Category Archives: work AKA the bacon

from $95k to $55k…is this real life?

It’s been a hectic (but quiet on the blog front) 3 months, and here we are in May already. I missed the updates for March and April, and amazingly we are looking at over 41% of my student loans paid off since the birth of this blog!

If you look at my very last post, I was stoked that I had hit almost 30% paid off. Well, if you recall, I had negotiated a student loan payoff deal with my current employer and the first of 5 x $10,000 payments hit my Navient account on my first re-anniversary with this job. I’ll get a check every anniversary for the next 4 years as well! Here are the monthly outstanding amounts that have gone down since the last update:

March 1, 2016. $66,528.05
March 3, 2016. $56,540.13 (huzzah work anniversary!)
April 5, 2016. $56,181.26 (oops I checked 4 days late)
May 1, 2016. $55,779.22

That’s a whopping total of $39,247.65 paid off (41.3%) since the birth of the blog!

I’ve been still paying my standard minimum payments (totaling about $557/month) and looking forward to the day (projected in about a year and a half or so) when that gets knocked down to $242/month.

Unfortunately we’ve racked up a balance on the credit card, but have been able to pay it off each month; and there’s still the furniture (interest free for 12 months) we’ve been working on. The good news is that Mr. Bacon was finally promoted to full-time status at his job, which comes with amazing healthcare benefits (and even a pension!). He was even able to apply his 12 years of experience from a previous job, which moved him up the payscale by 12 levels–pretty insane (in a good way) how cut & dry that was.

We also got our taxes done–I was able to manage getting the federal returns done on my own using the H&R Block software and we got over $1300 refunded. BUT the state returns were tricky since we lived in two different states, so I ended up paying someone $135 to get those done. We ended up getting about $250 back from Maryland and owed $380 or so to Delaware. Not too shabby!

Other than that…we got A PUPPY! So much for no major life changes this year. 😉 That might explain part of why our expenses went up this month. Looks like I will be adding a budget line item for the Bacon Pup! My goal this month is to start using the budget categories in Mint.com again to get an idea of what they all are.

Advertisements

Employment Contract…SIGNED!

Well, today was the day. I’ve been working at my new job for about 4 weeks now and really enjoying it. I’m being challenged, I’m respected by my colleagues, and I feel appreciated. Work has been great and I enjoy the people I’m working with!

That’s a good thing too, because today I signed the employment contract, which has a “special compensation clause” to pay back $50k of my student loans over the next 5 years (see “negotiating like a PAWN star“). I won’t get the first 10k until the first anniversary of my return to work here, and if I do decide to leave before the 5 years is up, I have to pay back the money that’s been disbursed, PLUS 3%. Yikes!

Luckily I have no intention to break that contract, and actually feel good about knowing we’ll be staying in the same physical location for the next 5 years. Job security at a place I enjoy! Win-win!

Taxes have been done!

IMG_2701.PNG

On a Friday (Jan 23rd), I got my W-2. I spent the next day, Saturday morning, doing my taxes. It was not crazy like last year, when I owed over $2500 (see “ouch, my taxes!“). Nope, not so bad at all. This year I owed Maryland $216 and actually got a $24 REFUND from the feds! Say, what!

It was amazing how quickly my returns were accepted too, when you do them as early as the end of January. Within half an hour of submitting them, they were both accepted. I just checked my account yesterday, and saw that within a week, I got my huge $24 refund (Jan 30th).

Not too shabby at all. Next January, I am looking forward to seeing what our tax situation will be like, since we are getting married and that’s supposed to come with all kinds of tax benefits right? Spouses with benefits! 😉

January update & negotiating like a PAWN star

It’s been quiet on the blog here as the ESCAPE PLAN was in full effect!

The January update essentially was the Escape Plan being implemented! As for debt, I paid the minimums again and am down to $70,910.54 (decrease of $292.65)…keep reading folks, because I’m no longer worried at all about this small creep in student loan repayment!

