Thursday, April 23, 2015

Did Not Get Laid Off! Happy!

After months of looking, calling, applying, networking and even begging I'm happy to report that I am going back to work this coming Monday. Thank god I did not get laid off. Yesterday I got a call around 8:30 AM from a local number but chose not to answer it. I checked my voicemail and it was a local manager I had worked with on my previous project and he wanted to check and see if I was available. We had never met in person but he remember my name since I used to send out all the daily metrics to leadership and to the project. He thought I would be a good fit to help him out. We both start with a new client on Monday and I will be helping him out for the next few months. All it took was a 5 minute call and my life is back to normal.

This was my song yesterday:


I know, we're all sick and tired of this song but I truly felt like a room without a roof . Just for fun, jam with me!

Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don't hold it back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I'll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don't waste your time
Here's why... Because I'm happy!

LOL

Since I don't start until Monday I'll probably do some golfing today and a 5K run tomorrow. I'm sure the new job will bring new challenges and a few expenses but I can deal with all that later on.

HS

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cash-Only Rocks!

What a feeling! I can't tell you how good it feels to pay with cash only everywhere I go. You've heard it before and it is true, you truly do spend more when you use credit cards. I could even use my debit card for purchases but I don't even want to see or wait for the charges to go through. With cash its more like spend it and forget about it. The best part of cash only is that I can truly control and keep the credit cards as zero. Sure, I probably can't rent a car or a hotel room with cash (or Amazon) but mostly everything else can be paid with greenbacks.

Happy happy happy! This is the balance on all our credit cards as of this morning:


As you can see I have all this credit available but I will not use it. I have no desire to use it or to chase the rewards. I no longer care about points or gift cards, I am much happier sticking to cash only. Below you can see another trip to the bank, this time I got 4 brand new $100 bills:


Anyone else cash only? 

Cash is king! I hope will keep this up!

HS

Monday, April 20, 2015

eBay Anniversary



I got an email this morning from eBay congratulating me on my 15-year anniversary with them. That means that I've had the exact same account for 15 years! I wish I could get a breakdown of all the stuff I've bought or at least a total amount of money on purchases but I cannot find anything like that. The most I can get on purchase is 3 year history and it doesn't give me actual dollar amount, I would have to add it all up. I also wonder if I could get a total of all the eBay fees I've paid, I know that number has to be well over $10,000. I did add up some of them last year on this post. Keep in mind there's also a PayPal cut that they take, I wonder how much they've charged me on those fees.

As far as my seller account goes, it does give you a nice total of all sales on the Seller Dashboard page. As you can see below I've sold over $25,000 and have made tons of profit on eBay. This has become a bit of a bad habit since I'm pretty much on the app 24/7. Another downside is I'm constantly looking for merchandise to sell which does take a lot of time. I visit a lot of pawn shops in my area and if I see a garage sale in progress more than likely I will stop and take a look. Garage sales are my favorite, most people are just looking to get rid of stuff and will take any amount you offer them. I've found many items at garage sales for $10 to $20 and I'm able to turn them in to $50's and $100's on eBay. Here's the total amount of all my sales:


This coming year should bring that total sales number up to $30,000. I've become more of a risk taker now and don't mind spending over $1,000 on a single item if I know I can some money on it. I hope I can keep this up since this is where most of my 'play' money comes from. If I need or want some new toy or electronic I order from eBay and don't have to worry about using our credit cards or cash since I do keep most of my profits on my PayPal account.

HS

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where The Money's At

Still employed, pray that I find something quick. With that said and a possible layoff coming in the next few weeks I should probably keep better track of where all our money is at. From my previous post you know that the credit cards are under control and should stay that way for a while. I had a couple of items I was not expecting (wife) so that messed things up bit but with my raise I should be able to keep things at zero on the credit cards next time I get paid. For now the goal is to track how much money we have left and to not touch it anymore. In the past, I was saving a lot of money but at the same time I would use a lot of those savings to pay down our debts. I hope we're done doing stuff like that and from here on we can save while spending within our means. I will continue using cash to meet those goals and hopefully my wife will do the same.

