When I posted the other night about my work bonus, I completely forgot to mention this!! My company's basic match on 401k contributions is 50% for up to 6% of the employee's base pay. When the bonus amounts were announced the other day, a separate announcement also came out that an additional 30% match was approved for 2008 contributions, for a total of 80% match!!! At first I thought I must not have read it right, LOL ... I had no idea they did that, and I don't know if it's something they have done in the past, since I've only been employed there 16 months. I am so glad I opened my 401k early last year and contributed 6% of my salary!!
Viewing the 'Work' Category
The AP had an interesting article today titled "Fallout begins after dismal holiday season." It said that some experts predict we will see more stores closing than we've seen in 35 years, with "thousands of stores and whole malls" closing down. It also said analysts expect the dramatic changes in shopping behavior could linger for another 2-3 years.
About 160,000 stores will have closed this year and 200,000 more could shutter next year, said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. That would be the industry's biggest contraction in 35 years. In March and April of next year, Flickinger expects 2,000 to 3,000 malls to shutter.
In that vein, I am proud to say that I just got through my first Christmas EVER with NO NEW DEBT!! Now, THAT is an awesome feeling!! It's an even bigger feat when you take into consideration that I spent $533 on car repair and inspection fees on Dec. 22 ... which I also paid cash for! YAY ME!!! (Of course, now I am flat broke and payday isn't until Monday ... but we should make it okay.)
On the employment front, my company's CEO sent out a statement a couple of weeks ago that merit increases for all employees (which were expected in February/March, as in past years) will be suspended in 2009. My initial reaction was "Of course, because it's my first year to be eligible for one!" (after 15 months of employment) ... but my prevailing thought is that I am SO grateful to have my job! I got a salary increase in September when I got my promotion, plus we will still receive our bonus for 2008 at the end of January, so it's not all bad news! I'm not sure yet how much the bonus will be, but hopefully enough for me to get my baby EF built back up AND have enough for a deposit and moving expenses so I can get out of the rental house I am in (which seems to be falling down around me).
In other financial news, I am back to fretting over the future of my regular child support payments ... my ex got laid off from his most recent position so he's job hunting again. I really feel for him because he's had such a run of bad luck job-wise in the past several years. The company he'd been with for 20+ years (which paid to send him back to school) eliminated his position shortly after he got his Masters degree, then he got into a franchise business which went belly-up after its first year or so and he had to declare bankruptcy. After that he worked for another company for a year or so, but it was a family-owned business and when family relations went south the company divided and he lost his job. It took him awhile to find something else, and when he did it lasted less than a year (the company decided he wasn't the right "fit" for the job -- after about 9 months!). His most recent position (which only lasted a few months) was as a landman for an energy company, but with the decline in oil prices they've had massive layoffs and my ex was among them. I hope he can find something stable very soon. Even though paying child support is at the top of the list of the bills he'll need to pay, if he doesn't have the money ... then what?? I just don't want to find out. Plus I really don't like to see him in this situation; he is a good person and a very smart man, and he would make an excellent employee for any company! Hopefully he will get some good news soon, because I know he is aggressively looking.
I went ahead and updated my CC debt total and my pie chart a couple of days early, since all the accounts have been updated for December. I paid off almost 16% of my debt in 2008 without incurring any new debt, woo-hoo!! I plan to look at the numbers in more detail over the next couple of days and set a goal for how much I want to pay off in 2009.
In my last post I mentioned applying for another position within my company. I interviewed for it last week, and learned on Friday that I got the job! I'm excited for the promotion, and for the extra money I will be earning as a result! My salary increase is 12%, and I will get a merit increase in February or March as well (as a percentage of my new salary, not my old one). This will make up for the child support decrease which took effect in June, and get me back on track. Woo-hoo!! My first order of business, as soon as my raise shows up on my paycheck, is to get my savings built back up ... baby EF has taken a hit with the decrease in child support, and I need to get that built back up to at least $1,000 ASAP.
I think I have mentioned on here that my ex has been unemployed for a little while, and I've been worried about his financial situation. Well, he got his own good news yesterday, and he starts a new job on Monday. The bad news is that it requires a LOT of travel, and he will only be home once a month, so my daughter will see him even less than she does now. The thought also occurred to me last night that this alters my moving plans somewhat ... I was thinking I would move into a 2-bedroom apartment with my daughter, and when my son comes home from college for breaks and in the summer, he can stay at my ex's most of the time, and we'll "make do" for the time he wants to spend with me. (My ex lives about 30 minutes from me.) But if my ex isn't home, my son will not want to be there with just his stepmom ... so now I may be in the market to move into another 3-bedroom place instead. I will look at the prices of the 3-bedroom model at the apartments I'm interested in, but I know that option won't be feasible for me because the prices of the 2-bedroom models are on par with what I am currently paying to rent my 3-bedroom house ... so the 3-bedroom apartment will no doubt be out of my price range. This is going to require some more thought, as well as some conversation with my son.
