[-$56,835] Feeling Like a Rat … and a Cat

Image Credit: Steve Cutts’ short film ‘Happiness’ (Youtube)

The Rat Race

Hey Peeps,

Another $1720 minimum monthly student loan payment, another seemingly minuscule movement in my balance.

I’m still busy at work and thankfully looking forward to the 3-day weekend for a bit of rest. Although my employer is benefiting from the new corporate tax cuts and pulling in record profits, it has done nothing to raise pay for people in my division beyond the standard cost of living adjustment. If there was any doubt about the impossibility of getting a raise, it’s gone now. Getting a raise, a REAL raise, was never a possibility and never will be one.

Other people have moved on from my employer and are earning more now. I’ll need to think about my long term earning potential. Ahhh. Trapped in the rat race and searching for more cheese. At the same time, I’m hesitant to make any risky moves now with so much debt and uncertainty hanging over my head. Afterall, there IS value in stability.  Read More

[-$103,000] A Quick Update – My Shortest Post Ever

sallie mae oodles

Is this why my food budget is out of control? For all this time, I’ve been buying and eating actual food. How did I not know about these rations?!  Sigh. Yet again, I didn’t do the research to learn about these options ahead of time. Mmmm. And it looks like there are other special flavors too – Resentment, Bitterness, and Despair!

Hmmm. So if you Read More

Where is my CTRL+ALT+DELETE button? Craigslist season opens again.

ctrl_alt_del_life_by_j0hnnyr0tt0n-d5vm4um
Credit: John Ackerly

I know I’ve been M.I.A for a while. My job is causing me all kinds of stress.  It then takes me all weekend to build the strength to string two thoughts together, let alone write a partially coherent blog post. My new manager is still scary. Every time she requests a meeting with me I panic that I’m going to get reprimanded and put on the short list for a PIP (the pre-firing “performance improvement plan”).

I’ve slowed down my debt pay off. This has been hard for me to do because I’m getting so close to being in four digits of credit card debt instead of five. It will be such a boost to be under $10,000.  Why am I slowing down my credit card murder payoff? I need to move.  My lease will be ending within the next couple of months and I want to find someplace much cheaper to live. I also want to be able to see what kitchen counters look like again (messy packrat roommate). Soooo, I will need to save 2X – 3X rent to move into a new place. I’m sure this housing hunt will earn another post. If you’ve ever competed for housing on Craigslist in a large city with a housing shortage, you’ll understand.

Craigslist roommate listings. You either get:

1. The overly specific poster with a long list of random requirements. It’s easier to join the cast of Big Brother, than get a room in their apartment. O.M.G.!  “Must play french horn with us every Tuesday evening and speak Swahili to our three 10 year old triplet Bengal cats”.  NEXT! Sigh…

The Most Insane Roommate Ad

2. The poster with weird habits that don’t match your weird habits.  A lot of ads have this kind of “kicker” at the bottom of the ad. Everything sounds great until you get to the last paragraph. “Oh, by the way all 5 of the other roommates will have to go through your room to get to the kitchen. The last tenant didn’t mind”. (Really? Well, you should get him/her back.) I’ve started reading the last paragraph first to save time. Sigh…  “NEXT!”

The Most

3. The poster who wants your money, but doesn’t want you.

These posters will do things like spend several sentences bragging about the gourmet grocery stores within walking distance. In the last paragraph they inform you that there are no kitchen privileges. WTH?!  Am I supposed to feed myself by cooking out in the backyard on a hot rock? Oh, wait, I won’t have backyard privileges either…   Sigh… NEXT!

The Most Insane Roommate Ads Ever Posted On Craigslist   Cry For Help   Happy Place

You know what? I’ll confess. If I ever had a room to rent, I’d be likely to write one like #3…  There, I’m guilty.  But that shouldn’t be surprising considering that I REALLY want my own place.

Ha!

Craigslist weirdness, big city weirdness, and hell, even my weirdness (We all have a bit. Yes you too – don’t deny it 😉 ) are making for good times… NOT!  I’ve already told you about what happened to me last year and how I ended up in my current housing situation…  In any event, my goal is to rent a cheap room for a year, kill off any remaining credit card debt and save some money before I even think about getting my own place.

Assuming I find a decent room, what will I do with said anticipated saved money (~$3k – 8k)? I haven’t decided yet. Should I keep it as an emergency fund? I’m not convinced that my job is secure.  Should I put it in my high deductible HSA (health savings account)? My health issues will have to be addressed at some point. Should I use it to fund travel? Should I open a 401k with my employer and send it there? Should I just throw it at the $100k of student loan debt? I need to work through identifying and re-evaluating what my financial goals are.