If you been keeping up with me over the past couple of years you may have noticed I have become obsessed with saving money. I wasn't always like that, there's proof of that all over this blog. Keep in mind I started writing 8 years ago and a lot has changed over the years. I'm hoping as I continue to get older I keep these new habits and we don't find ourselves back with close to 9K in credit card debt like this post from 2011.

Here's where all our money is at right now:

Bank of America: Checking and Emergency Fund. The accounts payable is how much cash we have left until payday (6 more days) and the Savings is the Emergency Fund which always has $1,000 in it. The emergency fund has saved me a few times in the past. I got the idea for it from Dave Ramsey 7 years ago and I still keep $1,000 in there no matter what happens:



Discover Bank: This is our main savings account now which pays us close to 1% in interest every month. We have 2 accounts with them but soon I am going to close the one I got from eTrade a few years back which I've been using as our main savings. I'd like to just keep the one I opened for my wife a few weeks ago to handle her pension payments. The current balance on this account is a little bit over $15,000 as of this morning:



Scottrade: If you keep up with me you know I love to trade Apple stock. Over the past week I took $10,007 from our Discover Savings balance ($7 is the commission fee) which had close to $25K and bought $10,000 worth of  Apple stock. I have made a ton of money in the past with Apple so that's probably why I did it again. As of market close today I am up $194 but keep in mind if I sell I will have to pay that $7 fee again. Here's the current balance as of 4 PM EST time today:

Cash at Home: You may remember that I have this strange habit where I love to keep money at home. As of this morning I have close to $3,000 in U.S. currency, mostly in $100 bills but a lot of it is vintage! It is worth way more than face value but I have so much of it that I can no longer keep up with it. For now I'm back to buying and selling other things like watches but if I make a profit I mostly buy $100 bills to add to the cash at home. Below is what my collection looks like, most of the bills are old but I do keep some of the newer ones as well:


That is all of our available cash for now. We also have my 401K which has gone up close to $13,000 over the past year but I will save that for another post. 

Anyone else saving money or I'm I the only weird one out here on the blogosphere?

HS

Friday, April 10, 2015

No More Credit Card Debt

You may find this hard to believe but over the past couple of weeks I have moved to a cash only system as much as possible when it comes to our finances. I've been making more frequent trips to the ATM and paying for things like groceries and gas in cold hard cash! No more credit card debt for us even if I can pay it off right away. I don't want to play the game anymore and will try to always keep cash handy at all times. Funny thing happened at the grocery store this week when I took $200 in cash. I started looking at all the prices more closely and made myself not go over that amount. Sure enough at check out my total was $190.01 which left me with $9 left for gas (half tank) and change left over for the coin jar.

Here's my $200 right before I went in to the store:


Here's all our current credit card debt:


Somehow I still owe it $3 and there's a charge pending for $56, wife went out with friends and I gave her a $50 but she went over that amount so she had to use credit card, no big deal I will pay it on Monday. As you can see the Citi Forward card is at 0 and hopefully it will stay that way. I don't owe anything on Best Buy or Macy's or anything else! This is all our credit card debt!!

Hopefully I can keep this up. It definitely makes you watch your spending more and I don't find myself buying things I 'need' anymore. I know I've made $1000's on credit card rewards but slowly over time our balances always went up. You may remember me making a payment of $5,000 a couple of months ago and this past week I made a payment of $4000 which brought our debt down to what you see on the screen shot above. If we continued using the credit cards we would be in the same spot in 2-3 months, I'm done playing that game. My new game will be called 'pay as you go' and the challenge will be to try to make it to payday with cash still left in the bank. The most amazing thing about using cash is your credit card balances never go up!

Just say NO to credit cards!

HS

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This Is the End! WTF!

