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Advice from friends (YOU!!!)

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I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want this to come across as me speaking badly about an employer. I LOVE both of my contract-based positions (teaching for “University A” and doing research for “University B”), but I just don’t know how to handle a situation I’m currently in and would love to open it up to you for advice. The sooner the better because we usually communicate on Monday mornings…..

In a nutshell (and I’m purposely being a little vague about things to try to protect identities, etc.), here’s what’s happened….

I was expecting a paycheck from my research job (“University B”) at the end of September. Only….it never came.

I emailed a couple of times about it and eventually got a reply that I would get paid in the late October or early November time frame.

I was shocked. I have NEVER had my payment so delayed. Generally I get paid once per month, about a month after the work was done (e.g., the paycheck I was expecting at the end of September was for work completed in August).

I replied to the email and said that, given the unexpected delay in receiving pay (2.5-3 months after work has been completed), I do not feel comfortable continuing to work with them right now. I made it clear that I would love to continue working with them in the future, but since this was a complete surprise (SHOCK!) to me (I had received no warning about delayed pay), it seems in my best interest to stop working until compensation is received. Right?? RIGHT??? I mean, you don’t just do work for someone who isn’t paying you, right?????

Several hours later, an email went out to all the contractors (not just me) explaining why there is this delay in pay. Here’s where I’m going to be vague because I don’t want to give details about the circumstances, but I’ll say that after there was a detailed explanation I totally understand the delay in pay. I feel that their primary error was in not notifying us IN ADVANCE of the situation (rather than waiting until after-the-fact to explain the payment problem).

So, yeah. I took last week off and didn’t complete any work for them. Generally on Mondays I let them know how much work I would like to complete for the week. So what do I do now? Would you continue working for University B, knowing that pay will be delayed several months (but that you will, in fact, get paid – there is nothing shady in terms of them trying not to pay). Or would you wait another week, two, or three?

Just so you know, the majority of my income comes from my teaching job (University A), but I do make a few hundred a week from my research job, so even though its a minority of our income, its still a decent-sized chunk of money on a monthly basis.

I just don’t know what to do??? I don’t want to keep working when compensation is coming so far behind the work completion, but I do have confidence that the pay is coming down the pipeline.

What would you do?


Our Trash May be Someone’s Treasure!

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Won’t have a ton of posts today, this past week we have been working crazily to continue the purge.  The deadline is Friday morning when our garage sale opens!

I never considered myself a hoarder until last night when we started getting to the last nooks and crannies of places in the house.  OMG…I have not 1, not 2, not 3, but 7 sets of oil pastels.  And no, I am not an art teacher nor trained as an artist and we rarely use those types of art supplies in school  Why in the world do I have 7 almost never touched sets.  And that’s just one of the many things like that!

I was telling someone that if I received tax deductions on the WEIGHT of what I donate, I would be rolling in it, wouldn’t need to pay taxes for decades probably.  And despite all the donating, trashing and garage stuffed with things for the sale, our house is still full.  Just shows me how much more I have to go and truly how much “stuff” we have.  I’ve really enjoyed the blogs people have recommended regarding the minimalist lifestyle.  My daughter and I are going to try the Project333 route with our clothing.

So just a brief money update…want guess how much we’ve made thus far with selling stuff?  Okay, I won’t make you wait.

$735

And that’s without the garage sale monies that we will hopefully earn this weekend.  Woohoo!  Just a reminder, these monies are being split between debt pay off and savings for replacement items that will happen once we find a new permanent living space, estimated at a year plus down the road.

I am so grateful for the all the garage sale hints.  Just by starting the advertising with pictures this week on our local Craigslist, Facebook groups and my personal page, we’ve got people picking things up tonight and shopping early tomorrow evening as we set up.  I am so excited for this stuff to be gone as we move closer to this new phase of our lives….T-Minus 3 weeks to move day.


