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Archive for March, 2010

I see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel!  I called the apartment office tonight after work and told them about my higher electricity bills (and asked the status on fixing the compressor) and the assistant manager told me to come by on Sunday afternoon, bring my last 4 electricity bills and we’d discuss a rent credit. She said it will be no problem giving her my rent check on Sunday (no late fee).  I thought there would be balking and whatnot, but apparently this must happen quite often. She outright admitted that the emergency heat setting raises electricity costs — so at least I don’t have to argue that point. Also, I tried switching to the regular heat setting just last night, and it start squealing again, so I know the compressor still isn’t fixed (after 2 months!)  Considering my electricity bills have been $50 to $75 higher the last couple months, I’m encouraged that I might be able to swing a decent rent discount. Actually, come to think of it, I’m basing those figures on past winters, but if you compare these last 2 months with the 2 previous months, my bills have nearly tripled!  At this point, even $10 off my rent will be a blessing, but now I’m thinking that I might be able to get $50 or more off. I almost don’t want to start thinking that way in case it’s not anywhere near that much…and I still have to dig through my box of bills and find my old statements.

But if I could get a discount in the $50+ range, I will not only have money to get by next week, I might be able to mail that water bill, and perhaps, even send a small check to the IRS.

As far as an increase in pay, still haven’t heard back. Grrrrr.  I left a voicemail for my rep tonight asking her to call with an update. Interestingly enough, this project I was working on suddenly ended this afternoon. They ran out of files for me to review!  So now I’m back to helping with the manual paperwork (although they’re letting me stay in my cube for the moment). My new supervisor guy (“L”) said he might have stuff for me to do next week. So I don’t know if I’ll be stuck back in the paperwork trenches for another few weeks, or if the higher boss (“D”) has another project or what. I informed him of the change back and he didn’t mention anything else, so I have no idea where this leaves me. Regardless, I should still be compensated for my higher skill set work this week. Had I known this new project only had a finite set of files for the immediate future, I would’ve dragged my feet a bit more. See, my boss would just transfer a new folder over from the network when I was done with whatever set I was working on, so I had no idea how many there were. I thought this was an ongoing deal, at least for awhile.

I’ll tell you something, and it’s pretty sad, but my efficiency always seems to get me into trouble eventually. I either get more responsibility and (unwanted) work piled on me, or have to hunt around for other shit to do out of boredom. Which is great for awhile, but once you have a full plate again, people expect you to keep up the pace on all the tasks. Right now, it totally works, but it could go sour on me. Hick drone actually approached me yesterday about helping prep some “non-pending” items to scan (after all my offers) and so I happily prepped papers while waiting for files to upload. It sure made the day go faster. I love to multi-task, so I was quite content. I got stacks and stacks of stuff done the last couple days.  And “D” made a point to drop by my cube today. He said he’d heard I’d taken the iniative to do paperwork while working on this other project, that he appreciated it…and that it hadn’t gone unnoticed. Well, fancy!  But again, once they see how hard-working and capable I am, they may start to take advantage (happens nearly every time), so I hope I didn’t shoot myself in the foot here.

And I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me, but I volunteered to work tomorrow to get some more hours in. No one said a word about backlog or whatnot, but I know there is…and I need the damn money. “D” said it was fine as long as my hours didn’t go over 40 for the week. I assured him they wouldn’t. I worked out the details with hick drone (who actually seems more chipper about me lately…wonder why?!) and with the other manager gal who will be in tomorrow. So the plan is for me to show up after 10 am or so, give her a ring on her phone so she can let me in the building, and stay a few hours making copies and such. What’s nice is that weekends are so laid back and I don’t have to be in precisely at 10 or stay till a certain time. Manager gal said she’s heading out about 1, which is just about perfect. If she stays longer, maybe I will too if I’m in the mood. I worked 36 hours this pay cycle (an hour longer than normal, with the four 7.25 hour days I put in), and the next one starts tomorrow, so I really couldn’t stay more than 4 hours anyway. On the other hand, if I want to take off at noon, no problem. For reasons unknown to me, manager gal signs my timecards, but I don’t actually work with her or even know what her job is…so she’s not any type of direct supervisor. Anyway, I’m proud of myself for squeaking out ways to get a bit more money however I can.

