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Archive for February, 2009

Work quickies

February 27th, 2009 at 11:42 am

* Just came back from a work lunch with my current employer. This is our last week working for them, so... in other words, they fed us goooood. I got me a ribeye, cooked medium. Mmmmm mmmm! Free ribeye steak for lunch!

I'm really going to miss them though. It's not everyday you find a job you actually like, working for a company you actually like. And that just might be worth more than being stuck with someone you don't like at a job you don't like, even if it makes more money.

I have great hopes that the new employer will be just as good to work for....

* Speaking of new employers, I recently got the new work uniforms, and can I just say that I really don't like it? Yeah, I know I'm spoiled, but the old uniform was great. This new one, because of company logo and generally off-colors, isn't good for anywhere else other than work. Bah. Oh well. It's a living, and hey, it's "free"!

* However, there are upsides with the employer that I don't get with the old one. A better 401(k) program in my opinion, better selection of discounts on computers and cars, and.... *drum roll* they offer Tuition Reimbursement Program! In other words, if I go to school, they pay for it! MBA, minus the student loans? Maybe! That's what one of the regional managers whom I report to did!

All-in-all, I really can't complain about my work life. After all, it could be so much worse. I know, because I've had much worse. Do I aspire to be more than this? Of course, but baby steps I guess. Next week is the first official day with the new employer. I want to set up the new 401(k) and look into the Tuition program as soon as possible. We'll see how that goes....

* Update: Remember that job interview that I had earlier at a different place, the one that I said went really, really well? They didn't contact me, and I just found out why: Turns out that they wanted to pay a lot less than what I am making now. So... they knew that, and so they didn't contact me, which is fine. I hope they find a good candidate. They seem like really good people.

Um, speaking of which, I better hurry and call that third place....

Feb net worth update

February 26th, 2009 at 06:37 am

My net worth went up a healthy clip this month, mostly because of my 401(k) contributions. However, it feels anything but good because my cash reserves have run so low. In fact, I thought my reduced contributions would have kicked in this paycheck, but it didn't. So, this week, my budget is short by $50.

Now, while it's not the end of the world or anything, this marks the first time in literally years where I've had a budget shortage. And it just irks me on general principle, making me feel grumpy.

Phone rate update

February 23rd, 2009 at 05:47 am

I am finally running out of minutes on my "new" pre-pay cellphone, and decided to run the numbers. I wish I had kept better documentation of my usage, but from the looks of things, I am averaging about 250 minutes a month.

This is shocking to me because I thought I would average more like 100 minutes a month. With Tracfone's rates, that's somewhere between $23 to $25 a month for a phone bill.... That's also shocking to me because I was thinking more along the lines of $10 a month.

Well, I guess I can't complain. I mean, it's still pretty cheap for a cellphone.

But I would really like to get my cellphone bill even lower. So, what to do? Anybody have any suggestions?

I'm looking over Tracfone's promotions again, and while I can buy bulk minutes at a lower overall rate (about $0.09 a minute), I wonder if there isn't a better way out there? Short of talking less of course.

Update as I go along quickies

February 19th, 2009 at 06:01 am

* Feb 24th is free pancake day at IHOP!

If you're into that. I'm not really, but thought I'd throw it out there for those who are.

* I've seen the new work uniform and all I can say is BLEACK! I mean, I'm just glad I have a job, but....

Luckily, the new employer allows certain types of clothes if I want to buy it on my own. Will wait until the work clothes arrive to decide then.

* In the meantime, some co-workers are chuckling at me for being over-dressed. Hehe. Thanks again SA, for dressing me up. But it's temporary, until the work clothes arrive.

* Everyone here knows there is a psychological aspect to money. Although the numbers on my budget is working according to plan, a small part of me is very uncomfortable, and even somewhat distressed about having such a low cash reserve from the 401(k) challenge.

Is it crazy of me to look forward to next week because my paycheck is suppose to "normalize"?

* Speaking of the 401(k) challenge, my net worth is going to be up more than usual this month. At first, it perplexed me as to why that would be, but quickly realized that it was because my 401(k) contributions are noticeably higher than my usual expenditures that is depleting the cash reserve. Hehe, duh.

I still badly want to re-build my cash reserve though, but won't be able to do so until March rolls around. It is crazy of me to look forward to March simply because of this?

* Believe it or not, but there's a new frugality & simple living meet-up group that has recently formed in my area. Unfortunately, it consists almost exclusively of stay-at-home mothers with children.

Not that there is anything wrong with that now, but... I am finding that besides the desire to be frugal, I don't have much in common with this particular group. Weird isn't it, considering that I hang out with exactly people like this online. Ah, but that's just it; it's only online. I don't know about how well it would work in real life. Still, I'll do what I can to support this group, and see what happens.

More than words

February 16th, 2009 at 09:35 pm

Sometimes, you stumble across something that is indeed, quite literally, More than Words can describe.

The only thing left to do... is to simply share it.

Ended my 401(k) challenge

February 12th, 2009 at 05:58 am

I just looked at my budget and proceeded to dial back down my 401(k) contribution. I did it now because it takes more than a week before the new contribution setting will kick in.

