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Archive for November, 2009

We came out ahead

November 28th, 2009 at 03:49 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 01:12 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 05:56 am

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 09:41 am

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 04:30 am

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 03:40 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 11:14 am

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 19th, 2009 at 07:34 pm

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 18th, 2009 at 07:12 pm

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 05:40 am

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 11:47 am

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 12:06 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 11th, 2009 at 05:14 pm

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.