So how is the Escape Plan agenda going, you ask?

  1. Finalize the new job details and get an offer letter in writing.
  2. Find someone to take over our lease at the condo.
  3. Help Mr. Bacon get relocated through his current company (they have multiple locations).
  4. Give notice at my current job… 2-4 weeks.
  5. Find a new apartment.
  6. Pack up, move out, and get outta here!

That’s right, blogger friends, I have a new job!!!

My previous boss in Delaware had reached out to me over Christmas break about a new office he is opening up at the University. We have always had a great relationship and he was very understanding when I left to go to DC to get more experience in our field. We would still bump into each other sometimes as Mr. Bacon is from Delaware (which is also where we met), and he would half joke about me coming back to work for him. I would half joke that I’d do it if he would pay off my student loans. But seriously, I didn’t want to move back to do the job I used to do…it had to be something different and more challenging.

As it turns out, this would exactly be the different and challenging position I would move back for! I would be in charge of my own office and be involved with some of the research projects with the University–finally a use for that master’s degree that was once completely optional in my field of choice! Now, I hesitate to use the term “dream job” as I’ve called my last 3 jobs my “dream job”, so the next thing to determine…was he serious about paying off my student loans???

We sat down on a Saturday morning, for breakfast at a diner to negotiate terms. Pretty casual as we have that kind of friendly relationship. However, he showed up in jeans and I showed up in work-casual. I was to be taken seriously! I had written down a list of everything I wanted and knew I kind of had the upper hand, as he really wanted me back as an employee. I felt prepared to negotiate LIKE A BOSS, as Mr. Bacon not only subjects me to all kinds of HGTV shows, but I also have to watch Pawn Stars.

One of his concerns was that I wouldn’t stay long-term, as my job history has been a bit all over the place (he knew my background and understood why, but still). Which was when I pulled out the BAM! “if you pay off my student loans over 5 years, I’m willing to sign a contract for that term.” We went back and forth a bit on salary, as DC rates are much higher, and in the end I got basically the same base salary (after taxes), a percentage of profit-sharing in the company, AND we agreed to $10k per year of student loan repayment over the next 5 years.

$10k per year isn’t all of the debt, but I figured I would still pay the minimums so that I could lock down the -0.25% in interest rate, and after about 5 years of me paying the minimums and the company paying $10k, I’d be close to being completely done! So that’d be me paying off $20k-ish, and the other $50k being paid by…NOT me!

I was really happy with the outcome, as I feel the cost of living in Delaware will already be $15k less. With that in mind, the additional $10k of student loan repayment, and then the profit sharing, I think I’ll be making out with essentially a $30k raise, minimum. WHOA! Turns out that last weekend Mr. Bacon bumped into my new/old boss again when he was back in the area job-hunting, and apparently I was making him sweat and stutter over the breakfast negotiation. 😉

This was my first time I felt I had the experience to back up a negotiation like this, as previously I would just accept whatever number was given to me. So…yeah! Yay! Suck that, student loans! 😀

Escape Plan: ACTIVATED!

Things have escalated in just the last 6 weeks and I know there are at least 5 of us that are pretty disgruntled at work. Which is pretty bad considering it’s a small company of maybe 20 employees, max! Back in November, I was happily oblivious and had no inclination of getting the hell outta here. Figured I was making good pay, getting some good experience, would stick it out through our two-year lease on the condo (which isn’t up until April 2016, about 6 months after we get married)…

And now the shit has hit the fan.

Things have gotten worse since the unofficial annual review, with being maybe the only employee to not get a Christmas bonus (?!?), and this week having a one-on-one meeting with the supervisor looking at the business plan for 2015 (which only confirmed that I’m ready to leave). So instead, I am following through with the lead I mentioned in my last post and have officially activated the Escape Plan!