I'm almost to the end of my career with my current company. No projects, no interviews, no work, no luck and when I did find that perfect role I was told by HR that the role is listed for people coming from India since they already had their H-1B visas processed but they still need to list the position for compliance reasons (I have better skills). I'm about to lose my job that currently pays me 85,000 dollars per year... I know that's not much and most of you make way more money but that's my little salary, that's what keeps me going. I'm also about the lose the one thing I really don't want to lose which is our health insurance. There's just not much I can do, I have talked to, emailed, called everyone that I know and have applied for roles all over the US. No LUCK. I don't understand what's going on but I'm hoping something good comes out of all this. My wife is supportive but my family is freaking out. I'm sure we will be OK but we may need to scale back our summer plans. I will keep you all updated and let you know how things go...

Here's the WTF part... I got an email from HR last week and they are giving me a raise! Seriously?! I can't find any work and you are going to tease me with more money?? Below you can see my adjustment that came out of nowhere. Our performance year increases are usually done in November so I have no idea why HR decided to increase my pay by 4.99 percent the first week of April 2015:


That amount equals almost $4,250 so my pay would be close to $90,000. There's also a higher bonus depending on my performance which would be $5,000 to $7,000 depending on where I rank at the end of the year BUT I am going to lose all this if I can't find a role in the next 2 to 3 days!!

Grrrrr! Sorry I had to vent a little... I really want to keep my job :(

HS

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Houston, We Have a Problem!

Houston, we have a problem! An appraisal problem that is... I just got my 2015 property tax appraisal and our house is now valued over 200,000 dollars. The actual market value is $207K but there is no way we could sell our house for more than $185,000. I keep a close eye on the real estate market in our area and most houses have not gone up as much. We purchased this house back in 2006 for $155,500 right before housing crashed all over the country. We got a high interest loan since rates were much higher before the recession which means we bought at the worst possible time. I was 26 years old at the time and pressured by family to 'buy a house' because paying rent which at the time was $650 for 2 bedroom apartment was stupid. I should have never listened to them!! We should have waited and we could have gotten a much larger house for way cheaper a couple of years later with a much lower rate. Our current, over appraised house is 2,400 sq ft with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. Not our dream house but our mortgage is very low, with escrow included our current payment is $1,436 but I always pay $1500. We like our payment, we don't love the house so it works for now but there is no way in h*** this house could sell for 207K. I will be filing a protest with the appraisal district yesterday. Here are the values for our street:


Our neighborhood is very much in demand because of the area we are in. A lot of big companies are moving out to the suburbs. Over the past couple of years developers have been building high end luxury homes all around us which makes our neighborhood very cheap. I suspect this is the reason our home values continue going up since there's not a lot of supply in the area. The newer luxury homes 2-3 miles from us are going for $400,000 to $500,000 which people like us making $125,000 pear year simply cannot afford. Once you get in to that price range you are looking at $15,000 to $20,000 per year in property taxes. Yes, every 12 months you must pay that much just to live in a nice house. The reason why I don't think our house could sell for more than $185,000 is age, houses in our neighborhood are approaching 15 years old which means they will soon need lots of repairs like painting, carpeting and more expensive items like new roofs. 

I am going to fight this appraisal to death, last year we got appraised at $184,000 and the year before that we were at $160,000.

Grrrrrr!

HS

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

500 Dollar Bill and eBay Bucks

I have no idea what made me want to own a $500 bill but I went ahead and picked one up on eBay last week. The thought of having 500 dollars in a bank note seemed cool at the time but spending close to $1,000 for a piece of paper may not be my wisest choice lately. Is it an investment? probably not but I can make a little bit of money by re-selling it in the future. Was it maybe to boost my feelings of self-worth? I doubt it, it was probably more just to say I own one... anyways this is what I purchased:


The date on the note is 1934 which at the time had a value close to 8,000 in today's dollars. The average yearly salary for that year was $1,368! Not sure why the government was printing such high denominations at the height of the great depression but owning one now does feel like I own a piece of history. It will probably not stay with me long, I will probably put it back up for sale soon. Like I said, I'm not really sure why I had to have one, it felt more like an impulse purchase.

When I purchased the note above I also got a ton of eBay Bucks. eBay bucks are sort of like credit rewards, they give you cash back on purchases. I buy and sell a lot of stuff on eBay but I usually use the bucks on minor purchases. This month I'm up to $66 so just for fun I'm going to see if I can purchase a $50 bill. According to eBay, Bucks have no cash value and cannot be redeemed for cash or its equivalents but a lot of people sell brand new currency for a little bit over face value. I'll get the certificate in 10 days:


HS

Friday, March 20, 2015

Work Updates

Happy Friday everyone! I still don't have any work. I was last staffed on a project on January 31 so at this point if I don't find anything in the next couple of weeks I will probably get the ax and be let go. A lot of people are in the same boat as I am, it looks like the price of oil is making a lot of companies cut back here in Houston. Why upgrade a system this year when it still works and it will probably continue working for another couple of years? In the past the thinking was let's make it better but with so much uncertainty today, it seems like companies don't want to change the 'Status Quo'. There's a lot of fears that price of oil could continue dropping but hopefully demand will pick up by summer when everyone starts driving more. Remember the phrase back in 2008 'Drill Baby Drill' when gas prices passed $4 per gallon? Well it seems to have worked, now that prices have dropped it is largely the result of the U.S. drilling, and then drilling some more. Now have too much oil in the markets and we are running out of space to store it.

Thinking ahead and like I've said before the only thing I don't want to lose is my health insurance but I'm already pricing coverage through the wife's employer. I cannot afford to pay COBRA rates to keep my coverage so it looks like we may have to make some sacrifices and move everyone over to her plan. I would go without health insurance for a few months until I find a new job but with the Obamacare tax penalties it makes no sense to do that. As far as severance goes, I think it will be two months of pay and I have six weeks of vacation so that's another month of pay after taxes. Around June if I still haven't found a job then we would need to tap into our savings. The savings account balance is close to $27,000 so that could potentially carry us through September but things could get tight, we really like to spend money. Lifestyle changes can be challenging so I may also cut back on things we really don't need like cable TV and maid service.

At the same time there's still a little bit of hope and faith that I find something soon. I really like my company and I enjoy the work / life balance I have with them. My company even made it to the Forbes best 100 companies to work for (under 50) and I really have enjoyed working for them, I can't complain about anything other than the usual 'I should be making more money' but I'm sure everyone says that throughout their careers. I'm going to step up my networking and see if I can find something next week. One minor advantage that I have is my performance for the past 3 years has been Above (highest rating) so that should buy me a little bit more time.

Next project here I come!!

HS

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lost My Drone and My GoPro

Grrrr! It happened to me! You may remember I decided to buy a drone after watching a video on YouTube and got a great deal on it. It came with a GoPro camera so this past weekend I decided to get it out and get some aerial footage at the beach and accidentally left the wireless on the camera! That's a huge no no in the drone community and I knew about it but totally forgot to check for that setting. As soon as my drone took off it went out towards the ocean and started getting really high, I tried to lower it and it went down very fast then it went up again next thing I see is a splash about half a mile out from the beach, no way I could have gone out there that fast and it was too cold to swim.

I was about to sell the whole thing in a couple of weeks and now I'm out $600 dollars!! I still have the case and batteries which will probably get me $150 back. What I really want back is my memory card with all my videos on it. It was a 32GB SD card so that's another $30 or so lost. Somebody will find it eventually, the current should push it back to shore over time. I hope whoever finds it tries to look me up but I doubt it will happen, if you found a $300 camera would you try to find the owner?

Here's my exact same drone with the exact same issue, user left WiFi on, check out the video:


HS