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Archive for November, 2009

We came out ahead

November 28th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Well, we ended up borrowing a neighbor's ladder so all in all, the repairs to the house cost about $60 for the chainsaw, shingles, and oil.

We still spent the $300 though and used it to buy Christmas presents for the kids. We went out to Target and wrote a list of all the things they wanted. Then we brought them home, looked over the list, and totaled it up so that it was within our budget.

Then DH went back to Target and got them the stuff. I was amazed at everything he got. I went and spent $300 earlier in the month and didn't get half as much.

So the kids are done for Christmas.

I don't feel too bad about it all. Dad really loved the kids and would have wanted to spoil them. And for four kids, $300 isn't too bad. Grant it, if you count the other $300 - $74 when I returned some of it as punishment because they were bad... I'd say so far we've spent about $850 on Christmas (this includes my stand mixer) and we need to buy DH something for Christmas.

He wants tint on his car so thats probably what I'm going to get him. Then aside from that he just says he wants clothes and shoes.

So the amount we've spent on Christmas hasn't been terrible, its still less than last year so I'm glad.

More money

November 27th, 2009 at 09:12 pm

We've been trying to fix things around the house today. We need an extension ladder but the one we bought trying to save money didn't meet our needs so I had to return it.

The one we need is $200, and since I only have $1000 in the EF - that $1000 has to spread between a new patio door, a chainsaw, a ladder, and new shingles.

The shingles were cheap, but the patio door is $499 at Home Depot plus around $341 for installation. That only leaves around $150.

We spent $135 at Home Depot today trying to get the stuff we needed but then the ladder never worked.

So I went back to Home Depot to get oil for the chainsaw & when I got home I had a check waiting for me.

It was from Dad's social security for $304.75.

I called my Aunt to let her know and she talked a lot about how much she loved DH and Dad has always liked DH.

I always joked that if I ever left DH, I'd be in trouble with the family. Anyhow, for awhile I have been hesitant to incorporate what I've received from Dad to join DH's & my joint funds.

But I think if Dad knew the situation now, he'd want me to use the $304.75 to buy what the family needed to repair the house vs sitting in a bank account because I was nervous about incorporating it into family finances.

That isn't to say I'm going to join the $6298.25 into the family finances, but I will admit that seeing that check helped me feel more secure about buying the ladder.

I was supposed to buy it when I went to get the oil but I told Dh that the refund from the first ladder will take a few days & I can't buy another ladder from the debit card until that is paid.

So I come home, and the money is suddenly there.

I've been thinking about Dad a lot this week. We were supposed to be in Vegas today. Instead I received a check from his behalf & pictures of him that I ordered for an ornament to put on our tree.

I miss him, but on days like today - I also have a feeling he's watching over us.

Career goals vs Finances

November 27th, 2009 at 01:56 pm

What do you do when you find out that in order to pursue your career goals in the way you desire would put you at a severe financial setback?

Thats what I found.

I was bored in my strategic cost management class so while in class, I made up my budget and determined that if I got a job making $45K at a firm, we would be at a $1115/mo DEFICIT during the summertime when all four kids were out of school & $85/mo deficit when the older kids were in school.

Right now, we are a $580/mo surplus (not including the extra money we pay towards the credit cards).

Learning that was sort of disappointing.

In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to remain active with the accounting field till I can afford to pursue it.

I'll be volunteering for VITA every other Saturday next year during tax season & I'm putting together to train the rest of the team as to what exactly I do for the company.

I also need to work on proposals to show my current boss what it is exactly I have been learning & show the team how accountants would analyze the deals vs the way they do it as marketers.

It'll be interesting, but I guess if I can't pursue my chosen career path based on finances - then at least I can forge ahead in my current place of employment to create my own.

I know I will have the backing of my CFO, I have all the tools I need from them & my education - I just need to come up with a plan on my own to execute all of this.

At least in other organizations your boss lays out your career plan for the organization. Here, I'm allowed to make my own - which can be liberating - but in order to do so, I have to really make sure I align myself with the company's goals. Which sometimes knowing where I can inject myself into the organization can be tricky because they already have established ways of analyzing things. In essence, I have to sell myself in a way that they can see my value too so I can get paid what I'm worth.

Unexpected expenses

November 25th, 2009 at 05:41 pm

I had a $49 unexpected expense today.

I haven't had an eye exam - EVER. But I've been getting this floaty thing in my eye so after 28 years I thought, "Ok, I should just get my eyes checked."

The appointment went well. Although it taught me that I'm REALLY sensitive with my eyes getting touched. I'm lucky I never had to get glasses or contacts cause I don't know if I could get my muscles to relax for that. It was very hard for me to keep them open so they could look at them.

I expected the exam to be fully covered but they wanted to take a picture of my retina which is why the $49, since most insurance companies don't cover it.

Everything turned out fine, I don't even need a prescription. They even said that my retinas looked good and with this visit they got a good baseline measure for the future.

DH also went out to lunch and spent $11.03 or so. But that was within his $50/mo budget.

