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Parking Wars


Anyone who has ever attended a large university knows that parking is typically pretty pricey. To give you a sampling of some of the universities I’m familiar with, the University of Texas parking is insane. My college roommate parked at a far-off satellite spot still about a mile from her classes and she paid $300 PER MONTH to park there! PER MONTH!!!!!!

For my Master’s degree I attended a smaller university so parking was pretty reasonable – $50/semester. My current university is a larger one and parking here is what I’d consider mid-range for large universities: $600 per academic year.

But even though $300/semester isn’t too bad (relatively speaking), they kill you on the daily parking rates! On my first day of the new job I jumped on the parking and transportation website and there was no information about summer parking permits. The only available info talked about academic year parking permits. So I assumed I’d have to pay the daily rate until the academic year officially begins in a month.

But the daily rates are crazy! I’d been paying $10/day – that’s $50/week just to park on campus. And, unfortunately, there really aren’t options for parking off campus. There are busses, but they don’t run out to where I live (I live in the suburbs, just outside Tucson city limits, whereas the university is located directly mid-town). And if you try to park in the neighborhoods you’ll get towed immediately. So unless I get a motorcycle (for which parking is much cheaper, but we don’t own a motorcycle and I can never see myself riding one), I’m stuck paying for parking.

On Thursday night I started thinking about parking. $50/week; 5 weeks – we’re talking $250 in parking costs until the academic year permit goes into effect! That’s insanity! Who can afford that!?

So Friday morning I called the parking and transportation office and – wouldn’t you know – they DO offer summer permit parking passes. The prorated rate for the remainder of summer costs exactly $56.

At this point I slap my own forehead in disgust of the amount of money I’ve spent on parking, knowing I could have saved myself by buying this permit that wasn’t advertised on the website!

So the moral of the story is ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask! Wish I would’ve asked on day #1 and saved myself $50! A very expensive lesson to learn. At least I’ve kept my parking receipts for tax purposes. Even though it’s a pain, every little bit helps. Moving forward I’ll be able to have parking expenses automatically withdrawn from my paycheck pre-tax so I won’t have to worry about keeping up with receipts, etc. Good stuff.

Do you remember how much you paid for parking when you were in college (also – what type of college: large, medium, small?)

First Day and Family Drama


Hi all! Thank you so much for all the well wishes for my first day of work (it was this past Monday) and all of your comments about our plans to start saving for a house after all our consumer debt is paid off (hopefully by December-ish). There were a TON of great comments and I plan to dedicate some posts specifically to the house topic in the future, but that will have to wait for another day.

Right now, indulge me a little in talking about my first few days of work!

To be 100% honest, the first day was….a little boring. I had to do a lot of administrative type stuff (getting a new employee ID card, submitting key request form to the key authorization office, filling out paperwork, ordering instructor textbooks, etc. etc. etc.).

Here I was ready and rearing to go (with a huge, long To Do list already compiled) and I ended up spending much of the day doing non-job related/administrative stuff. It was fine and I got a couple hours of “real” work in, but not what I’d expected.

So Tuesday I hit the ground running with about a 30-item To Do list and started knocking things out left and right. Wednesday was more of the same (along with several meetings), and now I feel like I’m chugging right along!

I will say that I feel a real struggle in regard to spending. On my first day I bought lunch (even though I’d made and brought a lunch with me), Tuesday I bought a soda, and Wednesday I had to fight the urge to buy a Starbucks on the way to campus. At least I’m aware of the temptation to spend, so I’m trying to psychologically combat the urge. Eventually I’ll build a little stockpile of sodas and snacks in my office so the urge isn’t as strong. Right now I’m in a temporary office so I’ve been holding off on bringing a lot of stuff in just yet. My new office is supposed to be painted soon – hopefully! (The bureaucracy in academia is alive and well because I’ve been told it could take up to a month until the painting is completed due to permissions, other building/maintenance work orders, etc.). After that’s done I’ll officially “move in.”

