My friend, H, works at a yummy burrito place in downtown Houston. Their location is within site of the Reliant Center, so their parking lot becomes crazy space for events. Right now, it’s RODEO time in Houston, Texas…let’s just say that any parking close to Reliant has become VERY important for many people. Here in lies the problem.
Parking Lot Craziness
The people who own the parking lot in front of the burrito place’s shopping center decided to start offering the spaces for cash. That means that all of the businesses in that strip lost a TON of business last weekend. The parking lot attendants were harassing every driver to find out if they were parking for the rodeo or not. Then there weren’t any spaces available at all. My friend was taken off the clock and sent home 2 hours into a 5 hour shift. Her manager had words with the parking lot dude and then just called their lawyer.
Isn’t this crazy? How could someone think they wouldn’t be sued/in trouble for making it impossible for businesses to operate? I assume that the leases for the strip include x amount of parking, so the parking lot owners are insane for trying to profit twice for the same space without offering anything at all to the businesses that they were going to affect. It’s just nuts!
I had to write about – do any of you have any idea what would happen in this situation?
I asked my friend to keep me updated with what she hears about it since it does seem amazingly bizarre to me. The parking lot’s owner is already being paid for the parking by the businesses in some way – either through the leases or directly – or they wouldn’t be there. So how in the heck did they think that this would work out? Isn’t it obvious that you shouldn’t rent out spaces that were already rented for other use? That’s just double dipping…
I also think that if the businesses get reimbursed some way, they shouldn’t forget about their employees. My friend wasn’t the only one who lost hours and they all need whatever hours they can get.
What do you think?
My friend, Dee, is a very dedicated middle school art teacher. She approached me a few weeks ago about being a speaker at their upcoming “Career Day” in early March. It sounds like a great idea, so now I have to come up with a 30 minute presentation about my career. I’ve done something similar for #FinCon12, so hopefully I just won’t crack in front of middle schoolers. Here’s what I need to cover.
Points I’ve Been Asked to Cover
- My title.
- Length of time in my position.
- Training, education, or background needed for my job.
- Three important duties of my job.
- Whether or not I wear a uniform.
- Talk about equipment or tools needed for my job.
- What do I like most about what I do.
- What kind of benefits I get (like insurance, traveling, etc.).
- What’s one thing that I would like to change.
- A funny or unusual story about my job.
- What other job I could get with my training/experience.
My Presentation So Far
I am creating a PowerPoint presentation that includes the points above. I’m also highlighting a few general pros and cons of self-employment. For example, you have to find your own insurance, pay more in taxes, and deal with income instability. But I also get to point out the flexibility, sense of empowerment, and working in your pajamas all day kicks butt. As the personal finance geek that you all know, I’m also making sure to include a huge section about the importance of diversification and paying attention to their futures.
What else should I include? From a kid’s point of view, what should I talk about? From a parent’s point of view, what would you hope I highlight?
My husband and I found Downton Abbey through Netflix and jumped in about a week ago. It’s general plot follows along with an Earl’s family in Britain in the early 20th century. The character development is enticing to me and the historical and political intrigues keep it from feeling like a simple soap opera. But as the personal finance geek that I truly am, I just couldn’t help zeroing in on the money aspect of it all. It’s showing that all of the money in the world doesn’t give a life purpose.
During World War I in Downton Abbey, everyone assisted in whatever ways they could. But after the war was over, that purpose seemed to vanish for a few of the main characters. This family has true wealth and power, but the end result is still that everyone is just looking for their life’s purpose. Money provides options. Money provides comforts. But money doesn’t provide a person with the meaning of life. That is up to us.
So for today, I’m putting aside my conversation about my consistent pursuit of financial stability. Let’s talk about what drives us…
Helping Each Other
So, how do we all find our purpose(s)?
I don’t have the answers. I try to follow my gut. Generally, helping others makes me feel “right”, so I make sure to make it a part of my life. This blog gives me a place to talk with you all and a way for some of you to reach out to me, so I consider it a priority. Laughing with friends and cuddling with Mr. Pug also feels right. So the purposes I strive on may not seem grand, but they can lead to sustainable contentment. That’s my main goal.
I seem to write out my thoughts for the day, hit publish, and then reply to those of you who add your 2 cents. But let’s really help each other out. For today, please feel free to chime in below to each other. Let’s really look into ourselves and share. If you have something to say to another commenter, reply. If we all bounce ideas off of each other, maybe someone who feels lost can be supported. If we can all use this space to simply help, maybe this can be a refuge of sorts to find ourselves. Or at least to make a human connection, which can be tricky occasionally.
Have you found your purpose(s)? Still searching? Any advice to the rest of us?