He tried saying the $49 should come out of my budget but I don't see medical/dental/vision expenses being something that should be part of my "allowance". Some expenses are just necessities, including preventative healthcare.

But as I left the office, I couldn't help but be grateful that we have such good healthcare. I've been blessed in my childhood and adult life that I've never had to worry about if I could afford to go to a doctor or getting the treatment I need.

I have a few more hours of work left before I'm off for the weekend. Goal is to get my case & final exam done for my forensic auditing course so then my only thing to do after that will be my strategic costing final exam and a presentation on ZZZZ Best.

Allowances

November 24th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

DH and I are going to try something new.

I notice that because we both don't have a set amount each week to spend, we end up just spending what is in our checking account (obviously not all of it, at the end of the day we still remain within budget).

But DH has been wanting some money for just him that he doesn't want to feel like he has to account for. Money for Christmas presents, lunches, etc. He suggested $50/mo so when things come up, if he wants to buy it - he can.

So I'm going to try doing the same thing.

I've hesitated on the whole "allowance" thing cause I didn't see the necessity to it. But DH told me that he feels like he's been treated like a kid. I think it stems from the fact he is the boss at work but if he wants to spend $7 for lunch at Taco Bell, he has to ask if its okay to spend that so he doesn't put us off balance.

So we're going to try this. I think it may alleviate some stress on my part too. I feel like he's constantly asking for stuff cause he doesn't get an allowance of what he can spend and I never plan for those expenditures.

We'll see how this goes. $50/mo sounds reasonable to account for lunches, hair cuts, presents he wants to surprise people with.

I gave him $17 two weeks ago and he still has some of that left. And he used a portion of it just two days ago to pay for his haircut.

Found money

November 22nd, 2009 at 11:40 pm

In talking with my Aunt today she told me that when they returned my Dad's car to the credit union, they paid off the loan with the credit union's life insurance proceeds.

But then they sold the car & it was enough that it paid off the loan with enough left over. And since the credit union doesn't make a profit, they just give the money back to the estate.

So she told me that there was $12K remaining and next year when she finishes my Dad's taxes and closes everything out - she will send my brother, sister, and I whatever she received.

She doesn't want to send a bunch of amounts several times & I think its wise as well. As his kids, its best we wait to be given any sum of money for awhile.

I'm really grateful for this money, we're still going to use it as our emergency fund - but I'm glad its there.

My Job Review

November 20th, 2009 at 07:14 pm

Well I had my review and it was amazingly positive. My only areas for improvement were that I needed were to be a little more available via IM but that is because the majority of the team is on the West Coast & I'm on the East Coast working normal hours. However, I'm always available via email. My boss giving the review was unconcerned about that since she knows that & said the person who made that point is probably just someone that works in the afternoons on the West Coast.

Then the second point was to be more proactive in informing the rest of the team about what I do.

I was praised on taking ownership of my projects, following up with team members on project status, and in playing a critical role in improving our partner payment process.

Still, no raise. Essentially I was told no one in the company is getting a raise because the company is not yet profitable enough to do so.

I understood but I feel that I was still assertive in my response by asking/stating 3 key things:

1) I understand that the company needs to be more profitable before awarding raises, but what are we doing to get there?

2) Its been over a year since the company has given pay cuts & pay freezes, and while understandable because of the economy - I'm interested in our strategic goals towards improving because as time goes on, morale for the company is another concern

3) Have we thought about increasing our prices or re-examining our costs & contribution margins?

For #3, I didn't want to say it blatantly, but I was trying to ask if we had looked internally for reasons that we are not profitable.

The conversation was not tense, I work with the person giving my review on a daily basis & I feel like I can be honest with her.

Sooo, thats how it went. I'm not surprised and I do like the company, but I am still keeping my plans in place to reach my goals and eventually get paid what I am worth.

Starting the Application Process

November 20th, 2009 at 03:34 am

I just finished paying my $120 for my application fee to apply to take the CPA exam.

I have about $3963 remaining on my MyCAA account which SHOULD cover all four parts of the CPA exam with Becker's review course.

I'm not completely sure if we're even going to BE here in this state next year, but if I pass the exam - hopefully that is transferrable wherever I go. That's one reason I am glad I didn't go into law. My brother has to take the bar exam anywhere he goes, from what I stand after I get my license I would just need to apply for reciprocity in a new state.

So we'll see. The state fees to sit for the exam are another $800 something dollars so doing all this is not cheap. But i hope it gets me on the right track.

That was one thing the CPA who spoke to our class said - take the exam as SOON as you can after you graduate.

So I'm going to follow that advice in hopes that it will make life much less stressful later on.

I haven't forgotten though about the lesson I've learned regarding stress & my health. So although I need to complete this, I'm going to try to do what I can to make this as least stressful as possible.

Aside from that, tomorrow is my "Personal Success Review" but I'll be completely honest, if I don't get a raise out of this review - I'll have pretty much made up my mind that I am done with this job.

