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Archive for October, 2009

It's Mine if I Want It

October 27th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I think.

I had an interview - and I use that term loosely - with the person from the non-profit group who is looking for a secretary. We introduced ourselves and she got right into the details of the job. She had a list of the various responsibilities by month, and for each month she said "Oh, and I also do this" or "I don't do that". She's been doing this particular job for 10 years, and she's so used to it that she's not terribly conscious of the details.

The job has one evening per month during which I'd need to be available to take minutes. The rest of the duties could be done with a more flexible schedule.

Pay is $150 per month. I asked her how many hours she worked per month, and she had no idea. I asked her what kind of a commitment they wanted and she said a year. I asked her if she wanted a copy of my resume and she said no. (Good thing I didn't spend any time updating it! But I might want to do that for the future.) They have no idea who I am, my background, etc. . . and I've only been involved with the social group for a couple of months.

The pay isn't huge. . . but combined with other small opportunities that come my way it would suffice. The family I tutored with is still interested. . . I think things haven't settled down enough for them to have me back.

I will go to the group's meeting in a couple of weeks and make my decision after that.

Retirement Discussion. . . Again

October 21st, 2009 at 01:17 pm

We had a second conversation in June regarding retirement savings, and that conversation went no where.

I asked Mr H what he wanted out of retirement. I drew pictures of it with stick figures. I drew what I wanted in retirement. (The pictures didn't really mesh very well, no surprise there.) I tried to convince Mr H that if we want things to be a certain way now, we needed to be working towards it. He might agree in principle, but when it gets down to discussing strategies our conversation becomes . . . difficult. He even said something along the lines that he expects some sort of magic to occur to make this all happen.

I have been having discussions with Mr H regarding increasing savings for at least two years. I have expressed my concerns about the future. He agrees in principle, but when it comes to actually doing anything . . . well, he just can't/won't. At this point in our life together, it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I'd say that he won't. This is not a new interaction for us.

Having now tried the "sit down and discuss a problem like rational adults and come up with a solution that works for both of us then implement it" approach -- and failed at it -- it's time for a different course of action.

I've decided to try the "Tom Sawyer fence painting approach." If you've ever read the story ** Tom has to whitewash a fence. He convinces the neighborhood boys that painting the fence is the most fun ever, and the neighborhood boys end up doing most of the work. Well. . . maybe it won't be exactly like that. But I do plan to get the ball really rolling on retirement savings and then convince him that it's really not that hard.

In the past when Mr H has said Yes that's great/I agree/I want that too but No, I won't-can't/It's not me/I forgot/I don't know, I have gone on to do whatever it was on my own. I wanted whatever it was that "we" agreed on enough to do the work. Then in Mr H's mind "Things just worked out." (We'll call that the "Things Worked Out" approach. They worked out for him because someone else did the work.) But that strategy backfired a bit. "We" may have gotten what "we" wanted, but it didn't build up Mr H's ability to do hard things. This time I plan to look for more ways to involve him.

The "Tom Sawyer fence painting approach" is not my preference, but I don't see a lot of other options here. We've had two years and more of basically fruitless discussions. Mr H is not going to change. I'm not kidding myself - at this point I do anticipate putting in way more effort on this than Mr H does. But I'm just not willing to wait until we're 70 to see what happens.



** I think I read this in high school. I hope I get the gist of this right.

Transaction Clean Up

October 18th, 2009 at 11:57 am

In July, before Daisy and I went on our journey to The Land of My Youth, we went to the mall and bought some Crocs. Daisy was very interested, I was not so interested but thought they'd make good travelling shoes. I put the shoes on my credit card and paid off the amount when I got the next bill. Even though I didn't see the transaction I figured it hadn't gone through before the transaction cut off date. I try to stay ahead of the charges now.

