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Combining our Accounts

June 23rd, 2006 at 01:25 am

New city. New game plan.
We figured we'd try this whole joint checking and savings account thing since we really didn't want to open separate accounts here.
SO's initial worry was that he wouldn't know how much was in the account at any given time since he always checked online, but I assured him that because we're both very diligent about checking accounts electronically that we really shouldn't have any problems. We'll see... Smile
Keeping the new checkbook in the office drawer... he has an ATM card, I usually stick to the "Die Broke" method of getting my cash out once a week.
Found out we'll be getting some extra tax money back which is fantastic since prices on the west coast are about 20% HIGHER than what we're used to. Fresh food is much cheaper, however, which will hopefully influence our cooking efforts! We still rely on too many prepared foods... (Bisquick, canned soups, Rice A Roni).
Ice cream here tastes much better than our old town. Why is that??? Lucerne is WONDERFUL. Even the milk tastes better. YUM!
People are fantastic here (for the most part). The only grumpy people we've encountered was close to the water at a restaurant down from Pike's Place... the wait staff were probably tired of the tourists... little did they know that we're now locals. he he
Anyhow, won't be going back.
When we do end up eating out, we'll be staying away from as many national chains as we can avoid (DS loves SUBWAY which means restricting access may cause tears...feigned and real) since there are a TON of restaurants I really want to try out.
This place isn't great for my pocket book and I need to find the cheaper places to buy groceries, get oil changes, etc., etc., but all in all, I'm in love.

Jorge

Mutual Fund Research/Misc

May 31st, 2006 at 03:33 pm

Spent a few hours on Fidelity.com last night looking at mutual funds for my pension $$ I should be receiving any day... (and then send off to Fidelity to join the other retirement stuff). It'll bump my retirement fund savings to $11k/$12k which isn't a lot, but better than nothing! I need to allocate a little better if I'm going to live through these big ups and downs in the market... maybe some bonds instead of NO bonds... I hadn't purcased any bonds before because I thought I was strong enough to stand the risk of all stocks... but watching my portfolio this last week has really made me think "BALANCE" - I need to balance my portfolio.

With the house money in a few weeks, I'll probably place it in Vanguard, in a nice index fund with low management fees and no 12b1 fees, but then I'd have a little at TIAA-CREF, Fidelity AND Vanguard which I don't think is too smart. The thing is that I love my Social Choice fund and the other growth fund at CREF and my retirement stuff was already at Fidelity, so I kept it there and I haven't opened anything at Vanguard, yet, but I love their index funds. Unfortunately, Fidelity charges $75 per transaction which makes me cringe. Oh, what to do, what to do. The cash that I'm not putting into the Roth will be around $10k and it'll go into ING until I get a handle on what to do with it.

I've probably already posted on my worries about this money, but it's something that is still hanging over my head... I don't want to screw up... since:
a) I'm not working
b) this is the last windfall I'll probably get in a loooonnnngggg time
c) I need a "girl's safety net" to feel comfortable
d) doubtful that I'll inherit any money
e) doubtful that I'll be making any significant money in the next couple of years since I'll be home with the little one



Back to the research.

Ah, and the credit card is back in the dungeon of our closet since I had started spending a little on it... $100 for summer shoes for DS and I which we needed, but I don't ever, ever want to have a credit card balance again. EVER! Which means cash, baby. Being in credit debt rebound is tough.

When should financial institutions be held accountable?

May 24th, 2006 at 09:10 pm

My SO got me a European charge card from his bank the other day so that we can use Euros for the coming year from his bank account over there. (This is the year we'll be making about half of our salary for education pursuits).

It got me thinking again about the book that had the 50%Needs, 30%Wants, 20%Savings strategy that I've been using for the last year. Pregnancy has affected my brain, so I can't remember the title, but it's a great book. Smile

Anyhow, the writer's talk about how in the 1950's a person COULDN'T really go over their credit line, and COULDN'T spend more than 25% of their income(or so) on their house and the banks WOULD NOT loan the money for a new car that they didn't think you could afford (using much stricter guidelines than they do now). Etc., etc., etc. Their point was that "fixed" expenses were much much lower than they are/can be today. Hence, many people are in straight jackets because of their fixed expenses.

