Do you trust the people you work with?

February 11, 2012 at 7:11 am (work) ()

I’ve griped lots about my job and coworkers on this blog through the past few years. However, there is one facet that I have never really discussed – and that’s how everyone looks out for each other. We may all have issues with each other, and there may be enormously distinct cliques and favorites, but the one thing you can count on with EVERYONE I work with is honesty.

I work in a unique environment. We handle high value objects for the public, and are given immense responsibility in how we handle these objects. Part of that is going through a background check upon employment. Not a drug test (80% of the company would fail, from what I’ve surmised, even a good portion of the management), but an actual criminal, complete, full, background check. I guess that accomplishes something good – people I work with are upstanding, honest people.

Enough already, what am I talking about? Well, yesterday, I was on my way home, and got a call from a coworker. They found my wallet in the parking lot and were going to leave it on my desk. Yeah! I didn’t even know it was missing! (but it would explain that wierd bump when I pulled out that I don’t ever remember in that area of the parking lot). I don’t even have to wonder if any cash is missing. No one at work would do that. How do I know? My wallet is still at work, and I’m not overly worried. On an almost daily basis, someone will leave their wallet on the main counter in the building. Happens almost daily. Phones, personal effects, you name it. I’ve been working there over 5 years and I have never heard of a theft of personal items since I’ve been there. It just doesn’t happen. There is a sense of camraderie among many of my coworkers. It’s pretty common for Friday at the end of the day to gather in the kitchen, buy a case or so of beer, chips, snacks and hang around and decompress. One coworker has even brought in bloody mary fixings (a gallon of homemade bloody mary mix, a big selection of celery and asparagus, and of course, 3-4 liters of vodka, hey, we all seem to drink a lot ūüôā ). Hard liquor is not unknown, either (but as it’s more expensive, it’s less common than cheap beer).

So how is it where you work? Do you worry about leaving your bag unattended at your desk? Do you take your purse (if you use one) everywhere you go? Or are you blithely unconcerned about your stuff because you trust everyone you work with, like I do?

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Fabulous (and unexpected) news!

January 22, 2011 at 9:36 am (work)

Some amazing news to impart! I just had my review. Somehow, even with my company being in a $100K+ debt hole, I still got a raise? I had been expecting at the least no raise, and possibly a pay cut to make up some of the money. Instead, I was told that due to my hard work, keeping an eye on the bottom line, and making sure Things Got Done. I think it helped that my manager/boss moved into my office, so we sit next to each other during the day.

Apparently, he lobbied with our CEO for an increase, and not many people are getting any. So what did I get? $1/hr raise. That’s pretty awesome, and amounts to about $2,080/year (not including overtime!). I’m really surprised and very gratified.

Not sure when this will happen. Previously, it would have been the first pay period of 2011, but nothing changed on my paycheck. It may start on Feb. 1 instead. I think this year the review process is a bit lax/behind/delayed compared to years previous. Fingers crossed it happens soon!

Wierd, too, as I only got an acceptable on my review (since I didn’t do one objective and the other I couldn’t do because of significant position changes this year – I no longer manage anyone, so it was no longer applicable). Either way, I’ll take it!!!!

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Bonus? I don’t think so!

December 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm (work) (, )

We all know the economy has tanked. Well, this year it parked at my company and is filling up half the parking lot. My bf and one other employee were layed off back in March. We lost money in the spring, made a little in the summer (but not enough to rebound), and have continued to lose money since. We did a second set of layoffs, in reality getting rid of 2 employees that were problematic, but not replacing their positions either, so I guess that still counts.

Financially, my company is about $85K in the hole I expect it will¬†increase to¬†$100K-$110K by the end of the year. Between January and April 15 we are traditionally slow, so I doubt things will improve in the near future. All of us, including myself, are running at or past capacity for workload, so it’s not like layoffs or furloughs will help. There’s very little room for give.

We are not having any holiday party, and bonuses? Yeah, right. They’re off vacationing with my cost of living raise, and thinking of visiting my performance raise in Shangri-la.

