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Viewing the 'Not shy or retiring' Category

Lots of Financial News for a Change

October 18th, 2013 at 09:53 am

Let's start with the biggest anxiety reliever. DH's contract runs into at least the end of 2013. They sort of casually told him this on Monday after we'd been fretting at the impending end-of-October date. And since they have more money in 2014, it'll likely be extended again. Pheww.

Yesterday a colleague and I had a meeting with our dean about salaries. Our department chair is nice but useless and, as he says" doesn't want to spend HIS capital" arguing for us. Thanks a bunch. Three additional colleagues and I all missed a $2000 salary increase because we "went up" for our tenure equivalency early. The salary bump came six months later, and we were not eligible for it. The university so rarely moves on any of these issues, no one even whimpered publicly. No one except for my colleague who was madder than hell. As it turns out, the dean see our point that it penalizes seniority rather than rewarding it and is pushing our case. Since it was all going so swimmingly, I asked if they could do something about me being on half salary while in London. She was genuinely shocked about that and promised investigation there as well.

So, nothing definite out of it yet, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Cross fingers, please.

Then I narrowly dodged a $65 immunization last night. The school wants 11-year-olds to have a booster tdap vaccine right now. I figured we'd save the doctor visit and went to Walgreen's, but they don't honor my insurance for "medical" vaccines, whatever that means. They were happy to do it for $65, and there were other parents there all grumbling about it. I called our doctor this morning and she'll have it in the office on Tuesday morning-no fee or co-pay. I'm thrilled.

No other big news. DD and I went to Noodles last night for dinner as I had a coupon for a free meal. I'm shocked at how many people and their kids eat dinner out all the time. We spent under $6 for both of us with my birthday coupon, but the couple behind us who confided that Thursday is their Noodles Night spent $54 for themselves and two kids. Eeek.


October 6th, 2013 at 07:49 pm

We had a nice weekend, but I am working way too much. Except for a few breaks, I spent all of yesterday (until after midnight) grading papers. DH made dinner, but this is a month full of various commitments including teaching Sunday school, and delivering a conference paper. I seem to be always behind.

But still, it's ok. We had a lot of fun at the "Black Hole Bash" sponsored by our Astronomy department. DD brought a friend who actually stumped two well-known astronomers with her question. I met lots of interesting graduate students from all over the world and learned that we really have a fabulous astronomy department.

I will miss the paycheck when my Monday night adjunct teaching ends, but I am really looking forward to having some more time.

What a Long Day

September 10th, 2013 at 06:45 am

Except for two breaks yesterday, I taught from 8am until 10pm. Everything went very well, but I'm glad I only have five weeks left of my evening class. What a grind.

Especially when it's a long day like that, I tend to go on auto pilot, making sure students are engaged and getting the information, but not probably as open to their emotional reactions. Last night, my confused student who couldn't find Pride and Prejudice and seems addicted to her phone talked to me after class. She wanted to let me know she'd be late next week as she's having wisdom teeth pulled. Would you go to class after having teeth pulled? I tried to reassure her a bit, but oddly, for someone who usually appears very tough, she broke down in tears and started telling me how scared she was to have her teeth pulled. The emotional angst of first weeks just adds to the exhaustion.

Off to a London meeting this morning before my class. These are busy busy weeks.

A Low-Key Rainy Day

September 7th, 2013 at 08:20 pm

Now that school's in session, I think lots of my time will be spent course planning for my new class. While it's mostly seniors, their levels of preparation are widely varied, and I can see the class will need some fine tuning from my original plan.

So, while DD was at a birthday party I spent a few hours plotting the class work and homework for next week.

Spending was confined to a pretty darn frugal grocery store trip. We were very happy to see hours of rain today. We certainly needed it.

One note of hilarity from my evening "open enrollment college" job: Two weeks ago I assigned 50 pages of _Pride and Prejudice._ Tonight a student e-mailed me to tell me she couldn't find the book anywhere. Regular readers of my tales of woe may remember this student being chastised for her cell phone habits during class. I sent her a link to the 162 copies in our county library, assuring her at least one must be available.


