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Move = Complete

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Hi friends!

I hope you had a great weekend! We arrived back in Tucson yesterday after a whirlwind of a trip and I have never been more thankful to sleep in my own bed!

Initially, my brother was going to go assist my Dad with loading a moving truck a month or so ago but, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, that didn’t happen. My sister and I were both unable to go for the originally scheduled move date but I decided to go over my Thanksgiving break since I had a few days off from work (though one is never really “off” in academia – I monitored my email daily).  At first I had booked a flight to go alone:  fly out on Monday, load on Tuesday, then fly back on Wednesday so I could spend Thanksgiving with my own family. But after some thought and discussion, we decided to make a family trip of it. I’m so grateful it worked out that way because I really needed the emotional support of having someone else there with me. Moves are stressful enough (one of the top 5 life stressors according to here), but I think things were exacerbated a bit being that this move was not exactly a happy, exciting, or even desired thing. It was more a chore of necessity to get my Dad somewhere closer to family where he can be helped and watched over better.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave town until Wednesday because hubs’ work had him busy all the way through Tuesday evening (he worked late to finish up on time). So we made a 14-hour drive on Wednesday (some of it in snow driving only 20 mph). It was nice that we got to spend all day Thursday hanging out, enjoying good food, and visiting with extended family that I don’t get to see too often. On Friday we had movers, so we fortunately didn’t have to do any heavy lifting, but we still had to direct things which was rife with stress given that not everything could go (my Dad is downsizing), and this was quite troubling for him to see things get left behind.

After the truck was all packed, my family went and checked into a hotel (there was still a guest bedroom set that was left behind in my Dad’s house so he still had someplace to sleep but his other bedroom set was packed). We all took a long family nap, and then met back up with my Dad that evening to go see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. Besides it being the coldest weather the girls had ever experienced (bundled up in 4+ layers and still complaining of the cold in 23 degrees), they really enjoyed seeing all the lights! I can’t wait for Christmas this year – it’s going to be such a fun holiday with them!

We left town on Saturday morning, but split the return drive into two days so it wasn’t quite as grueling. Still not what I would consider pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but far preferable to our 14-hour one-day drive. Plus – the girls got to see and play in snow!!! They’re obsessed with Frozen (they were late to the Frozen game because we didn’t let them watch movies until just relatively recently), and they kept pointing at the snowy mountains saying, “Look!!! Elsa’s ice castle!!!” Pretty adorable!

Financially speaking, the trip didn’t cost us anything since my Dad covered our costs for gasoline, lodging, and food (all of which was pretty minimal. It actually saved my Dad money for us to all drive compared to what my plane ticket had cost). The only other cost incurred was that of missed work for hubs. Yes, no one really works on Thanksgiving Day, but he could have worked over the weekend and was unable to since we were out of town.

Speaking of….I’ll be posting a debt update later today. I have to maintain a positive attitude and realize and acknowledge that November is always a relatively down month for hubs’ business. But, of course, it’s a bit disappointing to not have earned as much as we would have liked/needed in order to make our astronomically large planned debt payment (we’d planned for a $4500 debt payment and didn’t come anywhere near that). Those numbers will be up later.

But to end on a happy note, I’m so thankful that the first phase of this move is complete. My sister will be meeting the movers in Texas and overseeing as things are unloaded. She will also be the person to help actually set things up once they come off the truck. And, just like that, the burden has shifted off my shoulders and onto hers. I’ll still be primarily responsible for paying my Dad’s bills, but all the day-to-day things will surely fall to my sister now that he’s close to her.

Right now my Dad does NOT want to sell his old Utah house. We’re trying to take things in baby steps so, rather than pushing him too far, we decided it could just sit for now. I’ll be hiring a lawn-care company, his brother (my uncle) will check up on it regularly, and we will revisit the issue in the Spring or Summer. It’s likely we’ll make another family trip up there at that time so hubs can do some general handyman work around the house and we can finish clearing it out of its leftover contents.

I have to say – my Mom has been caring for her aging mother (my grandmother) for a half decade. My grandmother did not do a great job at planning for retirement so the financial burden of her care has fallen directly to my Mom as the only child. It pains me to see the stress it has caused my mother and the financial toll is not trivial (over $4,000/month). I hate that my siblings and I are in the caregiver role for our father, especially at such a young age. That being said, I am beyond grateful that my father took better precautions than my grandmother had, and that he actually has assets (both liquid and real estate) to help pay for his care. As stressful as the situation has been for us, I cannot begin to fathom how much worse it could be if all of these costs were falling directly onto our shoulders. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to financially take over caring for their parents. This has definitely been a lesson to me to get our financial house in order so we never leave our children with the burden that’s been placed on my mother in financially caring for my grandmother. It’s hard enough to take over as caregiver. The least we can do is make sure that we have ample money available to pay for whatever care we may need as aging adults.

Food for thought on this Monday morning. Have a good one!


A Little Good News on the Job Front

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I’ve been offered and accepted a part time job.  It’s contract work, so no benefits, but it is what I have been doing and the pay rate mediocre at best.  But it is skilled labor and on the outskirts of my field and for a company that is VERY HIGHLY respected in my field.

So beginning in January, I will get between 15-25 hours a week which I can work from home at my leisure.  I figured that it’s great to know I will have some money coming beginning in January and it’s something I can do in conjunction with another job until I get back on my feet…firmly back on my feet!

So yeah!  The job hunt is still on…looking for full time, corporate work with benefits and maybe Relocation Expenses or a Signing Bonus!


Relocation Expense vs Signing Bonus

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In my defense I haven’t sought a new “job” in almost 14 years.  I’ve written before about how off my resume was at the beginning of this one and Faye from LeapofFaye.com jumped in and saved the day.  And really, truly it was saving the day…I think to date I’ve had 8 first interviews for what I thought were ideal jobs.  I count myself blessed with every single call I get from an application or recruiter.

But now I think, rather hope, I am coming to the end of several application processes…multiple interviews done, references checked and reviewed,  interviews with CTOs done…etc. etc.  What I haven’t been prepared for were questions regarding “What do you expect?”

I mean I’m good with my salary requirements question…and throwing in the request for a full benefits package, that’s coming pretty naturally.  The thought of a paid day off, a paid vacation, well, that’s what dreams are made of!

But what other requirements do I have…and thus we come to Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus.  I’ve pretty much been clear with companies that if I need to relocate…well, they have to pay for it.  And then I was told this…

  1. Relocation Express – A budget is set at the beginning of the process, but I have to cover the costs upfront and then be reimbursed.
  2. Signing Bonus – Paid up front but taxed upfront, possibly at a high tax bracket?

So my question…what are your thoughts, have any words of wisdom for me on this front?

Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus – which would you choose? Pros and cons of each?  Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated!


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.

 


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