Just tidbits about money and finance.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I didn't post today because I was too tired last night to write anything. And then too busy during the day at work to write anything. (which I try not to do anyhow)

But then you see, I counted up how many weekends I've given up for my job this year. I'm almost reaching double digits.

'Give up' is a small exaggeration. It means setting off a process, then baby sitting it. It still means I can go have a beer and go out and have a life, but it means no out of town weekends without a high speed connection.

I took the opportunity today to remind my boss that I got lowballed with my salary and I think an adjustment is in order.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Welcome Readers of the New York Times!

Madame X and Jane Dough have been highlighted at the Grey Lady in an article that was published on Sunday.

Thanks Madame X for the link!

To new readers, welcome! I don't have too much to say about myself other than I'm glad you're here. Please feel free to use the HALOSCAN comment system on the left side of the bottom of each post. Those publish immediately and anonymous posting is allowed. (But I discourage that in the interest of being civil adults. *winky*)


Hit & Run Post Day!

I'm feeling chatty, but expect small posts today. Very busy at work. Coding is wonderful stuff.

Found a new blog for Oracle g33ks. Jonathan Lewis has a new blog. God bless the man. His CBO Fundementals book has been a godsend for performance.

Enough of the nerding. Today I am a Crawly Amphibian. Thanks to LAMoney Guy, The Frugal Duchess, Justin Henry, et al for links.


Nose Dive: September Net Worth Update

I ran up those credit cards like you wouldn't believe. It's time to break out the ramen. That is all.


Friday, October 27, 2006

CNN Money Today

Current stats on why getting a college degree is so valuable.

High stress at work. Been there. Done that. Won't do it again. (Read my comment at Freedumb's blog on the next link provided.)

In regards to Freedumb's recent experience, signs you've stayed too long. This is a really good list. I should know. I cried a lot at my last job. I was bored. I was stuck doing one job function and I was irate all the time.

Dealing with the insecure boss, luckily this hasn't happened to me... Yet. I am sure one day I will be dealing with a lunatic. For now, it's all good.


NPR Stories

NPR has got a great story about ARMs. The figure that intrigued me most is the 1.5% foreclosure rate in 2002, during the recession. The expert on the program basically said that a 1.5% rate was unlikely.

They also had an article about falling home prices. I didn't have a chance to listen to this one today, but that's ok. I'm not in a position to start buying investment properties.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Madame X: Work vs Life

In a strange coincidence, Madame X posted this about work versus life in terms of financial management.

Last night I was talking with a friend about the very same thing. She's a retail store manager. Recently, she took over an ailing business and has turned it around. Her one comment is that if she hadn't been so poor while a student, she never would have been able to manage the finances of a business. She told me that her cash management and budgeting practices come directly from being an impoverished student.

In a subtle way, I suppose that's true for myself. I learned some basics about treasury management while working an executive seminar for a business school. Later I had to reserve enough cash from a program that I was running to keep an office going through an entire fiscal year. From that, I guess I learned that you can always keep operating if you have enough cash to see you through, hence realizing the importance of an emergency fund.

Work and real life don't have to be a disconnect. And the things you do at work can be positive on your personal life if you let it.

Anyhow, other updates, I'm feeling MUCH better and I'm using Purell like a fiend at work since I'm still coughing all over the place. (Time waits for no man and this stuff has to get done.)

I also will be transitioning over to WordPress and a new domain later on in November. Please keep your eye out for that. I will be extremely grateful for the updates!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feeling ill

I have horrible headaches and a sore throat. I've been this way for a few days. I can only offer you this recipe for leftovers:

1 roasted chicken carcass from the supermarket (This is the leftovers)
Garlic cloves
Large pot of water

Boil the leftover chicken and garlic. Throw in enough salt, pepper and Tabasco for taste. Eat with toast and butter. Lay on couch and try not to vomit. (Yes, I'm feeling pretty terrible.)

I really feel like crap, but even in sickness I am frugal. Plus I'm too damned lazy to leave the house. Thank god the last time I got a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, I had enough sense to throw the rest of it into the freezer because I couldn't finish eating it before spoiling.

What do you like to eat when you're too sick to cook? Raid the pantry? Eat frozen food?


Monday, October 23, 2006

Networking Tip:!

Ok, I'm still on this career and networking kick. I get this way about once a year when I reassess what I'm doing at work and if I really like this place and where it's going.

Latest tip is professional networking websites. There is one that I've been using that has actually resulted in some high-quality inquiries. I pooh-poohed it before in the comments, but in the last week, all that has changed. is like those annoying social networking sites, Friendster or MySpace, but without the stupid photos. It's all about finding business opportunities. Recently I was solicited from a connection at LinkedIn, and I was curious enough to reply.