Yes, the intangible benefits of working from home are nice & its not a stressful position. I won't quit unless I have something lined up either.

However, I want to know there is something to look forward to & I've been getting to the point that I feel like I'm just being strung along for the ride with no real evidence that I have an opportunity to grow here - not even a pay raise after 3 years, getting my master's degree, and taking over the financial aspects of the marketing department.

So we'll see how it goes. I would like to pass the CPA exam and be done with that before I leave my job though. It seems like that would be the least stressful thing to do, especially while my youngest is still in therapy & I need my job's current flexibility in order to attend her appointments.

That was another thing that annoyed me. Today was her appointment that would determine if she had to continue therapy or not because it would be meeting w/a team of doctors.

DH told me yesterday he couldn't take the kids to school because he had to be at the airport for work today. With the H1N1 precautions, that meant I couldn't take the older kids with me to my youngest child's appointment & I had no one to watch them with that late of notice.

So I had to cancel.

Apparently I didn't realize how rare these appointments are because they called me to reschedule today & her next appointment is JANUARY 27th!!!

I about flipped, because of ONE missed appointment - that now means 2 more months of therapy for my daughter.

I need a nanny or a helper or something.

I think I've found my 2nd calling

November 19th, 2009 at 03:12 am

After a tough day with work and feeling like I'm underpaid and under-appreciated at work, I was so grateful to go to class tonight.

I had a conversation with the department manager about my professional goals. To give you some background, this is a company founded by marketers. Therefore, they don't really value accounting - hence, why I'm the lowest paid person on the team.

But I told him "I wish I could be a more essential part of the team because accountants are the ones that help management when we're evaluating a deal, to help say "This is the most we should be spending on the deal" because they are the most informed about costs and contribution margins."

And his response was "Really? You think that's accounting? That's what I do and I think that is more analytics. I'd really love to hear more about what you are learning because I think you'll find its more complicated" (He has an engineering and IT background)

So I walk into class & we have two guest speakers today. I don't remember their names, just what they do.

They are hired by attorneys to help in valuations, sometimes it turns into forensics and they have to serve as an expert witness.

As I'm listening to all this, I'm thoroughly engaged. Not like the night before where I was so bored in my cost accounting class (because I already took the continuation course which was 10x harder than this pre-req) that I spent most of it playing Chess on my iPhone.

This class, I wanted to learn more - couldn't get enough. The idea of investigating, making sense out of chaos.... yeah, THAT'S what caught my interest.

I have a huge interest in law. My brother is a prosecutor... and I had no idea a job existed that could allow CPAs (or ABVs) to work with different areas of the law.

THAT was actually my first profession choice. I wanted my major to be philosophy because I wanted to be an attorney. My counselor advised me to do Business Mgmt because I had 2 kids and doing law school with kids might not happen.

Then I found I liked accounting & handling money. I had no idea there was a way to deal with both aspects.

From what I gather, you need to gain technical experience in accounting first so if I wanted to do fraud examination - trying to get employed with the FBI or another government agency would be the tract I'd take.

If I wanted to help attorneys figure out the division of assets in a divorce or selling a business, he recommended working for a firm that deals with tax, audit, and valuations.

The growth potential is 10x anything my current job would give me. I went up to a classmate today and asked her what the starting salary for an entry level accountant was & she said around $40K (with a bachelors degree).

I'm about to get my master's and take the CPA exam. I've held off joining the "work outside the home" force because of DH's Naval career and the kids. I figured with childcare I'd need to make around $57K to break even.

But if I have to take an initial pay cut to GET to the $57K in 3-5 years, its worth it. Worth it to feel valued & challenged.

So I think that's my gameplan. Once I know where DH's next duty station is, looking around for a good firm. I'll plan to start taking the CPA exam in January and be done with it next year.

Apparently it will take awhile to enter the field of forensic accounting, but if I have that as a long-range goal to be doing that by the time I'm 35-40... well, at least its a better goal than where I'm currently at wondering if I'll ever really be paid what I'm worth to the company.

Why do we allow ourselves to consciously make bad decisions?

November 18th, 2009 at 01:40 pm

Why do we allow ourselves to consciously make bad decisions that take us away from our long range goals?

If we know what we want, why is it that we still entertain temptation when it arises?

I don't think anyone is immune to this, more so that some people are better at it than others and we all have our own vices.

We've been on a waiting list for a Birman for over a year. We wanted a female kitten last year but wanted the right one to come along. Now, before anyone talks to me about adopting from a shelter - I'm a Birman lover, not a cat lover. I've owned a couple of domestic shorthairs from shelters & their personalities were unpredictable.

In fact, an unpredictable domestic shorthair is what led us to find our 7 year old Birman. A domestic shorthair had gotten mad at me for something & peed on my bed (Oh, I remember now, I got upset over the fact that the cat was terrorizing the dog).

My neighbor gladly adopted the cat. But since then, DH and I decided we wanted a cat that was friendly... and Birmans are known to be extremely friendly.

