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Archive for October, 2011

New Job!

October 19th, 2011 at 04:38 pm

I can check off (most) of my Goal #1 for 2011--in fact, I've made good progress on all four of my yearly goals!

I finally landed a salaried job with benefits at a small CPA firm that will allow me to finish the CPA license requirements, although I won't have the necessary 400 audit/assurance hours by year's end. I expect to be able to apply for my license next summer.

I'm very excited about the job--it seems a great fit, as it starts out at a junior level, which is appropriate for me as a career changer, but there's a lot of potential for moving up at a good pace, which fits my 20 years of professional experience in another business (I was a professor in an unrelated field.) It's that potential for moving up which I had lost with my last career which led me to change careers in the first place.

The job is also mostly tax with some audit, and that fits my interests as well. I'm very happy to have landed at a small firm, where you do more of a variety of tasks, than at a large one, where you specialize more.

As an entry level job, the position comes with a salary that is about $15K less than I once made, but also considerably more than I made while combining unemployment compensation with part-time income. This will allow me to stop going into debt and start getting out. I need to make a plan for getting out of debt and saving for both short-term goals (my car is a 1998 with 150K miles so I expect to have to replace it within a few years) and retirement.

First, however, I am going to go get myself new glasses, pay for minor roof repairs to be done before winter comes, and buy myself a second business suit in preparation for my first month at the job.

Expense or Investment?

October 9th, 2011 at 09:29 pm

Question for you: Are there expenditures you make that you consider more as an "investment" than an expense?

I'm not talking traditional investments here, but things that you purchase that you believe will have the effect of saving you money in the long term.

I've made three such purchases in the past six months, and two other purchases from the past 3 years come to mind as well:

1. A new wool comforter. If I can stay warm at night, I can keep the house temperature cooler and save money on heating bills. My old down comforter actually kept me warm, but about 6 years ago, I was first diagnosed with asthma, and last year, I landed in the ER because of it, to the tune of $1500, currently the deductible on my health insurance. I had previously poo-pooed the idea that the down was making my allergies worse, but this year, the effect when I put the down comforter on my bed was striking and notable, requiring the use of my inhaler several nights in a row (normally, only exercise induces an attack). So the comforter went into storage and I researched replacements online. Wool appears warm, breathable, and dust-mite resistant, as well as natural, so I purchased a comforter made out of wool.

2. A Vita-Mix: If you haven't heard of these, these are basically blenders on steroids, and highly touted by many in the raw foods community. While I'm not raw, I do try to eat minimally processed whole foods as much as possible to cut down my grocery bills in the short term and my doctor's bills in the long term. I haven't owned this long enough to calculate the monthly grocery savings yet, but I am using it multiple times a day and eating more fruits and veggies than ever, which can only be good for my health. Today I ran out of soy milk and at first was tempted to go to the grocery store....then realized I still had a cup of raw almonds, so instead, using the Vita-Mix and a "nut-mylk bag," I made myself a quart of almond milk that will do for cereal and coffee for a few days...saving me a grocery store trip, which means saving money because I *know* I wouldn't just buy soy milk while I was there! Plus now instead of buying pre-minced garlic and prechopped onions, I'm buying them whole and chopping my own.

3. A Nu-Wave counter-top oven. Yes, I'm a kitchen-gadget queen. But I've never had good luck making meats in the traditional oven. Baked veggies and the yearly turkey, yes, but until now, I've only had good luck making chicken on the stove top in some kind of sauce, usually marsala or cacciatore...and most of the chicken I've bought has been in the form of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Now every week I'm buying a whole frying chicken (better size for one person thann a roasting bird) and making it in this baby....then using the drippings and carcass to make my own broth. This machine will also cook meat straight from frozen, and chicken breasts are done fast--15 minutes if thawed, 25 i frozen--so there goes one of my excuses for buying something out. I buy a big bag of turkey burgers from BJ's and keep those in the freezer for quick meals that save me from going to BK's!

4. Not a new purchase, but an old one that I hadn't used for a couple of years that I recently put into action again: my Food Saver. The bags are a bit pricey, but Ball Mason jars are reusable, and if you spend a few bucks extra for a jar sealer attachment, you can buy in bulk and have the food last longer--a good solution for someone who is single like me who cannot take advantage of buy-in-bulk deals without a long-lasting storage solution.

5. My rice cooker--this was the first kitchen gadget I bought with the intent of using it to cook more, and it definitely has helped. A "fuzzy logic" cooker with multiple functions can be used for much beyond basic grains! Mine has a soup and a slow cook function and will even bake bread! I love being able to dump my ingredients, press a button, go out for a walk and come home to a cooked meal! This is faster than a slow cooker but can act similarly, plus because it vents moisture, things will brown in it that won't brown in a slow cooker. Right now the teflon on the inner pan has begun to wear out, and I'm going to have to replace this....I'm considering a gadget by Fagor that has a pressure cooking function as well (unfortunately Panasonic does not seem to sell replacement liner pans).

So what purchases have you made recently with the intent of saving yourself money in the long term?