July 9th, 2013 at 10:21 am

Our state income tax refund finally arrived yesterday. What a relief. We did file late because I was in London, but it's been months. It's almost $700 and I'd like to divide it up into Roths and DD's college fund. That, coupled with a few rebates, will at least get some things rolling.

My study abroad debriefing session is today. Not sure what that all entails, but I'm eager to get going on next year's recruiting. I also need to find a better text for my advanced professional course.

The weather looks a bit scary. Big storms forecast for this afternoon.

Buying, Selling, and Thinking

June 10th, 2013 at 09:19 am

Perhaps it's turning 50, but DH has England fever again. This always comes and goes, but his aging dad, boring job, and our renewed taste of London living last spring has stoked the fire.

I told him I'd think it through some more. We need to do a more complete financial inventory, and he needs to do some realistic stock taking of his job prospects. But of course, I have money anxiety about the whole thing. I swear, I should not read articles about retirement saving. The one in yesterday's NYT had little to do with our situation as it focused on people who were (in my opinion) too loaded up on bonds. But it always makes me nervous, so some clear-eyed examination of the state of things would help.

My ebay auctions were only somewhat successful. I sold some DVDs that I'll post this morning, but had to relist a couple of items. Several weeks ago when I volunteered to sub tutor for a friend it seemed like a peachy idea. Faced with three nights there this week, I'm not looking forward to it. But often no one shows up for the tutoring hours, so maybe I can get some work done on a prospective UK budget.

Some Good News

May 30th, 2013 at 09:57 am

All of my university dept colleagues got a very odd letter yesterday that no one could figure out. We've been strongly advocating for more money. If I told you what I was paid, you'd weep. Really. It's why even during the busy semester virtually everyone has extra jobs. Anyway, seven years ago the university agreed to pay people a very small amount ($300 annually) every year to support retention. No one has received any kind of a non-title raise in almost 10 years, so even that small amount was welcome. Well, two years later, they just stopped paying it. No explanation, no nothing.

Every time we asked about it, we were told the money was just no longer available. Yet there seemed, for a while, to be money available for new hires getting paid more than we were. They like to call this salary compression. I guess I have another name for it.

Our department chair told us there was no money, and morale has been very low. A good friend who just won a teaching award told the chancellor--at a planned photo op--that she was quitting because she couldn't afford to work here anymore. So, out of the blue yesterday we all received a letter saying that they'd start this again. And some of it--though how they figured it is very bizarre--will be paid retroactively--very very slowly. To make up for years of NOT paying it, they'll add another $50 each year. Now that may make up for it by the time I retire. But a whopping $233 extra landed in my June 1 paycheck. I know I should be happy about it, and I sort of am, but it again raises the issue of how lousy it is there. Sigh.

Ebay Successes and Class Woes

May 21st, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Just got the news that my summer class was cancelled for low enrollment. Classes across campus were cut, so I don't feel singled out; we just have summer enrollment problems. Students need to work.
Unfortunately, that was, by far, the biggest income source of the summer, so some cutbacks will have to happen.

But in happier news, I'm so glad I listed my ebay items. The total sales were just about $50, so I'll add that to my $15 from the HalfPrice Sales for this month.

Encouraged, as always, by CCF, I did some extra Swagbucks activities and donated the Swagbucks to the Red Cross.

Now to declutter and find more items to sell!


December 12th, 2012 at 06:40 pm

I suspect there was a large, loud chorus of hallelujahs today because fall semester classes are over. Usually I do a huge happy dance, and I'm indeed happy, just a tiny smidge of bittersweet. This is the first time in 15 years I won't start teaching again in January at my regular shift in my regular classroom. And my last two classes of the day today are my favorites of the term--I was sad to see them go. We really only had about 20 minutes of work and evaluations to do, but most of my last class hung around for over an hour. They like each other, and I sure like them. As I left, I turned out the lights and just looked at my regular classroom for a while. As much as I whinge sometimes, it's really the best job in the world.