Balance

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Warning:  This is a super long post. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and although I realize it isn’t directly debt-related, I think its highly relevant, as it discusses the importance of finding balance between work and the rest of life, broadly defined. Time is finite, so extending hours in one area necessarily means cutting back in another. This has a big impact on income, finances, and budgeting. So grab a snack and prepare for a monster post. If you only want super debt-related posts, check back this afternoon and I promise to have something more relevant for your interests. Thank you!

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The work-family-friends-personal time-life balance is such an elusive thing. Over the years I’ve read lots of articles about how to “have it all,” so to speak. And the main thing I think I’ve taken from the things I’ve read is that “having it all” is a total myth. You simply can’t have it all. No one can.

Former-BAD-blogger, Adam, pointed me toward this article that goes into more depth about the choices we have to make between work and family, and the sacrifices that are inherent in those choices.

When I graduated with my Ph.D. I had a mentor (who happened to be a female, late 30s, no children) who highly recommend that I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I checked it out from the library and was excited to dive in. The book had won all kinds of awards and the author has quite a successful business career (current COO of Facebook, former VP of online sales and operations at Google, former chief of staff for the US Secretary of Treasury). I thought the book would be empowering – motivating me to launch my career and be the strong academic professional I’d always dreamed of being. It didn’t. In fact, it did the opposite.

Let’s back up. You don’t know this about me, but I was a bit of a rock star in academia in my early graduate schooling years (*insert mental image of me brushing my shoulders off*). I routinely worked long hours and was proud of the fact that I was often the first one in, last one to leave nearly every day. I practically lived at the office. I’d keep a gym bag and take an hour break in the evening to have dinner, work out, and return to work. I decorated my office with pictures and plants and flowers and made it a lovely work environment. During this time I also killed it professionally speaking. I attended all the conferences, organized symposia, met all the big wigs in the field, and even forged many professional friendships over drinks. I published a lot. My first first-author publication was accepted in my first year of my doctoral program (nearly unheard of). I published often. I was a work-horse. And all this time I pushed myself because I wanted to buy myself options. I wanted to be the best so that, when I was done with graduate school, I would be competitive enough to land a job and slow down to a more realistic and sustainable pace.

Of course, that’s not how things went. In the second semester of my third year of my Ph.D. program (out of 4 years total), I got pregnant. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe it was just a big wake-up call. But I looked around and all I saw was misery. Looking at the faculty, I noticed that only the males had children. Any females who had children had come to academia much later in life (they were not in academia when they had their kids). Most of the women in my department didn’t even have children and had no desire to have any. They slaved away day and night. Though I was physically at the office the longest they, too, were always working. I could send an email at 10pm or 6am and always get near-instant replies. This. This was their life.

A mentor invited me to a party he was throwing to celebrate he and his wife’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful party. Toward the end, there were toasts. His son, 17, stood and took the microphone. He toasted his Dad, saying that his father was the smartest man he knew. His father (my mentor), beamed with pride.

I felt sick.

Is this seriously the best thing your son can think of to say about you? That you are brilliant? Do I want my kids to grow up and commend me on my intellect? Is that the end-goal in life???

Not for me.

I want to side-note to say that we are all free to make our choices and I do not look down on or condemn anyone for making the choice to throw yourselves into work with all your passion. That’s your right, and someone has to do it. I don’t want to vilify anyone for their choices or the sacrifices they must make along the way to achieve their goals. Also, one commenter pointed out that working long hours is not always a choice at all, but rather an economic necessity. Let’s be sensitive to others’ views. It is not my intent to degrade anyone by this post. I’m talking only about myself.

Back to the book Lean In.

One of Sandberg’s main messages in the books is that many women, upon getting pregnant, start leaning out of their job. She calls it “leaving before you leave” (as in, maternity leave). She argues that by leaning out, women are crippling their careers. If they would just lean in, then they’ll be in a better position to come back to work and hit the ground running once their maternity leave is over. Of course, Sandberg also talked about how she was working even from the hospital room immediately after having her kids. Although she didn’t jump right back full-time, she’d go to the occasional meeting and was working throughout her maternity “leave.”

That’s not what I wanted for myself.