There's only one other site I can recommend because I've personally used it. But it's primarily a social networking site. The reason why I like it is because it's locally-based. It's called Now I admit, I know the founder personally. I signed up for it ages ago when he started it and I rarely attend their events. (I have quite a full life without it.) But every time I go, I meet folks who are in the same metropolitan region as me. I make new contacts and friends who are willing to help me find a new job if I ask. The key with MeetIn is that it's local. I can't stress that enough. Few people are going to spend the effort to completely relocate for work. Geographic moves are catastrophic upon your life. Take it from me, I've moved cross country twice.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Articles I liked this week

Make Love Not Debt has by far the best post of the week. Knowing the warning signs of financial trouble is the first step to getting out. Good on them for getting motivated.

Financial Freedumb on leaving work. I've SO been there. Who hasn't? Learn from his example and take the classy way out. Don't burn your bridges. This little mapgirl has done that before, and it's not pretty.

Millionaire Artist points us to the Rent-O-Meter. You can guess why I like the name of that site.

You'll find no quarter at Single Ma's. Get your butt saving money. Today. NOW. She means it!

Queercents on splurging or self-sabotaging. This article is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I'm not sure if I'm ready to confess which it is for this month's spending. (I am going to a yarn show after all.)


A Shout out to Inchoate Random Abstractions

Inchoate Random Abstractions left me this comment a few weeks ago:

A beauty supply store? In the Chicagoland area, they sell the huge bottles of Tresemme at all of the large drug stores and even some of the grocery stores (e.g., Walgreens, Dominicks and Jewel-Osco). It's on sale this week at Dominicks for $3 for a 32 oz. bottle.

Sure enough, I went to the grocery store for lunch. In a belt tightening maneuver, I bought groceries instead of bringing my lunch this week. I found a bottle of Tresemme for $3 as you stated. I think that might actually be the regular price there all the time!

Unlike Judith Levine, I also bought Q-Tips, but not before checking the unit pricing. Make sure you are checking the unit pricing. Sounds a bit crazy, but whip out that cellphone. I bet it has a calculator, and do the math. It will save you money!

I ended getting a loaf of bread, some cheese and a Soup at Hand cups, which were on sale. I think lunch this week was pretty cheap. I didn't even eat the cheese yet because it's not spreadable. I'll have to take it home over the weekend to eat it.

I'm off for the weekend to a yarn/fiber show. If I'm feeling frisky, I'll post a photo of it since I finally remembered to take my digital camera.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Saving and Wrinkles

She'll say it once. She'll say it again. Today is a great day to start saving! Email me at mapgirlsfiscalchallenge at Google's mail service if you want an ING Direct referral. I'm not savvy enough right now to make links embedded into my blog.

Coupled with that is "Today is a great day to start moisturizing." Being wrinkle-free is like saving money. Start early and your daily investment of time and lotion will pay off in saving your skin from wrinkles in the future. My mom is wrinkle free at 64, but I wish she had salted away a little more cash. I watched her apply lotion everyday. Too bad I didn't watch her save money every day.

Yes, your Frumperella isn't uber-fashionable at work, but I'm still looking youthful. God bless that cute boy over the weekend who thought I was only 27. I found my first age spot last week, but given that I lived in CA for 5 years, I'm lucky I don't have more. It's the daily application of face lotion with sunscreen that's saved me from aging too quickly.

So start saving and use some lotion/sunscreen/eye cream TODAY! The rewards in the future will be great!


Welcome Readers of My Money Blog!

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to readers of Jonathan's My Money Blog. Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to leave a comment and say hello, especially if you are a new PFBlogger.

I have a few rules about commenting, mostly sign a moniker, any moniker, and please be nice and civil. You should know that I don't publish out many comments in the middle of the day because I work. But the Haloscan comments appear immediately. (Yes, I have two commenting systems, because I am a dork.)

I hope you liked visiting PayCheckCity and the other resources I have listed on my blogroll. Thanks!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What's your Coach Count?

Rich of Queercents writes about The Purse. So for all you budget fashionistas out there, what's your Coach (or whatever brand) count? Do you revel in your good deals? Did you earn your purse as a reward to yourself? Crow about them here in the comments!

I left a comment at Queercents. I have 4 Coach bags. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'll give you a story about each one:

1) Baxter Bag: Black, approximately 14 years old. I bought it with my first tax refund after working as an intern at Wharton all summer. I still have it and it fits a lot of stuff, even if it's out of style and everyone thinks it's a bowling ball bag. It's a great mini-satchel.

2) Grey purse: Bought it at the Outlet shops in Petaluma, CA. It's a small thing that carries my wallet, keys, cellphone and lipstick when I'm out clubbing. It's too small for anything else, but perfect when I'm wearing an outfit without pockets.

