Archive for January, 2008

31
Jan
08

I just spent $20 on a coffee mug.

…What? Why are you looking at me like that?

First of all, it’s a NaNoWriMo coffee mug that says ‘Can’t Talk. Noveling.’ And doesn’t have half-nekkid Pencillius on it, like my ’06 mug does (which makes it NSFW).

Secondly, I paid for it out of my Sonic Screwdriver budget line. That’s right, baby. I have a budget line for Random Acts of Fangirl Merchandise.

I know I make it look easy, but it’s a lot of hard work being so damn pretty.

29
Jan
08

Most Redonk Store Coupon Ever!

Had to pop into Walgreens for some odds and ends (and Cadbury Creme Eggs. DON’T JUDGE ME!) I received a coupon with my receipt, stuffed it in my pocket, and it just fell out on the floor as I was reaching for my phone.

The coupon says that if I bring it back and purchase TWO (2) of a certain brand of haircare products, I’ll get ANOTHER coupon for my next purchase of the certain brand of haircare products, and on that third transaction, I’ll save two whole dollars!

Um, yeah, hi, no. I recycled that coupon.

28
Jan
08

Mall Crawl

I had a day off yesterday thanks to a meeting at church (when you’re basically an elected officer on the Board of Directors, you have to make time for these things). Afterwards, I stopped by the comic shop, and that meant that I had to drive past The Mall to get home.

 And as I drove past The Mall, I remembered the $35 gift card to the Fat Girl Clothing Store (FGCS) in my wallet, and the sorry state of my work wardrobe (three pairs of black pants, one pair of grey pants, four shirts I like wearing, two shirts I’ll wear if the laundry hasn’t been done).

Because I’ve been a Fat Girl my whole life, clothes shopping has many, many negative connotations to it. I also come from a very fashion-conscious family, so I was subjected to a LOT of shopping as a child, and my mother still tries to dress me on every occasion she gets*. So when the urge to shop hits me, I do it, because it only happens, oh, once a quarter?

Sitting in the car in the parking lot, I went over the ground rules:

  1. If I look good and feel good in it, I’m buying it.
  2. My goal is two more work shirts.
  3. I’m willing to spend up to $75 total (funding $40 from my Freedom Account).
  4. Bonus points for sale items.
  5. Nothing. With. Fucking. Glitter.

I haven’t been to the mall in ages. And it was sensory overload; I’m sure I had the deer in the headlights look. I walked past some people who were sitting in chairs in an impromptu food-cart food-court who were watching a plasma screen helpfully playing commercials. What the hell is that all about?

For those of you who have never shopped at FGCS, the clothing is all FGCS brand, is fairly sturdy (I wore one pair of pants from here basically every other working day (and for two weeks solid in Japan) for five years before they wore out), and is typically hit and miss between cute/professional and hootchiemama/circus tent.

I did a dash through the store and picked one of everything that I thought looked cute/professional. Onward to the changing rooms, where battle was joined!

Fourteen shirts went in, only one came out. And that one in a different size than the one I’d taken in to the dressing room with me.

Total so far: $19.99, marked down from 42.50.

I had been thwarted in my quest for two professional work shirts, I decided to continue in my quest to own more red t-shirts than anyone, ever. It’s genetic. Mom’s kryptonite is white t-shirts. Long-sleeved, heavy cotton slight v-neck t-shirts were on sale, $14.99 marked down from $24.99.

But it rang up as $24.99.

So I said, “Wait just a minute, that was from the sale rack!”

The salesperson said, “Oh, it was?” and did a price override without checking. Man, if she worked at the Big Blue Box, her behind would be in the LP office faster than you can say “written up”.

My grand total: $34.98. I have two cents left on my gift card.

Yeah, you know how we do it.

*Which I put up with while I’m visiting my mother, and as soon as she’s/I’ve gone home, I carefully fold the clothes after I’m done wearing them, and donate them to various charities, especially Dress for Success Oregon.

25
Jan
08

/me is a big dork.

It’s payday. YAY! And I’ve been fighting the creepy, crawly ooze all week. Ew. Yuck. Gross. No.

Hanyoldway, being the last payday of the month, I opened up Google Docs and clicked on my Fancy Schmancy Budget file to set in the numbers for February. And when I did, I saw the big, pink note I’d left myself. Because I hate pink, I’d figured putting a pink note there would remind me.