Back to this charge card thing... SO tells me that I have a credit limit each month, but that the bank automatically takes the payment out monthly and pays the card off in full. He didn't have to sign up for this, they just don't have "credit cards" where he's from, they have "charge cards" like the American Express card that HAS TO BE PAID OFF and if you don't have the money, they revoke the card. That's it. End of story. Is this why Europe has a higher savings rate on the whole than we do? Which brings me to the question at the title of this entry, at what point should financial institutions be held accountable?

Isn't this a little hard on the individuals who borrow this money to be in such financial difficulties? How does it affect a person/family's quality of life if they're in debt up to their eyeballs? Yes, I know, people need to take responsibility for themselves at some point, but that would mean they'd need to be educated as well... kind of like those hazardous messages on cigarettes. If a person hasn't been taught, how are they to KNOW? It took me a long time to get out of debt. What would life have been like if I hadn't gotten into debt in the first place... ? Did it kill me to eat macaroni and cheese dinner 4 nights a week because my house payment and credit card bills took up almost all of my paycheck? Nooooo.... and it's my fault. I just wonder for the rest of our kids, our future, "what if?" What if companies were forced into more reasonable borrowing percentages? And what if credit card companies were required to have higher minimum percentages on the balances owed? The list is endless and this is long. I just got that charge card application in my hand and had to wonder how it is that we're going to compete with the rest of the world when we as a people have no savings.

J
P.S. Contrary 1 - couldn't figure out how to send a private email like the old set-up on the site. I'll keep looking. And baselle... I don't get the emails when comments are posted, but see above. I'll keep looking. Smile

Managing my $ and I bought the bag

April 10th, 2006 at 10:38 pm

Thanks, Kashi - I think you're right and I bought the bag. It really is fabulous and I've never seen a bag like it.
Back in the U.S. is interesting. I've spent almost $100 my first day home. Ouch! Had to change the title for my car, $14, faxed an important document long distance, $6, took a friend to lunch $12, bought two donuts $1.90, allowance to DS $10, developed photos $30, and a few more things. Crazy how the cash flies out of one's wallet.
Received a nice surprise in the mail from the grandparents... and have set up a deposit to ING in two days after the check clears.
The buyers for the house would like us to fix two things on the house (they just had it inspected on Friday). One is some sort of backdraft on the water heater and the other is to call an electrician to fix a couple of wires that aren't connected to anything on the fuse box. Hopefully the fixes won't cost more than $150.
Tired, and ready for bed already.

SOLD! & Shoulder Bag - Dare to Spend?

April 5th, 2006 at 09:26 am

SOLD THE HOUSE!!! Yes! We sold the house! Okay, so the ink isn't dry, yet, and won't be until two months from now, but at least we've got an offer that's legally binding! Woooohoooooooo! Just a few more hoops to jump through: the inspection, the appraisal, and the buyer's financing. I guess all that spruce up work really helped, eh? The house was only on the market a couple of weeks, but I suppose it is that time of year. Ohhhh, what a relief.

So... onto the spending stage of this entry...

Since arriving in this city, I've been using a shoulder bag that is huge... it's actually DH's, but my purse doesn't have a long enough strap to place it crosswise on my body and DH's bag does. This city has an amazing amount of pickpockets and thieves (there are even signs posted in the Hertz rental agency to beware of professional pickpockets) and having a person's bag crosswise is helpful to deter... they could still cut it off you, of course, but why make it easy for them??
I've been in search of the perfect bag that has a long strap, is square-ish, has lots of pockets to put things, and is well sewn...
After looking in two different countries and countless windows and stores, I have found my bag. Having such good taste as I do (ahem) it is of course way out of my league... 100
Oi. Other bags I found that were less well-made, but still stylish were between 50 and 60. Bags that weren't very stylish but would get the job done were about 30, but they didn't have any little pockets or zippers to sort things...
Do I buy the bag? We'll see. I found it yesterday and may go back to the store today to check it out again. It's in this beautiful aqua blue and very very cool. My grandmother always said to buy quality when you buy bags, shoes, belts and coats and then you'll always be sure to get your money's worth. Hmmmm...

Cheap Weekend !