3) Black neoprene purse: Also from the Outlets at Petaluma. It's boxy with an adjustable strap. Everyone loves it. I get the most compliments on this bag, even though I bought it at least 6 years ago when I still lived in CA. There is something really cute about a little lunchboxy bag that's not actually a hard case.

4) Signature Demi Pouch: Gold, received Summer 2006 at my cousin's wedding. It was a gift from a family member. The gold is very cute and trendy. I kind of like it. I've been thinking of getting this bag for a while, because of the size, but never got around to it. Couldn't really justify adding another purse to my collection.

5) Bucket Hat: It matches #4. A few years ago, my mom asked me for a bucket hat to wear while playing golf. I get her exactly what she requested, knowing that she still likes Coach brand stuff, and then she doesn't wear it. She wonders why I don't buy her anything anymore. She doesn't use the gifts she's requested! I hate that. Since I found it languishing in the front closet, I took it, and I wear it when it rains. It's perfect with my purse since I match. The guys at work make fun of me for it, but I don't care. SOMEONE ought to wear the darned thing before it goes out of style completely. It's part of my aspiring 'ladies-who-lunch' image.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ALERT! Open Enrollment Time!

Here's an image for you: Mapgirl is windmilling her arms wildly in your face, shouting,'It's almost time for open enrollment!'

For those new to this phrase 'open enrollment', it's that time at the end of the year when companies allow you to switch around your benefits packages. Usually it means open enrollment for your health plan, 401K, Flexible Spending Accounts, etc. At this time, you'll study different healthcare and prescription plans and rack your brain on what's the best deal for you and your family. If you don't already have a budget, now is a good time to set one so you can take advantage of open enrollment.

I typically plan out my healthcare expenses for the year with Flexible Spending. I know that I will spend at least another $4000 on dental expenses in 2007, and that $5000 is the maximum I can set aside. However, I only put aside $3000 this year. I need to ask myself if I'm willing to take another cut each paycheck to cover the maximum amount. 26 paychecks a year divided into $2000 is about $77. Could I set that aside for my health? Yeah, I probably could. And that will reduce my tax burden, which is pretty cool. is my favorite place for open enrollment calculations. I will run some numbers there, then punch them into a spreadsheet in different scenarios so I can see what effects changing my 401K contribution will have, or changing from an HMO plan to a PPO plan and the accompanying change in payroll deductions.

I know it's not yet November, but time is really going to fly by if you don't sit down and plan a little now. Later on, you're going to get overwhelmed with information about plans, and the last thing you will want to do is figure out a brand new budget and what you can afford. (Heck, in the 5-10 minutes it took for me to write this post, I just figured out that I can probably afford $77 per check because I already have an idea of what I'm spending.)

Other news: I got the first of my replacement crowns yesterday. It's a little weird, but I celebrated by having pork medallions for dinner. Tasty!


Monday, October 16, 2006

Don't Ask. I don't want to talk about just yet

Let's just say, I have insurance on the brain right now.

For some insurance-related goodness, check out InsureBlog today.
On why you should go with a professional insurance agent for health insurance.

On Long Term Care policies.

Both are better than I could have said it. When I'm ready, I'll explain all my insurance woes. It's running the gamut. Give me a few days to get my head unstuck from the sand and deal with it and then Gentle Readers, I will write, and write, and write till I've exorcised the insurance demons and wrangled those expenses back into their Pandora's Box. (I'm experimenting with the writing. How do you like my mixed metaphors?)


How NOT to wear a pair of jeans

Every year for Columbus Day weekend, I like to go camping. For the past 3 years, it's been a mud pit at the fields where my friends and I like to go. This year was no different, except that it got really nice on the last day which made the rain the previous day worth suffering through.

My jeans got muddy while we were hiking around. I wore ankle boots, but kept my jeans low over the tops so I wouldn't get mud on my socks and have wet feet inside my boots. That defeats the purpose of Gore-tex boots if you still get your feet wet over the top of them.

Unfortunately, I should have worn a pair of gaiters. I don't usually think about gaiters unless I'm in the snow, but I've seen friends use them to keep out dust from trails and now, the mud. Gaiters would have kept the mud off the cuffs of my pants, which would have helped.

I got kind of paranoid about washing my jeans, fearing the mud wouldn't come out. Finally I dumped them into a separate wash by themselves, which is NOT a frugal manuevuer, but I figured I wouldn't contaminate a whole other load of laundry with dirt if I did this, so it probably evened out. Miraculously, the dirt came out. It's only on the very bottom of the cuffs that you notice any staining from the mud at all. Luckily the soil does not have a lot of clay in it, so you have to stare closely. I hate that dirty denim look that is so popular lately. It's gross. I'm so glad I'm not sporting that look naturally.

So if you know you're going out where it's muddy, get a pair of gaiters over your boots and cuffs to keep the dirt off. It will save your jeans from a separate wash, and from staining and getting ruined.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy but Angry at the same time

The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize has gone to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank.

