Denali Northern Expenditure

Month: March 2018

Maggie's a Working Woman

Maggie’s a Working Woman

Another reason things have been more silent here on Northern Expenditure is that I’ve thrown myself into my job more than I had been. I am a researcher in the field of behavioral economics and work between 10-20 hours/week. Here’s a bit of a work history for you:

2010: I was hired by my company as a contracted researcher. I started right off working 10-20 hours a week and have done that ever since. When they hired me, they knew I would be working from home on my own hours as a stay at home mom.

Mid-2016: The company which had less than 30 employees now had over 200 in 3 offices. Restructuring began in earnest in an attempt to add a hierarchy where there previously had not been.

January 2017: I tried to quit. Restructuring meant that people had spent the past 6 months trying to figure out where they fit in the hierarchy in relation to me. They mostly determined I was under them, so they started acting differently (not positively). HR was also under new pressures and managed to forget to pay me 3 pay periods in a row. My boss told me to hang on.

January/Febuary 2017: My boss (I think literally) walked around the office yelling at everyone. My missed paychecks were overnighted to me, I received apologies from people who had been jerks, I got a new title that put me fairly high up on the meaningless org chart (no raise or change in responsibilities), I started getting invited to the important meetings (this is both a pro and a con), and I finally got back to doing what I loved to do—the research!

November 2017: I ended up in one of those “important meetings” with the 8 people who run the company and me. At the end of the meeting, each of those people was told to hire someone to help them write 40-page papers directing the investments of the company. “Until you are able to hire someone, Maggie is here to help you.” Uh, excuse me?! What was that?! – I spent the rest of the week hiding in a cubicle hoping no one would remember I worked there.

December 2017: I was taken away from working directly for my boss and put under a different manager to manage me working for all of those 8 people. I helped on several projects for several different people. A paycheck is wrong.

January 2018: Our company was bought out by a large company. Now all the restructuring makes sense. Everything was preparing for a buyout. The new hires start to come on board. I’m reassigned back to just my boss (phew!). My 1099 was off by $3000.

February/March 2018: The first draft of my boss’s giant paper was due at the end of the month. Now we’re getting it polished plus getting a presentation ready on a totally different topic for a meeting with the Big Company CEO in April (luckily I was not invited to that meeting). 2 more paychecks are missed. I finally get a call from the new manager and ask if I’ve been having problems with HR (ha! Have I!) and would I want to be hired as a part time employee? This will hopefully solve several issues:

  • no more self employment tax! Hooray! (I’ll still have to pay it on our online shirt sales, but no more on my roughly $20k research income!)
  • employees can have direct deposit and are more “in the system” with less chance of user error on the paychecks.
  • I have been onboarded to the small company as an official employee before all of us are merged over to Big Company in the next couple of months. This is a relief as I was concerned Big Company would notice the “random contractor in Alaska” (ie: Me) and cut me off. Less chance now that I’m official!

The past two years have been a whirlwind with my employment. As part of an effort to follow the money, I have been trying to be more involved at work this past 6 months. When things got *too* involved, I was good about standing up for doing what I wanted to do and not working more than I feel comfortable doing (Lui is only in preschool). So far, it has all shaken out nicely. We’ll see what the next year brings with the official transition over to Big Company, but right now I’m back in the sweet spot of doing what I enjoy doing (with my awesome boss) and when I want to do it (instead of when they want me to do it). If too much of that changes, I have no qualms walking away. I’m all about following the money, but only until that ruins the things I love about our current life. I’m only following the enjoyable money. 🙂

Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

Everything we do teaches us something. Life is all about tricking ourselves into learning.

Penny’s Big Invention

Penny had a big school project last year where they got to invent something. It sounded like an amazing idea and I was very excited to see what she would come up with. You know what she invented? A pencil box. Made out of paper. (So I’m not counting on her invention skills to get us to early retirement quite yet!) But instead of saying: “Hey Penny, see that plastic pencil box you’re using that actually holds the pens because it’s a durable material? It’s already been invented!”… I let it go to see what would happen. Surely the teacher would tell her it was a terrible idea and help her come up with a better one. But guess what? She did not.