April 3rd, 2006 at 09:34 am

I've only budgeted 100 for this week and the weekend turned out to be quite affordable. 13 at the grocery store that included a housewarming gift. Spent 4.95 on tulips for another housewarming present. Other than that, though, I was fairly conservative in not spending anything.
Figured out the bus system on the way home yesterday so that this particular trip didn't cost me 2.40, but only .60. Yes!
There are always cheaper ways of doing things in general and when travelling... just depends on how much time a person has to devote to finding the cheapest method that gets the job done.
I have 90 and some change left until Sunday, a bus card that has 9 trips left and a bus card with 3 trips left. Will spend some money this weekend on transportation and admittance fees to some attractions, but I'm hoping to not spend more than 30 so that I will still have money in my pocket.
The $107 charge on the cc still hasn't gone through, yet, so I don't know what it is... hmmm... very curious, but I hope that I can clear it up before I leave this place on Sunday!
We got an offer on the house... they offered 5% less which is what I would have expected, but they wanted to close 15 days before we'll be ready to move out and wanted us to pay closing costs... we are going to counter today that we'll pay closing costs with a cap of $3k, but we want $4,500 more in the price of the house and a closing date more to our convenience... DS is still in school until the first week of June and moving the end of May would be too much of an interruption, I think. Moving is hard on people, best to try to make it as easy as possible!
Now I just need to start tracking down boxes when I get home. Smile

Till later,
Jorge

City Life in Spain

March 30th, 2006 at 07:47 am

I'm currently living in a very conservative city and nylons are the norm until summer hits. Well, this weather is too hot for nylons on my bulging belly (even the low cut ones) so I didn't wear any today. If I have any more glances from men checking out my legs, I'm going to knock them on their butt! Sometimes, it just takes too much energy to blend in like a native - especially when one is pregnant!
So, yesterday, Besides the two bus trips (about .60) each, I went to the bakery and picked up a late evening snack for 1.97 and I also spent .87 for a stamp. I think I already marked down the bakery run earlier in the day.
The bakeries here are so very wonderful. I haven't tried everything, yet, but the bakery workers are very helpful. Smile
I must be getting a lot bigger than I was when I arrived because people have started giving up their seats for me on the bus. It's quite sweet of them and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness.
I knew it would happen, but it really does get tiring of having bread, cheese, and meat every day of the week. Sigh. Ah well. I made eggs last night (cheap dinner!) and they tasted great. Just a little salt, pepper and olive oil.
This morning, I spent 1.25 on an ensaimada and a roll for lunch to eat with my meat, cheese, butter and later I'll have to go buy an avocado or tomato to spruce up my sandwich a bit.
I'm visiting friends over the weekend in Germany, so hopefully expenses will be at a minimum... will probably have to take advantage of their washing machine, however... I wouldn't be able to get my clothes washed and dried before I leave.
Trying to be frugal away from home,
Jorge

Expensive Travels

March 29th, 2006 at 01:33 pm

Hello Everyone,
Had to start tracking my spending in Europe after spending 100 the first week I was here on just food and admissions to museums. Ouch! I felt before I left that I had a pretty good grasp on where I spent my money, but watching that much money float through my fingers without a second thought was an eye opener for me. I had hoped to limit my spending to about 600 for four weeks not including room which was 350 plus a 60 deposit.
Huh. Doesn't look like that'll happen. Now that I'll hopefully have access to internet on a more regular basis, I think I'll just start keeping track on my journal again for what I spend...
It's a nice tool!
If I buy a punch card for the bus or metro, it works out to about .60 for each ride... otherwise, normal price is 1,20.
I've been trying to bring food for lunch and not eat out for breakfast other than grabbing a morning pastry on my way to the bus stop... I unfortunately ran out of clothes because it took 2 days for my clothes to line dry in the humidity and I'm 5 months pregnant with very few clothes to begin with (and I only brought carry-on luggage for 4 weeks). Hence, my spending $130 on a pair of maternity pants and a shirt. Oi!!!! That was painful. Then I started to get blisters on my feet from all of the walking (at least 5 miles each day) (how much more in shape am I compared to when I arrived?!) and purchased another pair of shoes. I had brought my Tevas for warm weather and a pair of comfortable clogs with me... the Tevas were too cold to wear even with socks when I first arrived (something I hadn't expected) and no one wants to wear sandals anyway when they're in a big city... too easy to step in something nasty on the cobblestones!
Well, my comfy clogs aren't so comfy after a few marathons around town (much to my dismay).
$90.00 for comfortable shoes.
Before these expenses, I thought it would be a nice treat to bring something little back for myself, so $35.00 perfume went on the VISA.
Rented a car over the weekend to travel to a city where it was necessary (no public transportation) and spent $81 shared 50% with a friend. I checked my credit card transactions online today, however, and see that there is an outstanding authorization for $107 that doesn't list a merchant, yet. Hmmm, wonder what the heck THAT could be. If it's an additional charge for the rental car, I'm going to have to waste time trying to clear up the charge. Hopefully it's just a reserve on my card like a deposit so that it'll clear itself up.
Spent .21 for a little round roll of bread today and .60 for the bus. Otherwise, I brought my food for lunch to eat with my roll and I brought my own water.
Will keep ya'll posted on how my savings in Europe progresses!

