  He warned that a major company was coming to our dept pretty soon so our current workload would increase and the big wigs have already told him “no” as far as hiring more help.  Honestly, I think the boss lady and I can handle it well ourselves….but I say that now.  He told me to keep learning as much as I can & get ready to get buried (in so many words).  My dept is the bread & butter of the company (so says boss lady)…we bring in a nice revenue with outsourcing services so if more companies sign up then I should always have a job but I won’t bank on that too much.  So, my extra money which will be back paid from the 1st of the year to now will go right into my savings account along with my bonus when I get that.  I am really working hard on my emergency fund account & not spending on silly stuff I don’t need.  I am more than half way to my savings goal and then I can start working on my next goal to financial freedom!

I moved back to Chicago for my current job in June 2007.  In September 2007 I met this guy named D but I started calling him Chocolate Drop because he’s dark like chocolate, looked good like chocolate, and I just knew he had to taste good like chocolate too.  Anywho, we dated for a couple of months but then he said something about women being Pastors of churches along with a women-in-leadership comment that royally pissed me off so we stopped dating.  We remained friends for the next 2 yrs partly because he’s my boys’ barber and he is a cool person who I kinda still liked.  He is a property manager by day, barber by night, and co-owner of a cleaning something business with his brother for whatever part of the day is left.  So, July 2009 we started dating again and recently (after I wrote The Best saying how awesome he was although we didn’t work out) he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I thought he was joking because he hasn’t had a girlfriend in 10 years & the word “relationship” kept him frightened.  After writing The Best, I stuck around as his friend and we talked more, completely stopped arguing (a miracle), we laughed all the time & we swapped stories about random stuff and then about actual meaningful stuff.  He’d bring the boys milk, orange juice, candy for Valentines Day parties (all things I never felt like going to get), something I needed printed (I don’t have a printer at home), tacos, and anything else I call him for.  We just kinda started having fun & enjoying each others’ company again but then I realized my feelings hadn’t gone anywhere but neither had his so that’s how it happened.  I thought the next couple of days he’d freak out & say he made a mistake because 10 yrs ago this chick did blah blah blah and he no longer believes in love and he would rather be friends because of blah blah blah that will never make sense to me but then he said I was the best woman he’d ever dated and I realized while I had written The Best about him here he was thinking the same thing about me (altogether now……AWWWWWW!)  So, I have a boyfriend now and his name is Mr. D.

I officially registered (paid my money) for the Chicago Half Marathon this Sept so I have about 6 months to get my butt into run-13-miles-under-2-hours shape although I’d settle for 2.5 hours however ridiculously slow that sounds in my head.  Now…..I need to watch some more TV, read some more about ETFs, find some good accounts offering a decent interest rate in this economy, & actually get my forms notarized tomorrow.  Geez!  I was supposed to do that today but my lower body was cramping too bad to think about anything else.  No reason for the pink converses other than they’re freakin cute and uber girly! Over and out.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments