Sunday, December 28, 2008

November Recap

After a month hiatus- I'm back. I needed some time to get my priories straight and I feel I'm now in good shape to start 2009. So without further a do, back to the monthly recaps.

This is the second month in a row I've done my recap almost a month after the fact! By the time I catch where I’m falling there isn’t enough time to fix for the next month.

DH and I have some big plans for 2009 so I need to be more diligent in my review and in our spending habits (but more on that in another post).


  • Nov was the month my company's official sale took place and the month the FDIC left!
  • PTO payout from FDIC- I set aside half (about $400) to cover some Christmas expenses.
  • Year End bonus (paid out by FDIC in Nov)- I set aside all to our savings account!
  • Under the new company I got a raise as I was underpaid by their standards. Yippee!
  • Monthly income to expenses balance put us at $2,000 in the black thanks to the PTO pay out and the early year end bonus.
  • No money spent on home maintenance
  • Personal care came down $50 even though DH and I spent $135 towards early x-mas shopping.
  • Mortgage went up $10 as property taxes increased this year
  • Food outside the home needs to be cut in half still as it did not come down from last month's inflated amount.
  • Vet bills- Forest had an ear infection and annual exam/shots

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to work...

For the first time, my company took the day after Thanksgiving off! I guess there are some pluses to the new ownership after all. The 4 days off was a much needed break. I haven't take more than 3 days off (Fri-Sun) in over a year and that was for my family coming out.

Last week was a great week for me. Maybe it was because there were only 3 work days or maybe because I was focused on what I wanted to achieve. Either way I'm going to answer those 7 questions again tonight.

1. What will I try to improve this week?
Last week I worked on being more optimistic for my new employee. Well I've got another new employee starting this Monday and while last week I kept an upbeat attitude, I wasn't so prepared to train a new employee. It has been awhile since I had to explain all the rules and procedures and I stumbled through them terribly last week. (I've always had good employees so I've never had to worry about the attendance policy or the exact dress code, except on employees' first day.) This week I'm going to be more organized in my new employee training. I'm off to a great start as I had to work late Wednesday night and I spent the time organizing packets and outlining topics to go over.

2. What was I most proud of last week?
I feel recharged. I know I went into last week feeling in desperate need of a pick me up and I think I've found it. I'm getting back on track with my personal development, rereading the books that helped me "find myself" my last few years of college. I'm also getting back into yoga and using my Wii fit. Competitive sports were a huge part of my life up until a few years ago and I miss the structure and challenge they afforded me. I have to be even more self disciplined now that I don't have a coach to whip my butt when I slack off. Last week was a step in the right direction and I'm feeding off this energy to bring me into this week.

3. What was my biggest accomplishment last week?
Last week I realized my boss is just as stressed (if not more) about the transition to the new company as I am. We are both big organizers. While she values helping people and mediating during projects, I like to plan and execute. Together we make a great team and we are both struggling with the lack of information and organization we need to do our jobs. My accomplishment last week was listening to her. I've said my piece, she knows where I stand, and last week I got a chance to be there for her, like she has been for me so many times.

4. What have I done to get closer to my life goals last week?
I dug out DH's Nintendo DS. I've learned a few things about myself these past weeks. One is that I value intelligence and quick thinking and two is that after work I need to destress. TV, while often the method of choice, is not really what I'm looking for and I'm too emotionally drained to gather the energy to go to the gym (that's why I dropped my membership). What I do like is sitting down and challenging myself to some quick thinking mind games- Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Brain Boost, etc. It doesn't take much physical energy so I can trick myself into pulling it out after a long day and 15-30 mins later the fast pace challenges have pumped me up to get me through cooking dinner, cleaning, and (much later in the evening) a quick workout.

5. What was the hardest thing for me last week?
I often focus on one thing really hard and ignore the rest. First it was my finances, which still need work but at least I'm not in the red at the end of the month anymore. Now it's feeling satisfied at work. I have to be really careful that I don't slip on the progress I've made with my finances and with the holidays coming and the sale shopping I can feel myself starting to slide...

6. What was my biggest waste of time last week?
Some might say it was staring off into space, but I actually enjoy that time. It's almost like meditating just staring off while your brain tries to wrap itself around its thoughts. I think the real waste might have been being mad at DH. DH's career makes for a nontraditional home life and sometimes I get frustrated and silently mad at DH for it. (I'm silent because I'm smart enough to know he doesn't have control over a lot of it and it's more my problem not his).

7. What did I do this week that made me ashamed?
Again it's being mad at DH for doing his job. Funny how both weeks my biggest waste of time was also what made me ashamed. I guess I value not wasting time too. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting ready for the work week

So after a frustrating finish to my last work week, I've spent the weekend browsing different productivity blogs because something else I value in life is continued self improvement. As some of you know about 2.5 years ago I moved to this crazy county thanks to DH's employment and to say that opportunities around here are few and far between is putting it mildly.

When I look back at the person I was when I moved here and the person I am now, I feel like I've been slipping. I'm not as sharp, dedicated, or professional as I use to be. I use to be involved in lots of things outside of work and now I just go to work, go home, go to work, go home. The thing with not having lots of opportunities around is you have to work twice as hard to make them and I haven't been.

Several blogs suggested keeping a daily journal and one activity was to ask yourself 7 questions each Sunday to help you focus for the week ahead (there is a 20 question version too, but I need baby steps).

1. What will I try to improve this week?
I'm going to be optimistic and upbeat at work this week. I have a new employee starting Monday and I want my company to make a good first impression. I know that the management team (including myself) is extremely frustrated right now, but I'm going to do my best to shield my new employee from that negativity and spin a positive light on our current situation.

2. What was I most proud of last week?
Last week I got several contradictory directives for action from the president, director of operations, and our software development director. Instead of getting defensive about the miscommunication, I took a deep breathe and replied back as to what the original directive was and if I should now be doing it differently. I also calmly explained my frustrations to my boss that the contradictory messages were frustrating and that I would be happy to organize a project meeting to help clear up some of these issues.

3. What was my biggest accomplishment last week?
Identifying what I value in my life and in my ideal job.

4. What have I done to get closer to my life goals last week?
Last weekend I spent a lot of time figuring out what it is I value in my life's work which will help me focus my energy on things that are important to me.

5. What was the hardest thing for me last week?
My biggest struggle right now is the lack of direction with regards to the integration of the old company with the new company. Being a planner and an organizer, not knowing where we are going or what my responsibilities are is an extremely unsettling feeling.

6. What was my biggest waste of time last week?
Hands down it was complaining. I spent a lot of time bitching to my co-workers about my frustrations. While some venting is good, I definitely spent too much time focused on what I don't have control over.

7. What did I do this week that made me ashamed?
Again the complaining and gossiping about the lack of an integration project. As a person in a leadership role I need to be setting a better example.

I'm officially no more...

So the sale is official completed! Normally I would be excited but instead I'm really nervous. The last few weeks I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I value and I started a nice little list-

What I value:

  • intellegence
  • knowledge
  • responsibility
  • accountability
  • integrity
  • being helpful
  • respectful
  • determination/perserverance
  • communication
What I like to do:
  • solve problems
  • put together real life puzzles
  • organize
  • plan
  • gather solutions
  • track progress towards goals
All these things fit in rather nicely with my current career in project management and internal/external marketing. I felt really good going into work after making this list knowing that I had momentarily lost sight of what I valued and I was now back on track. I was pumped up and ready for action.

Then I find out that the new company isn't working like that right now. Normally I'm part of the project team, keeping everyone informed, and on task. I'm good at it and I like it, but oh no. The only people being informed and a part of this integration project are our senior leadership team (who by the way are not onsite). This means me and my own boss are clueless. Here we are the project department and we can't even be part of the project. I am going out of my mind. All my talent, all my skills sitting in a cubical focused on meditating as hard as I can so I don't go crazy. The few things I can't stand in the workplace are lack of organziation, planning, accountability, and communication and I can tell you that they are all present and in full force right now. Blah!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

October Recap

I apologize for being so late on posting my recap. You know it's been to0 long when you think back and can barely remember the month! But "making excuses justifies failure" so without further a do here's what our numbers looked like last month:


  • Since I'm on a biweekly payroll, October was the month of triple paychecks!
  • What's even better is after all the bills were paid we didn't need it so a whole paycheck is going into the bathroom savings!
  • Our cable bill was super cheap, not only because we gave up many services but because we did it in the middle of the month amd had a credit carry over. So instead of saving $80 on our new cable bill we saved $100!
  • Our gas bill was down by $40 and that was before gas was below $3.00 so I'm really excited about November!
  • Our grocery bill was down another $100. I'm not sure where all our grocery money was going before...
  • We only spent $40 on hobbies this month which is normally upward of $100
  • Our city water rates went up again. When I first moved here we were paying $25 a month and that was the minimum amount (if you used less water you still had to pay that). Now we are still at the minimum amount but are paying $58.77. That's a big jump in 2 years time.
  • The flip side to our grocery bill being down was that our eating out was up by $100. I'm sad to report that we have slipped back to our old ways of eating out once a week. The good news is that we are doing it with friends rather than just because we are lazy and we are still spending half as much as we use to.
  • Last month I paid the last of our credit card debit which meant our payment was significantly higher than our planned payment. I planned to cover this with my extra paycheck but our expenses were down in other areas that I didn't need to!
  • I had a moment of weakness for dog toys. With the winter season coming up the dogs needed some none outside activities to keep them busy. I spent $100 on dog toys which included a winter coat for Porter, a few food dispensing puzzles, and some chew bones. I also entered a X-mas doggie toy exchange and got some stuff for my swap partner.
  • Another dog expense was Hank's vet visit and the stocking up of heart worm, tick and flea meds. When you have 3 dogs this really adds up!
DH and I definitely slipped a little last month with the expenses but we have made a lot of positive changes that impact every month's bottom line so we still came out ahead. I know that saving isn't DH's favorite way of living so if a few slips now and then don't set us back into debit and keep us on track for the long term goal, I'm okay with that. I do, however, want to watch the eating out, it's such an easy way to cut back on the budget.

How are you doing?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Target Challenge Continues

The Target Challenge has really paid off long after the initial 30 day recess. I’m pleased to report that my twice a week Target habit is officially broken. Nov 1st DH and I made a trip to Target for some essentials (draino, carpet cleaner, body soap) for less than $20! Better yet I haven’t been to Target since and I really don’t feel a dying need to go like I use to. It feels good to know I'm not waste money on non essentials like I use to!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Money Makeover- Chapter 8, 9, 10

While I have appreciated all the insight and inspiration I am getting from Ramsey's book, I'm admitting right now that the plan to this extreme will not work for me at this point in time. I know, everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule- but let me explain. This has nothing to do with the fact that my husband and I don't see eye to eye on financial matters and everything to do with the fact DH and I bought a fixer up over a year ago and certain things aren't going to hold up as long as we had hoped, e.g. our bathroom.

What I've learned from Ramsey is that it is far better to save ahead for major purchases to avoid having to take out debit. Believe me lesson learned. Our bathroom floor is on the way out; literally we are probably a few months away from having to shower under our house instead of in it. Our tub is leaking, our toilet is leaking, there is mold growing in the walls from excess moisture and the floor was rotted away when we bought the house (what were we thinking?!?).

I have more than $1000 in our emergency fund as I have been anticipating this problem and trying to gather money in advance of a really expensive emergency. But since I am a long way off from the projected costs of the project I feel it is more important to be saving up for this so we have the money on hand within 6 months to get it fixed. This means that instead of rolling over the payments from paid off debit to the next debit I’ll be putting it into our bathroom savings account so we can pay for it without taking out more debit.

I’m still reading and applying the principals as best I can but I also want to be prepared for the future and think this is where I need to be focusing at this point in time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Confession Time

So I was planning on post a week's worth of my 15 minute days but I keep forgetting my timeline at work and I don't have access to blog while I'm there. Also I found out some disturbing and confidential news at work and have been spending most of my days preparing for the aftermath so I couldn't talk about it anyway.

I can tell you, however, that I've realized just how much time I waste during the week on pointless tv that I don't even like and how little time I spend paying attention to what I eat. I also spend a lot of time at work surfing around the Internet looking for things to read/do to keep busy. I think this will correct itself after the sale in a week but until then there are things I've been putting off that I should really be doing. It's hard to break bad habits but it has helped to see it written out in front of me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

15 Minute Days- Monday

6:05 Alarm goes off, hit snooze
6:14 Alarm goes off again, get up, let dogs out, go to the bathroom, prepare dogs for walk
6:30 Walk dogs in the rain
7:00 Return home, feed dogs, get dressed, straighten hair
7:15 Put on my makeup and pack my lunch
7:30 Carpool to work
8:00 Turn on computer, get coffee, check e-mail
8:30 Go through the weekly project list for upcoming due dates, outline tasks for the day
9:00 Met with manager to discuss hiring woes and employee counseling
9:30 Weekly meeting with employee
10:00 Walk
10:15 Send offer paperwork to potential new hire
10:30 Respond to e-mails for intranet Get to Know posting
10:45 Eat breakfast, changed my "card number zone" password, talked to potential new hire on phone
11:00 Edited co-worker's employment ad
11:15 Attended marketing planning meeting
11:45 Address issues with an old conversion account
12:00 Reviewed pricing list and provided feedback
12:30 Heated up lunch (left over mac and cheese)
12:45 Reviewed the local newspaper online
1:00 Read the latest article on The Simple Dollar
1:15 Read the Lecon du Jour, I'm inspired to brush up on my French now that my future parent company is in Canada.
1:30 Back to work, completed Get to Know article and posted on Intranet
1:45 Saved old conversion docs from previous issue earlier this morning
2:00 E-mail announcement- The FDIC has approved the sale! Yippee!!!!
2:15 Chit chatted with co-worker about the good news
2:30 Received a new immediate project
2:45 Updated Project List and responded to e-mails
3:00 Walk
3:15 Explained new project to employee
3:30 Completed applicant log for position FDIC did not allow me to fill
3:45 Filled applicant log for position I'm hoping to fill this week
4:00 Responded to e-mails
4:15 Received call from applicant completing new hire paperwork
4:30 Scanned the Internet for interesting reading while impatiently waiting for new hire paperwork so I can run it over to the HR manager before she leaves
4:45 Receive new hire paper work and run it over, but alas the HR manager is gone
5:00 Send e-mail to HR manager to run credit check on applicant, print schedule for tomorrow and wait for carpool ride.
5:15 Head home in the pouring rain
5:45 Arrive home to a hungry DH and make dinner (pumpkin curry soup and grilled cheese)
6:15 Eat dinner with DH and clean dishes
6:30 Shower
6:45 Watched last minutes of Family Guy and snuggled with the dogs
7:00 Listened to That 70s Show while playing with the dogs
8:00 Watched Gossip Girl
9:00 Typed up post
9:30 Go to bed and read until 10:15

Well there you have it another exciting day in the life of DEL. I'm noticing just how much time I spend with the tv on (even if I am not all out watching it) and how little time I spend eating. It takes DH and I less than 15 minutes to sit down, eat dinner, and clear the table. So sad although I am impressed that DH and I made it to the table 2 nights in a row.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

15 Minute Days- Sunday

Awhile back I wrote a post suggesting that if we track how we spend our time every 15 minutes for a week, we could identify where we are losing time and in turn gain more time in the day. So this week, my lucky readers, you are going to get a glimpse of a week in the life of DEL, down to every 15 minutes.

7:10 Woke up, let the dogs outside, feed them, made coffee, and ate breakfast
7:30 Posted a prewritten blog post
7:45 Read the blogs of my favorite PWO ladies
8:00 Read financial blogs from my bookmarked folder and downloaded free shareware similar to photoshop
8:15 Read Stuck in a Rut at The Digerati Life
8:45 Watched Barack Obama's dance off at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity
9:00 Read more financial blogs
9:30 Managed bookmarked blogs and removed blogs I no longer read
9:45 Visited my 2 favorite forums- PWO & Woof
10:00 Continued browsing Woof
10:15 Looked at dog clothes and toys for the Woof pet swap and found some great deals on
10:30 Started an electronic copy of my 15 minute interval log.
10:45 Downloaded doggie pics to e-mail to my mom
11:00 Watched 2 episodes of The Wire from Netflex
12:45 Took a shower
1:00 Browsed again
2:00 Finally made a purchase and bought the doggies their x-mas presents
2:15 Took Hank, one of my dogs, for a walk
3:15 Returned from the walk and did the dishes
3:30 Logged into Facebook while I downloaded last week's NCIS
3:45 Watched NCIS
4:15 Watched House online and started the laundry
5:15 Made dinner and checked into PWO and Woof again
5:45 Ate dinner with DH at the kitchen table
6:00 Cleaned kitchen
6:30 Reorganized my dresser drawers
7:15 Did some Wii Fit
8:00 Watched the Amazing Race while folding laundry
9:00 Typed up this post
9:30 Read my leadership book
10:30 Went to bed (okay I cheated on the last two, but this is my plan and I'm sticking to it)

Hiring Woes

Dear Applicants,

Thank you for your interest in our open position at Company X. I know you are searching for just the right place for employment as we are searching for just the right employee. I regret to inform you that the position has been filled and I would like to offer you some suggestions for improving your search.

  • If the ad says submit cover letter and resume, submit a cover letter and resume. Don’t submit a resume and say a cover letter is not available at this time. Make one available!
  • Always write a cover letter. I hire for entry level positions and I have a rule- no cover letter no interview. This is your opportunity to share parts of yourself that may not be clear by glancing at your resume.
  • Always proof read your cover letter and resume. Incomplete sentences and spelling errors contradict your claim of excellent writing skills.
  • Use a professional e-mail address for job communications. Tinkrmybells is not professional.
  • If you should be so bold as to tell me my e-mail address is wrong, you better be right. Otherwise I’ll be forced to believe you just can’t read and funny how 40 other people had no problem.
  • Don’t misspell my company’s name and then say what a great eye for detail you have.
  • Put your last name on your resume. Giving me just an initial makes me think you are hiding something.
  • Take a note from minimal disclosure guy above, I don’t need you SSN or DOB and it’s not safe to send that kind of information over the Internet.
  • You say your loyal and hard working, yet every year you are in a new city with a new job.
  • If you are moving to a new state or a new career, explain why in your cover letter. Otherwise I’m left to make up my own reasons and I have a pretty outrageous imagination.
  • It's pretty presumptuous to tell me when I'm going to call you. I’m the hiring manager and I get to decide how it’s done, when it's done, and whether or not you're involved.
  • Include the dates of when you worked and put them in chronological order. I have better things to do than unscramble the last 25 years of your employment history.
  • Don’t be inflammatory. It’s one thing to be confident it’s another to go inflate the truth. If you are going to make grandiose comments like how you are going to improve company productive in an entry level position in an industry you know nothing about, you better tell me how. Otherwise I think you are just full of yourself.
  • Don’t supply 5 pages of your journalism awards for an entry level writing and marketing position. 0-1 years experience equals entry wages; we can’t afford your inflated ego.
  • Check out Resumania for other silly things you should avoid doing.
I wish you the best of luck in your employment search.

Thank you,

P.S. I really haven't hired anyone, I just couldn't bring myself to hire you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Money Makeover - Chapter 6

It’s been pretty uneventful on the home front. Things are picking up at work and the powers that be are starting to make plans for restructuring the company, which means most of my energy has been focused at work and employee restructuring but more about that later.


  • I made it 1 whole month without Target. Can I get a Yeeha?!?
  • Our electricity bill is down $20. Seems giving up cable has brought down 2 bills!
  • Gas is at an all time low price, I'm filling up before the election!

  • I bought lunch out twice this week
  • I only went grocery shopping once this month so we also had to go out to dinner but we managed to make that pizza last for 3 meals so I don't feel quite so quilty.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Have you always wanted to do this?

I’m currently hiring 2 positions as my recent graduates have decided to pursue their dreams. As sad as I am to see them go, I'm proud of them for following their dreams, especially in an economy such as this. As they pack up their desks, they leave me pondering one last question- have you always wanted to do this job?

My original career path was teaching but moving cross country my teaching licence was no longer valid and I was forced to look else where at least temporarily. I was offered a job at my current company and took it. Every 6 months I got promoted so I felt I was moving in the right direction and never looked back. Now it's been a 1.5 years in my current position and I'm bored. Not only am I bored but my future at the company with the pending sale is uncertain. If I lost my job would I look for similar work or something different?

I've spent so much of my life mapping out my first 20 something years that I haven't really thought much about the next step. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I’ve done all the things you “need” to do to move into adult status (career, house, husband, fur kids) and I’m not sure what my next step should be.

I'm still trying to figure it all out. I'm so gratefully for being asked this question as it's one I've been meaning to address for a long time and they called my out on my procrastination. It's time to start thinking about the next 5 years and what I want to do with my life. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Money Makeover - Chapter 5

This week in book group we shared our budgets. As much as I would like to believe it's safe to post this information on the Internet, I will not. Instead I''ll share our concept of a budget since it's a little different than the traditional way.

As I've mentioned before, DH and I have compromised on our definition of budget. He’s not big on the idea of being told a set limit for spending or on being told "no" and truth be told neither am I (Yes, we are a prime example of Ramsey’s description of the 2 year old scream- I want it and I want it now!). So instead of setting a limit for each budget category, I keep a running total each month and our goal is spend less in each category unless we talk about it ahead of time and make some adjustments.

For example, last month we went over our home improvement budget to buy fence supplies. But we talked about it and agreed to be even more careful on the personal spending side of the budget to make up for it. And we did, while our home improvement budget went up $700 we brought down our personal care by $600. The system is not exactly what Ramsey preaches but it works for us and we have brought our overall spending down by over $1000 since starting this 4 months ago.

Highs for the week:

  • I still haven't gone to Target!
  • DH and I have started shutting off the power strip switch to the TV and computers to save electricity and hopefully bring down our bill a few cents.
  • Gas is coming down. It's the lowest I've seen it in 2+ years!
  • I was hosting the company's guests this week so lunches and dinners were paid for.
Lows for the week:
  • Ah, the stock market. I didn't have much in my 401K and I'm pretty sure if we keep this up, I'm going to owe money...
  • The central heat kicked on and the thermostat is set to 55. So much for bring down the electricity bill.
  • DH was robbed over overtime by being forced to take the day off instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where does your time go?

This is my second missed productivity post in 2 weeks. Grr. I’ve got to start scheduling posts when life gets busy...

Have you ever wished for another hour in the day to get all your stuff done? As you all know by now, I’ve given up cable. I still watch a fair amount of shows online but I usually just listen to them as I make dinner or work on hand sewing my dog kennel project. One of the biggest ways to gain time in your day is to turn off the TV. The thing about TV is not only do you usually get sucked into watching a show you're not all that interested in just because it’s on after a show you regularly watch, when you finish watching TV you aren’t geared up to do anything else. Countless times I’ve turned on the TV to unwind after work and 3 hours later I’m still watching not ready to start anything. Now I come home and do stuff. I still watch a show around 8 but that’s a good 2 plus hours after I’ve been home, cooked, cleaned, and played on the internet.

Another suggestion for getting more time out of your day is to spend an average week documenting what you do every 15 minutes. Seems kind of excessive and time consuming for a whole week, but I bet I’ll be surprised at where I am wasting time. My weeks are a little bit crazy right now but I plan on doing this in a few weeks to see if there are other TV equivalents out there sucking away my time.

Where does all your time go?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Money Makeover- Chapter 4

Financial Thursday- Every Thursday I'll post my financial challenge book group comments for The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

First weekend without cable! I started a new craft project to make kennel covers for the dogs. Normally when I start a new project I feel the need to buy lots of stuff to go with it. This time I managed to show some restraint. I’ve only bought the materials I need for one piece of the project and will buy the other pieces when I am ready. So often I dive straight in and buy everything I need right away and never finish the project- like my wedding scrapbook- and the money and materials go to waste. I refrained from buy a sewing machine and will continue to needle and thread it until I can prove I actually need one. I also realized I could use some of our extra spare room bed sheets instead of buying more fabric.

I successfully managed to avoid Target all week (It’s been 16 days Target free!). It was tough as a co-worker is having a baby shower tomorrow and they are only registered at Target
(it's the only decent store around here) but I got brave and went to a store I never go to and found stuff 50% off! Woohoo!

I realized best case scenario DH and I could pay off 3 out of 5 of our existing debts (2 cars, 2 school loans, and 1 mortgage) in 3 years but more likely 4. Ramsey calls for a Total Money Makeover that requires a complete commitment to being debt free which means trading your car in for a cheaper one if you have a car loan, getting a second job, and selling items for extra cash. But the plan only works if both are committed to this extreme way of living. Unfortunately there is no way in hell DH would agree to sell back his truck for a cheaper car. It’s just not his money philosophy. He has made other sacrifices to tone down our spending and I feel a ton more comfortable with our spending habits than I did 4 months ago. Marriage is about compromise and while it would be great to get rid of the truck to reduce our debt, the reality is we are not that desperate to fight that battle- yet. I’m a little bummed but I did tell DH that if I lost my job during this global economic crises, his truck will be the first sacrifice. Some how that made me feel better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confession Time

Productivity Tuesday- every Tuesday I'll present a tip I've enjoyed from Talene Miedaner's Coach Yourself to Success.

First confession- I missed yesterday’s post.

Second confession- I haven’t been doing so good with the 15 minutes a day personal productivity reading goal. In fact I didn’t read anything last week which led me to day dreaming on the couch last night where I promptly fell asleep and didn’t post.

I have, however, given much thought to the tips I have read thus far and have made a fair amount of progress. This week I’m getting on back on track by recapping my success.

Of my 28 tolerate list items, I’ve completed 12. Most of them are actually long term projects that require $$$ so I’m continuing to slowly chip away at the smaller items. I’m also adding a new item- creating a home inventory list. There was a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood and a home inventory with serial numbers will help calm my nerves about the mysterious cigarette butts I found by my back door.

As for my energy draining habits, I realized I was in denial about how much of my day tv sucked away. By removing my DVR and expanded cable service, I’m saving money and I find I have a lot more time during the work week to walk the dogs, cook, and read. How nice!

The keep 1 with 2 to spare tip came in handing this past weekend when I started a new sewing project for the dogs. As the colder weather sets in I’ve decided to make some kennel covers and mats for the inside dog kennels to keep the dogs warm while the thermostat dips past 55 this winter. (Yes, I am notorious for keeping the thermostat just over 50 during the week to save on the heating bill.) I bought some cute fabric for the smaller kennel and then realized I had more than 3 sheet sets for the spare bed which I can use for the 2 big dog kennels instead of having to buy more fabric!

The next chapter of my Tuesday personal productivity book is on money which I’m pretty geared up about so stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2008

September Recap

DH and I never carry cash which is handy because every month between our bank statement and credit card bill I have a record of everything we spent money on. Since May I've been tracking our spending in a spreadsheet and noticing the trends in where we spend our money and where we can improve.

Sadly DH and I were in the red again last month but on closer inspection we are actually doing better than ever- Our income was less $1700 in Sept than in August (August included DH's uniform allowance and my vacation day payout), we spent $700 on fencing materials, and we were only $100 in the red. And truth be told I had put aside money for the fence but when I saw there was room in this month's budget I squeezed it in and left the money in our savings. I think we did quite well this month.

Here are September's highlights:


  • Unexpected federal moving tax from 2005- $32.18 You never know when the government is going to hunt you down for more money.
  • $770 in home improvement. One day my fence will be finished!
  • Aflac- $96.90. Since it no longer comes out of my paycheck I get a bill every 3 months.
  • Groceries down $100 from last month.
  • Restaurant expenses down to $50 in comparison to May's $300.
  • $100 saved in dog food by switching to slightly cheaper brand.
  • Personal care expenses (hobbies, entertainment, clothes, hair cuts, etc) down $400 since May.
  • Overall expenses down $1000 since May!
I can't wait to come up with more ways to save! Where could you start cutting back?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Money Makeover- Chapter 3

Financial Thursday- Every Thursday I'll post my financial challenge book group comments for The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

Do you have a financial guru you look up to? Who is it and why?

I don't have a financial guru per say. My mother did an excellent job instilling the dangers and advantages of credit cards to me as a college student which I will be forever grateful for. With the exception of my honeymoon, I have always been able to pay off my credit card bills in full each month.

I've also recently enjoyed reading The Simple Dollar blog. It has a lot of great advice for living frugally and some pretty good financial advice too.

What was your financial high and low for the week?

Two highs for the week:

  1. DH and I have officially paid off our honeymoon debt which means no more credit card debit. Yippee!
  2. DH agreed to consolidate our cable services. We will continue to get internet service and basic channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, ect.) but have removed our DVR, HD channels, and expanded cable services. This will save us a whooping $73 a month. Yeehaw!
The low for the week is that we still have a crap load of debit in student loans, car loans, and a mortgage. I think Dave Ramsey wrote chapter 3 just for me and DH!

Do you have any new thoughts about money that you've gleaned from Chapter 3? If yes, what is it?

What really hit home for me in chapter 3 was the myth that loans are a way of life.

When I went to college and then graduate school, everyone told me not to worry about the student loans, that everyone had them, and it was the only way to do it. If I could do it over again, I wouldn't have gone to grad school right after college. I think it would have been smarter to start working and take classes part time to reduce the amount of loans I took out. But of course if I hadn't gone to grad school I wouldn't have met DH.

And while I have always known that pay day loans and rent to own deals were a scam and have never fallen victim to them, the second part of the chapter 3 on car loans really hit home. My first car I bought used for $5000. It was a great car and cheap enough that I didn't need a loan to cover it but everyone told me how lucky I was that it didn't need any work and that people who buy cars with that many miles on it and for that cheap always end up spending twice as much money on repairs yada yada yada. I was effectively brainwashed and when I finally need to replace my car I end up getting a much less used car that required a hefty loan to cover the price tag.

And of course when DH got his new job he thought he deserved a brand new truck so every month we pay $800 worth of car payments! What were we thinking?!?! I'm glad Ramsey set me straight; I will definitely be saving up before purchasing another car again (which hopefully will be a long, long time from now).

After reading chapter 3, I am convinced that DH and I need to do a much better job of planning ahead and saving accordingly. We are definitely the red faced 2 year old in the store screaming, "I want it and I want it now". Ramsey called us out and now we are going to do things differently.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1 with 2 to spare

Productivity Tuesday- every Tuesday I'll present a tip I've enjoyed from Talene Miedaner's Coach Yourself to Success.

Skipping right along to the second section of the book- uncluttering your life- here is an important tip that I will keep in mind while cleaning out my closet this weekend- keep 1 with 2 to spare. Thinking about all the stuff I keep just because, I'm glad to be armed with a simple formula to help eliminate my pack rat mentality.

The 2 to spare principal works great for minimizing the number of linens you keep (one for the bed and 2 to spare), towels (2 for DH and I and 2 extras), pillows (2 for DH and I and 2 extras).

I can't wait for all that extra space!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Money Makeover- Chapter 2

Financial Thursday- Every Thursday I'll post my financial challenge book group comments for The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

What are your financial highs and lows for the week?

Highs- Our credit card bill for the month was at an all time low since I started watching our finances 6 months ago. And this includes our $700 lumber purchase to finish our fence. I also set up an automated saving plan to deposit money into our savings account every week.

Low- I was invited to yet another company baby shower! I've been to 6 work related baby showers this year including 3 for my own department (which btw has only 5 people)! Okay it's not really a low but my work sucks money out of me left and right.

What stood out to you in Chapter 2?
Chapter 2 was about denial. I realized I was in denial about my "little" Target purchases. I spend a lot of money on things I think I need but are really just for convenience. I've since initiated a Target Challenge.

How are things going with your DH after reading Chapter 2?
DH and I still have different attitudes about money and I don't expect that to change. He is, however, coming around to seeing how blessed he is to have me managing his money.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Energy Drains

Productivity Tuesday- every Tuesday I'll present a tip I've enjoyed from Talene Miedaner's Coach Yourself to Success.

Personal Productivity Tip #2- Eliminate activities and foods that drain your energy. Miedaner identifies a list of addictions that drain your energy and make you more sedentary: alcohol, needy relationships, sugar, caffeine, tv, tabloids, shopping, computer games, chocolate, etc.

You’re probably thinking this is a no brainer and you’re right we’ve heard this all before. But have you done anything about it?

This week I challenge you to identify your energy drains and work on one of them for the next month.

In addition to my Target Challenge, my biggest vice to tackle this month will be sugar. I’m constantly using sugar or chocolate to “get through” a project or make it more bearable. Along with my daily sugar crashes, I’m probably well on my way to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Eliminating some unnecessary sugar will improve my daily overall energy, my health, and hopefully remove an inch from my waist.

To help overcome my addictive energy drain, Miedaner suggests changing the rituals around the habit. Instead of walking over to the candy jar before tackling a daunting task, I’m going take a brisk walk around the office to get my blood flowing. And I’m going to stop wasting money on junk food- if it’s not around I can’t be tempted!

What are you going to do?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Target Challenge

I'm looking for ways to trim down the spending budget so I can put aside some money for Christmas (I've only got 3 months!). To kick off my budget cutting, I'm challenging myself to 30 days without a single Target purchase. Since I often use Target as my excuse to get out of the office, this is going to be a tough one. On average DH and I spend $200 a month at Target (slight skewed because of the Wii purchase but still accurate) and that's a good chunk of money to set aside for the family.

Wish me luck and lots of will power!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Money Makeover - Chapter 1

Ramsey says winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.

So true!

I know what I need to do it's getting myself to do it that is the problem. Ramsey compares it to going on a diet; the concept is pretty simple, it's the execution people stumble on.

Shocking Stat for the Week- 90% of people in our culture buy things they can't afford.

DH and I have definitely fallen victim to keeping up with the Joneses. In fact I would say that everyone of our major purchases (house, cars, electronics, etc) was motivated by the need to keep up with the Joneses. I think this will be one of our biggest financial challenges.

What's your biggest challenge?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tolerate List

The concept of my life coach book (Coach Yourself to Success by Talane Miedaner) is that there are 2 ways to get what you want. 1) Set goals and go after them and 2) Attract your goal to you. In order to be truely sucessful you need to do both. The book focuses mostly on how to attract your goals and success through 101 tips.

Her first tip was extremely powerful for me. She suggests that there are many things in life that you tolerate. For example, a missing button on a shirt, an unpaid tax bill, an overflowing in-box. All those things you think, I’ve got to do that some day. Tolerating these little and sometimes big things is a drain on your energy and wears you down. It prevents you from attracting success.

Creating a tolerate list is the first step to attracting success. It usually consists of 60-100 items. I spent a week with my notebook and every time I saw something that I “tolerated” I wrote it down. Unraveled hem in pants, dirty window sills, dirty baseboards, the mail strewn all over the entry way bench, dog bones all over the floor, ugly looking kitchen cabinets, unfinished fence around the yard, the soft spot on the bathroom floor, etc. Every time I caught something that bugged me I wrote it down.

The next step is to organize the list- what things can be done in a day, a weekend, what things will take longer. Plan a weekend to take care of all the little stuff that can be done in a few hours or the course of a day; I did this over Labor Day weekend. I took 4 days to do all the household cleaning items around that were wearing me down. I was surprised at how energized a clean house felt even after 4 days of hard labor!

Some things will take longer than a weekend to accomplish. Identify items with a longer timeframe and set goals to get rid of them. For me the fence project required saving enough money to buy the wood, which DH and I were able to do last week and are shooting to have the fence finished by the end of October (DH has a busy schedule working nights so daylight hours our an obstacle for this project). We hope within the next year and half to save enough money to do a bathroom remodel without financing.

The tolerate list seems like a simple task and it really is. There is a lot of power in the act of writing down things that drain your energy. Most are simple little things that you don’t think you have time for. Once you realize that a simple half hour project is draining energy from your day every day, you get the motivation to take care of it. And boy does it feel good!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sale is Announced!

I don't know how I could have forgotten to post this. Last week a buyer for my company was announced! Yippee! The sale won't be official for 60-90 days pending regulatory approval but we are all very excited and it seems that almost all the employees will get to keep their job in one way or another. Insert big sigh of relief here!

We aren't out of the woods yet, there will be some restructuring and I'm determined to be on my most professional behavior for the next few months to make a good impression and hopefully move myself up in position during the shuffle.

Color Test

Here's a fun weekend quiz brought to you by CareerPath- the test presents a series of colors and you pick the one you like the best. At the end of the test, it tells you your primary and secondary occupational categories along with recommended careers for free! I had some serious doubts about the accuracy of a color test, but they got me right on the money.

Try it for yourself!

My results-


Key Words: Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate

These conservative appearing, plotting-types enjoy organizing, data systems, accounting, detail, and accuracy. They often enjoy mathematics and data management activities such as accounting and investment management. Persistence and patience allows them to do detailed paperwork, operate office machines, write business reports, and make charts and graphs.

Suggested careers are Administrator, Secretary, Printer, Paralegal, Building Inspector, Bank Cashier, Private Secretary, Statistician, Operations Manager, Financial Analyst, Bookkeeper, Medical Records Technician, Developer of Business or Computer Systems, Clerical Worker, Proofreader, Accountant, Administrative Assistant, Banker, Certified Public Accountant, Credit Manager, Store Salesperson, Actuary, Dental Assistant, Business Education Teacher, Food Service Manager, IRS Agent, Budget Analyst, and Underwriter.

Your very careful, conscientious, conservative nature gives others the confidence to trust you with handling money and material possessions. Structured organizations that have well-ordered chains of command work best for you.

Suggested Organizer workplaces are large corporations, business offices, financial lending institutions, banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, and quality control and inspection departments.


Key Words: Witty, Competitive, Sociable, Talkative, Ambitious, Argumentative, and Aggressive

These enterprising types sell, persuade, and lead others. Positions of leadership, power, and status are usually their ultimate goal. Persuasive people like to take financial and interpersonal risks and to participate in competitive activities. They enjoy working with others inside organizations to accomplish goals and achieve economic success.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Financial Challenge

I just joined a finanical challenge book club- we will be reading Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover.

To balance out my reading and keep me accountable, I plan to post a blog on my personal productivity progress with my life coach book every Tuesday and every Thursday provide an update on my financial book.

This will be a fun adventure!

My first post for the financial challenge is to identify why I'm taking the challenge, what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are, and what I hope to gain from the experince.

1) Why are you taking this challenge?
DH and I spending too much money. We have more loans than I care to admit and we dance on the edge of spending more than we make every month.

A few months ago I realized my company was going through a phase that would likely result in people losing their jobs and reality hit me hard that we needed to get things under control and fast!

2) What do you consider to be your strength with money?
While I'm not one to balance to the penny, I do love playing with numbers. I've started tracking how much money DH and I spend in different categories, looking at correlations where certain areas go up and others go down. I like to compare numbers between months and make goals for the next.

3) What you consider your weakness to be?
Spending money on the little things I don't really need is a huge weakness of mine and I was in denial about it for a long time. A candy bar here, a scented soap there, it may only be a dollar and it adds up! After I started seeing where I was putting my money I got a pretty good wake up call.

As far as the weakness DH and I face together- it's that we have different attitudes and ideas about spending money and when you are married money matters have to be a joint effort.

4) What do you expect or hope to learn from this challenge?
I'm looking for motivation mostly. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do and I need to suck it up and do it. I'm also interested in learning more about investment options.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Personal Productivity

To continue along the lines of asking how can I improve myself, I’ve dusted off a life coach book I bought several months ago and have committed to reading at least 15 minutes a day. The book is broken down into 101 ways to be more productive and while some of the tips won’t work for my financial situation – like getting a maid to clean the house because my time is more valuable- many of the tips are quite useful and can be applied right away- like different ways to declutter your life. I look forward to sharing my experiences as I test out some the ideas.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What makes a great leader?

Over the past few months, I’ve watched the uncertainty of our company’s future take a toll on the employees, the management team, and of course me. I believe in times of uncertainty, true leaders stand out. They create a sense of direction, a vision, a path to follow, and motivate the troops to get there.

I’ve learned some interesting things about myself over the past few months. While I do consider myself a good leader, I’m not one to inspire great dreams about the future or one to embellish my words to create a vision. I am more of an action person, a planner, and an organizer. I know my responsibilities and I get them done as efficiently and effectively as possible. I say what I mean, mean what I say, lay out clear expectations with those I work with, and instill a sense of responsibility within them.

I’ve learned that I’m not a charismatic leader who invokes great visions of change in those around me. I am a teacher at heart, working with people to get things done and improving the quality and quantity of work within the company. I’m a true manger who knows my responsibilities and helps motivate others to come together and achieve them. I believe this is what makes me a great leader.

But is that enough? I criticize those in upper management for not create a vision for the troops to follow during this uncertain time. I question them about our direction and goals and am disappointed by their answers. And now I am questioning whether or not I can be a good leader if I don’t have dreams or visions to share with my staff.

I want to look more into what makes a great leader and have started my journey by taking some online personality tests. While many people object to being labeled and put in a box, I find reading the results causes certain things to resonate with you and it can be a real eye opening experience.

SpeakStrong has a communication style inventory that lets you know your communication style and how you can improve your communications skills when talking to other styles. has a free 70 question temperament test similar to the Meyers-Briggs test. has a leadership assessment that identifies what type of leader you are. outlines 15 qualities of a leader and identifies which one is your biggest strength and which one is your biggest weakness.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another $700 down the drain...

Attention future homeowners! Owning a home is the equivalent of owning your own private money pit and the more you feed it the more it needs.

DH and I have lived here for almost a year and a half and our backyard fence has been a work in progress for the duration. It hasn't been a huge priority because the backyard is technically already fenced with a combination of chain link and wood fences from our neighbors but privacy is becoming an issue. I'm tired of people walking down the street and being able to see me in my pjs playing with the dogs.

We finished fencing the side we share with the elementary school immediately as the kids took to teasing our dogs and on the weekends parents would stare at us while their kids played on the swings. That took $400, eased our immediate privacy issues, and allowed us to put off the rest until we had some more money saved away.

Well DH and I bit the bullet and bought the rest of the fencing this weekend for $700! It seems as soon as we can save a little money there's a need to spend it on right away. At least this should theoretically increase the value of our home and give me piece of mind.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maybe next week...

Lots of drama at work this week. Everyone is thinking, hoping, and desperately prayer that the sale will go through soon. Managers and employees alike are going a bit postal as people are being hired, fired, promoted, and demoted. It's been a busy week and we want answers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Check it out!

I put up a chart of our monthly savings (total income-total expenses). It needs some touching up but I have to do it at work since my computer is too old. It's exciting to have our progress mapped out! The chart is slightly misleading as in July DH got a uniform stipend and in August I got my vacation days paid out by the defunct bank which inflated our income. The true test will be in this month. We are finally in the black woo hoo!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let's talk money

One of the biggest challenges DH and I face is the dreaded budget discussion. See I'm a planner, a budgeter, someone who wants financial goals to work towards, and a few bucks stashed away for an emergency. DH on the other hand is more of a carefree spender. He gets a raise equals he deserves to buy a new gadget. Want to go on vacation and we don't have enough cash up front, let's charge it because we need to get away. The whole concept of gross verses net income is lost on him. When we got married he enthusiastically handed over his bills which I readily took on to avoid another late fee.

The one thing I've learned about money and marriage is you need to talk about how you spend/save money and you need to understand your partner's attitude toward it. DH doesn't want to get bogged down in goals and planning, he wants to make money and spend it on things he can enjoy. I respect that he works hard and needs to have a novelty spending budget and he acknowledges that I get stressed out about paying the bills and would feel more comfortable building an emergency fund and saving for future large expenses (i.e. renovation the bathroom). He puts me in charge of the planning and I keep him informed about what I'm doing. It's a system that works for us and addresses our immediate money concerns.

There is a great quiz in David Bach's Smart Couples Finish Rich that DH and I both took that helped us align where we spend money with what matters most to us. For example, DH values relaxing so it makes sense that he spends money on activities he finds relaxing. I value security and thus it makes sense that we "spend" money by putting it into an emergency fund.

To save you from spending money on a book, here are a few fun online quizzes to get the conversation juices flowing.

Enjoy and start talking!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

$400 saved!

For 3 months in a row, my jaw has dropped as I pulled out the credit card bill. I expect a large bill since neither DH nor I carry cash and we use the card for everything. But the numbers were starting to get a little too high and we needed to start make significant changes. To show that our efforts of living slightly more frugally have paid off, our credit card bill was $400 less this month (and that includes buying a Wii)! Woohoo!

Here are some of the things we’ve done:

  • Switched dog foods. Feeding 3 dogs is expensive and we were feeding our dogs the highest quality, most expensive food in the store. We’ve switched to a version with slightly less protein made by the same company to save $30+ a month.
  • Stopped going out for dinner. Every Friday night we would go out to dinner and maybe again during the weekend if their was a birthday, a baby shower, or were in the mall, etc. We only went out to eat 2 times last month, which is a huge cut back from the usual 8 or so.
  • Pack a lunch. By not going out to eat as much, I’m cooking more which means leftovers can be brought to work instead of going out for lunch 2 or 3 times a week. DH is a the biggest offender in this category (I make up for it and then some in the next) and he cut back a lot!
  • Stopped going to Target. At least once a week, usually two, I would go to Target on my lunch break. It’s right across the street and I need to get out of the office, so why not? I might single handedly being keeping that branch profitable. I go in needing nothing and come out with over $100 of stuff! I have successful learned the art of leaving Target empty handed!
There is still plenty of opportunity for DH and I to continue cutting back and I'm really happy with the progress made!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Everything is a learning experience

Over the past few weeks, I've realized that 1. no matter how much I complain about my job and the people I work with- I absolutely love my job and the great people I work with. While there is always room for improvement, I think I'm pretty lucky. 2. Every obstacle is a learning experience and we can't grow if we never face adversity.

Here's what I've learned from my latest fiasco:

  • I'm not afraid to stand up for myself
  • I could use some refinement in my communication skills
  • My direct, action oriented communication style, while highly efficient, can be perceived as abrasive
  • Meetings would be easier if I can communicated better with different communication styles, particularly visionaries.
  • I expect clear expectations when starting a project and if I don't get them I ask for them
  • People can't always explain what they want because they really don't know
  • I hold myself to a higher standard by not doing what the customer asks and doing the job the customer wants
  • I can recognize the difference between the two
  • I take things personally and I really need to let them go
  • Work is important and it's not my whole life
  • Sometimes it is better to keep things to myself. In a year from now, will it matter?
  • People at all levels of the organization look to me to be a leader and while it can be frustrating at times, I should take it as a compliment
  • An upbeat attitude and a smile go along way to smooth rocky waters
  • Every experience can teach me something and there is a positive slant to every experience

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Review Day!

It's mid year review day! I'm pleased to report that despite all the trouble I've been stirring up around the office, I got an outstanding review!

I was also pleasantly surprised to hear my manager say she understood my underlying frustrations regarding my blow up yesterday (she wasn't there but I told her about it. I figure if you pick a fight with the president of the company, your manager should find out from you, not him).

She completely agreed that some managers were relying too heavily on me to do their job for them and it put me in a bad spot because I can't go around telling people higher on the corporate food chain how to do their job. (Except that I do, quite often, and I'm getting kind of tired of it).

Her encouraging words meant a lot to me, because I was really beginning to doubt how career savvy it was to speak my mind to upper management. At the time it seemed important to lay down boundaries so they wouldn't continue to take advantage of me (read: keep me at a lower paying position while I continue to do the work of a higher one).

Sometimes I'm really grateful for the buffer my manager provides me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

"They" say we might hear who our new owner is next week. I really hope so. Tolerating work is becoming a full time job in and of itself. Here is a running conversation of my day:

Cheers- for me expressing my concerns about leading a project that is rapidly spiraling out of control

Jeers- for being interpreted as I can’t handle this project

Cheers- for clarifying “I’m happy to facilitate this project and keep things moving forward. My concern is that decisions need to be made and I don’t have the authority to make them.”