I know we’re still only a couple days into the new job, but one big surprise is that it hasn’t been as hard emotionally/psychologically to leave the girls at preschool as I’d anticipated. I thought I’d be a wreck driving to campus but – nope! And they seem perfectly happy too, which certainly helps. Right now they’re still at the JCC but we switch to our new preschool in mid-August so we’ll see how that transition goes.

Work stuff aside, I’ve got to say I’ve been dealing with additional family health-related drama lately. I really wish I could just gush all the details to you guys because – as weird as it seems – you do feel like friends in a sense (and I get SO MANY helpful comments!!! I’d love to pick your brains on the health issues). But I want to maintain my father’s privacy so…..yeah. Just…stuff sucks. I hate what he’s going through. I don’t like that I’ve been thrust into the role of caregiver. It’s hard to be someone’s advocate from across state lines. And just the whole thing is a steaming pile of poo.

I’m going back next week for another doctor’s appointment. Again – the devils in the details and, unfortunately, I just can’t divulge his personal info. But you can imagine. Lots of stress. Anxiety. And so on.

I don’t believe we’ll be getting an official diagnosis yet – there’s one more scan the doctor wanted to order but its very expensive so insurance only covers it once everything else has been eliminated (and my Dad’s had many, many appointments the past couple weeks). But this is the appointment with the head honcho specialist so my siblings and I feel it’s important for someone to be there. I was elected. My sister will probably go back for the diagnosis, and my brother will likely be the one to go retrieve my father if/when its time for him to move closer to family. So at least we’re trying to share the burden (not that my father is a burden by any means, but you know what I’m saying. We all work, have families, etc. so logistics are difficult).

In terms of finances, I believe that my Dad will reimburse me for my flight expense (like he did last time). This time I’ll be flying in and out in a single looooooong day (flight there departs Tucson at 6:00am, return flight lands back in Tucson at 10:30pm). I know there are businesses people who do this type of commute all the time, but this is my very first out-and-back in a single day type excursion. I’m grateful its worked out this way since now I have a job I’m expected to be at, but I also wish I was going to be there a bit longer. The logistics of what the future holds (selling two separate properties in two separate states; clearing out said properties, etc.) makes my head ache. I know surely others have been in a similar spot before. Words of advice or encouragement? I know its hard without knowing specifics, but you can kind of read between the lines a bit I’m sure.

One thing I’ll say about this new job (sorry to jump around on topics), is that it has made my days feel extremely long! I’ve been waking up at 5am to have time to get a quick jog, shower, dress, make lunches (for me & the girls), make breakfast (for me & the girls), do dishes and general clean-up, wake the girls, get ready, go to preschool, go to work/school, back to preschool, home, cook, eat, clean dishes, do a load of laundry, baths, girls to bed, more work (for part-time job), then bed for me and hubs. I’m definitely not complaining! I’ve been so, so lucky to work from home part-time for the past 3 years with a killer make-my-own schedule so its just an adjustment. Not bad (no “poor me” attitude here! Still super psyched about the job!), just different. One huge perk of working in academia is that we tend to have more flexible schedules than other professions. Right now I’m here all day every day working furiously on prep, but once things settle down a bit and we get into a routine during the semester I think I’ll have more flexibility to run out if I have a doctor’s appointment, or whatever. But for the time being, I’ve turned into a super-planning ninja! I have to be in order to have food for dinner every night (as opposed to ordering take-out). It’s also a good transition, but still a transition nonetheless. Really, I like being back in the world of the gainfully full-employed. There were perks to the work-from-home part-time thing, too, but I really feel this is where I belong. : )

First Day


Today is the first day of school my new job!

I am SO, SO, SO excited and ready to hit the ground running! While I was on vacation last week I made a huge list of things I needed to do starting on day #1. I really think I’m going to thrive in this position and I just hope that everything works out as well as I think it will.

I cannot wait to see my new office, get settled in, meet my colleagues, and get started on all the course prep work I’ve got ahead of me! I have my work cut out for me – 3 courses to prep in the next month (one of which is a stats course for a 200+ person class! Yikes! I’ve never taught a full stats course before, I’ve only substituted. And it was for about a 20 person class. Learning curve much?)