This also means I'm just one week shy of meeting my challenge. So then, the question is why did I stop the challenge early?

For one thing, I just bought some suits. Yeah, it was a bad time to be making large purchases of any kind, but in all honesty, the suits were a great deal, a great investment, and I really do need business attire of some kind for work.

Another is that I underestimated how much my cost of living would be. This is something important that I learned during this challenge.

You see, my original calculations were based on the idea that I had lost my job and that I would slash all of my living expenses to the absolute bare bone. But for a short-term challenge like this one, I didn't see the point of dialing down my bills only to bring it back up.

More importantly, I did try to cut back somewhere, but realized that there isn't much to cut back to begin with. Everything on my expense is a "need", including a cellphone (the only line I have) and internet (needed to search for a job).

So, instead of cutting back somewhere, I am faced with the grim reality that my EF should be a lot bigger than I first imagined. Then again, it's better to realize this now than to find out the hard way, in the event of a real emergency.

On the bright side, I've accelerated my 401(k) contributions greatly for this year! That's the goal, and I think that goal has been a success overall.

Once I move on to the new employer and 401(k) in March, I will be plowing full speed into replenishing the cash reserves. My EF right now is down to my minimum comfort level and I really, really do not like having it this low.

Clothes shopping

February 11th, 2009 at 07:18 pm

Now there's two words you won't hear me say everyday! But let me start from the beginning and say THANK YOU to all you smart ladies out there who really know how to dress a man.

I also did some research on my own, and although the advice I received here are invaluable, it also became clear to me that I still need to go to a specialty store where someone can measure me, visually inspect me, and custom tailor the suits to make sure they will fit right.

The Suits
And that's how I ended up shopping at the Mens Wearhouse. The employees there (both guys) were amazingly helpful. Best of all, not only are their suits on discount (from $500 down to $350), but everything in the store (except shoes) was buy 1 get 1 free on top of that! That means the suits are more like $175 each! For something that normally costs $500!

So, I picked up a couple of really nice suits. Single breasted, 3 buttons (that's all they had), and 100% worsted wool. One is dark navy, and it looks and feels great! Very conservative, looks timeless, but is also very formal.

The second suit is very similar in style and quality, but is charcoal gray and a bit less formal. Ideal for occasions when I am not attending something serious.

I also picked up four 100% cotton Oxford type dress shirts. Two matched the suits, and two more that can worn on its own (when suits are too much). The shirts are also buy 1 get 1 free.

No ties or shoes though. Shoes are dictated by the workplace, and I didn't really like any of the ties there. In a pinch, I can always borrow a tie from my dad's closet.

The Cologne
I've been going to this one mall for literally more than a decade now, and I've actually never known that there was a Macy's there. Luckily, I managed to stumble into it to look for some cologne.

It's amazing, the deals that are out there and how desperate people are, wanting you to shop. I literally got (politely) hounded by two sales reps there. "Hey, would you like to try this on? Go on, please, give it a try! Really good deal right now! How about this one?"

Some of Macy's clothing is on sale by as much as 65% off the original price, AND if you are a Macy's member (which I signed up for because it was free), you get much as an additional 30% off on top of that! Crazy.

Anyways, I sampled several colognes, and you know what? I never realized that colognes can smell "sweet", "powdery", and/or "musky". I mean, I almost never wear cologne, so I had no idea.

But in the end, I still decided on Lux's recommendation of Armani's Acqua Di Gio. It was the most conservative scent out of all the ones I sampled, and I think conservative is the safest option for a newbie. Plus, I do like the nice, light scent.

Speaking of which, exactly how much cologne is one suppose to use and where exactly do you apply it? Sorry, I have no idea about stuff like this.

In Closing....
Sorry that I also don't have any pictures. Although I have the dress shirts with me, the suits are still at the store, waiting to be tailored. And anyways, they're just suits, like any other suits anyone has ever seen.

Oh, and sorry about being so wordy. It might seem crazy talking this much about clothes shopping, but... all this is a unique experience to me. Quite literally, I have never done anything like this before! But in the end, I also think this is a good long term investment and I am happy with my purchases.

Update
I went back to the Mens Wearhouse to exchange my shirts, citing my concerns about wrinkles. They double checked my shirts and said that the shirts I bought are specially treated cotton shirts that prevent wrinkling. Sure enough, he showed me the label on the shirt that said, "Non-Iron". He added that that these treated cotton is actually even more wrinkle-free than a cotton/polyester blend.

And here I am wondering why these shirts were so expensive! Hehe. Although, because they were buy 1 get 1 free, they turned out to be about roughly the same price as any other comparable shirts found elsewhere, except these are suppose to be superior quality.

The employee was even wearing one, and showed me his. I double checked and asked if dryers will still wrinkle it, and he said that while nothing is impervious, my shirts should be the most resistant to it. Anyways, I've decided to keep these, because he said that if I somehow still don't like it, then they'll take it back and exchange it.

V-day approacheth

February 8th, 2009 at 08:38 pm

Non-financial related, whiney, mopey post ahead. Feel free to skip if you wish.