I've written about them here before because I really believe in his banking model. Microfinance and lending is a powerful force for change in developing nations. I think we should try it more in the US.

However, the thing that sticks in my craw is the headline that CNN put on it from their front page, "Bank for dirt poor wins peace prize." The article itself has this title, " Bankers for poor win peace Nobel," which is just awful headline grammar if you ask me, but at least it doesn't say 'dirt poor.'

Why is economic standing still a value judgement? I don't think that's very fair or rational. 'Dirt poor' implies that people living in poverty are unclean and creates an image of the poor that infects the mind in a insidious way that continues the value judgement upon an economic status, which maybe correlated, but not necessarily causative.

What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that it's great that Grameen has won the Nobel Peace Prize. I have written about them before because I honestly believe they do amazing work. But I am disappointed that CNN has called Grameen's clientele dirt poor, because these are people who have made a serious commitment to improving their lives, contribute to capitalism in a tangible way and deserve our respect for taking the steps to getting out of poverty. I respect a client of Grameen Bank much more than a CNN Millionaire in the Making. It's easy to make yourself a millionaire when you already have some money. It's quite another to break a cycle of poverty lasting for generations.

Ok end of my ranting. Back to work you serfs!


Articles I liked this week

The Washington Post has a new permanent section about Identity Theft. You may need to register, but it is worth it. (or use By the way, The Checkout has changed columnists, but it is still a good resource.

CNN/Money has another Millionaire in the Making article. I love these because I love stories about real people. I like them because they are local to my area (Yay Charm City!) and they have a real story with a challenge in changing spending habits. I think that's really important because it shows that you can change your stripes and become a saver even if you aren't great it at it right now.

Her at Make Love Not Debt with some winter heating advice. She's got some great ideas that will really help cut your heating bill down. Or you could just knit yourself a hat for wearing indoors. I personally love throwing on a cozy shawl myself.

Frugal Duchess points us to an article about compulsive shopping. Sometimes, especially after my recent spending binge, I wonder if I am a compulsive shopper that controls myself only by avoiding shopping altogether.

Another one from the Duchess. It's from last week, but I'm still catching up. This one is about paying for afterschool programs and finding/raising extra money for them. It doesn't apply to me since I don't have kids, but I like some of the ideas in there.

Debt Hater on what you are worth. She's not talking about net worth. She's talking about healthcare and taking care of your body. Pretty interesting topic since access to healthcare is probably one of the worst things about the US. It's so expensive that people have to make choices between their health and their bills.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bid sniping at Prosper?

My attempts at Prosper are the classic description of 'failure to launch.'

I've bid on two loans and was out bid at the last minute on both. I'm not someone who sits around and waits for the bidding to finish. I have better things to do than stare at a monitor when I get home from work. I let myself be outbid on the first one. On the second one, I actually rebid for a lower interest rate to give it a try. Dinged again.

I'll keep plugging away at Prosper, but I sure feel funny about obsessing about bidding. I wish I could be a little more worry free about it.

Both of my bids were for very low risk borrowers. I'm being conservative about it all since I'm not sure Prosper is going to work for me. From reading other Propser experiences, it sounds like I should diversify my bids between high and low risk borrowers and I'll have more success. I'm not sure. I'm still deciding how I feel about this, but I think I haven't given this enough of a chance to work.


Work WITH your management, not against them

A classic story. You're entertaining another offer or you're unhappy with your job role because it isn't what it used to be. What do you do?

1) You should say something to your manager and give them 6 months to fix things so you like your job. 2) Say something to your manager before your next performance review about getting a raise, rather than quit bitterly in 2 months after you find out you're getting nothing more for the next year. 3) Tell your manager and give him the chance to make a counteroffer.

I'm very good at signalling to my managers when work stinks. My joke is calling out, 'Manager! I need management!' I'm pretty frank about what I do and do not enjoy about work, and knowing where my fed up point is. A lot of that comes from years of work experience, so if you don't where that is, please try to think about that before something makes you freak out at someone at the office.

Just two weeks ago I overheard my cubemate tell his employee that he's sorry the guy is quitting. He asked him why he didn't let him counteroffer because he's sure they could have come up with something. Wow. Isn't that a great endorsement? I would love to hear from my boss that he's willing to go to bat for me and get me more money. If it's about money, then a counteroffer can make all the difference..

For me, I had a really tough time with post-stroke rehab this year. I was really honest with my managers about how much my family means to me and where I thought my responsibilities were. I didn't have FMLA because I'd been at the firm less than 6 months when the stroke happened. But my bosses were way cool and flexible, allowing me to work my 40 hours per week in 4-10 hour shifts. Unfortunately for them, they didn't really have a choice. It was either play ball or I would quit to take care of my family. They had recruited me for my expertise and finding someone to replace me would have taken much longer than the 4-6 months of flexibility I was requesting.