But on to less bittersweet things. I had a lovely hour-long conversation with my 95-year-old aunt last night. I can't believe how sharp she is. Christmas and London both beckon--after the grading is done.

I have meetings all day tomorrow, so as much as I'd like to spend the day grading and get it done, it won't be done until the weekend.

Outrage and Frustration

September 26th, 2012 at 08:51 pm

That title about sums up yet another delightful day at the university. It appears we have another repeat of last year's payroll debacle. None of our instructors who are teaching overloads are getting paid for them until at least November. My colleagues who have rearranged their lives to slog through five classes have just found that their October paychecks are at least 20% short. And the health insurance deductions are also wrong for many of us. One of my colleagues has been double charged; mine is some odd $116 more than it should be.

Let's just saying tempers are running high. I'm eagerly awaiting the response to my e-mail to the department chair. Not happy. Not happy at all.

Car Mission Accomplished

July 24th, 2012 at 08:57 am

DH purchased his car last night. Please don't ask me to divulge the kind of car as it's more suitable for someone 40 years older. But despite some last-minute wrangling, we managed to escape for just over $4000. Since he only drives the car to the bus stop and on Saturday errands, I was hoping to pay less. But so many of the used cars we saw were either priced much higher and had mileage over 150K. The mechanic checked it out, and it's in very good shape. It'll need new rear struts sometime, but that can wait until fall.

I'm still trawling the house for more garage sale items, but paused to read this very depressing article (another one?) on retirement. It's here if anyone feels too cheery today: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/our-ridiculous-approach-to-retirement.html?_r=1

My Next Freelance Gig

May 11th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

My new freelance gig starts tonight--teaching three classes on citation, research writing, and documentation to graduating college seniors who probably should've learned this in middle school.

It's an hour drive, so my usual salary for these folks has been adjusted to compensate. I can't say I'm thrilled about discussing documentation and citation for a couple hours on Friday night, but hey, I can do it for a few weeks.

I'm giving myself the weekend to enjoy dinner out with DH and Mother's Day, then summer frugality sets in.

Rousing the Rabble

January 26th, 2012 at 08:37 pm

Yesterday's Outrage

I have two hours a week when I "have" to be online for instant access for my online students. It's a rare week when one of them actually contacts me during those times, so of course I blog, do Swagbucks, and read e-mail. Yesterday--crazy bored--I actually read our horrible HR newsletter. I even clicked on a link from a new HR subcommittee that had ideas to help folks through our state budget cuts--with millions and millions more hanging over our heads.

I was hoping for a small small tidbit of helpful advice on avoiding pension fund fees, maximizing benefits etc. This newsletter goes out to all our employees--most of whom have advanced degrees.

Here's a sample of their advice:

Try a frozen pizza for dinner

Bring leftovers home from your restaurant dinner to eat the next day for lunch.

Instead of that steak dinner, try pizza.

Get a second job. (No awareness that virtually all my colleagues have second and third jobs?)

I swear the whole darn thing was written by second graders. It was awful, horrible, snarky, stupid, and condescending. So, loving to rouse the rabble, I forwarded it to my colleagues' discussion list. Let's just say I set things off. In under three hours, 100 people e-mailed me--equally outraged.

It's not that it was bad advice, but their awareness of the struggles their audience faces was non-existent. The darn thing ended with a listing of FOOD PANTRIES! Thank you, my employer, that you acknowledge some of us are paid so badly we need a food pantry. I cannot even quite figure out my reaction--just that this enraged every single person that read it.

Again, let me say that many people may need to be told things like this--but man--as my boss said--it was a weapon of mass condescension. Someone suggested that our department fridge should have a sign on the front saying "I am bringing my lunch instead of ordering a steak dinner." When I got to work today--it did. And all the various leftovers made into lunches--many had post-its reading, "I'm eating this instead of a steak dinner."

So--I've caused one large uproar so far--and have another in the works.

