Just Keep Swimming….

I know, I’m sorry. I’m not even really a “Finding Nemo” fan.

Anyway.

I know I’m not alone when I say that payday just can’t come fast enough! Right? Right?!

I was holding on to about $400+ in our checking account, leftover from divvying up our Tax Return. I decided to go ahead and send it to our Car Loan, because I was kind of afraid we’d end up spending it, because we were over budget on our groceries for the month. On the other hand, putting that cash all towards the car loan means that we will be putting some groceries on the credit card today.

There’s no way around it: while I hope we stay under the amount of money we have left in our checking account (about $150) for this grocery run, I don’t want to risk over-drawing on our account before we get paid on Friday. Grr, grr, grr.

So, we will end the month with a credit card charge.

Someone else* was talking about how it’s better to wait until the end of the pay period to pay debt because she always ends up being short on money before the next paycheck. I read that, commiserated, and still made the same mistake I always do! I know we’ll pay off the credit card as soon as we get paid, but that’s paying for last month’s bills with this month’s money. (Well, February’s bills with March’s money.)

In other slightly-downer news, I found out info about my side hustle: while part-time staff get paid on a pay period that lasts from the middle of one month to the next, they don’t do Direct Deposit (?!?!?!?!?!) and instead will have to mail my check. So. That won’t happen until the last day of March, so I won’t actually see any of this money I’m working so hard to earn in February until April. Siiiiiiiiiiigggghhhhhh. Hey, at least it will still come in (well, I may not truly believe it until I see it!).

That’s the update from over here….. Anyone got good news to share?

– M.

* That “someone else” is a fellow PF Blogger, and I simply can’t remember who it was! If it was you, speak up!

Cutting Cable and Commercials

EatIn hopping around online to read new-to-me personal finance blogs, I found this post: Does Less Exposure to Commercials Translate to Fewer Wants? This touches on something I’ve been thinking about ever since our daughter L has reached the “I want” stage.

We don’t have cable, and we don’t have rabbit ears (though I thought about trying to get some in time for the Olympics), but we do have Netflix and we also watch Amazon Prime. L only watches movies on DVD or “Olivia” or “Dinosaur Train” on Netflix/Amazon, and none of these has commercials. Nothing drives me crazier than previews at the beginning of DVDs trying to sell something to my kid (really, Disney? “FastPlay”? THAT’S THE WORST MISNOMER EVER I HATE YOU).

Having been without cable for years (honestly, I don’t really even remember when we last had cable – it could have been 2008, because I kind of remember seeing things on tv about the election), we really have gotten very used to living without ads. (Side note: this makes me very unpopular with some of the surveys I do – I have never seen the commercials they are asking me about.) This has the following noticeable results:

1) My students and colleagues say, “Have you seen [fill in the blank commercial here] ?”, I say “No,” and then we move on. Well, if it’s students, they often want to describe the commercial to me. This is when I tune out and start thinking about something else, like reviewing my lesson plan.

2) My daughter doesn’t usually ask for specific toys, but more general ones. For instance, she wanted a castle (but not a Barbie castle). But it still happens that she sometimes asks for something by brand name. We went to her little friend’s birthday party, and the friend received a Bitty Baby, and then it was game over. Grrrrrrr. Overall, though, L really doesn’t know what toys are even out there. We get her games and invest time in playing those games with her, and I don’t think she knows what she’s “missing.”

3) I don’t really know what’s out there, either – I don’t know about new phone contracts, new gadgets/gizmos, upcoming sales at stores, insurance policies, etc. Usually that’s good, and I’m glad of it. The less I see, the less opportunity I have to think, “Ooh, wouldn’t my life be better if I had [insert thing I’m obviously doing just fine without] ?” However, there are times when I realize that I really don’t know what’s going on sometimes – I don’t want to buy things I don’t need, but sometimes I feel like I don’t know as much about what’s available out there. Maybe there’s a cheaper way to do something? A new credit card that will give me more perks? On the balance, though, I think the saving I’m doing outweighs any negatives from not seeing commercials.

Plus, let’s be honest – we spend tons of time online, and there are ads everywhere. I go to Target every once in a while, and when I do, I still want to buy 72.3% of what I see.

Perhaps the biggest perk of not watching commercials is that my mind just isn’t as cluttered by images and ads as it would be otherwise. No, I don’t know about upcoming films (but it would pretty much have to be a new Star Trek or Star Wars movie to convince us to go see it in a theater anyway), I don’t know about the newest vacuum cleaner, and I don’t know what the coolest new toy is for 4-year-olds, but I think that’s pretty much okay.

