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“Crappy” Day

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Warning:  Pretty graphic details to follow so if you have a weak stomach….you’ve now been warned.

Friday started out pretty normal. I took the girls to preschool, hit up the gym, and settled into working at the JCC. About noon I had to come home because I was expecting a package that required a signature. I got home, ate lunch, and jumped in the shower. I took an indulgently long shower. This is one of the areas that I’ve tried to cut-back since I’ve been blogging away my debt but a long, steaming-hot shower is one of my favorite weaknesses and on this day I decided to be indulgent. My shower lasted probably close to 20 minutes. As soon as I turned the water off and stepped out, I heard the unmistakable sound of water running.

“Hmm, that’s weird,” I thought. “I didn’t accidentally leave a sink running in the kitchen, did I?”

I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around me, and walked out of the master bedroom into the living room. At that point I see it. Water is streaming from the second bathroom. Still nekkid (save the towel), I run down the hall way, splashing through water to get to the second bathroom. At this point I see water just pouring from none other than the toilet. Sewage water, to be exact. I grab the plunger and furiously start plunging (totally naked at this point, as I’d had to abandon my towel to plunge with both hands), but the river flowing forth from the toilet is undeterred.

I’ve never dealt with plumbing issues this severe. I’ve learned a lot since this point (ummm…turn off the water to the toilet!!!), but at the time I had no idea what to do. I’m running around the house screaming and trying to stop the tide of water from entering the bedrooms by throwing towels down on the floor to act as little barricades. Finally the water stops.

I call Chris frantic. I tell him we have an emergency and explain the situation. I don’t think he realizes the full extent of the situation. He tells me to simply mop up the water and he’ll handle a deep cleaning when he gets home. I do what I can to try to mop up a bit and I had successfully kept the water confined mostly to bathroom, hallway, and laundry room (all tiled areas of the house).

Next I do what any person who has just splashed in sh*tty water would do. I take another shower.

This time it’s a quickie. I basically just soap up my hands, arms, feet, and legs to get the sewage water cleaned off of me. I turn off the shower and I hear it again. The toilet in the second bath is freely flowing like a raging river of crap water. Again.

I throw on a robe and race from my room in horror. This time I call my Mom in tears and explain what’s happening. She guides me through turning off the water to the toilet. I call Chris, explain the full extent of the situation, and he heads home. At the end of the ordeal we have literally two inches of water in the bathroom, and it has now expanded into at least 2/3 of the house, including the baby’s room, the guest room, living room, and into the kitchen.

I am absolutely frantic. There are actual human turds floating down the Ganges River that is my hallway. I have never seen or dealt with anything so uniquely disgusting and horrifying and it is about this point that I have a breakdown, sobbing as I watch the water soak into our beautiful living room rug, overtake the baby toys scattered about, and ruin everything in its path.

I’m sure you can imagine how the next several hours went.

We called our landlord who came out to assess the situation (we rent from a private individual, not a company). He called his home owner’s insurance, who came out and sucked up the water and set up huge fans to dry. A plumber came out and discovered that there is something wrong with the line out by the street. What I didn’t know earlier (while taking my long shower) was that all of the water that was going down the drain from my showers was meeting a blockade and somehow in the pipes it forced the closest thing (the sewage water) to come back up in our home. We were also told the problem would not be able to be fixed until at least Monday (at the earliest).

We gathered up some essentials and moved into a hotel.

I never did finish my job applications. It’s now 3:00pm (Tucson time) and not looking likely that I’ll finish them in time. I’m also hopelessly behind on grading first due to the girls’ being home sick and now due to this situation. I want to go to sleep and just wake up middle of next week and have everything be done. If only it were that easy.

But let’s look at the bright side of things. This situation, although disgusting, isn’t all doom and gloom.

  • I’m so glad we rent! It’s no secret that we’d like to be home owners but when situations like this arise, I’m so, so, so glad that we aren’t the ones footing the bill.
  • I’m so thankful we just renewed our renter’s insurance. The home owner’s insurance only covers damages to the house (e.g., if drywall or flooring needs to be replaced). Our renter’s insurance will have to step in to cover any damages to our personal property.
  • I’m so thankful we have a healthy emergency fund and that we live on last month’s income so we have a big buffer in our checking account!
  • I’m glad I’ve had a chance to calm down and gain some perspective. When this first happened I was literally like, “WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!” That’s just silly. Yes, its a huge inconvenience. Yes, it’s freaking disgusting. Yes, it has screwed me with work. But it’s not the worst thing ever. We are all safe, healthy, and happy-ish (the girls get a lot of anxiety over the new situation so they’re not exactly happy campers). But we’re all in one piece, and that’s something to be thankful for.