Jeers- For my managers saying I shouldn’t lead the project, just facilitate the debacles some people in the office call meetings, and make sure people follow through on their action items (isn’t that leading a project?!?!)

Cheers- for me not killing them

Jeers- for the sales managers and president not knowing what they want, for not making decisions when I ask them to, and for demanding a workable end product in 90 days when they still can’t tell me what deliverables they want other than it is really complicated and beyond their level of expertise.

Cheers- for me not quitting my job…yet

Jeers- for being put in charge of managing managers (and the president) when I am notches below them on the hierarchy totem pole. And for everyone using the "it depends on our new owner" excuse.

Cheers- for taking up yoga

Monday, September 1, 2008

Almost there!

Only $411 left of the honeymoon credit card bill! Our goal was to pay it off within a year and we are definitely going to do it! We are soon to be credit card debit free, yippee! Now DH and I will have to decide whether we are going to roll over the payments to my independent student loans or start a bathroom renovation fund.

And I finished all the cleaning! What a great weekend!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where does the money go?

Realizing DH and I were headed for financial trouble, the first place I turned was the bookstore where I stumbled accross Daivd Bach's Smart Couples Finish Rich. It seemed like the perfect place to start- covering the financial basics from how to talk to your spouse about money, how to save money every day, 401K and Roth IRA breakdowns, and for the more advanced couples, stock market options.

Perhaps the most important thing I took away was his Where Does the Money Go inventory. It breaks down all of your income sources, expense sources, and all of the other places you could spend money (and if you are really good at spending money you can add as many extra rows as you need). At the end of every month I go through our bank statement and our main credit card bill (the only 2 ways we spend money) and inventory every expense and income.

I was pleasently surprised to see that despite DH and I both commuting 50ish miles a day and living in an area of the country with the highest gas prices, we were only spending about $330 a month on gas. (Kudos to us for carpooling and using the truck sparingly).

I was horrified to see that I was spend about $130 a month on books, $200+ a month at Target for who knows what, almost $400 a month on eating out, and $100 a month on new toys for the dogs.

At the end of the spreadsheet it sums up all of your income minus all of your expenses (plus a 10% Murphy's law expense) and you can see for yourself if you spend more than you make. This was a huge wake up call for DH and I. We always knew we were living on the edge, but seeing the numbers was a huge reality check.

Needless to say, DH and I have identified several areas where we can cut back and start saving. If I can figure out how to post a graph to this blog, I'll add one showing how much money we save each month.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Weekend

In honor of Labor Day, I'm making it a labor weekend. As a homeowner of a run down shelter some people call a house there are more than enough tasks to go around. Here's my to do list:

  • Clean the windows, inside and out
  • Wash the screens
  • Wash the walls of doggie footprints and slobber
  • Finish painting the kitchen cabinet doors and hang them
  • Cement the posts for the back fence (DH's task)
  • Steam clean the living room rugs
  • Sweep for cobwebs on outside of the house
  • WD-40 the doors to the bedrooms and the squeaky drawer in the kitchen that wake DH every morning. :)
  • Drain the water heater (if I can figure out how)
  • Create my own list of monthly/yearly home maintenance
I've got a lot to do so I better get busy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Planning Ahead

The company is still under FDIC control with no end insight. To prepare for the worst I'm creating a to do list to sharpen my job marketablity. Here's what I have so far:

  • Update my resume and pick the idea layout
  • Start a notebook to keep track of past and current accomplishments
  • Save e-mails and company newsletters that reference my accomplishments
  • Make sure I have copies of all my reviews
  • Prepare answers to basic interview questions with specific examples from above sources
  • Take advantage of any networking oppertunities
  • Strengthen bond with existing management team
  • Look into continued education classes in Project Managemet, Adobe Creative Suite, Dreamweaver
Other suggestions?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Desperately Seeking...

A Wii Fit. In an effort to cut back expenses, I canceled my gym membership. I wisely decided that the $35 a month could be better spent getting a Wii Fit (and maybe starting a vacation fund). Only one problem, I can't find one any where! Any suggestions?

Monday, August 25, 2008


DH decided he wants to go to Vegas next month. Hmm, wife's job is on the rocks, her company will be sold any day now, she might get laid off, she doesn't have any vacation time because all her benefits dissolved in the financial ruin formerly known as a bank, we have 3 dogs to put in boarding, and we don't have a vacation fund so we'd be dipping into what little savings we have. If you like to gamble, this sounds like a great idea!

Seriously DH and I paid for our honeymoon on a credit card, not the smartest decision we ever made and we're still paying for it. As much as I need a vacation, Vegas doesn't seem like the best plan. Now if only I can convince DH.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I am addicted to the Olympics. They fulfil my deep rooted competitive drive and I can do it all from the safety of my couch.

Here are a few financial lessons from the Olympics like how much is a medal really worth, how much athletes are paid, and what the Olympics can teach you about money management.

Uncertainty Begins

I actually felt some what prepared when I got a call from my boss late Friday night. Our company was owned by a bank suffering heavily with the mortgage crisis and a call on Friday night meant only one thing- the bank was taken over by the FDIC.

The good news was that as a highly profitable asset of the bank and with 1% self ownership we were a surviving asset to be sold to a company that would keep us up and running. The bad news was we were in for a rough ride- pay check delays, heath care uncertainty, and the unspoken fear of layoffs.

The first thing I did after hanging up with my boss was check the local classifieds. I knew the company needed me but I was going to have a back up plan. I also saw this as an opportunity to assess what I really wanted in a job. I was starting to get that disgruntled employee attitude and a change (whether a new company or new management) might be exactly what I needed.

That’s when bad news #2 hit me, I live in an area where good jobs are impossible to find. It’s a good thing DH and I started saving because if I lose my job, it is going to take a while to find a new one.

Good news #2- I realized my life long dream is to work at Google.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How it started

4 months ago DH and I came to the startling realization that we spend significantly more than we make. We’ve been lucky over the past year with timely promotions, wedding gifts, and economic stimulus checks keeping us afloat in the sea of bills, but the giving well was running dry and we had to make significant changes.

It was a timely realization with the weight of making monthly mortgage payments and credit card payments on a belated honeymoon starting to pile up and the lack of an emergency fund becoming an added burden. Working for a bank caught in the thick of the mortgage crisis, was the kick in the butt we needed to start making changes. We started putting money aside in an ING savings account, I started reading financial blogs, and applied the Latte Factor to our regular purchases. For the first time since our move to CA over 2 years ago, we spent less than we made and were able to put money aside!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This blog is about my life as a mid 20 something struggling with the financial burden of homeownership, credit card debit, and career uncertainty.

The frustrations of everyday life as a responsible adult have distracted me from appreciating the life that I have and the life that I want to live. I hope that blogging will give me the insight to reevaluate my life and keep it on track with the support from other readers going through similar disillusionment.