Regardless of whatever challenges lie ahead, I’m excited to face them head-on. What fun would a new job be if it presented no challenges whatsoever? So I’m looking forward to embracing them!

On Saturday night I had the unprepared dream. You know the kind. I woke up late, wasn’t appropriately dressed, forgot the girls’ lunches when I took them to preschool, etc. etc. etc. So to keep the dream from becoming a reality I made sure to get everything fully prepped on Sunday night. I set my alarm extra early to ensure plenty of time for last minute stuff and by the time this post goes up I’ll be on my way to campus.

Send happy first day of work vibes my way!

I hope you’re all having a great start to your week as well!

Job Status


Hi friends! I’m happy to announce that I’ve officially signed the deal and will have a full time job starting July 13th!


Holding my signed contract

Yikes, that’s sneaking up quick! I’ve signed a short-term 1 month contract to work on course preparation from mid-July through mid-August. Then my full-time contract (where the benefits kick in) begins mid-August. Not a lot of time between now and then to tend to things such as: moving girls to full time preschool, buying some work-appropriate attire (I’ll sure miss lounging in my yoga pants all day!), and any other household odds and ends that need to be wrapped up before beginning full-time employment.

I had a handful of commenters ask me to expand on what, exactly, this job is. I’ve mentioned a couple different jobs and I think people were getting confused so I’ll take a moment to give some additional details.

  1. The job I have accepted is for a large public university in Tucson (betcha can’t guess where – wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in a department I’ll call Department A. This job is for a non-tenure track position. It’s part lecturer and part online program coordinator. As time moves on and the online bachelors program really gets going, it will turn into more coordinating and less instructing. Although my dream used to be the traditional tenure-track position, in recent years as I’ve gained experience with online teaching I really see this as the future of academia and I’m excited to have a portion of my salary be administrative (the coordination) while still having the ability to do what I love in the classroom (the lecturing). Plus, there tends to be more money in administration than in the traditional tenure-track career path (at least in my field, may not be true in all fields).
  1. Back in January I had applied for a job at the same university, but in a different department that I’ll call Department B. I did not get that job. BUT, they are the ones that called me a couple weeks ago. I spoke with the department head and she wanted me to teach a couple classes this Fall. She also said that they were trying to get approval (from the college level) to hire a full-time lecturer/undergraduate coordinator but wasn’t sure if it would be approved in time for the fall semester. I got an email on Monday from the dean stating that the position was approved, would be posted soon, and to please apply because they wanted to do a quick (7-10 day) turnaround. This is academic lingo for “we legally have to post the job, but the position is yours.” This is similar to job #1, above, in that it is also non-tenure-track; one part lecturer and one part administrative. The main reason why I prefer job #1 over job #2 is that job #1 pays better. My starting salary (in Department A) is more than many of the assistant professors are making in Department B.
  1. The last potential job lead was/is the most up-in-the-air. It’s for the position that I flew out of state for this past March where I did the whole “not-an-interview” thing. At the time I was told that funding for the position they’d advertised was no longer available, but I was encouraged to apply for next year (starting in the 2016-2017 academic year). I recently received an email from them notifying me that the position has been posted. Applications are not due until September, and interviewing/hiring will likely take place in the November-February time frame for the August 2016 start date. This is the only job of the three that is a traditional tenure-track position.

So where are we at?

I’ve officially accepted job #1. Taking job #1 meant that job #2 was out. There is still a possibility I could apply for (and eventually be offered) job #3 for next year, but I’m pretty unsure about it at this point. With all the family turmoil going on, I don’t like the idea of having to move my family cross-country, have my hubs find a new job (or re-start his business in a new state), and basically start all over again. I like the stability of staying where we currently live and starting to really put down roots. I’m also having a hard time with the actual job descriptions. In my mind, I’d always really wanted a tenure-track position. But now that I’m facing a different option, I’m realizing how excited I am about it. I’ve always loved project management (I have some experience with that in the past), and that’s basically what the online coordination is, but on a larger level. Instead of “project” management its “program” management. Also, research is stressful. I still like it and I often incorporate it into my lectures (and I love teaching!), but do I really love research? I don’t know. If given the option, I think I’d select the administrative side (i.e., online program coordination) over the research side. In terms of long-term growth, I also see additional opportunities for the administrative side. Online programs:  it’s the way of the future! Getting this experience early on could help me have a competitive edge over others in the future and maybe, just maybe, land me an awesome position back by family at some point. The big downside is the lack of tenure, itself. Tenure is the best job security in the world! But I don’t worry about it too much. I think my work will speak for itself and I’ll make myself an indispensable asset of the program. So hopefully I’ll have job-security that way.