I’ve already spoken with a claims person from our renter’s insurance and will need to work with them on reimbursement of various things. We will for sure end up paying our deductible ($500), but I believe they should replace damaged items and cover our costs for a hotel.

There are plenty of other financial implications from this situation. Unable to access our home (and the main water has now been turned off…not just water to the toilet), we have had to eat out for dinner last night and all day today (and will continue having to eat out throughout the weekend). We haven’t talked to our landlord about what our tenant’s rights are (will he cover any of these costs??) because right now we’re just in survival mode – hanging out a hotel and trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for the girls’ sake. That’s the most important thing to me. Next week, while the girls are at preschool on Monday, we’ll have to deal with all the financials further.

I’m going to be 100% honest and say I don’t know how much I’ll be able to check in for the next few days. I will try to keep you all abreast of what’s going on but this is still very much at “minor emergency” status in our lives as we are displaced from our home and trying to make things work. My order of priorities in the coming days is as follows:

1 = family

2 = work

3 = house drama

4 = everything else (which includes blogging)

Sorry to be so brutally honest but I’ve got to keep it real with you AND with me and not make promises I can’t keep. I hope to be back on Monday with some sort of update but if I’m not then you know what’s going on. We’re all safe and healthy, but just dealing with some major life drama right now.

Thanks so much for the support!


Don’t Jinx Me, But…..

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Remember when I shared my last interview with you all?

It had gone so well and I was SO SURE I would get offered the position! Well, not only was I not offered a position, I never even heard back from them. (imagine in Full House‘s Stephanie Tanner voice:  How Rude!) I emailed them a week after the interview to ask if a hiring decision had been made and was told they expected a decision by the end of the week. The week came and went and…..(crickets)….nothing.

So I was almost reluctant to share this with you guys, but I’m sure you’ll be pulling for me and I’m not superstitious so here goes….

I’ve scored my first interview of the season.

What’s better?

It’s a campus visit interview. 

Yes.

I’ve had a couple of phone interviews before (for jobs from last year’s academic hiring season) and had a couple places request additional information from me (e.g., additional writing samples or teaching/research statements that weren’t part of the original application packet), but this will be my FIRST campus visit interview!

I am so excited! And nervous! And excited!

I have absolutely no idea what to expect! Luckily, I’ve got some time to figure it all out. Generally when places do campus visit interviews its pretty short notice (e.g., “Can you be on a plane by this Wednesday?”) but this place is a little different. They’re hiring for two positions:  a full professor position and an assistant professor position. The interviews for the full professor position are going to be in November/December, and the interviews for the assistant professor position will be in February/March. As a new graduate, I had applied to the assistant professor position, so my campus visit won’t be for a few months.

When I last spoke with the committee chair, he seemed very excited. Like, almost unnatural-excited to have me come visit. He sounded genuinely upset that the visit wouldn’t be until February/March because he was worried I’d already be scooped up by another university and he relayed that the committee was very impressed with my stuff and really wants to meet me.

What the heck?

As a graduate student I have sat on hiring committees before and NEVER have I EVER seen anyone so excited for an applicant! I mean, even if they are, they don’t make it this obvious when they speak to him/her!

So, naturally, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I also don’t want to divulge many details right now but I will say that if I land this position it will necessitate an out-of-state move. Lots to think about on that front (e.g., loss of husband’s job, job prospects in new place, cost-of-living versus offered salary, etc.) So many factors that I just have to put out of my mind right now until I know one way or another. All of these issues are moot if I don’t get an offer, so no point in stressing about the unknown.

One positive thing to come from this, though, is that it has really boosted my confidence.

I have to admit that being out of academia for over a year now with no job offers, my confidence has really been shaken. I worry about what happens if I don’t land a job this year. What it means on the long-term for my career. And, of course, the impact it has on our family’s income (not to mention my outrageous student loan debt situation). I’ve had a couple of employment-related hits in the past few months:  rejected manuscripts, no job offer, reduced contractor pay, etc.  There’s something about someone fawning all over you that really makes you feel better about yourself. Not in a big-headed I’m-so-awesome way, but more in an I-am-worthy-and-I-deserve-this way.

I know a few of you have experiences in academia – any tips on preparing for a campus visit interview (Even if you’re not in academia, if you have some advice or suggestions feel free to chime in!)