This past weekend went from “having fun” to “ACK! WHAT THE HECK?!” in a split second. Our old dog, Miss Doxie, decided to play Superman this past Saturday, and she made a flying leap from the couch to the coffee table…without ever touching the ground. I guess she decided that the doggy stairs were for losers, or that 15-16 years is long enough to be alive. All I know is that the last couple of days have sucked and I’ve been an emotional mess.
I honestly thought for a couple of minutes that Miss Doxie had killed herself. She got up from the floor, wandered about 10 steps, and then just fell over. I freaked the heck out. Then I took a deep breath and called my vet. They were closing in 20 minutes and suggested that she might either be in shock or have given herself a mini-seizure. We agreed that I should monitor her and bring her in on Monday if she wasn’t better.
Well, she was walking around with a slight limp in half an hour. Then she ate and drank and just rested. Sunday seemed about the same. But Monday afternoon, she started yelping anytime she moved and just couldn’t get comfortable. I gave her another doggy aspirin (which apparently is like poison according to my vet, and I have now thrown it away) and kenneled her yet again. She couldn’t stop whining for more than 30 minutes all of Monday night. I got no real sleep.
We ended up getting fit in for an early appointment on Tuesday, and the vet came to the conclusion that she hurt her neck. $85 later, she’s on pain meds and a muscle relaxant. We’ll see if she’s better within the next week…
When you put this on top of the constant steroid pills and eye drops that I have to do with Mr. Pug, and you get a woman that is getting exhausted with broken dogs.
I Knew It Was Coming
All of this whining doesn’t mean that I wasn’t prepared. I knew we adopted middle-aged dogs. Miss Doxie was 7 years old when we adopted her from the Houston SPCA in 2005. Mr. Pug was 6 years old when we adopted him from PugHearts in 2009. That means that they are turning 16 years old and 11 years old respectively this year. Older dog maintenance costs more than those healthy middle years. But that doesn’t take away the pain in the butt.
It’s also getting to be that time where you have to seriously consider your dog’s quality of life. I don’t think Miss Doxie is ready to check out yet, but she is getting a bit closer. She’s becoming completely blind, sometimes acts confused and just stands still randomly for a few seconds, and injuries that she would have shaken off 3 years ago are kicking her butt now. Old age sucks. I’m just keeping an eye on her to make sure I can make the tough choice when “old age” becomes “wasting away”…I rather never make a dog suffer just because I want them around longer…
How are your pets doing? Have they ever hurt themselves doing something insane?
A cold front swept through Houston when Mr. BFS and I left for our cruise. My mother-in-law, who pet-sits our two dogs at her house when we are out of town, wanted to warn our roommates about the freeze. But she realized that she didn’t have their contact info. Luckily, she had the email of our other friend, who gave her our roommates’ phone number. They appreciated the call and were already running the water to protect the pipes (which were well-wrapped by the builders in late 2012).
No issue this time, but I was reminded that our parents need our friends’ contact info and vice versa. So I went to work and created an emergency contact list for everybody and wrote out a will for Mr. BFS and me just in case.
Emergency Contact Sheet
This was pretty simple. Type up a sheet of the contact info for your closest friends and family. If there is an emergency, the people on this sheet can reach each other and spread the word. I included each set of our parents and a handful of close friends. Between that group of 7-8 people, they could reach everyone we know one way or another.
Once the sheet was done, I emailed it to everyone that was on it. They all confirmed that they had it and would keep it around in case of emergency. Easy.
We don’t have kids and are still pretty young ourselves, so I did not get a legal will done with a lawyer. But just in case the worst happens, I did type up a will for Mr. BFS and me. I wanted to make it a little easier just to give a heads up to our loved ones if we do die at the same time. I did some quick research online and decided to include:
- A named executor of our will.
- Quick section on what to do with our remains.
- A small section that simply states that if one of us dies, the other one gets everything.
- A list of assets including our homes, cars, saving and checking accounts, investment funds, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts.
- A section explaining what to give away and what to liquidate.
- A few sentences about where our pets will go.
- Who to pay with the remaining cash assets.
Over the next week, I’ll be looking up all of the account numbers to include in the blanks that I left when I didn’t know it off the top of my head. Then we’ll both read and sign it. We’ll let our parents know where we are keeping it just in case.
I truly hope we’ll never have to use this. I sincerely doubt that we will. But it is a good idea to have a little plan in place just in case. A will is an easy way to let your wishes be known.
Do you have a will? Did I forget anything?
I am blogging on behalf of Ingo Money* and received compensation for my time from Ingo Money for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Ingo’s. Learn more about the Ingo Money mobile app at http://www.IngoMoney.com.
Ingo Money asked me, “When you have an extra hour in your day, how do you like to spend it?”
