Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last Day of Work

So today's my last day at my current job. I've got all my stuff in boxes. I've copied over all my personal files and deleted the rest. I'm saying goodbye to the people I've worked with for 2.5 years, many of whom will be out of work tomorrow.

It's a very bittersweet time for me. I'm excited to be moving on. Relieved to still have a job. At the same time I have a big case of survivor guilt. Gifts and well wishes are being exchanged and I've gotten a whole lotta of "good luck" comments. I don't really know what to say to the people who are out of work. I should be stopping by the farewell "party" at the bar this afternoon but probably just for a little while to pay my respects.

I wish I could take a few of my coworkers with me and I hope that they will land on their feet.

In the meantime, wish me luck tomorrow on my first day at the new job. April 1st, hope that's not a bad sign.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Spring!

I apologize for the lack of posts. Work has been really depressing. I haven't told anyone that I have a new job because I feel so bad that most of my co-workers are being laid off. In the meantime everyone (like me) who has no more personal time left comes into work everyday and does little to no work.

I only have to last two more days. I feel really bad and anti-social. Everyone wants to commiserate but I just stay out of it. Today they removed our vending machines which just sucks in so many ways.

On a lighter note, I've been picking up some new work clothes. My parents said they would send me some money for this cause but no luck yet, my budget will have to be adjusted to reflect this change. My new position is more formal and requires me to be more visible than I'm used to. Instead of the person on the phone or sending emails I get to meet with live people...yay for my career, bad for my budget.

I'm going to the season's first bbq tommorow which makes me infinitely happy. It's not warm out just yet but it's getting there. Makes me realize how much I need a new light jacket, something like this one. It's not in the budget just yet but hopefully soon. I'm very grateful to have a new job to look foward to.
Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Salary is....

$47,500, an increase of $3900 per year over my current salary!!! Hey it's not much considering I have to work longer hours and some weekends now, but I'll take it gladly thankyouverymuch.

According to the handy paycheck calculator I used online, I will be netting $128 more a paycheck, for a total of $256 a month (more in the glorious three paycheck months like this coming April). That takes into account my pension (3% of my salary) and my continued participation in my 457 retirement plan (7% of my salary).

The fiance and I were talking last night trying to figure out the strategy for my newfound wealth. There's the wedding to think about. The student loans. Retirement. Emergency fund. Cash savings. New professional clothes. Yikes, so many things are happening at once!

We need to save about $5000 by this summer in order to pay some deposits. Photographer. Band. I think that's about it for now. My folks will pay the reception venue deposit. We opened an account in his name (that I'll have access to) in order to merge these savings.

Oh and did I mention I still have to move? Finding a new tenant for my apartment is currently the biggest wrench in our savings plan but hopefully that will happen soon. Worst case scenario I continue to pay rent for the remaining 4 months of my lease.

I'm also going to be getting a check in about a month or two cashing out my unused vacation time (now at about 54 hours = $800). I think I am going to lump that all into our Wedding Savings.

Stay tuned for more progress bars - though I am so enjoying seeing them mostly completed for the time being.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Got the Job!!!

This just in. Breaking news: Unemployment Watch 2009 officially cancelled!

I got the job! I think I must have said "thank you" so many times on the phone to my new boss that he thinks I'm an idiot but no matter, I got the job!!

I start on April 1st, which would have been my first day of unemployment.

Good things come to those who fail to plan for a proper emergency and instead buy fancy cameras online. Wait scratch that, but OMG I'm so happy!

AND I'm going to be making more money! More details to come!

Budget 03/18 - 03/31

Greetings from Unemployment Watch 2009! I only have nine days of employment left but I'm not too panicked. Hopefully I will be hearing from the potential new job soon. They made it seem like I was almost guaranteed a spot in the new office but I don't want to get my hopes up just yet.

Since April is a three paycheck month (gotta love the Extra Paycheck!) I am able to have a slighty modified budget since I will be paid again just in time for April's rent.

The Good News: I am putting $400 in Savings!

The Less Good News: $200 of that money is allocated for my upcoming Disney trip. Although if I do lose my job I'll keep the money in my Emergency Fund and we'll probably do one less park day.