Putting Process Over Product

I know, you educators are probably eons above me in this story and you can already see where it’s headed, but Penny’s teacher didn’t care about the product. Instead, she used the invention project to teach the kids through the process. Penny may not be winning any invention awards, but she learned the process of inventing. She had to make a working prototype. She had to work with a team. In order to do that, they had to learn Google Docs to share their notes. They learned how to put together a powerpoint presentation (filled with funny GIFs and cute kitty pictures). None of this felt like work to Penny because she was so excited about their amazing paper pencil box, she was excited to do what had to be done.

Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

As grown ups, these same situations often arise, but I feel like sometimes we ignore the lessons. If something’s hard, we want to forget it and move on instead of analyze what we’ve learned and move forward. Because we choose to ignore the lessons, we don’t emerge any different.

Though this applies to all circumstances, this is primarily a personal finance blog, so I think we should talk about money. I’ve witnessed tragic financial circumstances. When people hit rock bottom, they just want to start over. Everyone needs a fresh start sometime. But these people need help.

This is what I’ve learned from witnessing these situations. And I’m better for it. If we’re able to learn from the situations of others as well as our own, our education expands exponentially.

Get yourselves out into the world. Do good. Help others. When we get ourselves out there and interact with others, we are tricking ourselves into learning. But it’s up to us to apply the lessons.

What lessons have you learned from the situations of others?

February 2018 Plan Update

February 2018 Plan Update

I keep feeling like I need to apologize for not filling this space as often as I used to. But then I remember you guys are my friends and the whole point of not filling this space as often is because I’m practicing what I’m preaching. I’m following the money while trying not to lose sight of what’s important (like my children, for example). So, here I am with another plan update.

February was crazy busy for all of us. We got the science fair project for Penny started (rock candy with every kind of sugar available currently growing on my counter). We spent many days reshaping our snow pile into sledding tracks, watching the Olympics, taking the kids to swimming, etc. Life is glorious, isn’t it?

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is now at $26,700. We weren’t able to put any extra towards the mortgage this month because we owe just over $1,000 for taxes. Blech.

Investments are now at $186,840. I told you we’d be back below $200,000 this month, but it was fun to hit another nice round number first!

2018 Financial Goals Update:

  • KILL THE MORTGAGE – $26,700 to go! If this was the only thing we were doing this year, I would feel super confident, but this big trip AND paying off the mortgage… it feels like a stretch! If we nail both of these goals this year, I will be ECSTATIC!
  • 27-Day Europe Trip –   -$487.75 – Earned: $10,996.65, Spent: $11,484.40 (with “earned” meaning the money we’ve made from selling shirts on Amazon and “spent” meaning all of the costs for the trip as well as any extra payments toward our mortgage) – We didn’t put any extra toward our mortgage and didn’t pay for any trip costs this month. Sales are low this time of year and next month is going to look worse than this one!
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – Automatic – however, limits rose to $18,500/year which makes it messy if you get 24 paychecks a year. We’ll probably make a contribution toward the end of the year to top it off.
  • Stretch Goal: Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – Not yet.
  • Market-Based Goal: $250,000 in investments by the end of 2018 – Not yet.

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $24.26 – Batting to finish a quilt I got in the mail from someone who made the top for my wedding 12 years ago and then never got around to finishing the quilt. Now I need to figure out how to finish it! LOL!
  • $9.99 – This is a monthly fee, but I’ll only include it once. Mr. T has photoshop on his computer, but I wanted to get more into photoshop myself, so I signed up!
  • $8.97 – Carl’s Jr. dinner for my children for Lui’s birthday.
  • $15 – The cost to pull the police report to file to insurance to replace our neighborhood mailbox that got plowed over by a car in December.
  • $15 – Taking a friend out to peanut butter pie for her birthday.
  • $77 – Mr. T and I went out to a semi-fancy restaurant with friends on a double date. It’s fun to do this on occasion.

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “$7,000 isn’t a lot a lot, but I could have stretched it pretty far.”
  • “When you have a mortgage, three car payments, student loan debt, and credit card debt, a $5,000 tax bill is enough to crush you.”
  • “I decided I’m going to use my birthday money to buy an ukulele.” – This is Penny. And don’t worry… you’ll probably see an Ukulele in our expenses for next month. (shhh. Don’t tell.)

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén