Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Weekend in Review

My weekend was interesting.  As I posted on Thursday, I had a mini family crisis and was asked to help out one of my elderly aunties.  Her son decided to walk away from his house rental, avoid his responsibilities of rent payment under the guise of no landlord repairs, and leave all his furniture (actually his mothers) and some of his own personal possessions in this house.

I got to my aunts house on Friday around 11 am. She was already, or had been, overly agitated.  My cousin showed up at noon with the U Haul.  We spent a few hours re-arranging some space in the old granny apartment for the furniture and things that were coming back to my aunts house.

We got to the house my cousin had been renting.  To say it was a mess is to be nice about the state in which he left the house.  Lots of food left in the cupboards and fridge, a load of laundry in the washing machine that had never been put in the dryer and was smelly and moldy, the house looked it had not been vacummed in months, the bathroom gross, and in the pile of mail in the mail box, disconnect notices for the electric and cable for non payment and overdue notices for the oil and phone.  My cousin opened her brother's mail. She is shameless.

My cousin and I came armed with cleaning supplies, garbage bags, mop, broom and a vacuume.  It took us the better part of Friday and Friday night to sort through the kitchen, clean it, clean the bathrooms,sort through the linens-what was clean, what was not.  Since we still had electricity, we did a lot of laundry.  The linens, like almost everything else in the house, were given to my cousin Sam by his mother. We wanted to bring them back to her.

When Sam got this house about 10 months ago, my aunt bought him cleaning supplies, a mop, a broom, a vacuume, new curtains, things for the bathroom. She also gave him a bunch of furniture from the granny apartment and bought him a new TV.  I found the cleaning supplies in a hall closet, pretty much untouched.  I'm guessing Sam did not clean, looks like the latest girlfriend at least did the bed laundy and cleaned the toilet.

By Sunday, we had the house in OK shape. My cousin got another relative to help us load the truck with the heavier furnutre, we had piles of garbage neatly bagged in the garage, the house vacumed and swept, the floors washed, and a photographic record of the damage to the house.  My cousin is dealing with the landlord over the non payment of rent, the damage, the forged signature, etc.  She was to meet him yesterday at the house to do an inspection and to talk about the next steps. We know none of the security deposit is going to be refunded. Sigh, my Aunt put in a fair chunk of change for that too.  We did get back to my aunts house, unloaded the truck, put furniture back in the granny apartment and the garage, and lectured my aunt of exactly what ENABLING is and how she still is enabling her 38 year old son.  The women in my family of a certain generation are very good at that. Notice how absent  the men in my family are from this situation?  Grr, my female cousin did strong arm two of our other male cousins to help load and unload the truck. Despite being 5"4' on a good day, she can be very formidable.

What did Sam take from the house? Most of his clothes, his computer (but he left his printer), his gaming system (but left a bunch of games), and probably a few personal possessions.  What did he leave, all of the above, plus his printer, some computer games, a ton of food, a ton of toiletries, his mail, and god knows what else.  Where is Sam now? Supposedly living with his new 25 year old girlfriend, who supposedly has a job and a nice apartment.

My cousin paid for the hotel both nights, it was just easier for us to stay locally to the house than to drive the extra hour each way to my aunts, she also paid for our lunches and dinner-take out Thai food one night, pizza and beer the next.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Envelope System Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow is pay day for me and I'll be starting my cash only experiment for groceries and food for July.  I'll be heading to the bank mid morning, I'll get my stash of cash and I'll tuck it in a money enevelope in my wallet.  I have some items I need to buy, some items I want to buy, I think my pantry needs a little enhancing. I know I want to get some items from Trader Joes, I just need to resist the urge to get everything at Trader Joes........

So we shall see, June was not as bad as May in terms of money that went out.  THAT is a very good sign. Now if I can get additional income in, that would be great. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The E-fund and why we have it...

I have a mini family crisis that has come up. I need to travel this weekend for it. It will cost me around $350, gas, tolls, dog sitters, food, lodging. It's times like this I love my Efund.  It's times like this, I really don't like my family, especially those members who are old enough to know better..

I have some cousins that are, for the most part, great people.  Except for my cousin Sam. Sam is a lazy, lazy human being, wildly catered to by his mother.  Until these past few months. His sister on the other hand, is bright, ambitious, hard working and a very no nonsense person. She is my cousin who has a house on the Jersey Shore, she takes good care of herself and good care of her mother.  She is not overly fond of her brother.

Sam lacks ambition in many areas and has lived on and off with is parents for his entire life. After grandma died 20 years ago, Sam eventually took up residence in her granny apartment, enjoying home cooked meals and laundry being done by mom.  Last year he decided he wanted to rent his own place without roommates.  To shorten this tale, he is being evicted for non payment of rent. The eviction notice states he will be evicted on Monday.  His mother gave him all sorts of furniture, cash, household items, etc for his place. Since he got the eviction notice, he pretty much upped and left the house and all the items his mother gave him.  Oh yeah, he's 38 and his latest girlfriend is 25.

