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!

My baking experiment

Y’all, I don’t know what I was thinking. I tried making oatmeal cookies without shortening or extract. I pulled a recipe off the internet and unsurprisingly, I made an oatmeal/flour goop that was sorta tasty. Just not oatmeal cookies. πŸ™ Still, bless his heart, M praised my abilities. That man rocks. He complimented my toes not too long ago and my immediate family knows what those crusty appendages look like. πŸ™‚ I’m slightly bummed out, but not giving up. On our next trip to Wally world, I’ll be investing in some vanilla extract and vegetable shortening. In short, baking stuff. However, I won’t be doing too much of baking because if it goes wrong, a lot of ingredients would have been wasted. Speaking of cooking, M introduced another vegetable in our cooking vocabulary: cabbage. I tried my hand at cooking it and adding it into whole wheat spaghetti. It was a success and I intend on using it some more.

In other news, We’ve made some small strides toward debt reduction. Technically, we’re in the black although by less than three figures. It’s small, but encouraging. Also, I recently made a video for my father-in-law on how to zip files. It was a fun little project made possible by Camtasia (version 3) which is horribly expensive, but there’s a free alternative at CamStudio. They are both basically screen recording utilities and Camtasia is obviously more powerful. I didn’t really do any voice editing (no take two’s largely because I didn’t know how to go back and forth to erase sections where I mumbled and such), but I tried adding arrows and things to visually help out the user. I hope this helps anyone out there! And try not to make too much fun of how redundant certain things might seem, but for a user who is not very familiar with the workings of Windows, it will be of certain benefit. M floated the idea of making a series of training videos about things mostly based on questions I’ve had from my father-in-law about certain tasks. I’d love to do them so I’ll be brainstorming on some fun tasks I can come up with. Enjoy!!

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.