In 2002, I tricked my DH into adopting our 7 y/o Birman. Told him it was a $50 cat and we made the 3 hour trek to Washington D.C. to adopt him. I let the breeder in on my secret & passed her the other $450.

DH knew when he saw the cat that it was not a $50 cat, and I disclosed to him a few months later what our cat really cost. I don't believe he harbored any bad feelings for it, possibly... but it wasn't a big contention between us from what I remember.

Still yet, I acknowledge it was wrong to do that.

He knows what the cat costs now. And he isn't opposed to it anymore... as I said, we aren't "cat" lovers... we are Birman lovers. And the reason we love Birmans is because they are dog-like but w/the independence of a cat.

So the breeder e-mailed me yesterday saying there are two female kittens available. One available anytime and another in December.

I haven't asked the price, or even responded. She's approached me twice since last year that she had a male available & another kitten in Sept (but as you know I was going through the stuff with my Dad so I let her know it wasn't a good time).

I really want the cat... but I see two issues

1) The cost (I still have the cash from the life insurance proceeds so I could pay cash, but I don't think thats really the wisest thing to do)

2) We don't know where DH is going to be stationed. If we have to move & live in base housing, they only accept 2 pets and we already have 2.

So I know its probably a bad decision. Ok, no, I know it IS a bad decision for RIGHT NOW.

But that leads me to the first question I proposed...

Why do we consciously allow ourselves to make a bad decision that we KNOW is bad?

I think I'm still improving somewhat... I'm far from perfect, but at least I've improved to the point that I'm processing these feelings BEFORE making a decision.

Still yet, I struggle with making the right decision.

Underlying theme for 2009

November 17th, 2009 at 07:47 pm

I think if there is an underlying theme to the year 2009 for me... its this:

The importance of becoming pro-active in the management of your health

This theme is present not just in my own life, but in the larger arena as well. In my extended family, I lost my Dad because he or the doctors didn't dig further... and then in the news sector - all this debate about healthcare. Even up to yesterdays news regarding mammograms.

So anyhow, I was sitting with my daughter at her occupational therapy appointment today talking about the family's health in general with the speech therapist.

My youngest was the smallest of the bunch, so the therapist asked if the other kids were small. I said "No" and she asked what I thought affected that or what was different.

And like a light bulb went on, I realized... stress.

My older two have been perfectly healthy. It wasn't till I started working, going to school, and keeping up with family life that my son was born & ended up in the NICU.

Then my stress level didn't get better when my youngest came around & they had to induce me because she had Intra-uterine growth retardation & is now "Failure to Thrive"

I continued ignoring all of this, thinking I was invincible. Till everything came to a head this year.

My blood pressure rose, my hair was falling out, headaches, grinding my teeth.

How did I ignore all that? For so long I brushed it off telling myself "I'm fine. This is normal."

Since my own healthcare scare, I've started taking steps to pro-actively manage my stress. I realize now that "over-achieving" isn't worth it if it sacrifices my health or the health of my children.

I just wish it didn't take me so long to come to terms with it. That for so many years I negated the effect of stress, when it was staring at me in the face with the health of my youngest two kids.

I know as a result of this, I'm going to have to make some big sacrifices. But I've made minor sacrifices so far and am starting to see the positive effects.

For one, my blood pressure is returning to normal and I no longer wake up with my jaw hurting.

I think long-term and I may end up putting my goal of being a CPA in a more "leisurely" timeframe. Really all thats left is taking the exam & getting my license. But I don't want to have to rush through the exam JUST so I can say "I got my CPA license by the time I was 30 despite having four kids and being a Navy wife"

Despite the rush I would feel from saying that... knowing what I put my health through to just get my masters degree makes me question it. Not necessarily getting the degree, but the need to rush through it JUST so I can have 90% of my goals accomplished by the time I'm 30.

Sometimes its more important to stop and smell the roses.

Remnants of Ida and Healthcare Update

November 16th, 2009 at 08:06 pm

So we lost power Thursday night and regained power on Friday night.

After everything, we had some siding taken off (small piece and we still have the siding) and I think we may be missing a few shingles. In addition, we do need to replace the backdoor.

The door we want is $499 at Home Depot and $341 to have them install it. If my handyman doesn't call me within the next two days I'll probably just have Home Depot do it.

Dh thinks he may be able to silicone the siding (it ripped) together and then put it back on. After our dealing earlier this year with our rental, I realize what a pain it is to get siding because its often discontinued.

Note to self - from now on - I'm buying white houses, condos, or brick or stucco homes.

Then we'd just need to get those couple shingles replaced.

Our other house seems to have faired well. Its a one story protected on all sides by two story houses.

So all is okay & I'm grateful for our emergency fund to allow us to handle these situations without incurring debt.

Aside from that, I did go to my doctor's appointment (still with Tricare Prime) and I got a fabulous doctor who recommended we check my thyroid and do some other tests.

My BP is still high if a machine takes it. It was 137/85 but the next morning when a person took it, it was 110/70 and 117/84. So I'm not sure why the discrepancy but I need to go again today to get it taken.

