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Relocation Expense vs Signing Bonus

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In my defense I haven’t sought a new “job” in almost 14 years.  I’ve written before about how off my resume was at the beginning of this one and Faye from LeapofFaye.com jumped in and saved the day.  And really, truly it was saving the day…I think to date I’ve had 8 first interviews for what I thought were ideal jobs.  I count myself blessed with every single call I get from an application or recruiter.

But now I think, rather hope, I am coming to the end of several application processes…multiple interviews done, references checked and reviewed,  interviews with CTOs done…etc. etc.  What I haven’t been prepared for were questions regarding “What do you expect?”

I mean I’m good with my salary requirements question…and throwing in the request for a full benefits package, that’s coming pretty naturally.  The thought of a paid day off, a paid vacation, well, that’s what dreams are made of!

But what other requirements do I have…and thus we come to Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus.  I’ve pretty much been clear with companies that if I need to relocate…well, they have to pay for it.  And then I was told this…

  1. Relocation Express – A budget is set at the beginning of the process, but I have to cover the costs upfront and then be reimbursed.
  2. Signing Bonus – Paid up front but taxed upfront, possibly at a high tax bracket?

So my question…what are your thoughts, have any words of wisdom for me on this front?

Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus – which would you choose? Pros and cons of each?  Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated!


How Do You Write about Money…

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It’s very hard to write about money and paying off debt when you don’t have any money to pay off debt.  And I’m certain we don’t want to turn Blogging Away Debt into Hope’s Job Search.  So there is the challenge I face as I continue to try to write.

Thus, the goal of “finding” some money to not only sustain us while I job search but to also, maybe continue at least paying the minimum debt payments.

So I’m back to finding more things to sell and even downsizing even more.  Prior to the job loss, we were DEFINITELY moving in April so I had a timeline to digitize all my files, update all my scrapbooks and trash the duplicate pictures and finish going through our limited items in storage.  Now that timeline has been moved up since we may move sooner than that depending on what happens with a job for me.

As I’ve been cleaning things out, I’ve found even more items to sell and some or hopefully all will bit a bit more on the valuable side.  The problem…I’m not sure where to sell these items or if I just got the ebay route…how to price them.

So here’s what I’ve collected thus far:

  • Soft sided luggage in like new condition (have a 6 piece set but we really only use the smaller pieces so have 2 large pieces)
  • Care Bears in like new condition (the old pose-able ones)
  • Antique cameras – about a 1/2 dozen of them
  • Some collectible memorabilia which frankly I have no idea where it came from
  • Antique silver ware set that was either my great-grandmothers or even older than that

So I’m going to do some digging this week to figure the best place and price to start selling some of these more unique items.  I’m also working on crafty presents for our homeschool co op teachers, family presents and even some for the kids.

I’m grateful for these ‘chores’ to work on.  They help me feel like I’m still being productive, although the bulk of my time is being spent on networking and job search.

Two more phone interviews yesterday….and several last week.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the right opportunity comes along and that I make good decisions in the mean time.


Leveraging Your Love: 8 Real Hobby Jobs to Help You Get Debt-Free Like Me

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Leveraging your love pic 1

When I was struggling to pay off my debt, I felt as though I had no time for the things I loved. Devoting one’s effort to making money to pay lenders usually doesn’t leave much time and energy for pleasant pursuits, and whenever I took a weekend, a day, or even a few hours off to indulge my hobby, I felt guilty about slacking off.

As luck would have it, I was able to adapt my love into a side job. Harnessing the power of the Internet — and the fervor of craft fairs — I could easily and inexpensively find customers eager to pay me to do my favorite activity.

Plenty of interests can be adapted into part-time or even full-time jobs that pay well enough to help you become debt-free fast. Here are a few popular hobbies I’ve seen my friends transform into profitable enterprises — including the one that helped me overcome my debt.

