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A $24,000 Loss – The Sequel

Three weeks ago, Super Frugalette and I swapped blog posts about our biggest financial mistakes. Her $24,000 loss due to a bad work contract got so much interest that we both thought a continuation post was a great idea!

Here is the sequel to my biggest financial mistake….

So the biggest mistake was that I did not have a lawyer look at the document. Yes, I lost $24,700, but within 6 months I received a $10,000 raise and my bosses’ job. Here’s how.

After the Work Take Over

When the new owners took over, jobs were cut left and right. Since I was the lone person in the marketing department, I had some job security. I continued my work basically without a boss for months. The new owners were frequently away. One day when one of the new owners was in Maryland, I was called into his office and informed that I had a new boss.

She was a French woman who had spent years working in South America. I was informed that I was going to start working out of the Florida office. Yes, informed. I would be commuting from during the week to a different state. I did not take this very well…

I had just adopted a new kitten that needed to be fed at lunch time. How would my kitten be fed at lunch? I had also been accepted the University of Maryland’s part time MBA program in Baltimore. It was the most competitive program in the Baltimore area and I worked very hard to get in. The program suggested taking an introductory class in accounting before entering the program if you have never had an accounting class….which I hadn’t. On account of my travel, I was going to have to drop the class.

My New Boss

I desperately wanted another job. However I was now commuting to Florida. This left me unable to find a job in Maryland since I was now always in Florida.

Additionally, my boss was not made aware that 75% of her job was going to revolve around in-store signage (you know all those signs you see displaying prices…). Signage is a huge part of retail and our signage budget was close to $500K a year! Yet she had no idea that this responsibility was part of her job!

Her lack of knowledge regarding the signage and the fact that she had never worked for a retailer, only for the vendor, made the transition very difficult. She was a bright woman, but that knowledge gap made it was harder to get things done.

Difficulties at Work

We struggled to work together. I was resentful of my new commuting lifestyle. I also had to negotiate to take my Monday and Thursday MBA classes in Baltimore for my fall semester. This meant that when September came, I would take a 7am Tuesday morning flight to Florida. I would then leave on Thursday afternoon. I made it to class by taking a cab from the airport. I always had my luggage right next to my desk!

I was also resentful that I was no longer managing anything. She was “managing” everything even though she had no idea how to get things done.

Moreover, there was a huge cultural issue. She worked in South America for the vast part of her career. In South America, there is one “boss” and everyone else is an assistant. There is no concept of “project manager” or even “coordinator”. However, if you are a control freak…it would be right up your alley.

I liked my job and title of “manager” and so to become an administrative assistant was frustrating. The straw that broke the “camel’s back” for me was my 2% raise.

I Had It At Work

She felt that I “didn’t contribute very much”. I was livid! Contribute! I put my entire life on hold!

I was angry and hostile and it started to show in my work…and I was even angrier that I couldn’t find a job in Maryland since I was still on a plane to Florida every Tuesday morning for an MBA program.

Finally, I had it and I did it.

I walked into her office closed the door and told her that I was very angry about my raise. I felt it was unjust and wrong. However, I told her that I was going to give her my best work because that is the type of person I am and the employee that I want to be. Her face went into a look of shock and then she said that my attitude would carry me far. We got along famously after that for a couple of months and then…

Better at Work But Then

She was fired.

She was fired right before we went into holiday season, which is the busiest time in the marketing department. It was a nightmare. She had spent tens of thousands of dollars on radio advertising–meaning that spots had been purchased. However I had a two-fold problem. I did not have the information I needed to produce the spots and I had very little time to get the spots to the radio stations.

The advertising was designed to highlight different fragrances in different regions of the country. However, the fragrance and cosmetic department had not provided the actual fragrance special offers that were applicable to the different regions. The fragrance department could not confirm that the promotional offers would be in the stores when the radio ads were going to be aired.

The radio campaign was poorly thought out…the fragrance department has never had a good record for ensuring that promotional items (like gifts with purchases) were in stock in general. We should have never centered a campaign around a department that was so unreliable.