Speaking of which, the newcomers moved into the office I clean, and it looks to be quite a bit more work. Well, not a HUGE amount, but I could definitely see a difference in the time it took to do stuff. More wastebaskets to empty out, lots more desks and spaces to dust, more weaving gingerly with the vacuum, more mess in the kitchen, etc.  Already in my head I’m revising the $10 more a cleaning to $15 or $20. When you think that they went from a 2 person office to a 5 person office, I think $20 extra is quite reasonable. I still want to keep my rate on the cheap side, to ward off them hunting for something less expensive (which would be hard to find)…and too, the cleaning service will now be a shared expense, so I don’t think it will be an issue. Once everyone is fully moved in (all pictures hung, all furniture in its proper home) in a week or so, I’ll renegotiate. And by the way, for a 2 person office, they had more wastebaskets than I’ve ever encountered to begin with…one in the copy room, one in his office, one in her office, one in the file room, one in the kitchen, one in the conference room. Crazy!  So now, there are 3 more!  Also, they don’t recycle (even though they use lots of plastic water bottles and aluminum cans), so I always take the cans with me. Bonus!  I wish they paid for recycled plastic here though. Sigh. (If there was a plastic recycling place nearby I’d do it as a good deed, but I’m not quite that environmentally conscious).

Alright, folks (2 hits total so far!  Wow…I’m swimming in love)…whoever happens to stop by, thanks. I keep thinking, this blog is for me, me, me mainly anyway. Still a few little bloggie love comments would be nice.

I’ve got a big day tomorrow: Recycling center (if I drag myself out of bed in time), one Craigslist appointment at 9:30, then work, then more CL (2-3?) appointments…then RELAXATION!

Wish me luck on the rent credit discussion Sunday!  Fine, I’ll wish myself luck.

(P.S. Forgot to mention!  Had a guy come by last night from CL to look at horse memorabilia. He bought $20 worth of stuff — and he got a great deal. Damn wheeler dealers!  But I was pleased. Stuff I didn’t have any use for anymore)

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Man, the last 2 days at work have dragged. Still continuing to feel antsy about all my money issues, but a few positive things have cropped up. First off, I spoke to my rep at the temp agency (called her while I was on a break) and she’s working on getting a pay bump for me. She’s waiting on confirmation from the HR person. Apparently, they gave a pay raise to the other temp in the auditing department once he transferred over like me, so it looks like this will go through. (By the way, he stopped by my cube today. I thought the “other temp” was the big guy in the cube next to my supervisor, but no!  This dude is actually kinda cute…we had a very quick, whispered convo about our jobs — the “yep, it’s boring as all hell” mutual agreement. I hope to talk to him more again soon!)

However, I don’t understand why, but my rep said she wouldn’t be able to make this pay retroactive for the time I put in doing it last week (about 9 hours or so), only this week forward. Now, I realize it’s on 2 different pay periods, but still — this sort of change in responsibility must happen all the time to their temps between pay periods. I can’t believe they are unable to pay me the difference with a separate check for last week. We’re talking what, about 6 bucks after taxes?   I’m not sure if the error is on my part for not alerting them to the change on Thursday or Friday, but if the client agrees on when the changeover occurred AND the agency was alerted in a timely manner (i.e. not weeks or months after the fact), why the hell can’t they cough up the extra dough? Then again, I believe the client should also be responsible for mentioning changes in job duties to the agency, so I doubt this falls squarely on my shoulders. I know, it’s a small amount of money to worry over, but with things as tight as they are, it’s very annoying I might get gyped on what I’m owed.

As far as what I’ll do if the client refuses to pay me more for this new project?  Yikes. In many respects, if that happens, I’ll need to extricate myself from this place as soon as possible, but if neither agency has no place new to send me, then I’ll be worse off than before. This stint is definitely better than nothing, but geez, what a reason to stay, huh?  And you know something else I was thinking about today…the people at this job aren’t the friendliest bunch. My last co-worker (the hick drone) was not entirely charming personality wise, but the few times I dropped by to say hi and see if she needed any help (I can do stuff between document uploads), she was very “meh” to me. I actually did help them out last week with a stack of member cancellations, because the computer was being terribly slow that day, and she didn’t even bother to say thanks. Then yesterday I smiled at one of the customer service girls who was milling around the cube next to mine, and she stared at me blankly. The receptionist (bleach blonde with an overdone tan and tiniest waist I’ve ever seen) doesn’t smile either, and I don’t think she’s ever even greeted me when I walk off the elevator. Aren’t receptionists supposed to be a LITTLE bit bubbly, at least?  Once I got to thinking about it, I realized that most everyone there is very closed off to newcomers. When I walk into the break room, or down the halls, I feel invisible.