Cash and Class

January 24th, 2012 at 07:48 pm

The university started up today--and I am tired. Three classes back to back--and I'm wiped. There's always a lot going on these first few days, so it's no surprise.

My only spending today was on my lovely regular cup of coffee. But I came home late to good news. The check for the text review I did in December has arrived, and my flex benefits check is en route.

DD and DH went to the school sock hop, but I stayed home, got some ironing done, and am planning on a bath, bed, and book very very soon.

I found some old texts in my office today so perhaps I can get them listed before I drive into dreamland.

A Bean Soup Sort of Day

January 17th, 2012 at 08:52 am

Yep, it's the day after the long weekend and thankfully the beans have been soaking. I see bean soup in our dinner future. It's going to be a mighty cold week here, and the budget needs some tweaking, especially after reading Patient Saver's Atlantic article.

I've got a list; I've got a plan. I'll finish off class prep today, finish off the laundry, and file my flex spending forms.

I've still got some of my mom's clothes in my home office, and I've been having a hard time parting with them--especially her favorite boiled wool jackets. But I think I have worked through some of my grief with them, and remembering how she always was grateful to the Salvation Army for feeding her and her mom through the depression, they'll go to the Salvation Army thrift shop tomorrow.

Serenely Busy

December 5th, 2011 at 08:47 pm

I'm now happily at the point in the semester where students look harried, exhausted, and overwhelmed, and I don't. Everyone has their final assignments in their hands, I'm just waiting on deadlines and responses. The weekend away did me a world of good.

It will still be busy busy, but I'm feeling good about things. I powered through some papers tonight on a break from my evening class, and I'm spending all day tomorrow grading before the dog gets the stitches out and (hopefully) the cone off.

The husband of my best buddy here has lost his job. They're underwater on their house, and I'm not sure they can swing it on her university salary and extra gig. But we're in the same boat. Small salary, lots of work, one kid, foreign husbands without jobs. I predict we're trading thrifty soup recipes by the end of the week.

Hmm--What to Trim?

November 16th, 2011 at 09:34 pm

I'm starting my "what to cut, shave, trim, snip, and other hair analogies" list.
Our goal will be cash preservation.
So, I think I'll pare down the retirement plan contributions since we have no match, increase the insurance deductible on DH's car which we should've done months ago, stop the mortgage principal prepayment, but what else?

We have no cable, but we're keeping Netflix streaming. I've considered giving up the Sunday NYT, but not yet. Kumon also stays. The grocery bill and the energy bill both need some scrutinizing. The prepaid phone is about as cheap as it gets.

Today I used the Mattel vouchers to buy toys for the Christmas donations at church with a little left for DD's stocking stuffer and some upcoming baby gifts.
I thought I might have a hard time using the voucher at Target, but checked with the service desk first, and they were happy to help. Between that and the coupon for free milk, it was a cheap day.

DH got the official news today. He'll be done at the end of the year. Tomorrow's list will be on more income generation and job search stuff. I'm a little daunted and welcome any advice you want to throw my way!

The News From the Boss

November 13th, 2011 at 07:46 pm

So, as we expected, it looks like DH's almost 11-year contract will end sometime shortly after the new year. They love him, want to keep him, but can't afford to keep him. Their budget has taken close to a $500K hit. He's indicated he'd work fewer hours happily enough, but his boss isn't sure there's money for that.

His contract with his agency specifies they pay him even if he's not working. But we're both relatively sure they'll dump him quickly if he's not. So he's already put the word out to former co-workers at other firms, to other parts of his current company etc. Later this week we'll revamp his resume. Emergency planning has begun.

Our US cash reserve is ok, almost to the 25K I wanted, but not quite. We should be able to get it there by his layoff. We've got more funds in the UK, but our goal is to live on my regular salary if we can. His unemployment and my second-job and freelance money will go to the emergency fund. All that would work, except there's those three months in the summer when I don't get paid. For those months, we'd rely on unemployment and my freelance and second-job money.

