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 9, 2008

Another Non-Compromise for Quality

Filed under: Frugality,Lifestyle,Lil One,Uncategorized — mmsmoney @ 12:00 am
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or won’t compromise. Lil One was breastfed for 15 months. Oh, that was an awful day she rejected me and made me feel unnecessary to her continued existence! It was a horrible, no-good, rotten day (that’s a book title…Googling…Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst). Horrible To me, of course, she thought Cow’s Milk the best thing EVER. 

 “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child” – King Lear, Shakespeare.

So that all being said, it was a transition for me, but not her. I started out buying Horizon organic brand milk – at 2007 pricing, it was $4.50 a gallon compared to $2.89 for hormone-riddled store brand milk. And at the time, the store didn’t offer their own branded organic option.

Every week, I go to the farmers market – for produce, it’s the only stuff that’ll do – in season, local producers, no food miles involved. well, about 6 months ago a new vendor appeared – a DAIRY. Organic, local, fresh milk! at $5 a gallon. Wow, it was like crack or heroin or potato chips. We were all hooked. It had about 10% more butterfat content than the horizon and was sweeter and glorious. Even to me, who had been suffering through fat free milk in her coffee and cereal. Lil One gained about 6 pounds instantaneously, and was getting a lot of chub in her little legs and arms (as a breastfed baby, she was kinda lean and I had weight issues on her behalf, thinking she was underfed).

Then 6 mos ago, the dairy abruptly stopped coming – I was devastated and the whole family was upset with the store brand organic (which was available at that point -how could they pass up the market)! And the dairy was close to 150 miles away, so it wasn’t as if I could go there to get the milk! Well, it turned out that the farmer had purchased another dairy and was integrating it (equipment, etc) and its herd into his operations – including being the recipient of their wholesale licensing. That licensing allowed the dairy he had purchased to sell their milk to groceries for resale to the public. The farmer hadn’t had that license and was only able to sell to companies that would use his milk in production of another product – BlueBell Ice Cream for one – and direct to the public via farmers’ markets, local delivery, etc. So this was a great thing for the farmer, but we were needing that milk!

So three months ago, I was shopping in the fancy local grocery (an upscale version of the regular grocery) and they were selling 1/2 gallons on the shelf of that milk – for $5. A half-gallon. I was so torn. Our family LOVED that milk. But to pay double? I was not willing to do it and kept the knowledge (that it was available) from DH. Silly of me, but I made that choice. And then considered and reconsidered that decision. A few weeks after that, the farmer reappeared at our farmer’s market – with gallons for $6.25. A hike, but not surprising – in that same period, Horizon went from $4.99 to $5.99 and local organic from $3.99 to $4.50. So now we’re hooked again. And $0.26 is a very very small premium to pay (comparing to Horizon) for this stuff…it is that good. I usually buy 4 gallons at a time, every other week. Its high-butterfat and the pasteurization required of organic milks keeps it fresh for up to 3 weeks (meaning I’ve bought it and not opened it for up to 2 weeks, then had the gallon working in the fridge for up to a week after), so it really seems a frugal and conscientious purchase rather than an extravagance…

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