So she has me doing serial BP checks for the next three weeks, ordered additional labs, did an EKG (normal) and I feel really confident in her ability to figure out what may be going on with me.

I really liked that doctor. In fact, I think I'll ask the clinic about making her my primary care doctor. If that can work out, then I'll probably not have to switch my insurance coverage after all. That will save me around $1000/yr.

So we'll see. I'm still not sure what's going on with me but maybe it is my thyroid. I had completely dismissed the fact that my hair has been falling out for the past few months, but she pointed out to me that it may all be related.

Murphy decided to visit us today

November 12th, 2009 at 01:14 am

A big NorEaster is currently raining down on us.

Classes at the college were cancelled. But today we took DH out for dinner for Veteran's day ($25 for all 6 of us to eat after my $25 gift card). And we got my Christmas present... he got me the mixer after all. Meanwhile, I agreed he could tint his car in December.

On the way home, with the crazy weather - we saw something large & black in the road once we entered our subdivision. I couldn't figure out what it was till we realized it was the neighbor's trampoline laying VERTICAL in the air.

So we stopped and I knocked on their door.

"Sorry, but I don't know if you realize your trampoline is in the middle of the road."

"You've got to be kidding me!"

He looks out "Holy _____" and rushes outside to get it.

I was surprised myself because he keeps the trampoline in his fenced in yard (albeit the fence is only about 4 feet).

So anyhow, I get home - unpack the mixer, cut my finger on the KitchenAid sticker, and then DH tells me we need to replace the back door (two doors, french door style but only one side opens).

Apparently the window in the door is leaking because the carpet was wet.

I wonder if this is a sign I need to return the mixer. But I really wanted to use it for the holidays (Hence, why I already opened it).

We have the cash to pay for it, and I estimate it'll probably be around $700-$1000 or so to fix it.

Oh well, just got to roll with it I guess. Even Dave Ramsey said Murphy will pay a visit every now and again, but you just press pause on the baby steps, take care of it, then get back to tackling it all.

ETA: Well, maybe we don't need to replace the door after all. The leak appears to be at the bottom of the window so we may be able to caulk it or something once it stops raining.

Still yet, replacing the door in the foreseeable future is probably something we are going to need to plan for.

H1N1 Vaccine

November 11th, 2009 at 07:28 pm

This really won't be so much about finances, just about decisions.

The school the older three kids attend is going to be vaccinating against H1N1 during PE.

I have wavered all along about whether the kids should get it or not. We don't go to many places where they would be exposed to the virus, but the kids are in school.

The youngest is also considered "failure to thrive" and if she got just a simple flu virus - she'd have to be hospitalized.

Perhaps its over-caution, but I am worried about vaccine safety. I am nervous about vaccines even for myself. Plus the military doesn't give me an option for mist or shot form... I have to have mist form & I'm not really wanting that.

I also haven't been vaccinated for anything since 1998. Thats less of a thing to do with any vaccine fear and more related to not keeping up on my healthcare since I became an adult.

DH doesn't get vaccinated for the flu but he's had anthrax, yellow fever, etc vaccines and all came out just fine.

What makes me uncomfortable about the school program is that I won't get a choice as to what form the kids will get (Mist or Shot).

If they don't get it through the school, they probably won't get it at all and will just have to brave this season with their immune system.

So I don't know. They got the regular flu vaccine and have never had a reaction to any vaccine in the past. Maybe I'm just nervous and feeling like a hypocrite because DH and I choose not to get vaccinated.

DH honestly believes the vaccines make him sick. For me, its primarily because I'm not given a choice as to what type of vaccine I'm given.

Joint Finances

November 10th, 2009 at 08:03 pm

I wish DH was more involved in the finances with me.

We handle the main decision making together but the day-to-day stuff is all me.

Anyhow, right now we have 15% of his pay going towards retirement, putting $510 extra/mo on my credit card and we have a $1000 EF along with the $6298 I received from the life insurance proceeds.

This morning I approach him and say:

"Given our budget, we are just breaking even given everything that we are doing. However, Christmas is coming up & we haven't finished shopping, our 10th anniversary (a milestone we'd like to celebrate), and I am switching my insurance so I need to anticipate fronting my $150/yr deductible. I'm not sure how to account for this. Should I scale back your retirement contributions, scale back the CC payment, or just not do that stuff?" (Option 3 not really being a feasible option because of the healthcare alone)

And DH says "Well, it makes no sense to go into the EF for that. So we either have to cut back on our spending or find somewhere else for the money."

"OK, I can't cut back on our spending cause all of the stuff is needed. So do you want me to scale back the CC payments for Nov & Dec or scale back your retirement?"

He shrugs, "I don't care."

Ugh! Why not? (I did say that as well)

So I'm not sure which is best. Scaling back on the CC payment is probably best... but yeah, sometimes I wish DH had more of an opinion about the finances.