The big pink note said, “Savings Moved 1/11.”

Translation: The money destined for my Cushion /Travel /Car Insurance /Freedom accounts in February I’d transferred to the respective accounts on January 11th.

Which is why my numbers were coming up about $250 short in my main Savings account.

So instead of being almost -260 in the hole for the month of January, I’m on track to be at +96. Which is a good thing, as March’s money is going to reflect

a) a shortened month,

b) five days off of w1rk and w2rk due to federal holidays, jury duty, and a meeting planned at church THREE MONTHS AGO that they decided to switch dates on this week, even though I’d gone to great lengths to get that weekend off, and

c) $125.11 pre-tax deduction at w1rk to pay for my bus pass. In its entirety, valid for the next 7 months, netting me a savings for those 7 months of $504, but it’s still owchies. Mind you, the last three-four months I’d gotten a net savings of $10.50 a month through w2rk. I think this is the better deal, nu?

22
Jan
08

Expenses: EPIC FAIL

Because I was employed by temp agencies for a very, very, VERY long time, I’ve gotten very used to Wednesday Payday.

So much so that creating a budget that doled out money by the month? Has caused COMPLETE SYSTEM FAILURE (Abort, Retry, Ignore?).

According to this month’s budget, I should have $220 left over 9 days from now, to put on, you know, my credit card debt or something.

Instead, according to my calculations, I’m -50 in the hole and still need to put gas in the car.

Contributing Factors to Epic Fail:

  • Not tracking expenses religiously – I bought food with my entertainment budget, entertainment with my miscellaneous budget, miscellaneous with my comics budget, and comics with… um, nothing. I should have bought them with the gas money, thus completing a vicious cycle, but the gas money was gone by the second week of the month.
  • Under-Guesstimating expenses – I had myself down for $80 in the transportation column. That’s how much my bus pass costs. I kind of forgot that I do still drive a car sometimes. (I also have to shell out $125 next pay period for the Annual Bus Pass, but that’s actually a savings… maybe. It’s complicated. Ugh.)
  • Forgot to add things to the budget – I have needed a new comforter for aeons. Seriously, I was sleeping under two blankets I’d slept under for the last 15 years, repaired them both several times, and if you hold them up to the light, you can SEE THROUGH THEM. Right hand to God. I’d planned on using the gift card handed to me by the grand’rents for this– and then I went and spent that gift card on groceries.

Things I’ve Done That are Win:

  • Made a budget and checked it halfway through the month – I’m being accountable to myself! \o/
  • Shopped secondhand and discount – purchased a king sized duck down feather quilt at w2rk for $24.65. This quilt is usually ~$125, and the twin size (which is how big my bed is) is $49.99. I spent most of the weekend on the couch under this quilt. I built a fort! And since it’s so warm, I didn’t have to turn the heat on as I was lounging yesterday! \o/
  • Planned my meals before going to the grocery store and stuck to the list – It’s amazing how much of the grocery store you can skip if you’re just going in for vegetables and bulk staples. I’ve also discovered I’ve turned into that wierd old woman who not only brings her own grocery bags from home, but also brings washed and neatly folded produce bags from home to reuse. \o/
  • Paid for calculation errors out of Freedom Account – Yep. I didn’t touch any of my dedicated savings (travel, car insurance) nor my cushion account. Because I have a PLAN FOR UNEXPECTED EXPENSES OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE WHO KIDNAPPED ME AND PUT AN ADULT IMPOSTOR IN HERE?!?! \o/

What I’m doing to prevent future epic fail:

  • Set up new INGDirect Savings Account named ‘Allowance’ – I went ahead and transferred all cashy monies into that account. Each week, I’ll be sending part of those into my checking account for spending on things like food and gas and CLOVERFIELD which I am TOTALLY going to see this next weekend come hell or high water pants. Why in a savings account/transfer to checking account system instead of cashy money in envelopes? Because I raid the next week’s envelope, and envelopes do not earn interest (remember, compound interest is sexy OMG).
  • Not beat myself up – I made a mistake. I’m fixing it. I’m still full of flavor, and am currently working on my win content.
16
Jan
08

What’s in My Wallet Wednesday

Wednesday is the day I clean out my wallet and tell you what I found in it.