So here's my budget for the next two weeks. It took me quite a while to figure it out and lo and behold the last of my student loans have come out of deferrment (more on that later) so I forked over quite a bit of moola today.

Starting Balance = $1156 ($13 more than usual, thanks President Obama!)

Emergency Fund - 200
Disney Trip/Emergency Fund - 200
Credit Card - 133 (paid off!)
Utilities - 205 ($85 towards Overdue Balance - paid off!)
School Loan - 54 (still paying extra)
Perkins Loan - 93 (boo!)
Sprint - 64
Festival ticket fund - 50
Groceries - 50
Misc. - 100

It's been a week since my apartment was first shown to a potential new tenant but according to my landlord they still haven't decided on it. He plans to show it to other interested tenants soon. The only way I can survive unemployment is to get out of that lease so I'm hoping April will be my last month paying rent.

It feels good to finally be adding money to my Emergency Fund, I've been lacking in that department for a while and I've got a whopper of a potential emergency on the horizon. Wish me luck!

I'm Credit Card Debt Free!!!

Do I get to call Dave Ramsey? Haha, probably not yet but I have just paid off the full balance of my credit card. Goodbye $15 minimum payments. Goodbye 24.9% interest. I'm not going to close the card as it's my only credit card and only has a $500 limit on it. Hopefully they will enventually lower my rate and I can use the card responsibily to help bring up my credit score. That way in a few years if the fiance and I decide to buy a new place we can have both of our names on the mortgage.

I also paid the balance of my Overdue Utilities today so if you notice the sidebars I am currently free of all "short term debt" except for the "Boyfriend Debt." I plan on enjoying that picture for a few hours until I add new categories to it that I plan on snowballing.

Where it Went 03/04 - 03/17

Still on Unemployment Watch 2009 but my interview yesterday went pretty well. In the meantime, my spending was a tad higher than anticipated the past two weeks. I always tend to spend more money when the fiance is out of town. Sigh. I also gave in to temptation - and a great deal - and splurged on a I-flip video camera.

So here's where my money went in comparison to the budget I set out two weeks ago:

Emergency Fund - 50/0
Friend C - 60/60
Credit Card - 100/100
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406/406.96
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/0 (hasn't cleared yet)
Groceries - 50/50
Misc. - 95/190
Electronics - 0/85

Woah Nelly! I also put the I-Flip on my nearly paid off credit card but I will be paying the entire balance today. I'm excited to get it for almost half off courtesy of woot.com which everyday has a different product available at a discount. 60 minutes of recording time for only $79 plus $5 shipping is about half what they're going for in other stores.
It feels good to almost be done paying off my "short term debt." Today I will knock out the credit card and Overdue Utilities! Stay tuned for my latest budget later on today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I have an interview!

I am reporting live from Unemployment Watch 2009! My phone rang today...finally...with an invitation for an interview tomorrow with the office I may transfer to. They let me pick the date and time which I feel must be a good thing (instead of those dreaded 30 minute cattle call interviews).

Interestingly enough, it is the same office I interviewed at in November, but at the time the staffing budget wasn't set and I never heard back from them. Then my boss - who had helped secure that interview - left my office and so did the person I interviewed with. Follow that?

Anyway this time I'm meeting with the Head Honcho. Hopefully this will finally be my shot at a better job, more money and job security. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unemployment Watch 2009

So first, some good news: it's too early to count on this but according to some credible sources, I am going to be transferred to a new office by the end of the month. It's actually quite an exciting move and I am excited (and nervous) for the opportunity. I won't believe it officially until I see it in writing though.

In the meantime, I literally have to come to work everyday and do nothing. Not a thing. I have been cleaning out my office, taking walks, catching up on the Internet, reading celebrity gossip. I am bored out of my mind. If I had more personal time accrued I would be home in bed. Alas, I used most of the time left for that mini-crisis a few weeks ago. So here I sit, useless and scared.

I took a few hours off yesterday to do a major overhaul of my apartment and last night a potential renter toured it. I wasn't present for the tour so I don't know how it went but I can say that my apartment never looked cleaner. I found a woman on Craig's List to come in and clean for $18/hour while I frantically moved stuff to my fiance's apartment and met people on freecycle to get rid of unwanted junk. I know many people don't believe in splurges such as a housekeeper but wow does it look amazing. And if helps me get out of my lease faster it will end up saving me a lot of money. I'm crossing my fingers that I can be moved out by next month!