I’m not a business major, but even I can see that things aren’t looking that bright. What to do? What will happen? I have often said that my position is secure, it would take a lot for me to become let go, and that is absolutely still the case. However, how can a company continue to operate like this? I know that they have been agressively paying off previous debt, and had expected to be out of it by next year. However, this is debt of another kind.

I’m wondering if they are going to cut salaries soon. If I were them, I would. Either way, I’m feeling ok. I can handle a pay cut, I’d just pay *my* debt off less aggressively until things return to normal. I’m still on track, not cinching the belt, and living within my means. I just wish I had pursued a more corporate track so I could have that cushy high five-figure to six-figure¬†salary with 5 percent or higher¬†401K employer match and amazing benefits so many other people seem to have in the blogsphere. Oh well, I guess I can be glad I don’t have $250K in student loans from a law degree. Instead I have an art degree and am only in $29K of debt (at this point in time). La. Here’s to the the economy getting better.

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Furlough over? Changes at work

April 18, 2010 at 8:50 am (work)

Since March, my employer, in an effort to reduce costs, has put my position on furlough. A co-worker who does a similar job to mine and I alternate Fridays off, for a reduced work week and basically a 10% paycut.

As of last week, however, I believe this is about to end. My co-worker has just given notice, her last day to be May 7. The positions that she and I hold are intense, can be quite fast-paced, and are rife with significant client and employee interaction. Regardless of who they get to fill that position, it will take quite a few months to get up to speed and be capable managing more than a single person’s work load, even for just a single day (and one of the slowest).

I had just gotten used to the idea of occasional days off and started to look forward to them. Just when that happens, it gets taken away from me! I’ve now lost my backup (that person was laid off early March), and the only other person that can cover for me is about to leave in 3 weeks. Not that I’m planning a vacation, but I have no idea how I’ll ever manage a vacation, when it gets to the point that I can take one. My position is a direct line of contact with clients, creating work for our employees, as well as billing – t’s not one that can be left unattended during business hours.

So March and April have been a bit of a hiccup when it comes to income reduction and my debt payoff, but it should get mostly back to normal by May. I have more information I’ll be posting about with J – he’s still unemployed, yes, but something good just happened to him that makes it less of a strain.

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I’m back, plus a few updates

April 17, 2010 at 8:57 am (budget, credit cards, mr. maven, work) ()

Well, my angry financial episode is mostly behind me and now I’m just picking up the pieces and moving on. I’ve been sticking to my budget, with a few budget busters that I’m paying off this month on my credit card (to keep up my 100% payoff every month on new debt): some majorly expensive garden supplies to get our newly built beds up and running. I’m also getting $300 from J towards rent, down from $450 – he’s able to still contribute, though in a smaller capacity since his unemployment income is much less than when he was employed.

Let’s see, what else is new?

Car Insurance
My next year’s policy is about to start. I’m going to change it to be a monthly automatic withdrawal from my checking account – no extra fees for this, but I won’t have the last 3 months with no payments due either. My overall car insurance budget will decrease from $90 to $66. This will start in May.

US Bank Credit Card
My 0% offer ends at the end of May. The new rate will be about 12-13%. I’m going to transfer about $1,500 to my SBA and max that out (since it has the smallest interest rate of any of my debts), and place the remainder into my personal line of credit, about $4,000. The line of credit has 10% interest. I’ll then be down to 2 debts, and my focus will be on the line of credit until that is paid off.

No More Balance Transfer Credit Cards
I decided that I’d like to keep things s imple. I’m not going to go after any more 0% offers right now and rather focus on getting all my debt down to just the SBA loan. I may, however, open a credit card with my credit union – I’m going to be losing my oldest credit card in the next year due to my opting out of a credit hike, and I’d like to open one I expect I’ll be using more longer-term to replace it. Not sure when I’ll do so, maybe in the next month. If anyone has an opinions on this?

Job Furlough
I’ll do a separate post about this, but my required alternate Fridays off is about to end (next Friday may be my last Friday off), and it has nothing to do with the economy!

