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Skating on thin ice

April 28th, 2012 at 08:26 am

So after spending $80 on virus repair last week, I was debating whether or not to ask for reimbursement from my p/t employer. I don't think I'd ever have gotten the virus if I hadn't been doing work-related research on a particular website for them.

I told them what happened this past week, without mentioning how much I spent for the fix, and I noticed the editor didn't offer to pay anything anyway. Maybe it didn't occur to her, but in hindsight, I guess I'm glad I didn't bother to ask, because the 4 of us (editor in chief, her #2 person, who does both payroll and stuff in the publiations dept., me and the other person who is also project editor like me) got into a rather frank conversation about the state of the publishing company.

It was the first time they'd had such a candid conversation with us. The building is for sale. There are 2 owners: 1 would like to see the company continue, in some form, while the other seems ready to retire. (They are both of retirement age now.) The building is huge, old, energy-inefficient and kind of falling apart.

The editor in chief said we know you guys are underpaid, well, guess what, so are we. And we don't know how long the company's going to last. She said she's mentioned several times that she'd be interested in continuing the business maybe under a new business model, where everyone was able to work at home f/t so they wouldn't need a brick and mortar location, or the expenses associated with it. She and the #2 person have been with this place for 20 years or so, and they both have a lot of accumulated know-how and knowledge.

They're working now on doing some modest upgrades to our ancient computers to enable us to work at home more than what we're doing now, but the owners don't have much to spend on it.

Right now, the publisher also still does writing workshops and conferences as well as the books we do, and it's only the books that are at least breaking even or making a modest profit. So that's good. But I am feeling this teensy little job, which nets me such a pitiful, but at the same time, essential amount of money, may also be in danger before too long.

It's hard to say. I am still looking for f/t of course, but it could still be some time before that happens. And this job, although it pays just $15/hr., (and which was something i considered beneath me when i first took it), is proving to be more and more essential to my everyday survival.

On the same day as we had that conversation, the other project editor confided in me that she was having difficulty fitting in the work at home when she was supposed to becus she's involved in a lot of work with her church and volunteer stuff and she gets sidetracked, plus she has kids. I privately thought to myself that, much as I like her, how great it would be if she resigned or something and I could convince the editor in chief that I could handle the additional work. I sort of doubt the other woman would give up the job entirely, but you never know.

My dad paid an unexpected visit up here. He stayed at my sister's and took the 3 of us out to dinner at the diner last night. I took home a roast pork, which I'll have for lunch or dinner tonight.

Then he came back this a.m. and helped me offload a small pile of brush at the landfill and at the same time load a small pile of mulch (yes, more mulch) into his pickup. I would have liked to take more, but I felt kinda bad having my father shovel mulch at his age. We dumped that in my driveway and then the 2 of us loaded another pile of cut firewood from my driveway into his truck, using a ramp and hand dolly which really saved our backs.

Now of his 4 children (2 sons, 2 daughters), I've been out of work the longest. My sister works, but she is just scraping by, and the older of my 2 brothers is the only one who seems to be doing pretty well. He works for a pharma company now, i think.

The younger of my 2 brothers (actually, they're both half-brothers), was an auto mechanic who worked in someone else's shop, and was let go. He also managed the repair shop and all the other mechanics and was pretty good at it.

He's been looking for a similar position without much luck for a few months now, and my dad said he's decided he might be better off trying to buy an existing repair facility and going into business for himself.

As my father pointed out, my brother's former boss charged something like $85 an hour for labor, while my brother was only making $25 an hour. He has all the skills needed to run his own place, but lacks the money to buy an existing business. So my father said he's thinking of helping my brother out by taking out a home equity line of credit, with the stipulation in his will that, should my dad pass away before the money is paid back, which is probably likely, that my bro would have to repay the money back to the estate so that everyone still gets one-quarter of my dad's assets, which my dad estimates would be $200K total. (In the same conversation, he said the bank where he applied for the Home equity line figured his house is worth about $330K now, so i guess my father forgot about the house when he said $200K? Hmmm)

i never had such a frank conversation with my dad before about this stuff. I told him it was very generous for him to do that and that I was sure my bro would be very excited, and that this could really launch him in his own business. I am not sure how it could be enforced that my brother repay all the money to the estate, but it's not for me to pass judgement on what my dad does with his money, anyway.