My office is dead. There is no morale left. No one is even really talking to one another as a lot of us are competing for the same jobs. It's really a crappy situation. I can't wait to get out of here but I'm also unsure of what the future holds. I hope I get good news soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thinking About Unemployment

Ah unemployment...after meeting with my benefits manager, you don't seem so scary at all. Especially after I move and don't have a rent payment to make.

Here's all the vital information I received:

  • I will be paid as usual for the next three pay periods. The third pay period should also contain 5 days of lag pay.
  • Sometime in May I will receive a pay-out for my unused Vacation Time, currently at 57.5 hours.
  • I can expect a weekly payment of $430 for up to 33 weeks due to an increase in the benefits being paid out and an extension on the time limit for unemployment courtesy of the federal government.
  • I am covered under the health plan until April 29, 2010! All I gotta do is pay a $48/month premium. A little more if I wanna keep my dental benefits.
I gotta say, when New York lays someone off, they do it right. If I wasn't so worried about my professional future or paying back my student loans I would actually enjoy not working for a little while. (And don't criticize me for taxing the system, my employer IS the system. They paid me measly wages for three years, it's about time it amounted to something.)

I realized after I posted the Revamped Emergency Budget that I only listed my fixed expenses and that was confusing. So here is my new and improved (by two hours) Emergency Budget:

Unemployment = $1720

Health Insurance - 48
Dental - 28
Housing - 300
Student Loans - 446
Cellular - 60
Collections - 385
Groceries - 100
Misc. - 285

Not looking too bad. Of course this doesn't take into account saving money for tax time. Not sure what I'll do about that. I know there's an option to have it removed automatically from your weekly benefits.

Anyway, I hope I don't have to resort to this budget but at least it's not as bad as I feared.

Reevaluating the Emergency Budget Plan

Back in November, at the first sign of trouble, I posted a hypothetical Emergency Budget.

Now that the situation appears more dire it's time to reevaluate my finances to see how things will pan out were I to lose my job. Luckily it appears I will be able to ditch my lease once and for all in the coming weeks. So...as soon as the $85 Overdue Utilities are paid out, I will no longer be on the hook for my apartment!

Here is a new look at my fixed expenses:

Student Loans - 446*
Credit Card minimum - 15**
Prescription - 5(?)
Cell phone - 60
Collections - 385***

Total = 911 - are you serious? Yikes! That's worst than realizing I was paying $666 a month in student loans!

*Assuming I go back to paying $40/month for the School Loan instead of the $54 I have been paying instead.

**Excuse my ignorance, but do I have to keep paying this once the balance is paid off?

***260/385 in collections is for student loans but I separated it from the student loan total since you cannot defer a loan in collections.

This does not reflect any contributions towards living expenses (my fiance's mortgage and maintenance fees), groceries, or miscellaneous spending.

Assuming I qualify for full unemployment benefits, I will be making $405 a week on Unemployment, for a total of $1620, which means....I may be able to swing the Emergency Budget without even deferring my student loans!

It's not ideal, I realize, being out of work and not being able to fully contribute to our shared expenses but with $700 remaining I could still contribute to the groceries and have a little pocket change left over.

The only variable is health insurance and I'm still waiting on my meeting with the benefits representative to know what that sucker will run me for. Rumor is we're going to be able to continue on the State's plan for the same contribution we make now...around $100/month.

Forgive my nervous rambling as I await my fate.

My Office Was Dissolved

As of this morning my office is no longer. As for my job, well that remains to be seen. We've been a ship without a sail for a while now - all management left a few weeks ago. We knew the changes were coming down the pipe line as our contracts are ending on March 31st. Even with that knowledge, hearing the words "staff force will be significantly reduced" made my stomach sink down to my knees.

I'm still absorbing this news and remain, perhaps foolishly, optimistic about the changes. Word on the street is that everyone with an advanced degree (ding ding ding..me!) will be offered a spot in the new configuration. At least those who prove themselves competent enough to stay on.