September Budget Update

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This month we had $6317 to work with for income. Little heads up….we went over our budget. The excess was taken from our extra savings. Here’s how we stacked up in each category:

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 260 245
Water 65 61
Natural gas 20 14
Sprint (2 lines) 115 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 104 103
Health Insurance 350 350
Trash 35 35
Debt 2009 1779
Miscellaneous 300 366
Groceries 400 483
Baby Purchases 1200 1077
Gasoline 100 111
Saving for Irregular Expenses 445 445
Total Budgeted 6558 6338

 

So our actual spent ($6338) minus our income for the month ($6317) means we spent over budget by $21. Not too terrible, but there were some categories of spending I’d like to zero in on and give some additional details….

First, you’ll notice that less was spent in debt payments than was initially planned. I hate to put less toward debt, but here’s what happened….

Do you remember when I moved my student loans to be Income Based Repayment (IBR)? Welllllll, there was some confusion with this. I realize how irresponsible and airheaded it sounds for me to admit that I didn’t realize what was happening with these payments, but….yeah. That’s kind of what happened. Apparently, there was a “hiccup” with my ACS student loan IBR payment. And by “hiccup”, I mean I was actually paying the full payment rather than the lower income-based payment. I don’t know how this happened. And, actually, it would have just continued like that forever if I hadn’t made a call to the company about something totally unrelated and discovered completely coincidentally that my payment was not, in fact, in IBR status. So that changed in a hurry. This lowered my monthly ACS payment from $247/month down to $77/month. Remember – while in IBR status, any unpaid interest is forgiven for subsidized loans, so I consider this a good deal since this extra money could (theoretically) go toward other debts.

Of course, this month we did not have any extra money to go toward additional debt. Womp, womp!!!! I also paid less toward our car loan than I had originally hoped (I made a $1,000 payment this month – still more than the minimum, but not as much as I’d hoped).

I was over on our grocery budget, but I’m hoping the new modified money envelope system I’ll be using this month will help with that.

I was also over in miscellaneous. Miscellaneous is broken down into four sub-categories:

  • Entertainment: budgeted = $20, actual spent = $8
  • Eating out: budgeted = $100, actual spent = $136
  • Personal maintenance: budgeted = $30, actual spent = $15
  • Other: budgeted = $150, actual spent = $207

Total budgeted = $300, actual spent = $366

Again, the modified food envelope should help curb my eating out spending. The “other” category spending was, in my opinion, pretty unavoidable. $94 was spent on my annual life insurance premium (side note: I mentioned in this post that I increased my semi-annual savings to account for this expense for future years’ annual payments). If it weren’t for this expense we would have been well under-budget in this category so I’m not concerned with the other much smaller purchases made from this category.

So there you have it. We did still go over our income, but it wasn’t too bad considering the original planned budget placed us at $200 over our income, so ending at $21 over income isn’t terrible.

This month also turned out to be pretty lackluster in terms of our income (though not as terrible as it could have been). My family was in town all weekend so I didn’t get a chance to write a planned budget post, but I’ll try to get one up either later today or on Tuesday depending on how work stuff goes.


Advice from friends (YOU!!!)

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I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want this to come across as me speaking badly about an employer. I LOVE both of my contract-based positions (teaching for “University A” and doing research for “University B”), but I just don’t know how to handle a situation I’m currently in and would love to open it up to you for advice. The sooner the better because we usually communicate on Monday mornings…..

In a nutshell (and I’m purposely being a little vague about things to try to protect identities, etc.), here’s what’s happened….

I was expecting a paycheck from my research job (“University B”) at the end of September. Only….it never came.

I emailed a couple of times about it and eventually got a reply that I would get paid in the late October or early November time frame.

I was shocked. I have NEVER had my payment so delayed. Generally I get paid once per month, about a month after the work was done (e.g., the paycheck I was expecting at the end of September was for work completed in August).

I replied to the email and said that, given the unexpected delay in receiving pay (2.5-3 months after work has been completed), I do not feel comfortable continuing to work with them right now. I made it clear that I would love to continue working with them in the future, but since this was a complete surprise (SHOCK!) to me (I had received no warning about delayed pay), it seems in my best interest to stop working until compensation is received. Right?? RIGHT??? I mean, you don’t just do work for someone who isn’t paying you, right?????

Several hours later, an email went out to all the contractors (not just me) explaining why there is this delay in pay. Here’s where I’m going to be vague because I don’t want to give details about the circumstances, but I’ll say that after there was a detailed explanation I totally understand the delay in pay. I feel that their primary error was in not notifying us IN ADVANCE of the situation (rather than waiting until after-the-fact to explain the payment problem).