Another year of renting a room means that next year I’ll be 40 and still homeless. Not literally of course, but for me, not having my own apartment feels like a form of homelessness. Is renting a room one step up from couch-surfing? Sometimes I wish I had a CTRL+ALT+DELETE reboot command for life. I wish life problems could be solved that easily…  Short of having that, it IS within our ability to launch our own personal life ‘task manager’. I can’t start over, but I can decide what I prioritize and spend time / money on going forward.  I can decide what activities/goals I shut down/drop from my life.

Decisions, decisions…

.

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

11 Things I Hate about the Job Search

Hi All,

It has been two months since I lost my job and I am still unemployed. Thankfully, I am receiving unemployment benefits to make ends meet and I am still working my online job. I have applied to many jobs and am doing interviews here and there.

I have only ever been on the job market while unemployed (after grad school and now) so my view of being a job candidate may be jaundiced, however I have compiled a list of things that irk me the most about what I’m going through right now. I still have hope that things will pick up and that i will find a good great job, although I remain generally depressed and have fallen into a deep abyss of despair a couple of times.

Because I’ve been through unemployment before, I know the damage that this does to my mental and physical health. One thing that I have now, that I didn’t have then is this blog. So writing here helps me to laugh when I feel like crying. I also read of the blogs of others to know that I am in good company.

Here are 11 things I hate about being unemployed and on the job market.

consulting

1. Employers using interviews to get free consulting

I’ve encountered this more than once already. I think it’s become more common since the recession. Applicants are being taken advantage of. After one particularly detailed interview exercise on a problem that the company was currently facing, I was close to asking the group of interviewers where I should send my consulting invoice. Ugh.

phone

2. Employers that never let you know the outcome after one or more interviews.

After investing hours or days into preparing for interviews, and then spending hours going through these events of torture, the recruiters don’t call you back to let you know what happened.  You are left twisting in the wind. If, after a reasonable amount of time, you call them for an update they don’t answer your call, and never call you back. They in effect are saying to you, “You figure out when the answer is no.”  THAT IS SOOO DISRESPECTFUL!!!

interviewing hoops

3. You have to go through 3,  4, or even 5 rounds of interviews, each more difficult than the last!

GFI264-Calendar

4. The hiring phase takes the employer 3 months, but firing phase 90 days after a bad hire takes 3 minutes.

UnemployedNeedNotApply

5. Unemployment discrimination

The situation is even more difficult if you are unemployed. You are damaged goods. Hiring managers and recruiters ignore you and render you invisible. Recruiters that called you when you were employed, won’t give you the time of day now.

too old

6. Discrimination of any Kind

Age is one. I am, at 38, and three years out of grad school, already too old to work at many tech start-ups. Sigh.

1261_1_Shawn_residents_only

7. Local candidates only

I’ve run into this quite a bit in my search. Even if you explain that you will relocate at your own expense, employers will not talk to you – that is,  if they even see your resume. See #9.

Hand, pen and blank document

8. Salary Low-balling 

Although I have not had the benefit of being offered a salary yet in my job hunt, I had this happen to me when I was unemployed after graduating from grad school. I know that the unemployed are particularly vulnerable to this. Do you think that a potential employee who feels ripped off is going to be motivated to give an employer everything they have to offer? (For the record, I ended up having to take that job, but was out of there as soon as something better came along.)

Weekly Jobless Numbers Unexpectedly Rise

9. Applicant Tracking Systems

Especially ATSs that eat your resume or screen you out because of #5 and #7. The black hole of doom awaits your carefully crafted and tailored resume, where no human eyes will ever see it. Waste of time.

interviewing

10. Being judged and rejected for insanely trivial reasons.

When you are an applicant you’re future livelihood is decided at the whim of the hiring manager.  Maybe you were qualified but they didn’t like your laugh, your accent, your lipstick or mustache, or maybe you reminded them of someone else who was mean to them in childhood. Ok, I’m exaggerating here, but you know what I mean.

grrrr

11.  Losing Out to the Dreaded Internal Candidate

You have your time wasted for three weeks interviewing with a company only to find out that they had an internal candidate that they’d already promised the job to. So this employer just wasted your time and never got back to you. (See #2). But their time wasn’t wasted because at least they got some free consulting from you. (See #1)!

Arrgh!

Hang on and hold on. That’s all I can do.

.

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)