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What to do When You Lose Your Job

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I’ve been attending a Job Transition group since I got the news of my impending lay off.  It’s been great to connect with like minded people (faith based group) who are going or who have gone through similar situations.  This morning the talk to turned to me with questions of healthcare now, unemployment benefits and general “what to do when you lose your job” tasks.

It’s been a LONG time since I was here…2006 to be exact.  Then it was pretty cut and dried.  I applied for unemployment benefits that lasted 4-6 months, paid for COBRA medical coverage for up to 18 months to continue our medical benefits and started a job hunt with weekly reporting to the Employment Commission to continue to receive my unemployment payments.

Now I’m not leaving corporate, I’m leaving contract work so no unemployment as far as I know, no COBRA and I had three weeks notice rather than the single day I had last time.  Very different and not so cut and dried.

So I’m hear asking for your collective wisdom…what do you do now when you lose a job?  Here’s what the Job Transition group advised me this morning….

  1. Apply for unemployment…let them tell me if I’m eligible or not.  At least it might result in some temporary income.
  2. With the new Obamacare, I cannot let my medical insurance lapse or I will face penalty, so I have to do something about that.  And without steady income, well that could be problematic.
  3. There  are lots of alternative resources out there, research them now, apply for help now, just in case, so that I don’t get to the point where I’m panicking and reach the point of no return with certain financial matters…suggestions are United Way (strict guidelines for help that I probably wouldn’t meet at this point,) local churches are not governed by strict regulations, grants for single moms, etc.

So here I am asking for your best advice, what would you do in my shoes?  What steps do I take now?


And the Job Search is On

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First week without a job…it’s a very new feeling after 10 years of working 70+ hour work weeks.  I have really been focusing this week of keeping things low key and not going into panic mode.  It’s a very different routine, and I’m not taking it for granted, trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

Over the last few weeks, I have been knee deep in the job search primarily focusing on returning to the corporate world and with the possibility of moving.  I’ve had four first interviews and received one rejection email.  Things have certainly changed since the last time I looked for a corporate job!

I have been very blessed by a particular reader on this blog and I wanted to take a moment to publicly acknowledge that and thank her…

Faye from LeapofFaye.com reached out to me and offered to take a look at my resume and give me some feedback.  And I’ve got to say, WOW!  She completely re-did my resume and gave me some awesome advice on marketing myself…it was SO needed and I attribute her guidance to the interviews I’ve landed thus far.  And frankly, after 10 years out of the job market…things have certainly changed.  So I really want to thank her for reaching out and giving me a great push in the right direction as I tackle this transition in my life!  Here’s a little bit about her…

Faye is an almost-40-something mother of two (with a third on the way!) who has recently left her high powered 20+ year career in the financial services industry to pursue her passion of writing and spend more time with family – you can follow her experiences in making the leap to self-employment, adventures in parenting, and all her other favorite topics. Check out her site at LeapofFaye.com

So this afternoon, I have a second interview for a part time job that I’m pretty excited about. It will allow me to continue to work from home, have flexible hours and seems like a pretty cool gig. It won’t pay the bills, but would be money coming in, and I’m sure you know, every bit helps!

I continue to look at jobs and have expanded my search area to pretty much Anywhere, USA. I would love to go overseas, but not sure the kids would handle that well at this point.


2015 Debt Payments: Goal Check-in

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So, remember how I recently mentioned that I’ve been putting off debt payments (above minimums) until late in the month? Well I just made my last payment for the month – a GIANT payment to our car loan (hopefully a post will be up Thursday specifically about that. Right now the payment is still pending, so I want to wait to see what my car balance will actually be after the payment is applied).

After making that mammoth payment (literally one of the largest single debt payments toward a loan that I’ve made ever in my life), I decided it would be fun to play around with some numbers and see how I’m doing on my 2015 financial goals.

Just as a reminder, I had 2 concrete financial goals for 2015 (these are in addition to my “year of becoming an adult” goals. Latest update on that can be found here).