Writing

If there is anything Hope, Ashley, Matt, and everyone else on BloggingAwayDebt have taught me, it is that writing is an excellent way to let off steam and keep yourself accountable to your goals. Writing can also be a source of income. Good writers are hard to come by, and nearly any publication (blogs, magazines, newspapers) will pay for a good piece.

Playing an Instrument

Most children practice an instrument, but few adults maintain the diligence and creativity to continue playing for a lifetime. Even if you aren’t an orchestra-level performer, you can use your skill to bring in some extra cash. That’s exactly what one of my friends did. Parents are always looking for experienced players to help their children learn the art, and she tutors for $50 per hour, although she started out at $25. If I had any musical talent, I would definitely be gigging with my instrument, playing weddings, parties, and bars.

Photography

There’s taking pictures, and then there’s being a photographer. Anyone can snap a pic with her smartphone, but only a few understand lighting, color and focus well enough to capture a beautiful scene. There are dozens of occasions throughout life that call for a professional photographer, from graduations to births to weddings. Alternatively, you can sell your better images to stock photo sites like Shutterstock for a hefty chunk of change.

Filmmaking

In many ways, moving pictures are even more difficult to get right than photographs. So, if you have a knack for making videos, you could stand to profit wildly. For example, popular YouTubers earn millions of dollars every year from advertising. However, if you prefer to stay behind the camera, you can shoot and edit videos for a significant fee.

Leveraging your love pic 2

Crafting

For years, this was my guilty pleasure of choice. I would spend hours (and a large portion of my budget) on beads, yarn, and cloth, producing all sorts of crafts that cluttered my house. When I finally recognized the detriment of my debt, I was able to use my skill (and vast inventory) to generate extra income. By managing a couple online stores and working craft fairs with my mobile credit card reader, I was able to scrounge enough cash every month to pay off my debt in two years. My words of wisdom are this: If you can make something, you can sell it.

Fitness

Fitness is currently one of the biggest fads, which is a boon for all those lifelong fitness freaks out there. With an unprecedented number of new members, gyms around the country are desperate for knowledgeable personal trainers. Though becoming a trainer does require a mild amount of certification in most states, the payoff is worth it; personal trainers can earn as much as $30 per hour whipping people into shape.

Socializing

Many people are so addicted to social media that they have a hard time getting anything done. Fortunately, Facebook addicts can turn their infatuation into a full-time job by devoting their social media talents to companies who need them. Social media marketing is a new and powerful way to build a loyal following, and companies are searching left and right for individuals who understand the ever-changing tides of social networks.

Shopping

Surprisingly, there are dozens of ways avid shoppers can get paid for their expensive habits. Mystery shoppers are paid by consumer interest groups or corporations to spend time in a store, make a purchase, and rate their levels of satisfaction. Additionally, shoppers can lend their talent and tastes to wardrobe websites, helping subscribers build better style.


6 Stay-at-Home Jobs I’ve Done as a Stay-at-Home Parent

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Being a stay-at-home parent is inarguably one of the most fulfilling and frustrating jobs on the planet. For one, you get to see your children grow and change — but to do this, you must sacrifice the perks of the working world, including the camaraderie of co-workers. Fortunately, staying at home doesn’t mean surrendering the most useful aspect of having a job: additional income.

Even after just a few weeks of doting on my first baby boy, I was itching to get back to work. Instead of abandoning him to daycare, I sought job solutions that would allow me to stay at home while completing projects and earning pay. Today, I am still satisfied as a stay-at-home mom, and I receive extra satisfaction from my stay-at-home job. For other stay-at-home parents interested in having your kids and working, too, here are seven easy, flexible jobs I’ve tried that helped me be both a proud parent and an excellent earner.

Daycare Provider

New parents have plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow new parents. During pregnancy classes, in doctor’s offices, and at baby classes (like music and swimming) I was able to cultivate a network of moms and dads who were going through the same situations I was. The difference was that most of them were planning on returning to work; fortunately for them and me, I wasn’t. Thus, I was able to start a small daycare among friends and earn a healthy income doing what I wanted to do as a new mother: take care of babies.