 His sister and I are going to pack up the house this weekend and UHaul mom's items back home.  From what I understand, the house is such a wreck that my cousin said it is not fit for us to stay there, but to stay in hotel.  My cousin is livid with her brother. He's walked away from apartments and houses before, but he's had roommates. Oh did I also mention he forged his mother's signature as a co-signer on the lease? She found out when the landlord started calling her looking for the rent and stated that she was a co-signer, so she could fork over the rent. Oh did I mention that the landlord is also well known  to the family? That's the main reason we are going, we need to not only get the furniture, but to clean the house and save family honor.

My cousin has gotten a lawyer to sort out the forgery, she has called the landlord to tell him it's a forgery and to stop harrassing an old lady, she has somewhat calmed down her mother, she is ready to go postal on her brother-all this when she had plans to put the finishing touches on her place on the Jersey Shore this week and weekend since she has paying tenants coming in for the month of July.  Tenants who have pre-paid in cash and are expecting a clean house  and  a mowed lawn come Tuesday morning.

Sam's response was that he with held rent because the landlord did not follow up on repairs to the house (repairs needed due to damage by Sam and his buddies too). My cousin and I are going to load up the furniture (what's not totally destroyed) and the other items that belong to her mom and bring them home. We plan on putting them in the granny apartment and have strongly suggested to her mom that Sam not be allowed to move back home after this latest and greatest episode. He can go mooch off of one of his worthless friends, like his 25 year old girlfriend.

My aunt has offered me money, but I'm not taking it.  She is truly distressed over this incident. My female cousin will probably buy me dinner most nights, she's good like this, I'm hoping she will pick up the full hotel bill. Families, gotta love them.   I'm not doing this because I'm a good person, I'm doing this because my one cousin asked me to help her.  I'd rather have my weekend at home, but I also don't want to see my elderly aunt get soo distressed over this despite her own enabling of the situation......

Freaking Out Travel Mates

I had my conference last week in New York City. It went well!  I had to get up way before God to drive like forever to catch the early commuter train, but I did nap a bit on the way down to NYC.

I did, however, freak out one of my fellow attendees. I did what oh so many thousands of people do in New York City. I grabbed my meals from a street vendor.  I get to the city so infrequently that when I can get a knish, soft pretzel and Hebrew National hot dog, I do.  Plus the lunch places around the facility where the conference was held were EXPENSIVO.  Like crazy expensive for even a basic sandwich.  I spent a whopping $6 on my knish, pretzel and Hot Dog. When in Rome, do like the Romans, street food for me!

My travel companion, who is not adventurous when it comes to food, was shocked and horrified that I ate not just one of those items, but all three (the hotdog had mustard, relish and onions thank you very much). I think she expected me to get some sort of food poisioning.  I did not have the heart to tell her that I also got a cup of coffee and a hard roll with a schmer of butter at Grand Central.  IMO-you can't get a decent hard roll outside of the New York Metro area.  My travel companion shelled out the bucks for one of those sandwiches and said to me " You know, you do get a meal allowance for the conference?"  Yes I did know that, but I wanted street food!

The weather was nice and I took my food stash found a place to sit and happily ate my street food.  I'm still alive and kicking and no GI issues (save for a very small satisfiying and discrete burb after the hot dog).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Evening Adventures

Instead of spending 20 minutes cleaning my desk last night, I watched a DVD and drank wine. I was tired folks! I've been running around not doing a heck of a lot of things worth talking about, but still seeing people, places and things-you know, life. I've not been sleeping well and yesterday I caved into the couch, drank wine and watched the DVD. I blissfully went to bed at 10 PM and slept until 6:30 AM- I've not had a good long sleep in ages...

My lawn needs mowing, I need to tidy up my desk, I need to respond to bunch of personal e-mails (the free WiFi is back!), I need to clean my house. I also want to clean my house and want to tidy my desk!

On the flip side, I went to the grocery store on my way home yesterday. I've been using up whats in the house and pantry for the past three weeks without hitting the grocery store for things other than fresh veggies. I walked out of the house on Tuesday, forgetting to pack a lunch, mainly because I had nothing to pack for lunch. I was even out of bread product to make a PBJ sandwich. I bought a packet of ramen noodles at the CVS for 55c and had that for lunch. You can buy a 12 pack of ramen noodles for $1.79 at the store. BUT it kept me from the $7.20 lunch like I had last week. I've been eating a lot of junk from my cupboards and pantry (really bad boxed mac and cheese, canned pasta, etc) -not very good for me food to eat for many meals in a row.