Mini-Fund Savings
I’ve continued to put money away for those bigger expenses while my debt payoff has slowed down. I’m on track for christmas spending, car repairs, clothes (I expect I’ll be using a big chunk as we get in to summer – I will need a $130 pair of summer sandals). I just hit my $500 goal for the kittens and I’m reconsidering if I should just keep contributing. Who knows what will happen down the road, big accident/surgery/medical care. $500 is not that much, not when we have 2 cats and twice the risk. They are not even 2 yet. Maybe I should stop and focus on debt, and recontribute when the debt is gone? I’m not sure. I’m not sure what to do with my health/medical fund. I think of it as the lowest priority, and with my income being reduced right now on 2 fronts (J’s contributions and my reduced hours), I have elected to stop contributions until one or both change.

Anyway, I hope to start plugging away in a higher capacity with my debt payments this month going forward. It’s looking better than it was a month ago, now that things are settling in to a routine and I’m getting some money from J, less than before his layoff, but more than I had expected he’d give me. In response to that, my outgoing expenses are fluctuating a little, up in some categories (groceries, gas), and down in others (coffee, liquor, restaurant, entertainment).

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Layoff at the maven household

March 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm (garden, mr. maven, work) ()

Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been a bit preoccupied and disgusted lately with financial matters. Mr. maven got the boot from work (we work together) on March 3, with a 2 week severance. I’m still relatively on track, but there are a few changes because of it – his ability to pay his portion of the rent¬†has been delayed by a few weeks, and my expenses have gone up. I’m paying more for groceries and other sundry items that we had planned to split.

Another side effect of the economic slowdown hitting the small company we both had worked for (I am still employed and as I’ve mentioned before, that should not be impacted), is that I have been asked to take one day every other week off. In effect, my salary is being reduced about 10%. Which sucks.

The silver lining to all this is that mr. maven will be finished with his 2 year paralegal course by summer, and he is happily charging ahead on studying for a big certification (like the bar, but for paralegals). I’m not 100% sure what it’s called, but he’s plodding away on being able to practice on his own, eventually.

This past weekend we got our 6 cubic yards of garden soil and compost for our raised beds and rototilled soil. Whew, 3-days of back-breaking labor, $282 dollars later, and while we’re at it, let’s throw another $110 on for an herb garden, flower bulbs, some pots, etc, from the nursery. Whew, this is going to be an expensive month. Luckily I’m having some larger paychecks (despite 2 forced days off) this month with lots of OT that I’ve been trying to squeeze in.

I’m still mostly on track with budgetting. I’ve been a little frugal with buying groceries, and haven’t eaten out in a while (for a change!!!). A recent trip to Macys for clothes buying was within budget, $50 for 4 dressy tops (I love mega-sales, all 70% off, with an extra 20% on top of that for VIP shopping days!).

So I’m not gone, or off the debt-repayment bandwagon, I’ve just been taking a little break. I’m almost over the upset about the process (and I know a little bit more about it since I’m management at the company). When I get my head fully over it, I’ll start reading everyone’s blogs, commenting, and posting again, my heart just hasn’t been in it lately.

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Annoying dowside to my credit union

February 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm (bank, work) (, , )

Argh! I’ve been with Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) for 1 month now and there’s one thing that’s driving me crazy! My payroll check, unlike at Wells Fargo, does not clear very quickly. They give me a $1,000 “benefit of the doubt” for any check deposit immediately, but the remainder is taking 3-5 business days to clear! Well, I think it is that long, I haven’t actually seen how long it takes yet.

This is frustrating in oh so many ways. I’m usually cash-strapped by the time the first paycheck of the month comes around. I’ve paid all my bills, bought all my food, splurged a bit too much on eating out, deposited my required monthly allotments into¬†my mini-funds, and paid as much as I could towards debt principal. Then when I get paid on the 5th, I need to immediately pay rent. The difference between rent and that $1,000 auto-cleared amount is a measly $105. I have that small amount to live off of for¬†up to a full week including the weekend, and that’s all! By the time I get it, I need to do a big food shopping trip, since I’ve been waiting to make bigger purchases (see list of items paid above). That leaves very little money to live off of.

