A financial update and some

Okay, this one is for the parents. I finally went to church, okay?! Happy now? lol. For the first time in a very long while, I attended a Catholic Church (St. Joseph). How it happened was totally unplanned, but I leapt at the chance when it presented itself. Mrs. JW has been having health issues so her dad was visiting her. He stopped by our apartment and told me of his plans to visit Mrs. JW and attend church. I was not doing anything so I quickly showered and slipped into one of the cute dresses I got from TJ Maxx with a pair of shoes I purchased from Rack Room Shoes. We went to see Mrs. JW and then headed off to church. It was a great feeling and I definitely intend to attend church more often. It was like being back home in Nigeria because I still remembered all the chants and responses. It really took me back down memory lane. πŸ™‚

After we went to church, we had a healthy Wendy’s meal of chili and I added a side salad to mine. I actually have foregone dressing in order to use my chili as the salad’s accompaniment. Wendy’s is still my favorite Fast Food restaurant to go to simply because of those two items. I thought my heart would break when Wendy’s stopped serving their yogurt with granola super value item, but I find that I am still visiting Wendy’s. My previous ordering combo would have been: a side salad, a small chili and a yogurt. Now, it’s just the side salad and chili, both which have seen price increases that aren’t enough to break my Wendy’s addiction. πŸ™‚ Which brings me to my next bullet point: finances.

I am proud to say I didn’t let the impending job loss prevent me from seeing the bigger picture vis a vis saving for the future. I continued dedicating a certain portion of my pay towards our emergency fund which reached a milestone this week. It is small, but it’s a start. To recap, the goal is to build an emergency fund that will be 4 months worth of living expenses i.e. rent, food and utility bills. In fact, the highly ambitious goal is to have that amount saved up by the end of the year which is highly feasible under the condition that we continue saving aggressively as we have been doing. Of course, one thing that will help this account swell faster is getting our credit card paid off. Right now, the balance is 15% of the total credit available to us which is pretty darn good. My credit scores from the 3 credit bureaus are finally on the same page i.e. above 710 so I am feeling pretty happy. Again, the strategy I used to help my credit score was: getting my credit card issuer to bump my credit limit to decrease my debt-to-credit ratio. Once that was done, I consistently made payments on the card even when my monthly statement hadn’t come. The aim is to get the credit card balance down to nothing by the end of the year. This is totally do-able and I cannot wait to celebrate when that day arrives. lol. There’s no better feeling that ‘paying’ yourself in form of savings, etc.

Part of what makes this month a particularly good month for debt reduction and a savings increase was the fact that I got paid for the vacation time I had accrued which, thankfully, meant that I was essentially being paid for the 2 weeks I was out of work. So I was able to dedicate a larger-than-budgeted snowflake to the credit card and give the savings account an extra $100 boost. I’m excited about my second chance at working for the same employer because this time, I will be given my choice of a 401(k) plan. Before I was restricted to a “defined benefits” style plan. Now, I can opt for a “defined contribution” plan and contribute more than the 5% I was previously limited to. They also instituted a background check, but I had nothing to fear (obviously). πŸ™‚

Lastly, have I told how much I love Anderson “The Spider” Silva? I watched the free UFC fight last night with M and I was so scared for Silva because of James’s wicked Knockout power. However, Silva showed him that he also had a few tricks up his sleeve. Damn, check the video out!

A Good Feeling

Things have been moving along even more smoothly than I hoped for. All I can say is God works in mysterious ways.  I had the chance to visit and I got along fabulously (in my humble opinion) so I hope, as M said, they make the right decision. πŸ™‚ Now, it’s just a waiting game. In other news, I might just get my wish to rollover my current 401(k) account. My first choice is Fidelity because it seems they have a good customer service base and generally better at providing guidance for first time investors. I’ll need all the help I can get, preferably for free.

I’ve been getting progressively better on the bike. I finally learned how to stand properly in order to power up hills. Apparently, I had been doing the stand wrongly so I was putting too much stress on my knees which will need to recover from the abuse. πŸ™‚ He’s taking his tutoring seriously and has gone as far as ordering the Mountain Biker’s bible in order to put me on a training regimen. lol. I don’t mind one bit because biking is a great way to stay in shape! My legs and arms are proof of this and all for going out for at least 30mins daily! M’s class is going along well although I’m a bit of a nagging wife in that respect. He’s got his learning style and I’ve got mine. They don’t overlap and I need to respect that.