On the agenda:

  1. Finalize the new job details and get an offer letter in writing.
  2. Find someone to take over our lease at the condo.
  3. Help Mr. Bacon get relocated through his current company (they have multiple locations).
  4. Give notice at my current job… 2-4 weeks.
  5. Find a new apartment.
  6. Pack up, move out, and get outta here!

On the bright side, last night I went to happy hour with a friend who works in the same field as I do, but as a federal employee. We found out that I make over $30k more than she does as I work in the private sector! WHOA! Then again, I do have 4 more years of experience than she does. Fascinating for having the same certification.

I did talk with our pretty awesome landlord, and he was congratulatory and very cool about us breaking the lease early. There’s not a penalty in our lease agreement, however by Maryland law, he is bound to charging us for any unpaid rent until a new tenant takes over. But he seemed to think it wouldn’t be a problem finding someone at all, as usually posting a month in advance has given him some good leads. We are aiming for me to start the new gig March 2nd. Tick tock BOOM!

The end (of 2014!) is near!

don-t-keep-calm-the-end-is-near

Yup, so we’ve got two days to go! YIKES! And unfortunately, there’s no sign of a Christmas bonus, which ironically I had mentioned in my last monthly update, “While I am expecting another huge bonus at the end of the year, I don’t want to assume I am getting a certain amount (always dangerous to assume that!).”

Almost creepy foreshadowing. 😦

I ended up having an unofficial annual review after I wrote that post, came to find out that I didn’t actually perform too well during our third quarter, and that overall my numbers weren’t as high as one of the overlords was expecting. (Again, the “how many Etch-a-Sketches have you made today, Buddy?” mentality I mentioned in my last post.) He kept trying to get me to explain why, and I thought it was pretty obvious that it was because they had hired another person during the second quarter, and thus we were splitting up the work between the two of us (rather unfairly, as the new guy got most of the new big accounts).

This is the first time at this job (or any job I’ve ever had), that I’ve been evaluated based on numbers, and it’s really demotivating when there are so many variables out of my control that affect the damn numbers. Another reason I’ve been disgruntled. So up until that point, I had expected at least a small bonus, but things are looking bleak. Typically the bosses will direct deposit it into our account by the end of the year (since it has to be in the calendar year for taxes), and nothing new was in this morning, so there’s still one more day…

In the meantime, this will be my 48th post for the year (HUZZAH!), so that means I have reached one of my 2014 goals of averaging 4 blog posts per month! Another yearly round-up to come soon. In the meantime, enjoy your New Year’s Eve and stay safe! 🙂

The Next 5 Years…

So I’ve been at a crossroads at work recently. I’m just coming upon 2 years here and the past year has deteriorated into a job that I kind of dread and resent. When I was hired here, it was for a completely different site, really fast-paced, where you showed up at 7:30am and busted ass all day (lunch wasn’t typically until 1 or 2pm), but you were most always done and out the door by 4:30pm. The parking situation at work sucked, but I was happy to walk or bike to work each day (1.5 miles from where we used to live), as it was refreshing and forced me to get some exercise in on days I didn’t feel like exercising.

A year into it, I got moved to my current office full-time, because the guy that was previously here went bonkers and pretty much abandoned his post.

Of course, now I feel like I’m the one going bonkers–this job description is completely different than what I relocated to the Washington DC area for, as it is very numbers-oriented (the “how many Etch-a-Sketches have you made today, Buddy?” scene in Elf) and involves a lot of “outside calls”, driving out of the office to drum up more business, and longer hours. I feel like I’m always in the car, driving everywhere. We aren’t expected in the office until 8:00am (although my coworker that commutes from Annapolis sometimes saunters in closer to 8:30am), but it’s not unusual for me to be at this office until 6pm. I had originally consoled myself when they first moved me over to this office that it was a “promotion”, as I did get a 10% raise and more responsibilities…but now I feel like I’m doing much more than 10% more!