I have so much more I want to say and some advice I’d like to gather from readers regarding retirement options, but I’m out of time now so that will have to wait until Monday.

Thanks for your encouragement and support along the way. I’m still a little nervous about the transition back into full-time employment (this will be my first full-time position in the past 3 years since my kids were born), but I’m also very excited for this next chapter of our lives and the implications for our debt reduction!



First – Happy Father’s Day to all! I’ll be back Monday with a Father’s Day recap post to let you know what we’re up to. But in the meantime, I wanted to get this post up sooner so I can try to get as much feedback from readers as possible, given that this is a time-sensitive issue. Thanks so much! I hope you’re all having a great weekend!


Hallelujah, y’all! I’m not even going to lie. I was starting to wonder if this would ever happen. I’ve come up with a whole contingency plan of what I’ll do if I never land a full-time position (continue working part-time teaching online, then also go back to in-person adjunct teaching once the girls start public school).

So I am THRILLED to announce that I’m on the verge of signing the deal with an awesome department where I will be so excited to work!

I really, really want to spill all the details about the salary negotiations but I’ve decided to hold back because I certainly don’t want it to get back to the department and jeopardize anything. So instead of dishing everything, I’ll give you some general information about the first round of negotiations and tell you some more specific details about the benefits package to get your feedback there. This is a bit of a long one, so prepare yourself.

Here we go…

At my meeting last Friday, I was offered a position and money was discussed almost immediately. I nodded and smiled and then proceeded to discuss job duties and responsibilities for the next hour without ever mentioning a salary amount. When the conversation was wrapping up I was point-blank asked what I had hoped for in terms of salary. I’m kicking myself now because I asked for more money, but I was met with an immediate “DONE!” which definitely leads me to believe I short-changed myself a little and could have asked for more. In all, the pay is more than I’d expected they’d give me, but less than what’d I’d really wanted.

In terms of benefits, it’s a mixed bag.

The university gives excellent 401k matching (up to 7% immediately, and up to 11.6% after six months of employment!!!). They also offer a child care voucher of $1500 (literally only covers one month of full-time childcare, but it’s free money so I’m thankful for it). Additionally, they offer a flexible spending account where I can put up to 5,000 pre-tax dollars aside for childcare – essentially saving the taxes from that $5,000.

So all that is good. Here’s some of the okay-not-great part of the benefits package…

The health/dental/vision package isn’t as good as I’d hoped.

For health, my options are between a PPO and a health saving account (HSA) option. The PPO is $486/month and has a $1,000 deductible. The HSA is $193/month, has a $2500 deductible, and the university contributes $120/month to the account. I’m leaning toward the HSA, but there’s a HUGE caveat. The info I’ve been given says “You must submit valid claims before the end of the claims period runs out. Any unclaimed remaining funds will be forfeited to your employer, so estimate your expenses carefully and set money aside accordingly.” So I’m not super thrilled that the money doesn’t just sit and accumulate, but can actually be lost. Anyone with strong opinions one way or the other (regarding PPO versus HSA), please comment. I’m new to this, so I’d love to hear from others’ experiences!

The vision is simple enough – only $16/month.

The dental is kind of disappointing. $105/month covers free preventative care. But they only cover 50% of other procedures and there’s a $2,000 annual limit per person. I’m really giving this plan the side-eye. I feel like it might be more beneficial just to stay without dental and pay out of pocket as we go (or buy the cheap dental discount programs that you can start and stop easily). Still – I may choose to enroll in the dental for the first month or two of employment to try to get hubs to have his dental work done, and then quit so we don’t keep paying the premium year-round. Thoughts? Opinions?

