MM’s Money

September 10, 2008

BIG News And a Hurricane!

Filed under: DH,Lifestyle,Planning,Relationships — mmsmoney @ 5:49 am
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Big news – DH reconsidering his work situation + a chance conversation at a social event = NEW JOB. Having just started this blogging thing last week, I didn’t post anything about his resume-writing, interviewing, etc – especially since this all came together since Labor Day, but OMGoodness! And I didn’t want to get my hopes up, either.

He was talking to an old friend at a cookout, and she mentioned being overwhelmed at work – she had an empty job that no one had applied for in the 6 weeks the posting/requisition had been open. She works for a non-profit community agency that manages social support grant money from the Federal and State governments – including a brand new program area that supports green-building efforts in the lower income housing field. DH was/is fascinated by this burgeoning industry – green-construction – and they spoke for a long time about the new program and the job itself – serving as project manager/inspector for this new program. That was MONDAY 8 days ago (9/1/08)!

Tuesday (9/2/08) I fixed up his resume to highlight the associated work skills/qualifications and he emailed it to his contact. Wednesday (9/3/08) she called to set up the interview. Thursday (9/4/08) he interviewed. Friday (9/5/08) they checked his references and ran background checks. Monday…nothing. Yesterday (9/9/08) – HE GOT THE JOB. It’s definitely nowhere near the money he had been pulling in a few years ago, but it is a JOB. 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, they want him to start this upcoming Tuesday – the 16th. After consciously trying NOT to get excited/hopeful, this is an awesome and amazing change for our family.

Money. He’ll bring home roughly $2400 per month. $800 will go to daycare, right off the top. Now we have to budget the rest responsibly. We haven’t had the conversation, but certainly a large chunk of that will hopefully be going to pay down our debt at a rate I will be HAPPY to report month after month!

 So since this will be the first office environment in 8 years, he’s gonna have to buy some clothes.  That will be an investment not accounted for in this month’s budget, but it has to be done. This is a slacks and shirt office, no jeans/t’s/golf shirts – so I figure he can get by with khaki’s (3 or 4 pairs – NOT dry-clean-only) and roughly 5 to 8 shirts. He really does not have anything that will do – his previous jobs/contracts had been construction sites – where a t-shirt without holes/stains was fancy! We’re hitting Kohl’s Department Store (maybe one-step up from TJ Maxx and one-step down from Dillards) first for the basics…I’m thinking $250 for the slacks/shirts and a pair of shoes. Does that seem reasonable? If necessary, he can get by with his ‘nice’ boots if we can’t find any office shoes this weekend.

Then there’s Hurricane Ike swinging through the Gulf at us – projected to hit Corpus Christi Friday afternoon – putting storms at our door Friday night/Saturday morning. So maybe shopping should be done tomorrow evening, instead. Our landscaping sure could use the rain – but I hate to hear of damage/destruction from storms, so we’ll be praying it lands gently.

Daycare & Working

Filed under: DH,Lil One,Planning — mmsmoney @ 12:00 am
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We made a hard choice last month – facing my DH’s difficult work situation, we decided we would cut back our daycare to two days per week. This saves us $100 per week and major bucks in cost avoidance. It’s a double-edged sword. Yes, we have to increase our income and figure out our path out of debt, but he’s been bidding jobs all summer and not having a lot of success. Paying for daycare while he’s at home trying to drum up business put a lot of strain on our finances and on our emotions…

Factor 1: He won’t bid jobs that require him to finance significant materials/parts/equipment. We’ve gotten into trouble with this in the past and we can’t do it. Not above a certain threshhold – which we determined together to be $500. That’s the max. So that limits the jobs he can go after. Some jobs/customers will buy the materials (to avoid the contractor’s mark-up which can be 50% plus), so he focuses on these kinds of jobs which are few and far between.

Factor 2: He won’t hire illegals as helpers. It’s not fair to some, but from a legal perspective, and from his personal liability, he can’t do it. Helpers are covered under his umbrella policy and his bonding, but only if they are registered apprentices with the state. So there you go – he can’t get help for $8/hour. He has to pay a living wage to his helpers – and that’s $13/hr and up depending on the skills of the people he needs. So that too limits the size of the jobs he can bid. If he can’t get good help for the amount the customer is willing to pay for the job, the job goes to another bidder. Again – finding the niche that will pay the labor costs for this work is difficult – so jobs are few and far between.

Factor 3: Our babysitter is awesome and flexible with us. Lil One has been with her since she was 3 mos. old and is a favorite at the sitters. So keeping her at all, even if only 2 days a week, was something the sitter was willing to do. She would have been within her rights/and I would have understood, if she needed to kick us out to get a full-time child in that spot. But she didn’t and that’s such a blessing.