If you didn’t gain such a close-knit group during your pregnancy, you can still become a daycare provider. You can post fliers in your neighborhood to build awareness of your business, and you can even take in pets if you aren’t yet comfortable around others’ kids.

Crafter

Whenever I didn’t need to directly interact with my children, I usually had some sort of craft in hand. At first, crafting was simply a hobby I used as a creative time-waster, but eventually, I recognized that I could spin my diversion into another money-making scheme. With a few online stores and a spot in most of my city’s craft fairs, I was able to earn a sizeable chunk of change — and rid my house of all the crafting clutter.

Hundreds of hobbies translate well into small income generators: baking, sewing, woodworking, knitting, and more. However, before you can safely sell your goods, you should consider filing as a limited liability corporation, so you can protect you assets fully.

6 Stay at home Pic 2

Secret Shopper

As soon as my kids could walk, I knew I had to get out of the house. It didn’t matter where we went — as long as we were breathing fresh air. Fortunately, I was able to use my need for movement to bring in some cash. A handful of stores will pay shoppers to rate their in-store experiences. Now, secret shoppers can turn to apps containing lists of “missions” that make finding convenient, paying tasks a snap.

Tutor

When my kids started going to school, I quickly realized how much basic information I had forgotten. In order to be a better mom, I quickly enrolled in a handful of simple courses and bought textbooks to relearn all my lost knowledge.

Not only did that help me encourage my kids to succeed in class, but it allowed me to earn some side money as a tutor for other parents’ kids. Advertising with fliers at my kids’ schools — and eventually online on various tutoring websites — I accumulated a gaggle of well-paying tutees.

Salesperson

Eventually, my kids became teenagers, and the benefits of being a stay-at-home parent were fewer. Still, having been out of the regular work force for so long, I was reluctant to commit to a set schedule outside my home. Instead, I turned to sales. In the past, companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics and Tupperware allowed enterprising individuals to get a business up and running fast. Today, companies like this still exist, and with Web connections, the jobs are more flexible and fun than ever.

Freelancer or Consultant

I only recently turned to freelancing, and it is undoubtedly the most rewarding job I have ever had (besides being a mom, of course). It is as fulfilling as real work, as you work with clients and complete projects just like salaried positions — but you get the flexibility and authority of working for yourself. If you were successful in your field before your child or you have a wealth of specialized knowledge you are itching to put to use, freelancing or consulting is likely the best option.


Dad’s Health and Job Update

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I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

Bad?

Good choice. Let’s just get it out of the way.

The trip my sister and I just took to be with my Dad for some scary appointments was met with mixed results. The specialist wasn’t convinced of the preliminary diagnosis my Dad had been given by another doctor. He’s scheduled appointments for additional tests and has ordered additional scans be done. My overwhelming feeling about this is disappointment. Although it does offer a sliver of hope, I feel in my gut and my heart that I know where this is headed and its not good. I wish we could have received a conclusive diagnosis and began to make some plans for the future. Without an official diagnosis, however, we’re stuck in a bit of a holding pattern. My sister and I have arranged for someone to accompany my father for his remaining tests and we plan to make a return trip when the diagnosis is officially being handed down. Not sure yet the exact time-frame for when this trip will take place, but certainly sometime this summer. On the bright side, my Dad did indeed give us money to reimburse the costs of the flight. I still incurred a few additional costs (e.g., I had to park at the airport instead of being dropped off due to the flight schedule, so I paid for airport parking and a couple of fast-food type meals while I was out of town). Nothing too major in the grand scheme of things. I’m certainly thankful that the largest expense (the $425 flight) was covered by my father. I would also be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and kind words in response to this family crisis we’re dealing with. Please keep those prayers and thoughts of strength and courage coming our way. This has been an incredibly stressful time, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Glad that’s out of the way.

Now, onto something good.