I thought this would a be an easy answer, but I seem to have a lot of options…
What I’d Do With an Extra Hour
I liked this question since I do seem to have an extra hour or two pop up at least a few times a week. Here is how I’ve spent an extra hour recently:
- Reading. In the last two weeks, I’ve finished reading a young adult series, “Matched” and “Crossed” by Ally Condie. There is one last book in the series called “Reached” – I am on my library’s waiting list. The series is about a future world where a super strict society controls as much of everyone’s life as possible in exchange for offering 80 year life spans consistently to the citizens that follow their rules. The downside is that you won’t live past 80 despite living like a well behaved prisoner the whole time. There’s also a teenage love story twined through the books since it is young adult fiction. It’s not quite as “emo” as Twilight though…
- TV. I still watch lots of television. I’ve been using the DVR to watch “Almost Human”, “Grimm”, “Cutthroat Kitchen”, “Buying and Selling”, “Blue Bloods”, “Person of Interest”, “Major Crimes”, “Big Bang Theory”, and others. It’s how I turn off my brain when I am getting overwhelmed. I’m one of those people that are literally thinking of 4-5 things at a time pretty much all of the time. So I truly appreciate something that get me out of myself for an hour.
- Writing. A quick blog post takes me about an hour.
- Answering emails. I can usually handle about 10-15 basic work emails per hour.
- Walking. I’ve been walking for 30-60 minutes 2-3 times a week.
- Napping. I’m generally not a person who naps, but every once in a while, I just need the extra hour of sleep.
- Talking. I can happily chat for an hour.
All in all, I’m satisfied with my extra hour list. I do “waste” time, but it’s always a conscious decision.
What would you do with an extra hour?
*Ingo Money is a mobile app that lets you load funds from checks to a participating Prepaid card. Once you’ve enrolled a participating Prepaid card, just take a picture of your check with your smartphone to send to Ingo Money. Ingo has also created the Ingo Money in Minutes instant win game on Facebook. Every day from 1/15 – 2/11, you will have the chance to win one of four $20 e-gift cards just by answering questions like what you’d be doing and where you’d be with all the time you’d save using the Ingo Money app. Additionally, every time you play the game or someone plays through your share link from the game, you’ll receive a sweepstakes entry for a chance to win the grand prize of $500 towards the smartphone of your choice.
Towards the end of last year, I was being overwhelmed with broken stuff (Broken Stuff is Just Broken Stuff). It actually wore me down a bit for about 6 weeks. The holidays and a solid vacation have brought me back to normal. So I’ve started the new year by wrapping up the issues left from 2013.
Here is what I had left on my to-do list:
- Pick up our Prius. The display issue was indeed covered by a recall notice, but the holidays meant that the parts weren’t available. They gave us a rent car (an SUV) for free, but I was still super unhappy since it smelled like smoke and made half the miles per gallon that our Prius makes. We drive a lot during the holidays, and our car took 3 weeks to fix, so we ended up spending about $150 on gas that we normally wouldn’t have needed. But we have our Prius back now, so that’s one big thing off my list.
- Buy a new phone. My cell phone fritzed out in November, Sprint and Samsung were totally useless, and I need a smart phone for our business. So I decided to buy a new-to-me phone for $160 from a company with 60,000 positive Ebay reviews. I just received it at the beginning of the week, but it is in worse condition than stated and won’t accept a full charge. They offered to send me a replacement in better condition, so I now have to send it back and wait for a replacement. Cell phones and me are not on speaking terms right now…
- The new Bluray remote works, but you have to be less than 5 feet away. It seems to be an ongoing issue for our specific Bluray player. So, we’re going to just deal with it until we decide to buy a totally new player. I saw a company online for Australian catalogues that makes shopping like this easier, so I assume there are ones in the USA too. I’ll probably be keeping an eye on my favorite online sites for a great deal…
- Our cable started working perfectly again as the company promised. We are still thinking about cancelling it anyway, but it will probably wait until after the NFL season wraps up.
Other Things Handled
- Caught up with business emails. I fell behind during our vacation, but now I’m caught up.
- Joined Weight Watchers Online again in January 12. So far, I was down 5 pounds the first week. :-) Just 13 pounds to go to hit my maintenance weight.
- Writing. I took the holidays off from writing. I’m back and working on getting a post up every weekday here for you, and I have some freelance writing to get back into as well. These past two weeks have been mostly about catching up with the business and writing my butt off.
- Get a ticket dismissed. Hubby got a ticket in Galveston early last year, but he took defensive driving and sent it the paperwork necessary to get it handled. Well, they apparently lost our certified mail package before wrapping up the issue. So now Mr. BFS has a court date for not turning in the paperwork (that he sent in last June). We are truly hoping the judge will listen, see the driving course certificate, and wrap this up for good. We have to wait until February 10 though.
Life is still going to throw me to stuff to fix or handle, but I am at least feeling well enough to take it right now. :-)
What are you doing now to give yourself a good foundation for 2014?