An interesting ride

Today marks the beginning of my fourth week at the new job. It’s been an interesting ride, to say the least.

The whole thing started on my first day, when the manager who hired me told me that he had both a good news and a bad news, and it was the same news. Not good. It turns out that after the offer was made and I had accepted, he received a great opportunity at another company. He wasn’t looking to leave so I can’t blame him for this poor timing, but nonetheless it’s not ideal. Luckily he works very closely with another Sr Manager within the department, so I have been reporting up to him, instead. 

Then the next two-three weeks were spent with me just adjusting to being at a normal company again. There was a lot of residual effects of my last company I had to eliminate, a lot more than I had anticipated. I was afraid to volunteer to assist others because before that was frowned upon. I was afraid to leave work at 5, even though I had come in at 7:30 and I was seriously sitting there twiddling my thumbs because there was nothing more I could do and my old boss was big on “being available” even if it meant we were secretly watching Netflix. 

During these two weeks, S and I traveled to Milwaukee. I had only driven through before and this was S’s first time in twenty years of visiting. We both fell in love with the city. People were so much nicer, the city was cleaner, we loved little neighborhoods in the downtown area, and the cost of living is so much cheaper. We are seriously considering moving there once we are done renovating the condo and can rent it out in three years. Luckily for S, he can actually take the Amtrak to his new job fairly easily from Milwaukee. Unluckily for me, there is no way I could commute to my new job from Milwaukee. 

While we’ve been talking about how in three years I will need to start looking for a new position in Milwaukee, my company announce an exit from some major metropolitan areas. This also means the layoffs that come with exiting the territory. I am safe at the corporate headquarters but this is not the news you want to hear during your first three weeks at the company. The industry we are in is heavily competitive so it has given me that push to accept that I will be with this company only as long as we continue to reside in the Chicago area.

Wow, that all sounded negative. I should say, I love being in-house instead of being a consultant. All of my coworkers seem very nice and, although I haven’t shown it yet, it seems like we have the same sarcastic sense of humor and we take good natured jabs at each other (like, how I am OCD and my binder is organized perfectly). I love the independence of this position. I am really looking forward to picking up leadership skills, which has been neglected by my previous occupations. I am trying to look at the big picture on how this is still a great opportunity for me.

But at the same time, I need to get myself ready in three years. Funny enough, three years is what we talked about as to when we will try to have kids. Since that will coincide, I am hoping that I can have something ready that will allow me to work from home. I have been interested in the stock market for awhile now and maybe this is the time for me to start learning more about options, etc. It also means any debt outside of mortgage, we need to have paid off in three years.

Sorry for such a brain-dump of an entry. I hope all of my readers are doing well!

C

Update

Hello readers,

Sorry for being MIA. This is my third week on the job so I have been busy doing the commute (1 hr each), working, then by the time I get home I barely have enough energy to have dinner then go home. It has been a big adjustment to work at such a large company again and there has been some announcements, etc that has made it quite exciting few weeks here. I do hope that I will be able to return to a regular blogging schedule (not that I ever really had one) soon once I feel settled at this position.

I hope everyone is doing well!

C

How my trip home went from $300 to $500 and then down to $150

When I thought about going back to CA for a week to visit family, I had come up with the $300 budget based on what I thought was an educated guess. The flight usually costs ~$350 but, since it would be somewhat last minute booking, I upped that to $500 and I had $400 worth of credits via American Airlines. I doubt I would be eating out very much but I do like to take my parents out for dinner or cook for them and I would need some gas money as I plan on visiting family and friends nearby.

Boy, did I suck at estimating or what?

When I actually started to look at flights for my specific dates, the cost was ~$750! Even after the $400 credit, it was too pricey for one week at home. But, I haven’t been home in over a year now and I really don’t know when I will be able to visit again. I need to put my family first so I decided to bite the bullet. In my overanalyzing style, I decided to put the ticket on a 24 hr hold (free if you are current AAdvantage member).

So, how did the budget deflate again to $150? Next night, as I was on the computer to pull the trigger, I saw my total miles.  I had over 270,000 miles and I only really use miles to get upgrades from economy to first class. I decided to see how much it would be to cash in my miles. I could spend 12.5k to CA on economy direct flight and 25k back on first class with connections for additional $7.50. To me, losing 37k miles and paying $7.50 was much easier to stomach than the $350 just on the flight alone after using $400 credit. So thanks to the miles I have been hoarding, now I am looking at a budget of just $150 total for my visit home.