My management knows that I am willing to stay up all night doing what it takes to get the job done since I've done it before for them. I've worked many weekends and holidays doing upgrades and whatnot. I've showed them I care and they've shown me they care. It's a two-way street and if you are asking your management to work with you, you have to reciprocate and do the same. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

In light of the recruitment I experienced in Seattle, I spoke up and mentioned something to my boss about the lack of career growth I foresee due to our project list for 2007. I also mentioned that throwing money at me might help retain my interest as well. We've got a long ways to go, so everything can change in 6 months. The offer may never materialize. Another stroke might occur. I could be hit by a bus while trying to go to the post office. Anything could happen, but at least I'm giving my boss a chance.

Open lines of communications work for any relationship, be they personal or professional. Assert yourself a little, diplomatically of course, and let your management know what your needs and concerns are. Give them a chance to be good managers before you decide that it's not worth staying. I think too often people walk away from a job before trying to improve a situation or get what they need. You never know what can happen till you ask.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Perfidious Question

I'm a Crony at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy! The Perfidious Ministers are actually all darling sweethearts who dress in pink and wear flowers in their hair. They like playing with babies, getting nice thoughtful presents for friends, shooting at things, and destroying stuff with giant robots. It's entertaining. (I've seen two of these four things with my own eyes in the past week!) If you want to see me get political, go visit over there. I try to keep it off this blog because the Ministers let me poop all over their playground, allowing me to stay on topic. And yet still, I digress.

Minister GeekLethal asks:

On the NetworthIQ profile, where would I put my life insurance policy? Ought that not count as an asset?

If you don't know, please click through on my NetWorth IQ graph to see what he means. It's not an easy question because you're trying to fit into the categories listed by NetWorthIQ, but there is a woeful lack of onsite help in trying to classify things. (That would be my first criticism of site. I don't have too many complaints about it at all.)

Actually, I am not sure that life insurance counts as an asset for you since you aren't going to be the beneficiary of it. You're going to be dead after the zombies get you! Since I know there is a Mrs. GeekLethal, I assume she's the beneficiary of the policy and it would probably be an asset of hers or any other heirs you might have.

Looking at the categories listed at NetWorthIQ, I can understand your confusion. It's very hard to say. I've been told that a lot of life insurance is held in cash instruments, but it's not cash and I am uncomfortable describing it as a cash equivalent. Because I know that life insurance annuities are classed as investment assets, I think regular life insurance probably does as well. But I would not call lump-sum payout life insurance an annuity. I think right now, I'd dump it in 'Other'.

I can't find a true definition of life insurance as an asset for calculating net worth, but I suspect it's an investment since it's not readily liquidable and it will lose some of its full value to inheritance taxes. But that still doesn't help you, unless you class it as 'Other'.

If there is anyone out there who knows the actual answer, we'd love to hear it!

Thank you for visiting me and the Ministers! Please feel free to use the Haloscan commenting system instead of the Blogger one. (Because I am a dork!)


Networking Tip: Mentoring & Making new contacts

Jersey Jen left me this slightly cryptic comment, "It's strange that networking is something we don't do while helpful." I think she means that mentoring is important. If you are in a position to help someone else as a mentor, you should also get out there and network!

Alumni events are awesome for meeting fresh faces. I used to go to events that were directed specifically towards young alumni, but I kind of didn't like them for professional networking because they were filled with other young kids looking for work like me. (We sure had fun reliving our college days and catching up on gossip, but I digress.) I found that getting involved with planning events on behalf of the alumni club was much better for networking. I got to know other alumni more closely as we planned events for the entire university community, putting me in touch with folks who had 'made it' already and were in a fantastic position to do favors for younger alumni. They were always willing to offer up some advice about work situations from more mature perspectives. I loved it! Two gentlemen in my mind really stick out for being role models of success and generosity with their time and experience.

Other great mentoring opportunities come in the form of trade associations and clubs. I'm not a sysadmin, but User Groups are a great resource for learning new things and place to find job leads. How about a professiona association like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) or the Association for Computing Machinery? How about a ham radio club? Knitting group? Karate class? Church? My knitting friends are really fantastic. One of them needed a job and another had an opening. It's really worked out. Another lady was about to move out of DC because she couldn't find work, but we helped direct her to some useful websites and how to maximize her efforts with those sites. She just received an offer and now she can stay.

If you're female, try an organization like Association for Women in Science (AWIS)or the American Association of University Women (AAUW). I know some of my friends specificially are/were associated with these two organizations and have benefited from their formal mentoring and scholarship programs.

Membership is often charged for organizations, but a lot of groups just require your time and participation. Considering how broadly you can cast your net of interests and build up your professional networking contacts, it's often worth it if it results in a better job opportunity. (Plus it can be quite the social life going from meeting to meeting!)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Networking Tip: Follow through!