So, yeah. I took last week off and didn’t complete any work for them. Generally on Mondays I let them know how much work I would like to complete for the week. So what do I do now? Would you continue working for University B, knowing that pay will be delayed several months (but that you will, in fact, get paid – there is nothing shady in terms of them trying not to pay). Or would you wait another week, two, or three?

Just so you know, the majority of my income comes from my teaching job (University A), but I do make a few hundred a week from my research job, so even though its a minority of our income, its still a decent-sized chunk of money on a monthly basis.

I just don’t know what to do??? I don’t want to keep working when compensation is coming so far behind the work completion, but I do have confidence that the pay is coming down the pipeline.

What would you do?


Income Nail-Biter

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Well, it’s happening. Remember how my first few months blogging I kept saying how unusually high our income was? Those first few months we were making in the $8,000-$10,000 range (crazy high! Highest months of income in our lives!), when our average had previously been closer to only about $5500.

Although I knew we wouldn’t be making that much forever (husband is in flooring and the flooring business is cyclical – busier during summer months and slower during winter months), I was not expecting the slow down to start until November.

Through a surprise turn of events, our income was quite a bit lower in August. This is the “fun” part of owning a small business. Four things happened that negatively influenced our income:

  1. Some of husband’s jobs were canceled or pushed back.
  2. Husband had a few large business expenses for flooring equipment that needed to be replaced.
  3. Husband had to do a warranty repair that cost him in materials and labor (for his time and to pay his employees for their time), but didn’t result in any income since warranty work is free for customers**this was the most painful in terms of monetary value.
  4. I didn’t get paid from my teaching job (due to regular schedule of payment). **this is where the majority of my income is from, so this was a big hit, too.

September would be so much better, we both believed. Husband has a HUGE job this month that pays out quite nicely. In addition to that, he has been busy with all types of regular-sized jobs, too. He’s back to working non-stop, though we’ve come to an agreement that he will always take Sundays off (thus, working 6 days a week maximum). So surely this month would be a jackpot in terms of our income, right? RIGHT???

Well, I’m a little nervous. Thankfully, I got paid from both of my jobs this month. However, husband is certainly the primary earner so huge income fluctuations are generally due to his income (or lack thereof). And, as it turns out, husband has run into some problems this month, too:

  1. For his super-huge job, he’s had to purchase a higher amount of insurance (this doesn’t affect our monthly budget since it comes out of his business account, but it does factor into the amount of money he’s able to give me for “income” during the month).
  2. He’s had to purchase separate auto insurance. His car used to be on our family policy and was categorized as a business vehicle. But this big job requires that he have a separate commercial auto policy due to the expensive materials he will be transporting (required coverage of a million dollars in property damages!!!) This will actually positively impact my monthly auto insurance budget because his car has been removed from our family policy. But, again, it’s an expense he pays for, which means less money coming to me in the form of income. ***Note, I actually think I prefer for his auto to be separate. I think it will make taxes easier to have it as a separate policy, though it makes us lose our multi-car discount. Anyone deal with similar issues? Think its better to keep these separate? After this big job is complete, he has the option to move his car back to our family policy if he wants. Any thoughts or suggestions of which idea is better from a business/tax perspective (keeping separate or re-combining)?
  3. Husband does not get paid until jobs are 100% complete. This month he has been KILLED on jobs that are unable to be completed. This happens from time-to-time. A customer may not order enough materials or, more commonly, there aren’t enough transitions or the transitions are the wrong color. Husband can work for two weeks straight and be 99% of the way through, but if he’s short even a single transition or t molding, then he can’t collect payment. And often, these pieces take weeks or even months to be delivered from the big distributors (and this often causes a headache because the dye packs are different even though it’s the same basic color, so then even more need to be ordered and it’s a whole cluster). ***THIS is what is hurting us this month. Husband has 3 separate jobs that are 99% complete, but he is unable to collect final payment because he’s waiting on little pieces to come in so he can install them, complete the jobs, get work orders signed, and collect payment.

It’s a bit of a nail-biter this month. Even though hubs has been working diligently almost daily, he’s made very little money this month…..even less than last month (gulp!!) We do have my pay that helps to off-set things a bit. And there’s still a few more days in the month (and supposedly transitions should be here soon). We’re holding our breath and crossing our fingers, hoping these pieces come in so he can complete these jobs and receive payment. Husband was looking at his various jobs last night and calculated that he has close to $10,000 sitting in nearly-completed projects. Of course, the full $10,000 isn’t income because some of it goes to recoup his business expenses, pay labor, etc. But a significant chunk of the money would be coming straight to me as income. And, instead, it’s hanging out in space making us nervous as crap.