All in all, it's not that bad. We will hope his jobless state won't last long. We are again pleased that I am the insurance holder,and we have no worries or extra expenses there. We are both pretty frugal, and we will crank it down another notch, refiguring travel, entertainment, and Christmas expenses first.

I have some heavy work days ahead, so our budget meeting will have to wait until Thursday or so. Our freezer and pantry are full.

My dear mother always said when faced with bad news, celebrate the good. I bought a restaurant.com voucher (what a deal they are!) for a good Italian place and we went out for dinner and a movie last night. Have any of you seen "Margin Call"? I thought it was swell. Kevin Spacey and Stanley Tucci are spectacular. Jeremy Irons is as loathsome as he should be in that role. Going out was cheap and raised our spirits.

Friday Finally

November 4th, 2011 at 03:32 pm

As I predicted, I got sent to academic service hell as the new chair of a contentious committee. But it might be fun.

DD and I got the great Barnes and Noble 50% off coupon yesterday and spent it on some pent-up book desires. I'm still thinking of ways to get through this tower of papers and have some fun this weekend.

I got some sort of Office Depot rebate today, and need to dig through my bill drawer to find the mattel lawsuit coupons soon. And I'm finally whittling down the mortgage a bit more. Oh how I'd love to pay it off....

Interesting Day

November 3rd, 2011 at 05:58 pm

I met with students all day and spent nothing except a couple bucks on a gallon of milk (with coupon) on the way home.

Student meetings are always interesting enough, but I started talking to a colleague who is trying to get me interested in teaching several semesters abroad. I am interested, but needed to talk it through with DH. We decided that we would make it work, if I want to pursue the opportunity. Stay tuned on that one.

Next I was informed that I'm being unanimously elected the chair of a committee tomorrow. I protested, saying I am voting for anyone BUT me, but it's a very contentious committee in our somewhat contentious department, so perhaps it will be fun.

Then I picked up the food pantry collection barrel for the department and hauled it three blocks across campus. Normally that would be awkward enough, but it was folded flat about 5'X3', and it was very windy today. At one point I almost took flight.

Back to the somnolence of grading--

My Promotion Went Through

April 8th, 2011 at 09:47 am

I was antsy and anxious all morning yesterday before the big meeting, but everything went fine, and my promotion--and that of my colleague-- went through. We celebrated with a glass of wine and a pizza.

It's not that much money, but the job stability that tenure offers is pretty darn valuable in an economy like this. I'm relieved. I wish there was a little time to celebrate, but I've got lots of papers waiting to be graded!

Leftover pizza for lunch today!

A Wacky Week in Wisconsin

February 18th, 2011 at 08:14 am

As I'm sure many of you have seen, it's been a tumultuous week in Wisconsin. I hope it's offered some valuable lessons to my students who think everything is about money. Indeed as an SA devotee, I think about money a lot, but I hope I think about value more than just money. Indeed as I spend my day grading on-line papers, I want/need to think even more about it.

Although tumultuous, it's been a cheap week. I'm determined to eat a lot of what's been in our pantry and freezer. I've eaten all my (late) lunches at home or out of my work bag. Last night I made stuffed shells, bringing a pan of them to my colleague with the ill child. We enjoyed them too. I also managed to mix up a box of Williams Sonoma Cookies and Cream pound cake mix I got for a gift. It was fine--not all that spectacular, but DH enjoyed it.

DD is having "Hibernation Day" at her school. She's been looking forward to the nature talks and bringing her sleeping bag into her classroom.

Good weekends to you all!

Not Gruntled at all

February 13th, 2011 at 02:28 pm

That is to say--disgruntled. I love my job, I truly do, but the current situation in my state is making it hard to like it very much. As I've blogged before, the state cutbacks mean at least a 10--and more like a 15% paycut. That alone makes me uneasy, but worse than that is the rhetoric coming out of the governor's office that threatens protesters against the governor's attempt to eliminate various kinds of collective bargaining with the National Guard. Gee Guv, we teach your children. Is this a reasonable way to talk to us? There are all sorts of ads running about how overpaid state employees are fostering a climate of distrust and disrespect that I find tremendously unhealthy. I know what I make, I know how much I work, and if I'm indeed overpaid, it's news to me.