Now, after years of doing temp work here and there in various fields, I know this is a common occurence and it’s happened many, many times to me over the years. Which is why I was so surprised when during a few of my last gigs, people were SO nice and welcoming to me.  I never thought I’d live to see the day when people actually treated a temp like a regular person. So suddenly being in a cold environment again is a bit uncomfortable.  The only upside is that I’m pretty much left to my own devices, and I’d rather have that than people constantly bugging the shit outta me.  I guess I should appreciate what I’ve got. It could be so much worse (I’ll have to discuss one of my worst jobs ever here soon. When I think back on that job — which lasted a very hellish 3 months last year — I remember thinking I would do ANYTHING else in the world rather than go back there again. So yes, this stint is an absolute dream in comparison).  *Thanking lucky stars*

(Shit!  I just typed a big ol’ paragraph and suddenly the page redirected to a router error page — GRRR!  I thought WordPress did more autosaves than this!)

Let me try to remember what I wrote…Ah yes, the other good thing that cropped up was that I got a slew of responses to the Craigslist ad I reposted yesterday. For some reason, all the queries were from men this round. One guy came by tonight and I practically begged him to buy something. No, actually I DID beg him (“please please please?”)  After some haggling over a never-used, limited edition brass Zippo lighter, I finally slashed the price to $12 (my first offer to him was $25). Yeah, I could’ve made more on it using eBay (maybe), but after eBay fees and Paypal fees and the free shipping I probably would’ve tossed in to sweeten the auction, it would’ve wound up about the same amount in the end. Besides, I’ve had that damn thing for sale for months, with very little interest from anyone. I got it for free several years ago from a very strange dude, so no skin off my back. And while I’m not quite ready to sell it yet (if ever), he showed interest in a large bookcase I have in the living room, so I said I’d keep him in mind if I decide to part with it. It’s one of the last bookcases I have left, and it matches a desk I have, so I’d rather keep it…but just in case, at least I’ve got someone interested. At any rate, I was determined not to have this guy leave my place without spending money so I was delighted squishing $12 into the little glass jar I use until I run to the bank.

Another dude is set to show up at 6 pm tomorrow…and yet another guy is supposed to give me a call back about arranging a time this week.

Other good things: I worked an extra 15 minutes both today and yesterday (by skipping one of my breaks both days), so that will help eek up my paycheck by a few more bucks on Tuesday.  Additionally, the check from the contract work I did at the non-profit arrived today, and as I thought, no taxes were taken out, so I wound up with $93 (yay!).  I sorted through some old cassettes last night to sell at Half Price Books, and toted those to the car this morning. Looks like I’ll save that trip for Monday night because I need to gather a lot more stuff to sell before I drive over there.  I resisted an urge to stop for dinner nibs last night at McD’s and ate 2 Banquet chicken pot pies that were in the freezer instead. Pretty damn good, I must say.

Right now, I’m down to 2 more pot pies, 2 pork egg rolls and a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. I have a few odd cans of soup and veggies in the pantry, but most of them are getting a bit old and half should probably be tossed. I’ll have to buy something else to get me through, so tomorrow I’ll stop off for cheap hot dogs & buns (along with a few paper goods I’m running low on). Soon I’ll need another bag of dog food and a can of coffee. But hopefully that can wait till next week.

Tonight I put $5 of gas in the car and bought 2 packs of cigs…and I was so hungry around lunchtime, I finally caved at went to McD’s, for a total of $3.18. For lunch this week I’d been munching on a loaf of banana bread I’d gotten from mom for Christmas that I had thawed over the weekend. But the 2 last slices I brought in today just weren’t enough to keep my hunger at bay.  I’m thawing the other loaf of Pumpkin Spice bread she made for me…which I’ve never had before. But I’m sure it will be delicious and will help get me through next week.

I’ve had a terrible time finding enough decent Amazon Turk HITs to do in the last few days (haven’t seen my favorite morning ones at all), so right now, it doesn’t look like I’ll hit my goal of $10 by Friday. But, weekends are usually a bit better, so I’ve reset that goal for Monday. At the moment it looks like I’m on track to cover rent and electricity early next week. Still looking towards recycling and DVDs sales on Saturday, some other possible CL sales through the weekend, my cleaning advance on Friday, drafting an article for Associated Content, and the jaunt to Half Price on Monday. With any luck, I’ll have a bit left over to buy more gas and food.

I’m also planning on researching other avenues for part-time work. I’m considering applying to Panera Bread or another place close to home & where I’m working now. I also need to give my neighbor a call to see if she could use a few hours help cleaning and organizing. Additionally I need to step up my efforts to find a new full-time gig with better pay and start scouring Careerbuilder more often. It seems I’m so busy trying to scrape up bits of money here and there I overlook the obvious shit like FINDING A PERMANENT JOB AT MY SKILL LEVEL.  But…I’ve had zero luck with CB in the past. Seems I always land stuff through networking or some unadvertised deal via my agencies. Which reminds me, I need to sign up with that third agency soon. Although getting the time off work will be a problem…it’s close to home so maybe I can do an early morning interview or just use my lunch hour. Who knows if they’ll have better luck finding me anything, but it’s worth a shot.