Thus, I had to put some pressure on the fragrance department and had to copy the owner on an email stating that we would lose the 30K if the fragrance department could not provide a) which offers we were to promote in which regions and b) confirmation that the promotional items would be in stock by the time the spots aired. It worked, I got confirmation and then I squeezed three weeks work preparing the radio spots into one week.

Got the Job Done

I got it done. It was exhausting. I was happy I got it done. I did not want the company to lose $30K. Besides, I take pride in my work and wanted to do a good job. The store managers were counting on this advertising as well. In January, I was called into the owner’s office. He was impressed with the way I had handled the campaign and offered me my old boss’s job. I wasn’t going to be made a director (like she was) but I was going to receive a 10K raise. I accepted the offer ….

End Result

Moral of the story: Always make a 100% commitment to do your best. It may not pay off initially, but it will pay off in the long run.

FYI—In case you were wondering about the kitten. I recruited my father to come down and “kitten” sit. Eventually the kitten found a new home at my parents house.

Super Frugalette blogs about bringing elegance to all areas of her life–in a fiscally contentious way.

Crystal’s Comments: Wow, that sounded like a whole lotta crap to deal with before seeing a break in the clouds! I am super impressed by anyone who works that hard to accomplish their goals. You go girl!!!

Anybody else have any juicy job stories for us today?

I’ve Started a New Site – How I Make Money Blogging

Hi everybody! Yes, it is official. I have lost my mind and decided to start another blog – How I Make Money Blogging.

It is a brand new baby blog that has only just taken its first steps into the blogging world. It doesn’t have any beefy info on it yet, but I wanted those of you who were interested in making money blogging to be able to follow along as it develops.

My plans as they stand now are that I will be using HIMMB to blog about blogging more than I do on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff (yes, believe it or not, I am holding myself back). I will also be using it to give you a behind the scenes look at working from home full time, which I will be starting to do before the end of this year! Woot!

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff will still cover the personal finance aspects of my life, including how we will get by without my day job. But How I Make Money Blogging will get into the nitty-gritty details of what I actually do online to make money blogging and through writing in general. It will be where I can tell you all about my freelance work, online work problems, and how exactly I am growing my little blogging empire as I go. :-)

I do hope you will enjoy it as much as I hope you enjoy BFS! I also would love to know what subjects you would like to see covered first!

My beginning plan is to write a general post about how I am making money online right now. I will then follow that up with a more detailed look at each section – like staff writing.  I am sure I can come up with a billion things to say on the subject, but before I start gabbing away, I wanted to ask what you’d like to read about.

Can you think of something specific you would like for me to cover? What parts of making money online would you like to hear about next?

Frugal Tips for the Pet Pooch

As a few of you know, my husband and I share our home with dogs – a 13 year old Dachshund, Miss Doxie, and an 8 year old Pug, Mr. Pug. I say “share” because I don’t see anyone saying they “own” Miss Doxie…she is almost cat-like, I swear.

Thanks to major allergies, Mr. Pug is already a pretty expensive pet, so we do cut back where we can as long as it keeps everyone happy. Here are a few frugal tips I can suggest for your pet pooch.

Dog Tip#1 – Doggy Treats

I know that dog treats can easily add up if you are buying $5 bags every couple of weeks. I realized that our dogs were going just as nuts for a dropped ice cube as they did for a liver-flavored whatever.

So now, I am a big fan of using frozen green beans to make our dogs flip out. They’re healthier, cheaper, and we have them around all of the time anyway. Any frozen green vegetable works – broccoli, spinach clumps, lima beans, etc. Mr. BFS and I just like green beans better, so that’s what we have in the house. It works for us.

The point is that you probably do not need to buy doggy treats to keep your puppies happy. There are a bunch of cheaper and healthier options.

Dog Tip #2 – Doggy Beds

We splurged on a few doggy beds in our time, but soon realized that a $25 doggy bed that lasts a year is actually way more expensive than a $5 bed pillow that lasts 2-3 years. Go figure, right? Seriously though, our dogs curl up the same way on either fluffy thing. From here on out, it’s basic bed pillows for our pups. I have found the best deals at Sam’s Club or even Target – 2 or even 3 pillows for $10 and our dogs are set for a few years.