While I was out of town I received a call from the dean of the department where I just had an interview last week. It was so bizarre! In the voicemail message the dean literally said, “I’d like to meet and see if this will work so we can offer you the position.” So, I take this to mean that we’ll be discussing salary and job duties a bit more, but I’m officially being offered the position as long as we can come to terms. That’s very exciting news for me – my first full time job offer since graduating! I’m still very nervous about the salary negotiations given that the job was posted as DOE (salary depends on experience). I need to make enough money to make it worth my while emotionally and financially to move my daughters into full-time preschool (a huge transition psychologically and practically). I know this is such a random and broad question without additional background information – but what is the lowest amount you would accept if you were in my position? (or maybe a better question is – what salary would you try to negotiate for?) To give some more financial perspective, I think full-time preschool at our new childcare facility will run us about $1300ish/month. Also remember this isn’t just any random job – it’s advertised as only available for people with Ph.Ds. (so taking into consideration the extensive training – and accompanying student loan debt). Also, I’ve never given my precise salary but I’ll give you a range that I make between $30,000-$40,000 working part-time from home teaching my two online classes per semester (3 semesters in a year: fall, spring, and summer). That’s a LOT of money for working part-time. I tell you this to explain that I’m not going to accept an offer of $40,000 for a full-time job when I make nearly that much working from home part-time. Also, this job is not a tenure-track position, which means that if I accept it I’m basically taking myself out of the running for ever moving into that type of job position (limiting my future job options). I know every individual is different, every situation is different, and ultimately I just need to meet with the dean and discuss these concerns to see if I can get a salary offer that I feel comfortable with and that I think adequately compensates me for the work I’ll be doing. But I’d still love to hear your opinions on the matter and if there is a “magic number” you’d try to negotiate for given some of the parameters I’ve outlined above. Oh, by the way, my meeting with the dean is tomorrow (Friday)! So, yeah. Get me those suggestions asap! ; )

One final thing – I still haven’t heard back from the dean of the other department (remember I talked to the department head last Friday and was told the dean would likely contact me the beginning of this week. It’s now Thursday and….crickets over here). Should I reach out to the dean and/or department head and say that I’ve received a job offer from another department? This could help me in negotiations, right? And, honestly, I don’t know enough about the job parameters and responsibilities to know which job I’d prefer (since I’ve now talked with two department heads about two slightly different positions: one as lecturer/online program coordinator; the other as lecturer and academic adviser – though both jobs seem to have some fluidity of the responsibilities and could shift across time).

Lots of things to consider. Thanks for supporting me every step of the way with these two potentially HUGE life changes (e.g., Dad health issues and full-time employment opportunity).

Hugs to all you guys/gals!


An Update on our School Plan

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My homeschooling seems to rub lots of people the wrong way, especially those that have no personal experience with it.  And earlier this year, I wrote about how the cost of our co op really had me re-thinking my plans.  So I wanted to give everyone an update from both a schooling and financial update on this topic.

First, as I have kind of mentioned around, I am happy to announce that I will be teaching two classes at our local homeschool co op.  And currently the classes are almost half full – yeah!  They are both high school classes for high school credit and each student pays $140 per semester.  I have high hopes that the classes will fill.

Second, my children have each selected and registered for their courses through the co op for next year (with a few nudges from me.)  And after reviewing what they have chosen and what everyone “needs” to stay on course, I will only be teaching math and Spanish here at home.  Everything else will be taken at the co op.  This is a good compromise allowing me to take on the additional “work” hours of teaching a few hours a week.

In reviewing these two, the monies I make from teaching at co op will just cover the costs of their co op classes – woot, woot!!!

Third, schedule wise this is going to work out fantastic!  I have already consulted with my largest client for whom I have dedicated work hours, and the two hours a week I will be teaching are outside of my work hours for them…so no conflicts.  AND even better, since the kids are taking so much more at the co op, that will free me up approximately 10 hours a week to work on other stuff.

For those of you that are uncomfortable with the thought of homeschooling, think of this like college.  They will go to class two days a week and then have the remaining days to complete homework.  It is very much like that, and the test results (we test at a local private school so there is no manipulation on my part) continue to show that they are all on or above grade level in almost every subject.