When I was pregnant, I started looking around me and realized how unhappy and miserable basically everyone was. There was no “break” that came after landing a position. Then you work like crazy to get promotions, then tenure, and then grants, and so on (keep in mind, I attended a Research-1 university, so experiences are very different from a teaching-oriented university or even a smaller, lower tier research school).

One thing I learned about academia:  The only thing between you and success? Time investment.

My peers and I were taught to invest heavily.

Want to know why I went into academia? I wanted to be a professor. I love to teach and I love the college-age, so I thought teaching them (instead of primary or secondary schools), would be the best! I also thought the hours seemed pretty incredible. In my own undergraduate experience it seemed as though professors traipsed into campus to teach their classes, hang out a bit for office hours, and then went home. They worked, what, like 5 hours a day? And summers off! A dream job for a Mom (which I always knew I wanted to be one day). Oh, how naïve and uninformed that undergraduate-version-of-myself was!

So when I got pregnant, I leaned out. Way, way out. This was when the honey badger videos were everywhere. My new motto: Honey badger don’t care! I cut back to a bare minimum of work just to get by. Even that work was typically done sub-par. I skated by on the fact that I knew I could. People knew I was a hard worker and was having kids. They’d cut me some slack. And they did.

And now here I am.

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So what does “balance” look like for me?

I loved this article I read about a year or so ago (I googled my heart out and, for the life of me, cannot find it and do not recall the author – if you find it, please leave a comment so I can link to give credit!) Instead of the same, depressing message that you can’t have it all, the author took a different perspective. Of course you can have it all…just not all at once. There are different seasons in life. Four years ago my season was butt-kicking in academia and being an avid runner. I was competing in races and killing it professionally.

Fast forward four years and today I’m focused on debt-reduction. I’m also making time to bake again (something I once loved to do and forgot all about during my graduate school years), and spending time with my babiestoddlers. I put a lot of effort into enriching my girls’ lives, be it through attending story time at the local library, making homemade experiments at home, or simply burning off energy playing at the local park. I’m also trying to balance as much work as I possibly can and make money so I can pay down our debt as quickly as possible. This is my reality today.

Where will I be four years from now? I suppose only time will tell. But I can give you a guess.

My hope is to be working full-time again. My ideal would be to work at a teaching-based university (so I can still have a strong focus on my family, but would be working a full-time position – a nice balance to the two). Even if I never land that coveted professor position I could still teach at a community college and keep increasing my online teaching portfolio for extra income. I want to own a home. Preferably back in Austin by family. I want to have a garden where I learn to grow beautiful flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. I will still strive to be the best Mom I can be, but I’ll have more flexibility, as my girls will be older. They can work beside me in the garden and I can teach them the things I have learned. I won’t feel guilty for working outside the home because they’ll be in school during the day anyway. It’s a win-win.

Hopefully four years from now we’ll be nearly debt-free (aside from the house I hope to have purchased). A week ago I mentioned that if we kept our nose-to-the-grind we’d be debt free in 2-3 years. So why don’t I say that we’ll 100% for sure be debt free 4 years from now?

It’s a new season, my friends.

This is something I’ve thought a lot about. Even in my very first introductory post, I mentioned how I long to own a home. It’s something hubs and I have talked a lot about.

So, although there’s no telling what the future may hold, I’m thinking we will slow down our debt-reduction goals within the next year. Right now my plan is to continue throwing 100% of extra income toward the car debt, and then possibly to keep on until the license fees and highest APR student loans are gone. But at some point, we’re going to let up. Instead of putting all our extra money toward student loans, we’ll be splitting the cause between student loan repayment and savings for a house. I don’t know when that will be. I don’t even know what my job will look like this time next year (remember, I’m still on the job market and could miraculously land a position at any time which may or may not cause us to move). But this is my balance. Today = full steam ahead on debt reduction. At some point next year…..half and half between debt-reduction and saving for a down payment for a home.

I wanted to be open, honest, and transparent in my hopes, dreams and goals. They may affect the future of me blogging, or stopping blogging, depending on the “season” of life.