Dog Tip #3 – Doggy Bowls

Take it from a dog-owning veteran, your dog doesn’t care if his/her water dish is shaped like a T-bone or not. Our dogs drink the same amount from a shallow serving dish as they do from a shallow doggy bowl. This realization saved us from splurging on a bunch of dog-related items that are inherently 3 times more expensive than their human counterparts. $3 fleece throws from Big Lots work just as great as a $20 fleece blanket with paw prints on it from Petsmart. Trust me, the dog doesn’t care.

What other frugal pet tips can you think of? Come on, help a girl out! :-)

Net Worth – Do You Include the House?

I do include our house in my net worth calculations. I noticed that this is a slightly controversial issue in the personal finance world, but I don’t know why. Isn’t it pretty easy to simply deduct the home equity from a calculation to arrive at a new amount if you rather not include the house? Here is why I include our home in my net worth calculations.

Net Worth – No Value, But Debt?

If I did not include the estimated value of our house, my general net worth calculations would be way off if I did include the remaining mortgage debt. I have heard people say that it is more realistic that way, but in what world would you ever take into account the debt for something without taking into account its value too?

If I had $65,000 of credit card debt, that is pure debt with no inherent sales value. If I have $65,000 of mortgage debt, that is debt that could be repaid by selling the house itself. Right?

I understand that I may not be able to sell my house immediately, but in that “what-if” scenario, then why would my mortgage debt need to be paid back immediately? Maybe I simply don’t understand.

Net Worth – No Value, No Debt?

The other scenario I have seen acts like the house doesn’t exist. Like when you leave a paid-off car out of the calculations. I am sorry, but if you have a mortgage, that is a liability that should be taken into account. I simply think that a low estimated sales value should be taken into account too. If your house or car is paid off, sure, feel free to leave it out of your calculations if you want, but I personally know that I could sell my car in less than 3 days if I had to for at least $5000. I think that is something that adds to my net worth.

Net Worth Calculations are Personal

All of that said, I know that everyone likes to use a system they like. I have no problem with that at all, but then I should be able to use whatever system I like too. Right? Now, if we were comparing two different net worths, obviously we would need the same set of rules. I just don’t think it is that hard to look at whatever numbers a person uses and fit them into a new criteria.

What do you think? Do you include a home’s equity (negative or positive) in a net worth calculation?

Weekly Money Update #24 for 2011

By popular suggestion, I will only be having monthly blog stat and income updates from here on out. But I am still a proud participant of The Saved Quarter Challenge!

The Saved Quarter Challenge Update

I joined The Saved Quarter Challenge this year and was aiming to save at least $21,000 by the end of 2011, but we hit that goal in mid-June!!!  My new goal is to save a cool $42,000 by the end of 2011 instead!  That would be a tiny bit more than 50% of our GROSS pay from our two full time jobs!!!

Here’s how I’ve done this week for the Saved Quarter Challenge:

I have better updates after the 13th of every month since that is when our billing periods end, but here is where we funnelled away money this past week:

  • 401(k) – $80
  • Blogging Income – $1000

That blogging income was a combo of freelance work and regular ads. I’m building my blogging income account at ING up to $10,000 by the end of September to be a backup fund when I start blogging full time.

The new $42,000 goal is hopefully going to be reached solely through 100% true savings – 401(k), Roth IRA, emergency fund/savings, home and auto maintenance account, extra cash for investments, and blogging income.

Total This Week: $1080

We can save what we do because we live off of a little more than my husband’s salary as a school librarian ($38,000 take home pay). That means we save most of what I make ($26,000 take home pay a year) and all of our hobby job incomes (reffing for Mr. BFS and blogging for me). Reffing usually brings in $2000-$3000 a year and blogging is bringing in $15,000 or more a year (we’ve already hit more than $10,000 for January-May 2011).

Total to date: $23,058 guaranteed, $18,942 to go.

Additonal Info

I will continue posting monthly and yearly blog statistics and income updates, so stay tuned at the beginning of every month!