Buried deep beneath coupons and receipts that all got shredded (the coupons were for luxury items I won’t be able to purchase before the coupon expires), I found a fortune cookie fortune. It reads:

If you follow someone else, you are ignoring your own path.

My wallet has one of those view windows where you can put your ID, I used a little clear tape to stick the fortune in the window, coincidentally right over my address. There’s a happy face sticker over my DL number, already, ’cause that’s not really information I want people to see when I’m wrestling with my bus pass.

15
Jan
08

Choosing a Second Job, or W2rking

As all three of you who read this blog know, I differentiate my two different jobs by the designations w1rk and w2rk. Because I can. W1rk is a 40 hr a week desk long-term temp gig. W2rk is a variable schedule retail permanent gig.

This is not my first time doing the Multiple-Gig Mambo. I’ve had several side gigs in my life, everything from being an Independent Sales Rep for two different cosmetics companies (more on that in a minute), to handscoring standardized tests, to baby sitting, telephone fundraising, and janitorial work. Some of these gigs have been rather excellent, and some of them have been utter, abject failures I’m still trying to recover from.

So, here’s some things I’ve learned to ask myself when considering a second job:

1) Can I really do this? TWICE I’ve signed up as an independent sales rep for two seperate cosmetics companies. TWICE. Why? Because someone told me I’d be really, really good at it. Which just proves those two folks were excellent salespeople, since I have a deep aversion to make-up, born of sensitive skin and 8 years as a competitive dancer. I don’t wear the stuff. I’m also really, really, REALLY horrible at sales. REALLY TRULY. Customer service? Oh, I’m a whiz at that. You tell me what you want, and I’ll bend over backwards to get it done for you.

You know your own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure this second job is something that exercises your A Number 1 skills and has support in place to aid you in strengthening your weaker skill sets.

2) Am I physically capable of handling this job AND my main job? – I know if w1rk involved any kind of standing or lifting, I would not be able to handle all the standing and lifting at w2rk. My stamina is good, but it’s not that good. W2rk also allows me to do longer shifts on the weekends, so while I’m averaging a total of 58.25 hours worked between both gigs, I’m tending towards 6 days of 8 hour shifts and one day with an 8hours-4hours schedule. I can both sleep and cook nutritious meals.

One summer when I was in college, I was doing about 75 hours of work a week at two very physically demanding jobs. I also decided I was lacto-ovo vegetarian and ate mostly ice cream and Oreo cookies, while dealing with the stress of my mother battling cancer. I almost landed in the hospital due to iron-resistant anemia. I had to quit both my jobs and rely on cash from Mom and Dad. Moral of the story? Don’t be me!

3) What’s it going to cost? – This includes actual cash in gas, bus passes, uniforms, and inventory. I have a personal rule: initial cash layout for a gig must be less than one day’s worth of net income. W2rk has uniform standards, and while shirts are provided, I had to purchase all-black shoes and a belt before I started. Right now a friend’s bugging me to get back into doing some contract web graphic design for him. It’d cost about $500 for the software I  need, and he’s only got one guaranteed gig, my cut of which will be $50. Yeah, hi? No.

If you’re going to be doing something that involves you keeping an inventory on hand, WORK IT, BABY! SELL SELL SELL! That inventory ain’t money in the bank until you cash your customer’s checks. If you have doubts about your ability to work it, baby, please go ahead and take a look at number 1 up there. We’ll wait.

4) What are the benefits for me working my tail off? – For a lot of people, this answer is going to be spelled with an $$$$. For me, though, it’s spelled ‘W2rk gives me health insurance’. Yes, you read it right, my part-time gig covers my health insurance while my full-time gig, being temp, doesn’t. So, in my case, the benefits of w2rking is… benefits!

Once you’ve weighed all these options, go ahead and put them aside for about a while and come back to them later. See them with a fresh eye and get a feel for how this will play out in your life. Then, make your decision.

I also found it’s helpful to reevaluate after 30, 90, and 180 days. Life changes quickly, and while last month’s obligations may have been finished, next month might serve up a doozy of a curve ball that will make w2rking impossible.

 If you have to quit your w2rk, it is NOT a failure. It’s a transition.