Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Management Consultant Role

I got a new project! Last Friday I got an email to be at the new client at 7:45 AM Monday morning for orientation. The client is an Australian oil and gas corporation with offices here in Houston. The role is to be a Management Consultant. I was not too thrilled with this role, I actually wanted to be with different company but I need work and I can use the experience.

Fast forward to Tuesday and I hate this role! Everything is so complex. My role is to take care of metrics and so far I've had 4 managers send me all kinds of spreadsheets with v-look up formulas and macros. Not my cup of tea but so let's see how long I can hold out. The other issue is the commute, 60 miles round trip with lots of traffic. Not sure how much gas is going to cost yet but I'm thinking around $200 per month.

Now the best part about this new client is the refrigerators on every floor with soda! I opened one today for lunch and look all the goodies I found:


Yes, as you can see Diet Coke is the most popular soft drink which is what I had with my lunch today. I have to say, stuff like this is nice but you have to be very careful. My first employer offered sodas, free breakfast, lunch and cookies on Friday so I ended up with an extra 20 pounds when I left them.

Did you know that Google also offers free lunch? See number 10 on this list

Wish me luck!

HS

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run

Today I ran in the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10K. This race takes place in downtown Houston and it's before the Rodeo Parade which kicks off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I had so much fun! it was my first time ever to run a 10K and my first time ever running more than 6 miles. I will say I need to train more for these events, the last time I ran anything more than 3 miles was back in 2011. I hope I'm not sore and hurting next week.

I got there at 9:00 AM and the place was already crowded. I've never seen so many people in one race. There was no place to even walk once I got to the starting line. I had to wait 10 minutes with people all around me, here is a picture of the start line:


People all around me, it was surreal:



Another view from the Start line:


Once the race started it wasn't so bad, I actually ran the first 4 miles without bumping in to anyone. I did have to avoid and go around some people but it was easy to run for the most part. This is the only picture I have during the race, it was taken around mile 5 before going up a hill:


I managed to take another picture as I crossed the finish line, it was such a relief to see this sign:


This is the scene after the finish line, everyone just waits around and talks about their run. They also give away a lot of free stuff. I ran behind this group of girls for most of the time:


I ran the 10k in 1 hour and 8 minutes, below are my official stats from the event. I don't think I did that bad considering it was my first time to run a 10K and my lack of training for this event:


There you have it, a recap of ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run and my first 10K. Will I do it again next year? I think so, I had a lot of fun and it made me enjoy running again. One thing I noticed during the run is way more women than men participate in these events, I think the ratio was five ladies for every guy. After the run I headed over the the Flying Saucer and had a couple of cold beers:


Ahhh, life was good today. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

HS

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I’m On The Bench

I'm officially back on the bench at at work. Today was the last day at my client in downtown Houston. I was there for two years and I had mixed feelings walking out the door. Yes, I don't have to come in to work tomorrow or next week but it also feels like I lost a huge part of my everyday life.

What does it mean to be on the bench? In consulting terms it means my role with the client ended and I need to find another project. Think of it as unemployed but with full salary and benefits. Last time I was on the bench was back in 2008 and it lasted for four months.

So how do I feel about being on the bench? I don't mind it as long as I find another project quickly. We've had people on the bench for six months to a year but I'm not taking any chances. If I can't get staffed I know I will get laid off and that's something I don't need right now. I have enough stress with the upcoming baby, wife and of course, our debt.

Wish me luck as I play free agent for the next few weeks!

HS

Best Buy Balance

It's been a crazy couple of days around here but I never forget about our debt. Below is the remaining balance for our Best Buy account. For those that don't know, the balance was a result of our refrigerator going out around Christmas. We had to purchase a new one and we financed $1,624 dollars.


As you can see, we've paid more than half on the refrigerator. The current balance is $700 dollars. I can't wait for this to be paid off and finally owning the refrigerator. When you buy appliances with debt it always feels like you don't fully own them until they are paid off.

HS

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Losing Weight, I'm Low Carb!

My last post in January was the GBU and on the bad section I had mentioned that my weight was up 4 pounds. Well sometime in February I decided to mix things up a bit. I had been on Body for Life for as long as I can remember but it wasn't working, my weight was stuck in the 180's, usually around 184 to 185 so I decided to try the low carb method.