  1. Pay off car loan and become consumer debt-free by the end of 2015.
  2. Pay $30,000 toward debt in 2015.

When I did my last goal check-in things were looking a little leery. We were a good $8,000 behind schedule to hit the $30,000-mark. Then a few more months went by with more mediocre debt payments. I admitted defeat on the possibility of paying off the car this calendar year.

Then, as fate would have it, the tide shifted a bit.

Hubs’ business has been on the ups, I’ve been making good money, and we decided to skate thin ice with a very low financial security net in exchange for getting debt paid off quick!

After checking out our YNAB budget, I came up with these figures. I couldn’t believe it when I hit auto-sum and discovered that our estimated 2015 debt payments amount to…..

January $1678
February $1822
March $653
April $1796
May $1708
June $725
July $2125
August $2250
September $2575
October*estimate $5500
November*estimate $4500
December*estimate $4500
Total $29832

$29,832!!!!!

Well hot damn! My jaw just about hit the floor.

Of course, these are estimates and there is no way to tell for sure if we’ll be able to hit these goals (psst:  we’ve met the goal for October. I’ll get you a debt update post up soon; Thursday?). November and December are contingent upon how hubs’ business income is (and December, in particular, may be a struggle). But look how close our estimates put us to our $30,000 goal! It’s just that much more incentive to bust our butts and really try to make this thing happen!

It’s great to be filled with hope and excitement, especially this far along into debt repayment (we’ve now been in steady debt-repayment mode for over a year and a half). The shiny new-ness of it all rubbed off a good while ago and we’ve been sustaining on sheer will-power. So it feels good to have a little morale boost, especially headed into the holiday season!

Let’s cross our fingers that things continue full steam ahead (especially in regard to hubs’ business income) and see how close we can get to really reaching these goals!

Are you gunning for any big financial goals before the end of the year? Do you make annual financial goals?

I, personally, like to make annual goals in many different aspects of life (e.g., career, financial, health/fitness, etc. etc. etc.). If you’re like me, it’s time to start thinking about and planning for 2016’s goals soon!


Panic Mode to Inspiration – The Call (Part I of 3)

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Mondays are my least favorite days.  They require from 3-5 hours straight in the car for me.  I run the twins and sometimes Princess to another city to work with their competitive robotics team, run back here to drop off the Gymnast, a few miles down the road to coach Princess’ volleyball team and then back to the other city to pick up the twins.  It is a grueling day…and this is all after I take Princess for a couple of hours of volunteer time at the local shelter.  I am not complaining, although it does sound like it, I choose this, I could say “No” – I own that this is my choice.

But this past Monday was a whole other roller coaster in and of itself.  First the day started out on a high…we celebrated four years of being a family which I wrote about on my personal blog.  In years prior to our tiny space living, we would celebrate with a visit to the local pottery painting place where we would all paint a dish including the number of the anniversary and a meal out.  This year and last, we opted to skip the painting due to financial reasons and because we just don’t have space for more dishes.  But we did go out to eat.  So a good day.

However, in between my marathon chauffeur duties, I got the dreaded call.  My biggest, longest running client, the bread and butter of my business for the last 8 years…they are downsizing.  They gave me three weeks notice.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  All the plans for housing, out the window, all the debt pay off plans, out the window.  All with one phone call.  I was devastated.  But I had to pull it together and go coach Princess’ first ever volleyball game….we WON!

There have been sleepless nights since then as I toss and turned, panicking, wondering what if as I look back at how I got here, and just worrying.  It took me a year when I first started my business to get to the level where I could support us.  And I have to admit while I do have some smaller clients and occasion bigger projects, I’ve become complacent.  So I will essentially be starting from scratch again.

I ended the day with dinner with my kids to celebrate the four years that we’ve been a family…since the day the twins moved into our life.  They all knew about the call as I couldn’t hide the devastation.  But we spent the meal reminiscing about those first days, learning more about the twins’ feelings at the time and being grateful for the experiences we’ve had to this point.