With respect to financial stuff, nothing has gone towards the SunTrust credit card debt yet. Thankfully, nothing is being spent using the card so it’s stagnant. I’ll be sure to see some movement before the month ends i.e. sending some snowflakes towards that. Savings are also growing slowly, but surely. Even if it’s $10 a week, that’s still something. The point is that I am actively making the changes which will come in handy for when a larger source of income comes my way.

In yet other news, I find that I get bored online once I’m away from my feed reader (FeedDemon which I paid for, but turned around to become free!). I would use the online Newsgator service which has my feeds, but it’s painfully slow. I’ve resorted to constantly refreshing the pages of Google News in order to get my news fix or hunt for information. It doesn’t help that my science reading material is not at my apartment. πŸ™ When I get the new job, it should hopefully allow me to indulge in purchasing more books to increase my knowledge. Continue reading A Good Feeling

Just some thoughts

I’m sure you remember (or not) that I had a brief impromptu meeting with my boss. Well, it was very interesting. I am reticent about 80% of the time and that makes me be perceived as "still waters". Actually, his words were he "doesn’t have any idea what my plans are" and it was in a good way i.e. he didn’t think I was aimless, but that he didn’t know what was going on in my head. Lots of things. Today, I heard RS tell me that I didn’t want to be a techie forever. Amen to that! It is not financially possible to do what I’m doing at my current pay scale. However, he said that I was "doing it right i.e. talking less and doing more". That made me glad that I want to be felt and not just heard. I want people’s first words about me to be that I’m a hard and honest worker. Now, I understand that I will have to (and I do want to) receive additional education. Right now, what I ideally want is some experience and I mean, varied experience. I’ve been doing the research on several programs and a lot of them are sadly not in my current state of domicile! Now, you understand my seeming reluctance to do "anything" just yet. On the good side of things, I work at a school and obviously, it would be a seeming no-brainer to transition from worker bee to student. I’m blessed to have the kind of bosses (a husband and wife team) that I do because I know that despite misunderstandings, they will work with me whatever route I choose, just as long as I pull my weight. My 6-month anniversary for my place of work is coming up and I’m excited because I will be eligible for a tuition assistance program should I choose to take any classes or pick up a course of study. Now, I’m obviously limited as to what I can actually do because I will be juggling school and work, but it’s a nice thought to have.

In other news, thanks to our refund, we’ve been able to accomplish several things. Firstly, we took care of some pressing business. Next, M fixed up his car and his trunk now actually is secure! lol. He got his other car out of hibernation and with a new battery and a replaced fuse, it works like a charm!! He says he gets better mileage on this other car so sometime soon, we should be riding around in this other car and give "Old Faithful" a rest. πŸ™‚ Also, we gave our SunTrust credit card debt a hefty dose of relief. πŸ™‚ to the tune of almost $600. Let me take that back. We actually put $300 towards the credit card, but then when I logged into the website to see my balance, it was thisclose to a certain figure that I decided to go ahead and pay a certain figure to see it reach a certain balance. More for symbolic reasons. So that made it almost $600 put towards the credit card in just this month of February. I’ll be done paying for that sucker before summer rolls around and boy! will it feel good to not dedicate money towards credit card bills!

I am still socking money away in my ING savings account. I am still trying to convince M that saving is a good idea. πŸ™‚ Just  kidding. He obviously knows that already. He just really doesn’t like dealing with online banking. Additionally, I’m frustrated with ING’s slowness in taking funds from my checking account! I mean, how long does it really take? With my SunTrust credit card payments, I’ve been learning to fine-tune how I time my payments so that it gets withdrawn or posted to my account right away i.e. in a day or two. Thus far, I think if I make payments before the end of the month, it gets posted asap. Anyhoo, no sweat. I’m learning the fine art of juggling my payments and knowing when to hold off on any spending so that all pending charges are through and then, resuming the madness. J/k. I meant being the responsible saver that I am. πŸ™‚ 

Finally, I’ve got a fun weekend planned. Take a guess, people. Actually, don’t. I’ll be working. I don’t mind. It’s for a good cause. I got some bad news about a protein I’m working on which I "purified" and that we sent in for sequencing. For the lab’s sake and my sake/sanity, I hope to high heavens that the ball wasn’t dropped in my court. I am quite positive that I did things right, but like one of the bosses always says, it’s the simple things. My fingers and toes are crossed.