I was surprised to see that I spent close to $40 at the grocery store last night. I have to do some unexpected traveling this weekend for an unexpected family thing and bought a bunch of "car snacks"-crackers, drinks, etc. I just sighed when I picked up the cracker boxes, 2 for $5 on triscuits and wheat thins. I don't like the ALDI triscuit wheat thin type crackers. Last two times I bought the ALDI brand they were one of the few products that did not impress me. I also keep going in the geographic opposite direction of ALDI and I know that over half the stuff I bought at my local grocery store I could have bought at ALDI for almost half the price. I passed up on some hummus and cheese product because I also know I can buy that at Trader Joes for like half the price that my local grocery store sells it for.

Ah well, it was what it was. I did make dinner last night with enough for leftover for lunch today, have a meal planned out that I can cook tonight with leftovers for lunch tomorrow and have some fixings in the house that are not processed food product.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bill Paying and Free Stuff!

I wiggled around some funds yesterday and paid off my credit card, phone bill and mailed in my electric bill. I got a check from my weekend job and while it has not cleared my account, I did an auto transfer between two accounts so I could just get these bills off my desk.  I'm not a big fan of auto payment anything, but since it was just between my two personal accounts, I did it non the less. 

My desk on the other hand is a mess. I've been busy with busy little things and I noticed it looks like a mini tornado hit it. I must spend 20 minutes and tidy it up.

The other news was I was given a used all in one (AIO) printer/fax/copier/scanner.  It's a bit on the clunky side, but hey it's free and sort of works. The fax and copy work, I'm having a problem finding the right printer driver to download to my computer for the fax and scan function.  The WiFi signal I've been mooching off of in my neighborhood was "down" last night-or whomever has the WiFi has shut me out.    Oh to be I Paid Twice For This who got (I'm guessing) free all in one from Brother to review.  I'm jealous. I found a nice refurbished AIO last month on line,but when i clicked back to the site to purchase it, it was sold out.

If I can't get a driver for this unit, it's going to go bye-bye.  I will either offer it up on Freecyle or take it to the electronics recycling day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Decluttering the Furniture

I posted before about how I've been doing a decluttering of my possessions. I also have this piece of furniture that I just don't like and want to get rid of. It holds my TV right now, has a few drawers that I store stuff in, but I've never liked it and have wanted to get rid of it for a while.

A relative that I have a bad association with gave it to me many moons ago. At the time, I took it because I was told I had to by other family members. Like I said, I've never liked the darn thing. I'd like to get rid of it so I don't have to think about the family member.

Posting it on craigs list got me nowhere. I did not want to give it away, I wanted some cash for it. I opened up my e-mail today and I had a forward from one of my former social club friends. An organization she belongs to is having a tag sale and looking for donations. Not only will I be able to get rid of this piece of furniture that I can't stand, I'll be able to get a donation form and claim it as a charitable donation.

I look at it this way, the universe sees a void and will fill it. I want a specific replacement for that piece of furniture, now that it is on it's way OUT of my house, what I really want can come on IN to my house.

I call this a win win.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What I Wore

I'd really wanted to go to my conference on Friday dressed like an upscale modern professional woman. I'm not. I could not justify buying skirt for one conference. I just don't see any upcoming events where I would need a new "professional" skirt. My office is very casual.

So, I have a very nice neutral color skirt (khaki, beige, what ever) that I wore with a nice twin set and sensible shoes. I looked like a lady from New England instead of an upscale professional from Manhattan. Hey-guess what, I am a lady from New England... and yes, I did wear my pearl necklace to complete the look.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PF Article

Really good article from MP Dunleavy on Money Traps. It just resonated with me today.

Click here to read part 1.

Click here to read part 2

Stealing Every Ones Idea For Next Month

Since I know I've been spending a bunch of money on food the past few months, I'm going to do the Dave Ramsey, Fighting Foreclosure method of sticking some cash in an envelope and using that exclusively for my food shopping in July.

I figure as I get back on board with my budget-spending plan, I figure this is one way for me to not over spend....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pay Day, Where It All Went

Health Insurance-pd
Over Due Mobile phone (oopps forgot to update the only auto pay I have when I got a new card)
Send some $$ to my credit card (I have a balance for the first time since I got my card)
Got gas for the car (ouch, it's gone up 15c since last week)
Have allocated $30 for food this week and next.

I am due a pay check from my weekend job. I submitted my hours, signed my time sheet, so I'm hoping there is a check this week when I get there on Friday night. I would like to pay off the remaining balance on my credit card before the month is over and use part of the money for the forgotten graduation presents.

Oh yeah, I got another invitation in the mail for a party in July.  I'm going to try avoid that one if possible.

Looking ahead, I get paid again at the end of the month and that check will cover my car note, electric, land line, internet, car insurance and food budget.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Desperately Seeking a New Skirt

I have to go to a professional conference this week and I am sorely lacking professional clothes. I am going out of my mind right now trying to find a new skirt to wear at this conference. It's too warm for my winter skirts that could pass and too cool for my summer skirts that might pass. I'm going to pull out of the closet tonight my last option. I have enough tops that can pass muster. The local consignment shops yielded nothing interesting. Oh yeah, all the shopping I did last month, all tops and no skirts or pant. Gotta love the planning on my part!