 


Ashley’s September 2015 Debt Update

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Full disclosure:  I have intentionally put September’s debt update off (which is why its now October and just barely going up). Anyone who has had some serious debt to repay (like me!) knows it’s a road full of ups and downs. One month I’m flying high! Another month I’m down in the dumps. September was a down in the dumps type of month.

First, I’m so over Navient. Over it! I’m considering doing a loan consolidation just so I can get rid of them as a loan service provider. I don’t want to rush into anything impulsively just because of frustration. Overall, I prefer to keep my loans separate because I enjoy knocking them off one at a time. Plus, I don’t know how it all works when you consolidate if I’ve got some subsidized and some unsubsidized loans. And I’m currently on income-based repayment and I think consolidation companies don’t do that (right? Because aren’t they independent companies – not government backed anymore? I have no idea, clearly I haven’t researched it). I’m just SO OVER Navient I’d do just about anything to get rid of them! Tips/thoughts on consolidation? Right now I’m still waiting to hear back from the mediation company (I referenced in Monday’s post), so no immediate plans for consolidating, but definitely something in the back of my mind.

Second, hubs had another rough month at work last month. Again. This year has been a down year for his business. It’s depressing for him as well as for me (and our budget!) So a lot of my income has had to go to pay bills instead of being all this extra gravy that I thought could be thrown toward debt. Overall we still did have a higher debt payment this month than most months, but it wasn’t near the mammoth-sized debt payment I was hoping for (for comparison:  most months we’re around $2,000ish. This month was over $2500. So we did good, don’t get me wrong! But I was hoping/planning for closer to a $5,000 month).

And third, the car. I had a secret goal to get our car loan under 10K this month. Remember my overall goal was to get it paid in full by the end of the calendar year. But when hubs checks weren’t as much as we’d hoped, my planned debt payments got diverted elsewhere, and I wasn’t able to swing a large enough payment to drop us below $10k on the car loan. To me, in my mind, that’s basically the last nail in the coffin which assures me that there’s no way we can pay the car off in full by the end of December 2015. To be fair to myself, that goal was always a bit of a stretching goal. I still have full confidence we’ll be 100% consumer debt-free by the time we go on our cruise (in April 2016). But I so, so wanted to have it paid in full by the end of December. To start the new year consumer debt-free. I want it so bad I can taste it, folks! It causes me physical pain (like an upset stomach) to know we can’t make  that goal. But we just can’t. We’d have to pay $3,333/month just on the car, alone, to make the goal. Not gonna happen. (tear).

So, that’s why I’ve put off this debt update.

I hate that so many of my posts have been Debby-Downer status lately. I’m really sorry about it! I don’t mean to be a big bummer and all “boo hoo” but it’s just been a tough month.

So, to turn a new page, let’s look forward and not behind. I LOVE October! One of my favorite months of the year! I love the Fall weather, I love the fun festivities and community activities that are offered (many of which are free!)! I love spending so much time outside and playing at parks with the kids (also free!). I love that as my girls are getting older we’re able to do so many fun things! Remember, I missed Halloween last year (it was my friend’s wedding day), so I’m SUPER pumped for Halloween this year (and already got them cheap costumes from Costco)! Basically, a lot of good GREAT things to look forward to! Debt payments are just one of them.

So here’s how our September debt payments looked:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient - Federal Student Loan$159318.25%$256September$4687
ACS Student Loans$86326.55%$31August$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$666556.55%$263September$63254
PenFed Car Loan$107302.49%$1500September$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$42120% (through April 2016)$500September$5937
Medical Bills$60110%$25September$9000
Totals$112,171 (Aug balance = 113,894)$2575Starting Debt = $145,472

One thing to note, my “beginning” debt balances are all out of whack now for my student loans since ACS sold one of my loans (approximately $12,500) to Navient. I need to try to adjust it to account for the loan transfer but I just can’t be bothered right now. Seriously, every time I think about Navient I have this terrible visceral reaction. But I’m not going there right now. Focusing on the positive. So, yeah. Just a heads up about why that’s all wonky.