I got the idea from my friend Kelly The Happy Texan her blog is all about eating low carb diet and she has all kinds of recipes and low carb links. I figured if she went from 250 to 177 she was doing something right. So around the first week of February I said goodbye to bread, potatoes and any kinds of foods made with flour like pizza and pastas. I welcomed back in to my diet full fat everything, bacon, sausage and cheeses. It was a bit hard in the beginning but after a few days I was surprised to see that I was never hungry.


Image courtesy of http://www.northshoreshirts.com/eatmeimlowcarb-t-shirt.html

I've been doing the low carb thing for 3 weeks now and my weight is down to 176.6 as of this morning. My goal is to be at 173 to 175 pounds. The nice thing about low carb is that most of the weight seems to be coming off my belly. During Body for Life, I was measuring at 40 inches around the belly and now I'm down to 38 inches. I was always a big skeptic of the low carb diets but they work! I'm finally off my plateau weight of 185 and I need to go shopping for smaller sizes.

Low carb may not be for everyone but it works for me, will I stay on it long term? I hope so but I do miss things like pizza, one of my favorite foods and I miss the good beers like Guinness and Samuel Adams. I may start doing a cheat day again once a week where I can eat anything I want.

Anyone else believe in low carb?!

HS


Saturday, February 18, 2012

2011 Taxes and Refund

This morning I filed our taxes for 2011. This year I decided to stick with TaxAct.com which we've used since 2001. The nice thing is they have all our information on file so filing only takes 20 minutes. I can also compare the numbers with last year and prevent any errors for this year. They charged me $9.95 to E-file. I swear it used to be free with them but it's still better than paying $40 or more for Turbo Tax or higher fees with H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt.

As soon as I E-filed I got the confirmation in my inbox that our Federal Electronic Return was accepted by the IRS:


Our refund amount this year was $1,989 dollars. All of this money will go to our savings account and be called the 'Baby Emergency Fund'. I want at least $2,000 dollars in cash for the next few months in case we have any baby related emergencies or hospital bills to pay.

I also plan to have Best Buy paid off the first week of March. The goal is to only have one credit card account,  that should make it easier to pay off all our credit card debt in the coming months.

How much was your refund this year?

HS

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Forget The New TV, We Have Debt!

Are you kidding me? Did I really write a post about buying a new TV? Please remind me that WE'RE IN DEBT and this is a debt blog! This morning I opened up my Citi Forward card and almost went in to shock. The numbers don't lie, the current balance is:


That's right, close to $7,000 dollars on 1 credit card. I truly don't know what I was thinking when I wrote the post below. Part of me is like, buy the big ticket items before baby comes but I also need to think, pay down the credit card debt before the baby. I can't really do both at this time, so the logical and mature choice is to not buy a new television and to pay down the debt.

I will post the balance for Best Buy soon. I will probably use some of the tax return money to pay it off and then I will just have the Citi Forward card. Much easier to focus on just one card when trying to pay down debt.

Again, what was I thinking?

HS

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Need a New Television!

I think we 'need' a new television set in our living room. We currently have a 65 inch DLP television that has been dying slowly over the past few months. This morning I sat down to drink my coffee, turned on the TV and it now has white pixels all over the screen. It started with one single pixel last year and every month, more and more continue to appear. A quick Google search  tells me it could be the processor and replacing it would cost $200. The TV will also need  a new lamp at some point and those run around $200 or $100 if bought on Ebay etc. This is what it looks like but with way more white dots:



I don't think I want to keep or repair this TV. I don't like DLP technology and it's also very slow and bulky. The sad part is I paid $1,700 dollars for this TV back in 2008. I swear TV's used to last much longer, or maybe this newer technology is different. The plan right now is to sell this thing asap. I'm going to put it on Craigslist for $75 while it still works. Hopefully someone will come pick it up and I won't be stuck with a dead television.