I have family (my dad and stepmom) and friends down in the Houston area who have been somewhat affected by Hurricane Ike. I have talked to my dad a couple of times, and he said they don't have any damage to their home but that their yard is a huge mess. They also still do not have power, and haven't since Friday night (when all they had were the very beginnings of the high winds which were to come). My friends do not have their power back yet, either, and they had minimal damage (their backyard fence is down). Here in Fort Worth we had a day of rain yesterday, but today we have sunshine and wind (which is normal for here, LOL). I grew up in Houston but I do not see myself ever moving back down there; I just cannot imagine going through all the storm preparation and the clean-up and inconvenience in the aftermath ... and Houston isn't even ON the coast, it's further inland. Galveston is really a mess. And this morning I saw on TV that the midwest is getting incredible amounts of rain from Ike, bringing them all sorts of problems. Hugs to those of you who have been affected by Ike, and Gustav before that!
I went ahead and updated my total CC debt on my sidebar, as well as my ticker. I have to keep my focus on the fact that my debt total continues to go down, rather than on the fact that it's going down so slowly. I started this year at almost $13,500 in debt, and now I'm just under $12,000 - yeah! Also, my FICO score last December was under 600, and I just checked it and it's at its highest point for this year ... 630! It's not nearly where I want it to be, but it's certainly better than it was 9 months ago. So, I continue to take baby steps. "Slow and steady wins the race," right?
I applied for a new job (in the same company) online today. I have a pretty good shot at getting it, although it's definitely not a sure thing. If I do get it, I will move into the next salary grade, which would ROCK!! I should know something for sure in the next two or three weeks, fingers crossed!
As an update to the plumbing situation I talked about in my last post, the landlord did get the toilet repaired, and now I'm just waiting for the next occurrence!
Well, I've made a few more sales on half.com, and my profit stands at right around $40 now. I haven't received any of that money yet, but half of it should hit my account tomorrow or Tuesday. I decided to close my SmartyPig account (already!) so it's gone from my sidebar. I had $75.11 in that, and I needed money to buy my son some things to get him ready to go off to college in a couple of weeks ... so I decided it would be better to close that account than to defrost a credit card! I am really feeling the pinch of that reduction in child support a couple of months ago. I just really hate to go get another job on top of my full-time job, because that will leave my 13-year-old daughter home alone an awful lot. But I may have no choice. I keep thinking I'll see how long I can hold out, and if I can just make it to next year things will look up. I'll get a salary increase in February, and hopefully something from the IRS. (Not sure about the IRS refund; I have gotten large amounts in past years due to earning such a low amount throughout the year; however, with this job I'm working now I have no basis for comparison.) But even if I can "hang on" ... that's still another 6+ months away, which is a long time.
In the meantime, I am paying the minimums on my credit cards again, but at least I am able to do that ... I refuse to make any more late payments or, worse yet, no payments at all! The progress has been slow, but at least I have made progress. Since the beginning of the year, I have whittled just over $1,300 off my debt, and I'm almost under $12,000 total now. At the same time, I have incurred NO NEW DEBT, woo-hoo!! I know as long as I keep doing what I'm doing, things will get easier with time. And I am still saving a little money and contributing 6% to my 401K. I have to keep positively reinforcing myself here!
I got some good deals yesterday at JCPenney. I had to get some sheets and shorts for my son, like I said earlier. There was an ad in the newspaper on Thursday about a sale JCPenney was having, and they had their extra long twin size sheets on sale for $14.99/set. I thought that was a pretty good price, so I hauled my son out there on Saturday morning w/me to see if they also had any shorts he might like. I wanted to get what we needed before 1:00 to get the early bird discount (an extra 10% off), which we did. As it turned out, all their young men's shorts were on sale for $9.99/pair! The athletic shorts (basketball-type) weren't included, but those were 30% off. So we walked out of there with 2 sets of sheets and 6 pairs of shorts (4 regular, 2 athletic) for $112 total, which I didn't think was too bad. The last time I bought shorts for him, I can tell you I paid more than $10/pair!!
Oh, and I have to get in here that I had 10 no-spenders in July, woo-hoo!
He KNOWS he was uninvited and is NOT welcome here!!
I posted last week about my refrigerator making a noise and not cooling well, following a power outage we experienced. Well, the noise has gotten worse ... it's just awful! And now we've noticed that the drinks in the fridge are not as cold as they should be, so it's not just the freezer. The strange thing is that the ice maker is still making ice, but it isn't making very much so I guess that just indicates it's taking the cubes a long time to freeze. So I have to buy a refrigerator. I've been looking on Craigslist for a few days, so hopefully I will find something soon. The money will have to come from my emergency fund, unfortunately. I'm trying to find something for $150 or less, so hopefully the fund won't take too hard a hit.