Now that the flights are booked, I am just busy finishing up errands around the house. I want to make sure that everything is in place and I can just focus on beginning my new job when I return from my trip. For me a new job always means some additional expenditures and tasks and I do hope to review that soon with you, as well as what I have learned in my one year of working at a small start up and why I am choosing to leave.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Blogroll

I am in the process of updating my blogroll. If you would like to be added here, please leave me a comment on this post with your URL. I would appreciate it if you would consider adding me to your blogroll, as well.
Thanks!
Caitlin

Accepting You Can’t Change Others

Thanks everyone for your wonderful feedback on my “to vacation or to not vacation” dilemma. I appreciated everyone’s support to spend the money to go and got really excited about the trip. Fortunately, S, who has been extremely unhappy with his job, had his first round interview at a promising company. Unfortunately for me, they are asking him to come in next Friday and they like to give “assignments” to their potential hires, so we have decided that San Diego will have to wait until another time. I am still going to leave for CA to see my family sometime next week and will spend a week there. Although I was really looking forward to the beach weather, I am somewhat glad that this came up as I realized I still had not made housing plans for a wedding I am attending later this month. Thanks everyone for your feedback, I really appreciated your support to spend the money, especially because the San Diego trip felt somewhat frivolous.

I had my exit interview with my boss today. I went back and forth for days on whether I should be brutally honest with him on my feedback of the company and risk jeopardizing my relationship with the boss (he is known to take criticisms poorly from anyone, even if you present it as an opportunity) or if I should just gloss over it in order to maintain a good relationship with him.  I was hoping that being honest in my feedback may help my colleagues with things such as quicker responses from management, more strategy in marketing, etc. I asked several friends for advice and no one had a good answer.

Just minutes before my meeting with him today, while bouncing ideas off with a friend who will also be leaving her company and has had similar problems with her management, we both came to the realization — our feedback won’t change anything. I am not saying that I don’t think bosses ignore or take offense to areas of improvement suggested by employees, just that our specific bosses would. Knowing nothing would change, there was no reason to risk burning the bridge. So with that, I had a nice conversation with him, discussing some of the issues I have run into while working there (some of it outside of his control) and reiterating some issues I had previously raised.

I do feel somewhat guilty towards my current coworkers since I think if he were to listen to my suggestions and honest feedback, it would have assisted them the most and made the rest of their time at the company easier.

Have you been in a situation like this? If so, what did you do? If not, what would you have done in a similar situation?

Should I spend or save?

I am still stuck in the endless debacle of background search. Seriously, I have gone through an FBI background search before for an internship before and even that did not take this long.

Anyway, one of the big things I am looking forward to is taking a break between work. My immediate and extended family live in California and I haven’t seen them in over a year. Since then my dad has battled cancer successfully and my cousin had the cutest chubbiest baby. I am excited to spend some time with them and my dog that my parents have kidnap and won’t give back. Then, S and I are planning on going to San Diego for a long weekend to relax. 

Technically, this is a frivolous spending, especially the long weekend in San Diego. I anticipate my visit to my parents will cost me about $300 (flight + food + gas) and San Diego will cost about $1,250 for both of us (flight + hotel + food + entertainment). This is money we can put towards the mortgage or to finally cap off the emergency fund. But, at the same time, I think it’s important to be connected to my family and also take a little breather between jobs. I will be “under review” for the first 90 days after the start of the employment, which will mean it will be difficult to do this trip except around Christmas.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Currently I am $1000 or so short of my 6 month minimum EF and I am going to receive a healthy increase in salary with the new position but I do feel like $1500 is a lot of money to spend in one month. Your advice would be greatly appreciated…

Antsy…

Originally I had said that I will be making my decision by yesterday. I guess I sort of did but not 100%.

I have one company (the one that I think I will go with) start the background check since that will take a week or so to complete. I don’t think there is anything that will be flagged (other than my 1 speeding ticket) but it has been intimidating. I have had other jobs that required background check, etc but most had me fill out a form and everything was done behind the scene. This one actually had the third party administrator call to ask questions and I know that they have been hounding my previous employers and references. They told me everything has come in, including the criminal background, but they are waiting on a few other items. Huh? When I asked what they were (if they are looking at my background I figure I have the right to know what information they are gathering), they couldn’t even tell me. Has this happened to anyone else? Is this a common practice that I just wasn’t aware of previously?

The other company is still finalizing their offer. They sent one over but it did not include some important elements so it is back to their corporate office for a revision. I am sitting on both hoping that with meditation and prayer, the choice will become more obvious.

Until then, I am just waiting for the background check to clear and for me to make the official choice. The choice would determine when I can take a week off between work, so I can’t make any travel arrangements right now. I am also trying to determine whether I can take 2 weeks off instead of one (I have 2 weeks of vacation that would be paid out), and whether I should even if I could since that money could go towards some home remodeling that is desperately needed.

I guess I am just having one of those weeks where everything hinges on one decision and I am still staring at the fork in the road, hoping that I won’t regret whatever decision I make. Whenever I was down about my current employment I was seriously down about the fact that I had ended the interview process early at a company and I don’t want to feel that way at the new opportunity.

How does this impact personal finance? It actually matters on multiple levels. One is a much higher paying job (difference between the two offers are 5 figures) with much better health and retirement benefits. Having been at a company for a year that offers only HSA and no vision or dental and being blind as a bat and needing wisdom teeth removed, that will be big cost savings. The other is more of a fun environment with a much shorter commute and more responsibilities. But the benefits suck (HSA only, no vision or dental) and the lack of a commute will most likely translate to increased work hours anyway. Unfortunately, unlike most of my classmates from business school, I have never been one of those people who thought money and big name is everything, which is why I am stuck.