I also don’t feel like I’m being valued for the master’s degree that I’m still paying off over $71k for. (You know, the whole reason this blog exists in the first place.) There are different ways of getting into our field, and you don’t need a master’s degree to do what I’m doing, so my coworkers that are doing something similar to me have a lower degree, and may be even making more as they are both more into the sales side of things. Which is completely frustrating.

A lot of this frustration also seems to be coming to a head, as me and Mr. Bacon will be in the position to buy a home in the somewhat near future, which involves settling down and laying down some roots. BUT I just don’t feel like this is a job or location that I can see myself at for the next 5 years. When I applied for the original job, yes, but right now, no.

So in the meantime, I am keeping my options open. I think the universe is trying to tell me something, because in the last two months, I’ve been “courted” by three other companies, so at least I know that I’m a wanted commodity. I also realize that I don’t know everything there is to know in my field, so another year where I’m at will still give me plenty of much-needed experience. So I am not frustrated and disgruntled to the point of “must jump ship NOW!” but I will definitely be looking to make some changes in the next year…

Why I don’t side hustle…

AKA hooray, my raise just kicked in!! Along with a bit over $900 in retro pay since they activated the raise as of January 1st. Cha-ching!! That should take care of the overlapping rent this month as we move. Then the extra paycheck coming up in two weeks should cover the taxes I owe and maybe, just maybe I will actually be back on track this month. fingers crossed! 🙂

So why don’t I side hustle? I’ve got enough potential for growth in my current career field as is (year #2 has only just begun in my specialty and you get paid more and more depending on experience) and so little free time with how busy they keep me that it doesn’t make sense. I’d rather have my spare time spent towards running or biking, or dates with the fiancé…or more sleep!

Anyone else in the PF community *not* a side hustler?

input, output in the numbers game

INPUT news: Sadly, my last paycheck still didn’t reflect the raise that I was promised at the beginning of the month due to the unexpected promotion. Before I emailed the head bosses though, I waited for my supervisor to come back from vacation. He already knew about the lack of raise because Head Boss in Charge of Payroll had contacted him, I guess to clarify how much I was supposed to get? So it’s been sorted out…and good news, it’ll be retroactive as of the first of this year! WHOOP WHOOP, hoping that means about $800-$1000 extra in the next paycheck, which will help with all the extra costs in the coming weeks.

OUTPUT news: My current landlord finally got back to us about negotiating after I sent off the email about giving us free parking (after we gave notice nearly a week earlier). I was kind of impressed–she basically offered us $1550 for our studio with parking. Remember, my rent is $1495 and each parking spot is $155 = $1805 total. So, WOW. I had asked for $1495, free parking.

BUT…we had already decided we wanted a larger apartment (which would not be in the $1500 range at all in our current building or surrounding neighborhood), with washer/dryer in the unit. (To tell the truth, we didn’t realize we probably put almost $20 on the laundry card every week–which would cover the utility bill at our next place!). And we already signed a 2-year lease while we were waiting for her to get back to us. So, too little, too late, Mrs. Landlord!

What I learned–hey, next time you think you’re paying too much for rent? Be awesome tenants for a year, then give your two-month notice because rent is too high, and see if your landlord comes crawling back to you to negotiate! This could backfire though–I’m thinking this happened because we live in a high-rise apartment building with multiple units. Probably wouldn’t work as well if we were renting a house or something.

I’m starting to get really excited about our move! While still being busy as crap at work, but hey, you win some, you lose some.

How’s your input and output going?

Over Here, Undercover Boss!