I’m kinda missing WF – they would clear the check by the very next business day, as long as I got it in before 4 pm. This is a little frustrating also because it says “payroll” right on the check, and it’s from a small, local bank. This is a frustration that I’m going to have to get used to and work around. There are a few things that will make it bearable. The small company that I work for (50 odd people) doesn’t have the cash flow to afford full direct deposits. However, they recently started offering a $300 direct deposit. If I get that direct deposit to kick in, then the maximum¬†$1,000 available on the remainder of the paycheck will actually give me a $1,300 total to work with. That’s much more of a useable cushion.

The other option I have is to go to 2 banks on payday. First to the local bank which is 2 banks away from work, Columbia Bank, cash it (as they are the issuing bank), then deposit the cash at BECU’s ATM machine. They have a high-end machine since they are a “cashless” bank. They don’t do tellers or a counter, they¬† have individual work stations that you can sit at, that are in an open-plan in a very tiny area, then there is a single ATM machine that everyone queues up in. The machine reads checks and amounts off the checks, and can count cash. That’s a little more effort, the 2 bank visits in 1 day, but I can always stop by the ATM at the supermarket on my way home (there is another location a mile from my house).

I did call a bank rep last paycheck with a general inquiry about how long it takes for my payroll check to clear. That is when I was told 3-5 biz. days. But since it was a payroll check (and it says so directly on the check), and because it was issued by a local bank, he was able to release the funds immediately (even after 5 pm). I can always try that trick again, in a pinch. However, I was told that once I am with the bank for 6 months, and in good standing, they will clear checks more quickly, possibly even immediately. I wonder if that’s why my checks cleared so quickly at WF – I had been with the bank since the mid-90s, and was definitely in good standing. Well, except for a few times when I was overdrawn and had fees, but they probably liked that, since they made more money off of me back in the old days.

Moral of the story? If you have direct deposit, be grateful. Very, very grateful.

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Overtime during hard economic times

February 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm (overtime, work)

Things have been a bit shaken up at work lately. Performance reviews, a bit of a big reorganizational shift, a bit more formal rebranding (for a company that has been moving away from old-fashioned mom and pop methods), and the economic slowdown is hitting us pretty hard right now.

Work has been a bit difficult, with emotions running high, raises not meeting some employees expectations, and even in some cases, changes in managerial responsibilities (ie, they have been removed) from one of our longest employed people. There have been good opportunities for me during this big time of change. I mentioned that I got a higher than expected raise (twice the average for the company), and that’s not all. One of the manager’s responsibilities that was removed¬†was closing the building one day a week. The person that was supposed¬†to take it over was not very interested in doing it, and I was. I offered to take an extra day closing, it was okayed, and now I have 2 nights a week of guaranteed overtime, instead of just one. This doesn’t take into account those days that I pick up from other people that¬†have made other plans, are out of town, sick, or working super late out in the field.

I feel fortunate that I’m able to have so much overtime, in comparison to my coworkers, many of whom (of those that I manage, in jobs that are client service based) are being asked to stay home once or more per week lately.

I had 11 hours of overtime last week, and 8.5 hours the week before. Next week I have an extra 4 hour overtime job that I’ve scheduled myself on beyond the 2 days that I now close. It’s only because as a manager, I have responsibilities that few others are able to meet (staying until the last crews¬†come back on the nights that I close, or staying late to receive a shipment, or the occasional after-hours service call). Ours is a secure facility, and there are limited¬†amounts of people that have access to the entire building or that are able to open or close.

My last paycheck, for 10 business days, had 99.5 hours. Some of my employees had hours in the 60-70 range, and the worst was 34 hours (though several days were requested¬†off). I’ve been working¬†hard to get those overtime hours and be available for them. At the same time, all the emotional upset has taken its toll, and being at work so much and so often, makes me more susceptible¬†to it, both being around the drama and attitudes, plus the additional¬†tiredness. I have been emotionally burned out more than I ever have before. Also, for the first time, this week I almost dreaded coming to work. I’m tired of the drama (much worse than most industries); I wish people would act like adults and treat the job like a job, not high school, and not a social club. In the long run, however, it’s worth it. I’m getting as many hours as I possible, and I plan on making large payments to debt this month, now that my security deposits are paid in full.

