Money To Live

May 27, 2009

Negotiating for Vacation

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

In the past year, two of my friends did amazing jobs negotiating their jobs. Each got what she really wanted, which was not a higher salary.

Sasha lives in Colorado and had been free-lancing for a large energy company. She decided to go full time and proposed an annual salary based on her consulting pay, with seven weeks vacation. She hinted that she would budge on the salary as long as she got the vacation, but her manager hired her at the stated salary. Sarah loves the mountains and loves to travel, and she wanted plenty of time for those pursuits.

Angela lives in Australia, and this is what she said about her recent negotiations:

I negotiated a four day week, so I can spend the last weekday working on my own practice (hopefully half a day volunteering at the hospital, if my application is accepted; or anything else I care to do :)).  It was a bit sad giving up 1/5 pay, but I wanted to keep my time.  And I think I will have a much happier time at work if I’m excited and intense for four days.

Salary negotiation was relievingly easy.  I asked for a range; they gave me a large range; I specified the top half of the range, explaining that I wanted something at least comparable with what I could get as a good postdoc in Australia (post docs here pay better than in the USA); and was offered and accepted something that was at the low end of my range, but definitely fair.  One interesting thing (which I wasn’t expecting) was that they offered me the option of x or x+5k, which had me very confused — I had to ask if I was surely supposed to pick the larger number? 🙂 — but apparently some people like to go for the lower number until their probation ends, to lessen the pressure.  I opted for x+5, since I’m only doing 4 days/week so I know I’m going to be very productive when I’m there.

Angela was creative in her negotiations – not only did she negotiate a 4 day workweek, but she also negotiated for a desk with a window!

May 20, 2009

Paying for yoga teacher training

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

img_0853This weekend I finished a yoga teacher training program. I had a wonderful time and was sad to say goodbye to my four wonderful classmates and all of the other great people I met.

Total Cost of training: $3100 – $5500 depending on the choice of accommodations

That is a lot of money to spend on a three week training program, especially if someone is not sure about teaching yoga. How did we all pay for it?

22-year-old: For three months, she saved every penny from her job as a waitress. Two weeks before the program started, she was $1,000 short and asked her father for a loan. He said that he had $1,000 sitting in the bank in her “education fund.” He cut her a check. To save money, she stopped buying facial products, and her cohabitating boyfriend paid for the groceries.

23-year-old: Her father paid for it because he wanted her to attend the training. His personal trainer recommended this particular training program for his daughter, and he thought it was a great idea.

Me (26-years-old): I paid for the training with the last of my signing bonus from my previous job. This money had been in my “house or other large expense” fund.

35-year-old: Before entering a graduate program, she worked in University administration and saved a lot of money. She feels secure in her finances and her future and decided to spend money on something she really enjoyed.

58-year-old: After just finishing a long trip to South East Asia, she (a recent high school teacher retiree) and her husband (a doctor) were not looking forward to another multi-thousand dollar expense. They opened the wine cellar and sold a few bottles of wine to pay for the training.

May 13, 2009

The drive away from the East Coast

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

The East Coast has been my home for the past six years, and I am a bit sad to leave it. My last month is Virginia was pretty nice – without the stress of a job, I took time to be a tourist and go out with friends more frequently. New Jersey was the first place that I grew roots. I loved my neighbors, was a part of the community, and knew exactly who to call if I wanted to go to a yoga class, ride my bike, go to the opera, etc.

By moving to Austin, I am much closer to my parents (Dallas) and extended family (Arkansas). And I am very excited to be moving 0.7 miles away from my best friend. Don’t know if her cohabitating boyfriend is as excited as I am …

Three of my Arkansas relatives (an aunt and two, teenage cousins) flew out to DC to sitesee and join me on the road trip to Texas. We had a great time in DC, and everyone was a good sport about our sub-optimal sleeping arrangements (an inflatable bed and the floor). All four of us fit, with all of our stuff, into my Honda Fit.

16 hours into our 18 drive to their house in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the car ran out of gas! Of all of the possible situations for running out of gas, this was a pretty good situation.

  • We were relatively close to our destination.
  • It was still light out (and would be light out for about 2 hours).
  • The skies were clear – no rain.
  • We were within a mile of a gas station.
  • It was not too hot or too cold.
  • We had 4 cell phones among us.
  • My AAA membership was paid in full.

Since I turned 16, my mother has given me a AAA membership every year. In Texas, she pays $148 for the two of us. My father opted out of the family plan. AAA memberships provide road-side assistance whenever a member is in the car. I have called AAA many, many times over the years due to dead batteries and flat tires. This was my first call about  gasoline.

Out on the Arkansas highway, a nice man (a manager at a local gas station) brought us 2 gallons of gas for free, but because the car was on an incline, it was not enough gas to start the engine. AAA sent out a man with a wrecker, who towed us to the nearest gas station. He said it would have cost over $200 without AAA. I would like to think he was joking, but without AAA I would have had to pay if he insisted. And with a car full of women, he might have.

Looking strictly at costs, AAA is probably not worth the annual fee. The peace of mind that it provides, however, makes up for the cost. Every time I have ever called AAA, the first thing the operator asks is if I feel safe. Fortunately, I have always felt safe when I called AAA, but I like knowing that they’ll figure something out if  I don’t feel safe.

Have you ever used AAA or another road-side assistance service?

May 6, 2009

Downsizing my life

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

3/4 of my furniture – gone
3/4 of my square feet – gone (960 -> 225!!)
2/3 of my shoes – gone
1/2 of my clothes – gone
1/20 of my books – gone

I relied heavily on Craigslist to sell my furniture and brought in  enough money to cover my moving expenses. I took a lot of small items to the day laborers in Falls Church (they hang out in front of Staples, across from the UHaul store). My straight-out-of-college colleagues took most of my extra kitchen item.

The sweetest woman in the state of Virginia is named Virginia. Virginia came by to buy one of my bookcases. When I told her that I had been laid off and was selling all my furniture to move to Texas, she emptied her purse and gave me all of her money. I started crying and gave her a hug. She told me to stop crying and toughen up. A few days later, Virginia emailed to say that she wanted to buy two more bookshelves from me, and she offered to pay more than I was asking for. When Virginia came to buy the bookshelves, she said, “Well, I don’t have the correct change to pay you, so you’ll just have to accept what I give you.” (it was more than she had originally promised to pay)

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