Fourth, I haven’t set up a teaching schedule for my online classes for the fall yet, but they are willing to work around whatever my availability is…awesome!  And I will be teaching some of the same classes at both places so only one set of lesson plans, etc. for me to design.

So essentially school costs will be minimal this coming year…I will still have to buy books and supplies.  But essentially I am knocking $5,000 off my yearly budget by teaching for 2 hours a week for 6 months.  I am okay with that, and even the better, the kids are super excited that they are getting to take more classes.  And if I had my druthers…math and Spanish are the two classes I enjoy teaching to them so I anticipate lots of good times!


Homeschool – Planning for Next Year

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I was so grateful that Walnut gave me some writing prompts this past week.  Since we have CHOSEN to live on a really tight budget for the next few months AND we have CHOSEN to save our spending money for a mini vacation next month, there isn’t a lot of financial activity going on.  We are saving everything towards the goal of 1) living on last month’s income beginning in May and 2) paying off all consumer debt by July.

So all I am doing aside from working and schooling the kids is thinking and planning for the future…and one of the big things for us is school expenses.  This year was the first year that all four of my kids participated in our homschool co op all year.  History Buff did almost all his school work via the classes available, while Sea Cadet just took electives.  The Princess took some heavy classes which weren’t supposed to be her entire curriculum but really ended up consuming her time.  And Little Gymnast just took some electives that I don’t teach.  The cost of this was HIGH money wise, and I knew as of last semester that we would not do this again.

So…what are we going to do next year.  Well, a couple of things are going to be changing.

  1. History Buff and Sea Cadet will be dual enrolled in our local community college for one class.  This will cost a bit more, but allow them to get their feet wet with college level courses and layouts while I am here to hold their hands.  (Yes, I realize that I sometimes come across as mother bear, but in this case…yes, they will definitely need some hand holding.)  We are going to start with one and if that works ok, will consider additional ones for the following semesters.
  2. I am going to be teaching at our co op!  I am uniquely qualified with my Masters degree and corporate experience to teach high school level computer programming, Ap computer science and advanced computer application, and am thrilled that what I can offer is something they need.  Currently, I will be teaching all three courses but that could change this summer once enrollment settles down.  I won’t do more than three but would ideally like to drop to two.  The entire goal in teaching is to pay for the kids’ homeschool co op.  This will be a huge coup as far as the kids tuition costs being covered and I’m super excited about it.  I will know in May which of my classes make it and have the summer to plan the curriculum.   The lectures will be once a week and back to back, that was my one condition in taking this on.  All other interaction will be online which works well since I am always at my computer for work and an avid multi-tasker.
  3. After 6 years of homeschooling, I know my teaching/planning style. And I know my kids’ learning styles.  That makes a HUGE difference in being successful.  For the first time, I will be selling off curriculum that I have accumulated over the years at a curriculum sale in May.  And then based on the kids co op schedule, my teaching schedule and the monies I earn from selling some of my stuff, I am going to pick up some new items at our statewide homeschool convention.  If you have ever been interested in homeschooling, I suggest you check out a convention, they are AWESOME!

So the financial summation of these changes….

  1. I will be paying for 1 college course for each of the twins.  Estimated cost $800 for both.  This is ballpark, I won’t have the real cost until we register this summer.
  2. I will NOT be paying for any of our homeschool co op classes and may in fact make a little extra money from teaching depending on the number of students who enroll in my class(es.)  Something else that will firm up in May.
  3. I will be selling some of my used curriculum for the first time this year and am hoping to make enough money to buy a few new things at the homeschool convention.  At this time, I have no other monies budgeted toward homeschool supplies, so am really hoping that my curriculum will sell!  Another update on this in May when the dust settles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I make enough from teaching that not only can I cover our homeschool co op classes, but also the twins college class!?  Only time will tell, but that is the plan right now.


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