To sum up, we’re looking at:

  • $193 (HSA) + $105 (dental) + $16 (vision) = $314/month, not including any contributions to the health savings account and not including the fact that we’d have to pay the first $2500 out-of-pocket.   OR
  • $486 (PPO) + $105 + $16 = $607/month. That seems like a lot for health care! We only pay $350/month currently for health/vision, but that’s a non ACA-approved insurance that was grandfathered in. It expires December 31st of this year at which point we’ll have to upgrade to an ACA-approved plan. I’ve priced independent health insurance to be about $1,000/month so this seems to me like the university paying approximately half of the premium (note: in their benefits materials they say they pay 85%…but that figure seems a bit high. It would mean the insurance is incredibly expensive before their contribution).

When I left the meeting, we had negotiated a salary and I essentially gave verbal assent. BUT I did leave myself some wiggle room by specifically saying I was eager to look over the full package in writing, including benefits, and that I’d give my final decision in a few days.

Given that the benefits aren’t quite what I had hoped (meaning, the university doesn’t pay as much of the health/dental/vision as I had hoped), would it be tacky to go back and try to negotiate for a little bit more money? That’s what I’d like to do, but I’m also a little nervous. I’ve read horror stories online of people who took negotiations too far and ended up having the offer rescinded. Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

I’m leaning toward sending a very complimentary email talking about how genuinely excited I am to start this position (which is 100% true), but then to say that after looking over the full offer package I was a little disappointed about the benefits package and wanted to know if they would be open to raising my salary a little to compensate for the benefits. – Ugh! I cringe just writing that out! I have no idea how to write it so it still comes across as thankful for the job offer and conveys that I’m excited to start….but that, ultimately, I’d like a little more money. Again – thoughts? Is it okay to handle this in email or would a phone call be more appropriate? Give me your tips!!!!

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Also, thank you for all the comments on my negotiations post! You guys are awesome and gave me so many great ideas! I’m very thankful for your collective insight! You readers are a smart group : )

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, Granddads, and special men in peoples’ lives. And Happy Day to single parents doing it alone (Moms or Dads), and to all those who no longer have a living father….my thoughts are with you all!

Dad’s Health and Job Update


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


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!

Third Time’s A Charm?



Third time wearing my interview outfit. It felt a little out-of-place in Tucson’s deadly summer heat. I wore a dark grey pant (photographed darker due to indoor lighting), black low-heels, and a pin-striped long-sleeve button up. To make it a little more summer-casual I rolled up the sleeves and ditched the matching suit jacket. I still felt incredibly over-dressed at the interview. One person was wearing denim shorts. Another was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Gotta love academia.

In spite of wardrobe faux pas, I do think the interview went well. They made references to an upcoming meeting with the dean (meaning….I move on to the next level of the interview process). So that’s promising.

Additionally, just this morning I spoke with the department head of another department on campus (the same department where I interviewed in January). Apparently someone unexpectedly resigned, effective June 30th. They need to hire someone to teach a couple classes this academic year (one in Fall, one in Spring). They’re also working at the college-level to try to get a full-time position approved (if approved in time the position will start this Fall; if not, it will start in Spring). They offered me the classes and made it sound like I’d be a top candidate for the full time position, as well. I’ll be speaking with the department’s dean early next week to discuss details (e.g., hiring timeline, salary). I know that adjunct pay is really low (much less than what I currently make working online), but I think it’d be negotiable and they certainly seem to need someone ASAP so they’re sure motivated to fill the position.

Best case scenario – I may have a couple different job offers to pick from (and use for negotiating purposes) starting this August (the start of the Fall term). That’d be pretty exciting, right?

I guess this is life’s way of maintaining balance between the bad and the good. Funny how things work out sometimes… We’ll see!

Any good job news in your world recently? Raise? Promotion? New job?