Yeah, I know. This is a Personal Finance Blog, not really a career development website. But just go read Tricia's post at Blogging Away Debt! Eventually, in everyone's life, we realize that we just need to move on from where we are. It could be because of salary growth, career opportunity, etc. But it's important to know what to do.

1) You have to follow through.
2) Make another contact after you get a business card.
3) Do it in 10 days or less. It will make a difference in people's memory whether or not they will recall handing you their card.
4) Be polite and try to mention something memorable about your meeting so that it jogs their memory.
5) Give them your contact information again, but a personal one so that if you leave the position on your business card, they will still know how to reach you.
6) Be nice!

Remember I met someone on the airplane who gave me his business card? For kicks, I ended up browsing his company's website for what kind of opportunities they have. They are a large DC-based government contractor. (Big surprise!) They have thousands of employees all over the world. (Another, big surprise!) I have never really been interested in a security clearance because I have foreign-born parents, but it turns out I've ruled myself out of an employment opportunity without knowing it. I thought, what the heck, why not go through the process. What's the worse they can do? Say no?

I punched "Oracle" into the search box, since that's the core of my expertise. There were a few things that looked interesting, but for which I was underqualified. I'll probably keep on looking from time to time, but I know someone who is interested in re-locating to DC for better job prospects. Something in the listings made me think of him. Since I have a current resume for him and I kind of know what he's looking for, I did a few searches for similar work and see that there is work he might like doing at this company.

Heck, since I don't like what's there, but my friend might, I thought this would be a great opportunity to follow up on making the contact. I ended up sending a email to my friend, asking for permission first in sending off his resume, making the suggestion that he should search the listings himself and if there is an actual job requisition number he wants to send it to me. Then I drafted a nice email letting the man from the airplane know that it was nice to meet him, starting out with an apology because I think I gave him some slightly incorrect driving instructions. After that I wrote while nothing interested me, I think a know a good candidate for some jobs available and presented my friend's resume.

Hopefully in a week this person will respond. If not, I'll just email him one more time asking if he got the first email.

So I've killed two networking birds with one stone. I followed through on the intial contact and I've recontacted another professional associate and brought them together for potential employment.


My Money Blogger Podcast Interview!

I was interviewed by Scott at Money Blogger Podcast.

I haven't actually heard it yet. Scott had some really interesting questions for me and I asked him to edit out my 'ums' and 'ahs'. Even though I was co-captain of the debate team in high school, I can't seem to break away from those two little words.

I find it a real honor that Scott asked me to be interviewed. He's interviewed so many PF bloggers I read regularly like Frank, JLP, Jane Dough, Financial Freedumb, Seattle Simplicity, Dawn, Kira, Jonathan, Flexo, NCN, Jim, Cap, Bluebird, TiredButHappy, Amanda, Caitlin, Tricia, Nick, & LAMoneyGuy.

I hope you all enjoy it!

ps - I gotta get cracking, and can't make links to everyone's names just yet, but you can find most of them on the Blogroll on the right. I'll update them later.


Monday, October 09, 2006

More on networking

One of my favorite professional networking resources is an email list at CapWire. It's the Potomac Tech Wire. It's a daily email with regional tech news blurbs with classified ads. They have Tech Wire emails for a few different regional areas like New England and the South east.

The best part is the ads themselves. There are job listings targeted to the high-tech field, though not always for technical work. It might be an accounting job for a high-tech company, though they do skew towards the obvious.

The other ads they run contain event information where you can hobnob and pass around your business card in the flesh. I'm not actually too keen on upsetting my knitting group schedule to attend any of them, but I have considered it on those days where I've wanted to stab my eyes out from staring at my monitors for too long, er, I meant where drinking tea and spinning wool didn't sound very exciting.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Hair update

From one of my favorite bloggers:

[The ponytail] waves around and hypnotizes law enforcement officials into seeing nothing but delicate pink flowers stirring in the breeze. So harmless! So feminine! So uncriminalish! The day I cut my hair off is the day I will get a ticket. Mark. My. Words.
- Ducatigirl

It's so true. I weep, but I got my hair cut two weeks ago in anticipation of the last wedding of the year. For some reason I finally felt compelled to neaten it up and pay someone to do it nicely. For $48 I got a wash, cut and blow dry.

I can't say I'll do this again in the next year. I'm quite upset. I asked for about a 2" trim to neaten it up and she cut off 6" in some spots. My unusually long hair is now nothing more than generically long hair, like everyone else's long hair. It's ho-hum long hair. It's annoying. To quote Single Ma, my hair is my crown. And now my crown is naught but a cheap rhinestone tiara for the Muffin Maiden. I cry at the time it will take to grow it back.