Do you think your life is improved by not having cable and tv commercials in your life? Or do you think they don’t affect you? Or do you enjoy a good commercial just as much as regular programming?

– M.

Hustlin’

Side Hustle Update!-Good things happen to those who

Two days ago I went to meet with the Important People Who Tell Me What To Do at my new part-time gig. I was a little nervous, because I just wasn’t sure how many hours I was really going to be asked to work (were they going to split my job with someone else who could actually be on-site sometimes, since I can’t?) and what I was going to be asked to do (would it be exactly what was said or would there be extra things involved?). Forgive the poorly-written sentence, but I guess that does demonstrate how jumbled my thoughts have been. Very excited, but a little worried.

Well, it turned out pretty much the best I could have hoped for, so I feel extremely fortunate.

Here’s the deets:

Job Title: Instructional Design Specialist (woot woot!)
Job Description: Compare online courses to a checklist to determine if they are meeting the standard (Well, the job description itself is fancier than this, but this is really what they are having me do)
Hours/week: up to (but not exceeding) 25
Pay: $20/hour (before taxes, of course)

So, it’s really hard not to get hung up on how much money I could make if I actually worked 25 hours a week. I mean, wow. Even after taxes, wow!

However, it won’t be until the end of March until I see a paycheck. That seems like a long time to wait… but I can be patient (uh, when forced to be so).

The committee did not choose to split the position with someone else who could be on-site. It sounds like they’ve just asked someone who already does that type of thing to do the face-to-face meetings… or maybe they’re really not anticipating any face-to-face meetings much at all. In the end, I’ve been approved for up to 25 hours a week, which is fantastic. Of course, I had told them that 20 hours was pretty much what I could probably handle (on a good week), so I’ll have to be careful not to get too caught up in this and lose all of our family time to earning this money.

My goal is still to have a regular work day (including taking L to lessons in the afternoons, eating dinner together, getting her to bed), and THEN start the side-hustle work. I’d like to spend about 2-3 hours a night on this, and then make up the rest of the time on the weekends.

The Important People Who Tell Me What To Do are also not really sure about how much time I’ll need to evaluate each course (this is a totally new thing they’re doing), so it could be kind of nebulous for the first month. I told them that I expected the first courses to take longer to evaluate, but that I should probably pick up speed as I go.

I will keep track of my hours on an excel sheet, then send it along to my supervisor weekly. Seems like a pretty easy way to do it, but I do feel a tiny bit anxious about making sure I’m very accurate about tracking that time. I don’t want them to ever feel the need to question my logged hours. There’s an optional section on the spreadsheet where I can describe what I did during the time logged, which I plan to do, though it will get repetitive very quickly. Better to be safe than sorry, in my opinion.

Has anyone else done telecommuting work where you track your hours like this? Do you have any advice for me?

In extra awesome news, they seem to fully expect that this job will continue throughout the summer and even into next year, so….. SWEET. I haven’t had a summer job for a while (since we travel a lot in the summers to see family), and this is a job that can travel with us.

So far, I’ve only had two courses to review, and it took me about two hours to review the first one, since I wanted to be sure I didn’t mess anything up. I sent it on to my supervisor and will hopefully hear what she thinks of the layout and content of my comments.

I’m still waiting to be allowed access to other courses I can review – my job will rely on others opening access to courses, and if I don’t have access, I simply won’t get that many hours put in. We’ll see how it all shakes out in the next couple of weeks.

In other awesome news: 

Um, my parents have just scheduled a week-long beach vacation for us this summer! My mom and I love going to the beach but haven’t been in years and years (savin’ that cash), but this year she just decided she wanted that vacation and she was going to BOOK IT. So, we looked at some places last night online, and then all of the sudden, it was settled and decided and we’re going on vacation! Something to look forward to, especially as my fingers are pretty damn cold while I’m typing this.

Okay, do you want to hurt me now, since I’m sharing all of this good news? Are you staring at this, thinking black thoughts? If so, I apologize. Last year totally sucked for our family (well, not totally, but it was a lot harder than we thought it would be – family, finances, jobs, etc.). I’m reveling in this new start and I’m still kind of spinning around like Mary Tyler Moore in the opening credits.

Thank you to my (small number of) readers, for being willing to come along with me on this journey to eradicate our debt!

– M.