But right now I’m living in the moment, and at this moment in time I’m on a race to 20K. So buckle, up this train is going full steam ahead. Choo Choooooo!!!!!

 


Found a Cheat!

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As of yesterday we are a book free house…at least temporarily.  We gathered every single book in the house and sorted them into four piles…

  1. Goes to the apartment – mostly schoolbooks but a few personal books
  2. Goes to donation
  3. Schoolbooks to sell – homeschoolers have lots of sites they sell/trade used curriculum so I’ll try that route with my old stuff before just giving it away
  4. Book Exchange (this is a link to their Facebook page in case you wanted to check them out and maybe find one near you.  It is NOT an affiliate link of any kind.)

The fourth one is my new cheat…I knew there were used bookstores, but I’m such a fan of the library that I rarely buy books.  But over the years we have amassed quite a collection between gifts, etc.  So a few weeks ago as we headed into this transition I drove by this place and thought to give them a call.  They will take our books and based on their inventory and the condition of the book, will give us store credit for the books.  That way, down the road and as a treat, we can go in and “shop” without actually spending any money. (When I dropped them off, they even offered to donate the books they didn’t want to keep for me so I didn’t have to do that…score!)

We dropped off four huge boxes of books to them yesterday…dropped two more at the local thrift store and put four more boxes into storage so it’s ready for the apartment without being in the way.  Our house is now book free. (Ok, the schoolbooks to sell are still here, but they will be gone soon and are neatly stacked out of the way.)

It would have been great if they actually gave us cash for our books, but I think this is a great alternative to that and will be a neat treat down the road when we have the “shopping” itch!

As the principal, administrator and only teacher in our homeschool, I made the executive decision that we will delay starting our new school routine until after the move.  Since we school year round and I believe that the kids will learn many lessons from this move, I am certain it will not affect the overall scheme of things and it takes a lot of pressure off both me and the kids as we have daily tasks pertaining to the move.  It also made putting all our books in storage for this last month a possibility.

 


Garage Sale Time

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With my job, part time job, school starting, part time foster kids and getting ready to move…not to mention regularly scheduled kids’ activities our lives are humming right along.  And before I know it we will be packing up a truck to move just a few miles away.

That being said, I’ve scheduled our IT’s DONE DAY otherwise known as Garage Sale day.  My goal with this is to inspire us to continue working through things a steady if not rushed pace.  We are making every other day trips to local thrift stores to drop things off, the garage is full of things listed for sale or being held for the garage sale and our home is getting more organized by the day.  I’m loving it!

So my IT’s DONE DAY is to be the final day of our purge.  By that time, we should have gone through every room, every cupboard, every box, every closet and divided things into four groups…1) goes to the apartment, 2) goes to the trash, 3) goes to donation (and is in the back of the car) and finally 4) for the garage sale.    At the end of IT’s DONE DAY, we will have had our garage sale, and had a donation truck come pick up everything that did not sale.  The only items remaining in our home will be 1) the things going to the apartment and 2) the appliances that we need to continue to use until we move ie: refrigerator, washer, dryer, lawn equipment.

I’m pretty proud of my plan…here’s the schedule for the remainder of these two weeks (I’m typing this up on Sunday so I’ll have already gotten through some of this:)

Sunday/Monday*Kitchen
TuesdayGymnast' Room including closet
WednesdayPrincess' Room
ThursdayCoat, Game and Linen Closets
Friday*/Saturday/SundayMy Room
MondayPrincess' Closet
TuesdayBathrooms and Misc
WednesdayGarage
ThursdayWalk thru house, check all cabinets, closets and cupboards
FridayGet ready for sale tomorrow!

*The asterisks represent a goal to get to the thrift store that day for donations.  Because I have so much else going on, it’s important I put these on my calendar so I make sure they happen, otherwise our car will be full of donations and nowhere to sit!

I have to admit I HATE garage sales, I never feel like they are worth the effort.  And when I mean hate, I mean, like on my top 10 things I do not want to do.  But I am hoping since we have so much furniture that must go we can actually see some benefits from this one.  I know this has been written about before, but if you have any hints for easy garage set up or making your garage sale a success I’ll take it!  The little ones have already started working on their sigh for a lemonade stand and the twins are setting their stuff aside that they think they can make some money off of…this is a family affair!


Where to sell jewelry?

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I believe a previous blogger here, Claire if I am remembering correctly, sold some of her jewelry during her debt free journey.  I have thought about selling mine for a couple of years now, specifically my engagement ring and perhaps some other pieces from my marriage.  I won’t drag this out…the question is, have you sold your jewelry before?  Somewhere online?  I would love your experiences and feedback on any avenue…

Recently heard of Worthy.com and leaning towards that route, but wanted to get your feedback on any others you might know of.


Side Hustles June 2014 Edition

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So far this month there really isn’t much to say on the Side Hustle front. But I did want to go into detail over a few details.  

$257.26 First Check from Contract.  This was for eight hours of work and Mileage.  There were a few hiccups with this project, the first being that I agreed to a bigger area of coverage.  I didn’t account for some of the locations to be over a hour to get to (Which I do not get paid for.)  So that eats away at the profit.  

I could look it as in the eyes of an employee, who doesn’t get paid to commute to and from work. But I always look at the amount per hour that I make, so I can average it out, so I won’t look at it from that prospective.  

Second thing, I am not getting paid between locations.  No matter what company I have contracted with they have always paid between locations during the same day.  I have worked with this company numerous times and this is the first that this has happened.  I had to reach out to my point of contact and she is asking around, for this shouldn’t be.  

Another thing to note that this company doesn’t pay the maximum amount per mile to a location, I will be able to deduct the difference on my taxes.

$117 Tips From Clients.  This amount is a little higher than normal and I am not sure the reason.  I am believing it to be that this month is the half way mark of the year, so people are tipping me accordingly.  

Usually I only count the cash tips I receive from Clients, simply because if they used their credit/debit cards to pay that amount doesn’t come directly to me that day, I get it in my monthly check the following month.  These card tips usually evens out my supplies expense.  

$137.30 Amazon Profits.  This was a great month so far with the cereal I placed in Amazon.  I made a post in the middle of last month, that I did a Reevaluation and decided to keep Amazon in the arsenal.  Turns out it was a good decision and bad.

Amazon Orders June 2014

Unfortunately being so new to this, I made a few mistakes this month.  The biggest is that I bought around 500 cans of Chef Boyardee to send into Amazon on the cheap. Everything was looking great, it had a great sales rank (meaning it was selling well), I would be getting about 150% ROI on the product.  After all fees were taken out, I would make about $16 for a pack of 24.  

What I did not take into account was the weight of these cans.  Since you can only send 50 pounds per box into Amazon, I would go through a lot of supplies to ship them, plus the shipping fee would eat away a good amount of profit.  So I decided to sit on these products.  I will be probably going to some Farmer’s Markets to sell some of my coupon overstock.  Plus I might bring some used stuff.  Seems like a good way to spend a few days.  I will probably make about 80% ROI selling them through this venue, which is still good, but I definitely would have made more through Amazon.  

Another thing is that I decided to forgo the Pro Seller account, which costs $40 per month.  From what I read is that once you start selling 40 items a month is when you should go Pro.  The biggest benefit being that they don’t charge the $1 per order fulfillment fee.  So basically if you sell 40 items or more a month, this is a no brainer.  

For the month prior I had the free trial of the Pro Selling Plan.  Well now that I am on the Individual Selling Plan, Amazon reserves money from orders confirmed as shipped during the 14 days immediately preceding each settlement date (the day they pay the merchants.)  So now I have to wait for all my money to be disbursed throughout the month.  

Today I received $5.94 out of this amount.  Then I will receive $51.51 on July 1st.  It kinda sucks, maybe I should pay the $40 a month?  It probably will motivate me more to sell 40 items each month don’t you think?

Well there is still six days left in the month, wish me luck!


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