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2017 Planning

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Hi friends! How is 2017 treating you so far? So far, so good over here! Just trying to balance work and childcare (always!!) The kids have been out of school all last week (they go back to preschool this coming Monday) so I’ve been drowning in work-related tasks while I’ve been trying to juggle childcare with hubs. Yikes!

Speaking of hubs – a quick work-related update:

Remember when we spoke about hubs going back to school full-time and closing the doors to his business?? Well, slight change of plans…

He IS going back. He’s starting with 9 credit hours; his classes meet on Mondays and Wednesdays. That leaves him with quite a bit of spare time still on his hands (though, to be fair, his classes are basically ALL.DAY on M/W, so he’ll need to spend quite a bit of time on the other weekdays actually studying, doing homework, etc.).

Anywho, hubs landed a really big contract around October-ish that was supposed to be completed by the end of 2016. For newer readers, hubs is a wood floor contractor & installer. Unfortunately, the contract was for a big “new build” condo complex and anyone who is familiar with new build knows that they are rife with setbacks and delays. The same was true here. Floors are one of the last things to go into a new home, so hubs’ schedule kept getting pushed back more and more and more while other contractors were working on their parts of the project.

I think you can see where this is going.

The project was not complete by the end of 2016. Not even close. In fact, hubs had only just barely begun! (again – this was due to no fault of his own – this is just how new builds sometimes go).

At this point in time, hubs has a two-man crew still working for him. Rather than renege on the contract he had signed, he’s having his crew continue working for him on this big project. He’ll be able to check in on days he’s not in class to make sure all is running smoothly and according to schedule, but it shouldn’t be a big time commitment for him since the work is actually being completed by his crew.

After paying salaries, he obviously wont’ be making as much as if he were doing the work himself (which was the initial plan when we thought it would be done by the end of 2016), but he’ll still be making a nice little chunk on the side which will help add a bit of a buffer as we transition into the land of no-more-work. I think this is a great thing, though. It will be nice to have a month or two of additional side-income (from hubs’ business) before we transition into me being the sole earner in the household.

Speaking of, I’ve been running numbers over and over again trying to make our 2017 budget “work.” I think it’s just going to require a bit of flexibility because right now with our debt-payment goals and everything else….if I were the sole earner it just wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be making enough to cover our budgeted items.

To be fair, this is with a budget that is dolling out $3,000/month for debt payments, alone. It may be that some months we are unable to make such a large debt payment. As I’ve alluded to, I also have some employment changes in the future, too, so there are lots of balls up in the air and lots of considerations at hand.

I currently have a few blog post drafts going (one with a 2017 budget and one with 2017 financial goals). I’ll do my best to try to get one of those posts up this coming week. I’m just counting down the days/minutes until we have regular childcare again! Whew! Especially now with the girls being older (4.5 years) and not napping – there is not a single break during the day in which I can get real work done. I do a good job of attending to emails, etc. but anything other than the basic necessities is pretty tough to squeeze in! Yikes! Any work-from-home parents out there?? How do you do it!?!? The kids each have little workbooks so I’ve tried to have “work time” for all of us (like, we’ll all sit down to do “work” together), but the interruptions are constant and, while that’s okay when I’m just doing emails, it makes it challenging to do any serious work that requires extended concentration, etc. I’d love any tips (though, hopefully this problem will dissolve once preschool is back in session!)

Have a lovely weekend!!


Work Trip = $$$

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I have a conference for work that I’m attending in early August.

It’s a conference that I’ve heard people talking about and suggesting in the online-teaching world for over a year, but I’ve never been before. I’m super excited because I applied to be a presenter and was accepted so it’s also a nice little CV-boost as I venture more and more into the world of online education (all my previous work/conference/research has been in my actual content area that I studied for my Ph.D. Read more where I waxed poetic about work-life balance here.).

I’m also really excited because of the location! Believe it or not, it’s coincidentally located in the same city where one of my best friends moved last summer! I’ve never been to the place, but it’s supposed to be gorgeous in summer (meanwhile, Tucson is in crippling death-heat mode so I can’t wait to escape!)

But there are two things that are major bummers about this trip:

  1. The timing is far from ideal.
  2. Cost

Let me explain.

In relation to the timing – I’ll miss my girls’ first day of preschool for the year (already feeling the mom-guilt). I hate knowing that I’ll miss the first day, but I’m trying to mentally prepare for it now.  Also, my friend is due to have a baby literally the same week that I’ll be there. I hope to meet the little guy, but I won’t get to really “hang out” with my friend like I would otherwise have done if she weren’t due any minute and/or in the hospital having a baby.

In relation to the cost – I work for a major university. I know different departments do different things, but in my department we are given a small annual amount of funds to cover “professional development” type expenses (including conference travel). This year, the limit was set at $500/person. Unfortunately, this conference is super pricey, so I’m going to be shelling out quite a bit of my own money. Gulp.

To be fair, I actually received over the $500 limit because I’m a presenter (and because I asked for more. Sometimes you just have to ask!) But in total, I was given $650. The conference registration, alone, was $595. Add in airfare + lodging + food =  Cha-ching!!!

So here’s another reason why the timing is not ideal. At another time, I otherwise would’ve stayed with my friend for some free housing. But she’s expecting her first baby and their house is undergoing major renovations, and I just can’t put her in the position of asking to stay with them. I’m going to have to shell out for a hotel.

Also, I’m not in the Education department on campus, but the conference I’m going to is basically about online education. That means no one I know is going, so there’s no sharing of rental cars, hotels, etc.

On the plus side, I really do think this is an important conference for me to attend (at least once!).  I’m really branching more into this field and I plan to try to market myself as an expert in this arena for any future employment, so it’s important for me professionally and personally (and in terms of networking, etc.)

But I’m guesstimating it will probably run me a solid $1,000 or so to go. Gulp! Luckily, we have a high income this month so I’ll be putting money aside this month to cover the expense for next month. But still, it’s a big number.

What do you guys think about paying for your own professional development opportunity? How much would you be willing to spend per year? What do you feel is “fair” and “normal” for you to cover (versus your employer) in your career area?


Delay in Post

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I’m afraid I don’t have  a number’s post ready for tomorrow (or today by the time you are reading this.)  But I do have a great excuse.

For the first time in 6 months, well, over 6 months now, I have more than full time work for the next two weeks.  This comes from varying sources, but it is work and I am spending tons of time on it and continuing to grow my business.

On top of that, it is Princess’ birthday so I’m taking some time away to celebrate her and Friday is our homeschool prom which two of the kids are attending.  So busy, busy, busy!

I promise a numbers update as soon as I come up from air.  But things are good, I think I’m turning the corner.

Thanks for your patience. I promise to put in some time here just as soon as I can.


This, too, shall pass

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I know I keep talking about how “busy-busy-busy” or “go-go-go” I am all the time now.

I love my job(s) and I’m very thankful for it them, but the schedule can also be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

The end-of-semester craziness has been kicking my butt and I’ve been looking forward to summer. Just hold on a couple more weeks…a couple more weeks and everything will calm down. That’s been my mantra.

And then I realized…it won’t.

At my part-time job, summer is pretty crazy. It’s great pay (because it’s the same amount of pay, but I’m paid in 2 separate chunks – one check in June and one in July – as opposed to having it spread across 4 months. So it essentially “feels” like double the pay). But it’s also a TON of work to do the same amount of teaching/grading/etc in a shortened schedule.

I’ve also reported how I managed to get my full-time job to extend my contract so I’ll now get paid all summer from the full-time job, too. That’s fantastic news on the financial front (the equivalent of a 33% raise compared to my current salary)…but I don’t get paid to just sit around watching TV. I get paid to WORK! So that means all summer long I’ll be doing just that…working my tail off. At two different jobs. And then fall will be here, and spring, and summer. Wash, rinse, repeat (side note:  I haven’t turned in notice or anything, but I’ve basically decided in my own mind that next summer – summer 2017 – will be my last semester working for the part-time job. The logic was that I want to work there the full calendar year of 2016, but then I won’t want to quit mid academic-year, so I’d wait until the 2016-2017 year is over, which ends summer 2017).

On a surface level, its a bit overwhelming. The cruise was fantastic for a short-lived stint of relaxation. But I’m also longing for summer time and the long days and carefree nature it usually has associated with it for many of us in academia.

But when I find myself stressing out over the lack of time and amount of work to get done, I just stop and take deep breaths. I focus on the moment, write up a To Do list (this is strangely therapeutic for me), and start knocking out line item by line item.