The statement I received at the end of September had a credit in the exact amount of these shoes. I rechecked the statements and realized that I had never been charged for them. I believe in paying for what I purchase, so off I went to the mall, receipt in hand. I explained my situation to the person at the Croc kiosk and handed her the receipt. The top of the receipt had "declined" printed on it. At the time I purchased the shoes I remembered a discussion about this between two of the workers, but I didn't pay much attention to it. The worker this time got all excited about it and asked a bunch of questions about the original transaction, most of which I couldn't answer - I just didn't remember. She thanked me profusely for my honesty, took copies of the original receipt, and charged me again for the shoes less a 10 percent discount.

Now, I know I COULD have not gone back there - they clearly had no idea that I hadn't really been charged for the shoes. But my dad was very financially ethical, and impressed the same set of ethics on me (at least, I hope I'm that ethical) and there's just NO WAY I could have let that go. It wouldn't have been right. And, even if I wasn't that ethical, I think my dad would get on my case (in the next life, he is deceased) if he every found out. THAT thought would definitely keep me on the straight and narrow.

Surprisingly, I like my crocs. They're very comfortable, and they were a great travelling shoe. I might get another pair or two.

Job Possibility

October 13th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I've been keeping my antennae up (figurative, not literal) for job possibilities. I think the time has come. I'm not super-excited about getting back into the work force, but I'm not super-excited about the possibility, no matter how remote it seems right now, of poverty in my old age.

At this time I'm not interested in full or even half-time employment. I'm interested in working 10 or fewer hours per week at something with flexibility - ie, it can flex around my schedule. I'm less concerned about how high my pay would be, and more concerned about how energy sucking it would be. I look at this as how to start getting my foot back in the door, to have work-type references, use existing skills, etc.

A possibility arose this weekend. I don't even know how to describe this opportunity. . . it's a secretarial-type position with a local non-profit. . . I guess that's the most concise description. . . and I heard about it during a social group event I attended with Daisy. For this opportunity I whipped out one of my business cards*, handed it to the person making the announcement and told her I was interested. We'll see what happens.


*A few years ago I saw a business card for a stay-at-home mom, and I thought, I've got to get some of those! Over time I'd find myself giving out my phone number, email, etc and hunting down a scrap of paper to write the information on. A business card would make this so much easier! So I made some for myself using MS Publisher and my ink jet printer.

Change is Coming

October 5th, 2009 at 05:35 pm

Mr. H let me know a few weeks ago about two changes coming at his work.

These changes are no surprise to me. About a year ago I figured that the business he works for would probably close in 10 years or less. They have lost clients over the years without adding any new clients, and his boss, the business owner, is about 55. If the business closed then it would leave Mr H out of a job at 55 or so. I have urged Mr. H to look for a new job. He reads Craig's List. He doesn't apply for jobs, talk to people or companies that have jobs, or develop new skills.

Mr. H does not deal well with change.

My current plan is to get back into the work force full time in about eight to ten years. I also have thought that I'd probably approach this incrementally - very part time, then part time, then more hours and so on up to full time and beyond. I'm not relishing the the thought of working full time plus at that point in my life, but with Mr. H at my side I think my options are limited. I haven't been successful in getting him on board the "do what it takes to save for old age" train, and he is not going to work any more (or any harder) than he already does. I'm only willing to let this situation go on for so long - *I'll* do what it takes to save for old age. I could write volumes on how frustrating it is to have a partner tell you that they want the same things as you, and then not be willing to take the actions necessary to get those things. We have been down this road many times.

In my snarkier moments I figure that, once this job is gone, I'll be supporting us because Mr H "can't" find a job. (Says the woman who is not working outside the home now, and hasn't looked for a job since 1992. I might be veering into over confidence.) I say this because I know Mr. H, I'm not going to let myself starve, and I have known several women who ended up in this position. Two of these women are part of my extended family.

At any rate, these two very significant changes at Mr. H's work - one definite before the end of the year, one looking more and more likely every day - may accelerate my time table a bit. If Mr. H's job lasted for another 8 or so years, that would work for MY time table - Daisy will be an adult. I'm going to keep tabs on this situation but I may have to start looking at the "very part time" work option now.