If push comes to shove, I'm off to Target or Chez Marshalls......

$7.20 Buys You What?

Despite all the cooking I did over the weekend, I forgot to pack my lunch for work yesterday. I was a bit annoyed, but thought, oh well, I sometimes buy lunch, might as well be today.

The town I work in only has three places for lunch. A deli/market, a pizza place and a small specialty food store that sells only sandwiches (no chips, fruit, drinks,etc).

The pizza place was closed and I was not in a sandwich mood. I ended up getting one small chicken thigh, a nob of bread and a small spoonful of potatoes. It fit into a 5x5 container with room to spare. That plus a soda cost me $7.20. EXCUSE ME? I figured around $5, but over $7-wow. I should say that this market is the same one that charges $8 for a jar of mayo that you can get for $3 at the grocery store.

Wow, it's getting harder and harder to support my local market when 1) the food is that expensive and 2) It's not that great. In comparison, I will sometimes get a very large chicken wrap with fries and extra pickles from the pizza place. It costs me $8.50 and I have enough of the wrap to have as dinner that night or for lunch the next day. I don't mind paying the $8.50 as I get almost two meals out of the one purchase. I probably could have gotten a sandwich, but I was not in a sandwich mood yesterday.

I stopped at the grocery store and picked up about $14 worth of groceries that will more than stretch out what's in my cupboards and carry me through the middle of next week. I made sure I posted a note on my door that said BRING YOUR LUNCH FOOL so I would not forget.

Moral of the story-don't forget your packed lunch and remember to stock up on some emergency food things to keep at the office.

Failure to Plan on My Part

There is a reason why we all should have a miscellaneous category in our financial lives. Like when I realized that I have 4 graduations this month that I need to get presents for.  I could probably not give to one of those, but the others are pretty much non negotiable, they are family and godchild.Sigh.

Ugh, even giving them all the easiest present out there, gift cards to I tunes and Borders, will set me back about $100 to $125. 

I knew June was graduation month, but just did not pay attention.  Two graduation parties next weekend and two the weekend after that.   Oh well, they are all good kids, I normally don't do christmas and birthdays for them, and all are very deserving. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

You Have A What?...........................

I've blogged before about my elderly friend who is in bad health. I took on the care and responsibility of one of her dogs. It's been a bit of a chore, mainly because one of my dogs would like to rip off Poochies face. They just don't get along. I have very creative and inventive ways to make sure they both get the time, attention and exercise they need. It can be tiring at times and I have to be very careful. I've already had one incident and it was not pretty.

My elderly friend had a falling out with our mutual friend Dee and has now moved into her own house. She has also spent more time back in the hospital and rehab center for her chronic health issues than she has in her new house. She really can't live alone, but insists she can. Dee and I are waiting for the phone call that is nothing but bad news about our elderly friend, at this point, there is very little we can do. Even her step daughter has sort of thrown up her hands over this.

Imagine my UNhappy surprise when I get an e-mail saying she was cancelling our lunch date for Sunday since she just got out of the hospital (again) and needed to go pick up her dog. EXCUSE ME, Go Pick Up Your Dog? As far as I knew, I have her dog. Seems she somehow convinced one of her old doggie friends to sell/give her a puppy. A 4 month old puppy that needs to be crate trained, house broken, taken to the vets, exercised. All those things puppies need. I have sitting in my house a 6 year old dog that is crate trained, housebroken, current on all her vaccinations, etc that is techincally her dog and not my dog. I took the dog because my elderly friend was unable to take care of herself and her dogs, at the time,she was living with our friend Dee and Dee could not house all the dogs.

This puppy has spent more time back at it's breeders house than it has with my elderly friend. The breeder must be totally blind to not see what a problem Elderly Friend is having. The sad part is the puppy breeder is about the same age as Elderly Friend and admitting to herself that Elderly Friend is unable to care for a puppy would mean the breeder is old too! Elderly friend is in no condition to have a puppy. A well behaved adult, maybe, but a puppy? No way. When I asked Elderly Friend when I could drop off her dog (the one with me) I got a lot of umm, ahh, and finally, I don't think she would be happy with me after living with you. Which I doubt, because in my home she is one of several and does not get the Poochie Princess Treatment.

At this point, I'm trying not to scream, I know Elderly Friend keeps making repeated bad decisions with her life. I won't let this dog suffer because of it, BUT and there is always a BUT. I've spent close to $500 on food, boarding and vet fees on this dog, of which Elderly Friend has given me about $75 for the dogs upkeep. She has promised to give me some cash for the dog, but I have not seen it yet and I doubt I will. Her other animals have been placed out with new homes at her request and two of her dogs are still living with Dee even though she and Dee have had a falling out.

Honestly folks, I took the dog thinking once she got stabilized, the dog would hopefully go back to her. That was the generic plan. Of course life intervened and that went by the wayside. I have my own animals to take care of and like I said, with my dog wanting to rip Poochies face off, it can make for an interesting day.

Grr, now I have to place out an older dog. I'm doing my homework on this, networking, local rescues, the breed rescue, etc. The local rescue contact wants to know if I've contacted the breeder. I've explained that Elderly Friend is the co-breeder and unable to care for the dog, and the other co-breeder had a nervous breakdown and moved to Oregon (which is true) and has totally given up on dogs. A responsible breeder will take back a dog they bred for any reason. I can't really hunt down this woman in Oregon and insist she take back Poochie. I do know for a fact she really did have a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for it. Ideally, I'm looking for a nice older active retired couple who would love a Poochie Princess. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Weekend Update

It's Sunday and I'm not as bored this weekend as I was last time I was home for my "off" weekend. It's been dreary and rainy here in New England, but I used my time wisely.

I got a load of books from the library and a couple DVDs. I also inventoried my food cupboards and I have spent the weekend doing the following things: Reading, cooking, gardening and napping. Not in that order, but I took it nice and slow.

I sat on the couch Thursday afternoon with a dog tucked at my feet and finished a book I got from the library. I got up only to refill my water glass and use the loo. I inventoried my food cupboards and my fridge and decided that even though it was a bit warm, I'd turn on the oven and make pizza. I still had a bunch of fresh mozzarella (but is it fresh almost a week later?) that needed to be used up. I made pizza dough in my bread machine and made a couple pizzas. I have some leftover dough I'll freeze. The house has been damp enough that the cranked oven took the damp out of the house (too warm for the heat, too cool to put an AC in the window to suck out the humidity). I also made a great beef stew and one of my favorites, refried bean soup from A Year of Crockpotting. I also found a couple bunches of scallions in my veggie drawer, not getting any younger or better, so off I went to Google. I Googled scallion pancakes and made a bunch of scallion pancakes. Two I had for dinner last night, the other two I cut up into wedges and they reheat beautifully in the toaster oven. The awesome thing too is that because I have a fairly well stocked pantry, I did not have to buy anything for the above items! I did buy two red peppers today because I thought I'd make black beans and rice (I like the color combination of red and black, green peppers fade too much in the cooking process). I spent a whopping $4 on grocery items this week and I have enough leftovers to last me through the middle of the week.

That is a good thing. It's payday tomorrow, but except for a few items I am out of (coffee, whole wheat flour, some fresh veggies, etc) there are very few things I really need for my pantry. If anything, I'm quite happy using up what's in there since 1) I have these items and 2) I'm am NOT a fan of grocery shopping.

I'm still a bit bored being home for 3.5 days. Not bored enough to tackle the entire to do list and get it done, but I'm making headway. I think I'm afraid that if I finish the to do list, I'll have nothing to do on my next off weekend!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The New Steps for July For Me and For Others

Step one, use some sort of money tracking software.

Here is the insane part. I did a very sketchy budget spending plan based on my income and you know what, I'm supposed to have an additional $200 left over each month AFTER I pay my monthly bills, put money into my E-fund, and I have given myself liberal amounts of money to cover things like food and hobby. AND this is on my reduced income. WHY don't and did I not I save more? Because as I've pointed out before, I'm not an aggressive saver at all. I'm barely a passive saver. I could have fully funded my E-fund on the money I spent on wants this past spring, but I've decided to stop beating myself up over this and move on.

I can hear you all saying, but Betty aren't PF blogger supposed to use things like Quicken,Mint, or some fabulous spreadsheet. The truth of the matter is there is a segment of us that don't. I fall into that segment.

Part of me just did not or could not face up to my spending. I had all my bills paid, had my needs taken care of, and was able to get some wants. It was the excessive wants that did me in this past May.

The Mess of May did disturb me. I took out my frustrations in my life by spending money and even by keeping all my receipts and looking at them, I still really did not have a true sense of where I spent my money. Actually, I did not want to admit to myself where and what I spent my money on. I was keeping my head in the sand, so to speak.

I need to take the next few giant steps in my bouncing back from bankruptcy stage. The next steps will make or break my progress.

I need to become more aggressive about saving money. It could be paying myself first, it could be curbing my spending and then taking the extra money and putting it into my Credit Union account.

I need to be better about a budget spending plan and sticking to it.

I need to stop rationalizing my choices and not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be one way to stop feeling so stuck and to continue to bounce back.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Plan B For Me

I did NOT actively look for secondary work in May. Part of me was being a prissy little child and sulking about the cut in hours, part of me was enjoying the time off to get some of the small projects done around the house. I'm working on the to do list and it's slowly getting smaller. I'm resisting putting any new projects on the list as I want to feel this sense of satisfaction and accomplishment once the list is done (less the few projects that will cost some serious $$$). Then I'll add in the new projects. EXCEPT, that having 3.5 days off per week gives me a lot of free time on my hands and I've recently become really bored by Sunday.