Besos,
Jorge

Selling real estate

March 2nd, 2006 at 02:56 pm

Our housing market is really starting to break open right now and everyone has convinced me that I need to put the house on the market before I leave. I've been really rotten to DH and DS about them leaving clothes in piles on the floor, leaving the kitchen a mess and not picking up after themselves in general, but it just feels like it goes in one ear and out the other.
I've been involved with selling 4 houses and DH hasn't had to sell any. In my experience, immaculate houses sell for better prices and quicker. Tell me if I'm wrong here!
I am frustrated that all my scrubbing on counter tops and bathroom fixtures will be for nothing because my boys can't keep things tidy. And they're mad at me because I keep telling them what it is they need to do!
There's another pile waiting by the door to go to the Salvation Army and hopefully by weekend's end, I'll have almost everything gotten rid of that we want to get rid of and the stuff that isn't necessary packed up so that the house looks bigger and there's less stuff to keep clean.
After that, I suppose I'll just need to let it go while I'm gone and hope that they do what I ask. On the other hand, maybe I'll spend the money on peace of mind and have a cleaning person come in once a week while I'm gone. Ha! Now there is an idea.

Earning my worth *warning* boring

March 1st, 2006 at 02:47 am

Using "Overcoming Underearning" the book, this is just an entry for me to keep straight what it is I want and where I'm at. Easier for me to find again than entering in a paper journal

To start:
What DO I want?

*I want to stop using debt - even though it gets paid off monthly except the house, I spend more than I should and then juggle to make sure it's paid and don't incur finance charges. My mother always did the same thing and I want to break the habit - CASH ONLY and don't touch savings!!

*I want to make sure I always get paid what I'm worth, for most of my skills, they're within a range of $20-50+ per hour.

*I want to find out where I am mentally to achieve where I want to be financially

*I want to update my resume and CV so that I'm ready when opportunity strikes!

*I want to run my own business because I'd be good at it and following someone else's vision is boring

If I had six months to live, what would I be doing?

*I'd be spending as much time as possible visiting family, then I'd travel to the one or two countries or states on my "must see" list, I'd be making sure my will/durable power of attorney for healthcare/living will were in order, and I'd be taking the time to enjoy my last days

Where would I be living/Who would you be with?
*At home, with my loved ones, or traveling with loved ones

What would you change? What would you add? What would you eliminate?
*I'd want to make sure I left my children an inheritance - something to help them through university or buy a house, I'd be more forthright in expressing my appreciation to folks, I wouldn't hesitate about spending $3 on a malt (they're my favorite treat), and I'd try to be kinder to those I encounter in this life.