So DH has 2 days in the week and the weekend to schedule jobs. Most of the time, he can do that, unless the General Contractor’s schedule requires Monday through Friday. If we run into that, our sitter will accept Lil One for the additional days – as a drop in at a slightly higher rate – but otherwise, we’re only accountable for paying her for the two scheduled days. 

DH is reconsidering his business model – and the ‘industry’ he’s in. It has been so difficult these last few years to make it at all (even without all the bad choices and financial missteps), that it’s time for a significant change for him. And hopefully, getting this figured out will be good for him and good for us, too.

September 8, 2008

What I Love – Frugal Stuff or Not!

Filed under: DH,Frugality,Lifestyle,Lil One — mmsmoney @ 12:00 am
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  1. I love to cook. So eating out or grab-n-go foods are not appealing. This is a big money saver in our household. DH makes it very clear he’d much rather eat my cooking than spend money on not-as-good restaurant offerings. However, this does add to my stress sometimes – like this past month – when I’ve been so very busy at work that I haven’t been able to plan well and when coming home to jump right into cooking doesn’t really appeal. I grew up cooking for my big family (6 of us) so I’m used to cooking for a crowd. If I make dinner for 3 vs. 2 (adults we’re talking here – Lil One would rather eat cheerios and chicken nuggets than my cooking – I’m trying not to take it personally), then it doesn’t cost all that much more and I have leftovers for lunch. Not eating dinners out saves probably $80/month and leftovers saves $100/month.
  2. I love to read. Now that I’ve decided to stop buying books and use the dang library, I can indulge my reading without breaking the bank. I tracked my B&N/Amazon Books purchases last year and WHEW they were high. I’ve been on the not-buying boat since January and it’s save us … wait for it…$800 so far this year. Yes, the library sometimes doesn’t have the immediate gratification of getting the latest releases first. And yes, I can’t love the book and reread it again and again (without checking it out again) like if I owned it, but really – $1200 a year on books is a lot.
  3. I love coffee. I drink at least 2 mugs (and real ones – 16 oz.) each day – one right when I get up and one for the commute to work. I will not sacrafice my shade-grown fair trade good stuff for some cheaper alternative. One – for the taste. Two – for the principle of the thing – buying organic, fair trade ensures living wages are paid to the farmers and that is something I believe in and will continue to support. Not to mention the negative ecological impacts of clear-cut coffee plantations (FOLGERS!). I try not to hug the trees too much, but in this case I would hug the coffee tree if I could. And really – that extra $2 per week is not gonna pay off $40K anytime soon, so we’ll stick with good coffee.
  4. I love Good Diapers bought with a Good Coupon. Well, actually I don’t love them, I just hate the alternative. Lil One’s rear-end requires the high-end purchase, so if I buy generic she is miserable with the rashes & chaffing. That then requires purchase of expensive baby diaper rash creams and so on. Yes, I’d save $10 per week on the diapers, but a tub of Dr. Smith’s would be $12 every other week, so there’s no real savings there (only $4 per week). And how could we put a price on discomfort for the Lil One? Buying the better diaper is the way to go for our family. That being said, we’re preparing to potty train this fall and these expenses could go away soon, adding $70/month back into our budget.
  5. I love good beer. No, not Miller Geniune Draft vs. Miller Lite. I mean flavorful, handcrafted beer with a significant hop profile. A balance of sweet malt to bitter hops. I mean a beer that follows the 4 ingredient rule of the Germans: Water, Barley, Hops and Yeast. NO rice, no wheat, no additives, no hops extract. So what is a family trying to cut our expenses – slashing and burning – going to do? DH learned how to make our own. Yes, we’re like moonshiners cookin’ up brew in the backyard. I may post another on this topic itself, as it is pretty interesting, but the short story: a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is regularly $15 (grocery not discount store). And we could drink that within 2 days (no we’re not alcoholics, we just drink beer most days). That’s $3000/year on BEER after sales tax (8.25% in Texas). Or about $1.35 per beer.  So by buying the ingredients (and the equipment, which we got a great deal on) making it ourselves is less than $0.60 per serving – plus the purchase of the ingredients is TAX FREE because they are ingredients, not finished food products. So we don’t sacrafice our sophisticated beer palate AND we save upwards of $1500 per year! DH has perfected a California-style American Ale (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone), a London-style Ale, an excellent porter – dark, balanced and yummy in the winter. These are our standard beers.

So what do you love that you think helps you save money or that you wouldn’t give up even for cost savings?

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