Last year my goal was to work enough each month to cover my car payment. I was able to achieve that goal less one month when I did not. I would really like to earn enough money again to cover my car payment. My regular job salary will cover my mortgage and basic expenses. Time to take a new attitude and get re-invigorated about the job search and what I need to do from here on out

A while back I posted my new grand scheme/budget, which was based on me working each weekend at my weekend job. Ah yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. As you know, a few weeks later and the plan was shot to shite. So it's on to plan B. What is Plan B? Your guess is as good as mine. I had hoped that something would crop up like my current weekend stint did, but it has not, Yet.

I'll do what I did last time, which is tell everyone that I have select weekends free and am available for odd jobs, virtual assistant work, paying work. I did that last fall and I ended up with a call from my now weekend boss. It's time to try and get my feet out of the goo that seems to be holding me back.........

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Second Job Plan B

It's Wednesday AM and I never heard back from my weekend job co-worker. I also never connected with my weekend boss to get her phone number, nor did I try very hard. I went with plan B, which is my friend Jill will cover the day for me and I'll make the trek to the job for the second day. I need the money, I have some admin work to do and I'll take advantage of the free laundry facilities as well!

I did find out the note I left was not moved and posted on the employee message board. So I'm guessing my weekend co-worker has decided to ignore it. Does she think I'll not make other arrangements? I just don't get it. I sent an e-mail to my weekend boss and left a message on his home phone alerting him to the change. True to form, I've not heard back from him, but in his case, that is not a bad thing. The day is covered and that's all he cares about!

I'm grateful for Jill being able to cover that day so I can attend my conference (finding "professional clothes to wear-a whole nuther story...).

How To Explain Social Media To Someone Who Does Not Really Care

Do you Facebook, or Twitter, or are a member of LinkedIN or any other number of social media network sights? In my non PF life, I have accounts on all three.  I barely use them, except for Facecrack. I am still a bit addicted to Farmtown.  I post the odd comment on Twitter when the mood strikes. 

My boss has decided that he wants our business to be a part of social media.  Ok, fine. The problem is, he has nary a clue about social media and what it entails to participate in it. He says he knows "all about Twitter" yet when it came time to sign up (he did not have an account), has nary a clue about what to do or how to follow the person who sent him the invite.  Our company has a web site and a company that designed the site and is supposed to help it in things like SEO, keywords, etc.  The problem is anything other than the basic hosting is done on an hourly rate or a project rate.  They are also offering training on Twitter, Facebook, etc

Our web company had a mini phone meeting with us and has delivered a new proposal.  It's not cheap, but my gut feeling is IF my boss will spend some time doing the networking on his end, IT may be useful to us.  I don't see many "consulting" companies similar to ours using these sites.

I had a meeting with my boss about two months ago and we discussed using Facebook and Twitter. I told him that while I could set up an office account, in order to make it effective, he would need to broadcast to his contact base the accounts and would have to monitor those accounts.  He wants to develop a professional network on these two media outlets with links back to our company's web site. He wants our company's  web site to be in the top 3 of the various search engine web pages if someone puts in the key words pertaining to our business in our area.  What he does not want to do is the SOCIAL part, which is reach out to former and current clients and alert them to our new venture. He wants our web company to do all that work and us to reap the benefit of their work.

That ain't the funciton of a social network.  We are not LL Bean with a ton of fans of LL Bean that will look for us on Facebook.  We are a small company in New England that has been around for a number of years doing acceptable work in our field.  We also don't have the manpower at the office to maintain Twitter account with numerous tweets through out the day. I also have a number of consultants in my office that are just not that comfortable on the computer, they can barely handle their e-mail.  I can't see them utilizing Twitter to increase their business. My boss also wants to 'own' and have editorial control over their Facebook and Twitter accounts. He does not understand that most of those accounts are personal and not work based.

This is one of the frustrating aspects of my "full time" job. My boss has these great ideas, but once he finds out how much time is involved and how much money, he balks, or in this case, the web company is full of it and does not want to take on this project.  Well they are not full of it.  They are running a business just like we are running a business. They are not in our field, they helped to develop and launch our  web site.  I don't have the time in my day to Twitter for work. I do have the time, but it would be at the expense of the other projects that he wants done.  Given the current job market I am half tempted to tell him to shove the Twitter aspect up his you know what, but there are no other jobs (at the moment) that I can go to. We also don't have anyone else in the company at this time who would be good at maintaining a professional Twitter account.  I wish we did, I'd happily let them Twitter away. Like I said, my boss does not quite get the concept that he is going to have to find time to search Facebook and Twitter and look for collegues and customers, I can search a bit, but he's the owner of the company and has 30 years of connections, I have about 2.5 years of connections.