1. What do you think about consolidating student loans? Pros? Cons? Personal stories or experiences welcome!

2. When you’ve failed to reach a big goal or milestone (whether related to debt or not), is there anything you do to try to get over the disappointment? Any tips to pick up my spirits a little?

3. Tell me something YOU look forward to in fall! (Our town does a huge Fall celebration thing. We went last year for the first time not expecting too much and were blown away by all the fun, free activities – from face painting to a petting zoo to inflatable bounce houses, to a trick-or-treating thing for kids hosted by local businesses. There was live music, door prizes, horse-drawn carriage rides and s’mores.  All of it totally FREE! The only thing NOT free was dinner-type food – they had food trucks for that. But you could always eat before you go! I cannot wait for this year’s festival! It was seriously one of my favorite events from all of last year!)


3 Financial Issues

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Hi friends!

First, I just want to apologize for the fewer blog posts as of late. I’ve typically been really good about posting a minimum of 2 per Monday (sometimes 3) plus one more on Thursday or Friday. But the past couple weeks it’s been tough to find the time for even one post! It’s not that I don’t have anything to talk about. Trust me – I could talk PLENTY about our finances/budget/etc. It’s just that there’s never enough time! Now that the semester is really going strong it’s like a balancing act to keep everything together. I love my jobs (both of them) and am so thankful for them, but they require a lot of time and between work and dealing with my father’s health issues….well, saying I feel a bit overwhelmed is an understatement. Regarding the latter, we’re hoping to have his move to Texas (closer to family) complete-ish in the next couple weeks. I say “ish” because there will still be lots left at his house in Utah that my siblings and I will have to deal with in the coming months. But as much as we want to get the house on the market ASAP, we’re thankful to be in a financial position where we have the flexibility to let it sit a couple months until we have the proper time to deal with it all. Regarding this – anyone have experience with selling a (still furnished, in need of some repair) home out-of-state? I’m hoping we can hire an estate planner person to go sell the remaining stuff and subcontract out any needed repair work. We’ll also have to hire a lawn company and perhaps a cleaning service to keep it looking nice while it’s vacant and on the market. Any tips or suggestions in this regard?

That aside, I really had planned for the purpose of this post to be about 3 financial issues I’ve dealt with this month.