Affirmations to wealth taken from aforementioned book by Barbara Stanny:
-I am confident in my ability to make money
-I always live below my means
-I love money and appreciate what it does for me
-I am very optimistic about my financial future
-I experience very little fear or uncertainty around money
-I am determined to get paid what I am worth
-I am passionate about my work
-I have very supportive, nurturing relationships (including spouse)
-I like wealthy people
-I have little or no credit card debt
-I intentionally get myself in situations beyond my ability and then rise to them
-I am resilient and able to bounce back when I fail
-I am filled with gratitude for the success I've achieved
-I work very hard, but I know I don't have to do everything myself. I know how to delegate and set limits
-I am tenacious in achieving my goals

We're eating home more now and I have a year to plan my re-entry into working for money. These explorations allow me to stay on track. Smile


Travel Expenses and Silly Musings

February 28th, 2006 at 02:43 pm

I leave in about 9 days for Spain and trying to figure out how I'm going to be frugal while there. Found a shared apartment for 350 Euros for the month, but doesn't include washer/dryer. So laundry will be an expense. Also, I don't want to eat out and I have kitchen access, so I'll try to do a daily shopping excursion for fresh fruits, fresh breads and cheeses. Meat leaves me feeling sick these days, but it does help to lower expenses!
We had a voucher for 50 Euros from the last time we flew NWA which helped with the ticket price... and I'm not going to bring anything back except postcards - I just can't afford it if we're starting to live on our savings in April. Besides, no one really Needs anything anyway.
I'm taking the next year off for our little one that is on the way and as I've written before, to sell our house and get us moved 4 states away.
I donated a huge box of books to our library the other day and I'll bring another big pile of children's books today. It feels soooooo goooooddd to give people things that they can use.
My mom is coming to see us for 2 weeks and said she'll help get the house ready - wow! I'm very glad! DH works a lot and DS needs direction, so my mom will be a huge help since I'm not supposed to paint and lift heavy things. What a random entry today - I think there is just a lot going on and it's hard to keep track of everything - maybe it's time for a list!
Worked with two contractors for quotes on fixing a few things around the house and I think I'll divide the job between the two. Now I just need to find someone to let them into the house since DH will be working, DS in school and I'll be away at school.
I've been reading about Huna lately and like this concept of not thinking anything bad or negative and how it helps your total outlook on life. I've been trying to keep track of negative thoughts and there really are a lot of them sometimes! Thoughts that include "can'ts" or "not possibles" or just thinking bad about someone before I've ever met them - judging in other words. Like women who wear a lot of diamonds have always been on my "judgement" list because so many diamonds are blood diamonds and I can't see how anyone would ever want to wear them unless they came from Canada or were fakes. Someone once told me that when we encounter someone we don't like, it's that they remind us of parts of our person that we have chosen to not include in our life. So when I see someone overspending and automatically create dislike for them, it's because I don't like it in myself when I spend money on things considered "non-essential." Interesting, I think.

Jorge

Will the clutter Ever END: Still making money on my junk

February 20th, 2006 at 03:51 am

Tore through the basement over the weekend finding boxes that can't be used for moving (too big, too broken, too dirty) and took them for recycling. Snagged all of the copper piping that has been sitting in a box since who knows how when and recycled that, too. $1/lb. in our area.
Books that were listed on half.com for $1 and have been there for a month, I've taken off my listings and will donate to the library and friends. No money made, but goodwill from the universe created. Wink
I never knew a house could get so dirty. I have been out of commission for about 3 months for pregnancy-related sickness/fatigue and decided it was high time to DUST! What a mess. I went through all of the windowsills, most of the woodwork in the house and wiped down almost every flat surface that dared to get in my path! I was a maniac. The mirrors were polished, even the kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Mopped the basement and cleaned the shower downstairs. My house is feeling loved and sparkly and I'm just glad it's finally getting done.
The weekend also included a few home improvement projects, so I set myself down to learn how to grout. There were areas in our bathroom floor tile that had been taken up that needed to be re-affixed and grouted, so off to the home improvement store I went. After affixing the loose tiles, I had to wait until they dried before using a sponge to spread in the new grout. To be honest, I was quite terrified of this project, because I didn't want to screw it up, but it actually looks quite nice.
The garage still needs some sprucing up/organizing/de-cluttering, but I think I'll wait until the weather gets a bit warmer.
I look around at all that we have and I just can't believe how lucky we've been in our lives. I am so very grateful and I couldn't have done it without the angels in my life.
I'm still pursuing some educational possibilities to increase my income long-term and will start carrying this quote with me that I picked up from "Secrets of Six-Figure Women":

"Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers: Grow! Grow!" - Talmud

Till the next time,
Jorge

Wealthy Women and Six Figure Earners

February 16th, 2006 at 05:49 pm

I am an underearner. In the book, "Secrets of Six Figure Women" there is a big section on underearners and I fit into most of the categories. The two big ones were that I've always felt like the money wasn't supposed to matter if the cause was worthy and I am constantly giving away my skills to help someone or some entity out. Do I want to spend the rest of my life like this? Not a chance. Do I see myself at a six figure salary? Yes. When? Not sure. Do I want to achieve financial freedom? You bet. The number isn't a million, since I can live on much less than that and travel, too, but the number is definitely up there. 1/2 million and a paid for residence is close.
Now that I think back on it, I wasn't always an underearner, I didn't always devalue my own skills... I remember writing dollar signs on my pancakes with the syrup as a child because I just knew that I would be one to make money. And then... well, society and all those learning lessons on how to be a lady got the best of me and I suddenly found myself in the "it's not polite to talk about money or ask for more" mentality. How did this happen?? I've always felt bad when I haven't charged for something I knew others were getting paid plenty to do, so why didn't I ever speak up? The book is a great one because it made me remember that I am worth more. More, and infinitely more. I don't need to settle for a $15/hr. job because I am worth more than that. Why didn't it hit me sooner?
Granted, I am making more than that at the moment, due to a promotion, but this book is a reminder to never settle for less than I know I'm worth.
My husband and I were talking the other night and I told him that he can support us for the next 10 years while we have a couple of kids and get settled some place, and that I'll support us the next 10. Consulting probably. I am happy. And I'm worth every penny I've ever made, and I'll start charging for those things I should have been charging for a long time ago. My next book? "Millionaire Women Next Door."

Ciao.

Jorge

Keeping the money you have and a birthday

February 6th, 2006 at 01:30 am

When we sell our house, even at the low end, I'll have a nice bit of money in the bank. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it! I figure I'll put $4,000 into a Roth IRA. I have a traditional (a fluke thanks to the efforts of Edward Jones - they labeled it "Roth" but really set it up as a traditional many years ago) with TIAA-CREF (switched companies after that snafu, and my retirement account through work is in Fidelity. So, what would you do? Keep 3-6 months in ING CD's or something?? If that, then what? Place the remaining few thousand in a stock fund or something? I just don't know. Like baselle has said, once you have the money, then ya need to think about how you're going to protect it.
DH's birthday is tomorrow and I took him out to a nice restaurant on Saturday. He'll have a few things to open, but nothing crazy - dinner was expensive (worth it, though!). Smile

2005: A Recap on My Finances

February 2nd, 2006 at 07:10 pm

My credit card statement holding year end totals arrived in my inbox yesterday. This prompted me to take a look at how my money situation has changed in the past year.
This is what I found out:

In 2005...
- I did not spend any money on credit card finance charges (a first since my first year in college)

- A combination of stock increases, savings, and debt reduction increased my net worth by 14% (this has since gone up more with the student loan payoff)

- There is $1,000 in an emergency fund (unheard of in my life)

- My worries about money began at "often - at least 10 times a day" and have decreased to "every now and then - once a week or so"

- I started spending allocated money for self-improvement and not feeling bad about it

I hope 2006 has as much or more to offer.

Maternity clothes and disgruntled males

January 26th, 2006 at 02:44 pm

How is a person supposed to know what size they're going to be when in the later 2nd and 3rd trimesters??! Our first trimester is finally over and the morning sickness/fatigue have started to let up. I'm searching for sale maternity clothes, but all of them look so big! And many of them are really ugly which doesn't help my self-esteem any! I was reading some fashion book on "What Not To Wear" and the British authors had Earl Maternity Jeans as a strong recommendation. I looked online and guess how much? $140! Would it really be worth it? It's been 11 years since our last one and with the last one, I was in a very warm climate and just wore dresses a few sizes too big in stretchy fabrics. Now I'm living in a cold climate where bundling up is a necessity! LOL

After reading the Challenge #4, I went to to the Emigrant Direct site and was in the process of opening an account when it dawned on me that this really wasn't going to help my decluterring process. I already have an ING account.

