Denali Northern Expenditure

Tag: work

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. 🙂

The Our Next Life Challenge: Take 2

The Our Next Life Challenge: Take 2

Long, long ago, Steve over at Think Save Retire started a series called: our next life – then our friends over at Our Next Life, the blog, continued the series. We first participated in September of 2015 and ended that post by saying: “I should probably re-write this post once a year for the next seven years!” because plans change and ours are so fluid. So, here I am again 2 years later revisiting our plans.

Our Next Life Timeline

2018 – Take the kids to England, Wales, Norway, and Iceland – this will be a 27-day trip! This is one of the big changes from when we wrote this post the first time. This was supposed to be an England-only trip the summer after we paid off the mortgage. Now we’re doing a sweeping 4-country trip (so still fairly slow travel compared to hitting many countries) and we’re doing it before the mortgage is paid off so we can visit my parents in England while they’re living there.

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How "Make More Money" is Like a Video Game

How “Make More Money” is Like a Video Game

Quick call to action: I’m running an awesome research project and need your help. I need as many responses as possible. Go take the survey. It won’t take long. Thanks so much! Do it for science!

Maybe you’re like me. You read all these amazing posts about how the solution to your problem is simple. Make more money. And then you think: “Yeah, wouldn’t that be great?!” The posts say: “Don’t worry. It’s easy. Start a blog. Make an extra $90,000/year” Or “just start an e-commerce business and watch the sales replace your day job income in no time!” Now, as a consistent blogger of nearly 2 years that has made a grand total of less than $400 on this blog (want to increase that? Sign up for Personal Capital with my affiliate link. The service is free. And awesome. I promise), and as someone that runs an Etsy shop with 2 total sales (I won’t pitch that to you as well. You’re welcome), let me tell you that I finally figured it out!

There are levels to the game Make More Money

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Inspiration is like Mario

Remember how I told you Lin-Manuel Miranda is better than you? Well, he is. And today we have just another proof. Way back in November, he tweeted a series of amazing tweets about inspiration that I haven’t gotten out of my head. Mr.T worked his graphic design magic on the tweets, and now look how amazing it is!:

Inspiration is exactly like getting a star in Super Mario Bros.

“Inspiration is exactly like getting a star in Super Mario Bros. Exciting, and super rare. You’re invincible for a short time. The rest of your time, you’re breaking bricks, navigating pitfalls, you’re living and dying. You’re doing the work.”

– Lin-Manuel Miranda

Isn’t that brilliant? Some days we’re struck with awesomeness and we feel invincible. But I love the imagery of Mario breaking all those bricks. He just keeps breaking the bricks. Every day, we get out there and we break more bricks. If you don’t jump up to break those bricks, you’ll never get the stars.

Let’s go break some bricks, my friends! And when you happen upon a star, plow through the obstacles as fast as you can! It won’t last long.

Love, Maggie

How to Quit Your Job (to Make it Better!)

How to Quit Your Job (to Make it Better!)

Is your job terrible? Do you feel undervalued or stressed out or overworked? How much do you depend on that income? How badly do you want out? Here’s how to quit your job (and how that might actually make your job better).

Want to Quit Your Job?

BACKGROUND: I was hired nearly seven years ago by a behavioral economics company to be a contractor. I was hired to do research for the company and help write white papers when needed. Back in those days, the company had less than 30 employees. Today, the company is much larger. It has 3 offices and over 200 employees. My boss is awesome and has always been an advocate for my work and my flexibility (and gave me a 33% raise just over a year ago). The company, however, has had some growing pains. For the past 6 months, they’ve been adding hierarchy where there hasn’t been any.

Over the past six months, with the restructuring, several things have happened. Several people around the office have decided I’m under them in the hierarchy and have either decided to ignore my work or not consult with me in the first place. With changes in H.R., my paycheck was forgotten for three pay periods in a row! Then, in December, someone in the office accused me of dishonest business practices via email (and then failed to apologize or even respond when I responded with proof against the accusations). Needless to say, the past six months haven’t been great for work.

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Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

In the book Born for This by Chris Guillebeau, he recommends setting a date to resign from your job each year. On that date, you commit to resigning if your job is not the best fit. This exercise forces you to re-evaluate every year with an ultimatum. Are you miserable? This is quitting day! Things going great? Reset the calendar reminder for next year and carry on.

What if?

Many advocate that if you prepare for the absolute worst case scenario, you’ll get over your fear. So, what if you lost your job tomorrow? What is the worst that could happen? Your family goes hungry. You lose your house. Jobs are scarce. Keep the thought experiment going. What would you actually do?

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Broken hose pipe

How to Stop Leaky Spending

Last week, Mr. T turned on the outside hose for the first time this spring. The water trickled out. After some sleuthing, we realized the pipe had burst and as soon as Mr. T turned on the hose, the water started going in the (newly insulated and beautiful) crawlspace! Upon seeing the water all over, my first reaction was “SAVE THE STUFF!” I mean, that insulation was not cheap. And the boxes sitting in the water weren’t going to save themselves! Mr. T looked at me and said: “First we have to stop the leak.” He’s so sensible. That’s why I married him. Obviously. He made an excellent point. The order matters! 

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Pay Your Kids and Put them to Work!

Let me preface this post by saying I don’t have this parenting thing figured out. I yell at my kids sometimes and I can’t get them to clean their rooms. But I do know one thing: Kids want to earn money.

Think about it. When you were a kid, do you remember how much that random check was from your aunt and uncle for Christmas? I don’t. (Checks were weird!) Do you remember that hard-earned $10. Absolutely.

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“That Looks Like a Lot of Work”

As Mr. T and I have been actively DIYing our own windows, hot water heater, attic insulation, etc we’ve heard several versions of the phrase: “That looks like a lot of work.” People are so impressed that we’re willing to work so hard to save some money. As a society, we’ve become programmed to shy away from something that will be hard. The decision between spending two weeks in your crawlspace working on insulation and paying someone $1000 to do it instead seems obvious. The default answer is to spend the money and let someone else do the work. How did we get here?

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