This semester has tested me. It’s pushed me to my limits and I joke that it’s caused me chronic pain (I now regularly suffer from tension headaches. It sucks.). But I’ve consciously made all of these decisions with my debt in mind. I’ve taken on extra work, have two jobs, etc. because I WANT TO GET OUT OF DEBT!!!! This isn’t just for fun. It’s serving a greater purpose.

One of my 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt this year. But what if I do more? What if I actually kick off $35,000 in debt?

Then next year, when we aren’t saving for a down payment toward a house, what if we get up to $40,000 or $45,000 on debt payments?

We may only be a couple years from being fully debt-free!!! I know once the debt number gets smaller it’s just going to fly by.

We’ll get there. Probably sooner than I even think. It will happen.

So, in the meantime, please excuse my occasional whining about how busy/chaotic/crazy my life is. This, too, shall pass. And when it does, we’ll be that much closer to financial freedom!

For those who are currently debt-free, how long was your journey? How long did it take? For those still on the path, what’s your projected timeline like?


Monitor Worker Time with App Services

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The ability to monitor employee time sheets has greatly evolved over the course of the last 10 years. For decades, employees relied on the clock punch-card. This effective, yet flawed method for monitoring employee time proved straightforward, but it also opened up the potential for fraud and other issues. Eventually, as technology evolved and new options came to pass, it made fraud far more difficult. Now, it is possible for you to monitor worker time directly through your smartphone or tablet. With the Internet, data or Wi-Fi connection present, looking in on real-time employee time can make it far easier to meet payroll on time and to adjust worker hours accordingly.

Time Card Shift

timecard app

As more and more work shifted to the computer and Internet-based applications, software designed to run employee time cards came to fruition. This made it easier to monitor employees and current worker hours by logging into the software and checking the logs. The software also made it difficult for employees to log in for other workers who were either late to work, left early or had some other reasoning. The new tech shift allowed business owners such as yourself to save money on overpaying workers for time not spent at the work. However, in order to check employee time you still had to log into the computer and have a physical presence in the building. Now, this is no longer necessary as it is possible to install an app directly onto a mobile phone or tablet, which in turn gives you real-time access to employee hours.

App Based Monitoring Advantages

When you set the schedule, you make sure all of your shifts are covered and everyone receives as much work as they like (whenever possible). There are often exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, it is rather straightforward. So, why would app based employee time monitoring prove all that more beneficial to you over needing a presence in the building to check? Often times, other employees, especially on hourly based shifts, need to find someone to cover a shift. This on its own usually isn’t a problem, but if one employee picks up a few additional shifts, they might start to push closer and closer to overtime. Workers’ running overtime is an added expense you likely want to avoid. By monitoring worker time, you know when you may need to have someone go home early or when to tell one particular employee to not come into work.

Should you travel for business a good deal, you’ll likely miss a payday. Regardless of if you perform direct deposit or checks, missing a payday can prove difficult for employees. With the application, you can submit payroll information to your bank or other financial institution to make sure everything is covered. This way, no matter where you are or when payroll needs to go out, you shouldn’t have an issue with this ever again with the timesheet app.

timestamp app

Technology has shifted in recent years to make monitoring worker time far easier than ever before. Now you don’t need to wait until the end of the week or pay period to determine how many hours someone has worked. Instead, you can check this in real time from any device with an Internet connection. To succeed in business, you need to set yourself up for success. Reducing time theft and improving productivity helps you expand your budget and reach a better bottom line. Worker monitoring in real time allows you to do this.


Making That $$$

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Did everyone see Hope’s awesome post yesterday? Fingers crossed for her to get her choice between the two different jobs!

To piggy-back on the good news train, I’ve got some good news of my own!

Remember how I asked for a title change and a raise way-back-when? I first brought it up with my boss in early December, then had a meeting in January, and things kind of went stagnant (see last update here).

Well, we met yesterday and my best-case-scenario* happened!!!! (**kinda…see below).

For the time being I stopped pressing about a title change because I was more concerned with my actual salary right now (but the title change is still in the forefront of my mind. I’ll be working on that behind-the-scenes).

Remember that, last time, I mentioned one of my negotiation tactics was to frame my “raise” like it wasn’t a raise at all. Instead, I was simply asking for more time to work. Instead of a 9 month contract (which I’m currently on), I wanted the same exact rate of pay (no raise), but for the additional 3 months of the year. This is equivalent to a 33% raise in terms of annual salary, but it’s the same bi-weekly pay rate that I currently receive so it’s not a raise in the sense of an increased pay rate. Make sense?