So what am I going to do? I am going to send him a report on the proposal and remind him that we had a meeting and conversation about Facebook and see what happens from there. I just have this feeling he will lose interest in the project 1/4 of the way in and "dump" it on me. I did tell him in a meeting I think we need to focus on what we do well and not take on so many projects that we don't do well in.  The comment back was we need to stay ahead of the competition so we need new projects.  Yes, but not when we can't finish them and get them out to our clients and the public.
Oh well, add that to my list of frustrations, I'm off to play Farmtown.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Two Good Things

The gods have been kind to me the past two days. Other than stewing over my recent transgressions in PF and other life things, I had two small, but quite up lifting experiences occur.

A friend of mine hosted a family party over the weekend. His auntie came up from New York with all sorts of great Italian cold cuts and pastries from an amazing local to her bakery and deli. I was the recipient of a ton of leftovers. My friend carefully wrapped up the left over Italian cold cuts (no bologna and plain boiled ham here), bagged up the bread and pastries and out of the blue, dropped them off at my house. Enough for lunches for this week. The past two days I've been making these great sandwiches for my lunches. What do you do with a melon sized ball of fresh mozzarella? I'm looking for some good tomatoes at the market to make a pasta salad and will be using the mozzarella in some hot pasta tonight. It is just a bit too warm for me to crank the oven and make pizza. My oven at 550F really heats up the house.

The second little experience was stopping at the grocery store last night and getting the one spot that is mere steps away from the door that is not saved for mothers with children (don't my fur kids count as kids?) or as a designated handicapped spot. I pulled into the lot and low and behold, that coveted spot was open. I think in the 8 years I've been shopping at that store, I've only gotten that spot twice that I can think of. And one time one of those more than slightly harried mothers with 3 kids hanging off of her gave me a dirty look for taking that spot and not leaving it for the mothers with children. Hey, no sign, fair game as far as I'm concerned.

It's the little things that can make your day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just Not Feeling The Love

I'm not feeling much love from my sort of co-worker at my part-time job. She is the person I temporarily replaced while she was out on medical leave. After I made up the June work schedule, I realized I needed to swap a day of work because of another obligation on my next scheduled weekend.

I left a note,(since I realized I don't have this co-workers contact information, her phone is unlisted for "privacy reasons",it was not on the barn phone list and I never connected with my weekend boss to get the number from him, he was away) at the barn this past weekend asking if she could work for me, actually, I gave her a number of choices, work the one day, work both my days, swap a weekend so she can have a long weekend other upcoming weekend (like Labor day, I think the way the schedule plays out I'm working both Labor Day and July 4th weekends and can work the entire weekend if she wants one of them off), or not work at all. I left my cell phone number and my e-mail address and asked that she please call me yesterday, Sunday and let me know which choice.

As of this AM, no contact, no voicemail, no nothing. Now I realize calling me may be a long distance call, but use the barn office phone, I know the boss won't mind for a work related call. She may not have e-mail, so no e-mail and I understand that. Plus since I was there on Friday and Saturday, I know how few animals are in the facility this weekend, plus with the weather as nice as it is, the animals are spending lots of time outside. It was an 'easy' work weekend so to speak.

I know she is not overly happy with me still having hours at the barn and "having control" of the workers schedule. I know she expressed a statement to that effect to my friend Jill who works sometimes during the week. All I did with the schedule was write it out on paper so people would not forget and the trainer could keep track of days off, changes, etc. I really have no control over the schedule.

I know she came back to work about six weeks before her MD said she should because she needs the money. One reason I'm at the barn for my limited time is I'm also doing a lot of admin work that is needed. The barn lost the person who was doing the admin work a few months ago and the trainers wife was filling in to help out. She has her own full time job and did not want to do this long term. Now, between she and I, we get the admin work done, she's happy, I still get some paid weekend employment, my co-worker gets almost all her hours, yada, yada, yada.

If this co-worker needs the money and I'm offering her not just the one day, but my entire weekend shift and even gave her the option of not arranging for a reciprocal weekend off, why would she not call? This is the schedule she has on the weekends I'm not there, and I think I was told she does not have another job. I just don't get it. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe someone moved my nicely type note of the bulletin board and she never saw it, so that could be a reason????? My gut tells me she is ignoring the note.

I'm going to give her until tomorrow sometime and then go to plan B, which Jill said she could cover the day for me. Ugh the junior high aspect of all of this is soo um, Junior High!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hoarding, Binging and Purging

May was an interesting month to say the least. I saw my part time job come to a crashing halt, and I spent a lot of money on a bunch of Wants and not Needs. AND to top it off, I feel like I'm stuck in a bucket of Molasses. Able to move, but ever so slowly.