I was told an hour or so ago (by my daughter, via text message) that my ex lost his job today. I don't have any details yet, but she is supposed to call me later. She was riding in the car with him and my son at the time, on their way to drop her off for a visit at her grandparents ... from there, my son and ex are going to a new student conference at Texas A&M, where my son will be attending college. It's disappointing news about my ex's job; he hasn't had it very long, so I can't imagine what happened unless his company is suffering from the effects of the economy like so many others are. Obviously this worries me as far as getting my child support payments on time, since they were coming direct deposit from his company when he got paid every two weeks. He's never not paid me, though, so I need to not worry about it. I just hope he can find something else really soon.
Speaking of jobs, I've been giving a lot of serious thought lately to getting a second job. I think it would be fun to work at Starbuck's ... what do they pay, does anyone know? I'm assuming it's minimum wage. Of course, with them having to close stores now, I probably can't get hired on there. Well, it's a thought. I have nothing to lose by filling out an application!
Not only did I have a NSD today, I had a total of 8 of them in June, yay me!!
I updated my savings account totals to reflect interest earned in June, and updated my CC debt amount. The savings accounts are slowly inching their way up, and the CC balances are slowly inching their way down.
It's mid-year review time at work, and I have completed my self-assessment. I'm eager to see if my supervisor concurs with how I rated myself. I asked her today if there's any chance I will get an increase with this review, and she is going to look into it. As a review, I started w/the company last Oct. 8, and Oct. 1 was the cut-off date to be eligible for merit increases at the beginning of this year ... so I did not get one. I will, however, get one at the beginning of 2009, which is when everyone gets increases across the board (unless they had a bad review). I'm not optimistic that I will get an increase now, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask!
I'm nervous that my refrigerator is about to croak! We had a big storm about a week ago, and we lost our power for 3.5 hours. That in itself is highly unusual; in fact, I think it's the first time we've lost power for more than a couple of minutes in the five years we've lived here. Anyway, since that time the freezer has not been as cold. The ice maker is still making ice, but the ice cream and popsicles I have in there are still very soft. The coldness setting was already up to 6, so I put it on 7 (which is the highest setting) and it seemed somewhat better the first day after I did that but now the ice cream is soft again. It's also making a really loud noise when the freezer is running. Thankfully I don't have much in there, so I'm not worried about losing a lot of meat, etc. ... but I really don't want the expense of having to replace the refrigerator. Time will tell .......
I used Turbo Tax and e-filed, and got my refund directly into my account yesterday, exactly when they said it would show up! So, take notice of my emergency fund total to the left ... it is now $1,500 instead of $0!! I also was able to update my challenge fund, since I got a $10 check this week from Opinion Outpost. The "Save Yourself" account is at TD Ameritrade, and it's the Suze Orman deal where if you put at least $50/month into the account for 12 consecutive months, they will add $100. I set that up when I started my job back in October. So, I am feeling pretty excited! Now I can really focus more on paying down the debt. I will update that total at the end of each month.
As it turns out, I was not eligible for a merit increase at work after all, based on my start date of October 8 and missing the Oct. 1 cutoff, etc. (basically the same reason I did not get a bonus). The person who told me I would be eligible for a merit increase is actually in H.R., and she felt really bad about her mistake the next day, when I told her that I'd learned that morning I would not be receiving an increase and why! I was a little resentful initially, but it was just a mistake on her part (and heaven knows I have made plenty of those!), and I decided I just need to concentrate on the positive, which is that if I had not gotten this job, I'd still be working in my old job at less than half the salary I now receive!! I really am fortunate now to have the job I do, and I want to make the most of this opportunity. I am excited about what this year holds for me, and it's up to me to make it the best it can be! (Thanks to baselle for telling me how to get the smileys!)
Well, today was the day that everyone got their bonus deposits ... but nothing showed up in my account??? I asked a girl I know who started exactly one week before me if she got anything, and she said she did. Turns out if you started working for the company after Oct. 1, you were not eligible for a bonus. I started on Oct. 8 ... yes, that means my friend started ON Oct. 1, therefore she was eligible! Oh well, that's the way it goes. It was even in my offer letter that I would not be eligible, I had just forgotten that! It would only have been 25% anyway, for the last 3 months of 2007, so next year at this time I will get 100% of the award for 2008. I also found out today that I am eligible for a merit increase, so that's pretty cool! I won't find out until next week or the week after that how much, but it will be effective from tomorrow and will show up on mid-February's paycheck. I'm sure it won't be much, but I will take it whatever it is!!
I looked at my totals for January tonight. I had 7 no-spend days, woo-hoo!! And I was totally shocked to see the amount I spent at the grocery store in one month ... terrible! I just struggle so much with feeding all of us. First of all, I am doing Weight Watchers, and I find it easiest to eat the frozen Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine meals every night, usually with a salad that I make. But boy does that get expensive!! Secondly, I am really NOT a fan of cooking anyway, so I do use a lot of other convenience foods as well. I don't know what I'm going to do about that ... I am going to pay a price either way, with my money or with my time (which I also have very little of).
Hey, how do I get those smiley faces that so many of you use?