Hopefully very very soon I will be able to give you guys a good news that I have made up my mind and can move forward. A new job also means a new budget, which is always exciting (at least, when the salary is moving in the right direction). Thanks for sticking around, even during my boring updates!

Where I’ve Been, Part Deux

The reason for my hiatus again has involved the job search. Originally it started with juggling the high number of recruiters. I received contact information of over 70 recruiters from a friend and sent a mass email, which then meant that I was constantly meeting with them in person (so they can make sure I am not a scary weirdo) or fielding their calls. It got to a point that I started a log to keep their names, companies, and opportunities we discussed straight. I learned that working with recruiters really could be a hit or a miss. Some are really excellent at matching you up with positions right away, while some are flaky and will contact you about a position one day and never follow up with you again.

I was getting really stressed out since I wasn’t able to really complete my day to day tasks at my current work while juggling the recruiters. It was to a point that I was wondering if I will be able to keep my current position while job searching.

Finally last week, I started to receive some good news. I had a first round interview at a company where they gave me a verbal offer 24 hrs later. I really liked the energy of the employees and it offers an exciting opportunity to grow my career, although it also will require ridiculous number of hours and benefits leave little to be desired. I have asked for more time to decide because I had a final round interview at a large, Fortune 500 company on Friday. Today, I received the call from that company with an offer. The work is somewhat predictable, great benefits, and I loved the approach that my potential future boss has in developing talent.

So now, I am pulling out my hair trying to decide which would be better. The Fortune 500 will give my resume a name recognition that it lacks (I have worked for smaller companies so far), much more structure (means I know that I can get a promotion every year), higher salary, and excellent benefits. The smaller company will give me that start-up type experience, much more responsibilities, and a shorter commute (10 min walking distance). I find it extremely challenging to decide because I feel that I am at that point in my life where this position I take needs to be baby-friendly since if I have kids I anticipate that we will start in 3-4 years. This puts more pressure to make sure this job is a right fit for a longer haul since I don’t want to be in a position where I start a new job and then go on a maternity leave shortly after.

I will be making my decision by tomorrow. Although it is stressful to make the decision, I am extremely thankful that I have a good problem to have in choosing a company. I always based my emergency fund on having at least 6 months expenses because I assumed that a job search would take about that long. I have only been actively looking for a month and a half. I am thankful that I took the very first position out of business school that I did and received the certifications that is now a high demand.

I will be back in a few days with my decision. Thanks everyone for following my blog, despite it being extremely boring at times!

Love,

C

Educating myself

As much as I like to think that I am fairly money and business savvy after two grueling years of business school, I am constantly reminded of all things that I do not know. I feel like proportion of what I do not know versus what I do know is staggering. 

One of the areas is investing. Sure, I have learned how to read SEC reports and I know how to calculate my CAPM, etc. but I actually do not know much about options. In order to change this, I have been spending some time reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. I know that Robert Kiyosaki and some of his teachings are controversial (like borrowing money to make money) but I do agree with him that knowledge is power. I am hoping that in about ten years time I will be able to retire and I know that stocks and mutual funds (whether I do options or not) will be a big part of getting me to that early retirement. 

So I am trying to spend a few hours each day educating myself on this topic. I feel silly that even with me being in business, this is still an uncharted territory. Wish me luck. 

Where I’ve been…

Gosh, I keep on neglecting this blog! Part of it is that work has been crazy and the other part of it is just that I am still trying to get unpacked and settled in at my new condo, almost a month after moving! 

On the job front, I just had my semi-annual review and received my bonus. During the review I realized that there is miscommunication on both of our ends (like him having certain expectations on how things will look or how much time will be put in but do not communicate with me; me assuming that he remembers our previous conversations therefore I do not tell him why I am networking with someone, etc). But there is still the big frustration that my life is unpredictable not because of the work itself but because of his disorganization, and I do not foresee that improving in the near future. 

I have started to reach out to recruiters and apply for jobs whenever I see anything that I find to be a good fit. The good thing is, having full employment now means I can be more picky and apply to ones that I only want, rather than anything for which I may qualify. It is a bit hectic to juggle the recruiters as I need to be proactive and follow up with them constantly, or I risk just being another resume they have in their database.

On the home front, things are falling into place, albeit slowly. I have spent a lot of time getting my office put together, which is especially important as I juggle job search and my full time employment. The bedroom and the living room will not be completed for a long time as the bedroom needs some demo work and until then the furniture that do not fit stays in the living room. We have random clutter (I am staring at two light bulbs on the windowsill as we speak) to put away but it is almost guest ready. 

Financially, thanks to not needing to pay my first mortgage until October and the bonus check, I have finally hit my minimum emergency fund which will last me 6 months on bare-bone budget. I will write more about why I would rather beef up my EF rather than pay down my student loans quicker on a later post.

I am sorry for the absence (again) and I will try to be better about it. It’s just been tough juggling all things. How have you been doing?