The kids have most of the Xmas stuff taken care of. We just need to get them a few more things. I'd like to get family pictures done because we don't have one AT ALL with the whole family in them.

DH and I would like to at least go out to dinner for our anniversary. Originally we wanted to do something big but thats just not feasible. I even wanted a $1750 anniversary band but I've thrown that hope out the window long ago in place of a new dream of being more conservative & out of debt.

Last time we got family pictures done was in 2005.

Then of course I need to set aside money for my doctor's appointment in December.

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up

November 9th, 2009 at 01:20 pm

As I near graduation, I have come to the realization that I still don't know what I want to be when "I grow up"

I like money
I like helping people
I also have an interest in forensics

So I happened upon accounting and enjoyed that.

But here is what gets me... when I work, I want to FEEL like what I'm doing isn't really work. That feeling where its effortless because you are enjoying what you do.

I enjoy making budgets, getting numbers to match... but not necessarily the accompanying office politics and egos that come into play.

I like feeling like I'm part of a team & being able to trust my co-workers, not feeling like we are all in a "team" where we'd cash each other out to get the next promotion.

My current job is that place where it doesn't feel like work because I enjoy it. I'm valued (although I wish more monetarily) and respected. I feel like I can trust my coworkers and because its virtual, office politics and gossip is to a minimum.

But its not accounting & they've warned me several times that it never will be

So if I'm not in accounting, what will I be?

I have thought about other private organizations, but again - its tough to find a company that you mesh with, especially with all the personal obligations I have between 4 kids and being a Navy wife.

Then on the other hand, in 10 years, I don't even know if I want to be working at all. The goal of my career is to be a backdrop in my life, that with DH's pension and the rental income - its more about doing what we enjoy than working to live.

But on that same note, I want to maintain my career so just in case Plan A doesn't pan out exactly as I hoped, there is a Plan B.

I'll probably need to talk to my boss more at length with this. Her and the department boss see no issues in centralizing all of the Acquisitions department finance issues around me. So my official "title" would be the Aquisitions/Marketing Department Financial Manager.

How that translates into the rest of the workforce... eh, I don't know. Its not accounting, but it doesn't sound like too bad of a title either.

I guess on the bright side is... I'm still working and I'm still in the business field. So my accounting degree is not gone to waste at my current job... but I think if I want to stay here without feeling like I'm sacrificing my career aspirations... I need to adjust my perspective & look for the opportunities here.

Of course, at the same time I will take the CPA exam and try to get my license (which may be a challenge because of the accounting experience requirement), but since I like the company I am with - I think maybe I should look further into areas of growth vs simply "areas of growth in accounting".

Accounting isn't necessarily what makes me happy. I enjoy it but I think it also gives me a good foundation for working in management.

Clearing out Clutter

November 8th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

Some days I'm amazed at the amount of clutter that piles up on my desk.

Although the tabletop is still very visible (my "clutter" may be another person's "clean"), I like it to be spotless. With 4 kids on top of the usual mail & my school papers, I have learned I need to be diligent on a daily basis to keep my desk that way.

I have a "Bills" box that really isn't JUST for bills. It should really be a "Mail" box because it deals with things I have to fill out & do (and sometimes that is bills).

It was my goal today to clean it out. Too much non-essential stuff had begun to take it over.

What did I have in there?

A Roth IRA transfer form for DH & I to transfer our Roths from one bank to another that had been sitting in there for almost a year.

A FEMA Acknowledgment of Receipt form regarding our flood insurance policies.

A postcard for me to fill out for the college's alumni records

An order form for my diploma frame

And other papers related to my mortgage company being taken over by a new company (and the new company's address) or papers saying that my HOA dues are going up next year (so I could plan for it in the budget)

I don't know why I put this stuff off.

It took less than an hour to go through it all, including researching our account #'s and filling out the necessary paperwork online to transfer our Roth accounts.

And all I needed to do for my mortgage company was just file the new contact in my address book, I didn't need to hold onto the letter. Then just put the new HOA dues amount in my budget.

So my desk is clean for the most part. All I have left to do is sort through mine and the kids' school paperwork.

On another note, since I started working out on the treadmill for 45 minutes a day 5 days a week, I've learned that is the EXACT amount of time it takes to listen to Dave Ramsey's podcasts.

So as I work on building up my physical fitness, I'm getting advice on how to also become financially fit Smile

Receiving

November 8th, 2009 at 02:27 am

I received the check in the mail from my Dad's life insurance policy today and deposited into my savings account within that same hour I received it.

As I read the breakout of the payment, I couldn't help but feel a sinking in my heart. And on the way to the bank, I whispered to myself "I miss you Dad"

I kept thinking my Dad would want me to do something with the money to bring happiness to me. Simply putting it in the bank didn't feel like that.

Maybe I should payoff my credit card, then I'd be credit card free by February & we'd only owe on DH's card.

But I can't really.

I want to know I can payoff this debt on my own... that we've changed our spending habits so we'll never get in this mess again.