I have my first case of poison ivy for the season, with some on my arm and my ear, which is driving me crazy with the itchies.

I met a very nice woman about my age who was also a poll worker when i worked during my town's budget vote. We have connected on Facebook and she asked me to help her out with a fundraiser she's doing for wounded vets. Which I will do.

I also really hope I can work the next referendum vote since the budget was voted down. It was a modest increase, about 3.5%, but the board of education was trying to make a case for spending more money at a time when school enrollment is down and they are actually talking about mothballing 1 or more schools becus they dont need the space!!! All this at a time when many like me are still struggling and out of work or underemployed.

So I really want to work the next election too, cus i need the cash. I left a message to that effect at the registrar's office and asked them to call me back to confirm I could, but they never did, and each time i tried calling Friday, I got their machine. So I'll have to try again on Monday, or maybe I'll just walk in there.

I am just starting my 3rd month with Citi Thank You card and have only managed to charge about $800 of the $2,000 i need to spend to earn $250 in gift cards. The grocery gift cards are fine, but do i really want to purchase possilby $1,000 worth of grocery gift cards? That will really throw my month to month expenses out of whack.

5 Responses to “Skating on thin ice”

  1. mjrube94 Says:

    My dad did the same thing in his will. My brother owes him $35k, so my dad referenced the debt in the will, that DS will need to pay it back before dividing up the assets. My dad has a ledger with the balance that he signs each time DS makes a payment (barely ever), so that when he dies, the remaining balance is "official". We'll see if it works when the time comes, but it seems official enough to me (who's the executor).

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I grieve reading your blog today.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    I hope that the company will survive. I know that income is essential to you.

    For the longest time I had three nephews out of work. Recently, one finally found a job as a headhunter. One of the others is a downsized civil engineer, still looking after two years. The other is struggling with addiction and I fear he will never get on his feet.

    Not a day goes by that I do not thank my lucky stars that I have a job.

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    That sounds quite discouraging. I hope it doesn't go south on you. Frown

  5. Dido Says:

    Sorry to hear that the business is shaky, but what you say does give some hope for the long term nonetheless. That building is a drag on the business and cutting costs by changing the business model could lead to continued work. That's a basis of business thinking--"break even" means that you are covering your fixed costs, and the lower you fixed costs, the quicker you get to the break-even point.

    As for the conversation with your father--it is really good and important to have these discussions now. We all want to avoid them but having them can lead to better family relationships in the long run. If I hadn't had conversations with my mother for the five or so years before she died, I would have been left 50% ownership of a house that I would have had no control over, and my sister and I would have been quite at odds.

    And I know someone else who only had superficial conversations with her father before he died. He had assured her that he was leaving her his house--but she didn't learn until after he passed that he had reverse-mortgaged the house, so that it was no longer his to leave. He also left a will with instructions for a fairly expensive funeral service that he hadn't made any arrangements to pay for in advance. Feeling honor-bound to honor his wishes and his estate having no assets, she went 10,000 into debt to pay for the service. Having those conversations while you CAN is so important.

    If your father does lend your brother the money, it is the executor's duty to collect--and this can mean suing for collection using the monies of the estate for the court costs. The executor is in fact personally liable for failure to attempt to collect on debts. You father should speak to a lawyer and try to get something structured where your brother's share of the inheritance would include forgiveness of the debt.
    That might look something like this: Assets at death, 200K financial, 50K note payable from your brother, and 330K house value; Liabilities at death, 50K home equity loan, Net Worth 530K. The 50K loan will have to be repaid. If your brother can't repay what he owes at that time, it would have to be repaid using either the cash or the proceeds from sale of the house. After the loan is repaid, the net worth can be divided among the four of you...530/4 is 132.5K each. Your brother's 132.5K is 50K debt forgiveness and 82.5K cash; the rest of you get cash. Make sure that they work with a lawyer to structure things legally--the loan might have to have interest and a signed document to be considered an "arm's length transaction and not a gift.

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