I've been looking around Best Buy and Fry's for a new television and I think I want to go with the SHARP 70 inch LCD /  LED set. I think Best Buy had it for $1,999 last week and Fry's had it on One Day only sale for $1,895. Here is a picture of the new set:


As you can see from the picture, this thing is huge! I'm hoping to get it next month and will probably also hang it on the wall. This new TV better last at least five years. From what I've read online, the LED back light should be good for at least 50,000 hours of viewing.

Where is the money coming from? Am I going to add new debt? Great questions! I've decided not to add any debt so I've been saving up Best Buy gift cards. I already have $350 dollars in gift cards saved and will probably get another $600 next month and delay the Best Buy credit card pay off for a month or so. The rest of the money, around $900 to $1,000 will come from our tax return. By this time next month I should have enough money saved up to buy this and not add any new household debt.

HS

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wait, We’re Having a Baby?

Wait, We’re Having a Baby? I swear that's how the wife and I feel lately. At our last baby shower, our friends wanted us to hold their one month old baby boy and we both refused. Part of us wants nothing to do with babies, buy why? did we make a mistake?! I notice the wife and I barely talk baby stuff, like this is all a dream... I don't know, hard to explain. I guess this post is more to remind me, YES a baby is on the way!


I need to get in to baby mode! Need to read more about babies. Need to add more blogs about babies. Need to join a baby forum. I need to be more like my blogger friend J.O.S.E.Y who I admire dearly, I want my baby experience to be just like hers (and hoping baby is just as cute).

But right now, it all feels surreal... I'm hoping this all changes soon after the baby shower and the more frequent doctor appointments.

HS

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Goodbye Discover Card

Goodbye Discover Card! The final payment posted to the account this morning and the balance today is $0.00. If you look around the blog, Discover has been paid off a couple of times, cut up, abused and used but I'm hoping this is the final post for this account.

Here are the final numbers:


Next on the list is Best Buy, I know it has a 0% interest for the next 15 months but if I can get rid of another account it will help me mentally. Yes I will pay more interest on Citi but getting rid of Best Buy means one less statement to worry about every month.

I can do this, join me as I continue to tackle my crazy debts!

HS

Monday, February 6, 2012

Discover Card Final Statement

This morning I received what I expect to be is our last and final statement from Discover. I have to post it here so I can look back one day. I love adding as many details as possible so I can be reminded of how painful it is to pay down credit cards.

Here are the final numbers:


As you can see we made over $1,100 dollars in payments for January. That's the reason I ran out of money in my checking account and had to charge some stuff to Citi. Notice also how much interest they charged on $700 now, only $12.99. I remember the days when they used to charge me close to $50 every month just to carry a balance.


Tonight I will be making the final payment to our Discover Card. Join me in the next couple of days as I write the final post on our Discover card.

HS

Compare Discover credit cards and learn how to choose from different card options.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Weekend Spending

Below is our weekend spending so far. Last night my parents invited us to dinner so they picked up the tab. This morning we ate breakfast at home and then went to a couple's baby shower. I stopped by Specs here in Houston and picked up a couple of bottles of wine:




What did I get? I got a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay:


















I also got a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling:


















The wine was great and I was having a good time at the shower but the wife decided it was time to come home and eat dinner. She ordered some Chinese food for $23.77 and it was delivered to the house. I tipped the driver $7 dollars, so dinner came in around $30.

That's the weekend spending so far, we still have Sunday and the Super Bowl. I will probably need gas and groceries for the week and of course, beer and wings for the big game so that will probably add another $200.

How was / is your weekend spending?

HS

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Come On Payday

You see the numbers below? That's how much cash we have until payday! Since all I can do is wait I also looked up the definiton for you:

payday [ˈpeɪˌdeɪ]
n
(Business / Commerce) the day on which wages or salaries are paid
 

That's right, I don't even have $50 in my checking account. Just sad and you may be asking why? Because I sent the credit cards close to $1,300 this month. Supplies for the baby room also took out a huge chunk of change and have you noticed that gas prices keep going up and up? Yes, I can live on my Citi card for the next couple of days but I hate not having actual cash in my bank account.

Alright, time to do a payday dance!

 (\_/)         (\_/)            (\_/)
 (o.o)       (o.o)          \(o.o)/
0(___)     (___)0       (___)

HS