Not going to get me this time, Wachovia.

You wonder what I’m talking about? It’s probably happened to you. You know, overdraft fees. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of money shuffling and paying some big bills. One particular big bill that hit is still showing as pending while several ‘minor’ bills have since come and gone. It’s a big frustrating. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing pending transactions whenever I log into my online account. Are they hoping that I’ll overspend so that they can tell me the funds were not available for the big bill which has been pending for over 2 days now? Well, not going to happen, folks.

Oh and by the way, my love-hate affair with Bank of America is over. Fini. Kaput. Yessir, I called them today to get a rate reduction. I haven’t used the card since I got it and I just said "to hell with it" when the nice customer service representative told me I wasn’t eligible. So, I went ahead and closed out the account. I figure since I’ve increased my credit limit and getting closer to using under 50% of my limit, I’ll still be sitting pretty. So as soon as he let me know I wasn’t eligible, I went ahead and closed that sucker and chopped up my card in front of my lab mates. Hurrah!!

A brief update

Here are some words of advice to WordPress users who download themes from the WordPress Theme Viewer site: make sure to visit the theme authors’ sites to download the true latest versions. Case in point: Breaking News by ShinRa House. On the Theme Viewer, it’s still only version 1.0. On a hunch, I downloaded the version of Breaking News on the author’s site and lo & behold, it came up as version 2.6.  If only the theme viewer site was as streamlined as the official WordPress plugins directory! I am more in love with my theme right now because it’s not picture heavy at all. I will be working hard to add some more tweaks, but out of the box, it fits all my needs right now. My first week back at work was uneventful and a bit slow. I didn’t have too much to do, but I know that the pace will be picking up pretty quickly. There are a couple of goals that need to be reached and I need to be on my grind. So, as next week rolls along, I shall be rolling my sleeves up along with it. Let’s get this party started!! πŸ™‚

We’re still apartment-hunting. Thanks in no small part to my aggressive cost-cutting measures, our power (gas) bill is still low.  However, little niggling issues (mostly on my part) are cropping up and making me just a wee bit extra-eager to get our own place. Since I’ve started working, I really get at most 4 hrs per week day to myself. I don’t want to spend it housekeeping especially if it’s not stuff that I’ve majorly contributed to or accumulated. I do a bit of housework myself. Just not as much as I used to when I was jobless. However, PC likes delegating during his free time and me, I like to do things as the spirit moves me. So, even paying me will not entice me to do certain duties unless aforementioned spirit moves me. πŸ™‚ *sigh* We’ll see how things pan out.

In other news, lol, I just made a batch of kick-ass chili (very thoroughly inspired by J, M’s sister). I followed the Pinto Bean Chili Recipe as found on About.com with some minor modifications. I soaked the pinto beans overnight to get them to soften. Then, I fired up a pot of water to boil and dumped the beans in there and left to simmer for about 1hr or until the bean skins peel off if lightly touched or blown upon. Then, I dumped a big can (and a quarter can) of diced Hunts tomatoes and allowed this to simmer with the beans for over 30mins (the recipe said 5 mins, but I began to panic because it didn’t taste like Julie’s chili yet. lol). Then, I fried up (in 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil) 2 big green bell peppers and 1 and half large onions till the onions turned brown.  I added my seasonings consisting of chili powder, curry (I thought the recipe said curry, but it was cumin. Oops. lol), garlic powder, dried oregano leaves and some maggi. I let the chili simmer for over 4 hrs and M said it was awesome. I am definitely going to try my hand at this again.

In other other news,  I’ve paid off my BoA credit card. I am more than relieved about this. I can now focus all my energies to paying off my SunTrust card. I’m reading a bunch of personal finance articles that are alternately uplifting and scary. lol. I’ll have to write about my findings in a separate post. Till I do, take care!