I'm expressing the sin of vanity here, but for my very plain blunt cut of a hairdo, I'm irritated that she cut off so much. The only good things about the cut are these:

1) She was sensible enough to take me as a dry cut before washing it. If your hair is past your shoulder blades and you want haircut/trim, DO NOT let them wash your hair. If they do it, it saturates the hair and makes it lengthen. After that, they cut your hair and when it dries, it will shrink and the lines will be messed up. If you want your money's worth from a trim and you have long hair, ask for a dry cut if they don't suggest it first.

2) She actually did a great job drying the hair, but I think she took too long to do it. It really shouldn't have been a 2 hour cut process. For that, I'll go to Vidal Sassoon as a hair model, pay my cheap price and get a 4-hour precision cut by a trainee.

3) The last update is that I am out of the $4 cheap conditioner. It was a huge bottle, I think about 48 oz. I glopped it on to make sure my hair was coated properly from scalp to end. I hate split ends. The Tresemme was good enough that I'm going to the beauty supply store to buy more of it. I'll get two at that price and save myself the extra, out-of-the-way trip. Strangely, though there is a Sally Beauty Supply Shop down the street from me, I never go there. I go out to one in the hellish suburbs in the strip mall where I eat lunch. For the savings off of regular drugstore stuff that ruins the hair, I'm happy that the cheap stuff is working so well for me.


NPR Stories

On CircleLending, a firm which will help you formalize intra-family loans. Interesting stuff. Back in the day, people used to sell their homes to their children for a dollar. There's no way my folks would do that. I probably wouldn't let them either.

Second story is not one that I've heard yet, but interesting enough to point out for all of you investment types. Yale University's top money manager, David Swensen shares his secrets with you. My favorite quote?

"So how does Swensen keep track of it all?

"I have a calculator," Swensen says with a chuckle."

His book sounds really appealing. I might actually go ahead and buy a copy of it before it gets to the library. However, in reading the NPR excerpt, I can tell you that I'm not going to be rebalancing my portfolio on a daily basis! I can be pretty sure I'll do it periodically though since that is what you're supposed to do.

Finally, a little plug for bluegrass music. The NPR story makes me wish I still lived in San Francisco. These concerts started after I moved away, but just hearing a description of people sitting in Golden Gate Park takes me back to free outdoor music concerts of all kinds in California.

Frugal tip: Seek out free or inexpensive music concerts. They're a great first date or picnic! Support your local arts & music scene! There are **many** free concerts and exhibitions available if you look for them.

My local NPR station is WAMU out of American University. They run I never thought I'd be a fan, but on Sunday mornings my alarm goes off at its regular time I wake up to Red Shipley. My friends in Dead Men's Hollow have a new album, Two-Timin' out right now. Take a listen! I think it's good enough possibly to win another Wammie! The best song? Grandma was a Cropduster, penned by their bassist. It's hilarious! (It's available on their downloads page, but best heard live at one of their shows.)


Articles I liked this week

Jim at Blueprint with an article about Delaware's compact fluorescent bulb program. I *heart* mine! Get yours here.

JD has it spot on. I find that being frugal is sometimes tacky because of my personal ethical boundaries. I'm not willing to fudge a whole lot just to get a good deal. I won't pick up something just because it's there for the taking. If I need it, that's one thing. If I'm taking it for surplus is quite another. I am a horrible person because I take fistfuls napkins from the cafe downstairs. But that's because our company doesn't provide Kleenexes for our desks. I had to bring some from home that everyone will take from me when flu season hits because they know I have them. (Curse of being the only girl for about 3 rows in the cube farm. Those boys can wipe their noses with their sleeves for all I care.)

Kay at Don't Mess with Taxes has a great article about income verification fraud. It goes along with my piece recently about ARM's. Generally speaking, the rates on no-verification loans are usurious, so do all the hassle of the income verification paperwork. In the long run the week you spend pulling that stuff together is worth the interest you'll save on the mortgage. But really, you're already organized and it'll take you about half a day, right?!?!

Donna Jean on combining finances with her new spouse. I love anecdotes and hers is a pretty good one that illustrates the importance of communication in a relationship, whether it's about finances or something else.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shout out to Amanda & Other Winos!

The Washington Post has a
Tip Sheet for some wine advice. (Please note the link is a PDF file for which you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.) They ask 6 stores what is the next big varietal and what's your favorite 'screwcap' wine. (FYI - for those who don't drink much wine, real cork is getting expensive so many wineries are switching over to screw caps. They're not just for the cheap and nasty stuff anymore. Plus you'll never end up with a 'corked' wine with a screw cap.)

There's a lot of stuff on there priced for less than $20. With the fall/winter entertaining season upon us, having a ready bottle of wine to take to your host/hostess is part of the bon vivant lifestyle. But finding a great wine for $10 or $15 means you can bon viveur quite frugally!

