32B's Blog

…where I write my words

Forever and a Day

…that is how long it feels since I have posted anything. 

Personal Finances – I am currently at $6,000 with my Emergency Fund balance.  I tried to create a budget when I realized that what I created was really just a listed of all my fixed costs per pay period.  Looking at my fixed expenses and not forgetting smaller ones that hit my account by ACH was really good.  I realized I cannot cut anything more than my freaking cell phone bill which is ridiculous.  I did set up another checking account which may be temporary but I need to see where my money is going or else I will continue to be confused.  My primary checking account is where my pay check is deposited, where I use Bill Pay for free, and where I have automatic debits set up.  My second account is now for anything in excess of my fixed costs which I have titled my Variable Spending (going out, shopping, etc) account since it can be as variable as I want post-bill paying.  I will calculate everything I need to pay for these 15 days and leave that amount in my primary account, transfer the excess into my Variable account, and make my deposit into my E-fund account as well.  This seems like a good solution for me and the second account has no fees and a separate ATM card which is cool too.  I should reach my $10k goal by June 2011 if no emergencies arise (Lord please!) and I stay disciplined with my spending.  Christmas is always a test though.

Running –  I have been running maybe twice a week or thrice if I can get it in.  Still in a blissful state right now with no pending races, no training, and no need to hit a certain distance or time other than laying the foundation for Spring season.  Running for fun is in!

School – I have about five more weeks til the end of this semester.  Thus far, I expect an “A” in my Executive Leadership class since I have gotten A’s on the last 3 of my 6 assigned papers.  Part of the final grade is class participation which involves discussions so, since I hardly (translation: never) raise my hand to say anything, I hope I don’t get a “B” based on that.  But, knowing I should participate instead of being an active listener never makes me raise my hand even to say “I agree with whatever you just said”.  My Finance/Stat/Econ class is wrapping up as well.  I have 2.5 sections to complete and then the final exam.  I should be finished with my lessons by Thanksgiving (it is a work-at-your-own-pace class) so I will have ample time to go back over the material since I can only take the final exam once.  I do not plan to take any classes next semester but I do plan to take 2 this summer while my kids are away at their dad’s.  I want to take this Accounting class I keep hearing about from students in my class.  Apparently, the professor moves kind of fast so it is intense and not to be taken lightly.  I would enjoy the challenge.

Dating – I went out on a date this past Saturday which went pretty well.  Background information: 29 yr old single dad with a young daughter, Bachelors in Political Sciences, Masters in Psychology, and currently in his 2nd year of law school at Loyola University.  We have a second date tentatively planned for this weekend – a jazz place I have not been to which he claims is the best in Chicago.  We met up at Starbucks in Hyde Park which is near my sister’s apartment who was watching my kids for me.  It was about 40 degrees outside but 90 degrees inside this closet-sized Starbucks location.  I walked in and almost walked out I was so hot!  My nose started draining like crazy and I apologized for the rudeness but I needed to wipe it clean as he handed me a Hot White Chocolate which is like my favorite drink.  He suggested we walk down to Borders which was a good idea because the cold air felt great against my skin.  I felt like I was having a heat flash.  We bought books for the kids, talked, then made our way to Leona’s to get something to eat and sat there for maybe 1.5 hours talking some more.  It turned out better than I expected so that is a plus. 

Randomness – I got business cards!  Yeah, that exclamation point was only because I felt I should be excited.  A manager suggested we all have personal business cards for networking which I thought I should have had years ago but better late than never, right?  That are a brown color with a white swirly design since I like warm neutral colors and have my static contact information on them.  I gave my family a card like they don’t know me and I still have about 245 more to give away.  I am not good at promoting myself but I guess I should get better at it.  Also, weeks ago, I send a tweet to BGIM suggesting she write some of her recipes on her blog and she did this pork chop one which I actually have most of the ingredients to try.  I do not mind cooking but if I can cook something creative (my recipe or not) then my kids might grow up thinking mommy was not a total failure in the kitchen.  And, I got my Cajun injection for my Thanksgiving turkey!  I am uber excited to possibly eff up my Thanksgiving dinner but I am willing to for the lesson learned.

I have the above picture as my desktop at work.  It is called Life – I like it.  Hasta Luego! 🙂

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November 8, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

Old…New

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!

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

First Day of School

Yesterday was my first day of school.  It’s been 5 years since I have taken any college course and probably more than that since I have taken a classroom course (I finished my Bachelors degree online).  I have 2 classes this semester, an online refresher course and an Executive Leadership course in the classroom.  My sister picked the kids up rather early yesterday afternoon so I was able to get ready and out the door without too much fuss.  I looked at my online class briefly and familiarized myself with the breakdown.  There are 6 sections: Accounting, Business Math, Finance I, Finance II, Microecon, and Stat.  Each of these sections have a number of lessons.   Before you begin the lessons, there is a pre-test.  After you have completed the lessons, there is a post-test which must be at least 70%.  If it is not at least a 70% then you cannot move on to the next sections.  Once all 6 sections are complete with a score of 70% or higher on each post-test, there is a final exam which must be at least a 70% or you fail the class.  Now, the post-tests can be taken quite a few times but the final exam can only be taken once.  This is a Pass/Fail class only so no letter grade.  You either have the sufficient background to pursue this degree program or you do not.  It makes sense since most people come from non-business backgrounds to get MBAs but then it does not make sense because this would be eliminated if the GMAT was required which, from studying for the exam, guarantees you are definitely up to par on these skills.