  1. Comcast:  In my last budget post I mentioned that I’d been dealing with some cable/internet provider issues. Our bill has typically been around $110-ish, but then I received a bill in August for $150!! I’d called and thought everything was resolved…until I got a new September bill also for $150! No way, Comcast! Not today! You’ve messed with the wrong person! Generally when these issues pop up it’s 100% worth it to go into the store (the local branches have infinitely better customer service than the call center people). But I logistically couldn’t make it happen between work and childcare schedules. So I called and basically geared up for a fight (though, to be clear, I always try to remain respectful when in these types of situations. It’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar!) I did have to ask for a manager, but I explained the situation – basically, last month they said they’d given me a credit and all was resolved, but in fact the current month bill shows that my payment was considered a partial payment. Meaning, there was no credit ever given to my account. So it showed I still owed the remaining balance. I’ve found that it helps when you tell the manager exactly what will make you happy. I mean, be reasonable. But it’s not okay to scream and yell and pitch a fit. No one wins in that scenario. Instead, have some idea of a compromise or solution that will fix the problem and be mutually beneficial for both parties. I already had in mind my solution:  just give me a credit that will take my bill down to $110 (the normal monthly payment). I’m already in a new promo rate so I don’t want to change that, but I refuse to pay the full $150 bill when I’d been told my account had been credited, all was resolved, yada yada yada. So make my bill $110, and we’ll be good. The manager had me hold for a minute and did one better. Gave me a credit so my current month’s bill is $97.02. Even better than what I’d asked for. Next month should be back to the regular rate (about $110ish). This time, I got the manager’s name and took notes of the call so I have them for reference just-in-case. But I’m hopeful that this situation is now fully resolved.
  2. Phone service: A couple months ago we switched phone providers to get a (slightly) better rate and get a free upgrade to newer phones. After canceling we received a GIANT ($250) phone bill from our old provider. But part of the deal with our switch is that our new provider would reimburse us the cancellation fee to buy us out of the contract. Rather than send us a check, they just take it off our our bill. So last month we had a huge bill to pay (to our old provider), but I was hoping it would even out this month when we got our new provider’s bill, showing the $250 credit. Turns out all is good in that area. This month we’ll have a much lower bill (but to remind you so it’s not a surprise with my next budget post – I’d fudged my August budget a bit. I paid the full $250 for the old phone network last month, but I cheated a little and split it half-way in this month. So I’ll still be reporting charges this month in my budget update at the end of the month. But really that was money that was paid for awhile ago). In October, things in this regard will be all smoothed over and we’ll be comfortably paying our new bill.
  3. Navient. Y’all. I can’t even. I cannot. Remember my “best day ever” post where I said my Navient issue was resolved? Ha! Nope! It seriously makes me so angry just thinking about it so I’m going to keep this brief for the sake of my blood pressure and psychological wellbeing. Long story short – issue is NOT resolved. They still have my loan (which was just transferred from another loan servicer, ACS) categorized as unsubsidized. They claim its a valid unsubsidized loan. Many, many hours (literal hours) of my life have been spent talking to all kinds of people – Navient’s customer service, Navient’s escalation department, the loan guarantor, national student loan database services, and on and on and on. We’ve reached a point where I’ve had to contact a loan mediation service (it’s free for me – part of the federal government, I guess). But they don’t move quickly. My last call to them was Friday and they said I wouldn’t hear back for 7-10 business days. So, yeah. In the meantime, I’m being charged interest out the wazoo for this student loan that is supposed to be subsidized (and, therefore, unpaid interest is supposed to be forgiven). So its going to totally mess up my debt totals when I do my next debt update (hopefully coming this Thursday! I’ve been holding off hoping that I’d get this issue resolved so I could report accurate debt totals, but no dice). I swear this issue has taken years off my life due to the stress and headache of it all. I know on my last post many people suggested reaching out to a class action lawsuit attorney (since Navient has so many pending lawsuits against them for wrongfully charging extra interest, etc.). I’m hoping the mediation can help us come to a resolution. I’m just so strapped for time I don’t even know what to do. It’s a huge burden in my life and just makes me wish I could write a check and be debt-free today. It’s just so wrong and it feels like there’s no ramification. No way to hold them accountable. I feel a little bit defeated at this point. But I’m keeping the course with the mediation route and hoping for some success at the other end. I’ll keep you updated.

So that’s the update on my 3 financial issues. As per usual, this was way lengthier than I’d originally intended. heh. Guess I had a little time after all. I’ll try to get a debt update post put together for you guys for later this week (Thursday or Friday). Thanks for your support along the way!!!


Teaching Pays the School Bills

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We had open house at our homeschool co op this week.  As of today, I have 16 paying students registered for classes.  I am so excited!!!

As this last month of summer break has dwindled towards the end.  I have been filled with remorse at having committed so much of my time to teaching especially spread across the week so long weekends won’t really be an option.  But I knew it was the right decision financially as it truly will pay the way for all my kiddos classes and that is a HUGE financial burden lifted.

But as I got to mingling with the other mom/teachers I could see the passion in them.  And as the families and kiddos started trickling in, I felt that passion rise in me.  I am so excited to get to be a small part of these kids lives and teach something that I truly LOVE.  And I’m really grateful for the support this particular co op gives to the teachers…complete control over our curriculum and our classrooms.

So while I have spent hours this summer prepping my classes and content, now that I have met most of my students I will spend this weekend revising my expectations and class schedule and assignments.

I won’t make any money on this per se, but 1) the tuition from my students is fully covering the cost of my kids’ co op classes and 2) I will have 3 full prepared classes if I ever chose to teach these classes again – Multi-level Geometry, Intro to Computer Programming and Advanced Computer Applications.

Classes start next week!


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