As I posted before, I got my last large check from my weekend job. I promptly used it to pay off a bunch of bills. I realized going through my desk that I had let some bills pile up and go unpaid. Things like a license renewal for my real estate license (which just made it to the state under the wire), the last of my winter fuel bill, a property tax bill, some payments for my hobby, an overdue vet bill. I was hording my bills and hording my money. I went from both feeling really good about paying off all these nagging little bills and having nothing pressing to be paid on my desk to wanting to horde my money because, well, just because. I don't know why I was “hoarding” a bunch of the small bills, I had the money in my account to pay them, I just let them sit on my desk.

I'm feeling more than a bit frustrated about various parts of my life. How did I cope with the frustration? I ate more than my fair share of food, drank more than my fair share of liquor and did a bunch of shopping. I shopped for items that are most defiantly wants and not needs and I did some clothes shopping.

As I previously mentioned, I did a purge of my possessions in May. I also got rid of a bunch of clothes that were either too small or stained or had rips, tears, or what ever. I did a very halfhearted tour of the local consignment and thrift shops to look for some replacements. Nothing caught my eye, or fit, or whatever. I ended up going to a couple stores and bought 6 new tops. They were on sale, but I bought new. I also went shopping for a bunch of wants. The list includes a new bistro patio table, a pair of Crocs, a tent, a new to me nightstand, new laundry basket for my bedroom, a bunch of miscellaneous items from IKEA that were not needed, and yes the new laptop too, but just wants, and well, the list goes on with nothing that was very expensive, but added up to a chunk of change in the end. I even spent the money I had earmarked to go to my E fund.

Sigh.. Why I did this, I have no decent explanation. It was like I was taking out my frustrations shopping. Honestly, I hate shopping. It's a chore for me to go to the grocery store to do my big shops, I prefer to shop on line as much as possible, malls and most stores give me a headache. I know it's human to fall off the fiscal wagon so to speak, but I felt like all I did was grab my debit card and shop. Can you say a frustrating month?

No Spend Days-Without Even Trying

One of my ongoing goals is to have no spend days. Days where I don't even buy postage. I've been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days, so straight after work I'm heading home, by-passing my usual stops of grocery store, liquor store, coffee shop, etc. I've been coming home, making dinner,dealing with the animals and trying to get to bed early.

I've had three no spend days! Which is a good thing. It sort of makes up (well not really) for the spending I did last month (that post did not save or post to blogger last night, but I do have it saved at home and will try to upload tonight).

Not stopping at the grocery store also has means I'm cooking at home and using up the pantry staples. Probably the only thing my brain has been able to process the past few days has been fixing food. I did some grocery shopping last week and actually have food items in the house for multiple meals. I've made the following items: Basic pasta sauce that can be turned into a variety of sauces (with sausage, with extra veggies, with cream and vodka, used on pizza), cole slaw (a ton of cole slaw to be exact), salads, good old fashioned macaroni salad, potatoes-turned in to mashed potatoes, potato salad, home fries, sausages-grilled, in pasta sauce, etc. Ground beef which I've split between patties to stick in the freezer for grilling later and some in bulk for when I'm in a meatloaf mood. Well you get the picture.

Having options in the pantry means I'm less likely to wander aimlessly around the grocery store, list or no list, I somehow manage to pick up items I "think" I'll need instead of items I really need and want.

Maybe I can make it until Thursday when I take off for my weekend job!

Monday, June 1, 2009

So Happy It's A New Month

I've gotten a bunch of stuff done these past few weekends, a bunch of the little things that have been on my to do list for ages. I got a bunch of yard work done, did a huge possession/de-cluttering purge after reading a couple of articles and posts on Gail Blanke.  Since I was long overdue for a de-cluttering, I figured "Why Not?" and purged about 70 items (and still purging).  The sad part is I've been hanging on to items that have very little sentimental value for me or even less monetary value (ie-they sure won't sell on E-bay or at a garage sale!).  I took the "better items" and brought them to Goodwill. I threw out a lot of junk and clothes. The really sad part is that I hung on to these items for years.  I moved back to New England 9 years ago and I had boxed up a lot of my possessions. I was "camping out" in a friends spare room for a couple months until I got my own space and guess what, I never unpacked a bunch of boxes. 

Yup, that's right folks, I have a pile of unopened boxes from a move of 9 years ago.  Needless to say, it was interesting to look into those boxes after all these years. I consolidated 7 Rubbermaid totes into 3.  The remaining three are a box of photos and some old memoriablia from my youth that I can't part with, a box of books that should be purged, but can't part with yet, and the last box actually some things I found that can be used in my daily life.

I also spent a boat load of money last month, not just on bills, but on needs and a lot of wants.  More on that in another post. I love the way I justified to myself the spending splurge-it was not pretty....

Needless to say, I am very happy it's a new month. I need a new month and a "clean slate" to kick start myself.

Hope you had a great weekend.