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4th Month of Unemployment – Status Update

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I am now entering our fourth month of unemployment.  It is only by the grace and generosity of others that I have not accumulated any additional debt and am not too far behind on bills.  (I was so grateful that so many took my post What I have Learned being Poor to heart.  One reader even graciously reached out and offered to pay a bill for us.  I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, but I did want to acknowledge the gift and generosity.  So thank you for the generous gift of paying our electric bill last month!)

I am continuing to job search and interview, but as of today am no closer to a full time job.  I am happy to report that I’ve picked up three small website projects for the month of February, so I have high hopes of catching up with monthly bills and being in a better place going to March.

I’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to replying to everyone on my post regarding the lower paying position I interview for (Is it Worth It?), taking the job or not did not become a question as it was no offered, but I reached the same conclusion as many of you that it just didn’t make sense financially any way I looked at it.  I am interviewing for another part time job tomorrow, but hopefully the pay rate will be more in line with what I need…I hope.  I don’t mind piece-mealing together a paycheck with a variety of part time jobs and projects, but I am hoping to at least have steady income of some sort while I continue to search for a full time position.

I can’t remember if I have mentioned here that with certainty we will be moving in April.  I will write a whole post on this part of our lives.  But essentially, because my initial plan when I signed this lease back in August/September was that we would for certain move to better housing at the end of April (our school year end) even if it meant moving away from here.  So when I signed the lease, I signed the move out notice at the same time.  Fast forward to the first week in December, and I was notified by the complex office that our apartment has been rented out, so staying put is not an option.  So we will be moving…but without a job, what kind of housing can we move too?  This has been a constant prayer request for me, but an answer/option has come.  I will share that plan in another post soon.

Another status update is regarding our pets…we are down to two from the original four. (You can read about this plan: Re-homing Pets.) I’m continuing to only solicit homes from people we know, and while there are currently no placements, with 2.5 more months, I am hopeful. Although it is getting tougher and tougher to think about.

Other than that, we are moving right along…basketball season is coming to an end for Princess, robotics season ended this past weekend for the twins and gymnast is approaching the end of his season.

One side note:  I am going to mention this because it is financially related, but I do not and will not revisit the discussion of my ex or child support….My ex, the youngest two children’s dad has gotten a job.  He has 6 weeks or so of training to do at a minimal rate, but then he assures me he will begin providing regular support for the kids….woohoo!  And even better…health insurance.  So I will keep you posted, but many will remember that it was a year ago this past October that he let me know he could not provide any support for the kids due to job issues.  So this will be greatly appreciated and quite timely due to my job situation.


Asking for a Raise

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Asking for more money has never been easy for me. To be fair, this is my first “real” (traditional) job in my life so I haven’t had a lot of experience. Prior to this I worked in the service industry for years (bartending and waiting tables), worked for universities in adjunct/contract positions, and other miscellaneous work with set rates (and often on short-term/contract bases).

I’m going to use a little ambiguity to try to preserve some anonymity here, but when I was hired in my current position my contract listed job duties and responsibilities. Although I’ve only been in my position for a single semester, I feel as though my list of responsibilities and duties have grown. This is totally fine with me and I really enjoy the work that I do. But I no longer feel that my title accurately describes my position. And the pay doesn’t seem to quite match either.

I foresaw this happening when I was first hired (and, indeed, I’d tried to negotiate for a different title from the beginning). Because of my foresight, I asked to have it specifically written into my contract that I would have a performance review after a single semester (the norm is to conduct annual reviews). This would give me a chance to discuss with my supervisor what I’ve done well and to identify opportunities for improvement. But more than that, it would give me a chance to try to re-negotiate my contract a bit.

But wait, there’s more….

I am currently on a 9-month contract. My department head has already asked if I’d be available in summer and I eagerly said yes. The way this is typically handled is by providing an additional short-term/summer contract. But when my department head (who is new to the position and not actually the person who hired me) learned that I was on a 9-month contract I could sense the frustration. I believe the words, “well that was a mistake” were actually uttered.

Here I have an opportunity to expand my job duties/role, gain a more prestigious title, and get paid more all the while. While I like the idea of a 9-month contract simply because of the flexibility it provides in allowing me to be with my girls, I also like the stability of a year-round job with a year-round paycheck.

So I’m thinking my proposal to my boss will be to change my contract from 9-month to 12-month. Because I’ll be working an additional 3 months (25% of a year), I’ll ask for a 25% raise. The way I’ll frame it is that it’s actually the same exact rate I currently get paid (same exact $ per month), but it will be year-round rather than only during the academic year. From this perspective, I’m not actually asking for a raise…I’m simply asking for more time to work!

I don’t know if it will fly. A 25% hike could cause some serious waves in the department, as I’m already paid more than several people who have been there longer and this type of raise would throw me up into the upper half of the department in terms of earnings. But, again, I’d be working more than others too.

Even if my boss doesn’t want to re-negotiate with me for a 12-month contract, I know I’ll still be getting extra money this summer because they really need me to develop and teach a class over the summer. So that’s already kind of a raise, in the sense that it’s more money than in my current contract.

This is such a crazy time of year. I had hoped to be able to have our official meeting prior to the semester ending but the last day was Friday so it wasn’t in the cards just yet. But we’ll be meeting in early 2016 to discuss these issues. My assumption is that any change will not take place until Summer 2016 and, again, I’m really only asking for additional work time so my monthly pay wouldn’t actually raise. Of course, if we stick with the 9-month contract but change my title and increase my duties, I could still have grounds to ask for additional money. Basically things are just really up in the air right now. But things are looking up. I feel pretty good about my performance and where things are at so (fingers crossed) I feel confident that things will only continue to improve across time as I become more comfortable in my role, etc.

Wish me luck in my (future) negotiations!