Unlike so many other people hearing bad job news at this time, this change actually has little to do with the economic downtown. Government jobs are for the most part immune to that kind of trouble. Sure my coveted civil service position is not opening up...but even non-civil servants are usually secure in their employment. Except for my office, which has just gotten into bad spot due to politics, poor management and ego-hungry executives.

The way I see it, there are three possible outcomes of this change:
  1. My friends in the know think I may possibly get a better job because of my experience and connections.

  2. I may have to interview for and defend my capacity for my current job.

  3. I will be out on the street in the world's worst job market.

So that's what's happening today on this snowy miserable Monday. The benefit representatives are coming in later this afternoon to answer questions. Stay tuned for more information and cross your fingers for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Budget 03/04 - 03/17

First let me thank my readers for keeping me honest. Sometimes I think you guys are too easy on me but I know I have a ways to go before I can consider myself financially responsible. That being said, even with the shaky job future, I am optimistic that my short term debt is finally being paid off, I am cutting expenses, and sticking to a budget.

So here's where my money will be going for the next two weeks:

Starting Balance = $1146

Emergency Fund - 50
Friend C - 60
Credit Card - 100
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Groceries - 50
Misc. - 95

I sent off $100 to my credit card today. I only owe $45 now! I was going to pay the whole balance but I wanted to wait a few days and figure out what my expenses really were for the next two weeks and where my priorities should be.

I am finally going to pay back my friend. It's kind of a weird situation and I know I should have done it sooner.

In the meantime, I have a question for my readers....when I do pay off my entire credit card balance - hopefully soon - do you think they will contact me about increasing my line of credit? Or should I ask them to? Or at least lower my rates? I've had a shady history with them but have been diligently paying at least the minimum for the last 8 months and more than the minimum for the last four months. Any advice would be appreciated. I'm not a fan of credit cards but having this one open is pretty much the only means I have of increasing my credit score.

Where it Went 02/18 - 03/03

Another payday and I'm more than a little worried that there won't be many more. It's less than a month to the end of my contract. My contacts in the know tell me not to worry..but how can you not?

With that in mind I have been working hard to pay off all my short term debt so I could move out of my apartment and greatly reduce my monthly expenses.

Here's how the budget went for the last two weeks compared to the budget I set. I got a tax refund of $141 so I had a little more money to work with than I expected.


Rent - 725/725
Sprint - 60/59
Utilities - 150/133
School Loan - 54/54
Groceries - 50/0?
Clothes - 50/40
Overdue Water - 0/100
Misc. - 51/90

My spending was a little sketchy since we were out of town for a weeklong mini-crisis. I spent a bunch on take out and lunches while my fiance was out of town as well. No biggie but I gotta remember to get a bunch of groceries before he goes away next time since shopping can be a pain without a car.

My water debt is at a big fat zero now, yay!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Paid off my water debt!

As I mentioned before, my fiance agreed to give me some money towards the overdue water money that I owed my landlord. We talked about it and decided it was best to just nip it in the bud ASAP so I can finally ditch my apartment and move in to his place officially.

He kicked in $100 and I paid the remaining $100 so I am now water debt free!

I'm happy to be one step closer to getting rid of my apartment. My parents - who orginally weren't too crazy about premartial cohabitation - even told me to hurry up and get outta my expensive lease.

My overdue utilities are so close to being paid off as well - only $80 left on the payment agreement! In fact, now is a good time to review all of my "short term debt" that I've been working on since establishing the blog in May '08.

Friend A - $200 - paid in full on May 12, 2008

"Boyfriend" - I still owe him (now my fiance) about $300 and he's been lenient on repayment terms but still wants his money back eventually. He says paying him back will keep me honest. Do you agree readers?

Friend C - $60 - I finally got her address and will be sending her the money I owe her in the next pay period. I know this debt bothers a lot of my readers - and me too.

Overdue Utilities - according to my payment agreement I only have about $80 left. Will knock this out in the next pay period and perhaps with my fiance's assistance.

Mom Debt - $100 paid off in August.

So that's all for now. I wish I had more news on my job situation but everything is still up in the air. Stay tuned for wedding planning news!