My tummy’s growling a bit since I didn’t eat dinner, but I’m not in the mood to fix anything. Sipping on coffee at the moment. Oh, for the record, 3 month old corndogs from the freezer are disgusting. Don’t even think maybe they didn’t get freezer burn (especially if you didn’t bother to seal the box back up) or “hey, they won’t be so bad.” They will. Trust me. I wound up spitting out my first bite on the floor (super hot AND gross) and tossing the rest in the trash.Ah well, I tried.

Time to relax for a bit before bedtime. I wonder if the latest episode of Caprica is up on the SyFy site yet?

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Neither of the two Craigslist folks showed up yesterday (no email, no phone call) and the gal who was supposed to come by tonight emailed (at least) to let me know she would need to cancel. So, that’s a disappointment money-wise. The only other person who replied back seems to only be able to meet during hours I’m at work, so not sure we’ll be able to arrange something. I wrote him back, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve had various luck using CL. Sometimes I get several flakes, or a bunch — yet one day not long ago, I was able to line up SIX people and they all showed. That’s got to be some kind of record. I think I’ll delete it, then repost my ad (so it moves back to the top) and wrastle up a new group of interested peeps. Someone HAS to buy something by next Monday or I’m screwed paying off rent and electricity, unless something else crops up.

I’ve been edgy all day. Having only 57 cents in the bank does that to a person. I’d hoped those folks yesterday would’ve spent enough so I could at least put some gas in my car and bought another pack of cigs. And yes, I am well aware that if I stop smoking, not only will I be healthier, but an annoying (guilty) expense will be taken off my shoulders. I’m a tense/anxious person by nature (on meds for it in fact) and having cut back on nearly everything I enjoy already, it’s REALLY difficult for me to consider giving up cigs too. I have cut back a bit though (1/2 to 3/4’s of a pack a day, instead of 1), so that’s something. At any rate, all day I was nervous not only because all my CL sales fell through, but because I was getting low on cigs. I would only have 3 left for the entire evening, which would’ve forced me to go to bed early. I love sleeping, but I don’t want to be forced to sleep so I won’t crave cigs. It would actually make me want them more, knowing I was nearly out.

After looking at my daily planner, I realized I was going to borrow money from that cash advance place on Wednesday, so I figured since my CL person cancelled, I’d just borrow that money a few days early. I’m still going to owe loan back the same week (after payday), so there’s no big difference. I zoomed over there after work, driving on fumes, got my $175 (payback amount will be $205.87), put $5 gas in the car, bought 2 packs of cigs, a sandwich for dinner and don’t hit me, more beer. Never mind, I’ll slap myself. I wasn’t even really in the mood for it, but then this sad song (that reminds me of a past relationship) came on the radio right when I was pulling into the convenience store parking lot…and as I suddenly contemplated splurging on the beer, I decided to just work harder to make up the difference. Which all sounds good and dandy at the time, right?

But, it’s not the end of the world. Everything else (including the sandwich) had been planned for, so it’s not like I blew a big wad o’ dough on a pair of shoes. Of course, if I’d done that, I’d still have the shoes tomorrow. But I couldn’t DRINK them, so there.  And thank the flying spaghetti monster I’m not one of those girly-girls who gets giddy about clothes and shoe shopping. Carrie Bradshaw I am not. Plus, when you figure I haven’t seen a movie at a theater in about 4 years, I don’t go to bars or clubs, and rarely eat at a sit-down restaurant, drinking cheap beer a few times in one week isn’t so bad. Ya think I’ve justified this one enough?

In other news, I called the temp agency this morning and asked my rep to try and get me a pay increase. She said she’d work on it and let me know. No message back tonight, so I don’t know if she’s called them about it yet or not. And, the manager of the office I clean called me (right before I picked up the phone to call the agency) to apologize for it being a bit more of a mess over there since they’re working on consolidating offices. She did mention that since I’ll be cleaning up after 3 new folks, we can renegotiate my pay if it winds up taking me longer to clean. I figure it will take a little more time with more furniture and pictures to dust, plus 3 more trash cans to empty, so I’ll probably try to eek out another $10 a cleaning if possible. Plus, I’m guessing the kitchen will get a little messier too. My estimate was a bit on the low side to begin with, so an even $50/cleaning will be a nice compromise I think…which, my fellow math whizzes, will be an extra $40 a month. Which is practically a million to me at this point.