The decision wasn’t solely up to my department head because funds had to come from another source on campus. In the end, what was decided is that I’ll get a short-term contract this summer. That means I’m still officially on a 9-month contract overall (so, next summer I’ll be “off” work with no obligation to work). But for this summer I’ll continue working and will receive my same exact rate of pay.

I’m thrilled with the results!

I was always a little bit torn because 12 month contract = significantly more money (literally 33% more on an annual basis!). But I also really love the academic 9-month schedule. I’d been looking forward to having summer off with my kiddos, etc. So I actually think this is a great compromise of sorts because it allows me to make extra money this year, without the requirement or expectation of working every summer going forward.

So 2016 is officially dubbed the year of “Making That $$$$$.” I’m a little shocked and blown away by exactly how much I’ll be making this year. Between my full-time job (and now the summer pay) + my part time job, I will be making over six figures on my own (not counting hubs’ income). This is absolutely insane to me given that, literally a year ago, I was making peanuts (false:  at the time I just had a part-time job, but I’m lucky in that my part-time job does pay very well. But you know what I mean. It’s nothing compared to my current salary).

This comes at such an opportune time, as we are not used to this level of income so we can continue living on significantly less and throw all this extra money toward debt and savings for a house.

I’m still having a bit of a “pinch me” moment. I mean, I figured they would pay me for the summer (as I said in my previous post…they really need me for some pressing and time sensitive work). But I honestly did NOT expect to get my full rate of pay. My current pay rate bumps me WAY above several of the tenured faculty members and it just blows my mind. I mean, I’ve literally only been in this position for a semester and a half. Mind-blown.

But I also don’t want to act like it’s all dumb luck. To some extent there was a “right place, right time” aspect. But this is also due to my hard work, experience, and trying to make myself invaluable. I’ve taken active measures to network across campus, meet the various powers-that-be (not just in my department, but elsewhere) and set myself up for success. Sometimes this has meant doing additional work outside of my job description just to build some good will and favor from others and (hopefully) position myself to eventually grab that title I want, too. All in good time.

For right now I’m very busy, but very happy. I’m lucky that I genuinely love what I do. It makes a world of difference, too, having my Dad safely settled in Texas. I don’t think I even realized at the time just what an impact the Dad-stuff had on my day-to-day stress level and functioning. We still have ongoing issues with that (e.g., we’ll be putting his house on the market within about a month or so, and that will be a BIG ordeal), but now that he’s closer to my siblings and able to be watched over and cared for, the stress has reduced dramatically.

So there you go. Hopefully good news all around in blog-land (I can’t wait to hear an update on Hope’s job situation, too!!!) I hope you readers are having great success in your careers, too! Tell me about it!

Any advice on job advancement or career opportunities? Any good book recommendations in this regard? How are things going in your career?

Edited to add:  I forgot to address vacation because someone had asked about that on my last post. Since I’m technically not on a 12- month contract (still just a 9-month contract + a short-term summer contract), there’s nothing like a 2-week vacation, etc. However, I do get vacation pay normally (as part of my 9-month contract) so that will still continue. Plus the beauty of my summer work is that it is 100% online. I still plan to be on campus here and there for meetings, to hold workshops, etc. But I should be able to do the majority of my work from home. We also aren’t planning to travel this summer. Since we have Cruise 2016 in April, we’ll be staying in town over summer. In lieu of any big summer travel plans, I’ve invited my family to come out and visit in June for the girls’ 4th birthday (can you believe it!? When I started blogging they were 18 months old!). We’ve never had a party for them before but are thinking of renting a pavilion at a park or something and having a proper party for them this year. Nothing crazy over-the-top, but at least acknowledging and celebrating them a bit with family and friends. Nothing set in stone yet, but that’s our thought/plan. And, of course….we’ll probably be looking for new homes around that time as well! Eeeek! Crazy year!!


Work – maybe

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One week ago today, the kids and I were in Cincinnati as I prepared for a final interview there. The company paid for our trip out there, we got to look around for a couple of days in case of a move, and met with the company.

And later today, I have a final interview here.

As I write this, I hold out hope to get offers from both jobs…but only time will tell.

So time will tell….


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