[EDIT] My French is not very good. It occurs to me that I use the noun and verb forms of vivant/viveur probably incorrectly. I have edited to fix this, but perhaps someone can definitely correct me?


September Net Worth Delayed

I am so scared to look at my net worth. Those wedding trips took their toll on me. I'm also running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I need to take a breather, but there is TOO MUCH LIVING TO DO.

For instance, I am going to go camping this weekend. Since I have pretty much everything I need, it's going to cost me only about $100 for my campground fees, gas, and food. Really, the biggest budget buster will be whether or not I want beer and how cold, i.e. ice for the cooler.

I am hoping to have less living in October. I even bought a roasted chicken the other night to stop going out to eat this week. (Fat chance. I had lunch out with my boss yesterday. We fiddled with the check and the dollars in our pockets. Basically the next time is his turn to buy.)


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Articles I liked last week

I forgot to post this last week in my frenzy of trying to get ready for Seattle. Here you go! Enjoy!

Her saves her promotional flyer and gets a credit to her credit card!

JLP asks, 'What's wrong with simply telling your kids No?' Absolutely nothing if you ask me.

Jane Dough has an article by Steve Lopez in LA about the LA housing market. I love Steve Lopez. He used to write in Philly when I was growing up. I'm actually sorry to hear that he's not fairing well in the LA market. One always hopes that people move on to bigger and better things, not so much sunny California and a tanking housing market.

LAMoneyGuy doles out the sage financial wisdom of his mom. Way to go Mom! Her advice still holds up, and I imagine it will for a long time.

Nina at Sitting Pretty.

Single Ma on APR vs APY. They're very different, but either way, you want to make your APR and your APY as high as possible on your savings account! Keep on saving!

Dumb Little Man asks if 'your salary is at least fair'. Regular readers know how I feel about this topic. Go visit kids. Illuminate and enrich yourself with knowledge.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weddings, they're not just for marriage

Seattle was gorgeous this weekend. The weather was lovely and it's always nice to see old friends. One of them was kind enough to start recruiting me for a possible opening out there in 6 months which would involve an insane pay increase. (as in 30-40%)

In the 'you never know who'll you meet' category, no, I didn't meet another wedding guest and fall in love. Instead I met a man on the plane who works for a large government contractor. Typically I talk to as few people as possible when flying. You never know what kind of annoying freak will start talking to you and blab about inanities for 4 hours.

This man holds a VP-level position in the regional office of this contractor and he asked if I was looking for work and if I had a security clearance. Well, I wasn't really looking for work, but I replied that I'm always looking and we exchanged business cards. He asked me about my education and background. We discussed communications and database technology. It was a really nice conversation.

Long and short of it? Network! Professional networking is always worthwhile and weddings and the surrounding travel experiences are frequently great opportunities to get to know other people and expand your network. Avoid Mapgirl's patented technique of conversation avoidance of wearing earplugs. (The white noise in planes and airports is too much for my pea brain so I have to block it out.)

NEVER FORGET YOUR BUSINESS CARDS. I didn't take enough to Cape Cod and to make up for it, I took too many to Seattle. But it is extremely worthwhile to do it. From the Cape Cod wedding, I ended up floating an RFP out to a small consulting firm where the groom's father's friend's son is a principal. I also stayed in touch with a woman I hadn't seen since graduation. After the weekend, she promptly emailed me because I had given her my card.

Some of my friends in Seattle took me out for sushi on Sunday night and we exchanged cards. I'd received cards from a few of them before the last time I was in town. But now I received updated ones with new titles and responsibilities. It was fantastic! Change for your friends is change for you too. Different doors open up at different times, so check back with your friends to see what's out there and if they can make stuff happen for you.

Develop those relationships and ties with friends. It can help your future immeasurably.


Monday, October 02, 2006

4 down, 0 to go!

I wish I was talking about my credit cards, but sadly, that is the tally of my weddings for 2006. They're done! And hopefully that will be the end of things for a while! I'm exhausted!

What to say? This trip probably the cheapest of all four by staying with friends and splitting the car rental. My old friend and I even got a third friend to stay with us at the last minute at the groom's apartment when we found out he didn't already book a hotel. (Absent minded professor type, it's why we love him.) Poor grad students have to exercise more frugality than I do, so my advanced rooming arrangements saved hotel costs for 3 people, not just one. We were supposed to stay at the bride's place initially, but staying at the groom's much larger apartment allowed for a co-ed group and lots of late night conversation of the priceless variety you find in MasterCard ads.

I blew the trip budget on the last minute bachelorette party when we found out there was no such thing for her. She's pretty religious, but no wet blanket. She loved going clubbing in college and for her last night as a single woman, we dragged her out for a bit. Let's just say gay men love a bachelorette party and nothing further needs to be said.


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