The men in the house were at each other's throats this morning and I was stuck in the middle. My DH is not DS's natural father and they've been butting heads. DH really likes to have a pleasant morning, with "good mornings" and smiles and DS11 is on the opposite end of the personality spectrum with grumpy "why'd you have to take 1/2 an hour in the bathroom?" comments. I'm going to strangle both of them if they can't come to some sort of compromise. We only have one bathroom, so perhaps it's time for a schedule!!!! (with the pregnant lady having first dibs, of course). Wink

Getting Ahead Has Always Been Difficult, but You Can Do It!

January 14th, 2006 at 07:02 pm

Finished reading "Getting Ahead Gets Harder" from msn this morning and I just have to shake my head. No, I don't think that getting ahead is any harder than it ever was (talk to any member of the previous generation!) and I think articles like this only perpetuate the blossoming belief that people "can't make it" and ensure folks feel sorry for themselves. (reminds me all of those people I see who can't possibly be held accountable for their actions, or they defend their children even though the evidence is clear to the contrary, or those folks that think they can cut in line). Smile

Ridiculous. Okay, so things have changed, we have to be responsible for our actions and our families in different ways than our parents did, but it doesn't mean it's any more difficult than what they had to go through. This pity party that's running through the airways is disrespectful to the personal power people have within themselves. While I was in college, I screwed up. I didn't work as much as I could have (even though I was a single mother) and I spent way more of my student loan money on things I didn't need because I was trying to make myself feel better through those "things." My fault, no one elses and I don't appreciate other people trying to blame similar mistakes on too much advertising, or the government for making credit so easy, or anything else people decide to blame their own stupidity on. Take Responsibility. The people on this site always inspire me because they are taking Responsibility. Trying to achieve their goals and fix their mistakes. Awesome.

What we really need articles on is perspective (Yes! magazine is good for these). While I was living in northern Europe for a year to finish my schooling, my ds and I lived on pasta, bread, fruit, vegetables and milk. I didn't go out, we lived in a one bedroom garden apartment, but our time there was a very high quality of life. My ds went to a fantastic child care, I studied at a great university, we went hiking up mountains on Saturdays and I learned that there was no need to have all of those things I'd left behind in the U.S. In fact, when I got home to my storage unit, I threw most everything out/gave it away/sold it because I just didn't need it anymore. It was a very great feeling! And one that people don't have to go to another country in order to experience. Get rid of the cable, get more involved in communities and the workings of your city. There are so very many ways to make a great life without lots of stuff. What do humans really need, anyway? Food for the body, food for the mind, food for the soul, shelter, and clothing, right? Well, I'll step down of my soap box, now. I know that there are people who really have it rough, but I've also seen a lot of people who make $30K a year in our city and think that they just "can't make it" on that salary. I see these same people with brand new cars, expensive, large apartments/houses, big screen televisions, eating out a lot and all those things that are completely unnecessary. Yet they believe these things are vital to a happy life (ironically, they're not happy). Argh. Oops, sorry, I started again.

The article struck a cord, I guess. Smile

On a different note, I hope everyone is doing well with their 2006 goals and that everyone's remembering what is truly important! I am on the last legs of "A Million Pieces" and remembering what it was like to be involved with an Addict. The book has brought back some memories that I had tried to forget a long time ago. Very good book.

Cheers,
Jorge

The stench - how to get rid of odors?

January 9th, 2006 at 09:28 pm

This is a desperate cry for help. Our grey water sewer backed up a few weeks ago and the goose grease stuffing that caused this fiasco (and our guest's lack of knowledge about garbage disposals...) have created quite a perfume in our basement. I've had the carpets cleaned. I've washed the concrete areas with soap and water... next will be SCRUBBING those areas with a handbrush... our lava rocks don't work to soak up the stench, essential oils don't help, baking soda hasn't helped (but I haven't tried keeping a few open boxes in the downstairs, just sprinkled it around...hmmmmm), I'm in my first trimester and I generally don't use anything but biodegradable/non-toxic anyway. Even so, I can't use anything that might cause the wee one harm.