For the first time in years, I've finally gotten used to most holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. What I mean is, they don't give me the blues anymore... well, no more than it would give anyone else in similar situations as mine the blues.

But there's still one holiday that bothers me, and chances are, it will continue to bother me. And that day is obviously Valentine's Day.

Yeah, it's a commercial holiday that's always hard to go out and get anything done yadda yadda. But it's still tough though. Living the single life doesn't bother me most of the time, but it is inevitable that this holiday would remind me that I am alone in this world....

On the bright side, it won't cost me anything? I don't know. I'll get over it. I don't really have a point with this entry either. Just kind of... I guess I've always blogged here when something is bothering me, so I suppose this is just habit.

Anyway, I don't mean to be a downer. I hope you guys have a Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a filin' my return

February 7th, 2009 at 11:45 am

Here we are, a perfectly beautiful Saturday day, and what am I doing? Filing my tax returns. Why oh why did I choose to do this right now?

Albeit, I'm doing it a bit "late", because I've always made it a point to try to get it done by the end of January.

Still, 2008 promised to be super easy-- and for the most part, it was-- so I thought I could just crank that out real fast, and go out and play.

But much to surprise and dismay, it also turns out that I owe $85 in taxes. I've never had a year where I owed money before. I guess it shouldn't bother me either, but for some reason, it does.

Is it because we had that stimulus check and that got taxed? Is this something I have to adjust my withholdings for, or is this just a fluke year? My withholding is already a 1.

Oh well, anyway, what's done is done, and I want to move on and enjoy the rest of the day.

A tale of two offers

February 6th, 2009 at 01:57 pm

I don't know if any readers recall, but one of my 2009 goals is to increase my earnings. I think I've done just about all that I can on the frugality front. Well, I could do more, but I'm essentially debt-free and trouble-free right now, and all that's left is just to keep moving forward on my usual saving and investing regiment (which averages at about 60% of gross).

So, what about increasing my income? Well, because I am changing employers, my old employer is trying to retain me and referred me to another site they contract with for a job opening.

Well, I just got back from an interview at the other company, and I am very excited about how it went! In fact, I think it's the best interview I've ever had with anyone!

By the way, it's a $20 billion agricultural research and development company, so it looks stable enough. And yet, this particular site is small enough that everybody goes by their first names, which I really like.

Best of all, the people who interviewed me confided up front that they desperately need someone right now, because the old employee is several months pregnant and will eventually be on maternity leave.

Actually, that's not the best part. The best part is I know I am a perfect fit for the job, I am certain they feel that way as well, and the interviewer even said, "We know you already have an offer from the other employer, and while we can't guarantee anything at the moment, I promise you that our offer will be extremely competitive!"

So! They want to get this done quickly, I hope they believe I am the perfect guy for the job, and they're willing pay up for it. I can't wait to find out what they have in mind!

Even if this doesn't pan out, the new employer at my current job has already re-hired me with a slight pay bump so... smells like a win-win to me!

There's just one thing that concerns me about this new offer. I asked what would happen to me when the old employee comes back from maternity leave. The interviewer basically said that they can't guarantee anything, but the workload is big enough for two people. Hmm.

Anyways, I have one last place I want to try to look into. Another pharmaceutical company that's really stable (makes generics), and I have a great contact there. Will have to see what happens with that one.

But yeah, Woohoo!

Want to play dress me up?

February 4th, 2009 at 06:37 am

Ok, first, let me just say that this is most definitely not the best title I've ever came up with. Big Grin However, I do have a slightly interesting "problem" on my hands.

For literally years, I've worn the work clothes that my employer has issued to me. For both on and off work.

And why not? Polo-like shirts and khaki pants? It actually looks pretty good. Best of all, it's free. It even comes with free dry cleaning!

But now that I am switching employers, I have to turn it back in soon. Supposedly, the new employers have their own "uniform", but what will that look like? When will I get it? What do I wear in the meantime?

And besides, I really do need clothes of my own anyways, in the remote chance that this new employer doesn't work out and I have to job hunt.

Oh, and in case you're wondering? No, my old clothes won't work. Not unless my merry collection of gag T-shirts ranging from, "Kiss me because I'm Irish" (I'm not), "I love mushrooms" (Mario Bros. video game joke), "I do my own stunts" (that one is true), and the ever-popular "I'm not a doctor, but I'll take a look at it" will win over prospective employers and women alike, then yes, I suppose I could wear them.

But something tells me I need clothes that are a bit more... formal. Something I can wear to interviews. Something that I can wear at work. Something I can wear while out at town.

Is such a thing possible? I'm a guy so, I really just need one set of clothes that I can wear anywhere for most if not all occasions.

And of course, I'm also hoping to pull this off for as little money as possible.... Or is clothing something that I should probably spend a little bit on quality?

Oh, and if it helps, I already have some navy blue slacks that I can keep wearing. But, if I have to ditch them because they're mismatched somehow, then... well, so be it.

So, based on all this, can anyone here make any recommendations on what kind of outfit I should wear? I don't know anything about clothing or where to even shop for stuff like this....

Also, what do you guys think of this outfit?