As I was taking a smoke break today, I was thinking I really need to try to get a long-range financial plan together. Like I said in my previous post, it’s very hard to see past each week. So much up in the air. So many factors to consider. One thing I know is that borrowing from this cash advance place has got to stop soon. My feeling is “once I get caught up enough…” but there’s always a setback (i.e. my recent illness) or another debt I’ve put off that needs to be paid (i.e. 3 months to the IRS). Of course, I have had some rather unexpected turns of good luck, like landing this cleaning gig and that contract work, selling some bigger items via CL, etc.

One thing I’ve yet discussed is my credit card situation. I used to have 3 (two major ones, and one for an electronics retailer). Long story, but the bottom line is that several months before I was downsized as a legal assistant (fall of ’08), the minimum payments on the 2 major ones got to be too much for me to handle. This was before I cut out all my non-essentials like cable, Netflix and Rhapsody. I tried to pay them what I could when I could, but they kept bugging the crap outta me (“yeah, we got that yesterday, but when are you going to pay again?”), and they didn’t seem to even want the $25 or $50 I could send because it wasn’t “enough”. So I decided, I can’t win and stopped paying. Took awhile (oddly), but they finally both came after me with a vengeance via collection agencies: calls, letters, and so far, one lawsuit (which they won by default).

I sought counseling from a bankruptcy lawyer (free 30 minute consultation last fall). He was the one who told me to stop paying on my other card since it will be wiped out with the rest of my debt once I file bankruptcy. So now those fuckers are on my back. He was also the one who told me not to bother trying to stop that default judgement, because the best I could hope for would be maybe a 10 day delay in the court finding for the plaintiff.  Whatever. Only problem is, to get this all settled, I’m looking at about $1,000+ in fees, financial classes and court costs.  It’s so weird to me that you have to pay a chunk of money to officially proclaim you’re broke.  My original plan was to have the money sometime this spring, but obviously, doesn’t look like that will happen.  The nice thing is that I can retain him for as little as a few bucks and he’ll field any collector calls, but since it will be months and months before I can come up with additional money to add to my “bankruptcy layaway” (as he termed it), I didn’t really see the point. I just turned off my ringer and screened all my calls over the last few months. Fortunately, most of them have stopped now.

From what I understand, they will try to find out where I’m working to garnish my wages, and because I was unemployed there for a while, it may have been tougher for them to track me down.  I suppose any day they’ll figure it out, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  My priority now is to keep the roof over my head and the utilities turned on. If I have to gear up the bankruptcy express, then that’s what I’ll do (via means I’d rather not think about right now, like crawling to my asshead brother).

I never thought I’d be in the position to be dodging creditors. It happened to my parents years ago and I vowed I would never get into the same mess. Plus, it makes me feel plain shitty for not paying off the debt I racked up. If, for some bizarre reason, I find myself drowning in a vat of money, I’ll pay every cent off in a heartbeat. Of course, my credit would still be a wreck, but at least I wouldn’t feel bad anymore. And if I had the money to at least get back to a “reasonable” payback schedule, I’d do that too. But it’s too late.  They want it all. NOW. Bastards.  No, I take that back. It’s my fault. I just wish they weren’t so…unpleasant about it, especially in this economy.

The two things I do feel good about are that: 1) I paid off all my student loans (I think I wrapped that all up in about 2002), 2) I paid off my car around the same time.  There’s another back story regarding my student loans. Won’t get into it too much now, but while I was in school, my dad had promised to pay those off for me “come hell or high water.”  Well, that didn’t happen. My parents did pay for quite a chunk of my tuition and living expenses though while I was in college, so I am grateful for that. However, I incurred student loans starting my freshman year, but my older brother only got loans his last year in school. I’m not exactly sure how it turned how that way.  My parents didn’t push him to apply for loans or grants when he went to college, and he never got around to getting paperwork done till he was a senior. We both went to private, rather pricey colleges. As far as I’m aware, his loans totalled around $5k. Mine were about $18k (plus I did work study and had grants). He landed a job making about $40k within 6 months of graduating (with help from my dad and a “mentor” he set my brother up with).  I was making minimum wage ($4.25) working part-time within 3 days of graduation. No help, no mentor. I’d been forced to move back home (3 hours away) because my parents were flat broke, and I was told to get a job “anywhere” and “fast” to help out. Like I said, rather long story, which I’ll elaborate on more later.

Bitter, who ME?

Alright, enough rambling for now. Oh!  I got one page view the other day (whoever you are, thanks for stopping by!)  I do so love I have this blog to get all this stuff off my chest when I’m in the mood.  If anyone else happens to wander in, I appreciate you taking the time to read my little diatribes…

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