I want to know that before I do anything with the last gift I have from my Dad. Until then, I'll probably transfer it to a money market account in my name to serve as a "security blanket" for those things I would have called my Dad in tears over.

The money is in a separate account that I usually just had $13 in it or so. So its not money that I can easily get to and its definitely separated out from the rest of my money.

I wonder if I'm doing the right thing... as I said, I could pay off one of my cards. Dave Ramsey says thats what he says to do whether its an inheritance or an extra raise... to follow the baby steps.

But what if you want to know that you really got out of debt on your own and not just because your Dad bailed you out? If I used that money to pay off my credit cards... would I ever really be able to look in the mirror and say I really did this on my own?

I'm sure this is why Suze Orman says to not touch money from an inheritance for 6 months to a year because of all the emotions involved with it.

Forced Savings

November 6th, 2009 at 07:10 pm

This is the first month DH is getting his pay raise & I had completely forgotten that I had increased his contribution to the TSP account to 15% of his base pay.

Because of the pay increase, his take home pay is only $40 less each pay period. But we are saving a large chunk of his income.

In a way I'm grateful that I did that. As our incomes go up, we will automatically apply those to savings so we stay living within our means as we push our way out of debt.

Its a little backwards from Dave Ramsey's plan (after all we still have debt to pay off)... but I want to focus on not seeing a big paycheck every month that puts off savings.

The next step is to get me saving 15% of my income. Hopefully with a pay raise that will make things easier.

I'm confident I'm due a pay raise this time around. My bosses are going to do a "Personal Success Review" in 3 weeks with me and that is when I'll bring up that since my pay raise in March 2007, I have incurred (and continue to incur) additional responsibilities... in additional to inflation & my receiving my master's degree - I believe I'm due a fair wage.

I don't expect to be paid at the top of my job profession. As I mentioned earlier, working at home is a HUGE intangible benefit for me. However, just because I have kids is no excuse for me to be willing to accept a below average wage for the value I provide to the company.

Navigating healthcare

November 5th, 2009 at 07:48 pm

So I'm taking the steps to switch my coverage to allow for more choices in my healthcare.

However, I feel lost. I have no idea who to pick as a doctor.

I've always seen a Family Practice doctor. But people are telling me to see an Internist. Can I see both? (My new insurance does not require to have a PCM - I just see who I want... but both doctors could be my primary care doctor if I wanted to designate one)

So I set up an appointment with an internist in December. With my headaches, blood pressure, and elevated AST levels... I should probably see them. Keep in mind, again, I'm 28, 136 lbs at 5'7"... I run for 45 minutes on the treadmill everyday, and apparently my cholesterol is lower than what it was when I was 19.

Maybe it is stress... the blood pressure, elevated AST (liver enzyme... which if my Dad was my biological dad I would panic because he died of liver cancer), and headaches. I've never lost a loved one before & maybe I've been under-estimating the effect its had on me... but I feel like I can't really stop to grieve. There is just so much going on & I can't fail at what I'm doing right now to allow myself to grieve. I just can't. I'd almost feel like I was letting my Dad down for letting my emotions get the best of me & as a result would ruin what I've worked so hard for.

On the other side of things, I acknowledge that if I don't take steps to properly cope with my stress - the stress will manifest in my health.

Anyhow, I also have a new patient appointment with the family practice doc in January. They came on the recommendation of my kids' pediatrician (whom I love).

I might be making this more complicated than it needs to be. I guess I'm just worried I won't like the doctor I see in December, but also concerned the family practice doctor won't meet my needs.

I've been so used to my healthcare being dictated to me that the moment I am given choices... I know the general idea of what I need to do, but I feel lost regardless.

If inflation is down, why do things seem to cost more?

November 4th, 2009 at 01:55 pm

As I'm looking at our food budget & seeing that over time - our grocery bill has gone up.

Immediately I thought - it must be inflation.

So I look at the latest inflation rates that say in 2009, we actually experienced DEflation of -1.3%

Regardless, it seems I'm having to increase our food budget to $600-$700/mo for a family of 6.

It could be entirely possible the kids are just eating more. We've curbed going out to eat as well.

In addition, our insurance covers the baby's formula (She is on a special high calorie drink due to being "Failure to Thrive") so if we had to pay for that on top of our other groceries, I could easily see us spending around $1000/mo on groceries.

How?

Our menus literally look like:

Skillet Lasagne (uses sausage, ricotta, marinara, parsley, lasagne noodles...one box of lasagne noodles makes 2 dinners of this)... This is homemade & made in 30 minutes

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Tacos

Beef Stroganoff

Turkey Burgers

Tortellini

Family Burrito (4 Flour tortillas folded over to make a square, using refried beans, chopped chicken, cheese, onion, taco seasoning & salsa, then topped w/cheese & tomatoes)

and other stuff like that... mostly pastas though.

We buy about 6-8 boxes of cereal for a 2 week period.

I clip coupons and price compare.

*shrug*

There has to be an answer to this, I can't imagine why my grocery bill would go up if the economy is deflating.