My Executive Leadership class is a conversational, discussion-based, paper-writting class.  I read through the syllabus and realized that the final grade is based on 6 papers and class participation.  I really hate class participation grades – are you really forcing me to interactive and talk?  Other than that, the class seems pretty chill.  Instead of buying my book, I rented it from Chegg but found out I didn’t need it for the class (my professor said he is required by the university to say the textbook is required which I translated to mean it is up to my discretion) so that bad boy is going back asap!  There are about 30 people in the class.  Most going for MBAs except one lady who is going for a Masters in Accounting.  Most of them are 25+ and most seem nice and not as talkative as I feared.  You know the type who just loves to hear themselves talk?  Well, I do not see any of those in this class so that is awesome.  We will discuss leadership, what it means to be a leader, how it differs from being a manager, and hear from real leaders out in the workplace come in and talk about their experiences.  On another note, there was only 2 cute guys in my class.  One had a girlfriend he’d moved to Chicago to be with so that is a no-go.  The other was too pretty and dressed too GQ – I wanted to ask where he was going.  He sat right next to me and, when we went around the room introducing ourselves like pre-schoolers on the alphabet carpet, I heard extreme pride in his voice when he announced he was a Financial Analyst for Citibank.  Interesting.

Class let out 30 minutes early, I hopped on the train, and took the bus back home.  I was having a craving for a gyro – not really the gyro itself but that tasty white sauce that I can never remember the name of.  Mr. D brought me one at about 10pm last night.  He is such a good friend – I swear one of those come in handy esp when sex is not in the equation.  I am leaving work early today, my kids return this evening, and I have a busy weekend ahead of me along with classwork.  It feels good to be in school again esp not having to foot the entire bill and take out loans – no more student loans!!!  I was interested in registering for a Jackson Hewitt Tax course but it interferes with my current class schedule so I’m extremely pissed about that – maybe next September.  No intention to work for Jackson Hewitt – I just think learning some tax stuff would be helpful.  Don’t you think?  Or maybe it’s just me.  I am thinking about taking the next semester off to pursue something else but I’m still weighing that option – if I truly believe in myself, my abilities, and my aptitude for finance then I just might take the leap … we shall see.  It’s a new season and I am excited about it.  Happy Labor Day!!

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to School

42-21222017A few weeks ago I registered for the CTP (Treasury) exam really excited to be doing something because, right now, I am bored.  I have been with my company for almost two years and have gotten accustomed to the work load and even the added responsibility by way of projects.  Now, since I have given myself time to adjust and not overwhelm myself AND since I work from home twice a week allowing me additional time to do work throughout the day instead of squeezing it into a sometimes 8 hour day…I have gotten bored.  I have extra time on my hands and nothing to really do but relax at home and chill.  Nothing wrong with that but, my mind is screaming for some stimulation which is why I registered for the CTP exam.  Well, during a phone call with the Treasurer for the Washington D.C. area, I asked her how she went about getting to where she is in her career as well as her opinion on the CTP exam.  Although she said the CTP certification is excellent to have, since it applies only to the field of Treasury, it greatly limits myself to just that field.  So, that being said, she agreed that I should pursue my MBA instead so that is what I have set out to do.

I have purchased the 2009 GMAT study book with CD-ROM and started my admissions application to the University of Chicago (UIC).  Not sure what other schools I am interested in but I choose that one because most people my age who are career-driven and successful went there at one point in time and it has a good reputation as well.  I highly prefer online schools because, me being me, I am disciplined enough to handle online studies and I prefer to do things on my own terms.  Tell me the due date and I’m cool.  That is how I finished my undergrad degree….online and I loved it!  A lot of people scared me when I first took my online classes because they had completely failed, forgot about due dates, and forgot they were even registered in a class at all.  I guess the classroom and attendance keeps people focused.  The problem here is that most employers/companies do not respect online MBA degrees unless they are from a usually brick and mortar institution such as Indiana University, Penn State, Purdue University, or some other school that has established it’s reputation already.  The first two schools I plan to apply to since they have completely online MBA programs.  The latter one, as well as UIC, offers some core classes online so I may be forced to deal with what I can get.  And, I will apply to some safety net schools too…don’t wanna set my standards too high and get my poor feelings hurt!

Only thing I have to do this month and next is study for the GMAT.  I took a mini-practice exam online and I swear my brain started to hurt.  It reminded me of the test I had to take to get my current job (yes, there was an intelligence test) which I didn’t expect when I arrived so I began very poorly but, after calming myself down and thinking, I got all but 3 questions right out of 55!  The mini-practice exam was a repeat of that with almost the exact type of questions….since it was so short I bombed it and, when I went back over my answers, I realized I hadn’t even read some of the questions all the way through!  I was so focused on getting through and it was mostly math, math, and more math which isn’t a problem but I know I need to woo sau and relax, relate, and release before the big dance.  The application deadline for most school’s Fall 2009 admissions is May 15th.  I may make that date….chances are I won’t though since I don’t wanna rush through the exam just to say I completed it.  So, I got my eyes set on January 2010 at an online school where I can work full-time and got to school full-time.  Might have to have the kids at the sitter some weekends while mommy studies but I gotta do what I gotta do.

Oh, personal statement….I need one of those, too.  And, recommendations too….this is some crap!  What does that have to do with anything?!  And I forgot that online schools tend to cost more….like, a lot more!  I did my FAFSA….found out I have a default student loan with Purdue Univ for $14 so my Pell Grant request was denied until I can show a paid-in-full letter.  $14….yep, not a typo….$14!  Thank God it was only that much.  Ok, that is it….I’m excited!  I will have something to do AND I signed my 3 yr old you for Tiny Tots Tumbling during the afternoon of my work-from-home days so mommy can go running for about an hr.  Running….such a release!

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Me | , , , , | Leave a comment