I'll likely be in a sulk for several days, but I'm spending Sunday afternoon as I usually do: working.

Some of the Bad State Budget News

February 11th, 2011 at 01:42 pm

I've done a preliminary calculation of what the state budgets cuts to the university system are going to cost me. It's somewhere in the very bad neighborhood of $3000. I know we'll be fine, but I was kind of hoping to quit my extra class in the evenings. I'm wiped the next day and could use the break. But with $3000 less, I doubt it will happen. Now to try to brainstorm about not-so-painful ways to save $3000.

Not in the best of possible moods....

A Big Relief

January 22nd, 2011 at 06:48 pm

I finished my promotion file today and will have it ready to turn in on Monday. I can't tell you how relieved I am to have it done. We spent a big chunk of change at Office Depot today on the binder for the file, dry-erase markers, a big box of printer paper, and other stuff.

I'm really tired tonight; I think the stress of finally getting it done has worn me out and I'm turning in immediately after MI-5!

It won't mean that much more money, but it should mean increased job security.
That seems like a darn good thing.

Last Day of Break

January 21st, 2011 at 07:38 am

Even though I've been working pretty steadily through my Winter break, I feel sad it's come to an end. Classes start Monday morning, and while I'm sure there's a great crop of new students headed my way, at least half of me would like to hang out at home another couple weeks. Maybe it's the subzero temps?

I feel like I've accomplished a lot over my break, on prep for next term, my promotion file, and on my decluttering. The trick comes to see if I can keep it up once the craziness starts up.

Steamed about heat?

January 6th, 2009 at 06:12 pm

Our dreadful December/November gas/electric combo came today, and it ain't purty. matter of fact, it's $437 ugly.
I am NOT happy and am sitting with a blanket wrapped around me as I type.

Other bad news includes the IRA statement from American century and the fact that it's still the first week in January. Lots of heating, and probably lots of stock market losses on the horizon still.

Happier news includes the start of a new class last night and my unnatural avoidance of the vending machines there, despite the 4 1/2 hour long class.

Pleased to hear anyone else's good news...

La La La La

October 12th, 2008 at 03:44 pm

I've decided that all this economic news is too depressing for me. Yesterday's arrival of the quarterly retirement account statements was just too ugly. So I'm ignoring it for a bit and getting on with the rest of the goodness that life can offer. I'm not going to change my investments and will keep to the 403b and IRAs, but I need to take some of the stress of the market devastation out of the forefront of my brain.

So la la la la....

Hip Hip Hooray!

February 13th, 2008 at 07:58 pm

Ok, I'm unreasonably happy about this, but since retirement savings is one of my anxiety issues, I'm pleased to announce that I've fully funded (finally!) my 2007 Roth.

I invest plenty in my 403b, but my Roth has never gotten the attention it deserves, poor little thing!

I'm thinking of it as a valentine's gift to myself, and probably better for me and a lot more long lasting than chocolates or flowers. Too bad the mutual fund folks won't throw in a card or some chocolate-covered strawberries.

A NS first day of the month

February 1st, 2008 at 09:30 pm

I'm still busy rooting around on the shelves and in the freezer for dinners. Except for perishables and a few treats, I'm sure I can make it through another few weeks without buying much.

It was indeed a NS day, although I had to order books for next term's classes. Although the university is SUPPOSED to get me desk copies, they never get around to it until it's too late to use them for class planning, so I got them used on Amazon. I had Christmas credit left over, so didn't spend anything there.

I also spent some time moving funds around, and plopping more into my Roth for 2007. But man, it's ugly when I compare my year-end totals to those a mere month later. I keep telling myself it's the share totals in the mutual funds that count, and that I can buy more shares not that they're cheaper, but ouch. I avert my eyes.

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