The smell makes it an exciting challenge to get laundry done (throw the clothes in the washer as quickly as possible! and run back up the stairs) and my son's play area has been eclipsed by - yuck, THE SMELL! Can't even line dry clothes in the basement because they soak up the odor. I feel like we could make a horror movie. The only one in the family that doesn't mind is the pooch. But she's generally not a good judge of smells... I've watched her roll in horse, bird and cat excrement and have the pictures to prove it. (kidding about the pictures).

We'll be listing the house in a handful of months for sale. The de-cluttering is in its last stages, but if this smell does not go away, I will not be able to smell er... Sell the house. Okay, okay, I may be exaggerating a wee tiny bit due to large hormonal increases, but the other two males in the house can smell it as well, just not quite as intensely... Smile

And yes, I'll warn future owners of future possible catastrophes involving the disposal and drain!

On a more financial note - these stock price increases are the bomb. I've made the $50K net worth mark and am ecstatic.

On being an introvert - is there an advantage?

January 7th, 2006 at 10:57 pm

Just finished reading "The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an extrovert world" and I can see how some aspects of an introvert's personality are advantageous. If only the extrovert world would start appreciating us more! Smile

Sometimes when I've been overloaded, the slightest touch would set me off and it was difficult for people (especially my mom while I was growing up) to understand that I didn't want to be around anyone - had nothing to do how much I cared about the people. I like to be around people, but I get my batteries charged by being by myself (often reading a book or taking a walk or just sitting and thinking - which is very hard for some people to understand - they think I'm being lazy). Extroverts, of course, get their energy from being around others and having lots of stimulation. Not to say that that can't get tiring as well and extroverts need to have time outs, but in essence, being with people is where the charge up their batteries.

The author has some great tips about social situations that I can learn a thing or two from. Small talk usually drives me crazy. On the other hand, small talk is where relationships start and how careers are advanced. Other tips include how to tell whether your child is an extrovert or introvert and how to encourage both types. Being an introverted mother with an extroverted son has created some friction in our house and now I realize I just need to be more verbal in my apprecitaion of the things he does.

I'm sure there must be some advantages to being introverted... introverts tend to think about things in more depth, they often come up with more creative solutions, or more thorough solutions i.e. they've thought about the whole process and the possible consequences, but I'd have to say that it's still hard to be an introvert and I've had to learn lots of skills for working in an extrovert's environment. Smile, laugh, be cheery (before I run and hide in my office for some peace and quiet). Smile

Marti Olsen Laney also includes tips for introverts and dating that I got a kick out of. Won't need those, but I enjoyed reading them.

Jorge

Creativity in the U.S. / jobs

January 6th, 2006 at 02:27 pm

Looks to me that Americans are going to have to get creative and Managers/Supervisors are going to find ways of encouraging that creativity. In my professional world, creativity is not always appreciated and in many ways, it is discouraged. "This is how we've always done it." Seems like "they" in management view creativity as a lack of willingness to mold to the corporate culture. Perhaps it is, but this doesn't take away from the fact that businesses are going to have to start listening to their employees or else they're not going to be in business much longer.

Finished reading "The World is Flat" (finally! - I was on the waiting list for quite a long time) and was amazed at how much countries outsource. Who would have guessed that hundreds of thousands of tax returns were completed outside the U.S.? Accountants here send the simpler returns over to India or wherever it's cheapest and this in turn allows the U.S. accountants to spend more time on the more complicated returns. Who would have thought that a radiologist on the other side of the world may be interpreting your test results? Thank goodness they can't outsource surgery otherwise we'd be out of an income!

My son has always wanted to be a computer programmer. Perhaps we'll have to find another career to fall back on, eh? He's in the midst of learning two languages: German and French, but Japanese wouldn't be a bad addition. We'll be in the northwest next year and Japanese is offered in some of the middle schools. Was watching the German news last night and due to unemployment, higher skilled Germans are searching elsewhere... the latest destination? :Sweden. Not as much income, but a definite high standard of living.

A favorite for dealing with foreigners: "Kiss, Bow and Shake Hands: How to do business in 60 countries". Avoid "Idiot's Guide to Cultural Etiquette", however.

We have some friends from Thessaloniki (Greece) visiting this weekend and I'll have to ask them over dinner tonight if they've noticed much change in outsourcing/insourcing.

The world is definitely smaller if not flat.