In case you didn’t know, Alexa traffic rankings are determined by the numbers of hits a site gets by people with the Alexa toolbar. If you want to be part of this ranking community, you can download the Alexa toolbar here. :-)

If you don’t already, you can follow me via RSS or Twitter by following those links. :-)

To learn more about the Yakezie, the blogging group that has helped me in SO many ways, check out my Yakezie page! Feel free to email me if you are a Yakezie member or challenger and don’t see yourself on the list!

If you are interested in seeing how I went from an 8 million plus Alexa rank to about 50,000 in less than 8 months, you can see My Blogging Checklists, which breaks down everything I do related to blogging. If you want to see how I brought in $6000 in less than 10 months, you can check out How I Make Money Blogging

I have also started a new site,


How to do Your Saving Research

The following is a guest post about savings on behalf of Money Supermarket.

Recent research suggests that saving money is the highest financial priority across America. Over 30% of respondents felt that increasing their savings was their most pressing concern.

In a time of global economic recession and difficult financial times however, this may feel easier said than done. Where do you start when you want to create savings?

The golden rule is to research and create a sensible plan which you are happy to put into practice. Many people create a plan that involves major sacrifices.

The difficulty with this however, is that human beings are, well, human and feelings of punishment are not very motivating. It is much better to create something lasting and acceptable.

Firstly, create a spreadsheet of income and expenditure so that you know the amount of savings you can create each month. It may be that you can reduce some of your costs.

For example, monthly gym fees that you pay although you are too busy to get to the gym are simply wasted money, but have a great deal of savings potential for you.

Instead of paying that money to a gym, you could pay it directly into a high-yield account. Even smaller amounts add up nicely over time and help create a higher savings balance.

Then research the different types of savings accounts that are available. Accounts do vary in terms of interest rates and the specific conditions attached to them, so read the details carefully.

Use a reputable comparison website to help research the best deals. There are numerous savings accounts, so you are sure to find the perfect one for you.

Generally, the higher the interest rate, the larger your initial deposit has to be. Higher interest rates are also available for fixed-term accounts, where you cannot withdraw for a set period.

If you are saving for a special event, such as a wedding, these high-yield accounts can be very beneficial. Just ensure the set term is completed before you need to pay suppliers.

Creating a spreadsheet for a savings goal can be motivating and help you track progress. You will also be certain of how much you are saving, rather than it feeling vague.

This will, in turn, create more motivation to save even more. You may find new and creative ways to do so, including selling old books or starting a small business.

If you have a partner or family, get them involved too. If the goal is to save so that you can enjoy an amazing holiday to Disneyworld, the children will be more supportive than you may have imagined!

The key is to create a shared goal and always keep your outcome in mind. Fill a notice board with pictures of the destination or item you wish to purchase to keep you motivated.

If you wish to create savings so that you have them for a rainy day or emergency, imagine how great it will feel to have that peace of mind. Whatever your goal, enjoy the adventure and create fantastic savings!

Weekly Favorites, Gratitude, and Giveaways #30

My Favorite Posts this Week

Staff Writing – Yes, it needs its own section now…


Blog Carnivals

If you are hosting a carnival that includes Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, please email me so I can include it in my roundup. Thanks!

Top 5 Referring Sites to BFS from Last Week:

  1. Get Rich Slowly
  2. Yakezie
  3. Free Money Finance
  4. Stupid Cents
  5. The Saved Quarter

Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions. I’d love to add a few more blogs to my regular reading list or at least give a shout-out for great posts or contests.

As always, thanks to all the bloggers that teach me something new every day. Thanks to all my commenters for making this blog the community I want it to be. Thanks to all my lurkers too. ;-)

I hope everybody is enjoying this as much as me!

Also, check out my other blog, Crystal Clear Thoughts,
for my Weight Watchers Updates!
I started at 176 on January 4th and already hit my July 4th goal of 150!
I am now aiming for 140 pounds by the end of the year!

And please use About Life Insurance as a resource for everything life insurance!!!
Let me know if you do help out and I will be sure to return the favor!