Mr. Bacon LOVES his reality shows. He watches anything from redneck series like Duck Dynasty and Lizard Lick Towing, to Shipping Wars, Million Dollar Listing, Bar Rescue, and…the one that actually holds my attention span, Undercover Boss. I get extremely envious (kinda) of the employees that they manage to wrangle up on Undercover Boss. Well, maybe not really their background, but their good fortune at the end of the show. The producers of the show always seem to find the SADDEST stories. Like the young single mom with three kids who lost her own mom to breast cancer, doesn’t have a reliable car, and works overtime while also going to school. The guy who went to college but has to support his father who got paralyzed in a car wreck, and now works two jobs while paying off his student loans. Of course these star employees are also the nicest, most loyal and hardworking kids at the fast food joints. At the end of each episode, the undercover boss is all like ta-da! It was really me, the CEO of your huge fast food corporation! Here’s $50,000 for a down payment on a house, a brand new car, and $25,000 to pay off your student loans! And…I’ll give you your own franchise! Or pay tuition so you can attain your dream of going to culinary school!

And I’m like…wait…hey…where’s MY undercover boss offering to pay off MY student loans?

Well, obviously it would be too obvious because the two owners of our really small company are very conspicuous looking. But are there secret video cameras around? Because they would show I’m a really hard worker who cares about our clients! Well, I think they already know that without the secret cameras. 😎

The promotion update…as suspected, Employee X got fired, or rather technically “resigned” by not showing up for 3 consecutive days of work. This became official 2 weeks later, on Tuesday when I last posted. I did, BTW, get off work sorta early, at least everyone else got to go home before noon if they came in at all, while me and the supervisor discussed “What next???” in the office and then out at lunch. (Note to self: the little red car does NOT like driving in the snow!) He wanted to know what made me tick, in terms of making me work harder, i.e. was it for the money or for climbing up the ladder?

I blurted out, “I’m motivated to pay off my student loans!” and mentioned the possibility of having the owners pay off the loans instead of giving me a raise. Then I told him how much it was ($86k!) and he was like WHOA. He also thought paying for the loans and giving me a raise were kind of the same thing, as they wouldn’t just pay the loans completely outright (yeah, we all know that $86k is a FAT LUMP O’ DEBT). If they paid Sallie Mae, they would still have to pay tax on it, so it’d be the same as me getting my paychecks taxed before sending off the money to Sallie Mae.

So, taking over the position of the ex-coworker (Employee X, see what I did there??) would supposedly give me enough of a raise that I could pay off my debt in 2 or 3 years (according to the supervisor). What he doesn’t know, is that the aggressive version of my current “Game Plan” has me paying it off in 3 years ANYWAY (by Jan 2017). Well, 2 years is certainly better! Maybe it’d be 2 years, and enough savings for the wedding fund! The other option (as they are in the process of hiring some fresh meat), is to stick with the original plan of me opening up a new office in downtown DC and being in charge of that one. But it may not happen until this summer.

The Tuesday discussions didn’t really have any conclusions, and if anything, he wanted to give me time to think about things. We parted with him saying “I know there are more questions than answers right now.” Either way, it seems that I’m in line to get a promotion one way or the other, I just have to decide which I’d want to do. I’m leaning towards staying at our current office and helping to get that much more organized and efficient, as I’ve already got good relationships with the people there, rather than start from scratch. AND…it’s also what I’ve been already doing for the last 3 weeks!

That’s right, work stress has at an all-time high as I find myself working longer hours which leaves little time for much else. I feel like I’m hard-wired to work hard (having been one of those nerdy overachiever Asian kids with a Tiger Mom and endurance junkie) and I don’t mind working so much as I honestly do enjoy what I do, but it’s the not having time for enough sleep, exercise, and my relationship that take a toll. I haven’t exercised since Tuesday (the half snow day), and while me and Mr. Bacon are out of town right now, I did bring my work laptop to catch up on paperwork. 😦 It never ends and while I feel bad for being a workaholic, the new fiancé is being as supportive as possible since he sees how stressed out I am. 😳

In the meantime, I’m hanging in here, trying to get my socializing and exercise on during the weekends. *sigh* Am I going to become one of those “weekend warriors”?

SO…any reality TV shows you can relate to? Do you watch Undercover Boss???