It’s off to a rocky start so far, but I’m still hopeful that this year will bring great things.

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Raises, the economy, and a rant about work

January 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm (work) ()

It’s been a difficult week for me. I’m in the midst of doing performance reviews for my 11 employees. I’ve written before about the people I manage and work with – it’s not a professional company, and many of the folks there have not worked in a corporate environment before. There’s a huge sense of entitlement by most of the people there (most are in their 20s and for some, this is the first “real” job that they have ever had).

I’m sure it’s no news to most of you that our economy is not doing so great. Simply having a job is something to be thankful for. I’ve had some reviews that have gone very well and pleasant. However, in a few of them, that entitlement has reared its big ugly head. Raises are not guaranteed, not when the company I work for lost money in the last 3 months. We have had no layoffs, but have had periods of 4-day work weeks. One division of our company has been on that regiment for 3 months (they are a retail branch of our business).

In fact, “coasting” or doing the minimum requirements of your job and nothing else will and has resulted in no raise at all. I’ve given a raise to every person I’ve reviewed so far (one was delayed for not doing regular required weekly paperwork – doing it every week in January will delay his raise by a month). I’ve had 3 tense, difficult reviews dealing with that feeling of being unfairly treated by not having adequate compensation. I wish they could understand that with an average 3% raise across the board, that some people just can’t be given a larger raise – the company just doesn’t have enough money to pay for it!

I have 5 more reviews to do in the next 2 business days, and 2 of them are going to be among the most difficult. But I guess that is why I get the salary that I have – managing is not all fun & games – there’s actually quite a bit of stress involved, at least right now. I just wish people would have more reasonable expectations during this economy.

This is partially why I haven’t been posting as much. My brain is a little fried after this week. I should be back to normal in another week.

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Should I get a 2nd Job?

October 31, 2009 at 10:13 am (work) ()

Part of the reactionary planning I’ve done since finding out about my pending SBA loan maturing is¬†considering whether or not to get¬†a second job. I realized I had been slipping on my¬†debt repayment plan. I had to bring it up a notch to stay on track and handle paying off as much as I could before the deadline comes. My¬†options are to either reduce expenses and/or increase income. That’s really the bottom line.

I don’t have all the fat trimmed from my budget. I could get rid of my personal cellphone (I also have one for work that I can use personally). I could cut netflix. I could cut the gym membership which to be honest, I don’t use all that often right now. I could eat more ramen. But I’m not quite ready to cut any of those, at least right now. So that leaves increasing my income. I can’t really increase my hours or pick up shifts (it’s an office job). If I’m not willing to cut expenses and I can’t increase my current salary, that leaves other work.

I’ve had a second job before. About 3 years ago I decided to get a weekend waitress job working brunch. I pulled in almost nothing for salary but averaged about $100/day in tips. That’s about $900/month. This was right after I landed my current job, so I was working 7 days a week. I was really money hungry at the time, after being unemployed for a few months. See, I’m not afraid of hard work!

What I remember most about that time is trying to deal with the complete lack of free time. I also was dealing with a very sick, old, blind dog (hey, he was 17). I was also single at the time. I also had a full-time 40+ hr a week job. I remember never getting enough sleep, not having a social life to speak of, and after several months, going crazy from not being able to get away from it all!

I love my down time. I love my privacy. I like to sit and read a book for an entire day on occasion, and I just couldn’t do that. Fast forward to now.¬† I’ve been thinking quite hard about the trade-offs. Making a few hundred extra a month vs. the loss in quality of life. I think I’ve decided for the moment that a second job is not maintainable, or valuable enough to have. So I’ve become used to the idea of my journey being more maintainable, but longer than it could otherwise be.

I’m not completely closed to the idea, of course, but for now, it is the right decision for me.

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