Cross your fingers for us! Oh, the joys of being a small business owner.

Side note: it’s times like these that I am so glad we have a decent sized emergency fund and live on last month’s income so that if these payments don’t come through until October, at least we won’t be completely broke. We still have money and will NOT be in danger of having to pay for groceries and gasoline on credit (as we have done in pre-blogging days). Thankful for that!


This Doesn’t Happen In Real Life!

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I have been having a particularly stressful day. Lots of “blah” stuff not worth going into.

And I open my email and see THIS in my inbox:

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 2.38.15 PM

 

Can I just reiterate how much I love working with “University A” (teaching based job)!!! Not only are they saying that I’m getting a raise (totally unheard of for adjunct faculty! Who’s even heard of this?!?), but they are retroactively dating it so that, even though I’ve already signed a contract agreement for the semester, they’re going to go ahead and start the raise effective immediately!!

I teach two classes, so this is a raise of $1,000 for the semester (approximately an extra $250/month). Not too shabby! If I continue teaching at a rate of 2 classes per semester (3 semesters: Fall, Summer, Spring), then this equates to an extra $3,000 per year. I’ll take it! : )

I needed this little ray of sunshine today!

Hope you’re all having a good Tuesday!

Seriously, though (I know many readers are in academia) – has anyone even heard of raises being given to adjuncts??? I’ve been teaching for 7 years (4 different institutions) and never once received a raise! This does not happen!!


Pay Cuts….Again

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I thought it was about time for an update on my employment situation.

As a brief reminder, I work predominantly for 2 separate universities. I do online teaching for University A and research for University B. (For more detailed information, see these posts where I have written more in depth about my employment situation: first employment post, employment update post)

Anyway, I reported recently that University B was changing their payment structure. Instead of paying hourly, they decided to pay per project completion. This translated to a bit of a pay cut for me (given the number of hours worked per project, and averaging out the new flat rate). An update to this is that I’ve been able to recoup some of the loss of income….by working more. Isn’t this the way life works? Lol. So far my monthly income from University B is holding steady, but that’s simply because I’m completing more projects each month. I have figured out a way to try to streamline the process so it hasn’t taken me quite as many hours per project as it did before, but overall it still averages out to less per hour than what I was previously making. At least the net take-home pay is the same.

So what about University A? I’ve been pretty open and honest about how much I love working with University A. They have been an absolute dream to work with and I really feel so, truly fortunate to have the relationship that we have. Much of this is due to the fact that my boss is actually an old graduate school colleague of mine. This person is an incredible boss and I am so proud of how well she has climbed the academic ladder at such a young age and has really blossomed in her position. All this being said, sometimes things don’t go as expected with online courses. One of these dilemmas is low course enrollment. I was expecting that this Fall semester I’d be getting to teach a third class, effectively raising my pay by 33% (I’ve previously been teaching 2 classes per semester/summer session)!!! But I just received the unfortunate email that enrollment was too low to justify continuing with the third course and it would have to be cancelled. So back to only two classes. Also, the pay structure is hugely different between Summer and Fall semesters. In the summer I received my pay in two separate lump sums, so they were relatively large payments. I mentioned that this meant I would not be receiving a paycheck in August because the dispersements were in June and July (even though the classes extended until mid-August). The Fall payments are dispersed in four equal payments (September through December), so even though the pay per class is the same, the classes are more spaced out and the pay is, similarly, spaced out. So its going to look like my pay has really declined over the next few months simply due to the schedule of payments (and having one less class than I’d expected).

So our summer heyday of awesome pay may be coming to a close. I don’t think this is going to drastically change our overall income (since I only give you guys the combined figure of my income + husband’s income), but instead of consistently breaking the $10,000 mark, we may be coming in closer to the $8,000ish range. Only time will tell. Husband has been busy working out-of-control hours so his pay may make-up for some of my lower paychecks.

Anywho, just wanted to give an update on the employment situation.

Also, for any curious – I still haven’t heard anything about the job I recently interviewed for. This past Monday I sent an email to follow-up (basically, “I just wanted to see if/when hiring decisions would be made”). I heard back immediately (less than 5 minutes) that decisions would be made that week. Well…the week is over and still no word. I’m really pretty bummed, particularly since the job sounded like such a great fit and the interview had been so great! I’m assuming this means I’m on the “B-list.” Like, they made an offer to the first round draft pick and are keeping me on the sidelines in case that person turns it down, so they will then offer it to me. Does this make sense? Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on that but I don’t think its a great sign that I still haven’t heard anything yet. Booo!!!!

Hope you have a great Monday!