Negotiating Pay Raises

November 3rd, 2009 at 07:28 pm

I'm thinking about negotiating for a pay raise. Not so much because money is tight (its not, when I am unable to pay an extra $510/mo on my credit cards I'll start to think $$$ is tight).

The reason I'm considering asking for a pay raise is simply because, when I think about what I do for the company - I feel like I am underpaid.

I'm the main accounting/financial manager for the marketing department. I prepare the budget, update it accordingly, let management know, collect our contracts, and make sure our advertisers are billing us accordingly.

All for $16/hr... or $33K/year. To put that into perspective, I'm the lowest paid person in the department.

I'm not going to ask for a huge pay raise, but I'm also at a point where I'm being asked to take on even more. In addition, I haven't received a pay raise in 2 years because of budget cuts.

Now the company is doing better and doing quarterly reviews.

I think if I asked for a pay raise that kept just ahead of inflation, I'd be happy.

There is a certain perk that goes along with working from home, namely not having to pay for childcare so I've held back on my pay raise requests because of that intangible benefit.

Childcare for the four kids would easily be $24K/yr. So in order to be making what I do now, I'd have to make $57K/yr if I worked outside the house.

However, there should be a balance. Regardless of my personal situation, I should be compensated at a fair wage (i.e., I shouldn't factor childcare into the equation, just because I have kids doesn't mean I should demand less compensation from a work at home job than a single woman with no kids).

I have to put together an analysis to really see what I'm really worth to the company. The negotiations class I took told us to always do our research first. And I have to think that someone who does what I do & has 5 years of experience in the workforce (all with this company) and is considered one of their "A" players... should be worth more than what I'm currently being paid. Especially with a master's degree that I did not ask them to help me with.

Changing Insurance

November 2nd, 2009 at 11:38 am

I think I'm going to end up switching providers/insurance after all.

Currently, I'm on Tricare Prime which is 100% but the catch is that I need to see a military treatment facility for all of my healthcare needs.

I can switch to Tricare Standard which is $150/yr deductible plus 15-20% copays with a catastrophic cap of $1000. The difference is that I can choose a doctor of my choice in the civilian world.

I've been having headaches lately. I think it could be hormonal but when I get them... they last a long time (21 days for the first one in June, and 10 days for the one in October). And all the military docs seem to want to do is throw medications my way.

I'm 28, 5'7" and 137 lbs. Overall, I'd say I'm generally healthy. I fit clothes that are a size 4-6 depending on the brand.

So when I went in last Friday to see what's going on with the headaches, naturally they were gone. BUT my blood pressure was 137/89.

I've NEVER had it that high before in my life. Its usually 114/76 or so. In fact, back in June it WAS that.

Maybe it is stress, with Dad's death, going to school, facing a possible move... I'm sure that probably played a factor.

Either way, I asked her to check my cholesterol since I've never had it checked.

But that isn't really why I'm deciding to change healthcare providers/insurance.

Its because the military facilities that I HAVE to go to seem to brush off a lot of stuff. Everywhere I read says 137/89 is prehypertension... not NORMAL. But the doctors kept saying "No, its normal"

Even DH told me that it isn't normal (he works in military medical) and I should look further into it. And if I'm told something is "normal" that I know isn't... especially when I'm not overweight, I exercise fairly regularly (because of this I've increased my workouts to 45 minutes on the treadmill everyday instead of just 30 minutes 3x/week), then I don't have much faith in the doctors treating me.

Perhaps I'm even extra cautious now because of my Dad. My Dad trusted his doctor and was told not to worry. Now, I don't know the intricate details of his medical file but if they KNEW about the tumor in January - why did they tell him to not worry just because he was feeling fine then?

Oh well, that doesn't change anything. But its another reason why I've decided that the status quo is no longer "good enough".


Security

November 2nd, 2009 at 12:02 am

As I was reconciling DH's credit card today, I noticed an unusual $25 charge from a rental car company. We've done business with that company before but never that city or for that amount.

So I clicked for more information on the charge & the vendor did not have a phone number. In fact the only information was in a place that said "Additional info" and it said "Druggists.

DH is far too trusting. He said "Well, maybe that is where their headquarters is?" "Maybe there is a city there named Druggists?"

*shakes head*

Immediately I dispute the charge online & have him call the company to change his credit card #.

What bothers me is how they got the information. Clearly if someone charged his card, they have his information. So I checked his credit report and put a fraud alert on his credit.

Perhaps I'm paranoid, but my fraud professor teaches us to be paranoid. Reminding us that fraudsters will initially charge a small amount & when the transaction goes through - make more substantial purchases.

He may think I'm paranoid, but I'd rather be extra-cautious when it comes to identity theft than not.

I'm still amazed at how blase he was. "Most information they could have would be my name, address, and phone number which anyone else can get."

Really, DH? That & your credit card number? That's IT?

If they have that info... what else does someone have?

Maybe he was trying to make light of it... even saying with his high debt nobody could get credit in his name anyway... but still, people do crazy stuff nowadays.